Questions tagged [literature]

Questions related to a group of works of art made up of words, classified as either poetry or prose, being either fiction or non-fiction, usually written but can also include oral traditions.

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2 answers
215 views

Why did Sørlle weep at the ending of "Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage" by Alfred Lansing?

The news about scientists have found Endurance prompts me to ask this question otherwise I have always seen it as some minor details that few people will have interest in. I think it is safe to say &...
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1 vote
0 answers
51 views

What are the main primary sources for the life and times of Shah Ismail I?

The Encyclopaedia Iranica seems mostly to base its account on Khvandamir, Hasan Beg Rumlu and to a lesser extent Khonji. Which of these (or any other primary source) has the most extensive treatment ...
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8 votes
1 answer
334 views

What did 'bookseller' cover as an occupation on British census documents during Victorian times?

I have been researching some of my husband's ancestors who lived in the poorest parts of Liverpool during the second part of the 19th century. Two of his female relatives who had been widowed turned ...
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6 votes
1 answer
319 views

Did D&D and similar media actually increase interest in the occult?

There was a scare in the 80s and less so the 90s surrounding things like the tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) or other media that depicts magic as a narrative element and a ...
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1 answer
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What irreplaceable manuscripts were lost in the burning of Jaffna Public Library and what history did they contain (and subsequently lost forever)?

Context The burning of the Jaffna Public Library was a case of ethnic biblioclasm and cultural eradication of Tamil history. At the time of its destruction, the library was one of the biggest in Asia, ...
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1 vote
0 answers
91 views

Greek/Roman play in which a woman encourages a pregnant slave to marry a slave owner and pass off the baby as his?

I can’t for the life of me remember which play this is, or indeed whether it’s Greek or Roman? There’s presumably a lot more to the plot than this, but all I remember is that a young woman is sold ...
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16 votes
1 answer
957 views

Why did Pausanias travel to Greece?

Pausanias wrote his Description of Greece in the first century AD, which remains a priceless resource for classicists and archaeologists to this day. I've made a quick perusal of the text itself, as ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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How could I find the original text of Leonardo Da Vinci's fable "La fiamma e la candela"?

I have a special interest on fables. By wandering on Gallica, I found out from the work of Joséphin Péladan: Textes choisis : pensées, théories, préceptes, fables et facéties / Léonard de Vinci that ...
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5 votes
0 answers
167 views

Who did Murasaki Shikibu fall in love with?

A line from Donald Keene's introductory text about The Tale of Genji piqued my curiosity: We know little else about Murasaki’s early years, though her poems suggest that she fell in love at least ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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How old was Murasaki Shikibu when she married her second cousin? And why did she marry him?

From Wikipedia: Aristocratic Heian women lived restricted and secluded lives, allowed to speak to men only when they were close relatives or household members. Murasaki's autobiographical poetry ...
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3 votes
0 answers
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When and how did Seethekami, the tribal version of Ramayan, come into existence amongst the Haalaki in Karnataka?

Ramayan, an ancient Sanskrit text, though true or not forms an integral part of numerous cultures not only in India but in several Asian countries. But across cultures and this text is not consistent ...
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7 votes
1 answer
365 views

Was Mark Twain's book 'The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' banned in the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany)?

I am currently studying the film Barbara directed by Christian Petzold for my undergraduate dissertation. This film is based in the former German Democratic Republic=GDR (East Germany). The ...
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9 votes
1 answer
444 views

Who was the medieval author who addressed readers 1000 years in the future?

I'm trying to remember the author of a quotation, where the author addresses the reader in the far future. It's says something like "if you are reading this in 100 or perhaps 1000 years I hope the ...
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10 votes
1 answer
403 views

Are there any exemplars of the 'trope of the exiled poet' prior to CE 8?

For a class of mine I'm writing a paper on Ovid's Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto, where I argue that underneath Ovid's lamentation of his exile and praise for Augustus, he immortalizes himself as the ...
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1 vote
0 answers
116 views

Would a Syrian King have worn the toga after the Edict of Caracalla?

As you may know, the Edict of Caracalla granted citizenship to all freeborn citizens of the Roman Empire. I'm writing a novel set several decades after this edict, and one of the characters is a ...
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7 votes
1 answer
490 views

What did it mean to be a "Jacobite" at the turn of the 20th Century?

