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12:59 AM
Q: What does "These were not words they were used to saying. " mean in the context?

crucify fickle crankAn excerpt from "Love Marriage" By V.V. Ganeshananthan: The nerve of Murali, they thought. In love? These were not words they were used to saying. Who are the "they"? So "nerve and in love" is not what they were used to say, then what was it that they were used to say. This sentence just feels ...

1:56 AM
@PrinceNorthLæraðr There's no need to add dates, years are enough. (Except for that one famous 14th century author of which we have no questions who was born on my birthday.)
Well, yes, I meant years :)
Mind you, that might have been invented after the fact, because it's so unlikely that we know anyone's birthday in the 14th century, unless they're like a male heir to a royal throne.
4 hours later…
6:26 AM
@PrinceNorthLæraðr yeah I've sorta been wondering why we're a beta site still. I'm sure there's a meta post somewhere about what it takes for a site to grow up and become an alpha site, but I'm too lazy to look.
Q: What is the meaning of "lay by the heels"?

aissamI am quoting from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Gloria Scott by Arthur Conan Doyle: It was a prosaic way of forming a friendship, but it was effective. I was laid by the heels for ten days, but Trevor used to come in to enquire after me. From the context it's clear that Holmes was staying...

^ this has 4 VTCs; if it gets closed on ELU, do we want it here?
@Randal'Thor It's an interesting question and has a good answer. I think it would be good here, yes. There's a case to be made that it would be good on ELL too. I agree with the close votes for ELU though I haven't cast one (and don't plan to).
@verbose It's changed a lot over the years. Back in 2011-12 there was a list of criteria that a site should reach after 90 days of beta or risk being shut down altogether (that's why the first iteration of Literature.SE was closed). They relaxed those criteria at some point, and in 2015 they said there's one simple criterion for graduating out of beta, to get a consistent 10 questions per day. Then last year they graduated 29 sites just for being 7+ years old. So it's all a bit unclear.
@Randal'Thor Yeah that does seem rather inconsistent. I don't think I was around for the first incarnation of Lit SE, but this one has been around since 2017, yes?
6:41 AM
@Tsundoku maybe you should propose a topic challenge on theosophy and literature
@Randal'Thor They half-graduated sites by removing the "Beta" label and allowing ads, but apart from those two changes they're treated exactly the same as betas, in particular they don't have custom design and they use the lower score thresholds for privileges.
Oh yeah, that too. So many different levels of "graduation" these days.
One of the differences between beta and graduated sites used to be appointed vs elected mods, but now all sites have elections, even brand-new betas.
6:59 AM
But yes, Rand mentioned the important point. SE no longer has the policy that if a site doesn't become popular in a few years then they close it. So now I don't really have to be concerned about the whole graduation thing.
Q: What is the significance of Blackberry's name in Watership Down?

Rand al'ThorIn the novel Watership Down, the character of Blackberry is the "clever rabbit" among the original group migrating from the Sandleford Warren. He's the one who comes up with innovative (for rabbits) ideas, such as the floating raft early in the story and many other plans later on. Why was this ch...

