110

Louis-François Pinagot He was an illiterate shoemaker in western France in the 19th century. French historian Alain Corbin picked Pinagot at random on a town registry, and wrote his biography as a way to describe the social environment of 19th century France, collecting as much data as possible about Pinagot, his family, his village, etc. The result was ...


65

First, a few general observations: The time period covered here is more than 3,000 years and we know very little about many of the Pharaohs. Also, there were different scripts which evolved over time and one has to consider that a pharaoh may well not know the language used by scribes for international diplomatic communication. This would appear to be the ...


39

Yes, and this wikipedia article and this other one describe it. The first article talks about ice boats in America (invented in Poughkeepsie, etc), but the second makes it clear that the Dutch had this technology down cold a very long time ago. Verne, one suspects, read 19th century equivalents of Wikipedia for plot elements; maybe he read an equivalent of ...


35

Mein Kampf was illegal in a lot of countries for a very long time. As already noted in a comment, it was never illegal in Germany. You could sell and buy any existing copies. Reprinting it was not allowed by the copyright holder (the German federal state of Bavaria inherited it from Hitler after his death). The copyright expired 70 years after Hitler's ...


31

I remember being taught that the oldest known work of fiction was the Ancient Egyptian Tale of Two Brothers. The story was one of those found on the Papyrus D'Orbiney, which has been dated to the 19th Dynasty (c 1215 BCE) and is now owned by the British Museum: Image source British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) The text is written in hieratic script, but a ...


30

I think you may look into biographies of war heroes. War is an opportunity for a person to do something notable to attract biographers’ attention and still stay just one of the many. For example, The story of a real man, a novel by Boris Polevoy, is a biography of Alexey Maresyev (Meresyev in the book), a Soviet pilot who was shot down behind the frontline, ...


28

The Merchant of Prato by Iris Origo (1957) is a biography of Francesco Datini a 14th-century merchant banker. The only distinguishing factor of Datini is that by chance a huge stash of his written accounts and letters had been preserved and discovered in 1870.


27

If folktales count, then The Poor Man of Nippur (c. 1500 BCE) probably beats the Egyptian Tale of Two Brothers by at least a few centuries. It's certainly not mythological in any modern sense, being a simple trickster tale of a clever beggar exacting revenge on an ungrateful mayor by tricking him three times (and consequently beating him up worse and worse ...


23

Not a book, but there is a long-running documentary film series in the UK following the lives of ordinary people with a film every seven years from the first when they were seven years old. The latest, '63 Up', has just shown. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Up_(film_series)


22

As I recall from my readings, the floor of the theatre was where the masses sat, when they attended. Most would probably be drunk, considering the state of water sanitation at the time beer was the favored drink over raw water, and most would probably be ill-mannered. The well-to-do when they attended sat in the box seats above the "rabble", so that should ...


22

That's a really good question. As far as I know, there isn't yet a definitive answer, although I haven't kept fully up to date with the subject in recent years.. In Care and Conservation of Manuscripts: Proceedings of the First International Seminar on the Care and Conservation of Manuscripts Held at the University of Copenhagen 25th-26th April 1994, ...


19

Greek was in wide usage as the lingua franca of the Near East. It also has the benefit of actually surviving Roman rule, in the same capacity, all the way till the Late Antiquity. The Romans themselves read and spoke Greek. Thus, Greek works have had a much greater chance of surviving simply from a great, wider, and more durable distribution. The Etruscan ...


18

@YannisRizos answered the question. It is not known what he said, but the result was that the Roman masses became very angry with Caesar's murderers, burnt down their houses and made them flee from he city. Livius Appian's transcript of Mark Anthony's funeral oration, suggests that Shakespeare wrote for the stage, not for historical accuracy (although ...


17

Rabelais wrote five consecutive novels about the giants Gargantua and Pantagruel. This was between 1532 and 1564. A bit later Shakespeare wrote Henry VI part 1, 2 and 3. A thousand years earlier Sophocles wrote Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonnos. And some 500 years earlier Homer wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey. All of this is long before James Fenimore ...


15

There wasn't such a huge distinction between high culture and low culture at the time, especially in the early english drama. Some of the earliest english drama, including the mirable and mystery plays, were put on by guilds, and had a rather amateurish quality.


