Category: Authors Archives

Virginia Woolf: England’s Modernist Master

AuthorsClassic LiteratureNovel Knowledge
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Along with James Joyce and William Faulkner, Virginia Woolf is considered one of the undisputed masters of “stream of consciousness” writing. Born in England in 1882, Woolf’s legacy far outlasted her short life, and her immense oeuvre continues to inspire artists, especially female writers, around the world. Photograph of Virginia Woolf, via Wikimedia Commons All of the greatest Virginia Woolf novels challenge how we think about the nature of human perception with their experimental prose and non-linear plots. Her work has also exerted and immense influence on feminist critics and historians who’ve worked hard to uncover an unbiased history of women in the Western […]

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Il Sommo Poeta: Dante Alighieri’s Life and Times

AuthorsClassic LiteratureNovel Knowledge
Life and Times of Dante Alighieri

Along with Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid, and Milton’s Paradise Lost, Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy is one of the indispensable epics in the Western Canon. Without a doubt, the Divine Comedy is the most important literary work produced during the so-called “Dark Ages.” But don’t think Dante’s work is just a historical curiosity that has no bearing on how we live nowadays. Dante’s words and images still have the power to profoundly move 21st century readers. Indeed, many Italians still call Dante “il Sommo Poeta” (which means “The Supreme Poet”) or simply “The Poet.” With an epithet like that, you […]

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Jane Austen: Great Britain’s Greatest Novelist

AuthorsClassic LiteratureNovel Knowledge
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The British novelist Jane Austen only published four novels during her brief lifetime. Despite the rather small oeuvre of Jane Austen novels (six major novels, including two posthumously published works), nobody doubts Austen’s status as one of the greatest writers in the English language. Portrait of Jane Austen, via Wikimedia Commons Indeed, Austen is one of those rare authors beloved by both critics and the general public. It might seem strange that people in our technophilic 21st century would be at all interested in Austen’s “novels of manners” set in Regency England. However, every time a new film based on […]

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Victor Hugo: Everyone’s Favorite French Romantic

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Feature Image for Victor Hugo novels post_Hans Christian Andersen blog image

Even people who aren’t into literature know the name Victor Hugo. Although less critically acclaimed than fellow French novelists like Balzac or Stendhal, Victor Hugo novels continue to resonate with readers around the world. Thanks to the various stage and film adaptations of his most famous novels, the modern world is being introduced to this Romantic literary giant in a whole new light. Victor Hugo, via Wikimedia Commons For those interested in learning more about Hugo, read on! We’ll explore this great Frenchman’s long and turbulent life as well as introduce you to some of his finest works of fiction. […]

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Five Eternal Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales

AuthorsChildren's BooksClassic Literature
Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales blog image

The Danish author Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) is one of the most beloved children’s writers of all time. Andersen’s tales of mermaids, ducklings, demons, and emperors have been translated into over a hundred languages and have enchanted the minds and hearts of children around the world. Although children may not read Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales in the original form anymore, they certainly know of his tales through the numerous animated and live-action cinematic spinoffs. In this article, we’ll take a look at five of Andersen’s most enduring tales, examining each story’s unique lesson and subsequent film adaptations. Five Hans Christian Andersen […]

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Miguel de Cervantes: Spain’s Greatest Writer

AuthorsClassic Literature
Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote

The great Modernist poet/literary critic T. S. Eliot once quipped, “Dante and Shakespeare divide the world between them. There is no third.” Although no literary critic would ever deny the importance of these two poets, there is an obvious “third” that Eliot failed to mention: 17th-century Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes.   Miguel de Cervantes, 1547-1616, by Eugenio Hansen, OSF, via Wikimedia Commons And Cervantes’s legacy rests on one legendary book: Don Quixote. This long novel is considered by many to be the first modern novel, and it serves as a major bridge between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Unfortunately, Don Quixote, like […]

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Leo Tolstoy: A Key to the Russian Heart

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Leo Tolstoy: A Key to the Russian Heart

Everyone’s heard of Leo Tolstoy. But exactly who was this acclaimed Russian author? In a BBC broadcast on October 1st, 1939, Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously said that Russia “is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key.” While Churchill argued that the key was national interest, perhaps he wasn’t digging deep enough. Just like the wooden matryoshka dolls Russia is so famous for, we too must remove the outer layers of geopolitics to get to the metaphysical core of what truly makes Russia tick. And what better way to explore the seed of the Russian […]

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The Woman Who Gave Birth To Frankenstein: A Brief Mary Shelley Biography

AuthorsClassic LiteratureNovel Knowledge
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It isn’t only the music industry that has “one-hit wonders.” Believe it or not, some of the most respected authors in the Western Canon only have one chef-d’œuvre to their name. Just a few novelists who have cemented their literary reputation with just one book include: Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time In today’s post, we’ll be taking a look at the author Mary Shelley and her enduring one-hit wonder: Frankenstein. Shelley may not have as much critical caché as some of the other authors mentioned above, but who could deny […]

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A Very Charles Dickens Valentine

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Charles Dickens romantic quote, A Tale of Two Cities

Happy Valentine’s Day! What better way to celebrate the holiday of love than with a poignant quote from one of our favorite authors, Charles Dickens? This romantic quote comes from what is perhaps Dickens’ most acclaimed work, A Tale of Two Cities. This now-famous novel was first published in serial form in Dickens’ own literary magazine, All the Year Round, from April to November 1859. Set in both London and Paris in the years leading up to the French Revolution, A Tale of Two Cities is a classic blend of Dickens’ favorite subjects: poverty, social class, romance, and coming of age. It’s […]

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Hans Christian Andersen: The Great Dane

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Hans Christian Andersen blog image Copenhagen Denmark

If you’ve ever taken a trip to Copenhagen, you’ve probably strolled through Assistens Cemetery. This famous area serves as the final resting place for some of Denmark’s finest minds. Just a few luminaries buried here include philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, artist Christen Købke, and physicist Niels Bohr. But most visitors to Assistens Cemetery only want to see one site: the grave of the beloved children’s author Hans Christian Andersen. Tomb of Hans Christian Andersen by Stefano Bolignini, via Wikimedia Commons With the possible exception of Shakespeare’s Prince Hamlet, Hans Christian Andersen is probably the best-known Dane of all time. Heck, Andersen even […]

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