Questions tagged [title]

Questions specifically about the titles of literary works: their meaning, purpose, reception, significance, etc.

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Why are so many Agatha Christie novels published with multiple titles?

For example: And Then There Were None was first called Ten Little Indians; The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side was later shortened to The Mirror Crack'd; Death in the Air is also known as Death in ...
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15 votes
3 answers
2k views

What is meant by the title "The Color of Money"?

I remember encountering the phrase when I was a kid, not knowing the context, not being able to get a satisfactory answer from the adults, and figuring I'd discover it when I was older. Now it's 700 ...
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2 votes
1 answer
104 views

What is the correct title of Sara Coleridge's poem about the months?

Sara Coleridge's poem begins: January brings the snow makes our feet and fingers glow I have seen this listed as: The Garden Year The Months January brings the snow What is the correct / original ...
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2 votes
1 answer
56 views

Why does Amado repeat the word morte in the title of his novel A Morte e a Morte de Quincas Berro d'Água?

The title of Jorge Amado's novel A Morte e a Morte de Quincas Berro d'Água (1959) has been translated in various ways: The Two Deaths of Quincas Wateryell, The Double Death of Quincas Water-Bray (...
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5 votes
1 answer
117 views

What does "in Twos and Threes" mean in this Robert Bly poem?

I'm reading Bly's book of poems Stealing Sugar from the Castle. I cannot understand the title of "Love Poem in Twos and Threes". Does "in Twos and Threes" mean small groups of ...
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7 votes
1 answer
604 views

Why has this Premchand story been translated as both "Catastrophe" and "A Positive Change"?

There is a Premchand short story whose original Hindi title is "Vidhwans"; it's been translated into English as "Catastrophe", as seen here, but the same story has also been ...
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1 vote
0 answers
65 views

Why would "Bareface" be mistaken for a Western?

From the Wikipedia page on C.S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces: C. S. Lewis originally titled his working manuscripts "Bareface". The editor (Gibb) rejected the title "Bareface" on ...
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5 votes
2 answers
99 views

Was the title of "O Russet Witch!" a quotation from somewhere?

Fitzgerald's story "'O Russet Witch!'" appears in his collection Tales of the Jazz Age. The quotation marks are part of the story's title; it's the only story in the collection to sport this ...
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6 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why is Roald Dahl's short story called "Nunc Dimittis"?

Roald Dahl wrote a short story called "Nunc Dimittis" (though Wikipedia states that it was first published in 1953 as "The Devious Bachelor"). The story is described here on ...
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1 vote
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What if it were named '*The* Animal Farm'?

This question was inspired by a recent comment to a previous question of mine. In that question, I asked about the literary effect of dropping the articles from titles of novels and films. Even there, ...
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4 votes
2 answers
146 views

Who is "The Rithmatist"?

The Rithmatist is a book (first in a planned series by the same name) by Sanderson. Who exactly is "the" Rithmatist referred to by the title? The school that is the main setting for the book ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Why is Amy Chua's book called "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" instead of "Battle Hymn of the Mother-Tigress"?

In my language, the title of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother has been translated as Боевой гимн матери-тигрицы, which translates to "Battle hymn of the mother-tigress". I think Ms Chua meant ...
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2 votes
1 answer
109 views

What is the correct translation of the title "Les Fourmis" by Boris Vian?

The literal translation of "les fourmis" is "the ants". It is one of the titles under which the story was published in English (for example, the translation by Rawdon Corbett). The ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Why is the Marquis de Sade "suddenly a block of abyss"?

The question pertains to Annie Le Brun's Soudain un bloc d'abîme, Sade ("suddenly a block of abyss, Sade", published in English translation as Sade: A Sudden Abyss). What justifies its title?...
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4 votes
1 answer
360 views

What does "speed the plow" mean in David Mamet's play?

What does Speed-the-Plow mean in David Mamet's play? I know that it is a traditional song that farmers sang to ask God to bless their crops. But I can't figure out the relationship between the meaning ...
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1 vote
0 answers
343 views

Justifying the title of Shaw’s play “Arms and the Man”

The title of Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man is a reference to Virgil’s work, but why the reference? What similarity do they have? The title seems quite consistent if it is seen through the events of ...
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2 votes
1 answer
96 views

How was Jude obscure in Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure?

I have recently completed the novel Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy and as always the title left me baffled. In the whole novel it was Sue who seems (if one just uses one's own viewpoint and judges ...
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2 votes
0 answers
34 views

Does Muriel Barbery's title "The Elegance of The Hedgehog" reflect knowledge of Archilochus' aphorism?

