Matt Thrower
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Why does only one of R. S. Thomas' poems conform to traditional poetic devices?
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6 votes

The reason is because it is not entirely Thomas' own work: it is a translation of a traditional Welsh song (obtained here). Ar noswaith ddrycinog mi euthum i rodio Ar lannau y Fenai gan ddistaw ...

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What does postmodernism mean in terms of literature?
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6 votes

Post-modernism is characterized by the rejection of enlightenment (i.e. scientific) certainties. In the post-modernist world view, everything is influenced by language, culture and socialization, to ...

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What does "in coarse gray" and "iron" mean here?
5 votes

Dickens is describing Pip's first encounter with a convict, Magwitch. in a coarse gray This is shorthand for "coarse gray cloth". It is uncommon, but not unfamiliar, in English to describe ...

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"The Laburnum Top" by Ted Hughes - poem explanation
5 votes

Let's look at the poem verse by verse. For a Hughes poem, it is surprisingly literal. The Laburnum top is silent, quite still In the afternoon yellow September sunlight, A few leaves yellowing, all ...

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What does "the protecting canvas unrolled from Gatsby’s grave" mean?
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5 votes

There's no great mystery to this: it literally means what it says. Newly-dug graves are often covered with canvas to protect them from the rain. Otherwise, the dug earth would turn to mud. This is ...

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What does the "Tell the neighbors I'm not sorry" line in "Girls Like Girls" mean?
5 votes

The song as a whole is written from the point of view of a woman who is having a relationship with another woman who, in turn, appears to be in an existing relationship with a man. I'm breaking ...

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Was Frankenstein's Monster really an illusion?
5 votes

The first relevant document I managed to discover on this is an undergraduate biology thesis titled The Real "Monster" in Frankenstein. Here is an extract from the abstract: I argue that that the ...

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What does Hamlet mean when he calls Claudius a "villain"?
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5 votes

The word "villain" is derived from the 14th-century word "villein" which means: a free common villager or village peasant of any of the feudal classes lower in rank than the thane. Merriam ...

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What is the tone of "Spring" by Gerard Manley Hopkins?
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5 votes

Your understanding of the two words is correct. In fact, the dictionary defines reverent as: Feeling or showing deep and solemn respect. So the difference is entirely one of strength of feeling. ...

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How bad is Winston Smith 's memory in the novel `1984`?
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5 votes

This is a description of Winston's subconscious motivation, not forgetfulness. The problem, I think, starts here: It was partly the unusual geography of the room that had suggested to him the ...

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Why could Cú Chulainn not recognise his own son?
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5 votes

Cú Chulainn is a famous character from Irish myth, and the accidental slaying of his son is part of the legend. On Baile's Strand is a retelling of parts of the myth, with some added subplots and ...

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Was Thomas Hardy expressing his own religious intolerance or commenting on the general anti-Semitic sentiment of the time?
5 votes

This is an impossible question to answer definitively without a supporting quote from the author. No such quote appears to exist: I haven't been able to source anything in which Hardy discusses his ...

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Why is this poem by Paul Auster entitled "Spokes"?
5 votes

A key theme of this poem is conflict, or perhaps the gap, between the actuality of nature, our perception of it and the frustrations and disconnects that result from our attempts to describe it with ...

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Could the War of the Worlds be considered a proto Cosmic Horror story?
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5 votes

It's impossible to answer a question like this with a definitive no, and it's an interesting notion, but it seems unlikely. For starters, Lovecraft was never shy of naming his inspirations. "It is ...

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What does Stephen Dedalus mean: "History is the nightmare from which I’m trying to awake”?
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5 votes

To understand this, once needs to know a little Irish history. Essentially Ireland has been an island riven by violence almost continually for over a thousand years. First it was the Vikings, raiding, ...

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What's the significance of the T. S. Eliot reference in Catch-22?
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5 votes

The central point of this skit is, of course, to illustrate that the Colonels are ill-educated "fools": neither has heard of one of the most famous poets of the 20th century. But any famous poet would ...

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What does "hard pushed in argument" mean in this context?
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4 votes

Your understanding of "hard pushed" is correct. "hard pushed in argument" means "facing great difficulty in putting his side of the argument". "fling the New Yorker ...

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What are the "animal heads of the flowers" in Allen Ginsberg's Transcription of Organ Music?
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4 votes

It's a metaphor to emphasize the difference between the movable heads of flowers and their static leaves and stems. First, note how the poem is at pains to point out that the leaves stay still: ...

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Dante's Inferno reference in Much Ado About Nothing
4 votes

There is no direct, obvious reference to Dante's Inferno in Much Ado About Nothing. However, there is a tangential link between the two works in their character and plot: both can be conceived as love ...

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Who is "Luna" in Byron's "To Mary, On Receiving Her Picture"?
4 votes

Luna is another name for the Moon. Most celestial bodies have a fixed name, but "the" moon is an oddity in that regard. As it turns out, the Moon did have other names, notable among them, ...

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What did Lorca mean by ‘crocodiles’ in his poem ‘The King of Harlem’?
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4 votes

The poem as a whole contrasts the experience of people of colour in their ancestral land with their experience of New York. The symbolic protagonist is a true "king" in his own land. But while he may ...

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In Great Expectations, who is the man at the pub in Chapter Ten?
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4 votes

The stranger is an associate of Magwitch. I have no particular evidence to support this, beyond commonly accepted interpretations of the text, which are based on a series of circumstancial ...

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How much is 95000 rubles from 1897 worth in today's money?
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4 votes

Approximately 100,000,000 roubles. This is not a straightfoward conversion due to fluctuations in the value of the rouble after the collapse of communism. This historical currency converter runs up to ...

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What point is the end of The Owl Service trying to make?
4 votes

The ending is less political than it first appears but is, rather a device to push the reader to re-evaluate the themes of the book. I had no intention of answering this myself, but since it attracted ...

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Why was/is James Joyce's writing revolutionary for its time?
4 votes

Joyce's work was revolutionary in a number of ways. In most of them it was not that he innovated new techniques, but in the degree to which he pushed them. To start with, it is worth considering what ...

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What does it mean when spaces blow in Crow's ear cluelessly?
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4 votes

Ted Hughes' Crow cycle is a series of interlinked poems which can be understood, as a whole, to be a folkloric cycle inspired by the Christian tradition. When doing readings, Hughes would introduce ...

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Why did Robert Plant call "Stairway to Heaven" a "song of hope"?
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4 votes

There's a facetious answer to this, which is: because that's how he felt that day. However, it's less facetious than it first appears. Page himself has said in interview that he has little clear idea ...

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Was "It was a dark and stormy night" deliberately purple prose?
4 votes

The phrase itself is not "purple prose". In fact, it has been used before. Paul Clifford was written in 1890, and the exact same phrase was used in an 1809 essay The History of New York by no lesser ...

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Are the comic elements of Conrad's The Secret Agent intentional?
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4 votes

Yes, the comic effect is intentional. Strong evidence of this is provided by the fact that the author's other political novel, Under Western Eyes, also contains elements of black comedy. There is ...

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How can the "Won't I bleed 'em in the end" line from Les Mis's "Master of the House" be interpreted?
3 votes

A search of the lyrics reveals them to be rendered like this: Everybody loves a landlord Everybody's bosom friend I do whatever pleases Jesus! Won't I bleed 'em in the end! And it's noteworthy that ...

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