All Questions

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
25
votes
1answer
1k views

When and why did the Brothers Grimm start collecting fairy tales?

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm are well known for authoring multiple collections of traditional folk tales in the late 18th/early 19th century. Their first major collection of stories was published in 1812. ...
24
votes
6answers
5k views

Does “The Charge of the Light Brigade” glorify war or criticize it?

The Charge of the Light Brigade is an 1854 narrative poem at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. Does it glorify war or criticize it?
24
votes
3answers
14k views

In Brave New World, what caste is Lenina Crowne?

In Brave New World, there is an extensive caste system. However, Lenina's caste is never explicitly pointed out. She is important to many of the male characters in the book, each belonging to a ...
24
votes
3answers
10k views

Why don't Mr. Bennet's daughters get to inherit the Longbourn estate?

In the book Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Collins comments that Lady Catherine de Bourgh's daughter will one day inherit the de Bourgh fortune. From previous chapters, we know that the five daughters of ...
24
votes
3answers
5k views

What is a Byronic Hero?

I just saw this post: Was Heathcliff intentionally made a Byronic Hero? Not being familiar with literary terminology, I have no idea what a Byronic Hero is. I had read Wuthering Heights long ago (it ...
24
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the significance of Alec Bings's name in The Phantom Tollbooth?

In The Phantom Tollbooth, basically every name has a significance/pun. For example, Dr. Dischord - his name is 'Discord' with 'chord' - implying bad sounds. Or the DYNNE, or 'din'. And Chroma, with ...
24
votes
2answers
5k views

Did Shakespeare consider Julius Caesar a tyrant or a martyr?

I've seen the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar interpreted in two different ways (by people with different social and political views, naturally): either Caesar as a power-mad tyrant who got his ...
24
votes
2answers
10k views

Was Odysseus considered unfaithful to his wife in the Odyssey?

Penelope is portrayed throughout the story to be virtuous when it comes to men, meaning that she holds out hope for her husband's safety 20 years after she saw him and had no other relationships in ...
24
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 ...
24
votes
1answer
2k views

Did J. K. Rowling base platform 9 3/4 on the Gump?

In the Harry Potter series, there is platform 9 ¾ in Kings Cross Station. You travel through this place to go to a magical place. In The Secret of Platform 13, by Eva Ibbotson, (which is ...
24
votes
2answers
663 views

Did Borges invent the idea of writing reviews/summaries of imaginary literary works?

In reading short stories by the great Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges, I've noticed a repeated theme: many of these stories are written in the style of a review or summary of a much larger and ...
23
votes
7answers
26k views

What is the benefit in the Prologue “spoiling” the play in Romeo + Juliet?

In the Act 1 Prologue to the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, ...
23
votes
3answers
7k views

Why doesn't James Joyce ever use quotation marks?

None of his books use quotation marks for direct speech. For example: — Will he come? The jejune jesuit! Ceasing, he began to shave with care. — Tell me, Mulligan, Stephen said quietly. — Yes,...
23
votes
3answers
2k views

What reference is Shakespeare making in Act 2 Scene 2 of Macbeth?

In Act 2 Scene 2 of Macbeth there is this line. What hands are here? Ha! They pluck out mine eyes. Someone two days ago told me this is a reference to a different piece of literature. I didn't ...
23
votes
3answers
2k views

Why are Orcs associated with the colors red, yellow, and black in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings?

In Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings series, Sauron, and characters allied with Sauron, are frequently associated with the colors red, yellow, and black. For example, here is a description of the ...
23
votes
2answers
470 views

Translation: Why are parts of the original language kept?

Inspired by this question. In many translated works (the first to come to mind are translations by Richard Pevear and the English versions of Isaac Bashevis Singer's writings) there are elements of ...
23
votes
1answer
279 views

Was pretending to be an abridgement of a made-up work invented by William Goldman?

William Goldman's The Princess Bride is famous (among other reasons) for a literary device it employs - it pretends to be an abridgment (or "the good parts version") of a longer work by S. ...
23
votes
1answer
504 views

Is the mariner immortal?

I pass, like night, from land to land; I have strange power of speech; That moment that his face I see, I know the man that must hear me: To him my tale I teach. This is one of the last ...
23
votes
1answer
1k views

Was Nabokov's Pale Fire intended to be read non-linearly, i.e. jumping to each line reference?

Did Vladimir Nabokov ever indicate on record whether he intended Pale Fire to be read non-linearly, i.e. jumping to each line reference? A friend and I read the book together last summer. He read the ...
23
votes
1answer
453 views

In Foucault's Pendulum, by what method does the translation choose to keep or translate Italian?

Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco was originally written in Italian. Most of the book was translated to English, except for the parts that weren't in Italian to begin with. I understand that ...
22
votes
2answers
9k views

Could you actually go around the world in 80 days?

Around the world in 80 days is a novel be Jules Verne about an Englishman who makes a bet with some fellow club members that he can travel around the world in 80 days. Nowadays with modern flight, ...
22
votes
4answers
37k views

What's the significance of “Oranges and Lemons” in 1984?

The popular London nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons is quoted and partially recited several times throughout 1984. Winston learns about it from Mr Charrington in Part 1, Chapter 8, then talks about it ...
22
votes
2answers
4k views

Bilbo’s song of Eärendil in “The Fellowship of the Ring”

In The Fellowship of the Ring, the character Bilbo Baggins recites a poem beginning with these lines: Eärendil was a mariner that tarried in Arvernien; he built a boat of timber felled in Nimbrethil ...
22
votes
3answers
2k views

Is a moral lesson a requirement for fairy tales?

