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.
“Q” is the hypothetical source used by synoptic evangelists Matthew and Luke. Never found, it is believed to contain the sayings and stories that Matthew and Luke, but not Mark, share. The term comes from German Quelle, or “source.”
Kingsley Amis and Martin Amis are father and son. Kingsley Amis’s books include Lucky Jim (1954) and Jake’s Thing (1978); Martin Amis’s novels include Success (1978) and Money (1984).
Sinbad the Sailor was an Iraqi, a merchant shipwrecked after setting sail from Basra, now Iraq. The story of his seven voyages is told in The Thousand and One Nights.
In the Paradiso (1321), the highest of Dante’s heavens is the Empyrean, the tenth heaven. It contains God’s Court, seen as a many-petaled rose.
Langston Hughes’ poem “Harlem” (1951) refers to a “raisin in the sun”. Hughes asks: “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?”
Melville’s novels of the South Seas were published in this order: Typee in 1846, Omoo in 1847
In act 1, scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet’s father says she “hath not seen the change of fourteen years”, making her thirteen.
Vladimir Nabokov wrote ten novels in Russian before turning to English, including Laughter in the Dark (1938). His first novel written in English was The Real Life of Sebastian Knight (1941). Nabokov (1899-1977) came to the United States in 1940 and was naturalized in 1945.
Hesiod, the reputed author of the Theogony, the oldest surviving account of the origin of the Greek gods, was a poor Boeotian farmer of the eighth century B.C. His Works and Days gives advice on fanning and moral life.
Washington Irving and fellow American writer John H. Payne were said to have competed for the affection of the author of Frankenstein during a visit to France from 1824 to 1826. Mary’s husband Percy Shelley had died two years earlier.
After Rebecca West’s review of H. G. Wells’s book, Marriage, in 1912, they met and began their ten-year relationship. Their son, Anthony West, born in 1914, became a novelist and critic in his own right.
Stradlater was the rich and conceited roommate of Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye.
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.
New Jersey novelist Edward Stratemeyer created the Bobbsey Twins, under the pseudonym Laura Lee Hope.
The books in John Dos Passos’s U.S.A. trilogy are: The 42nd Parallel (1930) 1919 (1932) The Big Money (1936) The three were first published together in 1937.
For nearly ten years the short story writer Guy de Maupassant apprenticed himself to Flaubert to learn to write fiction.
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
The name Swift gave to his race of rational horses in Gulliver’s Travels is spelt Houyhnhnms. Their subjects, a race of nasty human-like creatures, had an easier name: Yahoos.
Aegisthus was Clytemnestra’s lover in Aeschylus’s Agamemnon. He conspired with Clytemnestra to kill her husband, Agamemnon.
The satire of America, called The Confidence Man, was the last work of Herman Melville published in his lifetime. It was published in 1857 to little public notice. Melville died in 1891.
The Latin translation of the Bible was written mostly by St. Jerome in 382-384 A.D. The term comes from Latin editio vulgata, “spread among the people.”
The male advice columnist Miss Lonelyhearts wrote for the New York Post-Dispatch in Nathanael West’s Miss Lonelyhearts (1946).
In Rabelais’s French satire Gargantua and Pantagruel (1533), Gargantua is Pantagruel’s father. Both are giants who go on humorous adventures.
Yes, Erle Stanley Gardner was a lawyer. Born in 1889, he was admitted to the California bar in 1911 and was known for defending poor Chinese and Mexicans. In the 1940s, he founded the Court of Last Resort, an organization dedicated to helping people unjustly imprisoned.
Alice Liddell, daughter of Henry George Liddell, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford was the model for Alice in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Mocha Dick was a legendary white whale said to have killed more than thirty men and attacked several ships in the 1800s. His story was told in The Knickerbocker Magazine in 1839. Melville’s Moby-Dick of 1851 may have been influenced by the story.
Richard Wright took the title Native Son from Nelson Algren, after the title was rejected for Algren’s novel Somebody in Boots (1935).
The names of the ghosts in Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw are Peter Quint and Miss Jessel, the former valet and governess at the estate called Bly.
Mexico’s best-known author Carlos Fuentes (The Death of Artemio Cruz, 1962; The Old Gringo, 1985) first began writing in English, but has since switched to his native language, Spanish.
Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme’s name is Monsieur Jourdain, a well-to-do tradesman in the play written by Moliere in 1670.
Tauris came first, about 414-412 B.C.; Aulis followed about 405 B.C. In terms of the storyline, however, the order is reversed. Aulis tells of Agamemnon’s decision to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia in order to free the Greek fleet from the harbor at Aulis. Tauris tells of Iphigenia after the goddess Artemis snatches her to safety, […]
Who asked, “Was this the face that launched a thousand ships, /And burnt the topless towers of Ilium”?
Dr. Faustus in Christopher Marlowe’s play Dr. Faustus (c. 1588-92), on conjuring up Helen of Troy.
Ethan Frome and his beloved, Mattie Silver, drive a sled into a tree in a botched suicide attempt in Edith Wharton’s novel, Ethan Frome.
Miss Lonelyhearts’ real name was never given.
Northrop Frye’s first book was Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake (1947). The influential scholar is best known for his Anatomy of Criticism (1957), in which he introduced a critical system based on analysis of literary archetypes.
The author of The Red Badge of Courage (1895), Stephen Crane was born in 1871, six years after the end of the Civil War. He died in 1900.
The thirty-second piece Breath by Samuel Beckett has no actors and no dialogue.
The novel The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker tells the story of a single lunch hour. Much of the book focuses on an escalator ride.
The American Library Association awarded the first Newbery in 1922 to Hendrik Willem Van Loon for The Story of Mankind (1921).
It was not Mark Twain who said the phrase. The quote first appeared in an editorial in the Hartford Courant of August 24, 1897, probably written by associate editor Charles Dudley Warner. Warner had collaborated with Twain on The Gilded Age (1873).
Orson Welles’s 1942 movie The Magnificent Ambersons was based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Booth Tarkington. Tarkington also won a Pulitzer for the novel Alice Adams (1921).
James Joyce married Nora Barnacle in 1931, just ten years before his death. They had lived together since 1904.
In art, gusto is the excitement of the imagination that gives full expression to the dynamic character of an object. According to William Hazlitt (1778-1830) in his essay “On Gusto,” gusto is “power or passion defining any object.” Gusto unites the senses as “the impression made on one sense excites by affinity those of another.” […]
In Green Mansions (1904) by William H. Hudson, Rima the Bird Girl is able to understand the language spoken by the creatures who live in the South American forests.
T. S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men” (1925) says the world ends “Not with a bang but a whimper”.
Alexander Pope’s expression of charity, “To err is human, to forgive divine” appears in An Essay on Criticism (1711).
Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) wrote, “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive”, not Shakespeare.
The first book published by Dr. Seuss was And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street. It was published in 1937 by Vanguard Press, after being rejected by twenty-three other publishers.
The English author of Middlemarch (1871-72), George Eliot was born Mary Ann Evans.
Jean-Paul Sartre wrote, “Hell is—other people” in his existential play No Exit (1944).
William Ernest Henley (1849-1903) says “I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul” in “Invictus.”
The earliest use of flashback in Western literature was in Homer’s Odyssey. Most of Odysseus’s adventures are recounted in a flashback set within a larger narrative frame. Odysseus tells his story at the court of the Phaeacians.
The hero of William Faulkner’s Light in August is Joe Christmas. He was a man believed to be part black, who murders a white woman named Joanna Burden and is castrated and killed for it.
The group of writers and thinkers, the Bloomsbury Group, which included Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, and Lytton Strachey, among others, was named for the place where they held their meetings-46 Gordon Square, in Bloomsbury, London.
Virginia Woolf’s maiden name was Adeline Virginia Stephen. She married Leonard Woolf in 1912.
The Old Testament was written in Hebrew. It dates from the thirteenth to the first century B.C. The New Testament was written in Greek in the first century A . D.
The “Glad Girl” was Pollyanna, in the eponymous 1913 novel by Eleanor Hodgman Porter. She also appeared in the 1915 sequel, Pollyanna Grows Up.
It is not Hans Brinker who wins the silver skates in Hans Brinker, but his sister Gretel, according to the 1865 novel by Mary Mapes Dodge.
The 1928 play, The Front Page, is about newspapers by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur is set in Chicago’s Criminal Courts Building.