Father Ambrosio, of Madrid is the name of the title character in The Monk. He kills two women who turn out to be his mother, Elvira, and his sister, Antonia, in the 1795 novel by Matthew Lewis. Father Ambrosio, of Madrid. He kills two women who turn out to be his mother, Elvira, and his … Read more
The most complete treatment is the Argonautica by third-century poet Apollonius of Rhodes.
Jack was the sadistic leader of the hunters in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Who is the overweight bespectacled boy? Piggy.
Subtle is the name of the shady character in the 1610 play The Alchemist by Ben Jonson. He works with two other unsavory characters, Face (a.k.a. Jeremy) and Dol Common.
A scrivener is a copier of legal documents.
John Greenleaf Whittier describes the bravery of the fictional title character in his poem “Barbara Frietchie” (1863) who said, “Shoot, if you must, this old gray head”. The aged Frietchie displays a Union flag when Confederate troops march by. Stonewall Jackson forbids his troops to harm the old woman.
Yes. Roman emperor Caligula banned Homer’s works during his reign (37-41 A.D.) because they were said to promote unhealthy ideas about Greek freedom.
Aeschylus, the “father of Greek tragedy” (525-456 B.c.) wrote some 90 plays, but only 7 have survived. They are: The Suppliants The Oresteia The Persians Seven Against Thebes Prometheus Bound Agamemnon The Libation Bearers
In the “Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot” (1735), reference is made to “damning with faint praise”. In the satiric poem, Alexander Pope wrote: “Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,/And, without sneering, teach the rest to sneer.”
The character Professor Henry Higgins in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion was based on a British scholar of phonetics and Old English named Henry Sweet. His works included History of English Sounds (1874).
Thomas Hughes, English jurist wrote Tom Brown’s School Days. The book for boys tells of young Tom Brown’s adventures at Rugby. Hughes also wrote a sequel, Tom Brown at Oxford (1861).
Pamela’s last name in Samuel Richard-son’s Pamela was Andrews.
In Charles Dickens’s 1847-48 novel of that name, Dombey and Son was a shipping firm.
The surname of the Columbia professor Edward Said who wrote Orientalism (1978) and The World, the Text, and the Critic (1983) is pronounced SAH-eed. The surname of the Columbia professor who wrote Orientalism (1978) and The World, the Text, and the Critic (1983) is pronounced SAH-eed.
Rene Francois Armand Sully Prudhomme of France in 1901. Who was the first English writer to receive the the Nobel Prize for literature? Rudyard Kipling in 1907. The first American? Sinclair Lewis in 1930.
Mrs. Dalloway’s first name is Clarissa. Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway was published in 1925.
Aphra Behn (1640-89), author of the play The Rover (1677) and the novel Oroonoko (1688). She wrote under the pseudonym Astrea.
Mrs. Malaprop appeared in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s 1775 play The Rivals. She had a habit of misusing words in sentences like “I would by no means wish a daughter of mine to be a progeny of learning.” The character gave rise to the term malapropism.
In Stendhal’s 1830 novel The Red and the Black, the red refers to Napoleon’s colors or the military life, the black to the clergy or religious life.
Novelist Jamaica Kincaid was born in St. John’s, Antigua, in the West Indies, in 1949. Her given name is Elaine Potter Richardson. St. John’s, Antigua, in the West Indies, in 1949. Her given name is Elaine Potter Richardson.
Cabaret was based on the play I Am a Camera (1951) by John Van Druten, which was in turn based on Isherwood’s “Sally Bowles,” a story appearing in Goodbye to Berlin (1939). Isherwood lived in Berlin in the early 1930s.
The “ungainly fowl” quoths “Nevermore” six times in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” first published in 1845.
The Angry Young Men were a group of British playwrights and novelists in the 1950s, including John Osborne, Kingsley Amis, and Alan Sillitoe. Their politics were left-wing; their favorite theme was alienation.
