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11
votes
1answer
1k views

What's the significance of the witches' name change in Sandman?

As mentioned in another question, the three witches are very significant in The Sandman. While that other question asks for their significance in general, I have a much more specific question to ask. ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

What does Dream's ruby represent?

In Volume One of The Sandman (Preludes and Nocturnes), Dream is held captive for 70 years. After escaping and taking vengeance on his (only surviving) captor, he returns home, to the Dreamworld. ...
4
votes
1answer
182 views

What of the knight of the Empty Helmet, and how does he comport himself at Castle Rhack?

The epilogue of Suldrun's Garden, the first book of Jack Vance's Lyonesse series, is a sort of literary equivalent of a "next time" teaser in a TV series. More than summarising the events so far and ...
4
votes
0answers
27 views

Who was the old man in Platonia?

In The Shadow Dragons, the party that sets off from The Flying Dragon via trump gets stuck in an "endless expanse of whiteness": It was an endless expanse of whiteness. There was no distance, no ...
14
votes
2answers
66k views

What is the origin of this contradictory poem?

Does anyone know where this poem originates from: One fine morning in the middle of the night, Two dead men got up to fight, Back to back they faced each other, Drew their swords and ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

In Neil Gaiman's “The Sandman”, what do the Three Sisters represent?

The Three Sisters - the Hecatae, the Fates, the Kindly Ones - are ubiquitous in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman (and in other works). They appear in the first volume to give Morpheus three answers: and ...
6
votes
0answers
88 views

What does Tiriel's blindness symbolize?

In Tiriel, it's mentioned several times that Tiriel is blind, first in Chapter I, line 27: Look at my eyes, blind as the orbless skull among the stones! And later again in Chapter II, lines 61-65: ...
12
votes
1answer
626 views

Was Wolf Hall originally written in the first person?

When reading Hilary Mantel's novel Wolf Hall, I noticed that the protagonist, Thomas Cromwell, is referred to as often as possible simply as "he"/"him" rather than by his name. This includes in ...
6
votes
0answers
26 views

What is Belle's secret?

The final pages of Death of a Ghost describe Mrs. Lefcadio looking at a self-portrait of her husband, and much is made of how different it is from the famous Sargent portrait of the man. And then she ...
13
votes
1answer
1k views

Is there any textual evidence that this death in Deathly Hallows symbolized the end of childhood?

In the beginning of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, we see that Hedwig is killed by the Avada Kedavra curse. "No - HEDWIG!" The broomstick spun to earth, but he just managed to seize the ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

What does “halter” mean here?

The following sentence occurs in Mark Twain's sketch Private History of a Campaign that Failed: The drenching we were getting was misery enough, but a deeper misery still was the reflection that ...
8
votes
2answers
4k views

Is there any deeper significance to Borges's “The South”?

"The South" is a short story by Jorge Luis Borges about a man, Dahlmann, who is injured by bashing his head against a window, but makes an almost miraculous recovery after a long stint in hospital. He ...
5
votes
0answers
175 views

What is the symbolism of the yo-yo in V.?

The yo-yo is mentioned often in Thomas Pynchon's V., including in a few chapter names. What does it symbolize?
18
votes
5answers
3k views

227 days in Life of Pi, coincidence or symbolical?

I'm wondering whether it is known whether the 227 days in Life of Pi symbolical is for pi or that the symbolism I see (as a mathematician :)) is pure coincidence. I think that it is symbolic for pi ...
5
votes
1answer
88 views

Why does Die Verwandlung have autobiographical aspects?

Why does Die Verwandlung have autobiographical aspects? What similarities are there between the life of Gregor Samsa and the life of Franz Kafka?
11
votes
1answer
109 views

What do “Sedgemoor trade-mark” and “white-sleeve badge” mean?

Can somebody please explain this expression from a Mark Twain story, A Double Barrelled Detective Story: 'Sedgemoor trade-mark, white sleeve badge'? Here is the context: Among other things he said ...
5
votes
1answer
123 views

Is there a list of book sales (or numerical rank) by author online?

