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17
votes
1answer
3k views

Is this hypothesis about the significance of the name “Denna” in the Kingkiller Chronicle supported by the text?

There's a somewhat popular theory about The Kingkiller Chronicle, which is that the name "Denna" derives from the use of denner resin, and its addictive properties. The theory branches two ...
17
votes
1answer
952 views

Story about child slavery and mutilated body parts?

Can someone help me identify this story about child slavery? I read this last year in my English class and its a book about slavery. Synopsis: The Protagonist is a young male who collects unmarked ...
17
votes
1answer
13k 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 ...
17
votes
1answer
840 views

Why are place names obscured in Charlotte Brontë's The Professor?

All place names in Charlotte Brontë's The Professor appear to be obscured. A few examples from the novel's first chapter: That gentleman and Lord T. knew well enough that the Crimsworths were an ...
17
votes
1answer
587 views

What is the significance of Sauron never having a physical presence in the Lord of the Rings?

So I noticed that in Lord of the Rings Sauron acts as a very interesting villain. He never makes a corporeal appearance, nor does he have any acting dialogue. He's mentioned plenty of times through ...
17
votes
1answer
22k views

How do I straighten out a paperback book's cover that is bent?

I read a lot of paperback books. Almost exclusively, in fact. I have one problem, though - all the covers get bent while I read them (or sometimes after one of the siblings has a crack at it). They ...
17
votes
1answer
841 views

How much weight is given to authors' intentions in literary analysis?

When people analyze literature, one of the first things people seem to do is look for interviews or quotes from the author where the author describes the meaning they intended their text to have. My ...
17
votes
2answers
247 views

Why does Miss Havisham drive fast cars?

In Jasper Fforde's "book world," Miss Havisham is a speed demon who races cars with Mr. Toad. This seems... out of character, based on my understanding of her. Is it just funny because it's ...
17
votes
2answers
5k views

Do I need to read all the supplementary material for The Expanse, and in what order?

I want to read The Expanse, but I'm kind of confused about which to read first and what I actually need to read. So far as I can tell The Expanse is a series of novels that fall in roughly ...
17
votes
1answer
189 views

Did Captain Pirx make a joke in base 13?

When Douglas Adams was asked whether he invented this question because six times nine is actually 54, which is 42 when written in base thirteen, he replied: “I may be a sorry case, but I don't write ...
17
votes
2answers
7k views

What did Scout mean when she said “It takes a woman to do that kind of work”?

In the book To Kill a Mockingbird in the chapter in which aunt Alexandra has come to stay with Jem & Scout at Maycomb county, she has a private chat with Atticus about Scout and Jem not knowing ...
17
votes
0answers
141 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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6answers
5k views

How could Thorin and co. journey all the way to Erebor without discussing how to deal with Smaug?

Thorin and co. with the hobbit take such an immense journey to Erebor as known to everyone who has read the book. But isn't it absurd that 14 men do undertake such a perilous journey without ever ...
16
votes
3answers
3k views

Where did the term Kwisatz Haderach in Dune originate?

I've always been curious how names and words are created in literature. Having finished the main Dune books last year, I was thinking how the term "Kwisatz Haderach" came about. Did Herbert make it up,...
16
votes
4answers
11k views

Did Piggy participate in the killing of Simon?

This spawns off an argument that my friend and I had. I had always assumed that he had, however my friend disagreed. The main point I cited, Piggy's attempt to console Ralph while also trying to ...
16
votes
8answers
4k views

Why does Robert Frost contradict himself in “The Road Not Taken”

In Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" (which you can read online), the narrator gives two contradictory reasons for taking a particular fork in the road. At the beginning of the poem, the ...
16
votes
1answer
294 views

What did Suzanne Collins base the Hunger Games on?

Authors tend to pull a lot of ideas or write stories based on other works. After reading the novel Battle Royal, I saw lots of similarities between it and the Hunger Games. Do we know of anything that ...
16
votes
1answer
1k views

Was C. S. Lewis condemning nuclear weapons in The Magician's Nephew?

Aslan says the following in The Magician's Nephew: "It is not certain that some wicked one of your race will not find out a secret as evil as the Deplorable Word and use it to destroy all living ...
16
votes
3answers
492 views

What is the significance of the anisotropic highway and the skeleton of a fascist chained to a machine gun?

In the beginning of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's novel Hard to Be a God, the protagonist, Anton, goes down a country road, disobeying a "wrong way" sign, and finds a skeleton of a fascist chained to ...
16
votes
1answer
2k views

What do the other farmers symbolize in Animal Farm?

I asked this question on the old literature site, it got migrated to the science fiction and fantasy site, and then was later closed as off-topic. I figured that I might as well ask the question here. ...
16
votes
1answer
10k views

What is the bananafish? What does it represent?

In J.D. Salinger's A Perfect Day For Bananafish, Seymour, the main character, talks about a bananafish. He tells a little girl about the bananafish. The little girl says she sees the fish. What is ...
16
votes
1answer
474 views

Are any Sherlock Holmes antagonists besides Moriarty based on real people?

I've heard that Arthur Conan Doyle's depiction of Professor Moriarty was inspired by several real-life figures, including Adam Worth. Given Doyle's wide-ranging set of villains and antagonists in the ...
16
votes
1answer
761 views

Did Thomas Hardy's books get more miserable with time, and was this because of his own life?

