andejons
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Pride and Prejudice: Why did Elizabeth think "my uncle and aunt would have been lost to me"?
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18 votes

First, we should note that Elizabeth is very specific here: she is only talking about her uncle and aunt, not of any other relatives. While it is perhaps natural that her thoughts should first go to ...

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Is there any evidence that George Orwell read 'For whom the bell tolls'? Did Hemingway read 'Homage to Catalonia' or (later) '1984'?
14 votes

I don't know if he read them, but Hemingway owned two copies of 1984, see this list (p 275) of his books, cataloged by the JFK library. Here is a catalog of books Orwell owned at his death; it is not ...

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How did people know the meaning to Shakespeare's new words?
14 votes

Actually, most of the new words appears to have based on existing words to some extent: either taking a noun and turning into a verb or vice versa (one example of this would be "to dawn"), or ...

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Was Selma Lagerlöf a Nazi supporter?
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12 votes

Background First, it should be noted that almost everyone in Sweden was at least sympathetic Finland in Winter war of 1939-1940 against the Soviet union, and also to a lesser extent in the ...

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Can you explain the financial situation of Edward and Elinor Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility?
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11 votes

Elinor owned about 1000 pounds (we are told this in chapter 2), Edward 2000. The interest from this would have been 150 pounds a year (5 percent was what you got from government bonds, so this is the ...

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Why is the Nobel Literature Prize committee primarily staffed by Swedish nationals?
11 votes

Alfred Nobel's will states that [Priset] [...] för litteratur [utdelas] af Akademien i Stockholm[...] or, in English The award for Literature shall be awarded by the Academy in Stockholm All ...

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Why is there so much legalese in Egil's Saga?
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10 votes

Short answer: Egil's saga is not particularly more interested in legal matters than similar sagas. I do not know what other sagas are being referenced in the question, but one should recognise that ...

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What does Mr Darcy refer to when objecting to Mr Bennet's "want of propriety"?
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9 votes

Let's have a look at what Mr Bennet actually says to Mary in the passage alluded to in the question: [Elizabeth] looked at her father to entreat his interference, lest Mary should be singing all ...

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What is the oldest non-biographical work of literature in which the author is also a protagonist?
9 votes

As written, the most obvious answer would probably be a lyrical poet, writing in first person. Sappho's poetry (ca 600 BCE) appears to be among the first in the Western tradition to use such a device. ...

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Are there significant differences across the Nordic countries in the traditional portrayal of trolls?
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8 votes

There are great variations of how trolls are portrayed, but it is not primarily a matter of national literature. I will be focusing on Sweden and Norway, where I know the traditions best. First, we ...

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What does the line “Excellent, i' faith, of the chameleon's dish. I eat the air, promise-crammed. You cannot feed capons so.” mean, from Hamlet?
7 votes

To start: what is the most basic sense here? What is the "chameleon's dish"? And what is a capon? Well, among the folklore of Shakespeare's time, there was a belief that chameleons lived on nothing ...

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Who are "the sons of Brutus" in Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy?
7 votes

It is a reference to the Tarquinian conspiracy. After the overthrow of Tarquinius, the last Roman King, and the founding of the Roman republic, a number of Romans, including two sons and two brothers-...

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A real meaning of a Bramarbas or a Holofernes?
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7 votes

Holofernes is a character in the biblical Book of Judith (which is considered canonical in Catholic and Orthodox tradition, but not in Protestant). He was a Assyrian general under king Nebuchadnezzar, ...

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Why is Richard a hunchback in Kevin Spacey's portrayal of Richard III?
7 votes

In Richard III, Act I, scene 3, lines 245-246 Queen Margaret tells Elizabeth that: The day will come that thou shalt wish for me To help thee curse this poisonous bunch-back'd toad. and indeed,...

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The Icelandic Edda's origins
7 votes

Properly, the name Edda refers only to one work: Snorri's Edda, a work on Norse poetics, including the background in mythology necessary to write and understand such. The name probably comes from an ...

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Major differences between Norse epic poetry and English epic poetry
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7 votes

First, I'd like to note that my knowledge on English verse is not as good as of Norse. Thus I will start with a description of Norse verse, and then try to compare with what I know of English verse. ...

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Why did Morris and Clay preemptively dissolve the Red-Headed League?
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7 votes

I took a look in Leslie S. Klinger's The new annotated Sherlock Holmes. This does indeed appear to be a problem that has puzzled commentators. Three suggestions are mentioned: Clay was trying to ...

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Are man and woman like ash and elm? How?
7 votes

I will start with question 3, as it is the most straightforward. Gaiman has done a whole lot of elaboration on a passage that is in fact rather short. I will quote the relevant passages from the ...

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What is the purpose of all the lists in chapter 12 of Joyce's Ulysses?
6 votes

According to the Gilbert schema for understanding Ulysses, created by Joyce for his friend Stuart Gilbert, the technique that is used in the "Cyclops chapter" (a designation that also comes from the ...

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What is the "Eastern wolf" in this poem?
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6 votes

There is indeed a resonance with Norse mythology. In Völuspá, stanza 39 according to Codex Regius, or 24 according to Hauksbók (there are otherwise only variations of tense between them in this stanza)...

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What evidence is there for Tolkien's One Ring being based on the Ring of Silvianus?
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6 votes

If there was any inspiration, it was likely very minor. The only thing this ring seem to have in common with the One Ring is the curse, and that Tolkien could easily have gotten from elsewhere. The ...

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What did Holmes mean when he referred to Watson's habit "of telling a story backward"?
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5 votes

Let us first remember how a Sherlock Holmes story is often constructed: a client appears, talks to Sherlock, and he then moves into action and begins gathering clues. At some point, Sherlock forms a ...

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Usage of the word "spheres" in "A Noiseless Patient Spider"
5 votes

From context, I'd take this to be the celestial spheres, an old cosmological idea that originated in antiquity. Briefly, each planet, including the sun and moon, where thought to inhabit their own ...

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How and why did the Swedish Academy decide to award Bob Dylan a Nobel Prize?
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5 votes

The records of the discussions of the Swedish Academy are kept secret for 50 years, meaning that as of the time I'm writing this, the last laureates for which we actually have any real insight into ...

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Why did George Orwell make "Oceania" totalitarian in his novel "1984"?
4 votes

Would it really have worked as well if he was in a fictionalized version of the Soviet Union? I do not believe so. 1984 is not a novel meant only to be entertaining, but to also to say a few things ...

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What does the word 'Avernus' mean in Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu?
4 votes

The crater Avernus, outside Cumae, was thought by the Romans to be an entrance to the underworld where souls spent the afterlife. Aeneas visits it in Virgil's The Aeneid: Till, coming where Avernus,...

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Why is a special license needed to get married?
4 votes

There were four possibilities for those who wanted to get married in 19th century England: Banns. This meant that you had to have the upcoming wedding announced three Sundays in a row from the parish ...

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What does it mean that different parts of humans are created by different gods?
4 votes

The primary sources Let us start with what the sources actually say they were given, and by whom. First, from Völuspá: Mind they not own, reflection they had not, no vision nor cover or colour ...

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In Mansfield Park, why did Maria Bertram and Henry Crawford get together?
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3 votes

There is at least one part of the question that is wrong - that Maria was of "proper education". This is, in fact, one of the main morals of the story - the education of Maria and Julia was actually ...

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Was the sealed letter ordering Hamlet's death a Biblical reference?
3 votes

No. The source for Hamlet was the story of Amleth, told by Saxo Grammaticus in the 13th century (as retold by François de Belleforest). Amleth is also sent to England with a letter telling the King ...

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