Questions tagged [short-stories]

For questions about stories with a fully developed plot, themes, and characters, but significantly shorter and less detailed than a novel.

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12 views

What's meant here by “follow him even in thought”?

In "The Vampire of the Village" by G. K. Chesterton, the author was describing Father Brown while visiting some persons, saying: The conversation of Miss Carstairs-Carew, on whom he called ...
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30 views

Why would Marlow have “abused the old church at home for not being a cathedral”?

In Youth: A Narrative, Joseph Conrad writes: “We had fair breezes, smooth water right into the tropics, and the old Judea lumbered along in the sunshine. When she went eight knots everything cracked ...
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What is “a conical flame with a twisted top” in Youth: A Narrative

In the below passage sourced from Joseph Conrad's Youth: A Narrative, Conrad describes a "conical flame with a twisted top". What exactly is it? Of course they very soon found out in the ...
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What is the “hidden something” in Joseph Conrad's: Youth

In Joseph Conrad's short story Youth: A Narrative, Conrad writes What made them do it—what made them obey me when I, thinking consciously how fine it was, made them drop the bunt of the foresail ...
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23 views

Passing Hull-Down

In Joseph Conrad's short story Youth: A Narrative, Conrad writes “The night was fine. In the morning a homeward-bound ship passed us hull down,—the first we had seen for months; but we were nearing ...
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2answers
42 views

What's meant by “It would be almost irregular, if the clergyman’s son were quite regular”?

In "The Vampire of the Village" by G. K. Chesterton, Dr. Mulborough was talking to Father Brown about a Great Scandal in their village, while they were going to a village by a train, saying: ...
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1k views

What is “the poem” that the spider refers to in Philip Dick's short story “Expendable”?

In the short story "Expendable" by Philip K. Dick, the protagonist is a man who can communicate with spiders. At one point, after fighting off a home invasion by an army of ants, the ...
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24 views

Identify a detailed-prose book of Aesop fables

At a school I no longer go to (Sydney, Australia, early 2010s, the book was in English), I read this book in the library that was a collection of Aesop's fables. The author had this very distinctive ...
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1answer
40 views

What's meant here by "[the heresies] are actually unconscious?

In "The Crime of The Communist" by G. K. Chesterton, there is a conversation between many persons about the communism: ‘Well, you’re all very down on Communism, of course,’ said the Master, ...
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146 views

In Connie Willis' short story “Ado”, what is Morticians International's objection to the use of the word 'casket' in *The Merchant of Venice*?

Connie Willis' "Ado" is a short story in which language is censored to an absurd degree so as to not offend anyone. The protagonist is a school teacher who decides to cover Shakespeare, but ...
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1answer
36 views

What's meant here by “over the cosier chambers of Humanism …”?

In "The Crime of The Communist" by G. K. Chesterton, the author was describing three men and the surrounding architecture of Mandeville College, saying: They themselves, in a curious quiet ...
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364 views

Does “entertain about” mean “distract about” or “entertain because”?

In "The Quick One" by G. K. Chesterton, Father Brown was talking to his friend about a murder that happened in the hotel lounge after a very serious altercation between two men because of ...
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1answer
48 views

What's meant here by “Don't mention it”?

In "The Quick One" by G. K. Chesterton, Father Brown was talking to his friend, saying: Didn’t you see how that old man, with the heart of a lion, stood up and forgave his enemy as only ...
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1answer
1k views

Do clergymen usually use spades?

In "The Quick One" by G. K. Chesterton, the author was describing two strange men entered a hotel with beach, saying: Two quaintly assorted figures did, indeed, enter that quiet hotel on ...
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1answer
48 views

Does the title of “Marquis” change the name of its holder?

In "The Chief Mourner of Marne" by G. K. Chesterton, the main character was named James Mair, and his cousin was named Maurice Mair; the author said that after the death of Maurice Mair, ...
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2answers
163 views

What's meant here by “ his serving as second proves very little about what he thought of the quarrel”?

In "The Chief Mourner of Marne" by G. K. Chesterton, Mr. Outram was talking to Father Brown about an old duel between Mr. James Mair, whose second was Mr. Outram himself, and his cousin ...
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363 views

Meaning of “the humility of a charge” in “The Chief Mourner of Marne”?

