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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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97 views

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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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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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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1answer
949 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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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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1answer
118 views

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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2answers
610 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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1answer
219 views

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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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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1answer
209 views

Were the Germans quoting Hamlet to describe their existential struggle in the Great War?

To illustrate how the Great War came to be viewed increasingly by Germans as an existential struggle, Max Hastings, in his Catastrophe: 1914: Europe Goes to War (p. 542), describes how The words sein ...
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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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1answer
981 views

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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4answers
3k views

Did generals really fight in ancient China?

When we think of generals, we usually think of someone that leads. We don't see General MacArthur charge in front of his soldiers to personally slaughter thousands of regular troops. In fact, even one ...
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1answer
1k 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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1answer
234 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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1k views

Which countries banned Ferdinand the bull?

Background The book "The Story of Ferdinand" is a short illustrated children's story featuring a bull who would not be provoked by a matador. When it was published in 1936, it was widely interpreted ...
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426 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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1answer
398 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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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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1answer
470 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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2answers
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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322 views

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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1answer
575 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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15answers
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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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3answers
673 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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119 views

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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2answers
8k views

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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1answer
426 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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1answer
100 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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1answer
1k views

Who said "Nature that framed us of four elements ... doth teach us all to have aspiring minds."?

Who said “Nature, that framed us of four elements, Warring within our breasts for regiment, Doth teach us all to have aspiring minds.”? According to the Web, you'd think it was Machiavelli, but my ...
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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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6answers
863 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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5answers
1k views

Origin of the idea of a series of books

I've been wondering lately, do we know where the idea of releasing books that were meant to be read together (such as a trilogy or longer series) came from? It's my understanding that really old ...
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1answer
761 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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3answers
351 views

What is the origin of the subdivisions of Heaven and Hell?

Isra and Mi'raj is the name of the journey of the prophet Muhammad, where he witnessed heaven and hell, describing their structure as well as the punishment and rewards that lay beyond. Hell and ...
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2answers
221 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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2answers
663 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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2answers
561 views

References or accounts in historical Egyptian literature about the Exodus

In the Bible, there is a long treatise about the miracles that had forgone the Exodus, the Book of Genesis details these. Then there are the dealings between Moses and Pharaoh, the magic fight of ...
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2answers
2k views

Did Muslims swear by "the beard of the Prophet"?

In Western historical fictions, Muslims (from the Middle East) are often depicted to swear by "the beard of the Prophet". "By the beard of the prophet, we will not offend you; but ...
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1answer
344 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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2answers
711 views

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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1answer
275 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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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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3answers
5k views

Were Shakespeare's plays written for "high culture" or "entertain the bawdy masses" during his time?

Currently, the plays of William Shakespeare are viewed as great English literature, and viewed as "high culture". However I heard someone say that Shakespeare was writing "bawdy, violence filled plays ...
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4answers
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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1answer
1k views

Why haven't Etruscan texts survived?

In Wikipedia it's claimed that Etruscan Civilization had a rich literature, but only one Etruscan text has survived. And AFAIK at the same moment we have many Ancient Greeks texts roughly from the ...
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2answers
346 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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4answers
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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1answer
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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3answers
189 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 ...