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973 questions with no upvoted or accepted answers
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26
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592 views

How did real historical Igbo society differ from its portrayal in Things Fall Apart?

I recently read Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, and found its detailed portrayal of historical Igbo (aka Ibo) culture very interesting. My understanding is that it's a reasonably close ...
22
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0answers
568 views

Which Tintin books were redrawn by Hergé?

The first nine albums were originally published in black and white, with colored editions to appear later: Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (never redrawn in colour ) Tintin in the Congo Tintin in ...
22
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0answers
388 views

Was Poe's The Pit and the Pendulum at all inspired by A Predicament?

Poe's satirical short story A Predicament tells the story of a woman who is slowly decapitated by the minute hand of a large cathedral clock. In all its ridiculous, it was supposed to be a horror ...
21
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0answers
314 views

What did Wodehouse say about writing in the first-person?

P. G. Wodehouse is known as a consumate stylist, and a lot is known about how he plotted and wrote his novels. Did he ever say anything about his writing in the first person? I'm particularly curious ...
20
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0answers
278 views

Is the treatment of Jar Jar Binks in Aftermath: Empire's End a reflection of audience treatment?

In one of the Interlude scenes in the book Star Wars Aftermath: Empire's End, a child interacts with Jar Jar Binks, and gives more details about how the adults don't like him due to their beliefs that ...
20
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0answers
547 views

Are Frog and Toad more than just friends?

In a 1977 interview with The Lion and the Unicorn, Arnold Lobel said: You know, if an adult has an unhappy love affair, he writes about it. He exorcises it out of himself, perhaps, by writing a ...
17
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0answers
137 views

Do Daniel Handler's novels for adults share themes or tone with his Lemony Snicket work?

Daniel Handler's A Series of Unfortunate Events, written under his Lemony Snicket pseudonym, delves into a great many intriguing themes -- the blindness and dysfunctionality of modern society; living ...
16
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0answers
126 views

Who said that Allingham “polished her prose until it shone over-bright,” and where?

Somebody read to me from a book about Allingham long ago that she would "polish her prose until it shone over-bright" and then dictate it to her husband to reduce it to a more readable vernacular. I ...
15
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110 views

What is the Pasifika response to “Nation”?

Pratchett's "Nation" was recommended to me because it depicts an alternate reality version of Pasifika cultures, faiths, and traditions. A quick glance at Wikipedia tells me it's got cannibals and ...
15
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606 views

How did Lee's personal experience affect the narrative of To Kill A Mockingbird?

Many Southern authors of Harper Lee's time period wrote very autobiographical works. This led me to wonder how much Harper Lee's personal life was reflected in the narrative of To Kill A Mockingbird. ...
15
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269 views

What does the letter V in Thomas Pynchon's book symbolize?

Obviously, V. is a character in the book, known only by her initial. That initial is also the title of the book, which actually includes the period. But I assume this title/name symbolizes something ...
15
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300 views

How did T.S. Eliot's literary criticism affect his poetry?

T.S. Eliot wrote influential essays in New Criticism, a literary theory movement that if I understand correctly tried to revive formalism and focus on close reading and the text itself, as a response ...
15
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1answer
262 views

Overpopulated world, where volunteers are being taken to be converted to food

I've read a lot of stories over the years, and Google is not being kind to my search terms (it probably flagged something with NSA or Homeland Security, too). The book I'm thinking of is set in an ...
14
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0answers
244 views

What was the first book that explicitly used “A Hero's Journey” as a checklist?

Obviously, many stories told fit "A Hero's Journey" - that's the whole point of it. George Lucas was famous for explicitly making the Star Wars story based on Campbell's checklist and acknowledging ...
13
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131 views

What is this mid-20th century British adventure novel?

I’d like help finding a novel I loved as a child. The points I can remember: It was set and written in mid-20th century England, perhaps the 1950s. Perhaps aimed at schoolchildren of the time - a ...
13
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121 views

Was “Earthly Powers” actually based on Burgess' private, and secret life?

The gay-oriented book Earthly Powers (1980) was narrated by an 81-year-old successful, homosexual writer, Kenneth Toomey, a figure loosely based on W. Somerset Maugham. However, it seems that ...
13
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1answer
797 views

Is there any evidence for a gay relationship in The Merchant of Venice?

