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2
votes
2answers
1k views

Are there any gender-neutral alternatives to the phrase “feminine ending”

A feminine ending is a line in verse where the last syllable is slack. For example, the first four lines of Hamlet's famous "to be or not to be" monologue all have feminine endings. To be, or not ...
3
votes
1answer
98 views

Was the motive behind this ever explained by the author of The Virgin Suicides?

In the novel The Virgin Suicides, we find that every daughter of the Lisbon family has attempted to suicide and succeeded. However, at the end of the novel, we don't find any motive behind all of ...
1
vote
1answer
830 views

What does this 'Each that we lose takes part of us' quote from Emily Dickinson mean?

Each that we lose takes part of us; A crescent still abides, Which like the moon, some turbid night, Is summoned by the tides. Emily Dickinson What does this mean?
1
vote
0answers
78 views

What is happening in the scene with Coldmoon and the geisha?

In chapter two of I Am a Cat, we see this scene:  As we turned at Hotan’s corner another geisha appeared. She was slim, well-shaped and her shoulders were most beautifully sloped. The way she wore ...
2
votes
1answer
783 views

What was the purpose of Sam Black Crow in American Gods?

In Neil Gaiman's novel American Gods, many of the characters Shadow encounters turn out to be somehow part of the world of the gods, even those like Low-Key Lyesmith who'd seemed innocuous. Most of ...
5
votes
2answers
900 views

Catalectic trochaic tetrameter or acephaleous iambic tetrameter? Scanning “Kubla Khan”

I'm currently teaching myself to scan, and I'm practicing with Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" at the moment. You can read the entire poem online. I've arrived at line 32: "Floated midway on the waves;" and ...
5
votes
0answers
77 views

What does the teacher's clothing choice say about him?

In chapter 2 of I Am a Cat we see this chunk of text: He continues to wear his black cotton crested surcoat and, thereunder, a quilted kimono of hand-woven silk which, supposedly a keep-sake of his ...
13
votes
3answers
892 views

What is so satanic about Manchester?

The demon Crowley, living on Earth was as long as it existed, has long been weaving plots to aid Hell in the coming Armageddon. Though, of course, it doesn't seem that good an idea when it starts, ...
4
votes
1answer
932 views

How to scan Robert Frost's “For Once, Then, Something”

I just read a fascinating blog post titled "Frost, Hendecasyllabics & For Once, Then, Something". The blog post describes the challenges of scanning Robert Frost's poem "For Once, Then, Something" ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

What does the line “The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them.” mean in The Gifts Of The Magi?

What was not among whom? What did O. Henry want us to know from this line? The author says this line after Jim hugs Della out of affection after seeing the magnitude of her sacrifice (her hair, which ...
4
votes
2answers
879 views

What do these lines in Edward Thomas's 'This is No Case of Petty Right or Wrong' mean?

Than in the storm smoking along the wind Athwart the wood. Two witches' cauldrons roar. From one the weather shall rise clear and gay; Out of the other an England beautiful And like her mother that ...
6
votes
0answers
57 views

Novel about the future of communication, everything becoming shorter and shorter

Years ago, roaming around in a library, I stumbled across a short novel about the future of communication. I think that it was written in the 70s. Starting from the first appearance of the Reader's ...
5
votes
1answer
969 views

Shakespeare making fun of Shakespeare: listing all of the self-deprecating meta-references in Shakespeare's plays [closed]

One of the things I've noticed through reading Shakespeare is that a lot of his plays include a meta-reference making fun of the play. For example, in Twelfth Night Fabian says "If this were played ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the Myth of Fingerprints?

In Paul Simon's album Graceland there is a song All Around the World. This song has a repeating theme in the verses: This is always some variation of: There was no doubt about it, It was the myth of ...
2
votes
1answer
58 views

Why does the cat call the children 'dear little things' if they treat the cat badly?

The cat in I Am a Cat calls the children 'dear little things': The children, dear little things, now trot off, day after day, to kindergarten: but on their return, they sing songs, bounce balls and ...
7
votes
3answers
5k views

Do a lot of Shakespeare characters break the fourth wall?