In "The Chief Mourner of Marne" by G. K. Chesterton, Mr. Mallow went to Father Brown to consult him about very serious problem, but he found him sitting on the floor with a serious ...
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1answer
70 views

Gift of the Magi: Literary Analysis: Symbolism and Ttime

In O. Henry's short story The Gift of the Magi, Della's hair is likened to a "brown waterfall." Why is that symbolism significant? I've been wracking my brain, and I was thinking it maybe ...
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For Maupassant, did only women or people generally have the souls of monkeys?

In Maupassant's short story "Le Signe" / "The Signal", part of the collection Le Horla (1887), the baroness de Grangerie tells her friend the marchioness de Rennedon how a woman of ill repute had ...
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1answer
52 views

Meaning of “private gentleman” in “The Worst Crime in the World”?

In "The Worst Crime in the World" by G. K. Chesterton, Father Brown and his friend, a lawyer, was talking to a rich old man who has lived alone in a castle for a long time, and who has just ...
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How did contemporary female readers respond to the sexual violence in the Contes de la Bécasse?

In Maupassant's short story That Pig of a Morin / Ce cochon de Morin, the narrator, Labarbe, says to a woman he finds very attractive (emphasis mine), Parce que vous êtes une des plus belles ...
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46 views

Short story about humans that portrays them as savages

I am searching for a short story that my 7th grade social studies teacher told me many years ago, and that I have never forgotten. Below is what I remember from the text. I recall it being written ...
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1answer
52 views

Who are “we” in “The Worst Crime in the World”?

In "The Worst Crime in the World" by G. K. Chesterton, a lawyer was talking to Father Brown: “I must apologize for everything I said about the Captain,” he said to the priest as they drifted ...
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41 views

Who is “the man in Dickens” in “The Worst Crime in the World”?

In "The Worst Crime in the World" by G. K. Chesterton, a solicitor was talking to Father Brown about Captain Musgrave whose old father was living in an old castle: “This young Musgrave,” he ...
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736 views

Meaning of “interrupted spirals, inverted cones and broken cylinders” in “The Worst Crime in the World”?

In "The Worst Crime in the World" by G. K. Chesterton, the author was saying in its beginning: FATHER BROWN was wandering through a picture gallery with an expression that suggested that he had ...
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41 views

Relationship between title and protagonist's fate in Tolstoy's God Sees the Truth, but Waits

I went through Tolstoy's story God Sees the Truth, But Waits but I wonder what the title suggests and how it suits the story in regard to the protagonist Aksionov. A good innocent man is wrongly ...
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70 views

How can he be “so shabbily dressed” and “must have been a millionaire”?

In "The Song of the Flying Fish" by G. K. Chesterton, the author was describing a group of neighbours, a collector, a priest, a biologist, a bank manager and a traveller, that usually got together in ...
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49 views

Does “think” mean “think about” or “think by” in “The Secret of Father Brown”?

In "The Secret of Father Brown" by G. K. Chesterton, Father Brown was saying that he prefers studying the murder from inside not outside: I don’t try to get outside the man. I try to get inside ...
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83 views

Meaning of “ethical fellowship” in “The Secret of Father Brown”?

In "The Secret of Father Brown" by G. K. Chesterton, Father Brown said: If you try to talk about a truth that’s merely moral, people always think it’s merely metaphorical. A real live man with two ...
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35 views

What is the meaning of this sentence by H.G. Wells about a “liberal heathen deity”?

It's from "The Empire of Ants" by H.G. Wells. Here is the paragraph it's in: Captain Gerilleau, who was Holroyd's sole distraction from these physical distresses, developed into a formidable bore,...
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87 views

What connects “dripping with gore” and Buddhism & Christianity in “The Dagger with Wings”?

In "The Dagger with Wings" by G. K. Chesterton, Father Brown was explaining some philosophical aspects of the murderer, saying: It was his whole game with me to be as idealistic as possible; and ...
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What is the purpose of all the gustatory imagery (food imagery) in “The Shawl” by Cynthia Ozick?

Anyone who has read the novella The Shawl by Cynthia Ozick might have noticed it is rich with gustatory imagery. In the first part of the novella, food imagery (i.e. lack of food) illustrates hunger ...
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60 views

What's meant by “all things return” in “The Dagger with Wings”?

In "The Dagger with Wings" by G. K. Chesterton, Mr Aylmer was talking to Father Brown, trying to convince him by mesmerism Don’t you feel in your heart that these contradictions do not really ...
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1answer
59 views

What's meant by “in the symbol of windows and of doors” in “The Dagger with Wings”?