A couple of years ago, I went to a stage performance of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, in which Antonio and Bassanio were portrayed as being in a gay relationship together since before the ...
13
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1answer
420 views

What is the Neverending Story's moral about power?

In Michael Ende's brilliant novel The Neverending Story, the world of Fantastica is ruled by the Childlike Empress, a mysterious ruler who is given a different name each time a new human comes to her ...
13
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1answer
71 views

Why don't the modern printings of Campion novels use the original artwork?

Youngman Carter painted beautiful bespoke art for the covers of Margery Allingham's mystery novels, and his style became associated with her work. Why don't the modern reprints of the Campion novels ...
12
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1answer
1k views

Is Ozma a lesbian character?

Throughout the Oz books, we see that Ozma has several indicators of perhaps being gay: She never takes a boyfriend, she has a... erm... very close friendship with Dorothy, and some people claim that ...
12
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0answers
76 views

Who can nominate candidates for a Nobel Prize in Literature?

I was reading the Nobel Prize website page on the nomination and selection of Literature Laureates, and didn't quite understand the list of people and organisations eligible to submit nominations: ...
12
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303 views

What is the earliest hybrid graphic novel?

Malice (2009) was the first hybrid graphic novel I read, though I've seen more than one other since. By "hybrid graphic novel," I mean a book that contains passages of both traditional, unillustrated ...
11
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77 views

Were the early sexual experiences of Lolita and her classmates inspired by the real experience of children in New England in 1947?

In the last pages of part 1 of Nabokov's Lolita Humbert relates Dolores's description of her own previous sexual experiences, in the course of which she mentions ways in which some of her coevals at ...
11
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0answers
155 views

When was young Cosette's bedtime?

While the song "Come to Me" was probably not intended as a treatise on astronomical timekeeping or 19th-century French child-rearing, some of Fantine's lines (taken at face value) fit together for a ...
11
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500 views

Which traits of Milton's Lucifer from “Paradise Lost” did Neil Gaiman carry to “The Sandman”?

Lucifer Morningstar, the Vertigo Comics character, was created by Neil Gaiman with influence from John Milton's Paradise Lost - at least that's what is written on his Wikipedia page, and even on the ...
11
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183 views

What is the role of Jane Eyre in The Cider House Rules?

In The Cider House Rules, Jane Eyre and several works by Charles Dickens (such as David Copperfield and The Great Expectations) are repeatedly mentioned and cited. One of the roles of David ...
11
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128 views

Help me identify an old children's picture book featuring anthropomimetic arthropods

The book in question was written prior to 1990. The pages probably had no words — I was able to read at the time, so either it was not narrated or the words were not memorable. Each page, or pair of ...
11
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1k views

Why did Tarzan write his name as “Tarzan”?

In chapter 13 of Tarzan of the Apes (His Own Kind), the notice posted by Tarzan reads: THIS IS THE HOUSE OF TARZAN, THE KILLER OF BEASTS AND MANY BLACK MEN. DO NOT HARM THE THINGS WHICH ARE ...
11
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101 views

Did Charles Dickens change the endings of any of his books other than Great Expectations?

I know that Charles Dickens changed the ending to Great Expectations after prompting. Did he do so with any of his other books? Of course, he may have changed the endings of all his books a hundred ...
11
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0answers
67 views

Did Pushkin ever deliberately copy the style of anyone else?

Beginning, or less talented, writers often consciously or subconsciously imitate the style of earlier creators. Are any works by Pushkin (past the age of 20) known to copy someone else's style, ...
10
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0answers
71 views

What is the theology of Little Women?

Little Women is partially inspired by Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, with chapter titles and themes borrowed from Bunyan's story, and reading the book itself being an early activity the girls share. ...
10
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1answer
416 views

Is John Milton's Lucifer a tragic hero?

Loosely related: Was Paradise Lost the first major work of literature to give "sympathy for the devil"? In Paradise Lost, Lucifer/Satan appears to have at least some heroic characteristics, ...
10
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10k views

What's the origin of the rhyme “My friend Billy had a ten foot willy”?