14

Lowbrow culture have always existed in human society, they're just not necessarily that well preserved in the historical record, or in modern popular consciousness. Jokes about sex, farts, penises, and bodily functions in general were particularly common. A mainstay of medieval entertainment was fart jokes, which seem to be popular throughout human history. ...


14

Xenophon gave specific reasons for some of his works but for others he did not. Xenophon (about 431 BC to 354 BC) produced a very wide range of work during his lifetime: historical, biographical, philosophical, instructional. He never stated a primary purpose for all his works and we can deduce that some of what he wrote was aimed at specific audiences. ...


13

The subdivisions of heaven and the theme of a vision of an ascent to heaven originate from Jewish mysticism. Different parts of the Talmud come from different times, but this idea is very old. During the 5th century BCE, when the works of the Tanakh were edited and canonised and the secret knowledge encrypted within the various writings and scrolls ("...


13

No expert scribe about to invest months of time, yards of prepared vellum, and scarce pigments would want to skimp on the black ink. In the middle ages, iron gall ink was the dominant standard for writing on vellum and paper alike. Nearly all black ink in colonial North America was of this type (Black Writing Ink of the Colonial Period, William J. Barrow). ...


13

Rutilius was referring to monks, whom he strongly disapproved of because of their ascetic lifestyle. At the time (late antiquity), the abandonment of wealth and family for an ascetic lifestyle was strongly disapproved of by many Christians, especially among the wealthy elite. Rutilius was most likely a pagan but he shared the view of these Christians. ...


12

It seems unlikely that Victorian Era readers of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass would have thought of drugs when reading about the special foods and drinks. This conclusion is based upon the fact that the First and Second Opium Wars started in 1839 and 1858. So you could argue that recreational drug use was not really on the ...


12

I will answer this in two parts, concerning historical tradition and actual historical documents. Historical Tradition and Writings None of the stories from the Hebrew Book of Names, which you know as the "Exodus" are found either in Egyptian sources or in later Greek sources describing Egyptian mythology with the exception of the account of Manetho. The ...


12

The spacing divides the 'half-lines' of the poem. This is fundamental to Old English metre, where each line of the poem consists of two half-lines, connected by alliteration. If you are interested, the Electronic Beowulf edition, that you have linked in the question, has a section describing the meter of the poem. By clicking the Meter option, the ...


12

One of my favorite historical accounts is The Cheese and the Worms by Carlo Ginzburg (an Italian historian). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cheese_and_the_Worms It's an account of the life and trial of a sixteenth century miller brought before the inquisition twice, tried, and eventually executed. Quite excellent. "The study examines the unique ...


11

The Nazis certainly approved of Oliver Twist. As early as 1923 the principal Nazi newspaper Völkischer Beobachter printed a German translation of the book in instalments. See here: http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/review/1535


11

James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales are among the earliest examples of serial publishing. This was not originally planned as a series, nor did Cooper set out to publish a set number of novels. However, the profitability of these novels led Cooper to revisit the main character and his family several times over. The incentive to publish serially ...


11

This is a classic case of false depiction which is not uncommon in fiction. The Hadith (Sayings of Muhammad) quoted in the question you linked is correct and Muslims follow the "Sahih Hadiths" (Which are the ones they consider correct and are cited from either Bukhari, Tirmazi, Ibn Maja or Nisai, the four "correct books" of Hadith). To quote it again: ...


11

You're looking at a scribal abbreviation for "-rum". That is, the word is actually philosophorum, but with the last three letters replaced with ꝶ. Here is a screenshot of the enlarged character from the graphemica page: The colon is probably a punctus elevatus which is sometimes written without its tail, i.e. like a colon. It's basically like our modern ...


11

The song is titled "Tales of Kiska", it's full text is located in the book Aleutians, Gilberts & Marshalls, June 1942-April 1944. You've heard the bloody tales of old Of fearless knights and warriors bold, But now the muse pens Tales of Kiska Or, how we missed them by a whisker. One hundred thousand men at muster, Admirals, generals adding luster; Two ...


10

I don't think your question is answerable in any objective sense. There's no way to unambiguously measure the "goodness" of a writer. That being said, subjective and anecdotal experience does have some value. Selection bias and association probably have a lot to do with what you're seeing. Consider how people often complain that music today is shallow ...


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