I'm currently reading the Ursula Buchan's biography of John Buchan, the Scottish writer and politician. (Buchan, U, 2019, "Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps: A Life of John Buchan", Bloomsbury, London) ...
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3 votes
1 answer
2k views

Did Cao Cao really say the greatest traitor resembled an honest man?

The greatest traitor has always resembled an honest man and the greatest falsehood comes across as truth. Righteousness and evil cannot be discerned by their appearance. People have decided wrongly ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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What does this quote from the Roman imperial poet Rutilius mean?

Reading about the little Italian isle of Capraia, I've seen a quote attributed to Claudio Rutilio Namaziano, from his De Reditu, that in Latin goes: "Processu pelagi iam se Capraria tollit; squalet ...
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6 votes
1 answer
579 views

What is the full text of the song about the failed battle of Kiska?

I came across a mention of the song about the failed battle of Kiska in the audiobook "The Rising Sun". I started googling, but found only two mentions, both on Google Books. Is there the full text of ...
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56 votes
15 answers
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Are there any important biographies of nobodies?

Biographies usually cover interesting people who said and did notable things. I'm curious about lives notable just for their contexts: the stories of unremarkable people in historically remarkable ...
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Did Antoine de Saint-Exupery have any offspring?

Looking through the wikipedia > Antoine de Saint-Exupery, I see he had a number of partners, one of them was Consuelo de Saint Exupéry (the character who probably inspired the rose in The Little ...
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10 votes
3 answers
682 views

What was the primary motivation for a historical figure like Xenophon to create an extensive collection of written material?

Xenophon of Athens created a large amount of written material even by today's standards. Did he create this work knowing it would be read by future generations, or was it for his own satisfaction? I ...
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2 votes
0 answers
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Why is the Confederacy frequently depicted as heroic in film and literature? [closed]

I was watching a remastered video from The Rebel and it occurs to me that often, if not the majority of the time, it is the Confederacy before, during and after the war which is shown in a sort of ...
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27 votes
2 answers
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What is the oldest known work of fiction?

What is the oldest known work of fiction that we know was meant to be taken as fiction? I mean to exclude mythologies; the audience of these was meant to believe they were true. What is the oldest ...
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17 votes
3 answers
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Is the following claim concerning the loss of classical Latin literature substantiated?

I first came across an uncommonly precise claim that "94% of classical Latin literature was lost during the transition period of late antiquity" while listening to Peter Adamson's History of ...
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4 votes
1 answer
429 views

Which SF author was unable to check his own work out of the library due to insufficient security clearance?

Following up on the question Public knowledge of hypothetical nuclear weapons before Hiroshima?: I recall reading (many many years ago) an autobiographical anecdote by a science fiction author who ...
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3 votes
1 answer
101 views

Who is "A Gentleman"? (The listed tranlator of the 1758 English edition of Tusculan Disputations)

While reading a free ebook version of Tusculan Disputations, apparently photo-captured from a long-out-of-copyright edition, and being interested in the unusual grammar in the older book, I "flipped" ...
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  • 221
4 votes
0 answers
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Is the Prologue to Eunuchus the earliest recorded defense of literary fair use?

In Eunuchus by the Roman playwright Terence, there is a prologue penned for the explicit purpose of justifying the author's reuse of existing characters. In a section, the author identifies some ...
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12 votes
2 answers
4k views

Where can I find the earliest surviving versions of Herodotus's Histories?

I'm looking for information re: the earliest versions of Herodotus's Histories. The two versions used on the Wikipedia page for Herodotus's Histories both trace back to Godley's translation. Godley's ...
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8 votes
6 answers
952 views

What is the earliest known book / novel trilogy in literature?

Having recently finished (again) The Lord of the Rings trilogy, I wondered what is the earliest known book / novel trilogy in literature? (Yes, I know J.R.R. Tolkien wrote LOTR not as a trilogy but as ...
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9 votes
2 answers
3k views

Were the names in 'Les Miserables' ever common?

Victor Hugo used a variety of unusual names in 'Les Miserables'. Lets look at some of the major characters. Were the names in Les Miserables, other than Jean and Marius, common in France at the time ...
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14 votes
1 answer
810 views

What are the tabs/spaces for in the Beowulf text

Here and other places they have strange spacing as seen in the picture: Wondering what it means and what the purpose of it / if it's necessary or has some significance.
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1 vote
2 answers
779 views

Was Ezra Pound a descendent of Jews?

