Posts Tagged: literary history

Shakespeare Didn’t Make up as Many Words as We Think

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For the Guardian, Alison Flood writes on the bias of the Oxford English Dictionary towards “famous literary examples” instead of the actual origin, resulting in the incorrect attribution of several still-used words and phrases to Shakespeare. Flood writes that there are multitudes of evidence showing earlier usages of phrases such as “wild goose chase” and “it’s Greek […]

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Sidewalk Stanzas

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Boston’s City Hall and Mass Poetry, a Massachusetts-based poetry nonprofit, has embarked on an urban art project: They’ve stenciled poems onto Boston’s sidewalks using paint that only appears in the rain. Sara Siegel, the program director at Mass Poetry, says: “We want to bring poetry to the people. This is a fun, quirky way to […]

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Such Stuff as Dreams Are Made On

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This past weekend, thousands of people convened to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The Elizabethan bard’s formal innovations are widely revered as some of the most influential literary developments in history, so much so that we almost overlook what he was even writing about: …for Shakespeare, life itself is a type of lie.

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The Book as Christmas Present

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Starting in the 1820s, when Christmas was still largely a day of feasting and religious observance, publishers helped pioneer the concept of giving mass-produced goods as presents, inventing an entire genre of books, called Gift Books, designed to be presented to loved ones at Christmas. These were typically anthologies of poetry, fiction, essays, and drawings, […]

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Between the Pages

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Long since buried and canonized, Charlotte Brontë is now subject to every writer’s worst nightmare. A poem and prose piece penned by a teenaged Brontë have recently been discovered between the pages of a book that belonged to the Victorian author’s mother. The Brontë Society will acquire the previously unpublished works within the next few […]

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The Quest for Literary Immortality

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In Those Who Write for Immortality, [Heather] Jackson includes a checklist of factors relevant to literary survival. Did the writer have family and friends to ensure that her work stayed in print? When was her biography written, and by whom? Was she associated with a movement, or significant people? At The Hairpin, contributing editor Alexandra […]

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Searching for Cervantes

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After a Times article last March criticized Spain (and its literary establishment) for failing to unravel the mystery of the precise location of Miguel de Cervantes’s grave, a reinvigorated search may have finally yielded results. Cervantes was buried in Madrid’s Trinitarias convent, but the specific site was not marked (or not marked well); the discovery […]

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Books Save Lives

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You know all those movies in which a character is shot in the chest, only to be miraculously saved by a pocket Bible, and everyone in the audience rolls their eyes? Well, it turns out that books actually are bulletproof—to a certain extent. At Melville House, Liam O’Brien delves into the history, fact, and fiction […]

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The First (Not-So-Great) American Novel

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He dearly yearns for Harriot as his mistress: “Shall we not,” he asks her, “obey the dictates of nature, rather than confine ourselves to the forced, unnatural rules of—and—and shall the halcyon days of youth slip through our fingers unenjoyed?” (Actually, Harrington says all of this with “the language of the eyes.” Early Americans excelled, […]

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