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103 votes

Was the title "The Lord of the Rings" picked on purpose to be ambiguous?

The phrase “the Lord of the Rings” is ambiguous in the same way in English: it might, in theory, refer either to the One Ring, which rules the other rings, or to Sauron, who can use it to rule all the ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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86 votes
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Why is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy referred to as H2G2?

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" is a pretty long mouthful of a name. Imagine having to say all that every time you wanted to talk to fellow fans about the franchise. The most obvious way to ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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39 votes

Why is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy referred to as H2G2?

It was the title given to the "Earth Edition" on the web: H2G2.com This was founded - and named - in 1999 by Douglas Adams himself. Clearly taken from The HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy. This ...
Chenmunka's user avatar
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39 votes
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Meaning/translation of title "The Light Fantastic" by Terry Pratchett

In-universe the "light fantastic" is an actual, factual thing. There was no real need for the torches. The Octavo filled the room with a dull, sullen light, which wasn’t strictly light at ...
Valorum's user avatar
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35 votes

Meaning/translation of title "The Light Fantastic" by Terry Pratchett

It is a punning reference to the phrase ‘trip the light fantastic’, which means (per The Phrase Finder) To dance, especially in an imaginative or 'fantastic' manner. The phrase seems to arise from ...
Spagirl's user avatar
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33 votes
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Why is Dante's Magnum Opus Called a 'Divine Comedy'?

The question can be broken down into two subquestions: one about the term "comedy" and one about the adjective "divine". Dante never referred to his own work as the "Divine ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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27 votes

What is meant by the title "The Color of Money"?

In the novel, Tevis writes: His skill on the arena of green cloth—cloth that was itself the color of money—could never be only pretense. So the idea is making the connection between the green baize ...
D. A. Hosek's user avatar
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25 votes

Why is it called Watership Down?

Watership Down is a real place in Hampshire that just happens to sound as if there is some connection to water. (image by Loganberry of Wikipedia; public domain) It's not a fictitious name invented ...
Aurora0001's user avatar
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22 votes
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Why is Gatsby great?

It seems to have been the editor who proposed the title, and the author didn't like it much. The original suggestion seems to have come from Fitzgerald's editor and friend, Maxwell Perkins: I ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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15 votes
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Why is it called Watership Down?

As Aurorar0001 says, Watership Down is a real place name in Hampshire, England. The following comments are meant to shed some light on the origin of this place name. The second part, Down, is a noun ...
lvcivs's user avatar
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14 votes
Accepted

Why is Pechorin a hero of our time?

It's intended to be ironic. In his preface to the second edition, Lermontov criticises the readers who - like you - took the title at face value and interpreted it to mean Pechorin was really being ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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12 votes
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Why is the Agatha Christie play called "The Mousetrap"?

As @yannis and @Valorum have said in the comments, the play's original title Three Blind Mice had to be changed because there was an earlier play with the same title. Yannis shared this information ...
verbose's user avatar
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12 votes
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Why has this Premchand story been translated as both "Catastrophe" and "A Positive Change"?

The Hindi title "विध्वंस" (transliterated as "Vidhwans") means "catastrophe" or "destruction". I am not too familiar with Urdu, but Google Translate says that &...
Namaskaram's user avatar
12 votes
Accepted

Why are so many Agatha Christie novels published with multiple titles?

This is because Christie was published in both the United States and the United Kingdom. These are the two largest markets for English-language books, and in the mid-20th century when Christie was ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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11 votes

Why is Dante's Magnum Opus Called a 'Divine Comedy'?

In the introduction by Bianca Garavelli to the Inferno there is a section titled "Il valore del titolo", that is, "The value of the title", in which this is explained in detail: ...
Charo's user avatar
  • 2,144
10 votes

Why is the title of "Le Morte d'Arthur" in French if the book is in English?