Does Muriel Barbery's title The Elegance of The Hedgehog reflect knowledge of Archilochus' aphorism? Is there information or proof that Barbery had Archilocus' aphorism in mind?
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4 votes
1 answer
146 views

Where did Boccaccio refer to Dante's Comedia or Commedia as the Divine Comedy?

The English Wikipedia article about Dante's Divine Comedy contains the following paragraph, which contains a statement that has no source (emphasis mine): The work was originally simply titled ...
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4 votes
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Why does Petrarch's sequence of poems to Laura have three different titles?

Petrarch's celebrated sequence of 366 poems to Laura goes by three different titles. As far as I can tell, they're used interchangeably: Il Canzoniere, The Songbook Rerum Vulgarium Fragmenta, ...
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2 votes
0 answers
55 views

How do the lyrics of "上を向いて歩こう" relate to its English title "Sukiyaki"?

The English title of the Japanese song 上を向いて歩こう is a head scratcher. The lyrics: 上を向いて歩こう 涙がこぼれないように 思い出す 春の日 一人ぽっちの夜 上を向いて歩こう にじんだ星をかぞえて 思い出す 夏の日 一人ぽっちの夜 幸せは 雲の上に 幸せは 空の上に 上を向いて歩こう 涙がこぼれないように 泣きながら ...
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41 votes
2 answers
11k views

Was the title "The Lord of the Rings" picked on purpose to be ambiguous?

In one sense, it might refer to "the lord of" the rings, as in the person or entity currently in possession of The One ring. In another way, it could (IMO) mean that The One ring is "...
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3 votes
1 answer
200 views

What inspired the title of "Why Didn't They Ask Evans?"?

Why Didn't They Ask Evans? is a novel by Agatha Christie. In the story, a dying man's last words "Why didn't they ask Evans?" inspires an amateur detective investigation, in which ultimately ...
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3 votes
0 answers
43 views

Why was the title of Mark Twain's jumping frog short story changed so much?

I just learned from another question about a short story by Mark Twain entitled "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County", which, when I looked it up online to find a copy-pastable ...
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5 votes
1 answer
227 views

What is the original Korean title of "The Tiger and the Persimmon"?

This short Korean folk story has been variously translated into English: The Tiger and the Persimmon Tiger and Dried Persimmon The Tiger and the Dried Persimmons The Tiger and the Dried Persimmon I ...
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3 votes
2 answers
485 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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5 votes
2 answers
228 views

Why the name "The Winter's Tale" for Shakespeare's play?

The Shakespeare play The Winter's Tale does not actually take place entirely in winter (unlike, say, A Midsummer Night's Dream where almost all the action does indeed take place on midsummer night). ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Why the difference in title between English title and American title of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

In British releases, the mystery novel written by Stuart Turton was released as Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. However, the novel in America is released as The Seven and a half Deaths of Evelyn ...
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4 votes
1 answer
347 views

Origin of the title of "La Dragontea" by Lope de Vega?

Why Lope de Vega titled his poem La Dragontea, what were the prerequisites? I tried to search the etymology of this word but was not successful. Yes, I know that Chinese Dragon Tea exists, but I ...
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4 votes
1 answer
104 views

In what tradition are sagas named some variation of the protagonist's name?

I know some novels or sagas where the title of the work appears to be some variation of the protagonist's name. For example, the Aeneid is named after Aeneas. In high fantasy, the Belgariad is named ...
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4 votes
0 answers
312 views

Is Hemingway's poem entitled MITRAILLIATRICE or MITRAIGLIATRICE?

I read -- a few months ago -- Hemingway's juvenilia poetry & short-story collection stoically entitled Three Stories & Ten Poems. It was published in the early 1920s -- I think 1923, but I've ...
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3 votes
2 answers
139 views

How to understand the title "Wifey Redux"

"Wifey Redux" is a short story by Kevin Barry and I am at a loss as to what the author meant by that title. Literally, it means Wifey Brought Back, but there is no indication in the story which ...
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36 votes
5 answers
6k views

Meaning/translation of title "The Light Fantastic" by Terry Pratchett

I have read The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett in English and always interpreted the title as "The Fantastic (adjective) light (noun)". Mostly because I do not see "Fantastic" ...
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6 votes
1 answer
300 views

Why did Arthur Waley change the title in his translation of Journey to the West?

