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12:18 AM
I think I might start reading the Kalevala, and maybe get some questions out of it.
cc @humn ^
1:07 AM
@TML I found Ben Williams, but it looks like he hasn't been on SE for the last 2 years :-(
1:19 AM
> Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation is the first anthology to broadly collect solarpunk short stories, artwork, and poetry. A new genre for the 21st Century, solarpunk is a revolution against despair. Focusing on solutions to environmental disasters, solarpunk envisions a future of green, sustainable energy used by societies that value inclusiveness, cooperation, and personal freedom.
2:10 AM
@Randal'Thor eh. You might not have very much luck with questions about the identify of a narrator -- often there's not enough information to conclusively answer the question. I say this not having read the poem though, so take it with a grain of salt.
So I've been taking a look through the data dump of the old literature site.
1. Thank god we don't have reading recommendation questions.
2. They have a lot of questions about genres and classifying works into genres. For example,
> I am a young adult librarian. I have started a collection of teen appropriate urban fiction recently due to a high demand for it. It got me curious about if urban fiction is an accepted and respected genre of literature? I almost compare it to the Young Adult genre which as only recently began to get popular and gain respect as a genre.
I would like to think that question would have been answered with a frame challenge on the new site. The old site completely missed the mark: the answer to that question started talking about how they went to a convention that had a panel on urban fiction, and how that's evidence that the genre is becoming more respected.
3. Answers tended to cite a lot of outside resources on the old site. Unfortunately, those outside resources tended to be of the sparknotes variety. I would hope that those answers would be downvoted here.
Maybe I didn't look carefully enough, but I would guess that there are only about ten answers worth saving.
And a good chunk of the good answers are what I would consider quote only answers: they only quote some academic source but offer no original analysis. Which is the opposite of what we should be trying to do imho
Here's one example:
Here's an answer that (a) is incorrect and (b) just quotes blindly from wikipedia: text-share.com/view/06016585
There is some good stuff, but not a lot of it. For example, this q&a might be worth reposting: text-share.com/view/a451ee32
But it's not really worth the time it takes to go through all the bad answers to find the ten/twenty answers worth keeping.
2:37 AM
@Hamlet [amused] Conflating popularity, respect, and acceptance, all at once? Wow.
Apparently John Green is finally releasing another book. I will read it, because I have a rule that I can't be negative snout anything I've not read, but I expect I will dislike it as much as I disliked the other stuff of his I have read.
@Hamlet why not just leave it? The site died for obvious reasons, not sure why we'd bother with reposting stuff. I know some of my posts got shifted into SF&F, but i don't see why we would repost questions and answers from it. Questions, maybe, but I don't see the real point.
IDK, if you are inclined to go through the data dump, sort the questions and answers by length. The good answers are much more likely to be longer.
@Ash that would be my opinion as well, but people were talking about going through the data dump and looking for questions/answers, so I thought I would actually go through and see if there was anything worthwhile.
@Ash why? I think I read two books by him, don't remember what my opinion was.
It was also just interesting to see why the site failed. The community didn't have any frameworks for how to talk about literature, e.g. authorial intent or close reading. Which clearly shone through in their answers (at least for the 25% of questions that weren't recommendation questions). People were citing sparknotes and its equivalents, they weren't actually reading the books and making arguments based on what the books say.
2:54 AM
@Hamlet he has this very pretentious style where his characters run into the manic pixie stereotypes and the stories tend to drag on longer than they should, and they're always supposed to be so deep and meaningful but theyre just dull. The characters have no flaws and no depth. They're always white and straight and he likes the whole suffering misunderstood dude trope a little too much.
I read a lot of YA, but be manages to write the most over the top crap and I don't know why it is so popular.
(but I have a personal rule that I can't disparage anything I haven't read, so sometimes I read things I probably won't like, on purpose)
5:57 AM
@Randal'Thor , I don't know Finnish literature. Having learned to read there I explored every other language in some kind of perverse way. Sorry I missed your cc at the time.
Finnish is possibly the easiest language to read, phonetically, but a bramble of grammar to untangle.
And, as they say, ... many of its writers (and composers) are just dark and moody.
I was born in a bank of sunless snow. It's been uphill since then.
Finnish/Suomi/Saami/Estonian is/are also a very recent language(s) to have been codified.
So the classic literature is still almost in lyrical form.
3 hours later…
9:27 AM
LRB Bookshop has a conspiracy theory about the Griffin Poetry Prize.
@Hamlet @TML if you remember any good q/a from the old incarnation, feel free to transfer them!
