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Category: Classic Literature Archives

Books on the Wall blog posts covering classic literature, classical authors, and everything in between.

Words Wednesday: Herman Melville

Classic LiteratureQuotesWords Wednesday
Herman Melville quote graphic, Moby Dick

Today’s Words Wednesday features a Herman Melville quote from his classic novel Moby-Dick; or The Whale. Moby Dick by Herman Melville Published in 1851 at the height of the American Renaissance period, Moby Dick follows the adventures of the mad whaler Ahab, captain of the Pequod. The novel was originally published in London as The Whale and then as Moby-Dick; or The Whale in New York. The book is dedicated to famed author Nathaniel Hawthorne. Although the novel was originally not a commercial success (it was actually out of print when Melville died), it has become one of the most […]

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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

AuthorsClassic Literature
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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Words Wednesday: Percy Bysshe Shelley

Classic LiteratureQuotesWords Wednesday
Percy Bysshe Shelley quote from Ozymandias

We recently wrote a brief biography of Mary Shelley, the young author of Frankenstein, and thought we’d continue our exploration of the famous Shelleys with some poignant words from her husband. This Percy Bysshe Shelley quote comes from his 1818 sonnet, “Ozymandias.” Ozymandias was the Greek name for the Egyptian Pharoah Ramesses II, whose statue had been recently acquired by the British Museum. Shelley wrote “Ozymandias” during a friendly competition with friend and fellow poet Horace Smith. Smith’s poem uses the same title with a more traditional rhyme scheme, but it’s Shelley’s poem that continues to captivate audiences today. Though short, […]

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

AuthorsClassic LiteratureNovel Knowledge
Mary Shelley biography blog post feature image

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

AuthorsClassic LiteratureQuotes
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

AuthorsChildren's BooksClassic Literature
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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Words Wednesday: Thomas Hardy

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Thomas Hardy Quote, Tess of the d'Urbervilles-8

This poignant Thomas Hardy quote comes from his 1891 novel, Tess of the d’Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented. Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy Tess of the d’Urbervilles takes place in Wessex, a fictional region that Hardy uses in several of his works. It follows the titular character, Tess (whose surname is actually Durbeyfield, a lower take on the original noble form). Through Tess’s experiences with romance, courtship, and loss of virginity, we see the difficult social expectations and sexual double standards that women faced at that time. Throughout the novel, Hardy questions the nature of morality, worded thus by […]

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10 Authors Who Only Became Famous After Death

AuthorsClassic LiteratureContemporary LiteratureNovel Knowledge
Authors Who Became Famous After Death

Artists are often called the “antennae of the race.” Writers, painters, and musicians see things we normal mortals just can’t see. Sometimes it takes decades for the general public to understand what a truly gifted literary mind was trying to communicate. In this list, you’ll find ten of the finest authors from around the world, all of whom share one sad fact: they were only fully appreciated and made famous after death. Famous authors who reached posthumous fame 1. William Blake (1757-1827) Contemporaries called him mad. But today William Blake is universally recognized as a poetic and artistic genius. He was born in […]

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Words Wednesday: Ernest Hemingway

Classic LiteratureQuotesWords Wednesday
Ernest Hemingway quote graphic - quote from The Old Man and the Sea

This Ernest Hemingway quote comes from his acclaimed short novel The Old Man and the Sea. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway Written in 1951 during a stay in the Bahamas, The Old Man and the Sea tells the story of an aging fisherman named Santiago and his quest to break his unlucky fishing streak by catching a large marlin. Santiago fights delirium and sharks in his attempt to wrangle the large marlin and bring it home. The Old Man and the Sea won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953. One year later, Hemingway was awarded the […]

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