Beatrice was probably Beatrice Portinari, daughter of a noble Florentine family and wife of Simone de’ Bardi. She died at the age of twenty-four on June 8,1290, more than two decades before the Divine Comedy was completed. Dante fell in love with her when they were both children and dedicated most of his poetry to … Read more
Pulitzer Prize judges and trustees were divided so sharply over Thomas Pynchon’s novel Gravity’s Rainbow that for only the seventh time in Pulitzer history no award was given.
The last poem of Lyrical Ballads is Wordsworth’s “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey.”
Why Marry? by Jesse L. Williams won the first Pulitzer Prize in 1918.
Melville’s novels of the South Seas were published in this order: Typee in 1846, Omoo in 1847
Aegisthus was Clytemnestra’s lover in Aeschylus’s Agamemnon. He conspired with Clytemnestra to kill her husband, Agamemnon.
The alienated artist never discovered food that he enjoyed, so he starves to death in Franz Kafka’s short story “The Hunger Artist.”
In the 1964 play The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window by Lorraine Hans-berry, it was located in Greenwich Village, New York City.
In a letter written in December 1817 to his brothers George and Thomas, poet John Keats first referred to “negative capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without irritable reaching after fact and reason.” Keats considered this quality essential to a “Man of Achievement especially in literature.”
Boz. Charles Dickens George Eliot. Mary Ann Evans George Orwell. Eric Arthur Blair Ellery Queen. Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee Stendhal. Marie-Henri Beyle Saki. Hector Hugh Munro Voltaire. Francois-Marie Arouet Maksim Gorki. Aleksei Maksimovich Peshkov
Author Anne Hutchinson organized literary groups for women in the seventeenth century.
The English author of Middlemarch (1871-72), George Eliot was born Mary Ann Evans.
Robert Browning (1812-89) and Elizabeth Barrett (1806-61) had to marry secretly because Barrett’s father refused to let his children marry, even though Elizabeth was forty at the time. The secret wedding took place at London’s St. Marylebone Church on September 12, 1846. (Browning was thirty-four.) They lived in Florence for fifteen happy years until her … Read more
Mr. Yorick narrates Laurence Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy, a character from Sterne’s earlier novel Tristram Shandy (1767) .
Tobias Smollett created Roderick Random, in The Adventures of Roderick Random (1748).
The name of Don Quixote’s horse was Rocinante. The scrawny old horse and its rider appeared in Cervantes’s Don Quixote de la Mancha (1605, 1615).
The only scenery in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot is a tree, leafless in Act 1, and with leaves in Act 2.
“In a Pickwickian sense” refers to the joking use of insulting words or epithets. The phrase comes from Dickens’s Pickwick Papers (1836-37). Samuel Pickwick exchanges barbs in just such a friendly way with Mr. Blotton in Chapter One.
A closet drama is a play, usually in verse, written for private reading rather than performance. Byron’s Manfred (1817) and Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound (1820) are examples.
Shortly after the turn of the century, President Theodore Roosevelt said that the writers of exposes who flourished at the time reminded him of John Bunyan’s Man with the Muckrake. The Man with the Muckrake when offered a heavenly crown, “would neither look up nor regard the crown he was offered, but continued to rake … Read more
Sappho (b. 612 B.C.), a lyric poet whose work exists only in fragments, was called the “tenth muse” by some classical writers. Married, she lived in Lesbos and led a group of women who were devoted to music and poetry.
In H. G. Wells’s novel, the name of the Invisible Man was Griffin. The Invisible Man was published in 1897. Griffin remains invisible until he is dying.
New York socialite Edith Newbold Jones (1862-1937) married George Wharton in 1885. Their marriage lasted twenty-seven years until 1912, when she divorced him. By then she was living in France, where she remained until her death.
Paul Gauguin’s life is the basis for W. Somerset Maugham’s novel The Moon and Sixpence (1919). In the novel, Charles Strickland is a London stockbroker who leaves his family to paint in the South Seas.
