Apr
27
2010
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Can I write poetry?

romantic-snowdoniaYou can write poetry! You can, you can, I know you can; you only have to try. You'd never kissed, embraced a miss, but when you could, you could. There're lots of things in life to do, that some will never try. One of these for many folk is writing poetry. Well, it looks like [more...]

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Mar
14
2010
1

Who changed Shakespeare’s line in Macbeth from “Out, damn’d spot” to “Out, crimson spot”?

birth-of-venusDid you think it was Dr. Thomas Bowdler (1754–1825) who replaced the line “Out, damn’d spot” with the sanitized version “Out, crimson spot”? If so, you are in good company. Even Wikipedia and William Safire use it as a prime example of Bowdler’s expurgating Shakespeare’s plays of what he thought was offensive language, but it [more...]

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Mar
09
2010
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What is wrong with Alexander Dumas’ “The Three Musketeers”?

dartagnanWhat’s wrong with Alexander Dumas’ The Three Musketeers? They are musketeers in name only. I believe that there is no mention of their using muskets in their adventures, or even mention of their having them. The first French unit of musketeers was formed in the 1622 by Louis XIII, creating the Mousquetaires de la Garde, [more...]

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Feb
28
2010
3

Which English novel has the most memorable opening and closing lines?

paris-londonOne could, of course, argue about which English novel has the most memorable opening and closing lines, but since the novel has sold more than 200 million copies and is the most printed original English book, it is safe to say that the greatest number of persons have had a chance to remember the lines: [more...]

Jan
25
2010
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What is steampunk?

Steampunk art by D Mattocks (CC-BY)Steampunk is a label applied to a certain form of literature, and also to the subculture that has arisen from it. Before we go further, let’s deal with the “punk” part. “Punk” is just a naming hook that pigeonholes steampunk as a literary movement by analogy with cyberpunk. The “punk” hook, perhaps originally a cheeky [more...]

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May
23
2009
1

What is the form of a Limerick?

There was an old man with a beard... (artwork by sammydavisdog - CC-BY)The Limerick is simple, rhythmic form of rebellious poem. It has a strict five-line structure. The first, second and last lines rhyme with each other, as do the third and fourth lines. The subject matter may be bawdy or nonsensical, and may break a taboo or two. Limericks are generally light-hearted and humorous, and in [more...]

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May
22
2009
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What is the form of a Haiku?

Collage by Migraine Chick - CC-BYHaiku is a short form of Japanese verse which evolved from ancient forms of humorous light verse and was developed into its modern form by Basho just over three hundred years ago. It’s a living format, but a more-or-less standard English form has emerged: Three lines: five syllables, seven syllables and five syllables Somehow connected [more...]

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May
17
2009
3

What are paleofutures (the futures that didn’t happen)?

Pwned! House-moving in 2000 as visualized around 1900. (PD)Paleofutures are the futures that were predicted in the past. It’s fascinating to look back at what people of the past thought would happen in their future. Occasionally the predictions turn out to be correct—a hundred years ago, one writer predicted that we would all be carrying wireless telephones—but more often the predictions turn out [more...]

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Feb
05
2009
1

What is personification?

Statue of Liberty. David Paul Ohmer photoPersonification is a literary device or figure of speech in which objects or abstract ideas are given human characteristics such as abilities or feelings. Although personification is very common in literature and poetry, it also is used in everyday speech. Here are some examples of personification in poetry and literature: William Shakespeare, Sonnet IX: “The [more...]

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