In "The Dagger with Wings" by G. K. Chesterton, the author was describing a situation where Father Brown was sitting in a central room with a staircase leading up from it on one side and a door ...
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569 views

What is “negative” and “positive whiteness” in “The Dagger with Wings”?

In "The Dagger with Wings" by G. K. Chesterton, the author was describing the falling of snow,that appeared through a barely opened door, saying: What he had seen shining through the crack was not ...
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241 views

What does it mean to “unmoor criticism”?

The introduction by Pol Neveux to the complete short stories of Guy de Maupassant (the edition that's on Project Gutenberg - I couldn't pin down its exact details) says the following about the article ...
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139 views

Which short stories are falsely attributed to Guy de Maupassant, and why?

Thanks to @GarethRees's sleuthing and editing, I just learned that several French short stories found in the Project Gutenberg version of the "Entire Original Maupassant Short Stories" are in fact not ...
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67 views

Why are only some characters in Petrushevskaya's Hygiene given names?

HYGIENE, By Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, in There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby: Scary Fairy Tales, published this fall by Penguin. Translated from the Russian by Keith Gessen ...
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Political backdrop to “The Lancer's Wife” (Franco-Prussian War)?

"La Uhlane" is a short story by Jean Richepin, whose English translation "The Lancer's Wife" was erroneously attributed to Guy de Maupassant in the Walter Dunne edition of Maupassant's works. It ...
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95 views

What would Mr Aylmer resent in “The Dagger with Wings”?

In "The Dagger with Wings" by G. K. Chesterton, Father Brown went to someone, Mr Aylmer, who was asking for protection against another one who wants to kill him, but the priest wasn't sure ...
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2answers
39 views

What political leanings are being described for Monsieur Carre-Lamadon?

I've just begun reading the complete short stories of Guy de Maupassant, starting with one of his most famous, "Boule de Suif" (variously translated as "Dumpling", "Butterball", etc.) In an early ...
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173 views

Why both “noticed” and “thought noticeable” in “The Oracle of the Dog”?

In "The Oracle of the Dog" by G. K. Chesterton, Father Brown was talking about someone, saying: "To be found with a weapon, let alone a blood-stained weapon, would be fatal in the search that was ...
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1answer
75 views

Meaning of “vision of the world’s desire” in “The Oracle of the Dog”

(Spoilers for the solution to "The Oracle of the Dog".) In "The Oracle of the Dog" by G. K. Chesterton, Father Brown was talking about Brown said (emphasis added), It is the megalomania of the ...
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1answer
41 views

What does “after something had really happened” mean in this G. K. Chesterton story?

In "The Oracle of the Dog" by G. K. Chesterton, the author was talking about a secretary of a murdered colonel, who was very active and always doing everybody’s work, saying (emphasis added): "It ...
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1answer
95 views

What does Dupin mean about a seal formed of bread?

In Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Purloined Letter", a minister known only as D-- has a letter which he is keeping for the purposes of blackmail, and the police prefect G-- comes to Dupin for help ...
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1answer
33 views

Were there really such camps in India as attempts to prevent overpopulation?

Content warning: the story, and this question, concern implied mutilation. In R. K. Narayan's short story "The Edge", which I read as part of his 1982 collection Malgudi Days, the knife sharpener ...
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60 views

What does “in the way of business” mean in “The Oracle of the Dog” by G. K. Chesterton?

In "The Oracle of the Dog" by G. K. Chesterton, the daughter of a murdered rich colonel was talking about her husband, a nobleman and skilled surgeon, who wanted to challenge the secretary to a duel, ...
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17 views

Is artists leaving their art forever a significant theme in R. K. Narayan's writing?

While reading the 1982 collection Malgudi Days of R. K. Narayan short stories, I noticed a common theme appearing in several of them, namely that of an artist who leaves their creative work behind ...
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35 views

Was the Ayah paid partly in clothes, and was this standard practice?

In R. K. Narayan's short story "A Willing Slave" (which I read as part of his 1982 collection Malgudi Days), the old lady known simply as "the Ayah" takes care of many responsibilities, but her main ...
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32 views

Is this a real Indian fairy tale about a monkey who changes colour and marries a princess?

In R. K. Narayan's short story "A Willing Slave" (which I read as part of his 1982 collection Malgudi Days), the nanny Ayah tells a story to the young girl Radha: The Ayah squatted below the cot ...

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