Plagues Follow Bad Leadership in Ancient Greek Tales

Plagues functioned as a setup for an even more crucial theme in ancient myth: a leader’s intelligence. Introduction In the fifth century B.C., the playwright Sophocles begins “Oedipus Tyrannos” with the title character struggling to identify the cause of a plague striking his city, Thebes. (Spoiler alert: It’s his own bad leadership.) As someone who[…]

Jonathan Swift: Master of Satire in the 18th Century

Swift was a heavily politically involved and prolific writer. Introduction Jonathan Swift (November 30, 1667 – October 19, 1745) was an Anglo-Irish priest, essayist, political writer, and poet, considered the foremost satirist in the English language. Swift’s fiercely ironic novels and essays, including world classics such as Gulliver’s Travels and The Tale of the Tub,[…]

Anne Bradstreet: America’s First Literary Voice in the 17th Century

America’s first literary star, Anne Bradstreet, who was a pioneer in more ways than one. Anne came to the new American colony in 1630 from Great Britain, with her husband Simon Bradstreet and family. She was just 18. They were Puritans who left the home country because of political and religious tensions. But traveling by[…]

How the Grimm Brothers Saved the Fairy Tale

The surprising history behind the world’s most famous collection of folk tales. Two hundred years ago, two young German librarians by the names of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published a collection of tales that would become one of the most influential works of folklore in Germany, Europe, and eventually the world. Between 1812 and 1857,[…]

America’s Postwar Fling with Romance Comics

Roughly 1 in 5 of all comic books were romance comics, as publishers scrambled to appease readers’ appetites for scandalous storylines. Introduction Last year, comic book enthusiast Gary Watson donated his massive personal collection to the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of South Carolina. As the reference and instruction[…]

When Dorothy Parker Got Fired from ‘Vanity Fair’

How Parker’s determination to speak her mind — even when it angered men in positions of power — gave her pride of place. This article, When Dorothy Parker Got Fired from Vanity Fair, was originally published in The Public Domain Review under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. If you wish to reuse it please see: https://publicdomainreview.org/legal/ Dorothy[…]

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and the ‘Apotheosis of Homer’

The archaic Greek poet is conceived of as the wellspring from which the later Western artistic tradition flows. A Student of the Past Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (pronounced: aah-n Gr-ah) was Jacque-Louis David’s most famous student. And while this prolific and successful artist was indebted to his teacher, Ingres quickly turned away from him. For his inspiration,[…]

A Few Words about F. Scott Fitzgerald

Exploring the obscuring nature of his legend and the role that women played in his life and work. This article, A Few Words about F. Scott Fitzgerald, was originally published in The Public Domain Review under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. If you wish to reuse it please see: https://publicdomainreview.org/legal/ With Fitzgerald as with no one else[…]

The Nichols Family and Their Press: The Antiquarian Community in Victorian England

Looking at of the Gentleman’s Magazine, printers of county histories, collectors of manuscripts, and founder members of historical societies. John Nichols: Printer and Antiquary For three generations the Nichols family was central to topographical research and publication. Julian Pooley explores how as editors of the Gentleman’s Magazine, printers of county histories, collectors of manuscripts and[…]

Libraries in the Medieval and Renaissance Periods

The library-era, as we may call it, began with the publication of the Rule of S. Benedict in the early in the sixth century. Lecture by Dr. John Willis Clark, 06.13.1894English Academic and Antiquarian A library may be considered from two very different points of view: as a workshop, or as a Museum. The former[…]

Ferdowsi and the ‘Epic of Kings’ in Medieval Persia

He was the author of the Shāhnāmeh (Epic of Kings), the national epic of the Persian-speaking world. Introduction Hakīm Abū l-Qāsim Firdawsī Tūsī, more commonly transliterated as Ferdowsi (also Firdowsi), (935–1020) was a highly revered Persian poet. He was the author of the Shāhnāmeh (Epic of Kings), the national epic of the Persian-speaking world. He[…]

‘The San Francisco Illustrated WASP’: Racism and Satire in the 19th Century

The Wasp meted out ridicule to a myriad of caricatured subjects, from senators and presidents to Chinese immigrants and Mormon polygamists. By Nicholas Sean Hall Introduction The West Coast was going down in flames. Or at least that was how The San Francisco Illustrated Wasp depicted the region to its readership of middle- and working-class[…]

Sentiment and Sensibility: Sheridan and ‘The School for Scandal’

Examining 18th-century satirist Richard Brinsley Sheridan and his most famous play, The School for Scandal. Introduction Perhaps Sheridan’s greatest play, The School for Scandal is one of the supreme triumphs of 18th-century theatre and is sometimes described as the greatest comedy of manners in the English language. A crackling satire on ostensibly polite society, it[…]

