Questions tagged [title]

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

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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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60 views

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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62 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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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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Justification of the title of “Far from the madding crowd” by Thomas Hardy [duplicate]

Ever since I began reading Thomas Hardy the thing that quite struck me is his titles for his works. In the novel Far from the madding crowd (usually called his first major literary success), Gabriel ...
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27 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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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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49 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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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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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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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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120 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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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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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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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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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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227 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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98 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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235 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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325 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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85 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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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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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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525 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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503 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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380 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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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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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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215 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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374 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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Why is this poem by Paul Auster entitled “Spokes”?

The poem "Spokes" by Paul Auster (of which you can read the first few verses here, or the whole poem here if you have Jstor access) seems to be about things in nature - birds, plants, eggs. The only ...
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Why is the last title in Proust's “Search For Lost Time” not consistently translated as “Time Found Again”?

Marcel Proust wrote a seven-volume French novel called A la Recherche du Temps Perdu. The original French title of the last volume was Le Temps Retrouvé. It seems to me that in these titles Proust ...
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Why rename Kipling's poem “The Beginnings” to “The Wrath of the Awakened Saxon”?

Several white nationalist and neo-Nazi websites have published a modified version of Kipling's poem "The Beginnings." In the new version of the poem, the title was renamed to "THE WRATH ...
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Why is “On Most Surfaces” titled the way that it is given that only one surface appears in the song itself?

Loosely related: Are there two separate narrators in "On Most Surfaces" by The Gathering? The song On Most Surfaces by The Gathering (on their Nighttime Birds album) has the following ...
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Why is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy referred to as H2G2?

I've often heard The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy referred to as H2G2 but never really understood why. I wondered whether anyone actually knew or whether it was just adopted unquestioningly.
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244 views

Why does the Czech translation of “Till we have faces” mean the opposite?

The title of the book Till we have faces by C. S. Lewis is translated into Czech language as Dokud nemáme tvář. I would translate that into English literally as "While we don't have a face" or "Until ...
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Why is Gatsby great?

Jay Gatsby in Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby is no doubt smart, talented, and brave. But he only pursues his own egoistic desires, is quite delusional in his love affairs, does not hesitate to ...
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Why is Pechorin a hero of our time?

In Mikhail Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time (Герой нашего времени), the main hero is Grigory Pechorin, a cynical noble army man, an example of superfluous Byronic hero. The title of the novel has to ...
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4k views

Why is the Agatha Christie play called “The Mousetrap”?

The Agatha Christie play The Mousetrap has not only the longest initial run of any play in history (it's been running continuously for nearly 65 years, mostly in the very same building in London), but ...
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5k views

Why is it called Watership Down?

I am an American, so to me the title "Watership Down" sounds like it is about a boat that is underwater, either a submarine or a sunken surface ship. I now understand that a down is a term for a hill ...
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514 views

Are the numerous hunger references attributed to the title of A Moveable Feast?

In Ernest Hemingway's memoir, A Moveable Feast, there are several references to hunger, both physically and metaphorically. There are so many sorts of hunger. In the spring there are more. But ...
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Meaning of the title “They Shoot Horses, Don't They?”

The title of Horace McCoy's novel They Shoot Horses, Don't They? is also What is the meaning of this enigmatic sentence? How is the crime related to horses?
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What is the significance of the title of the book Wool?

So far, the title doesn't seem to have a whole lot to do with the book content itself. The chapter titles are seemingly all knitting related, and I know the cleaners use wool pads to clean the lenses ...