Ralph Crown mentions in this answer that a particular line in the play Hamlet could be interpreted as Hamlet breaking the fourth wall, and implies that this is common in Shakespeare plays: Another [...
2
votes
0answers
252 views

Literature and the work of David Lynch

About a year ago I discovered Twin Peaks on Netflix, and I am currently enjoying every moment of season 3. I've really come to appreciate the subtleties and nuances of David Lynch's style of ...
11
votes
4answers
5k views

Is there really a nuclear war in the world of “The Lord of the Flies”?

In The Lord of the Flies, it is pretty clear that there is some sort of war going on outside of the island (the dogfight that leads to the dead pilot, the naval ship that rescues the boys at the end, ...
7
votes
1answer
544 views

Why wasn't O'Brien considered a thought criminal?

Given that O'Brien shows a high level of awareness of the Party's deceptiveness and malice (e.g. the fact that he admitted to being involved in creating and promoting the Goldstein myth), to what ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Why does O'Brien claim that the party didn't believe in solipsism?

In 1984, O'Brien claims that the party's philosophy is not solipsism. Why does he claim that? Was he telling the truth, and how does the party's philosophy actually differ from solipsism? From chapter ...
14
votes
3answers
16k views

The meaning of “The rest is silence” in “Hamlet”

Hamlet's very last words are The rest is silence. What do they actually mean? This being Shakespeare, I reckon the significance of these words cannot be only the banal comparison between death and ...
9
votes
2answers
241 views

Why does Melville call Washington “General” rather than “President”

In Moby Dick, beginning of chapter 10, I read about the resemblance of Queequeg's head to George Washington's: It may seem ridiculous, but it reminded me of General Washington's head, as seen in ...
3
votes
1answer
384 views

How is the Brother Officer being portrayed in “The Hero”?

Siegfried Sassoon's short poem "The Hero" (full text here) is about a young soldier who has died in the First World War, and describes the news of his death being given to his grieving mother. When I ...
6
votes
1answer
175 views

Is this quote by Mr Eastwood a pointed remark by Agatha Christie?

In Agatha Christie's book The Listerdale Mystery, in the story Mr Eastwood's adventure, there is the following paragraph: He knew only too well that the kind of story that the editor in question ...
5
votes
2answers
189 views

Why was Cowen easily seen to have been Cohen?

In Agatha Christie's book The Listerdale Mystery, in the story Swan Song, there is the following qoute: It required no imagination to realise that his father's name had been Cohen. This comes ...
6
votes
3answers
795 views

Why does Ishtar insist on being called “Ishtar”?

There are many characters in Gaiman's Sandman stories that have multiple names; Morpheus is one of them. For the most part, they usually don't mind if someone calls them by one name or another. The ...
12
votes
2answers
174 views

Why is the month of Aprill masculine?

In the first line of the General Prologue of The Canterbury Tales, the month of April is given a masculine pronoun: Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote Why is this?
4
votes
1answer
690 views

On what occasion did Shelley say “Keats was a Greek”?

Once Shelley said, "Keats was a Greek." What was the context? Whom did he say this to?
3
votes
1answer
168 views

Why is the narrator speechless at the end of this short story “Something new”?

I've been reading through some of the short stories written for the (now largely defunct) weekly writing exercise in the Writers SE chatroom. On 28 February this year, the writing prompt was "...
7
votes
2answers
129 views

Novel about teenagers committing suicide

I read this novel about 3 years ago on the train, having borrowed it from a co-passenger. I couldn't read the whole book and I'd like to complete it now. When did you read the story, and how old was ...
4
votes
0answers
293 views

Did Dirk Gently do anything to help Odin the end of Tea Time?

At the end of The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, the following things resolve Odin's troubles: Thor changes an eagle back into a fighter plane, which (unintentionally?) kills the Draycotts, whom ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

What in the Congo causes Marlow's need to lie to the Intended and others back at home?

In Heart of Darkness, Marlow comes back after Kurtz's death feeling unsure about the people around him after witnessing the atrocities of the Congo which are not known to the people back at home. ...
5
votes
1answer
352 views

What does this sentence mean (from 'Dracula')?

