The single appearance of the footprint in Daniel Defoe's 1719 novel, Robinson Crusoe, is perhaps one of the most famous events in all of literature. I am interested in who has referenced it, and for what ends, especially in critical theory. I also wonder whether Michel Foucault's famous closing lines to 'The Order of Things' is a subtle reference to the appearance of that footprint? Can other allusions to 'the figure of man' and marks in the sand be traced back to Defoe's novel?
How do I get a good grounding in the study of literature while not a full-time student? What resources (Great Courses, books, textbooks, seminars, courses, etc.) would help? The purpose is to add depth, symbolism, and allusion to my own writing. [more inside]
Please can you recommend books similar to Bruno Schulz's, Isaac Babel's and Bulgakov's Master & Margarita? [more inside]
My Search-Fu is utterly failing me. Where did I read the line (paraphrased): "He was like a tennis player who mistakes his best game for his everyday game [or natural level or basic capability]". I want to say it was in a novel by a female author,: Lessing, Christie or Woolf maybe? I might be completely wrong. Fairly sure the narrator's voice was female. Can anyone help?
In Per Petterson's great novel, Out Stealing Horses, there is a moment when baby animals appear outside a home. The English translation that is current calls them "fauns". This disturbs me and I have read and re-read the passage to determine if we are talking about "fawns" which would make sense, or goat-footed children, which would be something different. Although others have noted this translation difficulty, no major critic seems to take notice. So, I want to know: "fauns" or "fawns"? [more inside]
I'm looking for books that capture the feel, culturally, politically, and/or otherwise, of the 1990's in America. Can y'all help me out?
Can anyone recommend a good historical examination of literary and performed works throughout all of human history that stood out from their contemporaries for containing exceptionally violent/disturbing imagery, even for their own time? (more 'recent' examples being Titus Andronicus, the various Penny Dreadfuls, de Sade, Milton, etc) [more inside]
Two questions about Flannery O'Connor's "The River". 1) What's a "paper brick house"? 2) What kind of public transportation are the "cars"? [more inside]
I'm looking for examples of authors and musicians who lived artistically unremarkable lives for their first four decades, only beginning to express themselves creatively in their 40s, and who subsequently received critical or popular acclaim for the work they produced during that fifth decade. [more inside]
I'd like to stock up my Kindle relatively inexpensively (and am also a little overwhelmed by the phenomenal quantity of cheap public domain books available). What are the best works of literary fiction under $2 available for the Kindle? Preferences/requirements inside. [more inside]
I’m ordering 300ish books for a children’s library. After reading this thread asking for books featuring feminist-anti-racist-queer-ally characters I realised that our collection is full of books focusing on straight, white (usually male) youth in nuclear families and it’s seriously lacking. Can you folks recommend any books to help me improve our collection? [more inside]
I'm trying to find a quote that fits a romantic (but not overly saccharine) mood that basically says "I do this because of my love for you, I believe in it because you believe in it, I stand by your side against adversity because I know I am with you."
I am working on an article that's due today. My editor wanted me to get some quotes from those who were influenced by/familiar with the work of Anna Akhmatova. Somehow, all but one of my contacts didn't work out, and I only have a couple lines. I am looking for a writer, scholar, translator, etc. who can answer a few questions in complete sentences for a general audience and can do so via email or phone today. Any suggestions?
My cousin needs ideas for a joint class she'll be teaching for a college--she teaches literature, her teaching partner teaches science. (Which science, I don't know, but she says it's not relevant and he can touch on most scientific topics to the required degree.) They need suggestions of literature--poetry, short stories, novellas, or short novels--that she can have the class read, and then he can take them through the science of it. [more inside]
Who was the anthropologist who suggested that multinational corporations are the highest life forms on Earth? Author William Gibson has recounted going to a lecture by a female anthropologist at the University of British Columbia in the late 70s. The anthropologist posited the idea that multinational corporations were the highest life form on Earth, which had a profound influence on Gibson's world view, and therefore on literature influenced by Gibson. Who was this anthropologist? I haven't been able to find out who she was.