The first woman to receive the award twice, Edith Wharton was awarded the Pulitzer in Literature in 1920 for The Age of Innocence and in Drama in 1935 for The Old Maid.
The hero of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man has no name. He is a young man from the South who finds his way to a hidden existence in a coal cellar in New York.
A bildungsroman (in German, it means “education novel”) deals with the formation of a young person and includes common coming-of-age stories. James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) is an example. A roman a clef (in French, it means a “novel with a key”) contains one or more characters or situations … Read more
The full title of Dickens’s David Copperfield is The Personal History, Experience and Observations of David Copperfield the Younger, of Blunderstone Rookery, Which He Never Meant To Be Published On Any Account.
The play A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams opened in New York in 1947 and ran for 855 performances.
The line appears in the first volume of The Life of Reason: Reason in Common Sense (1905-1906). The philosopher George Santayana (1863-1952) did not say any of the common variations: “Those who do not learn from history . . . Those who cannot learn . . . Those who will not learn . . .”
The name of the playboy in J. M. Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World is Christy Mahon. He’s a young fugitive who thinks he has killed his domineering father and is therefore lionized by villagers, especially women.
Paul Clifford (1830) by Edward Bulwer-Lytton novel begins, “It was a dark and stormy night”. It is also the opening line of numerous novels by Snoopy.
The subtitle of Melville’s short story “Bartle by the Scrivener” is “A Story of Wall Street.”
The Broadway play The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams was drawn from a screenplay called The Gentleman Caller, which Williams wrote while he was under contract as a screenwriter for MGM in the early 1940s.
C. J. Koch’s The Year of Living Dangerously is set in 1965, the year of Suharto’s overthrow of Sukarno’s Indonesian government.
Book I: Holiness/The Red Cross Knight Book II: Temperance/Guyon Book III: Chastity/Britomart Book IV: Friendship/Cambel and Triamond Book V: Justice/Artegall Book VI: Courtesy/Calidore
Isabel Archer’s stepdaughter in Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady was Pansy. Her father, Isabel’s husband, is Gilbert Osmond; her mother is Madame Merle.
The title of Boccaccio’s The Decameron means “ten days” and refers to the number of days the narrators spend telling stories. One hundred stories are told by seven women and three men during the Black Death of 1348.
Rubaiyat is the plural of the Persian word meaning “a poem of four lines.” The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam of Naishapur is a poem composed of such quatrains. The twelfth-century Persian poem was translated freely into English by Edward FitzGerald in 1859.
Published in several versions from 1728 to 1743, the mock-epic poem The Dunciad satirized bad writing and attacked critics of Pope’s poetry. In the final version, the king of the Dunces is Colley Cibber, England’s Poet Laureate from 1730 to 1757. Other targets of Pope’s venom were dramatists Nahum Tate and Lewis Theobald. Published in … Read more
Ten years separated parts one and two of Cervantes’s Don Quixote. Part One was published in 1605; Part Two in 1615.
Four years separated the publication of Milton’s Paradise Lost and its sequel, Paradise Regained. The first was published in 1667, the latter in 1671.
James Dickey has written two novels, Deliverance (1970) and Alnilam (1987). Dickey also wrote the screenplay for the 1972 movie Deliverance, and appeared in the film as a sheriff. A poet and critic, Dickey received the National Book Award for poetry in 1966 for Bucketdancer’s Choice (1965).
Sir Philip Sidney suffered a mortal wound in The Battle of Zutphen in 1586. The author of Arcadia (1590) was fighting in the Netherlands against the Spanish. He was shot in the thigh after lending his leg armor to another soldier. He died of infection three weeks later, at the age of thirty-two.