1 hour later…
8:12 AM
@verbose Theosophy makes my skin crawl. I'm very un-Victorian in that regard :-P
And with 7 of this year's challenges coming from suggestions by me, I'm holding back on new suggestions.
8:31 AM
@Tsundoku (a) 2021 is a new year. Anything you propose won't take effect before then. (2) Fair enough. How about Hesiod's Theogony?
@verbose (1) And the suggestions page currently has 16 suggestions that I submitted... (2) I would need to read that first. At school, I was almost the local expert in Greek mythology, but that was in the last millennium.
8:46 AM
@Tsundoku Thanks, Christophe, that was a really interesting read. I'm sad I didn't participate in the Elizabethan Prose challenge; I love reading Elizabethan prose and have some specialized background in that subject. June 2019 was a busy month for me and I just missed it.
When I saw that only one question had been posted in the Rhys challenge, I thought, "That can't be right, I'm sure I posted one" and went to check on the question. Duh.
9:08 AM
@verbose At the time, I read all of Jean Rhys's works but I couldn't come up with any good questions. And I don't have access to resources to answer your question (especially now that libraries are basically closed).
9:35 AM
@Tsundoku I have an open bounty offer on that question too.
@verbose Surely some of those are still unanswered. Or could have better answers, maybe; I remember I answered several of them.
@Randal'Thor I'll take a look
thanks for the suggestion
9:51 AM
The Tagore challenge was the most successful one by number of questions (22, versus 18 for Maupassant), number of answers (18, versus 13 for Elizabethan prose) and number of question submitters (6, versus 5 for Hard to be a God, the very first topic challenge).
@verbose One of the most impressive pieces of Elizabethan prose I ever read was an excerpt from Richard Hooker's Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. The subject is not exciting (at least to me) but that prose style is quite something.
I've wanted to read that for a while. My father-in-law was an Anglican priest with even more books than my husband and I had. After he died, my mother-in-law asked me to go through his books and set aside the ones I wanted. I picked out his copy of Hooker, but she said she had earmarked that one for another priest.
(My husband predeceased my father-in-law by about three months.)
Not complaining about the Hooker; I got plenty of other books from my father-in-law's collection.
Several people wanting a book about political theology; one does not hear that every day.
Oxford University Press has an edition of Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (A Critical Edition with Modern Spelling) for £380. I think I'll pass up that "offer".
There is an Everyman's Library edition from the 1960s that can be bought more cheaply.
And the Davenant Institute has been working on a modernised version.
@b_jonas Palimpsests, another topic in literary theory.
"Lira bien qui lira le dernier."
11:01 AM
A: New Literature SE Topic Challenge Suggestions Thread

verboseThe Works of Robert Louis Stevenson The Scottish R L Stevenson (1850–1894) was greatly popular during his lifetime. For most of the 20th C., however, writers and critics considered his work rather second-rate. But recently his works have begun to attract critical attention again, undoing what Mar...

@Tsundoku nice
@NewTopicChallengeSuggestion The answers on that thread now extend to a second page.
@Tsundoku I think that was the one Douglas (my father-in-law) had
I hope people like the RLS suggestion enough that it becomes a topic challenge. I'd love an excuse to read more Stevenson. I re-read J&H once every few years.
@Tsundoku An 1888 ed is available online as public domain.
11:39 AM
@verbose Actually, the original idea behind the topic challenges was encouraging people to read works that were a bit out of the way for a predominantly English-speaking audience.
@Tsundoku ah
@Randal'Thor how did Jean Rhys qualify?
12:07 PM
@verbose I'd love to see more questions here (all but one of them so far were asked by me), but I'm not sure about it as a topic challenge, given the goal of topic challenges as Tsundoku mentioned.
So that proposal gets neither an upvote nor a downvote from me, for now.
We did have a William Blake topic challenge a couple of years ago, although that annoyed some people.
There's no strict requirements for what "diversity" should mean for topic challenges, just recommendations to bear that idea in mind.
12:31 PM
@verbose Jean Rhys isn't nearly as well known as R. L. Stevenson, William Blake or (in this community) Usula Le Guin. She wrote from the periphery, even though she spent her adult life in Europe.
And Wide Sargasso Sea is an interesting piece of anti-colonial and feminist fiction.
(In the years before the publication of Wide Sargasso Sea, people thought she had already died.)
12:48 PM
@Tsundoku yep, I did have a scholarly interest in Rhys for a while
One of the reasons I suggested Stevenson was the anticolonialist angle actually
In that case, I would focus the description of the reading challenge on works that would encourage reading from the anti-colonialist angle.
1:30 PM
A: New Literature SE Topic Challenge Suggestions Thread

TsundokuSequels to or retellings of Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe's novel Robinson Crusoe (1719) has often been adapted into children's books and films. It has also inspired sequels and retellings that sometimes put the original story into a new perspective. These sequels and retellings include the follow...

