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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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.
Lio Elbammalf's user avatar
43 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 "...
B. Braunsdorf's user avatar
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" ...
Piro's user avatar
  • 461
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 ...
Gallifreyan's user avatar
  • 8,413
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 ...
Uk rain troll's user avatar
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?
Wyvern123's user avatar
  • 358
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 ...
Tom's user avatar
  • 684
17 votes
2 answers
10k 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 ...
James Jenkins's user avatar
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 ...
mprogrammer's user avatar
12 votes
2 answers
5k 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 ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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12 votes
1 answer
665 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 ...
steelersquirrel's user avatar
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 ...
Chaim's user avatar
  • 604
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 ...
TGar's user avatar
  • 212
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?
user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
268 views

Why are some people dissatisfied with the titling of "The Red Wheelbarrow"?

I have read that many critics have been dissatisfied with the modern titling of XXII from Spring and All by William Carlos Williams as "The Red Wheelbarrow". Neil Easterbrook was displeased with the ...
Benjamin's user avatar
  • 6,073
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 ...
linguisticturn's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
834 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 ...
Mithical's user avatar
  • 24.1k
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 ...
Mithical's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
709 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 ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.6k
8 votes
2 answers
6k views

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 ...
user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
495 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.
Musical Poetry's user avatar
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 ...
verbose's user avatar
  • 27.6k
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 ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.6k
7 votes
2 answers
4k views

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 ...
user avatar
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: ...
jsx97's user avatar
  • 203
7 votes
1 answer
718 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; ...
user avatar
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 ...
Angela Hu's user avatar
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 ...
equin0x80's user avatar
  • 457
6 votes
3 answers
544 views

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 ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.6k
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 ...
releseabe's user avatar
  • 470
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 ...
temporary_user_name's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
429 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 ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.6k
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 ...
Mithical's user avatar
  • 24.1k
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 ...
Wyvern123's user avatar
  • 358
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 ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.6k
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 ...
mikado's user avatar
  • 2,047
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 ...
calmcc's user avatar
  • 313
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 ...
Michael Weiss's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
619 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). ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.6k
5 votes
1 answer
4k 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 ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.6k
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", ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.6k
5 votes
0 answers
55 views

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, ...
verbose's user avatar
  • 27.6k
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 ...
user12893's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
404 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 ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
  • 44.6k
4 votes
1 answer
486 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 ...
Suncatcher's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
111 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 ...
K--'s user avatar
  • 141
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 ...
bobble's user avatar
  • 9,794
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 ...
verbose's user avatar
  • 27.6k
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 ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.6k
4 votes
0 answers
468 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 ...
G. Ward's user avatar
  • 53