A True Story (Ancient Greek: Ἀληθῆ διηγήματα, Alēthē diēgēmata; Latin: Vera Historia or Latin: Verae Historiae) is a novel written in the second century AD by Lucian of Samosata, a Greek-speaking author of Assyrian descent. The novel is a satire of outlandish tales which had been reported in ancient sources, particularly those which presented fantastic or mythical events as if they were true. It is Lucian's best-known work.
It is the earliest known work of fiction to include travel to outer space, alien lifeforms, and interplanetary warfare. As such, A True Story has been described as "the first known text that could be called science fiction". However the work does not fit into typical literary genres: its multilayered plot and characters have been interpreted as science fiction, fantasy, satire or parody, and have been the subject of much scholarly debate.
- "A True Story" | 2018-10-15 | 525 Upvotes 72 Comments
Barbara Newhall Follett (March 4, 1914 – disappeared December 7, 1939) was an American child prodigy novelist. Her first novel, The House Without Windows, was published in January 1927, when she was twelve years old. Her next novel, The Voyage of the Norman D.w, received critical acclaim when she was fourteen.
In December 1939, aged 25, Follett reportedly became depressed with her marriage and walked out of her apartment, never to be seen again.
- "Barbara Newhall Follett" | 2020-02-16 | 60 Upvotes 14 Comments
Chekhov's gun (Russian: Чеховское ружьё) is a dramatic principle that states that every element in a story must be necessary, and irrelevant elements should be removed. Elements should not appear to make "false promises" by never coming into play. The statement is recorded in letters by Anton Chekhov several times, with some variation:
- "Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there."
- "One must never place a loaded rifle on the stage if it isn't going to go off. It's wrong to make promises you don't mean to keep." Chekhov, letter to Aleksandr Semenovich Lazarev (pseudonym of A. S. Gruzinsky), 1 November 1889. Here the "gun" is a monologue that Chekhov deemed superfluous and unrelated to the rest of the play.
- "If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there." From Gurlyand's Reminiscences of A. P. Chekhov, in Teatr i iskusstvo 1904, No. 28, 11 July, p. 521.
Ernest Hemingway mocked the interpretation given by English instructors to the principle. He gives in his essay "The Art of the Short Story" an example of two characters that are introduced and then never again mentioned in his short story "Fifty Grand". Hemingway valued inconsequential details, but conceded that readers will inevitably seek symbolism and significance in these inconsequential details.
Commonplace books (or commonplaces) are a way to compile knowledge, usually by writing information into books. They have been kept from antiquity, and were kept particularly during the Renaissance and in the nineteenth century. Such books are essentially scrapbooks filled with items of every kind: recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas. Commonplaces are used by readers, writers, students, and scholars as an aid for remembering useful concepts or facts. Each one is unique to its creator's particular interests but they almost always include passages found in other texts, sometimes accompanied by the compiler's responses. They became significant in Early Modern Europe.
"Commonplace" is a translation of the Latin term locus communis (from Greek tópos koinós, see literary topos) which means "a general or common topic", such as a statement of proverbial wisdom. In this original sense, commonplace books were collections of such sayings, such as John Milton's example. Scholars now understand them to include manuscripts in which an individual collects material which have a common theme, such as ethics, or exploring several themes in one volume. Commonplace books are private collections of information, but they are not diaries or travelogues.
In 1685 the English Enlightenment philosopher John Locke wrote a treatise in French on commonplace books, translated into English in 1706 as A New Method of Making Common-Place-Books, "in which techniques for entering proverbs, quotations, ideas, speeches were formulated. Locke gave specific advice on how to arrange material by subject and category, using such key topics as love, politics, or religion. Commonplace books, it must be stressed, are not journals, which are chronological and introspective."
By the early eighteenth century they had become an information management device in which a note-taker stored quotations, observations and definitions. They were used in private households to collate ethical or informative texts, sometimes alongside recipes or medical formulae. For women, who were excluded from formal higher education, the commonplace book could be a repository of intellectual references. The gentlewoman Elizabeth Lyttelton kept one from the 1670s to 1713 and a typical example was published by Mrs Anna Jameson in 1855, including headings such as Ethical Fragments; Theological; Literature and Art. Commonplace books were used by scientists and other thinkers in the same way that a database might now be used: Carl Linnaeus, for instance, used commonplacing techniques to invent and arrange the nomenclature of his Systema Naturae (which is the basis for the system used by scientists today). The commonplace book was often a lifelong habit: for example the English-Australian artist Georgina McCrae kept a commonplace book from 1828-1865.