2 hours later…
3:02 PM
@bobble "We had Bill Clinton 1.0, Bill Clinton 2.0, which was Barack Obama, and now Bill Clinton 3.0, at a time when we desperately need an FDR." (Kyle Kulinski on Secular Talk, yesterday.)
3:57 PM
Can I ask about why Watership Down has pronunciation guidelines for some of the names? I can make sense of most of the footnotes, but I'm unsure why the pattern of stresses was important enough to call out.
4:26 PM
That sounds like a valid question.
@Mithical For your collection of bilingual / multilingual puns: No matter how kind you are, German children are Kinder.
That's quite an old one
I'll show myself out.
@Tsundoku great, I wasn't sure if it was literary enough
5:10 PM
@Mithical America first. Germany Förster.
@Mithical Gast: "Ich hätte gerne einen Gin."
Kellner: "Dry?"
Gast: "Nein, nur einen."
(opens up translator)
5:32 PM
Egal wie gut es dir geht, Bill Gates besser.
1 hour later…
6:48 PM
Red Planets: Marxism and Science Fiction, edited by Mark Bould and China Miéville (2009). According to the book description, "Science fiction and socialism have always had a close relationship. Many sf novelists and filmmakers are leftists. Others examine explicit or implicit Marxist concerns."
@Mithical When the Kellner / waiter asks, "Dry?" the German-speaking guest understands "Drei" (three).
Which kinda makes sense, since left ideals are usually associated more with looking into the future and questioning the status-quo, something science-fiction is usually thought to be doing.
What's he thought the waiter is from, though, Upper Lusatia? ;-)
Ursula Le Guin's The Dispossessed is even about someone from a planet inhabited by people who went there to found a communist society, one where everyone adopted communism voluntarily (in stark contrast with what happened in some countries on our planet).
@NapoleonWilson What makes you sink that?
@Tsundoku It would be the only reason for him to roll a "drei". Or yes, the waiter could as well just be bad at English.
I guess some jokes don't make sense when you analyse them closely.
(I wonder how many people will pick up the allusion in "sink".)
Well, it was still nice. Worth a faint smirk. ;-)
@Tsundoku I'm tormented from having to hear my boss speak "English" on the phone. ;-)
6:58 PM
@NapoleonWilson On his handy? ;-)
1 hour later…
7:59 PM
@Tsundoku I've heard the version where James Bond gets three martinis.
Also the Roman who walks into a bar, holds up two fingers, and says "five beers, please".
The two latest topic challenge proposals remind me of the two entirely separate Treasure Island sequels I've read, by different authors and continuing the story in different directions.
One of them I just remember as kind of dark and featuring a hunchbacked character; the other one I remember as rather poorly written, focusing more on repeating as many lines from the original as possible than on having a clear and coherent plot. (There was a plot, it was just hard to follow what was going on and who was on which side or even what the sides were.)
The absolute worst book I've every read was basically an author going "but what if I put my conlang slang into the narration & dialogue and then never explain what it mean?"
Completely unreadable
8:45 PM
I assume you already know this one: An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar.
The first orders a beer, the second orders half a beer, the third orders a quarter of a beer, and so on.
After the seventh order, the bartender pours two beers and says, "You fellas ought to know your limits."
Yes, although I prefer the one where the bartender asks three logicians, "do all of you want a beer?" The first one says, "I don't know"; the second one says, "I don't know"; and the third one says, "Yes!"
@Randal'Thor A computer scientists would hold up two fingers and say, "three beers, please".
@Tsundoku There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who understand ternary, those who don't understand ternary, and those who think this joke's in binary.
@Randal'Thor There are two types of people in the world: those who can extrapolate from incomplete data ...
1 hour later…
10:04 PM
Two currently ongoing topic challenges: Ko Un and literary theory.

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