Questions tagged [historical-context]

Questions regarding the influence of historical events or notions on a literary work, or about the extent to which works of literature accurately depict historical events, figures, customs, ideas, etcetera.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
17 votes
2 answers
6k views

What was a "ward in chancery"?

Gilbert often had certain ideas reappear in his various operas. One of these ideas was that of a "ward in chancery." From Pirates of Penzance: MABEL: Hold, monsters! Ere your pirate caravanserai ...
Matrim Cauthon's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
114 views

Is Belarus actually hard to farm?

To Our Native Land by Janka Lučyna starts as follows: Thou art spread widely with forests and marshes, With sand-dune expanses that grant but poor living It then goes on to talk about how bad the ...
EJoshuaS - Stand with Ukraine's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
1k views

How close to actual incantations are the witches' spells in Macbeth?

Answers to a recent question about the superstition surrounding Macbeth linked to a Royal Shakespeare Company web page that claimed: According to folklore, Macbeth was cursed from the beginning. A ...
verbose's user avatar
  • 27.6k
31 votes
2 answers
18k views

Was Odysseus considered unfaithful to his wife in the Odyssey?

Penelope is portrayed throughout the story to be virtuous when it comes to men, meaning that she holds out hope for her husband's safety 20 years after she saw him and had no other relationships in ...
Matrim Cauthon's user avatar
15 votes
1 answer
4k views

"My father declared he should invent a slip button"

From Lady Saba Holland's memoir of her father the Rev. Sydney Smith, published circa 1855: The reigning bore at this time in Edinburgh was ——; his favourite subject, the North Pole. It mattered not ...
Quuxplusone's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
4k views

Why is "Oranges and Lemons" supposed to describe child sacrifice?

The popular nursery rhyme "Oranges and Lemons": Oranges and lemons, Say the bells of St. Clement’s. You owe me five farthings, Say the bells of St. Martin’s. When will you pay me? Say the ...
Yasskier's user avatar
  • 2,070
7 votes
1 answer
1k views

Was Philip Larkin factually correct when he implied that in 1955 the streets in Ireland were "end-on to hills" more often than those in England?

In the 1955 Philip Larkin poem "The Importance of Elsewhere", it reads: Their draughty streets, end-on to hills, the faint Archaic smell of dockland, like a stable, The herring-hawker's ...
Matthew Christopher Bartsh's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
414 views

Is Emma's preoccupation with class and station typical of the time period or an aspect of her character?

In Jane Austen's Emma, the titular character is shown to spend a lot of time and effort thinking about class, rank, and station in society. She's worried about mixing with the lower classes, and ...
Mithical's user avatar
  • 24.1k
5 votes
1 answer
436 views

When was Shakespeare's The Tempest first analysed from a "post-colonial" perspective?

A recent answer from verbose mentioned: Postcolonial approaches to The Tempest cast Prospero as colonizer, exercising imperial control over the original inhabitants of the island: Caliban and Ariel....
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.6k
4 votes
1 answer
3k views

Does "Blood Meridian" accurately describe gunpowder manufacture?

In Blood Meridian (1985), Cormac McCarthy has the gang of "Indian fighters" surrounded and out of powder, so one of them manages to make it from scratch, making charcoal from wood, saltpeter ...
releseabe's user avatar
  • 470
4 votes
1 answer
240 views

How much of the English history in this Decameron story has any basis in fact?

Day 2 Story 3 of the Decameron is a story which deeply involves the English royal family. I don't know how much contact there was between England and Italy in the 14th century, or how much care an ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.6k
3 votes
1 answer
181 views

Political backdrop to "The Lancer's Wife" (Franco-Prussian War)?

"La Uhlane" is a short story by Jean Richepin, whose English translation "The Lancer's Wife" was erroneously attributed to Guy de Maupassant in the Walter Dunne edition of Maupassant's works. It ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.6k
2 votes
1 answer
265 views

Meaning and historical reference in "Ind Aff"

In Fay Weldon's short story "Ind Aff or Out of Love in Sarajevo" I found the following passage: “The Hungro-Austrarian Empire,” said Peter to me, “didn't so much collapse as fail to exist ...
999's user avatar
  • 33
1 vote
1 answer
121 views

Oldest children’s library in America?

I’ve already asked about the oldest free public library: now what’s the oldest children’s library in America?
Abraham Ray's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
114 views

Did it really cost $800 to fly from Kyiv to Rome in 1996?

At one point, the Chief needed to flee the country. He sent Viktor to retrieve his plane ticket, which cost "$750 at exchange rate or $800 in cash". His exact itinerary was Kyiv-Larnaca-Rome....
EJoshuaS - Stand with Ukraine's user avatar