Journey to the West is a 16th-century Chinese novel whose original title 西遊記 means (according to Wikipedia) "West-Wandering Chronicles". In Arthur Waley's well-known 1942 English translation, he ...
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3 votes
2 answers
164 views

What does "card" in the title "Gwydonius; The Card of Fancie" mean?

Robert Greene's novel Gwydonius; The Card of Fancie was first published in 1584. The novel's main character, Gwydonius, is the only son of the the duke of Mettelyne (presumably Mytilene). He travels ...
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12 votes
1 answer
627 views

Why is the title of "Le Morte d'Arthur" in French if the book is in English?

Le Morte d'Arthur, often considered the first English novel, is an early version of the story of Camelot. The book is according, to Wikipedia, written in Middle English. Why, then, is the title of the ...
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4 votes
0 answers
116 views

Why the title "Agunot" for S. Y. Agnon's short story?

S. Y. Agnon's first influential story is "Agunot" - in fact, his chosen name "Agnon" comes from the same word. The word "Agunot" is the plural form of the word "Agunah", which is the term for a woman ...
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3 votes
0 answers
366 views

Why was Pygmalion retitled to My Fair Lady?

George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion has been adapted many times for different media, but most notably as a musical entitled My Fair Lady. This musical was so popular that some screen adaptations have ...
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7 votes
1 answer
510 views

What is the literary effect of dropping articles from titles?

Quite a few novels and films have titles which, if they appeared as phrases in everyday speech or writing, would normally have to be preceded by an article or other determiner. Some examples: Animal ...
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3 votes
1 answer
117 views

Why is the book called Lorna Doone?

In the book we learn that So I was wondering, couldn't they have come up with a better name for the book? Or was the whole theme of the title supposed to be a mystery?
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1 vote
0 answers
156 views

Why was The Bastard of Istanbul translated into Turkish as "Father and Bastard"?

The novel The Bastard of Istanbul was originally written in English (by a Turkish author, and set largely in the eponymous city in Turkey). It's been translated into various other languages, as listed ...
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5 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why the title Far From the Madding Crowd for the Thomas Hardy novel?

The title of Thomas Hardy's novel Far From the Madding Crowd presumably comes from this famous phrase in Thomas Gray's poem "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard", but I can't really see the ...
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8 votes
1 answer
153 views

What's with the reference to "Alice in Wonderland" in Nalo Hopkinson's "The Reverse Cheshire Cat"?

Nalo Hopkinson's "The Reverse Cheshire Cat" is obviously making a reference to Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, with the Cheshire Cat. The two protagonists enter a shop named "The Reverse Cheshire ...
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9 votes
1 answer
609 views

What is the relevance of the title of Nalo Hopkinson's "A Raggy Dog, a Shaggy Dog"?

I've just read Nalo Hopkinson's short story "A Raggy Dog, a Shaggy Dog" (available for free online from Apex Magazine). It's an odd, quirky tale about an orchid-loving lady who's constantly setting ...
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  • 63.7k
7 votes
1 answer
618 views

Why was "Notre Dame de Paris" changed from "Notre Dame of Paris" to "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" when it was re-published in English?

In the foreword to my copy of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Elizabeth Massie writes this: Victor Hugo's early novel, Notre Dame de Paris, published in 1831 and set in medieval Paris of 1482, was the ...
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7 votes
1 answer
498 views

Savantism by Whitman

The poem I'm trying to understand the following poem by Whitman, called Savantism. THITHER, as I look, I see each result and glory retracing itself and nestling close, always obligated; ...
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3 votes
0 answers
285 views

What is the significance of the title "You Should Have Seen the Mess" by Muriel Spark?

What is the significance of the title of Muriel Spark's short story "You Should Have Seen the Mess"?
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3 votes
0 answers
74 views

Was Pechorin really "not a hero"? [duplicate]

In the famous novel by Mikhail Lermontov "Hero of our time" Pechorin, the main hero of the novel is presented to have all the vices of human-kind. The prologue Lermontov says that, I paraphrase, the ...
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2 votes
1 answer
283 views

Does the title of "The Neverending Story" have a double meaning?

I only recently started the book, so forgive me if I'm missing something that's made obvious later in the book, but does the title of The Neverending Story have a double meaning? Bastian assumes when ...
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8 votes
1 answer
424 views

Are Songs of Experience and Songs of Innocence actually songs? Or is the word song a metaphor?

William Blake's Songs of Experience and Songs of Innocence have the word "song" in their title. Why is that? Are they actually songs? Or is the word "song" a metaphor for something else.
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