Questions tagged [history-of-literature]

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 [historical-context] instead. For questions about publication dates of specific works or editions, use [textual-history].

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Is there actually such a thing as "OCR-pirated" books?

A recent answer/comment to a different question prompted me to ask this: Why does Tolkien use neither quotes nor cursive writing, and all lower-case, in this specific "quote"? Somebody seems ...
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10 votes
1 answer
618 views

Would the chorus leader typically speak/sing along with the chorus in classical Greek plays?

I had assumed that the chorus leader would speak along with the chorus. He is a part of it, after all. However, when I asked my literature professor on a whim he wasn't completely sure. Doing my own ...
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1 answer
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Why did so few writers seem to work as waiters before the 20th century?

It seems that nowadays working in a restaurant is a very common job for someone who may not have found work requiring more specific qualifications. Yet it seems that of the various trades and ...
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6 votes
1 answer
200 views

What is the oldest preserved stage direction?

A recent answer from Gareth Rees mentioned that: If Classical Greek drama ever had stage directions, our manuscript sources do not preserve them Which made me wonder: what is the oldest stage ...
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5 votes
3 answers
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How was the possessive used in Elizabethan literature?

I've been listening to a podcast called 'The History of English'. In the latest episode it touches on the use of the possessive. In Chaucerian English the possessive was written with an '-es-' suffix, ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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What is the oldest book written in braille?

What is the oldest complete book written in braille?
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7 votes
2 answers
111 views

How were plays in Shakespeare's time advertised?

How were plays in Tudor or Jacobean England advertised (e.g. did they use posters, street-hawkers, etc.)? And how much information would these advertisements have contained? Would an advertisement ...
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-3 votes
1 answer
305 views

What was the first unauthorized sequel?

I'm curious about the role authorial authority has played in the past, especially what the authors themselves believed it to be. Therefore I'm looking for earlier examples of works meeting the ...
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0 answers
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How did Indian literature influence Japanese literature?

The Wikipedia article on Japanese literature opens with the following sentences about the influence of other cultures and bodies of literature on the (nascent?) Japanese literature: Early works of ...
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8 votes
0 answers
86 views

When did detective fiction become primarily about murder?

I was reading George Orwell's essay "Raffles and Mrs Blandish" and came across this quotation, "Some of the early detective stories do not even contain a murder. The Sherlock Holmes ...
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2 votes
0 answers
25 views

When did the terms "Mester de Clerecía" and "Mester de Juglaría" start to be used?

Mester de Juglaría was a genre of Spanish literature from the 12th-13th centuries, which was transmitted orally by travelling entertainers (juglares). It was later surpassed by the Mester de Clerecía, ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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What is the provenance of Story 6 in Day 2 of the Decameron, set against a backdrop of 13th-century Sicily?

Day 2, Story 6 of the Decameron is set against a political backdrop of 13th-century Sicily: it begins with the defeat of King Manfred at Benevento by the new king Charles, and the main characters are ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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How was Il-Kantilena "found", and how is its author known?

The 15th-century Maltese poem "Il-Kantilena" is said to have been "found" in the 1960s by two Maltese historians, but the above-linked Wikipedia page, and other sources I've found ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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What started barons being represented more negatively in literature?

I've noticed that barons more often are portrayed negatively in comparison to lords or royalty (though the latter is a mixed bag). Come to think of it, I can't think of a baron portrayed in a positive ...
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2 answers
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What is the earliest reference to or depiction of a police state in English literature?

In the article Henry VIII: Henry the horrible (The Independent, 12 October 2003), Marcus Tanner wrote (emphasis added), The man now remembered as the godfather of the Anglican church continued ...
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2 votes
0 answers
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What was the first picaresque novel in Portuguese literature?

The first picaresque novel in European literature was the Spanish novel Lazarillo de Tormes, which was first published in 1554. The Wikipedia article about the genre does not mention any examples in ...
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2 votes
0 answers
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How long has Khamba Thoibi been considered a national epic of the Manipuris?

Khamba Thoibi is "a legendary Meitei language epic poem" and "is regarded as the national epic of the Manipuris". The Wikipedia article about Meitei literature makes no mention of ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Which French author or critic claimed that Racine and La Fontaine could not be understood by foreigners?