Denise Levertov's poem Beginners: specifically in what year did she write it? I know it was published in 1982 or earlier, and I know it's dedicated to two activists who died "in the mid-70s" (although I don't know whether it was dedicated to them posthumously).
I'm trying to find a vaguely-remembered New Yorker article from the 1990s about a young, struggling writer. [more inside]
I am looking for suggestions for works by trans women (or non-binary) writers for a high school English class entitled "Social Issues in Women's Literature." I am especially interested in shorter pieces (poems, short stories, essays), although excerpts from longer things would be all right too. I am trying to take as intersectional an approach as possible, so I would really value a diversity of voices (trans women of color, non-American, both contemporary and older, etc.). [more inside]
I currently work such long hours that I don't have much time to read. I can't read the types of books that I normally would want to - literary fiction - because I am too exhausted to really concentrate at night and I just don't have the time. I also don't want to be stuck in a 400 page novel for 3 months. details inside [more inside]
Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels are set in post-war Naples, and the Catholic Church shows up only peripherally, if at all. There is a wedding in the first novel, and the religious aspects of even this event are hardly acknowledged. Why might this be? [more inside]
What are some works of SFF that showcase beautiful language on a par with All The King's Men, Gilead, and Raymond Chandler's detective novels? I've read plenty of SFF that has transported me, but little that's struck me as gorgeously written. Thanks!
Help me experience the reading I missed out on as a child. [more inside]
I'm trying to find some valuable works of advice to improve my craftsmanship on writing poetry and short stories. If you can recommend any advice books, poetry, novels, and short stories that can help contribute to better writing in the genre of: science fiction, southern Gothic literature, classic literature, modernism, and modern ligature works, that would be most appreciated. [more inside]
I run a book club with a friend, and I'm always impressed by how deeply and thoughtfully other folks interpret the books we read. I'd like to build this skill, but I'm not sure where to start. Examples of what we've read: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, My Antonia by Willa Cather, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, My Notorious Life by Kate Manning. [more inside]
Readings on race and intersectionality in the performing arts? [more inside]
What are some great descriptions of boats and ships from literature? I'm especially looking for descriptions from classic books in the public domain. Novels, stories, plays, poetry etc. are all welcome.
There are a lot of books about the New Yorker (Gone: The Last Days of the New Yorker; Remembering Mr. Shawn's New Yorker; Here but Not Here; About Town: The New Yorker and the World It Made). What behind-the-scenes, inside baseball books are there about New York , the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, the NY Review of Books, Texas Monthly, The Atlantic, and other prominent feature-oriented magazines?
I'm looking for examples of dramatic irony (where the audience knows something that the character doesn't know) to illustrate the concept to a 9th grade literature class. I'd prefer examples from TV shows or movies that they are likely to have seen recently, although popular books might be OK, too.
I have always been fond of writing poetry, but lately I seem to want to expand my writing craft towards short stories. I think the most notable clincher for writers to improve their overall craft is simply by reading voraciously; with an eclectic wide range of authors and literary works. What are some wonderful literary works, authors, playwrights, short stories, non-fiction, fantasy work, et cetera. Can you recommend for me? To further my own voice and writing craft. [more inside]
How can I read more about life in countries other than the USA? [more inside]
I'm working on a project that involves Mark Twain and I have only a few weeks to get to know his body of work, literary style, philosophy, etc. What are they key works I should be looking at to get a sense of Twain? [more inside]
In Somerset Maugham's memoir, The Summing Up, he writes: "Only idolatry can refuse to see the great shortcomings in the conduct and sometimes in the characterization of Shakespeare's plays; and this is very comprehensible since, as we know, he sacrificed everything to effective situation." What do "conduct" and "effective situation" mean in this context in this book published in 1938 by this sometime-playwright?
I have a ‘young adult’ in my life who loves the Amulet graphic novel series. We are getting to the final book and I’m looking for some other young adult graphic novels that will keep her reading! There are a couple guidelines though... [more inside]
Is anyone aware of a good single-volume collection of Canadian literature (short stories, poetry, or essays) in which the contents are arranged by province? Bonus points if the book reads west to east, starting with British Columbia. I'd also be open to recommendations for entertaining non-fiction books that are likewise divided up by province.
