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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
  • 72.3k
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
  • 18.9k
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
11 votes
Accepted

Is there a term for epic poetry’s detailed, successive introductions of multiple characters?

Such introductions and descriptions are called epic catalogues. Barbarians are sometimes known to refer to them as epic catalogs. The term catalogue is not restricted to characters. Lists of armies, ...
verbose's user avatar
  • 25.7k
9 votes

Why is black evil and white good?

In western culture, black has been a symbol for death, mourning, sin & evil, and the strange or the "other", but also of humility, and of writing and literature. Black as a symbol of death (...
Tsundoku's user avatar
  • 44.5k
9 votes

Was there a deliberate parallel between the Thénardiers and Gollum?

I think you're reading too much into it. Gollum has the One Ring because the One Ring "wants to be found." It was at the bottom of a lake for a long time and wanted to get back to Sauron. Fantine ...
Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum's user avatar
7 votes

Why is black evil and white good?

The black and white dualism is probably the most common dichotomy and can be traced back to Pythagoras' Table of Opposites, which lists both good and evil as well a well light and darkness. Usually ...
Helmar's user avatar
  • 1,031
7 votes

Why are Dwarfs almost always technologically advanced compared to other races?

While every fantasy series tends to deal slightly differently with their fantasy races, there tend to be some common denominators. Dwarves are generally written as living underground. Dwarves are ...
RDFozz's user avatar
  • 256
6 votes

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

As Obie pointed out in a comment, the expression speak of the devil and he shall appear is a remnant of a naming taboo that was taken very seriously in days long gone. Religions have known many more ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
  • 44.5k
5 votes

Is there a term for epic poetry’s detailed, successive introductions of multiple characters?

This is not a direct answer to the question in the sense of a general term, but there is a very well-known term for a specific example: the teichoskopia in Book III of the Iliad, where Helen stands ...
thegreatemu's user avatar
5 votes

Was there a deliberate parallel between the Thénardiers and Gollum?

Absolutely agree with #3! I just finished Les Mis (took me like 6 months!) and had the exact same impression about Thenardier/Gollum parallel. To me it seems likely that Thenardier was an ...
Techer's user avatar
  • 59
5 votes

Why is black evil and white good?

A lot of our standard language encodes subconscious in-group, out-group preferences. As theorist Franz Fanon explored in his work Black Skins, White Masks, the probable origin is the psychological ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
  • 2,336
3 votes

Did magic realism begin in literature?

I'm going to put in a vote for Shakespeare's play, A Midsummer Night's Dream (1595/1596). Here's how it fares against the characteristics listed on the Wikipedia page for Magical Realism: Fantastical ...
Gaurav's user avatar
  • 1,700
3 votes

What is the earliest work with the time-loop trope?

1927: "The Prince's Birthday Present", a short story by Anthony Armstrong, first published in The Strand Magazine, December 1927 and reprinted in Armstrong's 1932 collection The Prince Who ...
user14111's user avatar
  • 3,042
3 votes

What is the earliest work with the time-loop trope?

The following is from a book titled Now and Then We Time Travel: Visiting Pasts and Futures in Film and Television by Frasier A. Sherman (2017), p. 193: Some sources have cited William Dean Howell'...
TaliesinMerlin's user avatar
2 votes

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

TvTropes's Speak of the Devil is the closest match - Speak the name of [Evil Person] and he/she/it will appear and/or have some sort of power over you. Note that of your three examples, the first two (...
Gloweye's user avatar
  • 121
2 votes

What is the earliest work with the time-loop trope?

The Wikipedia page on "Time loop" refers to the 1915 novel "Strange Life of Ivan Osokin", which is summarized as: When the protagonist realizes that he can recall having lived his ...
shezi's user avatar
  • 121
2 votes

What is the trope known in Russian as "speaking name" called in English?

It's called charactonym. From the link (Merriam-Webster dictionary): Definition of charactonym : a name especially for a fictional character (such as Mistress Quickly or Caspar Milquetoast) that ...
Ruslan's user avatar
  • 161
1 vote

What is the trope known in Russian as "speaking name" called in English?

Antonomasia. From Encyclopedia Britannica (bold emphasis added): Antonomasia, a figure of speech in which some defining word or phrase is substituted for a person’s proper name (for example, “the ...
Julia Reed's user avatar
1 vote

What is it called when someone changes their character to fit false accusations?

I'm not certain if it's exactly what you're looking for, but the TV Tropes site, which attempts to catalog tropes in various forms of media, calls this Then Let Me Be Evil. Sometimes the supposed &...
Sean Duggan's user avatar
  • 10.5k

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