Jean Racine (1639–1699) is considered "one of the three great playwrights of 17th-century France, along with Molière and Corneille". The Wikipedia article about the playwright contains a ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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How did the Epic of Manas become a national epic of the Kyrgyz people?

The Epic of Manas "is a traditional epic poem dating to the 18th century but claimed by Kyrgyz tradition to be much older". The footer of the Wikipedia article about the epic treats it as an ...
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2 votes
0 answers
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When was any of Fontane's work first included in literary anthologies for use in schools?

Theodor Fontane is now regarded as the most important German-language novelist of the second half of the nineteenth century. His work is now often required reading (German: "Pflichtlektüre") ...
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1 vote
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How long has The Knight in the Panther's Skin been considered a Georgian national epic?

Shota Rustaveli (c. 1160 – after c. 1220) was the author of "The Knight in the Panther's Skin, which is considered to be a Georgian national epic poem." The Wikipedia article about The ...
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3 votes
1 answer
209 views

Until what year was Machiavelli's The Prince banned in England?

Machiavelli's treatise The Prince, written in the early 16th century and first published in 1532, was placed on the Index of Prohibited Books in 1559. According to Robert Bireley, quoted on Wikipedia, ...
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How long has Pan Tadeusz been compulsory reading in Polish schools?

Pan Tadeusz or Master Thaddeus, or the Last Foray in Lithuania: A Nobility's Tale of the Years 1811–1812, in Twelve Books of Verse is an epic poem by the Polish author Adam Mickiewicz (1798–1855), ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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What was the first picaresque novel in Italian literature?

The first picaresque novel in European literature was the Spanish novel Lazarillo de Tormes, which was first published in 1554. The section on the sources of Lazarillo de Tormes in the Wikipedia on ...
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3 votes
1 answer
58 views

How long has Kalevipoeg been considered the Estonian national epic?

According to Wikipedia, Kalevipoeg is "an epic poem by Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald held to be the Estonian national epic". Kreutzwald based his epic on existing oral stories that had been ...
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5 votes
2 answers
889 views

Who coined the term "omniscient narrator"?

In narrative theory, A third person omniscient narrator conveys information from multiple characters, places, and events of the story, including any given characters' thoughts, and a third person ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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How long has El Cantar de mio Cid been considered a national epic of Spain?

El Cantar de mio Cid or The Poem of the Cid is not only "the oldest preserved Castilian epic poem" but also "considered a national epic of Spain". The text may date from the 12th ...
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1 vote
0 answers
23 views

How long has Daredevils of Sassoun been considered a national epic of the Armenians?

Daredevils of Sassoun (or Sasna Dzrer or Sasna cṙer) is an Armenian heroic epic that "is commonly cited as one of the most important works of Armenian folklore". Its main character is David ...
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3 votes
2 answers
74 views

What was the first picaresque novel in Russian literature?

Lazarillo de Tormes, published simultaneously in Alcalá de Henares, Burgos and Antwerp in 1554, is generally considered the first picaresque novel. The Wikipedia article about the picaresque novel ...
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2 votes
0 answers
25 views

How long has the Ramakien been considered one of Thailand's national epics?

The Ramakien is a Thai version of the Ramayana. The earliest stages of the Ramayana seem to date from the 7th to 4th centuries BCE, and many other cultures that were influenced by India developed ...
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2 votes
0 answers
45 views

Has any opera ever made a successful transition to the theatre stage?

Some operas are based on plays. For example, Shakespeare's Othello was the source for Rossini's Otello (1816) and Verdi's Otello (1887). Romeo and Juliet inspired Berlioz's Roméo et Juliette (1839) ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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In what way is Jorge Amado's The Violent Land a modernist novel?

The Wikipedia article about Jorge Amado's The Violent Land / Terras do Sem Fim describes this work as "a Brazilian Modernist novel". The corresponding Portuguese, French and Italian ...
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0 votes
0 answers
34 views

In what way is Jorge Amado's Home Is the Sailor a modernist novel?

The Wikipedia article about Jorge Amado's Home Is the Sailor / Os velhos marinheiros ou o capitão de longo curso describes this work as a "Brazilian modernist novel". The corresponding ...
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3 votes
0 answers
16 views

In what way is Jorge Amado's The Discovery of America by the Turks a modernist novel?

