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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What was the first book that explicitly used “A Hero's Journey” as a checklist?

Obviously, many stories told fit "A Hero's Journey" - that's the whole point of it. George Lucas was famous for explicitly making the Star Wars story based on Campbell's checklist and acknowledging ...
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What is the earliest hybrid graphic novel?

Malice (2009) was the first hybrid graphic novel I read, though I've seen more than one other since. By "hybrid graphic novel," I mean a book that contains passages of both traditional, unillustrated ...
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When was the Holy Grail first depicted as an object to be owned by its seeker?

While the Holy Grail was always depicted as an important or powerful relic, in medieval literature I have never seen a quest to own the Grail, only to seek it in a spiritual sense. In early stories, ...
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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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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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What evidence is there for the “recession of accent” theory?

In the late 19th and early 20th century, there was a theory that certain oddities in the rhythms of Shakespeare and other early modern English poets could best be explained by recession of accent. ...
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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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Earliest European novel that was set during an epidemic

Wikipedia's list of epidemics shows that epidemics have plagued us for almost as long as recorded history. Some great works of literature describe events caused or triggered by an epidemic, for ...
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Is A Supplement to the Journey to the West from the 17th century the oldest Chinese work of literature involving time travel?

A Supplement to the Journey to the West is a Chinese novel from around 1640 that was written as a type of addendum to the great classic novel Journey to the West. Journey to the West is set during the ...
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Lack of Proper Ending in Stories by Old Indian Authors

I have read quite a few stories by old Indian authors who wrote in Hindi and Urdu in the early twentieth century. I noticed a trend of them not completing their stories or providing an ending and ...
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(How) have the interpretations of Macbeth's ending evolved over time?

I just attended a performance of Macbeth that ended on a much more ambivalent note than Shakespeare's original text. Instead of Malcolm and his posse picking up the shambles and Malcolm motivating his ...
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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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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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Earliest example of older male author being flattered by female fan, breaking relationship after discovering she confused him with famous namesake

I'm sure I have seen this theme in literature or film more than once: An older male author is flattered by a young, female student, after she says she loves his books. They start a relationship. ...
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Who introduced the term close reading in the context of literature?

The Wikipedia article Close reading discusses the history of the concept and the influence of I. A. Richards and others on the New Criticism: American New Critics in the 1930s and 1940s anchored ...
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Frank Kermode's prelude to modernism

Frank Kermode's The Genesis of Secrecy has the following quote: One motive of... modernism was the desire to break with a tradition of writing supposed to have been based on a mistaken or dishonest ...
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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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Did Akutagawa Ryunosuke influence others?

Akutagawa Ryunosuke's suicide is considered the end of the literary tradition of the Taisho period (see the article "The Disintegrating Machinery of the Modern: Akutagawa Ryūnosuke's Late Writings"), ...
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Was Roald Dahl the first to use the “Hitler twist?”

In his story "Genesis and Catastrophe" [1959] , also called "A fine son", Roald Dahl uses a plot twist that has been done so often that it is an eye-roller: revealing near the end ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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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Earliest work of English literature featuring “human hunting”

George R. R. Martin's first novel, Dying of the Light (1977) contains a manhunt. This is not a manhunt in the context of law enforcement or a military operation, but refers to a “hunting party” in ...
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243 views

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 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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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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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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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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Oldest Native American book?

What's the oldest book written by a Native American? In a language created by a Native American, of course. Specifically I mean any written publication in a invented written alphabet.
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50 views

Origin of the phrase “back when the animals could still speak” in Dutch fables or fairy tales

In Dutch, some fables or fairy tales (or both) begin with the words "[lang geleden] toen de dieren nog spraken / konden spreken", i.e. "[a long time ago] back when the animals still ...