There are three short novels in the 1939 collection by Katherine Anne Porter: 1. “Pale Horse, Pale Rider” 2. “Noon Wine” 3. “Old Mortality”
Gertrude Stein coined the term “the lost generation”. She translated the phrase from a French garage proprietor who was angry at a young mechanic’s negligence in fixing Stein’s car. Stein used it to refer to Hemingway and his contemporaries: “All of you young people who served in the war. You are a lost generation.” The … Read more
Chilean poet Pablo Neruda just barely lived to see the 1973 coup by right-wing General Pinochet. Neruda died of a heart attack in Chile just twelve days after the coup. Neruda had supported the overthrown President Allende.
The young man Cheri is having an affair with is the aging courtesan Leonie Vallon, more commonly known as Lea de Lonval, or just Lea, in Colette’s Cheri.
Phineas was the teenager who dies in John Knowles’s A Separate Peace. Gene, the novel’s narrator, survives to tell the tale. The two are students at the Devon School in New Hampshire during World War II.
The first part of Nikolai Gogol’s Dead Souls is recognized as a comic masterpiece, but the second part never saw the light of day. Convinced by the radical priest Father Matthew Konstantinovsky that literature was sinful, Gogol (1809-52) burned the manuscript of Part Two in 1852. He died a few days later.
Joel Chandler Harris adapted the Uncle Remus folktales, which were first published in the Atlanta Constitution and were later collected in Uncle Remus, His Songs and His Sayings (1880).
Marvin Neil Simon’s (1927) first Broadway play was Barefoot in the Park, about a young married couple living in New York City. It was produced in 1963.
In Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea (1952), Santiago catches a marlin.
An American Tragedy was a 1925 novel by Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945). It was based on the murder of the pregnant Grace Brown by her boyfriend, social climber Chester Gillette, at Big Moose Lake in the Adirondacks in 1906.
One of the earliest and most influential American magazine editors, Sarah Josepha Hale wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb” in 1830. In addition to founding the first national women’s magazine, Godey’s Ladies’Magazine, and successfully campaigning to make Thanksgiving a national holiday, she was inspired to write the rhyme by an actual case of a child’s … Read more
Rioting started during the first performance of the comedy The Playboy of the Western World by J. M. Synge at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in 1907. The commotion was started by a reference to an undergarment.
Jean de Brunhoff created Babar the Elephant, in stories beginning with The Story of Babar (1933). De Brunhoff’s son Laurent continued the series.
Margaret Mitchell’s 1937 Pulitzer Prize winner Gone with the Wind has been translated into 27 languages and has sold over 20 million copies.
The interminable law case in Dickens’s Bleak House was Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, a case stemming from a dispute about distribution of an estate.
The name of Rochester’s house in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is Thornfield Hall.
The deepest circle of Hell in Dante’s Inferno is the Ninth Circle. It is where betrayers of their family or country are frozen in ice. There, in the center of the earth, a three-headed Lucifer eats at Judas Iscariot and at Cassius and Brutus, betrayers of Julius Caesar.
Thomas Chatterton was the author of several pseudo fifteenth-century poems supposedly written by monk Thomas Rowley. He committed suicide in his London garret by taking arsenic at age seventeen, driven to despair by poverty. He became a hero of native English verse to Romantic poets such as Wordsworth, Shelley, and Keats. Chatterton was the author … Read more
Born in 1930, the French philosopher, critic, and founder of deconstructionism Jacques Derrida teaches at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris. Born in 1930, the French philosopher, critic, and founder of deconstructionism teaches at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris.
The second movie mentioned by name in Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer (1961) is The Third Man (1949), directed by Carol Reed.
Robert Herrick urged Corinna, in “Corinna’s Going A-Maying” (1648).
Four main collections of English mystery plays based on biblical episodes survive: The York Cycle (early fourteenth century), forty-eight plays The Towneley Cycle (mid-fourteenth—early fifteenth century), thirty-two plays The Chester Cycle (fourteenth century), twenty-four plays The Coventry (or N Town) Cycle (fifteenth century), forty-three plays
Edward Bellamy looking backward from the year 2000 in Looking Backward.