I've tried to search the internet for poet's Ezra Pound genealogy, but I only find extreme-right sites... A person with the name Ezra seems to have some relationship to Jewish culture/religion. ...
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4 votes
2 answers
230 views

What is the drawing in this ekphrastic poem?

I'm trying to identify the drawing (an unfinished sketch for a painting?) described in this Donald Justice poem. Possibly an African in upper-class dress, with a horse and second person who's portrait ...
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30 votes
2 answers
8k views

Were Egyptian Pharaohs literate?

This video says scribes read letters to the king as the king was not literate. Can anyone comment on this
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-4 votes
2 answers
697 views

Who is the first person in the 17th century to describe themselves as a "white" person and who invented the term "white race"?

According to the Wikipedia article entitled White people The concept of a unified white race did not achieve universal acceptance in Europe when it first came into use in the 17th century, or ...
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5 votes
1 answer
358 views

What does this Rx glyph mean in what looks like Latin?

What does this glyph (red) mean? Also, what usage was there for it and the other glyph that looks like a colon (blue)?
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0 votes
2 answers
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What is the use of vinegar as a component in ancient ink receipes?

Quite some receipes of old (pre-iron-gall) ink seem to include vinegar. It is of pale colour though, and it may or may not be corrosive to the paper. Whats it's use?
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  • 1,533
30 votes
2 answers
3k views

What kind of ink was used by medieval scribes in Iceland, given that there were no plant galls for iron-gall ink?

Iceland was deforested since early settlement, and possibly never had oaks. It has no gall wasps either. I understand that Iceland was very isolated in medieval times. So without oak galls, how did ...
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7 votes
4 answers
3k views

Did the medieval Europe have an active "lowbrow" culture?

When we look back on another age, we tend to skip to the highlights. That goes double for things like art, sports, literature, and music. But in our own time, we recognize that by divine fiat 90% of ...
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3 votes
1 answer
284 views

Was John S. Mosby the model/motivation/template for John Carter?

I've always suspected this but have never seen any concrete proof. Was the fictitious Edgar Rice Burroughs character John Carter based on the civil war hero/villain John S. Mosby? Mosby was arguable ...
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7 votes
2 answers
1k views

Which languages did H.P. Lovecraft understand?

H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) wrote his stories (including the "Cthulhu Mythos") in English, but his Wikipedia page notes that several French authors provided commentary on his stories. It doesn't ...
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34 votes
4 answers
9k views

Did this "sledge rigged like a sloop" vehicle ever exist, or was it an invention of Jules Verne?

In Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days, the main character Phileas Fogg misses his train in the American north and ends up hitching a ride on a curious invention, as described here: There ...
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8 votes
1 answer
2k views

What was the contemporary reaction to Dante's Divine Comedy?

Dante's Divine Comedy is one of the great classics of world literature: a poem about Dante's journey through the three afterlives of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. During the course of these adventures ...
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  • 681
4 votes
2 answers
351 views

How much of what we know about ancient philosophers comes from oral literature?

Have any orally-transmitted myths survived​ throughout the centuries in such a form that we could identify any of the ancient philosophers of Classical Greece and Rome in them? I'm interested in ...
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  • 1,551
17 votes
2 answers
6k views

Are currently sold versions of "Mein Kampf" censored?

Mein Kampf was illegal in a lot of countries for a very long time. Yet, while browsing GoodReads I realised reading it might be very interesting to get some insight in how the horrors of WW2 came to ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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What's the historical basis for Water Margin / 108 Heroes of Liangshan?

Chronicle of the Water Margin (alternatively known as Outlaws of the Marsh and All Men are Brothers), one of the Four Great Famous Works of Chinese literature, is a novel attributed to Shi Nai'an (施耐庵,...
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  • 490
3 votes
1 answer
1k views

What's the oldest monomyth?

What is the oldest example of the Joseph Campbell's monomyth (AKA: Hero's Journey) story structure ? I know about Homer's Odyssey (circa VII BC). Are there any older examples ?
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2 votes
3 answers
195 views

Autobiographical books about the Atlantic war for WWII from the allied perspective

A long time ago I read Das Boot (which is the collection of experiences as war correspondent in a U-Boat, it contains also more gruesome depictions never mentioned in the movie). I would like to know ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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Was *Green Eggs and Ham* really banned in China from 1965–1991?

The Wikipedia article on Green Eggs and Ham states that the children's book was banned in China in 1965 for its "portrayal of early Marxism", and that the ban was lifted in 1991. The citations for ...
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