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14
votes
3answers
829 views

Why is the tense wrong in the beginning of The Stranger?

The first lines of Albert Camus' The Stranger go something like this: Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday It's told in the present tense, as in, when Meursault is recounting the event it had ...
11
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
937 views

How old was Tatiana during the main events of “Eugene Onegin”?

Eugene Onegin is a novel in verse, by the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. The main characters are Eugene Onegin, a young and bored man, and Tatiana, an even younger girl who falls in love with ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

What languages should one know to appreciate Finnegans Wake?

I have heard it said that Finnegans Wake is a great work, and my impression is that every sentence has one or two words being a pun of an English word and at least one valid word of another language. ...
77
votes
1answer
10k views

How do we know Humpty Dumpty was an egg?

As depicted in 1870 by James William Elliott's National Nursery Rhymes and Nursery Songs, the nursery rhyme "Humpty Dumpty" goes as follows: Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great ...
16
votes
2answers
3k views

Interpreting the line “'O keep the Dog far hence, that's friend to men” in The Waste Land

I'm hoping to get some insight into line 74 of The Waste Land (you can read The Waste Land online). Here's the passage in question (line 74 is in bold): That corpse you planted last year in your ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

Did Homer base the Iliad and the Odyssey on mythology?

Homer's two epic poems follow the story of the Trojan War through various perspectives. Did Homer make up the stories, or was there some kind of historical/mythological predecessor that he retold (or ...
0
votes
1answer
116 views

Where was the phrase “behind the wind” first used?

In Millennium: A History of the Last Thousand Years, chapter 4 ("The World Behind the Wind"), the second-to-last sentence: On the evidence of the events of the fifteenth century, in the world east ...
14
votes
1answer
709 views

Why is Macondo a city of mirages?

In the conclusion of One Hundred Years of Solitude: [I]t was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind ... We know why Macondo is a city of mirrors: José ...
16
votes
0answers
117 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

Has Robert Frost ever written a poem that doesn't rhyme?

I know a few of Robert Frost's poems, though I'm not an expert, and I've noticed that they all have long and elaborate rhyme schemes. Is this true for all of his poems? Has he ever written a poem ...
13
votes
1answer
2k views

A girl, told that it's wonderful to live in Wales, goes off to live in a whale

This story came to me earlier today and now it's nagging at the edge of my brain. It was a short, somewhat silly, story, part of a collection that I read somewhere in the early 90s. I read it in the ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

Was there a specific being the “Lord of the Flies” was based on?

The Lord of The Flies character might very well be one of the most famous religious figure in literature. Is there any being specifically that the creature was based on?
22
votes
1answer
194 views

How did having a full pot of tea betray the doctor's lowly origins?

Memoires of gedenkschriften van minister Pieter Bas (The memoirs of Minister Pieter Bas) is a satirical biography of a fictional Minister of Education. The book is mostly about the man's youth in the ...
4
votes
2answers
847 views

What is meant by this quote from Walden?

In the first chapter of Walden; or Life in the Woods, Thoreau says: What everybody echoes or in silence passes by as true to-day may turn out to be falsehood tomorrow, mere smoke of opinion, which ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

Was Tom Robinson's trial the only inconsistency between To Kill A Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman?

In case you were unaware, (spoilers for both) This quote is from Go Set a Watchman for those who want proof Was this the only major inconsistency between the two novels? I am not asking for you ...
9
votes
1answer
437 views

In Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, what is the purpose of this character's resurrection?

(Massive spoilers on the book follow). Toward the end of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, a nameless character appears before Childermass and performs various feats of magic, including bringing ...
19
votes
1answer
371 views

How does Shakespeare's iambic pentameter work with Original Pronunciation?

In school, students are often taught about iambic pentameter via Shakespearian examples. These, however, were based on the Received Pronunciation (RP) reading of Shakespeare's works. In reality, ...
10
votes
3answers
5k views

Were all of Shakespeare's plays fully in iambic pentameter?

