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Questions tagged [history-of-literature]

Use this tag for questions about historical development within literature: for example, the history of a particular literary theme or idea, or of literature in a particular country or context. For questions about real-world history as it relates to literature, use the [historical-context] tag ...

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Use of Fraktur in 19th Century English Print

Context: I live in Germany. I'm fond of shopping for old books at fleamarkets, second-hand-shops, and online. Mostly interested in English 19th century or early 20th century printed books (date of ...
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Why did Carl Jung write “Man and his symbols” in English?

Any specific reasons for Jung and his colleagues to write this book in English? The majority of his writings seem to be in German and most of his colleagues seem German speaking as well. I'm not sure ...
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What qualifies something as “Lovecraftian”?

I often hear the term "Lovecraftian" used in reference to describe certain elements of horror literature or film. I do understand this to be a reference to H.P. Lovecraft and his style of horror, but ...
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When did the first Dramatis Personae appear outside of theatre?

According to the Wikipedia article about Dramatis Personae, Dramatis Personae began in plays and later moved into the other forms of literature. This led me to ask: When did Dramatis Personae first ...
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What is the highest number a comic book issue ever achieved naturally?

Action Comics #1000 was first published in the US earlier this year. I got the impression that this seemed to be an unheard of before milestone. Most likely due to the fact that such a daunting ...
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What was the earliest novel that invented a language without words for “I” or “me”?

We recently had a questions about the usage of pronouns in Nalo Hopkinson's story "Shift". In that story, one of the characters uses the pronoun "you" to refer to himself. This is a consequence of ...
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What was the earliest diary by a European poet, dramatist or novelist?

The earliest surviving diary by a poet is probably the Tosa Diary by the tenth-century Japanese poet Ki no Tsurayuki. More details about this diary can be found on the Diary Review blog. The Diary ...
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What was the first book that taught readers how to analyse and interpret literature?

Books about literaty theory have a long tradition; Aristotle's Poetics dates back to the 4th century BC. Books about how to write literature also go back a long way, for example, Horace's Ars Poetica (...
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First Dutch children's bible

In the second half of 1943, Anne Frank received a children's bible from her father. Her older sister Margot objected to the idea of giving Anne a Bible on Hannukah, so her father thought giving it on ...
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When did people begin to regard Gulliver's Travels as a children's book?

Jonathan Swift published Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of several Ships in 1726 as a satire on human nature. ...
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Modern British English novels suitable for learning English [closed]

I am learning English and for that purpose (among other things) I want to read a few novels. I have made a list of novels selected by personal taste, but since I am still learning, I am afraid that ...
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What is the literary origin of the ability to sense somebody else's powers or “force”?

"The force is strong with this one" is apparently a trope and its meaning has already been discussed in Science Fiction & Fantasy SE. The Star Wars franchise started in 1977, but the ability to ...
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Where was the first English playhouse outside London built?

When reading about English Renaissance theatre, discussions centre on authors, theatre companies and theatre buildings in and around London. For example, the first English playhouses were the Red Lion,...
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Oldest library in America?

What’s the oldest free public library in North America? I personally think that this question will be of at least some interest to regular users of this board,as well as some history buffs!
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Earliest work of fiction in which characters using telepathy can't lie

In Liu Cixin's novel The Three-Body Problem (2006/2008), the inhabitants of the planet Trisolaris communicate with each other using telepathy and are unable to lie. In Ursula Le Guin's novel The Left ...
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What texts are the sources for the difference between “sometime were” and “some time are” in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar?

The Pelican Julius Caesar has I.2.140 as men at sometime were masters of their fates (even noting the archaic meaning of "sometime" as at one time) while the Arden Julius Caesar has it as men ...
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What is the oldest non-biographical work of literature in which the author is also a protagonist?

Dante's Divine Comedy, written in the years 1308-1320, is a long narrative poem in which the poet is also a protagonist in the story. The story also includes many real characters, such as Virgil and ...
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What does 'reflection of love for the soul' intend to say?

Source: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism (2013 1 ed). p. 90. From the medieval period through the Renaissance, Plato's argument that physical beauty should be seen as ...
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Is it a common theme in (western) storytelling that the antagonists are located to the east?

I'm not sure if this is the correct place for this question. I was reading some Lord of the Rings-lore the other day and it got me thinking about the location of "evil" in storytelling. In LOTR, ...
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Antecedents for Hawthorne's Dr. Rappaccini

In the short story Rappaccini's Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Dr. Rappaccini uses his own daughter as a subject in his great experiment, resulting in her living a life of isolation and eventually ...
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Why did homophobia become a feature of detective fiction in the mid-20th century?

About 10 years ago I read the Maltese Falcon. It was a good read, but I remember being shocked by the blatant homophobia. Raymond Chandler's the Big Sleep was more subtle about it, but definitely ...
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Did medieval romances develop into modern romances?

I'm reading Arthurian texts and I know that it's considered a romance, but there is there such a big difference between modern romance, love stories, and medieval romances, which can be tales of ...
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What happened to the epic poem?