I often find that an author's lesser-known works are among my favorites; some examples are Steinbeck's "Tortilla Flat" and "The Wayward Bus", Jack London's "The Road," and Twain's "The American ...
1
vote
0answers
130 views

Nicanor Parra line: “Nothing important is learned from books. (I read this in a book.)”

This is one of Parra's "anti-poems" but I can't recall the exact wording, or which book it appeared in, and can't seem to find it online. The poem says something along the lines of Nothing ...
15
votes
4answers
4k views

Why is Gatsby great?

Jay Gatsby in famous Fitzgerald's novel is no doubt smart, talented, brave. But he only pursues his own egoistic desires, quite delusional in his love affairs, does not hesitate to destroy a family, ...
3
votes
1answer
225 views

When is Journey to the River Sea set?

Eva Ibbotson's Journey to the River Sea is a novel set mainly in the Amazon region of Brazil. It's clearly set quite some time before its publication date of 2001, what with a "governess" being a ...
10
votes
0answers
105 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; ...
5
votes
0answers
213 views

Why were Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn so determined to undermine each other?

In Catch-22, both Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn seem bound and determined to undermine each other. I know both of them are desperately trying to get promoted (to the point of doing absolutely ...
3
votes
1answer
251 views

How much did Eddie Willers understand about his situation by the end of Atlas Shrugged?

From the opening lines of Atlas Shrugged at the beginning of chapter 1: "Who is John Galt?" The light was ebbing, and Eddie Willers could not distinguish the bum's face. The bum had said it ...
25
votes
1answer
726 views

Are there any recorded discrepancies between The Odyssey as oral tradition and The Odyssey as Homer transcribed it?

The Odyssey began as oral tradition, and was later transcribed by someone we now call "Homer." Disregarding the Homeric Question concerning the identity of the person who transcribed these works, it ...
6
votes
3answers
916 views

Was Twain the first author to write of Zombies?

Although the word is not used, Twain's zany novel of title-frenzy and mad-scientist capitalistic schemes The American Claimant (sequel to The Gilded Age) describes the intent by the megalomaniac ...
8
votes
1answer
329 views

Does V reference Stanislaw Lem's “His Master's Voice”, and if so, why?

I've recently been reading and re-reading Alan Moore and David Lloyd's V for Vendetta. After having skimmed through it multiple times and settling a few questions I had about the continuity, only one ...
17
votes
3answers
4k views

Why Did Doyle Choose 221B Baker Street?

221B Baker Street. One of the most famous addresses in literature. But why? Was there any reason Sir Arthur Conan Doyle chose this particular address as the residence of his famous protagonist? Did ...
5
votes
1answer
253 views

What's the symbolism in The Twelve Days of Christmas?

The popular Christmas song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" has many different versions, but they're usually something along the lines of the following (final verse, which includes all the others): ...
5
votes
1answer
865 views

Why does John Winthrop compare the Massachusetts Bay Colonists to “a city upon a hill”?

John Winthrop's sermon "A Model of Christian Charity" (which you can read online) is an extraordinarily famous sermon, which is referenced by American politicians to this day. In this sermon, John ...
19
votes
4answers
9k views

Did Frodo want Bilbo to die?

I was reading in the first volume of the Lord of the Rings recently, and ran across this quote when Gandalf and Frodo are talking about the Ring for the first time after its true nature has been ...
8
votes
1answer
199 views

Was FitzGerald the first to collect the poems of the Rubaiyat together?

According to Wikipedia: Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám is the title that Edward FitzGerald gave to his translation of a selection of poems, originally written in Persian and numbering about a thousand, ...
20
votes
2answers
44k views

Why were these animals used to represent the different countries in Maus?

In Art Spiegelman's Maus, he represents different people from different countries as different animals. For instance, he represents the Jews as mice, the Germans as cats, the Polish as pigs, the ...
9
votes
2answers
189 views

What is the relevance of the essays in Tolstoy's 'War and Peace'?

