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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.

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How did real historical Igbo society differ from its portrayal in Things Fall Apart?

I recently read Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, and found its detailed portrayal of historical Igbo (aka Ibo) culture very interesting. My understanding is that it's a reasonably close ...
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10 votes
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120 views

How fictionalised is "Dust Tracks on a Road"?

I just finished reading Zora Neale Hurston's memoir Dust Tracks on a Road and I thought it seemed to be full of tall tales as well as omissions, though obviously it is based on her real life. In his ...
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Does Lauretta's rant reflect a real change in the style of jesters in 14th-century Italy?

In Day 1 Story 8 of the Decameron, narrated by Lauretta, she digresses to engage in a long rant about how jesters nowadays aren't what they used to be: [T]here came to Genoa a jester of good parts, a ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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Was the end of the censorship of Magda Szabó's work directly related to events in 1956 or the Hungarian Thaw?

The Wikipedia article about Magda Szabó says, In 1949 she was awarded the Baumgarten Prize, which was immediately withdrawn when Szabó was labeled an enemy to the Communist Party. (...) The Stalinist ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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Is there any evidence Mat Cauthon was inspired by Matthias Corvinus?

Matthias Corvinus, also known as the Raven King, was King of Hungary and Croatia for a while in the 1400s. He was a noted general, and extensively made use of Hussite mercenaries in his battles. He ...
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5 votes
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294 views

Before reading "A Grain of Wheat," what historical facts and cultural context are useful to know?

I'm looking to read A Grain of Wheat, by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o. However, I'm very unfamiliar with the history and culture of Kenya, to the point where I know practically nothing about it. But I do know ...
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4 votes
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What does "The thirties all over again" mean?

From John Le Carré's Smiley's People: Suddenly Lacon’s own face took on an appalled expression and his tone dropped to one of near despair. “You should hear them, George, our new masters! You should ...
Silent Sojourner's user avatar
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Is "Uncle Tom's Cabin" read in American high schools?

I have read that Harriet Beecher Stowe's work (published 1852) is not encouraged by the educational establishment in the US because of the stereotypes it presents of black people as ill-educated and ...
WS2's user avatar
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What kind of censorship was Dostoevsky avoiding by obscuring place names?

In the opening paragraph of "Crime and Punishment", two locations, S-- Lane and K--n Bridge, are identified only by their first and final letters. My translation has a footnote which says ...
Daniel Walker's user avatar
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Why did 18th-century readers judge Gothic literature countercultural or 'Gothic'?

Dr. Lilia Melani admits that [1.] To most modern readers, however, The Castle of Otranto is dull reading; except for the villain Manfred, the characters are insipid; the action moves at a fast clip ...
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3 votes
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"La guerra" by Goldoni: why was it about waiting for a war commissioner to become rich?

I've started reading Carlo Goldoni's play titled La guerra ('The War'). I haven't found any translation into English. One of the characters is Don Polidoro, the war commissioner. He praises war ...
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Why does Percival Everett change the relationship of Carolyn Bryant and J W Milam in The Trees?

The character Granny C in Percival Everett's The Trees represents an aged Carolyn Bryant, the woman whose dubious claim that Emmett Till whistled at her led to his brutal murder. In real life, the men ...
verbose's user avatar
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Why does the Devil "glower" at Benedict Arnold's absence in "The Devil and Daniel Webster"?

The short story "The Devil and Daniel Webster" is filled with topical and historical references, and clearly has a moral opinion on colonial American history. Generally speaking, this moral ...
Adrian Petrescu's user avatar
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Do academic historians regard the fact that the USSR was exporting food during the Holodomor as evidence that it was intentional?

Erin Littlekin claims in the afternote of The Memory Keeper of Kyiv that: Between 1932 and 1933, one in every eight Ukrainians died in this manmade famine. And it was absolutely manmade. During this ...
EJoshuaS - Stand with Ukraine's user avatar
3 votes
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Was it common to hide food to avoid it being confiscated during the early stages of the Holodomor?

In The Memory-Keeper of Kyiv, Katya and Pavlo hide food in various locations and kept notes on where they hid it to keep it from being confiscated by the Soviet activists pushing for collectivization. ...
EJoshuaS - Stand with Ukraine's user avatar
3 votes
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Is there actually a "railroad to nowhere" on the border between Ukraine and Russia?

In Voroshilovgrad, Herman had the following discussion with some smugglers about some rail on the border of Ukraine and Russia: "There's a railroad here?" I asked. "Well, yeah," ...
EJoshuaS - Stand with Ukraine's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
43 views

Why does the translator's introduction to "The Complete Kobzar" claim that Ukraine has the sixth-highest per capita consumption of alcohol?

The translator's introduction to The Complete Kobzar briefly describes some social problems in Ukraine; among other things, the translator claims that: According to the World Health Organization, ...
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
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Is Maupassant referring to a ranking of duellists or shooters that existed in late nineteenth-century France?

