60 votes

Has copy protection ever been used in physical books?

Look at it this way - the reason why companies need DRM is because digital files can always be copied verbatim, i.e. bit for bit. Companies cannot prevent files from being copied and re-distributed so ...
Gallifreyan's user avatar
  • 8,414
49 votes
Accepted

Where did the idea of a "true name" come from?

It goes back way further than the fantasy genre or even written literature. I've listed a few of the best-known examples of this trope dating back to centuries before the idea of a "trope" was even ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.6k
41 votes

Has copy protection ever been used in physical books?

This isn't against scanning specifically, but creators of ancient and medieval texts did attempt to protect their work against theft, vandalism and misattribution by writing curses on the book. You ...
Robyn's user avatar
  • 519
35 votes
Accepted

Since when has Shakespeare's "Scottish play" been considered unlucky?

tl;dr The superstition that Macbeth is unlucky and must not be named is often supposed to date from the very first performance, or very shortly thereafter. However, a documented belief in this alleged ...
verbose's user avatar
  • 27.6k
33 votes
Accepted

What is the earliest reference in fiction to a government-approved thieves guild?

The question is difficult to answer due to its terms of reference. Usually it’s not possible to tell exactly where a given story lies on the continuum from “full endorsement” to “begrudging acceptance”...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
  • 56.1k
31 votes

Has copy protection ever been used in physical books?

Back in the day, in the early 90s, I bought some software whose manual was printed on red paper, which was meant to discourage photocopying on black and white photocopiers. If you photocopied it, it ...
dan-gph's user avatar
  • 411
26 votes
Accepted

Was Paradise Lost the first major work of literature to give "sympathy for the devil"?

As asked, the question is difficult to answer. Several premises are open to question: What constitutes a "major work"? What is your definition of "sympathy" in this context? ...
verbose's user avatar
  • 27.6k
26 votes
Accepted

Would "most unkindest" have been considered poor grammar in Shakespeare's time?

One of Shakespeare's contemporaries, the dramatist Ben Jonson, published an English Grammar in 1640. Chapter XII, Of Comparisons, discusses the comparative and superlative degrees for adjectives and ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
  • 44.6k
25 votes
Accepted

What fictional series has the longest release to completion?

Arsène Lupin adventure novels were published between 1905 and 2012, all written by author Maurice Leblanc. The final work was found completed in 2011 by chance and subsequently published years ...
Himarm's user avatar
  • 1,323
25 votes

Has copy protection ever been used in physical books?

There's another version of DRM that you find in paper reference sources. (This where the data itself is not subject to protection.) Deliberately introduced harmless errors. This does nothing to ...
Loren Pechtel's user avatar
25 votes
Accepted

How did contemporary readers respond to coincidence in 19th century novels?

This is a vast subject; entire books have been written on the subject of coincidence in fiction. So I’ll attempt a very brief survey. Were coincidence plots popular? Charles Dickens was the most ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
  • 56.1k
24 votes
Accepted

Has a parody of a work of literature ever become more successful than the original work?

Yes. For example, the didactic poem The Old Man's Comforts and How He Gained Them by Robert Southey is now known only to dedicated fans of Southey or of Victorian poetry, but the semi-nonsense poem ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.6k
24 votes

Was Harry Potter the first magic series to use wands?

NO! Wands have been associated with magic for millennia, both in fiction and in the real-world practice of both stage magic (conjuring tricks for an audience) and occultism (purported real magic). ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.6k
23 votes
Accepted

When did men dressed as women stop being the norm in English theatre?

It started in the 1600s, and was a gradual process not a sudden one. By the Edwardian era, it was no surprise to the audience to see an actress on stage. Up until the 1600s, women had very few rights,...
Beastly Gerbil's user avatar
22 votes
Accepted

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

Much of J.R.R. Tolkien's work is presented as an abridgment/translation of the "original", usually in Elvish. Much of The Silmarillion is presented as a gloss of epic poems, some of which Tolkien ...
Joshua Engel's user avatar
  • 5,098
21 votes

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

No he did not! The process can be traced back at least to Thomas Carlyle, who in Sartor Resartus (1833–34) publishes a summary and a critique, à la Borges, of the fictional book Clothes, Their Origin ...
VicAche's user avatar
  • 1,908
21 votes

Were English poets of the sixteenth century aware of the Great Vowel Shift?

TL;DR: As late as the beginning of the 17th century, the editor Thomas Speght claimed that it was possible for a skillful reader to scan Chaucer. But he modernized Chaucer’s spelling, making it hard ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
  • 56.1k
19 votes

How did the Inklings originate?

Tolkien and Lewis started it when Tolkien returned to Oxford. I'll answer the questions that you mentioned one by one. Unless otherwise specified, the quotes come from Inside The Lion, The Witch, and ...
Mithical's user avatar
  • 24.2k
19 votes
Accepted

Was Twain the first author to write of Zombies?

Zombies go way back, further than 1892. There has been a fear of the undead since caveman times, when some tribes used to tie up corpses to stop them coming back to life. Perhaps the earliest form of ...
Beastly Gerbil's user avatar
19 votes
Accepted

Does the Epic of Gilgamesh have a continuous cultural history?

When the Medes and the Babylonians conquered Nineveh in 612 B.C. they also destroyed the "Library of Ashurbanipal". Clay tablets from that library mainly "survived" as fragments. ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
  • 44.6k
17 votes
Accepted

Dickens invented the scary clown?

The claim that ‘Dickens invented the scary clown’ seems to be rooted in the work of Andrew McConnel Scott, Professor of English at the University of Buffalo, through his paper ‘Clowns on the Verge of ...
Spagirl's user avatar
  • 19k
17 votes

What's the earliest fictional work of literature that contains an allusion to an earlier fictional work of literature?

Parody is a genre in which a writer makes a series of allusions to a specific work, or to the works of another writer generally, or to a whole genre or style. The target of a parody is usually not ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
  • 56.1k
16 votes

Where did the idea of a "true name" come from?

This is an anthropology question, not a literature question, since the idea is much older than writing. The idea is present in many different cultures, and we don't know whether there it has been ...
Gilles 'SO- stop being evil''s user avatar
16 votes

What is an epic and why is there “only one epic in English Language so far”?

Since Milton is often discussed in the context of Renaissance literature, I'll quote the definition of "epic" from The Renaissance (edited by Marion Wynne-Davies, Bloomsbury Guides to ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
  • 44.6k
14 votes
Accepted

Who first referred to Odysseus as Ulysses?

Ulysses is the Latin form of the Greek Odysseus, stemming from the Sicilian or alternate Latin form Ulixes. The first instance of these forms in literature that I can find is in the Odusia by Livius ...
CHEESE's user avatar
  • 4,482
14 votes
Accepted

Is there actually such a thing as "OCR-pirated" books?

Digitising books is common although not trivial - it is commonly done by libraries and other institutions, and it can be done at home. But most people would probably find it easier to obtain an ...
Stuart F's user avatar
  • 729
13 votes
Accepted

How did the Inklings originate?

The well-known Inklings was a literary discussion group, and that is exactly what they did. There was a preceding group where they got the name from, which was founded for the purpose of reading aloud ...
Bookeater's user avatar
  • 1,205
13 votes
Accepted

Are there earlier incidences than Merchant of Venice of an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other?

Yes, the device of the good and the bad angel had definitely been used before, for example by Christopher Marlowe in The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus. Marlowe's plays are generally hard to date and ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
  • 44.6k

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