Were the plays within The Complete Works of Shakespeare entirely in iambic pentameter? I seem to recall singing bits (when there were lyrics) from Twelfth Night and definitely from Much Ado About ...
43
votes
1answer
6k views

Why is there so much technical detail of whaling included in Moby-Dick?

One of the peculiarities of Moby-Dick is that it includes large quantities of information about the science of whales and the practice of whaling. Whole chapters are dedicated to describing the ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

Is religion still an important factor in the world of Fahrenheit 451?

There are several cases in Fahrenheit 451 where it is clear that Christianity, while evidently extremely rare, is still heard of. For instance, Faber notes that Jesus is still known, though in a much ...
15
votes
1answer
353 views

Were R.A. Salvatore's works inspired by real world D&D campaigns?

I have been reading the Legend of Drizzt series by R. A. Salvatore. I am currently half way through Stream of Silver, which is in book two of the collection. While reading this, I noticed that it ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

Is there any merit to reading the Poirot novels in order?

Curtain is Poirot's last case and for fear of spoilers I have not looked up whether it is his last case because he dies. I intend to read it only after I have read all the other novels featuring him. ...
5
votes
2answers
93 views

Use of 'Genius' in Nicholas Nickleby?

In Nicholas Nickleby, people use the word "genius" to describe people they don't even know and in such a way that I do not believe it has the same meaning as we now use it with. For instance, Mr ...
6
votes
1answer
123 views

Why are “last choices” necessary in David Mitchell's Slade House?

In Slade House, by David Mitchell, the twins work complex illusions to tempt their prey into the attic of their house before consuming their souls. The intended victims, however, are always given ...
3
votes
1answer
447 views

Why is there only one of this person in Dark Matter by Blake Crouch?

In the book 'Dark Matter' by Blake Crouch, the central plot theme is a 'box' that creates quantum superposition (see Schródinger's cat) such that, every time you make a decision, an alternative ...
11
votes
0answers
461 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
375 views

Was CS Lewis referencing the uncanny valley?

I recently learned about the concept of the uncanny valley, and it immediately reminded me of the following passage from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Chapter 8 (emphasis mine): "No, no, ...
18
votes
1answer
382 views

Was Paradise Lost the first major work of literature to give “sympathy for the devil”?

John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost was first published in England in 1667. While this is long after the Protestant Reformation where alternative ideas about Christianity became slightly more ...
14
votes
1answer
1k views

How ‘stream of consciousness’ was On the Road? Was it planned or edited?

The Beat writer Jack Kerouac is noted for his "stream of consciousness" writing style exemplified in his 1957 novel, On the Road, but there seems to be conflicting evidence on how "stream of ...
13
votes
1answer
158 views

Was Princess Ida written as a negative commentary on women's education?

One of Gilbert's more controversial librettos is Princess Ida, a story making fun of woman's education. I am asking this question in relation to how Princess Ida should be viewed as a text. If his ...
13
votes
2answers
5k views

What does the raven symbolize (besides death)?

Whenever I ask a friend about the symbolism of the Raven from The Raven, they always seem to say death. Is that the only thing the Raven is meant to symbolize?
12
votes
1answer
171 views

What evidence was there in “The Naked Sun” to suggest that Baley had feelings for Gladia?

I just finished reading The Robots of Dawn, and was quite surprised firstly when Elijah Baley was excited that he'd visit the world Gladia was on, and secondly when at the end of the novel he calls ...
15
votes
2answers
27k views

What is the “Neon god” in “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel?

In Simon and Garfunkel's song The Sound of Silence1, there is the following passage in lyrics: And the people bowed and prayed To the neon god they made What is this neon god? Obviously, they ...
7
votes
1answer
254 views

How long have the cantillation marks been around?

Over the whole Jewish Bible, there are cantillation marks that denote how the text is supposed to be chanted. The sounds differ between places, such as between the Ashkenazi and the Sephardic ...
8
votes
2answers
878 views

What is the meaning of Christmas in In Memoriam A.H.H.?