The Wikipedia article about Jorge Amado's The Discovery of America by the Turks / A Descoberta da América pelos Turcos describes this work as "a Brazilian Modernist novel", even though it ...
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1 vote
0 answers
30 views

In what way is Jorge Amado's novel Jubiabá a modernist novel?

The Wikipedia article about Jorge Amado describes the author as "a Brazilian writer of the modernist school" and adds that he was "one of the founders of the Modernist 'Rebels' Academy&...
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3 votes
0 answers
92 views

Democratizing original occult texts

Search engine results for occult libraries tend to have mostly commercial interests at play (vendors of trinkets and spell books and the like). Another issue I've run into is the genre tends to get ...
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0 votes
1 answer
61 views

What was the first instance of the use of a Closed Time loop as a plot device in a published piece of American science fiction?

What was the first instance of the use of a closed time loop (An event where the cause and effect of a time loop feed into one another, creating a stable and unending chain of causality), in a piece ...
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0 votes
0 answers
28 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 ...
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3 votes
0 answers
45 views

What was the first Belarusian novel?

While reading the Wikipedia article about Belarusian literature and the articles about individual authors who were active before World War II, it struck me that most authors were poets, with some of ...
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20 votes
4 answers
2k views

What is the earliest reference in fiction to a government-approved thieves guild?

I remember reading about the Thieves's guild in Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, and I remember thinking they seemed... Novel? Especially as it was government-approved. One of the remarkable ...
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5 votes
1 answer
291 views

Standard text for "Tristan and Isolde"

What is the standard narrative text to read "Tristan and Isolde"? That is, is there something that is a classical text, not in poem form, something like Le Morte d'Arthur for King Arthur?
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4 votes
2 answers
128 views

What was the first work of fiction about flying machines?

There are two stories by Jules Verne which I know about which captured the public imagination about Flying Machines in the 18th century. The first is the somewhat unknown A Trip Round the World in a ...
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1 vote
2 answers
365 views

Why is Russian literature considered part of Western culture when so much of Russia is in the East?

Russia is a country that straddles both the East and West, and is culturally very diverse. Why and how did so much of Russian literature become part of the Western Canon? To put it another way, why ...
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9 votes
2 answers
1k views

Earliest second-person novel

What is the earliest novel that makes use of second-person narration through the entire book, excluding choose-your-own-adventure books?
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3 votes
0 answers
63 views

How did the Cutty Wren come to be the national anthem of Tristan da Cunha?

"The Cutty Wren", a traditional English folk song, is the "territorial song" (like national anthem for a British Overseas Territory?) of Tristan da Cunha, one of the remotest ...
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2 votes
0 answers
58 views

What is the cultural history of family “kissing” in Victorian/Edwardian novels?

I read a lot of Victorian/Edwardian fictional novels, mostly books that were geared towards female readers. Often enough, family members are described as kissing each other. Sometimes a kiss on the ...
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8 votes
1 answer
393 views

Origin of the story of Gilbert and the Saracen maid

A popular legend about the parents of Thomas Becket (1118–1170), Archbishop of Canterbury, is retold by Charles Dickens in A Child's History of England: Once upon a time, a worthy merchant of London, ...
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3 votes
1 answer
130 views

The earliest novel with a robot who isn't "human enough"

Thomas Jones, writing about the Kazuo Ishiguro novel Klara and the Sun, says: Ishiguro doesn’t get tangled up in the complexities of neural networks, machine learning, algorithms or the difficulties ...
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7 votes
1 answer
270 views

What classic mystery novels and stories led to "the butler did it" becoming a cliché?

"The butler did it" is a common trope indicating a hackneyed solution to a mystery. I have read several classic mysteries from the 1920s and earlier (Poe, Conan Doyle, Christie, Sayers, etc.)...
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27 votes
2 answers
4k views

Since when has Shakespeare's "Scottish play" been considered unlucky?

In theatrical superstition, Shakespeare's play Macbeth is considered to be unlucky, to the extent that even saying its name more than necessary may bring bad luck: hence the tradition of actors ...
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