These days it seems every second novel has a title that is suffixed with the phrase "A Novel". What was the first novel to start this, why has it become so widespread, and does anybody have stats on how prevalent it is?
This may be a longshot question, but I am looking for books (and ideally audiobooks) with extensive and well-done use of English creole (eg Jamaican Patois, Sierra Leonian Krio, Gullah, etc) or Spanglish, as well as Haitian Creole, though I don't really speak it, and I'm open to other linguistic options. [more inside]
Please help me find some new reading material! [more inside]
I'm trying to hunt down two grim short stories. Gory details (and spoilers) below the fold! [more inside]
I recently enjoyed The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer and am searching for similar novels. By which I mean novels that are about people living their lives, and the growth and change that naturally happens as they do. Engaging, but not particularly dramatic. Difficulty level: reading that helps me fall asleep. A couple of snowflakes inside... [more inside]
I am a well-published poet in journals but have no books out yet. The manuscript I’ve been circulating since 2011 has come very close, though, and has been a finalist in a number of prize contests held by some of the bigger small presses. Almost all of the poems in it have been published individually, and a handful have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes. I had been committed to the idea of one of those small presses but am now thinking of self-publishing. More inside. [more inside]
Baby #3 is coming soon and I'm looking for books to read during maternity leave. I know from experience that I need quick, light material that can be read in very short bursts - nothing that relies on subtle atmospherics or requires sustained attention to 'get in to'. But I'd also like something well-written and smart enough that I don't feel like I'm letting my brain turn into nothing but mush and breast milk. Only other stipulations - not too bro-centric (eg. not revolving entirely around the sexual frustrations of an egocentric middle-aged dude); nothing prominently featuring ill/dying/suffering children and/or parents (hormones, yo). Fiction or non-fiction OK, all genres welcome!
A Facebook discussion about good books by well-known authors passing into undeserved obscurity had me looking up reviews of Arthur C. Clarke's Imperial Earth. In the comments on Jo Walton's review there's a discussion about the ending, specifically whether he wrote two distinct endings, replacing the an earlier one in later editions. Did Clarke rewrite the ending? Spoilers below the cut. [more inside]
I won't be able to afford much travel in the next year or two. In the meantime, I'd love to be swept away with rich and vivid descriptions of faraway places. The more introspective, the better. Can be either non-fiction or fiction; essays/short stories or longer format writing; graphic novels are fine; am open to any locations. Bonus points if it also focuses on local food, and/or has an ethnographic approach, and/or is written from a woman's perspective. [more inside]
I enjoy reading erudite yet caustic criticism of literature. [more inside]
Recommendations, please, on current Italian popular music, literature in English translation, and subtitled media. [more inside]
Does anyone have any recommendations on some excellent media about microbes in general, and human microbiota specifically? [more inside]
When you consume multiple books on one topic, what does your notebook look like afterwards? Does making a wiki, or a concept map, or a relational diagram help? [more inside]
One of the characters in East of Eden dies under circumstances that have always baffled me. I turn to the Steinbeck scholars and armchair physicians of Metafilter to help me figure out what happened. (Steinbeck spoilers below). [more inside]
I've started reading the the entirety of Richard Stark's Parker series, and I can't help noticing that the ages of cars are always mentioned. It's never just a Pontiac, it's a "two year old Pontiac." Or, "The Cadillac was four years old." Did cars in the '60s have ridiculously short life spans? What's the deal?
Someone recently told me that Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses and Tony Hillerman's Navajo Tribal Police mystery novels evoked a significantly New Mexico/Southwestern feeling to the point that these books helped them stave off homesickness when they were living elsewhere. What other novels and authors capture and portray a sense of place that makes you feel like you're back in a place that you remember? I know some authors are known for writing about certain settings, but which works really capture the place as felt by someone who lives or lived there?