A simple rhyming song which I heard growing up and which still gets stuck in my head every so often: My friend Billy had a ten foot willy. He stuck it through the neighbour's door. OR He showed ...
10
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0answers
615 views

A story in which a young girl saves a poor boy from a factory owner and meets that boy decades later

Yesterday, I was reading a 5th grader's comprehension book. It had multiple excerpts from good (if not well-known) novels. One of them particularly stood out to me. It was about a woman who lived in ...
10
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0answers
114 views

“The Dearest Charms in France” - French story about soldiers, a lottery, and a famous prostitute

Several years ago, I read a memorable short story included as an example (of what, I don't recall) in a book about writing. The story was set in a historical era of France. I believe it was ...
10
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0answers
90 views

Is “Battlefield Earth” good science fiction by Hubbard's standards?

L. Ron Hubbard says that to be "pure," "credible," and "have a point," (all things he clearly values highly) science fiction must be plausible; limited in its possibilities; have to do with material-...
10
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0answers
106 views

Why, at the begining of the tale Jealous Twins, does the storyteller frame the story?

The Verba Africana website is a fantastic website that publishes recordings, transcriptions, and analysis of African oral literature. One of the stories published on the site is called Jealous Twins; ...
10
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80 views

Are the five narrators in The Fifty Year Sword more than a gimmick?

Mark Z. Danielewski's The Fifty Year Sword is told by five narrators whose parts were ostensibly collected in interviews and tightly interleaved. Quoting the first page: Maybe because the history ...
9
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0answers
210 views

Why does Tom Sawyer forget what “ransom” means?

In Chapter XXXIII of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tom explains "ransom" to Huck. But in Chapter II of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Tom has no idea what ransoming is. Is this just Twain ...
9
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0answers
101 views

What methods have been used to distinguish the text between the two strands of The Neverending Story?

I've owned two copies of Michael Ende's The Neverending Story in my life - both English translations, one paperback with a blue cover, one hardback with a red cover inside the dustcover. Both of them ...
9
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0answers
287 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 ...
9
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0answers
1k views

Was the Charles Calthrop plot-element in The Day of the Jackal an example of pure coincidence or good detection?

Frederick Forsyth's 1971 novel "The Day of the Jackal" remains an immortal political thriller that defined the 'assassination novel' in popular consciousness. What has always intrigued me is ...
9
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0answers
586 views

Why do some paperbacks have shortened front covers?

Some paperback editions have a front cover which is a centimetre or two shorter than the actual book. I first noticed this on House of Leaves, where I thought that it's just part of the whole ...
9
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0answers
82 views

Why is it important that 'Nowadays it's the girl who takes the initiative'?

In Sophie's World, we have one scene that can be described as a sex scene. It's in the chapter 'The Garden Party'; page 478 in my edition. Here's the relevant part: The guests applauded, and one of ...
9
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0answers
162 views

What exactly was Shadow's crime, and what was Laura's part in it?

There may or may not be unhidden spoilers from the novel here. While watching the fourth episode of American Gods, where Laura and Shadow's mutual history has been revealed (to be the first major ...
9
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0answers
2k views

How is the concept of cultural encounter treated in the short story “One Out of Many”?

In the story "One Out of Many" by V.S. Naipaul, how is the concept of cultural encounter treated? I have a few questions about that: Is the author aware of the cultural encounter theme? How does he ...
9
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0answers
74 views

How long is the Nijni-Novgorod trade fair?

In Jules Verne, Michel Strogoff, part 1 chapter 5, when Michel arrives to Nijni-Novgorod, there's a huge trade fair going on in the city. The text seems to give two contradictory numbers about how ...
9
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0answers
186 views

'Classical' horror short story in which overwork is linked to a supernatural demon

Having just had an exceptionally busy week, I've been trying to recall the details of a relevant short story whose name escapes me. I have the feeling it was a fairly old, 'classical' horror story - ...
9
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0answers
194 views

“The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle”: English vs. Russian translation?

I recently started reading "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" by Haruki Murakami in English and I'm quite enjoying it. However, I learned that the English version — although well-translated — omits ...
9
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0answers
98 views

How fictionalised is “Dust Tracks on a Road”?

I just finished reading Zora Neale Hurston's memoir Dust Tracks on a Road and I thought it seemed to be full of tall tales as well as omissions, though obviously it is based on her real life. In his ...

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