It's so strange to me that we all praised and adore things, but would never consider supporting them in a modern setting. There are many examples of this: poetry (very unpopular nowadays; not in the ...
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Predecessors/Inspirations of Scheinriesen (Illusionary Giants)

A "Scheinriese" (illusory giant), most notably Mr. Tur-Tur from Michael Ende's Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver, is a being which when seen from a distance appears to be a giant, inadvertently ...
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How did contemporary readers respond to coincidence in 19th century novels

Reading 19th century literature in the 21st century, it is often striking how often the plot turns on often quite outrageous coincidences. Frequently this happens when a relatively small cast of ...
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Stories From the Year Without a Summer

I have seen the story many times: Percy and Mary Shelley (not yet wed) paid an a visit to Lord Byron in 1816. Attributed now to the eruption at Mount Tambora, this year was unseasonably cool. Spending ...
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Use of “limited third-person point of view”, vs “omniscient third person point of view” over the past century or so

I notice that a lot of popular recent fiction, for example Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" , and George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" are written in limited/subjective third-person point of ...
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Comparison of the portrayal of the female role in society between Jane Eyre and Tess?

I really can't get the differences of the female role in society and how they are seen by their families and by the society in general. How can we compare the portrayal of the female role in society ...
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Romanticism in 20-21st century

Romanticism in a nutshell is about individual, emotions and imagination. An era that takes is situated in the 18-19th centuries. My question is why can't we label 20-21st century works that put the ...
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What's the origin of the rhyme “My friend Billy had a ten foot willy”?

A simple rhyming song which I heard growing up and which still gets stuck in my head every so often: My friend Billy had a ten foot willy. He stuck it through the neighbour's door. OR He showed ...
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Why did attitudes change towards tragedy?

Views on whether or not tragedy provides a fulfilling end to a work have changed over the centuries and it has slipped in and out of popularity in contemporary works of a given period. Great literary ...
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First English Renaissance play where women disguise as men?

In several of Shakespeare's plays, women disguise as men (for a variety of reasons). For example, In The Merchant of Venice, Portia disguises as a lawyer; Jessica disguises as a man when eloping with ...
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How many manuscripts of English Renaissance plays have survived?

During the English renaissance, plays were primarily written for performance and play manuscripts were usually not sold to a printer before the play had had a successful run in the theatre. A number ...
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“It might be for years, and it might be for ever,” - What is the original novel this quote appeared in?

There are many novels of the same period that have this quote in them based on my perusal through the Internet Archive but could anyone please tell me what the original source of the quote was? Thanks....
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First book of Edward de Vere's poems?

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550–1604) was a courtier who wrote a number of love poems. Several of his poems appeared in print in a number of anthologies and miscellanies (according to ...
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Origin of “walking to the end of the rainbow”

I have a problem translating a particular idiom to an other language (Arabic if this is relevant). The idiom is as in the title: "People of that age [middle aged people in their 40's] become little ...
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To what extent did Defoe attempt to apply formal realism in Robinson Crusoe?

I recently finished writing a paper on Robinson Crusoe for my English class on the rise of the novel. We had read the novel concurrently with excerpts from Ian Watt's The Rise of the Novel, in which ...
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What is the origin of epigraphs?

What are the origins of putting epigraphs in a work? Wikipedia has this example from 1700, but no explanation on when or why epigraphs came into vogue. Facsimile of the original title page for ...
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Does literary theory have a technical term for a writer publishing the first version of one of their works in a foreign language?

Does literary theory know a technical term for the following: An accomplished writer intentionally publishes the first version of one of their texts in a language which they neither know (well), ...
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How and why did the story of King Cnut change?

The 11th-century king Cnut/Knut/Canute of Denmark, Norway, and England is today best known for the story of how he sat on the beach commanding the waves to turn back. The original (?) account of this ...
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Did the SDS invent a new literary form?

In 1965 Arthur Waskow "asked [Paul Booth] whether anyone had ever considered the possibility that the New Left was inventing a 'new literary form.'" (Smoking Typewriters 21, McMillian 2011; ...
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Type of book written by L.M Alcott

Somewhere or other, many years ago, I read that there was a name for the type of book written by the likes of L.M. Alcott. That they were a backlash against the novels of the time and meant to teach ...
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What does post-modernism mean in terms of literature?

In trying to learn about literature I have frequently encountered the idea of post-modernism. But as I have little humanities experience I have had trouble getting my head around the concept. Can ...
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What is the difference between a philosophical novel and a novel of ideas?

Wikipedia calls the novel of ideas a subgenre of philosophical fiction, without defining the first term. The Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory (2010) uses the terms "novel of ideas" and "...
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Was “It was a dark and stormy night” deliberately purple prose?

Edward Bulwer-Lytton's novel Paul Clifford is most famous for its opening phrase, "It was a dark and stormy night". Today, this phrase is seen as a textbook example of purple prose - writing which is ...
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Why was the text of “HaTikvah” changed?

"HaTikvah," Israel's national anthem, was adopted from an earlier poem called "Tikvateinu," by Naftali Herz Imber. Here is the official text of the anthem (translation and transliteration can be found ...
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Is there any indication that Poe feared live burial?

Many of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories feature burial while alive; in one case, the subject of the story actually suffers from taphophobia before his own live burial. (Wikipedia helpfully includes a ...
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Why do we study the Tone when analyzing a passage?

The definition of Tone seems to be entirely based on author's intent. But I remember reading that modern Literary Analysis heavily discourages relying on author's intent when Analyzing a passage. Why ...
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When did men dressed as women stop being the norm in English theatre?

This excellent answer by Joshua Engel draws a comparison between men dressed as women in Shakespeare-era plays and perspective jumps in modern cinema: The audience would, of course, have been aware ...
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History of Spoilers

I live in the USA, where people react poorly if you spoil a move or a book for them. However, the question What is the benefit in the Prologue "spoiling" the play in Romeo + Juliet? raises ...