- "Commonplace Book" | 2010-11-09 | 15 Upvotes 3 Comments
An intentionally blank page or vacat page (from Latin: vacare for "being empty") is a page that is devoid of content and may be unexpected. Such pages may serve purposes ranging from place-holding to space-filling and content separation. Sometimes, these pages carry a notice such as "This page [is] intentionally left blank." Such notices typically appear in printed works, such as legal documents, manuals, and exam papers, in which the reader might otherwise suspect that the blank pages are due to a printing error and where missing pages might have serious consequences.
- "Intentionally Blank Page" | 2019-12-06 | 23 Upvotes 18 Comments
This is a list of common misconceptions. Each entry is formatted as a correction; the misconceptions themselves are implied rather than stated. These entries are meant to be concise, but more detail can be found in the main subject articles.
Some writers have had prolific careers with hundreds of their works being published. While some best-selling authors have written a small number of books that have sold millions of copies, others have had lengthy careers and maintained a high level of output year after year. Dame Agatha Christie, the most-published novelist in history, is estimated to have sold 4 billion books, having written 69 novels and 19 plays. Her works were published between 1920 and 1976, equating to around three publications every two years. Dame Barbara Cartland has also sold millions of copies of her books but wrote many more than Christie. She spent 80 years as a novelist with 722 books published, averaging one book released every 40 days of her career. While Cartland wrote a significant number of full-length novels, other authors have been published many more times but have specialised in short stories. Spanish author Corín Tellado wrote over 4,000 novellas, selling 400 million copies of her books.
Not all authors work alone. Groups of writers, sometimes led by one central figure, have published under shared pseudonyms. The Stratemeyer Syndicate, started by Edward Stratemeyer in 1905, created numerous book series including 190 volumes of The Hardy Boys and 175 volumes of Nancy Drew. More than 1,300 books were published by the group, and although Edward L. Stratemeyer wrote several hundred, he also employed ghostwriters to keep up with the demand. These writers were given storylines and strict guidelines to follow to ensure a level of consistency within each series. Amongst the writing team was Howard R. Garis, who contributed several hundred books to the collection, one of the most active authors. Sales were estimated at over two hundred million copies before the syndicate was sold to Simon & Schuster in 1984.
Most authors carefully craft their work, writing and rewriting several times before publication. Some authors simply use pen and paper, while others such as Isaac Asimov spent hours at a stretch working at a typewriter. Philip M. Parker, by one measure the world's most prolific author, has an entirely different approach. Parker has over 200,000 titles listed on Amazon.com, having developed an algorithm to gather publicly available data and compile it into book form. The computer-generated nature of the books is not detailed on the sales page and the books are printed only when ordered.
- "List of Prolific Writers" | 2020-01-17 | 54 Upvotes 10 Comments
Oblique Strategies (subtitled Over One Hundred Worthwhile Dilemmas) is a card-based method for promoting creativity jointly created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt, first published in 1975. Physically, it takes the form of a deck of 7-by-9-centimetre (2.8 in × 3.5 in) printed cards in a black box. Each card offers a challenging constraint intended to help artists (particularly musicians) break creative blocks by encouraging lateral thinking.
Stanisław Herman Lem (Polish: [staˈɲiswaf ˈlɛm] (listen); 12 or 13 September 1921 – 27 March 2006) was a Polish writer of science fiction, philosophy, and satire. Lem's books have been translated into 41 languages and have sold over 45 million copies. From the 1950s to 2000s, he published many books, both science fiction and philosophical/futurological. Worldwide, he is best known as the author of the 1961 novel Solaris, which has been made into a feature film three times. In 1976, Theodore Sturgeon wrote that Lem was the most widely read science fiction writer in the world. The total print of Lem's books is over 30 million copies.
Lem's works explore philosophical themes through speculation on technology, the nature of intelligence, the impossibility of communication with and understanding of alien intelligence, despair about human limitations, and humanity's place in the universe. They are sometimes presented as fiction, but others are in the form of essays or philosophical books.
Translating his works is difficult due to passages with elaborate word formation, idiomatic wordplay, alien or robotic poetry, and puns.
- "Stanisław Lem" | 2019-11-04 | 82 Upvotes 27 Comments