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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11
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1answer
537 views

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 ...
7
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1answer
100 views

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 ...
9
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1answer
889 views

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 ...
10
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1answer
345 views

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 ...
6
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1answer
186 views

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 ...
10
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2answers
2k views

Why was/is James Joyce's writing revolutionary for its time?

I love his writing, but I don't know why he is considered one of the great fiction writers in English. Why was James Joyce's writing so "revolutionary" for its time? I know that at one time ...
5
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0answers
1k views

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 ...
12
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1answer
357 views

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 ...
5
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1answer
128 views

When did the perspective-switching trend begin?

In many Young Adult novels I have read lately (in the past couple years), the book changes the perspective every chapter (or every page). For instance, The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon (ISBN: ...
3
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0answers
47 views

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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2answers
147 views

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 ...
4
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1answer
797 views

What does postmodernism mean in terms of literature?

In trying to learn about literature I have frequently encountered the idea of postmodernism. But as I have little humanities experience I have had trouble getting my head around the concept. Can ...
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2answers
2k views

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 "...
5
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1answer
621 views

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 ...
18
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1answer
2k views

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 ...
45
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1answer
1k views

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 ...
5
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0answers
85 views

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. ...
12
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0answers
319 views

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 ...
6
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3answers
946 views

Was Twain the first author to write of Zombies?

Although the word is not used, Twain's zany novel of title-frenzy and mad-scientist capitalistic schemes The American Claimant (sequel to The Gilded Age) describes the intent by the megalomaniac ...
9
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3answers
624 views

Why are there so many references to Moneylenders and Jews in 19th century fiction?

In 19th century fiction, there are a lot of references to moneylenders as "Jews". For example, in "Framley Parsonage", by Anthony Trollope, Lord Lufton says "the pocket-books of the Jews are stuffed ...
27
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1answer
3k views

Why are haiku usually of 17 syllables?

One of the characteristics of Haiku is that the poems are usually of 17 syllables (5-7-5). Exceptions exist, of course, but 17 is the norm. Why 17? How did the originators of Haiku come to settle on ...
7
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1answer
249 views

Why is the study of Philology in decline?

Philology is a branch of English academia, described on Wikipedia as "a combination of literary criticism, history, and linguistics". I am no expert, but its central premise appears to be that these ...
58
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7answers
12k views

Has copy protection ever been used in physical books?

"Digital rights management", DRM, is almost a standard in the e-book industry. Have copyright holders ever tried to protect physical books from scanning, for example in a way how banknotes are ...
51
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2answers
9k views

Where did the idea of a “true name” come from?

There's a common trope in Western fantasy that, up until now, I've sort of taken for granted: the "true name." This is the idea that all things have true names that are somehow more closely linked to ...
20
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2answers
755 views

How did the Inklings originate?

The (original) Inklings were a group of Oxford academics and writers, their most famous members including J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Hugo Dyson. They used to meet regularly, ...
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2answers
152 views

Where was the phrase “behind the wind” first used?

In Millennium: A History of the Last Thousand Years, chapter 4 ("The World Behind the Wind"), the second-to-last sentence: On the evidence of the events of the fifteenth century, in the world east ...
19
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1answer
698 views

Was Paradise Lost the first major work of literature to give “sympathy for the devil”?

John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost was first published in England in 1667. While this is long after the Protestant Reformation where alternative ideas about Christianity became slightly more ...
8
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2answers
744 views

How does a book become “an American classic”? [closed]

It seems that, in passing, some books are referred to as "an American classic," or "one of the great American classics." This seems like it's a whole subsection of what counts as "classic literature." ...
4
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2answers
155 views

What is the origin of including formulas in a literary text?

One of the most striking things about Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson was the fact that the novel's text was full of mathematical formulas. In some ways, this approach resembles, for example, ...
14
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0answers
250 views

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 ...
24
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2answers
757 views

Did Borges invent the idea of writing reviews/summaries of imaginary literary works?

In reading short stories by the great Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges, I've noticed a repeated theme: many of these stories are written in the style of a review or summary of a much larger and ...
9
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1answer
270 views

Was J.R.R. Tolkien building on a past tradition when relying heavily on languages he made up?

It is a uncontested and well known fact that Tolkien was a linguist, and he wrote Middle-Earth as a setting for his languages. However, what interests me is whether the approach he took was out of ...
15
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2answers
439 views

Who first referred to Odysseus as Ulysses?

When I was in high school, Homer's Iliad, Homer's Odyssey, and Virgil's Aeneid were taught as a trilogy of sorts. Was Virgil the first Roman to refer to Odysseus as 'Ulysses' or was there another (...
23
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1answer
300 views

Was pretending to be an abridgement of a made-up work invented by William Goldman?

William Goldman's The Princess Bride is famous (among other reasons) for a literary device it employs - it pretends to be an abridgment (or "the good parts version") of a longer work by S. ...
8
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1answer
229 views

Has a parody of a work of literature ever become more successful than the original work? [closed]

I was thinking of this when I read Nineteen-Neighty-Four, a fanfic with My Little Pony ponies in a 1984-ish world. Parodies can be really successful as a way of challenging another work, or the ideas ...
19
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1answer
152 views

How wide was the exploration of Japan's culture in American literature before 1905?

Prior to Russo-Japanese war and Teddy Roosevelt's efforts to end it, I don't recall USA being overly involved with Japan. As such, was that reflective in American literature? How wide/common was the ...
12
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12answers
615 views

What fictional series has the longest release to completion?

I am being inspired by George R.R. Martin and his A Song of Ice and Fire series which is currently at 24 years (A Game of Thrones was released in 1996) since the publication of the first work in the ...

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