Questions tagged [cultural-context]

Questions about the relation between works of literature and a specific cultural context. Cultural context does not necessarily refer to the context in which the work originated; it can also refer to the reception in a different cultural context.

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2
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1answer
69 views

What is “the seventh sphere”?

In the second part (Helen Zimmern's translation) of the Shahnameh, the youngest son Irij is killed by his brothers, who send his head back to their father Feridoun: Now when they were come to the ...
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18 views

Julia Wong Kcomt, “The Red Rooster”

The Chinese-Peruvian poet Julia Wong Kcomt wrote two poems for Words Without Borders about her experiences as a product of two different cultures. I'm particularly interested in the first of them, ...
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What is being satirized in Witold Gombrowicz's Trans-Atlantyk?

Trans-Atlantyk by Witold Gombrowicz is a satire of Polish identity. However, it is difficult to know what exactly is being satirized if you're not Polish, and not intimately acquainted with Polish ...
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What is the significance of 36 in the Vietnamese poem “Learning Late Letters”?

"Learning Late Letters", a poem originally written in Vietnamese by Nguyễn Hoàng Quyên, was one of the winners of the 2020 Words Without Borders Academy of Americans Poets Poems in ...
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2answers
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Why is the Star of the County Down referred to as Colleen?

While listening to the Irish Rovers version of the traditional Irish song "Star of the County Down", I noticed an apparent discrepancy in her name: Near Banbridge town, in the County Down ...
2
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1answer
64 views

In the song “Whiskey in the Jar”, would Captain Farrell have been British or Irish?

In the song "Whiskey in the Jar", would Captain Farrell have been British or Irish? What was the historical setting and context of the song's tale?
7
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1answer
81 views

What religion is suggested by the “God” in the Korean sun/moon origin story?

In the Korean folk story 해와 달이 된 오누이, translated here as "The Origin of the Sun and the Moon" from Pyun Yung-tai, Tales from Korea (Seoul, 1948), two children are pursued by a tiger and end ...
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3answers
9k views

Why do many Korean folk tales start with “back when tigers smoked”?

I've read in a few sources that the Korean equivalent of the "once upon a time ..." which often begins English folk stories is something like "back when tigers smoked ..." or "...
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Did Maupassant adapt the style and content of his stories to the newspapers that published them?

Guy de Maupassant published his short stories and novellas in newspapers and periodicals such as Le Figaro, Gil Blas, Le Gaulois and L'Écho de Paris before they were published in book form. Le Figaro ...
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1answer
24 views

What is the relevance of these Igbo proverbs to the situation of widows and their children?

I've started reading the Igbo short novel Night has Fallen in the Afternoon (freely available online both in the original Igbo language and in English translation). As the translator notes, "[t]...
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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 ...
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Is Daisy's Gorilla game based on a real game?

In Part Two of R. K. Narayan's novel The Painter of Signs, Raman and Daisy visit a remote village, after which they return to Malgudi. Due to unforeseen circumstances, they need to spend a night on ...
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1answer
41 views

Was the Ayah paid partly in clothes, and was this standard practice?

In R. K. Narayan's short story "A Willing Slave" (which I read as part of his 1982 collection Malgudi Days), the old lady known simply as "the Ayah" takes care of many responsibilities, but her main ...
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1answer
44 views

What does Daisy's proverb about being married to the devil mean?

In the second part of R. K. Narayan's novel The Painter of Signs, Raman and Daisy are on their way back from a remote village. They have spent a night on the road, Raman sleeping under a bullock cart ...
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2answers
733 views

Is Narayan really quoting a traditional proverb, and from which Indian language/culture?

In the story "Fellow-Feeling" from R. K. Narayan's short story collection Malgudi Days (which I've been reading online), a proverb is mentioned in passing: Rajam Iyer leaned back in his seat, ...
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1answer
440 views

Is there any general significance to 20 May in Hinduism, or was it just personally auspicious?

In R. K. Narayan's short story "The Missing Mail", from the 1943 collection Malgudi Days, which I've been reading online, the resident Ramanujam is desperately trying to arrange a marriage for his ...
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1answer
91 views

How can “Death be not proud” be related to the areas of exploration?

Here is the summary of the poem "Death Be Not Proud" by Jon Donne (Source - https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44107/holy-sonnets-death-be-not-proud)- “Death Be Not Proud” presents an argument ...
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1answer
51 views

In A Tale of a Tub, in what sense does Martin stand between Peter and Jack?

Wikipedia has the following to say about Jonathan Swift's A Tale of a Tub (formatting added): A Tale of a Tub is divided between various forms of digression and sections of a "tale". The "...
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1answer
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Is there some cultural significance in the “chhanna” or metal bowl?

The Punjabi poem "Chhanna, the Metal Bowl" is about a "flat-bottom metal bowl" which is apparently some kind of family heirloom, "filled with memories". What's so special about a metal bowl? Is it ...
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3answers
6k views

How do people “kiss their teeth” in Nalo Hopkinson's novels?

At the start of the novel Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson, one of the characters, Makeda, is looking for a new place to live. A certain Milo rents out "units" in what he calls "warehouse living" and ...
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Relevance of the cloud chariot story to the rest of Midnight Robber?

Nalo Hopkinson's novel Midnight Robber contains a story entitled "How Tan-Tan Learn to Thief". It is one of the many elements from Caribbean culture that Hopkinson draws on in the novel. The story is ...
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129 views

Origin of Dry Bone in Nalo Hopkinson's Midnight Robber

Nalo Hopkinson's novel Midnight Robber contains a story entitled "Tan-Tan and Dry Bone". It is one of the many elements from Caribbean culture that Hopkinson draws on in the novel. Hopkinson's novel ...
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4answers
483 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, ...
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1answer
912 views

What is a “fetish man” in African tribal culture?

I'm translating Robert E. Howard's short story "The Hyena". It was published in 1927. There is a character called Senecoza and Howard (and the protagonist) always refer to him as "the fetish man". And ...
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1answer
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Was C.P. Snow's “The Two Cultures” about Britain specifically or western culture in general?

I was reading the Wikipedia page on C.P. Snow's article/lecture/book The Two Cultures, about the divide between science and the humanities in academia. The Wikipedia page seems to have a contradiction,...
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237 views

Before reading “A Grain of Wheat,” what historical facts and cultural context are useful to know?

I'm looking to read A Grain of Wheat, by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o. However, I'm very unfamiliar with the history and culture of Kenya, to the point where I know practically nothing about it. But I do know ...