In Chapter VII of the first part of Maupassant's novel Bel-Ami, the main character, Georges Duroy, is insulted by another journalist. The disagreement escalates and leads to a duel using pistols. ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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How historically accurate is Koestler's The Gladiators?

The Third Servile War or War of Spartacus inspired several novels, including Arthur Koestler's The Gladiators, published in English in 1939. In the 1930s, Koestler worked mostly as a journalist, ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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2 votes
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Why did Ivan and Darusya travel part of the way to town by horse-drawn carts?

Sweet Darusya periodically refers to horse-drawn carts being in contemporary use. For example, in one particular scene in the book, cars, bicycles, and horse-drawn carts were all in use at the same ...
EJoshuaS - Stand with Ukraine's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
52 views

How did Herman and Ernst know how many Tiger tanks were produced?

The following dialog occurred in Voroshilovgrada: "Herman, you're a history buff, right?" "Sure." "Then you probably know how many Tigers were produced in the Reich?" &...
EJoshuaS - Stand with Ukraine's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
27 views

How closely do the events in "Satan in Goray" mirror the actual Shabbtai Tzvi events?

In Satan in Goray, Isaac Bashevis Singer mentions several ways in which it's "proven" that Shabbtai Tzvi is the Messiah: During the time Rabbi Benish still dwelt in Lublin he had heard ...
Mithical's user avatar
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2 votes
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Why did O’Shaughnessy write Ode?

Are there any theories on what motivated O’Shaughnessy to write Ode (also called 'We are the Music Makers') ? Basically, he was not a "world-forsaker" himself. I read that he worked as a ...
Archer's user avatar
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2 votes
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100 views

What was Dickens's attitude towards revolution?

Charles Dickens wrote two "historical novels": A Tale of Two Cities, set during the French Revolution, and Barnaby Rudge, set during the Gordon Riots. I find it interesting that both of these books ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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2 votes
0 answers
149 views

How is G. B. Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra (1898) different from the eponymous characters' true relationship?

I know that Shaw's play is a fictionalized account of Caesar and Cleopatra's relationship. But how is G. B. Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra (1898) different from the eponymous characters' true ...
Tam O'Shanter's user avatar
2 votes
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198 views

Near the end of The Scarlet Letter, is it plausible that Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale will marry?

Near the end of The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale meet in the woods and talk. At the end of this conversation they seem intent on returning to Europe to marry. Is this plan at ...
Chaim's user avatar
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1 vote
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Why does "Your Ad Could Go Here" state that the Orange Revolution lasted for three weeks?

The Orange Revolution protests were called for on November 21, 2004 in response to election fraud in their 2004 Presidential election. Eventually, the Supreme Court ordered a re-vote on December 26, ...
EJoshuaS - Stand with Ukraine's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
37 views

Was pigskin leather easier to acquire in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic than cattle leather?

In Girls (part of Your Ad Could Go Here), Darka's mother had the "little joy" of getting a leather coat: Everything that followed in her life was fine with her: marriage, poverty, children, ...
EJoshuaS - Stand with Ukraine's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
49 views

What was this dubious medical facility by the salt lakes?

When Herman and Olga were trying to straighten out the paperwork for the gas station, they realized they need to track down a director of an oil depot for some help with some paperwork. However, they ...
EJoshuaS - Stand with Ukraine's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
39 views

What happened to the USSR hospital at Khmelnitsky?

An interview with a major in Zinky Boys (day 2, track 8 in the audiobook) referred to a hospital of some kind in Khmelnitsky for long-term casualties who couldn't or wouldn't go home for various ...
EJoshuaS - Stand with Ukraine's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
21 views

What plight of the Kurds is suggested in Mem and Zin chapter 5?

I'm reading online Salah Saadalla's translation of the Kurdish classic Mem and Zin. The early chapters aren't part of the main story: two chapters addressed to God, two to the prophet Mohammed, two ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
59 views

What historical similarities are there to Burr's characterization in "Hamilton"?

In the 2015 musical, Hamilton written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Aaron Burr serves as the foil to Alexander Hamilton. While Alexander is rash, hasty, and always on the move, Aaron sits back and watches ...
North Læraðr's user avatar
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59 views

How do you move a factory by rail?

In Voroshilovgrad, Herman meets someone who owns his own train. He mentioned that there were certain tracks that were built in case there was a war, so that they could move factories east: "Do ...
EJoshuaS - Stand with Ukraine's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
32 views

Social class in medieval Italian literature and its changes during the Renaissance

I'm very interested in how notions of class were reflected in medieval Italian literature and how these archetypes, tropes, motifs or whatever you'd like to call them changed during the Renaissance ...
 leclebinit's user avatar
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35 views

Is there a project for annotating e-books?

There are a number of projects collecting out of copyright literary works and making them available for download, e.g. Project Gutenberg and Bibebook. Many of these books would benefit from annotation ...
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