While reading Tennyson's In Memoriam A.H.H., written in honor of his close friend Arthur Henry Hallam, I noticed that Christmas is a recurring theme. In appears several times: Sections XXVIII - XXX, ...
15
votes
1answer
601 views

Were other characters apart from Alice inspired by real life people?

It is a commonly known fact that Lewis Carroll based Alice in his Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass on Alice Liddell, after she asked him to tell him a story. But were ...
12
votes
1answer
244 views

Should Go Set a Watchman be read as a prequel, or an early draft?

It was established in this question that Go Set a Watchman should be read after To Kill A Mockingbird. However, in the comments, LaurenIpsum pointed out that a better question might be "Should Go Set ...
5
votes
1answer
76 views

Is Abrahamic eschatology utopian? [closed]

Abrahamic eschatology promises a golden age for humanity, an unending time of universal peace and prosperity. The idea of an eternally peaceful and prosperous society united in a common cause seems ...
4
votes
0answers
97 views

Do the symbol pages in The Founding and Manifesto of Zardulism mean anything?

The Founding and Manifesto of Zardulism* has several pages that are... filled with symbols without clear meaning. It's only ten pages long, but three pages (5-7) are dedicated to what looks like ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

Is Professor Moriarty really Sherlock Holmes' arch-enemy in the way some people think?

Some people view Professor James Moriarty as the ultimate arch-enemy to Sherlock Holmes, and that perhaps he may have been a major character in the stories and novels. If you've watched a TV series ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

What was a “ward in chancery”?

Gilbert often had certain ideas reappear in his various operas. One of these ideas was that of a "ward in chancery." From Pirates of Penzance: MABEL: Hold, monsters! Ere your pirate caravanserai ...
11
votes
1answer
188 views

Was Artemis Fowl based on any specific prodigy?

Artemis Fowl, (anti)hero of the eponymous novel series by Eoin Colfer, is a self-described criminal genius and prodigy. He is known to have broken numerous age records, perhaps most notably that of ...
17
votes
3answers
786 views

Are there recorded instances of asexuality in the body of ancient Greek writings?

I've been reading through a fraction of Ancient Greek literature, lately, and an odd thought occurred to me. In nearly every work of Greek literature that is tangentially related to sexuality (which, ...
6
votes
2answers
371 views

Was Shakespeare a religious fanatic?

In the play The Merchant of Venice, Shylock is pretty much disdained and humiliated only because he was a Jew. His thirst for revenge against Antonio is fuelled by the fact that Antonio constantly ...
5
votes
0answers
57 views

What is the significance of the black void in “The Dancer on the Stairs”?

Sarah Tolmie's novelette The Dancer on the Stairs is a kind of portal fantasy, with the protagonist whisked away from our world into a strange fantastical one -- except the place she is whisked to is ...
7
votes
1answer
198 views

Was Susanna Clarke using any particular author's style for “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell”?

Susanna Clarke's excellent novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is written in a very convincing (at least to me) "19th-century literature" style. Not only the language used by the characters but ...
8
votes
1answer
835 views

Was Atticus's name meant to mean anything?

I am currently studying Latin, and somewhere I read about a man named Titus Pompons Atticus, and as a lover of literature, I do not like to assume that it is just a coincidence that Atticus Finch of ...
9
votes
3answers
143 views

What section of literary theory does “pure” analysis fall into?

A lot of literary criticism takes into account historical contexts, and the relation of the text to different philosophical outlooks, stuff like Marxism, etc. I'm interested in analysis which is done ...
9
votes
1answer
418 views

Was Rand al'Thor supposed to be a symbol for Jesus?

Rand al'Thor has several moments that could be considered "biblical", including (spoilers): Has Robert Jordan ever commented on this? I am really looking for a quote by either Robert Jordan or ...

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