We don't know very much about the life of Thomas Malory, but it is clear that Le Morte Darthur draws on French sources. For example, in "Capitulum tercium" (in the version printed by Caxton, which is ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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10 votes

What is meant by the title "The Color of Money"?

Hosek is right, but further connotations of the color of money refer to the fact that profit and gain are powerful, perhaps the most powerful, driving forces behind human behaviour (often at its worst)...
Deipatrous's user avatar
9 votes

Why was "Notre Dame de Paris" changed from "Notre Dame of Paris" to "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" when it was re-published in English?

In Recomposing the Past: Representations of Early Music on Stage and Screen, it's claimed that: The original title of Hugo's work was Notre Dame de Paris, making no mention of the disfigurement of ...
muru's user avatar
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9 votes
Accepted

Why is Roald Dahl's short story called "Nunc Dimittis"?

Note that the translation of the opening of the prayer in the King James version and the English Book of Common Prayer is: Lord, now lettest thy servant depart in peace and "depart" refers ...
David Siegel's user avatar
8 votes
Accepted

Are the numerous hunger references attributed to the title of A Moveable Feast?

The final choice to make "A Moveable Feast" the title was made by Hemingway's fourth wife, Mary. It was supposedly suggested by Hemingway's friend, A. E. Hostner. While the Hemingway quote is ...
HDE 226868's user avatar
  • 5,864
8 votes

What is the literary effect of dropping articles from titles?

Originally, what follows was a section of the question. However, at the suggestion of Gallifreyan, I've migrated it to this answer. It's quite long, and it includes works by others as well as a little ...
linguisticturn's user avatar
8 votes
Accepted

What is the original Korean title of "The Tiger and the Persimmon"?

In Korean, the story is called 호랑이와 곶감. I would personally go with the translation: “The Tiger and the Dried Persimmons", but this isn't the exact translation. First, I’ll address the food, ...
North Læraðr's user avatar
8 votes

Significance of the title of "Corn-Grinders" by Sarojini Naidu

Naidu's title "Corn-Grinders" draws upon a metaphor common in the Indian subcontinent, where a grinding mill symbolizes the pitilessness of existence. As Spagirl writes in her answer, corn ...
verbose's user avatar
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7 votes

Why is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy referred to as H2G2?

You already know what H2G2 stands for, and that it is a type of acronym to avoid having to write or say the whole name. I think you are asking why the acronym is H2G2 instead of HHGG, which is the ...
sammy gerbil's user avatar
7 votes

Meaning/translation of title "The Light Fantastic" by Terry Pratchett

The light that Pratchett refers to is Octarine. This is defined in the Discworld books as the eighth colour of the spectrum and the colour of magic. "The Colour Of Magic" itself being a title of ...
Chenmunka's user avatar
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7 votes
Accepted

What inspired the title of "Why Didn't They Ask Evans?"?

I'm wondering if the claim you heard was a conflation of a few things. I could find two sources online stating that the title of Why Didn't They Ask Evans was something Christie overheard. The first ...
Kitkat's user avatar
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7 votes

Why is Amy Chua's book called "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" instead of "Battle Hymn of the Mother-Tigress"?

There are a couple reasons: first and foremost, the term “Tiger Mother” was already in common use, particularly among Chinese-Americans to describe the kind of parenting style that Chua writes about ...
D. A. Hosek's user avatar
  • 3,145
7 votes
Accepted

Where was the story first told that the title of Vanity Fair come to Thackeray in a "eureka moment" in bed?

This is from the recollections of Thackeray’s friend Kate Perry: He told me, some time afterward, that, after ransacking his brain for a name for his novel, it came upon him unawares, in the middle ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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7 votes
Accepted

Who originated "The Life and Lies of xxx"?

tl;dr: 1979 as the title of a published work. 1854 as a reference in general. Usage peaked in the 1990s through 2010s. 1979: The Life—and Lies—of Maud Gonne was an essay published by Conrad Balliet ...
Skooba's user avatar
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