War and Peace is regularly interspersed with essays -- something that I have not seen anywhere else in literature. How significant are these essays? They obviously help in exploring the themes and ...
6
votes
2answers
293 views

Which real-life languages other than English, Welsh and Old English/Norse did Tolkien draw on for naming things?

According to Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey, Tolkien believed that people had an innate ability to "hear" subtle differences in names and dialects, even if they didn't full understand why things sounded ...
11
votes
0answers
181 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 ...
23
votes
1answer
3k views

Why does Shakespeare's Julius Caesar switch to Latin for the “Et tu, Brute” line?

Like all of Shakespeare's plays, his Julius Caesar is of course written and performed almost entirely in English. But there is one line of this particular play - perhaps the most famous - which is ...
16
votes
1answer
11k views

Who said it first - Orwell or Churchill?

One of my favorite quotes is Churchill's "We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us." But recently I found out that Orwell was attributed ...
9
votes
1answer
287 views

How did the Adem view Marriage?

The Adem people believe that: Men have nothing to do with conception; Sex is not restricted to specific partners. In our culture, those are the main reasons for marriage. There were also no ...
17
votes
2answers
4k views

What are the “old euphemisms” in The Great Gatsby?

In chapter 6 of The Great Gatsby, Nick describes Daisy's reaction to the people of West Egg: But the rest offended her—and inarguably, because it wasn’t a gesture but an emotion. She was appalled ...
7
votes
1answer
134 views

When and why did the practice of reading “Address to a Haggis” at Burns Night dinner originate?

Many people and institutions around the world hold Burns suppers on or close to Burns Night, 25 January. Part of these events is the traditional reading of Robert Burns's "Address to a Haggis"1, ...
19
votes
1answer
2k views

What is a Pooh?

Winnie the Pooh is our favorite ball of fluff that likes to eat honey in the Hundred-Acre Wood... but where does he get his name from? Specifically, where does "Pooh" come from? I know that Winnie ...
3
votes
1answer
267 views

Is there any connection between the TombQuest books and the associated game?

Let us take the book series TombQuest, by Michael Northrop. This book series is published by Scholastic, and they have a website for it. This series is a multiplatform, which means that there is a ...
9
votes
1answer
283 views

Are there regional variations of Newspeak?

It is repeated several times throughout 1984 that Newspeak is the official language of Oceania. However, as you can see below, although Oceania covers some English-speaking areas (Australia, England, ...
4
votes
4answers
238 views

Looking for a specific passage by Nabokov

I remember reading this specific (germanophobic, sorry about that) bit in one of Nabokov's works but I just can't find it now. It described several bürgers drinking beer and casually laughing at ...
8
votes
1answer
127 views

Did Twain mean the coin should be enlarged or not?

In Twain's quote about government's ostensibly trusting in God and asserting that on their currency, I have seen it reproduced both this way: But I think it would better read, "Within certain ...
4
votes
1answer
611 views

What view of marriage is presented in Jude the Obscure?

Thomas Hardy's gut-wrenching tragedy Jude the Obscure includes a lot of discussion of the concept of marriage, from various different characters, some of whose views even change over the course of the ...
6
votes
1answer
83 views

How does this world increase their population?

The Stars are Legion seems to be an entirely female-society. I've not completely finished the book, so the answer may well be in the last 60 pages, but this book tends to feel very vague on the ...
13
votes
1answer
283 views

Was Théoden's revival inspired by Mark Twain?

I was reading Mark Twain's Joan of Arc and Joan converses with the Dauphin of France. The talk between Joan and the King was long and earnest [...] and has been set down in [...] testimony at the ...
4
votes
0answers
120 views

Why don't the Assassin's Creed novels include present day events?

The Assassin's Creed games mostly have a present-day component, where the protagonist's descendent enters the Animus, reliving the protagonist's life. Since this is merely replaying memories, we don't ...
3
votes
1answer
266 views

Did Viktor Frankl ever publish his manuscript?

I am currently in the middle of Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Twice thus far, he mentioned a manuscript that he brought with him to Auschwitz, and lost there. When he first arrives in ...

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