Questions tagged [title]

Questions specifically about the titles of literary works: their meaning, purpose, reception, significance, etc. Do not use to ask for the title of a work you partially remember; use [identification-request] instead

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18 votes
4 answers
3k 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 ...
7 votes
3 answers
217 views

Is the title best translated "A Dollhouse", "A Doll House" or "A Doll's House"?

In the foreword to his translation of Henrik Ibsen's plays, Rolf Fjelde explains that the title of the 1879 play is A Doll House: There is certainly no sound justification for perpetuating the ...
4 votes
0 answers
59 views

Does van Gulik's title "The Given Day" specifically mean February 29?

Robert van Gulik's Een gegevan dag was first published in Dutch in 1963 and translated into English by the author as The Given Day the subsequent year. The story takes place on the evening of February ...
18 votes
3 answers
7k views

Why is Dante's Magnum Opus Called a 'Divine Comedy'?

I can see little reason for Dante to name his work a 'divine comedy.' At least with Inferno, I can better see it as a tragedy. Why did he choose to name his work as he did?
12 votes
3 answers
845 views

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 ...
1 vote
1 answer
98 views

How did Hitler get the idea for the title “My Struggle”?

Are there any records elaborating on how Hitler came up with the title for his book? Were there any previous books he was emulating or alluding to? Was he influenced by some literary style in his ...
0 votes
0 answers
85 views

Meaning of “City Lites”

I'm reading The Sellout by Paul Beatty. One of the sections is titled: "City Lites" The first thing that comes to my mind is Charlie Chaplin's famous movie. But what else can be understood ...
5 votes
1 answer
133 views

Who originated "The Life and Lies of xxx"?

The fictional journalist Rita Skeeter famously wrote a book The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. While there have been a number of subsequent ...
2 votes
1 answer
223 views

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, ...
7 votes
1 answer
844 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 ...
3 votes
1 answer
318 views

What does the title of "Leili" mean?

The poem "Leili" by Sarojini Naidu goes like this: The serpents are asleep among the poppies, The fireflies light the soundless panther's way To tangled paths where shy gazelles are ...
5 votes
2 answers
1k views

Significance of the title of "Corn-Grinders" by Sarojini Naidu

Sarojini Naidu's "Corn-Grinders" tells the story of several creatures losing their partners, starting with a mouse killed in a trap, to a deer killed by a hunter, to a bride who's lost her ...
5 votes
1 answer
677 views

Where was the story first told that the title of Vanity Fair come to Thackeray in a "eureka moment" in bed?

In his preface to Summer Lightning, P. G. Wodehouse makes reference to the story that William Makepeace Thackeray had a "eureka moment" in bed wherein he, Thackeray, suddenly had the idea ...
9 votes
2 answers
810 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 ...
1 vote
2 answers
113 views

Difference between two similarly-named books - 'The Bear Who Wanted to [Be|Stay] a Bear'

My daughter told me she wants to read the book The Bear Who Wanted to Stay a Bear by Jörg Steiner with me, probably after reading it at school. Google yields search results for these differently-but-...
22 votes
2 answers
5k views

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 ...
2 votes
1 answer
195 views

Why did Gurnah title this story "Cages"?

The short story "Cages" by Abdulrazak Gurnah is about a man, Hamid, who works as a shopkeeper - his day-to-day life and his feelings for the young woman Rukiya who comes to his shop. What is ...
7 votes
2 answers
630 views

A website to see the complete list of titles under which the book was published

There are many "old" books that are known by different titles. For example, La Mule sans frein (English: The Mule Without a Bridle), which is also known as La Demoiselle à la mule (English: ...
6 votes
1 answer
503 views

What is the relationship between Angelou's poem "Caged bird" and book "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings"?

What is the relationship between the poem "Caged bird" and the book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings? One seems to be an autobiography and the other a poem, but they have overlapping titles ...
2 votes
1 answer
122 views

What is the significance of the chapter title “Detention With Dolores”?

In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix the title of the thirteenth chapter is “Detention With Dolores”. It strikes me as odd that Dolores is used in the title, as the book is from Harry’s ...
-4 votes
1 answer
137 views

Why do authors and publishers allow inscrutable titles? [closed]

I’m thinking of books such as Consider Phlebas by Banks. The book was big in sci-fi and launched a ten-book series, but you would never know what the heck the title is about. How is that allowed to ...
3 votes
1 answer
284 views

What does the title "Three Parts Dead" mean?

The first book in Max Gladstone's Craft Sequence is Three Parts Dead. While it's certainly an intriguing title, after reading the book I'm still confused about what it is meant to refer to. Who's &...
11 votes
1 answer
351 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 ...
3 votes
0 answers
61 views

Do sign-language works typically have native sign-language titles?

While doing some looking into sign language literature for a current topic challenge, I noticed that all the works I was coming across, while entirely in sign language themselves, were given English/...
14 votes
1 answer
943 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 ...
6 votes
1 answer
270 views

Choice of title in Nausea (Sartre)?

Long ago a reader of this book told me that Sartre wanted a word that described something worse than pain (I see in the wikipedia article that the original title was Melancholia) or perhaps some ...
5 votes
1 answer
859 views

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 ...
4 votes
0 answers
112 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 ...
2 votes
1 answer
83 views

Common practice for references to oeuvres with multiple titles

Many historical oeuvres are known by multiple names and/or multiple variations of each name. For example: The title of Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur was originally written as Le morte Darthur, ...
5 votes
0 answers
60 views

Why is "warm" removed in the translated English title of Eberhardt's "In the Shadow of Islam"?

Isabelle Eberhardt's book Dans l'Ombre Chaude de l'Islam has a title whose direct English translation would be "In the Warm Shadow of Islam". My guess is that the word "chaude", ...
5 votes
1 answer
315 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 ...
5 votes
2 answers
144 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 ...
4 votes
1 answer
810 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 ...
4 votes
2 answers
162 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 ...
7 votes
1 answer
196 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 ...
2 votes
1 answer
76 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 (...
2 votes
1 answer
545 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 ...
1 vote
0 answers
73 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 ...
2 votes
1 answer
178 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 ...
6 votes
1 answer
2k 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 ...
9 votes
1 answer
179 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 ...
35 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" ...
3 votes
1 answer
240 views

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 ...
3 votes
1 answer
266 views

What is the meaning of "hearth" in Charles Reade's work The Cloister and the Hearth?

I haven't read the book. The author of the article I'm translating mentions him and his novel, I need to include the exact translation of the title but I'm not sure what he meant. Is it a home, a ...
2 votes
1 answer
132 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?...
10 votes
1 answer
8k views

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?
2 votes
1 answer
482 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 ...
3 votes
0 answers
885 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 ...
1 vote
0 answers
1k 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 ...
20 votes
4 answers
7k views

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 ...