From the pens of critics who are not afraid to speak freely: "This is not a novel to be tossed lightly aside. It should be thrown with great force." --- Dorothy Parker "I am sitting in the smallest room in my house. I have your review in front of me. Soon it will be behind... Continue Reading →
Aristophanes (427 BC – 386 BC) was groundbreaking with his plays. His skills as a satirist and as a keen observer of everyday life led him to give us one of the most revealing pictures of what life was like in ancient Athens. He was not afraid to tackle controversial topics. Plato pointed to his play The... Continue Reading →
Honoré de Balzac, widely considered as one of the founders of realism in European literature, drank 50 cups of coffee each day. He was well regarded for having keen observation of detail -- undoubtedly owing to the fact that the world seemed to be moving in extreme slow motion compared to his hyper-caffeinated mind.... Continue Reading →
The Rotters' Club by Jonathan Coe holds the record for containing the longest printed English language sentence. The specimen is 13,955 words long. It was inspired by the Czech novel Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age, which consists entirely of one sentence that runs for 96 pages.
In a world that cherishes personal achievement, there are some awards you probably don't want to have associated with your name. Here are just a few: The Diagram Prize is awarded each year to for the book with the most unusual title. Recent winners include: Strangers Have the Best Candy (2014) How to Poo on... Continue Reading →
Sir Max Beerbohm is best remembered as an English essayist and caricaturist. Perhaps more attention should be paid to his practice of planning ahead. As he was getting ready to draw his last breath, Beerbohm said, "You will find my last words in the blue folder." As it turned out, those were his last words.
The Lyttle Lytton Contest honors the author who writes the worst opening line to his or her novel. It is named in honor of Edward George Bullwer-Lytton, who opened his 1830 novel Paul Clifford with the immortal words, "It was a dark and stormy night." Recent winners include: 2014 – "'Together, we will beat them all,'... Continue Reading →
At first glance, Futility by Morgan Robertson seems weak on imagination. Robertson's novel features a ship, the Titan, described as "the largest craft afloat and the greatest of the works of men." It was the height of luxury and comfort, where even the steward's cabin is described as being "equal to that of a first... Continue Reading →
The world record for the longest novel ever published goes to A la recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust. It was published in 13 volumes beginning in 1912. With an estimated 9,609,000 characters (each letter counts as one character. Spaces are also counted, as one character each), it came out at 4,215 pages in... Continue Reading →
Edgar Allan Poe's only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, was published in 1838. He claimed the story to be based on true events. As it turned out, he was correct, but the events had not yet occurred. One scene in The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket visits a whaling... Continue Reading →
Horatio Alger, Jr. (1832 – 1899) was a prolific 19th-century American author, best known for his many novels about impoverished boys and their rise from humble backgrounds to lives of middle-class security and comfort through hard work, determination, courage, and honesty. His books represent the "rags to riches" element of the American Dream. He died... Continue Reading →
Mark Twain was the first significant author to submit a typewritten manuscript to a publisher. By his own accounts, Mark Twain admitted that he did not actually do the typing himself, but rather hired someone to type it for him. In his unpublished autobiography, the famous American author stated he believed he was the... Continue Reading →
Jean de La Fontaine was a 17th century French author who wrote simple animal stories that contained elements of satire and social criticism. He was famous for his absentmindedness. He once called at the house of a friend whom he hadn't seen in some time. When reminded that his friend had died six months earlier,... Continue Reading →
Shortly before the start of the Marvel Era of comic books, Journey Into Mystery #73 published “Where will you be, when… The Spider Strikes!” In it, a common household spider was doused with radioactive rays. Instead of biting an unsuspecting high school student named Peter Parker, the spider instead began to develop the intelligence of a human being... Continue Reading →
The oldest known manuscript of the New Testament of the Holy Bible is housed in the Chester Beatty Library, next to Dublin Castle, in Dublin City Center. source