To one thing I have made up my mind: if we find out that Mina must be a vampire in the end, then she shall not go into that unknown and terrible land alone. I suppose it is thus that in old times one ...
2
votes
0answers
112 views

Understanding the ending of “The Name, the Nose”

Calvino's Under the Jaguar Sun was originally intended to be a complete novel about the five senses, but Calvino died before completing the novel, which was published as an incomplete collection of ...
4
votes
2answers
68 views

What does “the orchestra broke out” mean?

The short story The Man, the Maid and the Miasma by P.G. Wodehouse ends with the following paragraphs: He bent across the table. 'Isn't this like the old times?' he said. 'Do you remember the first ...
3
votes
0answers
150 views

Who or what is the narrator of “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies”?

I just read Brooke Bolander's short story "Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies", which has been nominated for both Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Short Story after its publication less than a year ago (...
7
votes
1answer
403 views

What evidence is there for Tolkien's One Ring being based on the Ring of Silvianus?

I recently heard a theory that parts of Tolkien's legendarium and the Lord of the Rings story may have been inspired by the real-life Ring of Silvianus: As Wheeler consulted with J. R. R. Tolkien ...
3
votes
0answers
474 views

Does Binti's edan translate to a real-world object?

In Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, the main character Binti has an object she refers to as an "edan" - it's an object that allows her to communicate with another species she encounters, and seems to have ...
3
votes
0answers
714 views

What exactly happened at the end of The Dumb Waiter?

I've read a few critical explanations and exegeses on Harold Pinter's one-act play, The Dumb Waiter. I'm still confused by a few things that happen at the very end, before the curtain. I understand ...
3
votes
0answers
83 views

Is there a word for a literary technique that allows a short passage to be read aloud in more than one way?

I recently started reading Sam Logan's Sam and Fuzzy online, and am greatly enjoying it. In the fifth volume of the NMS Series (Sam and Fuzzy Missing Inaction, "Boundaries, Pt. 9") there's a cute ...
4
votes
1answer
409 views

How much French does Madame Eglentyne know?

In the General Prologue of The Canterbury Tales, we're introduced to Madame Eglentyne, a prioress (a nun). On lines 124-126, there's a confusing passage where we're told that she speaks elegant French,...
6
votes
2answers
542 views

What is a “Cristopher”?

In the General Prologue of The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer describes a character who is a yeoman in service of a knight. It's mentioned on line 115 that the yeoman has a shiny silver "Cristopher": A ...
5
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the difference between a 'metaphor' and an 'allegory'?

What is the difference between a 'metaphor' and an 'allegory'? Their dictionary meanings are too close to distinguish. Explanation with examples will be useful. The definitions I've come across ...
2
votes
1answer
88 views

Are the location inspirations clear from the text of Swallows & Amazons?

Swallows and Amazons, the first book of the eponymous series of children's classics, as well as many of the later books in the series, is set in and around a lake in the Lake District of England. I ...
3
votes
0answers
79 views

Story about a man (teacher) having an affair

I have forgotten the title of a book I read around 10 years ago. The book was fairly old then. The setting was in times of horses, carriages and telegrams. It consisted of a gentleman who went to stay ...
6
votes
1answer
137 views

How many of the Swallows & Amazons stories are metafictional?

When reading the classical children's book series Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome, I started with the eponymous first book Swallows and Amazons, but read Peter Duck before Swallowdale. Thus, I ...
7
votes
0answers
113 views

Identify mystery novel: Past crime uncovered in English village, gossip leading to death(s)

I'm trying to remember a book I read sometime within the last ten years, but although I'm able to recall a fair bit of the story I have no idea of the title or author. I believe it's a "modern" ...
9
votes
1answer
231 views

Mathematics or gibberish? Understanding a description of an alien message in His Master's Voice

I'm reading the 1983 Michael Kandel translation of Stanislaw Lem's His Master's Voice. The plot revolves around a secret military project to decode an alien message. The main character is a ...
8
votes
1answer
128 views

Are there significant differences across the Nordic countries in the traditional portrayal of trolls?

Trolls are a common feature of Scandinavian folklore - and possibly also of those of the wider Nordic region, Finland and Iceland as well as Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, although I'm not sure about ...
6
votes
5answers
15k views

What is the significance of the words of the prophets being written on the subway wall?

The fifth verse of "The Sound of Silence" runs thusly: And the people bowed and prayed To the neon god they made And the sign flashed out its warning In the words that it was forming And ...

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