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Articles from the Blog

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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Words Wednesday: Hilary Mantel

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Hilary Mantel Quote, Wolf Hall

Today’s featured snippet is a Hilary Mantel quote from her 2009 novel Wolf Hall. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel Set in early 1500s England, Wolf Hall is a historical novel that follows the rise of Thomas Cromwell and Anne Boleyn (whose rises, story lines, and real lives are impossible to untangle from one another) during the reign of King Henry VIII. Still famous today for his many wives and ordered decapitations, King Henry—and all of the other characters—are wonderfully humanized by Mantel in this novel. Although King Henry and his court feature prominently in this work, the focus remains on Thomas Cromwell. […]

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Five Eternal Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales

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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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Words Wednesday: Margaret Atwood

Contemporary LiteratureQuotesWords Wednesday

These quote from The Handmaid’s Tale is one of our all-time favorites, though there are many to choose from in this interesting novel. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood Published in 1985, The Handmaid’s Tale is set in a dystopian Boston, in which a theological dictatorship has taken hold. This new nation, called the Republic of Gilead, has forced young women into sexual and intellectual subjugation. Reading has been outlawed, women are forced to procreate with high-ranking party members, and Old Testament-inspired punishments are doled out in public to maintain order. The Handmaid’s Tale won several literary awards, including the Governor […]

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Words Wednesday: Herman Melville

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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

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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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Words Wednesday: NoViolet Bulawayo

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NoViolet Bulawayo quote, We Need New Names

This NoViolet Bulawayo quote comes from her 2013 debut novel, We Need New Names. We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo We Need New Names is in many ways a typical coming-of-age story, following young Darling as she leaves her home country of Zimbabwe for the Midwestern United States. It’s also in many ways a typical immigrant’s tale, if such a genre can even be named given the diverse experiences that immigrants to the United States have. Although the story follows hardship after hardship, both in Darling’s home country and her adopted home of Detroit, the story is never lifeless […]

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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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Words Wednesday: Percy Bysshe Shelley

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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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Words Wednesday: Min Jin Lee

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Min Jin Lee quote, Pachinko

This Min Jin Lee quote comes from her just-released novel Pachinko (2017). Pachinko by Min Jin Lee Published in February 2017, Pachinko follows the lives of several generations of a Korean family over the twentieth century. The story begins with Sunja, a young woman living in a small fishing island off Busan, Korea, in the early 1900s. After getting pregnant, Sunja leaves her small town for Japan with a kindly minister who marries her to save her family from shame. The story begins when Korea is still under Japanese colonial rule and extends all the way to the late 1980s. […]

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