Many of the fairy tales collected by the Grimm's have a moral. Is a moral lesson a requirement for fairy tales?
22
votes
5answers
19k views

Who does the cat represent in Animal Farm?

It's well known that various characters represent real Soviet figures. Who does the cat, who is fond of shirking physical work but enjoys reaping the rewards, represent? Does the cat even have any ...
22
votes
4answers
70k views

In which order should the Sherlock Holmes stories be read?

The canonical Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle comprise: four novellas: A Study in Scarlet The Sign of Four The Hound of the Baskervilles The Valley of Fear fifty-six short stories, ...
22
votes
3answers
82k views

Origin of the phrase “Open Sesame”

The phrase, "Open Sesame", is a curious one indeed. Until a few days ago I foolishly believed that it was derived from a slurring of the words "Open, says me". But after coming to the story of Ali ...
22
votes
1answer
34k views

Origins of quote: “Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.”

I've grown up loving the quote "Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup." and I've been searching around to find out where it came from (with only a ...
22
votes
2answers
6k views

How many sailors from Odysseus' crew survived the Odyssey?

It's been a long time since I've read it, maybe 20 years. Of course, Odysseus survives, but does anyone else? How many sailors did he start with, and how many made it home with him (or safely departed ...
22
votes
3answers
2k views

How are graphic novels different from comic books?

I always get confused between the terms comic-book and graphic novel. What makes a comic-book be referred to as Graphic novel? What is the difference between both of the terms?
22
votes
2answers
12k views

Why is the UK called Airstrip One?

In 1984, London is the chief city of the province Airstrip One (which consists of the UK), which is a part of the superstate Oceania. Is there a reason why it's called Airstrip One?
22
votes
1answer
1k views

What specific criticisms did Mark Twain make against Jane Austen's books?

It's pretty well known that Mark Twain was rather vitriolic against Jane Austen, saying things like: I go so far as to say that any library is a good library that does not contain a volume by Jane ...
22
votes
1answer
222 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 ...
22
votes
2answers
2k views

Is the house plan in Anne Frank's diary an artistic rendition, or is it sketched by Anne?

There is this image in the "Friday, 9 July, 1942" section of Anne Frank's diary; a design of the house which is popularly called the Secret Annex. Did Anne's original diary have a (rough) sketch of ...
22
votes
1answer
420 views

Looking for a poem about the (fictionalized) writing of The Canterbury Tales Prologue

A friend of mine used to quote a poem that told the fictionalized story of Chaucer writing the first lines of the Prologue of The Canterbury Tales: "Whan that Aprill with his ... ". When he ...
22
votes
0answers
585 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
votes
0answers
399 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
votes
2answers
10k views

How to read é, ä, û?

If I want to read Tolkien's text aloud, or appreciate the rhythm and rhyme in his poems, I find it distracting not to know how names including these characters (and similar ones) were meant to be ...
21
votes
2answers
47k 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 ...
21
votes
2answers
1k views

Did Sherlock Holmes have a character development arc across Arthur Conan Doyle's books?

Often, in a large novel, a character would have a character development arc, which is considered an integral part of writing. But Sherlock Holmes canon consists mostly of smaller stories. Was there ...
21
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 ...
21
votes
3answers
981 views

Do we know what prompted Orwell to write 1984?

I just read through Orwell's short essay, What is Fascism? In it, Orwell defines fascism (or doesn't) with two sentences: Why, then, cannot we have a clear and generally accepted definition of it? ...
21
votes
1answer
439 views

Did later literary analysis agree with Mark Twain's criticism of J.F. Cooper?

This excellent answer by @CHEESE linked to a Mark Twain's "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses". SPOILER ALERT: That essay is extremely critical of Cooper's work. Did later literary analysis largely ...
21
votes
1answer
376 views

Has a book ever been translated in its own fictional language?

In programming language design, there's a process called bootstrapping: In computer science, bootstrapping is the process of writing a compiler (or assembler) in the source programming language ...
21
votes
0answers
316 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
votes
7answers
7k views

Understanding political subtexts in the Turing test paper

Alan Turing's article "Computing Machinery and Intelligence" (which you can read online) is commonly interpreted as introducing the Turing test. Briefly, the Turing test is when you have two computer ...
20
votes
2answers
4k views

What is Asimov's joke in “Death of a Foy”?

I recently came upon a short story, Death of a Foy (1980), in the compendium The Winds of Change (1983). In the intro, Asimov states that he was "hardly able to stop laughing", but I just can't seem ...
20
votes
1answer
6k views

How did Shakespeare get away with staging witchcraft in his plays such as in Othello, Macbeth, or The Tempest?

The themes of witchcraft and magic loom large over Shakespeare’s later plays. While there is no overt use of magic and spells in Othello, per se, as compared to the witches in Macbeth conjuring on ...
20
votes
1answer
2k views

Can the Count of Monte Cristo's calculation of poison dosage be explained?

In Chapter Fifty-Two of The Count of Monte Cristo there is a discussion between the titular count and Madame de Villefort about exposing oneself to poisons: “Well,” replied Monte Cristo “suppose, ...
20
votes
2answers
2k views

How much of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is based on real events?

Ernest Hemingway wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls, the story of an American soldier fighting in the Spanish Civil War, a few years after his own experiences as an American journalist reporting on the ...

15 30 50 per page
1
2
3 4 5
79