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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 ...
15
votes
1answer
600 views

Why all those tangents?

Anyone who's ever read Victor Hugo's immortal masterpiece Les Miserables knows that it's a long read...mostly because Hugo goes on a bunch of random tangents in the middle--on such topics as the ...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

Whose were the “best minds” being destroyed in Ginsberg's “Howl”?

In Allen Ginsberg´s most famous poem "Howl", he claims he was witness to the destruction of the best minds of his generation: I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving ...
15
votes
2answers
4k views

Was Susan ever able to return to Narnia?

At the end of The Last Battle, Peter states that Susan has become 'too grown up' to return to Narnia. However, we do see grown-ups coming to Narnia, or Aslan's country - we see their parents. Also, it ...
15
votes
4answers
3k views

Explanation of the line 'But you don't really care for music, do you' in “Hallelujah”

In the first verse of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", there are these lines: Now, I've heard there was a secret chord That David played and it pleased the Lord But you don't really care for music,...
15
votes
1answer
818 views

When did the Rupert Bear stories start repeating themselves?

Some years ago I used to collect Rupert Bear annuals. I had a huge collection going all the way back to the 1940s, with some gaps which I slowly filled in over the years, and every time I got a new ...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

Why is the hero's journey so ubiquitous across world literature?

In The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949), Joseph Campbell argues that many myths follow a typical pattern involving the hero's departure from familiar surroundings to a unfamiliar setting, ultimately ...
15
votes
1answer
881 views

How does the golden bough in “Sailing to Byzantium” relate to the story in the Aeneid, if at all?

According to Wikipedia of W.B. Yeats' "Sailing to Byzantium" is a metaphor for a spiritual journey. Yeats explores his thoughts and musings on how immortality, art, and the human spirit may ...
15
votes
1answer
232 views

Is there evidence of anti-Semitism in Dostoyevsky's books?

It's well known that Dostoyevsky as a person didn't like Jews. But is there clear evidence of that in his books? Ideally, I'd prefer evidence of things that arise above things that were commonplace ...
15
votes
4answers
481 views

Is it a common theme in (western) storytelling that the antagonists are located to the east?

I'm not sure if this is the correct place for this question. I was reading some Lord of the Rings-lore the other day and it got me thinking about the location of "evil" in storytelling. In LOTR, ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the meaning of the epilogue in Blood Meridian?

Cormac McCarthy is famously tight-lipped as to his own interpretations of his work. Nevertheless, there are some clear themes in his novel Blood Meridian: human propensity to violence and the efforts ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the origin of the trope of an evil character whose name is not permitted to be spoken?

Many works of fantasy involve an evil leader or "dark lord" whose real name is known but usually not permitted to be spoken, either by his own followers (out of respect?) or by others (out of fear?) ...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

Was Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos based on the story beats of the same Keats poems?

I've read Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos, composed of the books Hyperion, Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, and Rise of Endymion. The series pays considerable homage to the life and works of the 1800s poet ...
15
votes
1answer
534 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
3k views

How old was Hercule Poirot?

The New York Times record Hercule Poirot's age as "unknown" in their obituary: Hercule Poirot, a Belgian detective who became internationally famous, has died in England. His age was ...
15
votes
1answer
410 views

How was “A Passage to India” received in Britain and India?

E. M. Forster's A Passage to India was published in 1924, in the decade after the Indian independence movement really started to gather steam. Forster incorporated this into his novel, showing the ...
15
votes
1answer
2k views

Who is the speaker in Leonard Cohen's song, “Avalanche”?

I understand that some of Cohen's songs have religious context, so when I heard the lyrics of this song that stated, "You strike my side by accident," I thought it could be symbolism of Jesus being ...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

What is close reading?

What exactly is "close reading"? How does it relate to the study of literature? Are there any instructions about how to do a close reading of a text/passage?
15
votes
1answer
237 views

Juvenile literature about a group of children living in a castle, looking for a treasure

There were at least two books, although I only recall the plot of the first one. They were paperbacks, probably about octavo dimensions, fairly short as I remember them, under a hundred pages. I read ...
15
votes
1answer
549 views

Short story about a man condemned to death because he cannot remember the details about a country

I once read a short story about a man (a journalist?) visiting a prison inmate. He was incarcerated for a crime he did not commit, and it was a case of mistaken identity or insufficient alibi. The ...
15
votes
0answers
111 views

What is the Pasifika response to “Nation”?

Pratchett's "Nation" was recommended to me because it depicts an alternate reality version of Pasifika cultures, faiths, and traditions. A quick glance at Wikipedia tells me it's got cannibals and ...
15
votes
0answers
629 views

How did Lee's personal experience affect the narrative of To Kill A Mockingbird?

Many Southern authors of Harper Lee's time period wrote very autobiographical works. This led me to wonder how much Harper Lee's personal life was reflected in the narrative of To Kill A Mockingbird. ...
15
votes
0answers
271 views

What does the letter V in Thomas Pynchon's book symbolize?

Obviously, V. is a character in the book, known only by her initial. That initial is also the title of the book, which actually includes the period. But I assume this title/name symbolizes something ...
15
votes
0answers
302 views

How did T.S. Eliot's literary criticism affect his poetry?