Thomas Hardy is best known for his tragic romances, novels which are really miserable and depressing to read. However, not all of them are equally so: Far From the Madding Crowd, one of his first ...
16
votes
1answer
14k views

Does Jasper Fforde intend a sequel to Shades of Grey?

The novel Shades of Grey has a subtitle, The Road to High Saffron, though neither the US nor the UK editions include that on the cover. The book ends in a way that hints at a follow-up. But his web ...
16
votes
1answer
1k views

Symbolism of “hot gammon” in T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land

I'm reading T. S. Eliot's poem The Waste Land (which you can read for free online) and one particular line stuck out at me: Well, that Sunday Albert was home, they had a hot gammon, And they ...
16
votes
3answers
3k views

Why is the poem “Yggdrasil” placed where it is in House of Leaves, and which narrator included it?

At the very end of House of Leaves, there's a page: The word "Yggdrasil" doesn't appear anywhere else in the book, and the index, which amusingly lists every word in the book and where it shows ...
16
votes
1answer
7k views

Was Holden Caulfield molested as a child?

In chapter 24, Holden goes to Mr. Antolini's place to stay for the night. He crashes on the couch, and suddenly is woken up by Mr. Antolini stroking his (Holden's) hair while he sleeps. There are, ...
16
votes
1answer
180 views

Has The Danish Girl novel been banned in any countries?

There is a film The Danish Girl based on the fictional novel of the same name by David Ebershoff. The film has been banned in some countries on grounds of moral depravity. Has the novel been banned ...
16
votes
2answers
4k 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 ...
16
votes
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
votes
1answer
4k views

What does Wednesday mean by “the flowers in your hair are optional”?

When Shadow is trying to tell Wednesday about his dream with the thunderbirds, Wednesday gets quite angry and then says they're heading to San Francisco: "I dreamed of thunderbirds...," ...
15
votes
2answers
4k views

Why is it called Watership Down?

I am an American, so to me the title "Watership Down" sounds like it is about a boat that is underwater, either a submarine or a sunken surface ship. I now understand that a down is a term for a hill ...
15
votes
4answers
10k views

What's the joke with “Best of Queen” in Good Omens?

A recurring joke in Pratchett and Gaiman's Good Omens is that all the music tapes in Crowley's car are songs from Queen, which is apparently a British rock band. From near the start of the book: ...
15
votes
2answers
3k views

Why does the murderer call Macduff's son “egg”?

When Macduff's son defends his father's honor when the murderers sent by Macbeth call Macduff a traitor in Macbeth, they wind up stabbing the son: Enter Murderers. FIRST MURDERER: Where is your ...
15
votes
2answers
410 views

Who first referred to Odysseus as Ulysses?

When I was in high school, Homer's Iliad, Homer's Odyssey, and Virgil's Aeneid were taught as a trilogy of sorts. Was Virgil the first Roman to refer to Odysseus as 'Ulysses' or was there another (...
15
votes
4answers
17k 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 ...
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. ...
15
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

Science fiction short story with the ability to jump from world to world

I read this not long ago, maybe a year. It was either a short story or a novella, certainly not longer. Read in English, in the US. The story was definitely older though, no clue exactly when but ...
15
votes
2answers
7k views

What is the “Intentional Fallacy”?

The intentional fallacy is described in Wimsatt and Beardsley's essay "The Intentional Fallacy". What exactly is the intentional fallacy? Is the concept still used in academia?
15
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2answers
2k views

Why is the superstate Winston lives in named Oceania in 1984?

Winston Smith lives in London, a city in the superstate of Oceania. As shown in the map here, Oceania consists of all of the Americas, the United Kingdom, and Australia. In the modern world today, ...
15
votes
4answers
1k views

Understanding the use of the word “Negress” in the Kilmartin and Cox translation of Solaris

I just finished reading Kilmartin and Cox's translation of Stanislaw Lem's Solaris, and one particular passage stood out to me. I'm hesitant to ask a question about the Kilmartin and Cox translation, ...
15
votes
1answer
864 views

Was there a reason Room 101 was called Room 101?

Was the room named after anything significant? It seems odd to me that he would name such an important piece of the novel after nothing, but maybe I am just looking too hard.
15
votes
1answer
1k views

Is Doctor Adams a self-insertion in Watership Down?

In chapter 48, "Dea ex Machina", of Watership Down, we meet Doctor Adams. Watership Down is of course written by Richard Adams. Is there any indication besides the surname that this character is a ...
15
votes
2answers
37k 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 ...
15
votes
1answer
7k views

Is Alice in Wonderland about drugs?

I recently read Alice in Wonderland, and was struck by the use of organic substances (mushrooms, drinks) to alter reality. There seems to a strong pro drug message in the story line. A news article ...
15
votes
2answers
5k views

Did the mechanical hound signify anything in Fahrenheit 451?

Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 is written with many recurring symbols. After reading the book, I never thought that the mechanical hound was one of them, though my friend told me otherwise. Did the ...
15
votes
1answer
739 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
7k views

Why is black evil and white good?

This trope appears everywhere in literature - especially in fantasy. Everywhere you turn, black means bad and white means good. This is particularly true when applied to people, or the consequences of ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

Is this the longest sentence by Twain?

I noticed this sentence in chapter 4 of The Gilded Age with numerous commas, semi-colons, colons, and dashes prolonging a sentence of prodigious length: Sometimes the boat fought the mid-stream ...

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