The Armored Body as Trophy in Shakespeare’s Roman Plays

The treatment of the military subject in Shakespeare’s Roman plays complicates early modern cultural understandings of the material aspects of militant nostalgia. Remembering Rome, performing Rome… Introduction At the end of Book 12 of Virgil’s Aeneid, Aeneas is described as “stetit acer in armis” or “ferocious in his armor,” a colossal and threatening force, a[…]

Ancient Roman Literature

A number of highly educated citizens could speak and read both Greek and Latin. Introduction The Roman Empire and its predecessor the Roman Republic produced an abundance of celebrated literature; poetry, comedies, dramas, histories, and philosophical tracts; the Romans avoided tragedies. Much of it survives to this day. However, Roman literature cannot stand alone. They[…]

Underground Comics and Britain’s Obscenity Trials in the 1970s

Like its American counterpart, the burgeoning British underground scene held comics in high esteem. By John Harris DunningComics Writer Oz was a seminal 1960s counterculture publication that originated in Sydney, Australia in 1963. It quickly raised a storm of controversy around its coverage of abortion and homosexuality, and its editorial team was promptly charged with[…]

Christine de Pizan and the Medieval ‘Book of the City of Ladies’

This is probably the best expression of of Pizan’s views of contemporary medieval women. The Woman Question In the late Middle Ages, one of the most popular books was the Romance of the Rose (Roman de la Rose), begun in 1237 by Guillaume de Lorris and expanded by Jean de Meun some decades later. The[…]

Witch-Hunts, Theocracies, and Hypocrisy: McCarthyism in ‘The Crucible’ and ‘Susannah’

For the source of his story, Arthur Miller looked back to the Salem witch trials of 1692. In the early 1950s, at the height of the Cold War, the United States was in the throes of the paranoid, hysterical, communist witch-hunt we have come to call McCarthyism, named for the particularly zealous senator, Joseph McCarthy,[…]

Selma Lagerlöf: Surface and Depth

Analyzing the importance of Lagerlöf’s oeuvre and the complex depths beneath her seemingly simple tales and public persona. This article, Selma Lagerlöf: Surface and Depth, was originally published in The Public Domain Review under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. If you wish to reuse it please see: https://publicdomainreview.org/legal/ In 1909, an ageing “spinster,” with a marked limp,[…]

Staging Kingship in Scotland and England, 1532-1560

In terms of its staging of sovereignty, passivity distinguished the Scottish king from the English tyrant. Introduction ‘Quhat is ane king?’ asks Divine Correctioun in David Lyndsay’s Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis before supplying the answer ‘Nocht bot ane officiar’ (1613),[1] thereby articulating a commonplace of medieval Scottish literature on kingship that the monarch’s[…]

Shakespeare’s ‘Richard III’ and the Will to Power

Shakespeare drew on earlier depictions of Richard III and other ruthless rulers in order to create his own power-hungry king, and it has influenced later depictions of megalomania. Introduction Richard III is early Shakespeare. Probably composed in the early 1590s, it’s the work of a playwright in his late twenties, author of two comedies (The[…]

The Importance of Being Wilde: ‘The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name’

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” Early Life and Education “I am not young enough to know everything” Oscar Fingal O’Flahterie Wilde was born in Dublin on 16 October, 1854, the second of three children. His father, Sir William Wilde, was Ireland’s best oto-optamologic, knighted for[…]

The ‘Aeneid’ as a Commentary on Augustus

An analysis of the Aeneid and the extent to which it can be taken as a commentary on Augustus’ reign. By Maddy V-T The Aeneid is the major work attributed to the poet Virgil, and is widely considered as a valuable source to people wanting to study the Romans and their literature. Personally, I find[…]

The Court System in Ancient Homeric Greece

Examining the main flaws in the court system in the days of Homer. By Dr. Alexandr LoginovProfessor of LawKutafin Moscow State Law University, Moscow Abstract The research investigates the court system in Homeric Greece. This period was characterized by a declining culture and scarce works that described those times. Hence, the court procedures of those[…]

Truths Wrapped in Fiction: Ancient Mesopotamian Naru Literature

The myth, in time, became the reality. Introduction Originality in literary compositions in the ancient world did not carry the same weight and value as it does in the present day. In recent centuries, authors have been applauded for the creation of original works, whether fiction or non-fiction, and have been derided for plagiarism or[…]

A History of Chapbooks from the 17th to 19th Centuries

Exploring this literature looked like, its subject matter, and the ways in which it was produced. Introduction Chapbooks were small booklets, cheap to make and to buy. They provided simple reading matter and were commonplace across the country from the 17th to the 19th century. They were often charming little books but they were also[…]

Westcar Papyrus: The Art of the Story in Ancient Egypt

In the manuscript, each of Khufu’s sons speaks in turn, telling their own tale for their father’s entertainment. Introduction The ancient Egyptians enjoyed storytelling as one of their favorite pastimes. Inscriptions and images, as well as the number of stories produced, give evidence of a long history of the art of the story in Egypt[…]