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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Since when is Daredevils of Sassoun 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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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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Since when is the Ramakien 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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What was the first published book set during a Covid-19 lockdown?

The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic changed the world and many people's lives in countries all over the world in 2020. Much has been written about how writers of fiction have needed to change or shelve ...
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Was Anton Chekhov the earliest to use stream-of-consciousness technique in his works?

Anton Chekhov was a famous Russian short story writer and dramatist. Early in his career, he mastered the form of the one-act play and produced several masterpieces of this genre. I remember I ...
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Who was the first author of humorous ghost stories?

Although Pliny the Younger is regarded as the first author of a ghost story, I think these stories underwent a 360-degree turn during 19th century when Charles Dickens or Oscar Wilde started writing ...
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Was metrical feet decided by the native English speakers? [duplicate]

The metrical feet like Iamb, Trochee and others are based on the sound made when someone utters those words, for example a trochee is a two-syllable metrical pattern in which a stressed syllable is ...
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What's the first "reverse" poem?

I recently discovered an interesting type of poetry. When read one way, it says one thing and when read a different way, the opposite, all with the same words. A sub-type of these is known as the ...
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How and when did the term "spoilers" originate?

Nowadays, the word "spoilers" is frequently used to describe a twist, major plot point, or anything which, if known beforehand, might spoil the experience of reading a story. This whole ...
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Oldest Native American written literature?

What's the oldest written publication that was written in a Native American language?
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Etymology of "iamb", as a genre and a type of metre

An excellent verbose answer says that: Etymologically, the word iambos is related to the Greek word for cripple, with the short syllable representing the lame leg and the long the strong one. ...
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What is the origin of the plot device where a character changes negative views about someone after spending time with them?

I feel like this is a common story element. Someone has a negative view about a person/group of people, and their worldview is changed after they are forced to spend time with that person/group. This ...
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Historical King Ina and Shakespeare's King Lear in the writings of Thomas Hardy

In Thomas Hardy's short(ish) story "The Withered Arm", one of his descriptions of the Wessex countryside features the following cryptic allusion: It was a long walk; thick clouds made the ...
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How has knowledge of the Ur-Hamlet evolved over the centuries?

I recently read in an excellent verbose answer that the existence of the Ur-Hamlet, on which Shakespeare's Hamlet is presumed to have been based, is known from a throwaway line of Thomas Lodge, ...
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What arguments have scholars used to characterise Kafka's The Metamorphosis as magical realism?

In comments below the question What style are Kafka's novels?, Peter Shor said, Kafka has been characterized as "magical realism". On the other hand, there are lots of people who disagree ...
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Symbolism and romanticism as literary movements

I'm trying to understand the difference between Symbolism and Romanticism as literary movements. As I understand it, the symbolists explicitly wanted to distance themselves from the romantics. But if ...
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What characteristics make The Faerie Queene an example of Renaissance literature?

Edmund Spenser's epic poem The Faerie Queene was published in the years 1590 (books I–III) and 1596 (books I–VI, i.e. complete). It is primarily an allegorical work, and allegories were not new in the ...
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Were English poets of the sixteenth century aware of the Great Vowel Shift?

The Great Vowel Shift was a series of changes in the pronunciation of English vowel sounds, marking the dividing line between Middle English and Modern English. A wholesale shift of sounds took place ...
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Who coined the term ‘Shakespearean sonnet’?

So far, we have had at least two questions about the early history of the English sonnet: Who introduced the sonnet to English literature? Wyatt or Shakespeare? Why are Shakespearean sonnets called ...
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Why are Shakespearean sonnets called Shakespearean sonnets?

The term Shakespearean sonnet is frequently used for sonnets with a particular verse pattern and rhyme scheme, namely ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. But from what I can find with a little reading online, this ...
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What is the change in the characterization of the explorers in arctic novels in the past two centuries?

Has the general image of explorers or exploring teams in Arctic novels in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries really changed in essence?
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Dickens invented the scary clown?

Today in "Messages from Firefox" (some annoying thing that comes up in my browser), I saw the following which piqued my interest: Dickens invented the scary clown, the ‘80s perfected it. ...
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Examples of Zeus's Immoral Nature [closed]

In The Odyssey, Zeus happily allows Poseidon to turn a ship into stone, killing everyone aboard. I think it's safe to say most people alive today would consider this immoral. What are some other ...
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What is the origin of the charge that Romantic literature is escapist?

It is somewhat of a cliché that Romantic literature is escapist or at least tends to be escapist. Here is an example: The study and understanding of reasons and nature of the presence of this ...
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Are there well-known examples of "fanfictions" of works written because an author disagreed with the original? [closed]

I wonder if either of these two scenarios ever happened: Author A: writes story Author B: This stinks. writes derivative work of A's work that fixes perceived weakness from the original Or Author A:...
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What is the evidence for the width of the trap in the stage of Elizabethan playhouses?

Scholars of Elizabethan theatre agree that the stage in Elizabethan playhouses could have a trap door, for example in the Globe Theatre (built in 1699) and the Red Lion. In his study Shakespeare: The ...
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Where exactly did Colin Wilson describe Lovecraft as one of the pioneers of the "assault on rationality"?

The Wikipedia article about H. P. Lovecraft contains a section on the critical reception of Lovecraft's work that contains the following unsourced statement: In 1962 Colin Wilson, in his survey of ...
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What is the evidence that Flemish fables or fairy tales began with the words “back when the animals could still speak”?

In an answer to the question Why do many Korean folk tales start with “back when tigers smoked”?, user @Flater, who comes from the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium (i.e. Flanders), claims that the Dutch ...
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Was it traditional to omit the prologue from Shakespeare's plays in the First Folio?

In an older question about the purpose of the prologue in Romeo and Juliet, Cory Howell asked in a now deleted answer: For what it's worth, the Prologue is not included in the First Folio version of ...
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What is an epic and why is there “only one epic in English Language so far”?

I’m quite familiar with novels and stories, if my personal view is concerned I would say that story is just a compact and summarised form of novel. The level of detail in novels is, obviously, much ...
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Did Maupassant and Richepin know each other?

One of the first questions in the Guy de Maupassant reading challenge was Political backdrop to “The Lancer's Wife” (Franco-Prussian War)?. After I was unable to find the story in French, it turned ...
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Who introduced the sonnet to English literature? Wyatt or Shakespeare?

Who brought sonnet to English literature? Thomas Wyatt or William Shakespeare? Their contributions to English literature: Shakespeare wrote a book that contains 154 sonnets, but I couldn't find ...