T.S. Eliot wrote influential essays in New Criticism, a literary theory movement that if I understand correctly tried to revive formalism and focus on close reading and the text itself, as a response ...
15
votes
1answer
264 views

Overpopulated world, where volunteers are being taken to be converted to food

I've read a lot of stories over the years, and Google is not being kind to my search terms (it probably flagged something with NSA or Homeland Security, too). The book I'm thinking of is set in an ...
14
votes
6answers
4k views

Does Théoden actually say that he misses Gríma (his “old advisor”) at one point in The Two Towers?

At roughly page 155 of The Two Towers, assuming that the English original follows roughly the same page numbers as my rather sloppy Swedish translation from 1970, king Théoden mentions that he now ...
14
votes
2answers
185 views

Meaning of “bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthur-nuk!”

From Finnegans Wake, What is the meaning of this word? In context: The fall (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthur- nuk!) of a once ...
14
votes
4answers
2k views

Terminology and examples for what George Orwell calls “good bad poetry”?

Recently I bumped into an article where "The Poetry Foundation’s president, John Barr, takes a look at what separates “serious” poetry from the rest". Poetry being an art form, obviously no such ...
14
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
3k views

Symbolism of Albus Dumbledore's name in Harry Potter

What is the symbolism of the name Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter? 'Albus' means white 'Dumbledore' is a type of bee What is this representing?
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 ...
14
votes
2answers
76k 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 shot one another....
14
votes
5answers
9k views

What rough beast slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Turning and turning in the widening gyreThe falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and ...
14
votes
1answer
900 views

Understanding a reference to Tom Sawyer in the context of avoiding work

I am Brazilian, I frequent the Mathematica Stack Exchange, and I've never heard of Tom Sawyer. So it was confusing when I read a meta post that described people as "Tom Sawyers". "There are a few ...
14
votes
2answers
669 views

Was Neil Gaiman's Stardust influenced by C.S. Lewis?

A central theme in Neil Gaiman's fantasy novel Stardust is that stars, when they fall from the sky, take on the shape of human beings. One of the main characters is a fallen star who ends up living on ...
14
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
7k views

What is the “heap of broken images” in The Waste Land?

In T. S. Eliot's poem The Waste Land (which you can read online), T. S. Eliot claims that someone (probably either humankind or the reader) only knows "a heap of broken images". What are the roots ...
14
votes
2answers
7k views

Is Simon epileptic?

From the moment Simon is introduced in Lord of the Flies, we learn that he faints a lot. He has his own place which he retreats to when he feels he is about to faint or maybe have a fit, and when he ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

Is Deeper Magic something more than God (the Emperor beyond the Sea) in Narnia?

When Aslan is asked why he has to die in the The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, he answers something in the sense that there is a "deeper magic" that he has to obey. What exactly is this "deeper ...
14
votes
2answers
758 views

What does it mean to greet a guest with an unsheathed sword?

In A Game of Thrones, Chapter 24, when Tyrion Lannister visits Winterfell on the way back from the Wall: “Any man of the Night’s Watch is welcome here at Winterfell for as long as he wishes to ...
14
votes
1answer
2k views

Should Go Set A Watchman be read before To Kill A Mockingbird?

Given that Go Set A Watchman takes place after To Kill A Mockingbird, we would think that we should read it second. However, Go Set A Watchman was probably a first draft of To Kill A Mockingbird. I am ...
14
votes
3answers
944 views

In what way is The Lord of the Rings metafiction?

As a student, I read metafictional novels such as Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys and If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino. When I checked the Wikipedia article Metafiction, I found, much ...
14
votes
1answer
3k views

What does 'Gilead' mean in The Raven?

Poe's poem The Raven contains the following words in the fifteenth stanza: [...] tell me truly, I implore— Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!" What does 'Gilead' mean ...
14
votes
1answer
1k views

Why are manga panels read differently than Japanese text?

Japanese is traditionally read in an up-to-down column, then jumps right-to-left to the next column. But all the manga I've ever seen reverse that order for panel flow, so we go from panel to panel ...
14
votes
3answers
5k views

Meaning of “all the boards did shrink” in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

From The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: Water, water, every where, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink. What is the meaning of this phrase in ...
14
votes
1answer
157 views

African dystopia with children on the run

This is a book I read in 4th grade, so about 2012-2013. This was in English and in the US. This wasn't really a sci-fi novel that I remember, but definitely dystopian. It was set in the future of an ...
14
votes
2answers
668 views

Would a reader of Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea miss anything essential without knowing about Jane Eyre?

I read Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea without ever having heard of Jane Eyre. I didn't see even it was a prequel to another work, because I try to avoid spoilers on the back of the book. What, if ...
14
votes
1answer
949 views

How did the authors of The 39 Clues decide on a plot outline?

The The 39 Clues series is written by a whole lot of authors, like Rick Riordan, Gordan Korman, Jude Watson, Margaret Peterson Haddix, etc. Each person writes a book, and then someone else writes the ...
14
votes
1answer
428 views

Sentence structure of a stanza in “Ozymandias”—how the grammar works?

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed. I do get that it says that the one who made ...
14
votes
2answers
210 views

Is it common practice for cover art to be designed without direct input from the author?

in the last day or so there's been something of a furore over Terry Goodkind's public criticism of the cover art on his latest novel, Shroud of Eternity. He made a post on Facebook ridiculing the ...

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