9:52 AM
@Hamlet Actually that was something I meant to ask you: do you think "what is this poem all about" would be too broad? I don't really understand the meaning of the poem, but I thought asking about the whole thing might be considered too broad (even though it's only 14 lines long), so I focused on one specific question in the hope of getting an answer which provided insight into the whole thing.
(I've got what looks like a good answer now, and need to read it.)
@Hamlet In that case, it's great to see how much better we're doing this time round! Which is of course thanks in large part to people like you drumming these literary techniques into the rest of us.
1 hour later…
11:11 AM
Wow, @Peter is a real boon to this site! Two really insightful and excellent answers to two of my WWI-poetry questions. I really hope he sticks around and keeps contributing here.
You're welcome ;)
*awaits confusion*
Not sure how I failed so badly to understand what this poem was about. Maybe it was just tiredness. Now that I've read it carefully word by word, and used a dictionary a couple of times, it seems much clearer.
2 hours later…
12:56 PM
is now our top tag!
Q: Why was the early draft of "Atrocities" so significant?

Rand al'ThorSiegfried Sassoon's poem "Atrocities" (full text here) describes the murder of German prisoners by British soldiers during WWI. According to Wikipedia: The discovery in 2013 of an early draft of one of Sassoon's best-known anti-war poems ["Atrocities"] had biographers saying they would rewrit...

1:16 PM
(note to self: this and probably this need the tag removed; I'll come back to this later as I don't want to do too many edits at once)
2 hours later…
3:04 PM
@Mithrandir like I said there are only about ten answers worth transferring. As Ash said, the site failed for obvious reasons. Our time would be much better spend asking our own questions and answers.
@Randal'Thor id you should try asking it.
@Randal'Thor hope so too.
@Hamlet (did you mean to reply to a different message?)
Yeah, and TML will probably know which answers were good since they were there while it was happening
Why does #Watchmen use a strict 9-panel grid? It was @davegibbons90's decision, and for good reason. #comics https://literature.stackexchange.com/q/2558/481
3:28 PM
@Hamlet There, I've done some close reading of "The Waste Land" and popped an answer on one of your questions :-)
Let me know what you think; I've only focused on the first chapter of the poem, so I hope it doesn't turn out I'm talking nonsense.
3:42 PM
@Randal'Thor Thanks! I certainly intend to. My undergrad/graduate work was in English Literature, and I taught it at the high school level before switching to a CS/Ed Tech role.
@Mithrandir deserves credit for inspiring me to join
1 hour later…
5:12 PM
Damn it, when did George Orwell pass Neil Gaiman?
@Peter Awesome! Welcome to Literature, and The Reading Room :)
5:28 PM
@Randal'Thor it's a good first attempt. The Waste Land is a very difficult poem. While it is very amenable to close reading, it also requires other techniques to answer well.
> While a shelterless dead tree isn't necessarily evocative of hanging, the word "dead" used in juxtaposition with the idea of a tree and of being unwelcoming, no help provided, could easily put that idea across. This links up with the "Hanged Man" from later on.
I don't really think you do a good job explaining why dead + tree = hanging. You generally want to be a little bit more certain.
> Also, the inviting red rock - and the speaker doing the inviting, who may be the same as the "hyacinth girl" mentioned a few lines later - could be related to the "Lady of the Rocks".
I mean, maybe, but the only evidence that you've given here is that they both share the word "rock". You generally want to find more lines of evidence than that, particularly in a poem like The Waste Land.
> This is arguably what a tarot card reader might do. If the cards come up indicating some gruesome fate, then despite being nothing but small scraps of paper which will soon turn to dust, they can strike fear into the hearts of those who believe in them. Another potential link.
"small scraps of paper which will soon turn to dust" ??? That's not enough to go from paper to dust. Are there any passages that describe paper turning to dust, for example? (I can't think of any). You want to base your observations on what is in the text.
> The entire chapter, from its title through every stanza, has a theme of death about it. The description of the barren landscape, with its "stony rubbish", "dead tree", and "dry stone", is particularly evocative of death - we might call this place a dead landscape, and bones or a skeleton would fit neatly with the scene described. And later, in the fourth stanza, there is talk of growing corpses as if they were plants:
Yes, death is a very promenant theme in the poem. Another prominent theme, that I think you may have overlooked, is sex and reproduction.
The "growing corpses as if they were plants" is at the center of the poem's message. Crucially, it combines the two ideas: death and sex. You can't separate both themes in your analysis of the poem, they can only be considered together.
> The desert scene so evocative of death could be the site of someone's grave; the "branches grow[ing o]ut of this stony rubbish" correspond to the sprouting of the corpse referenced later on.
Here you want to talk about the storm clouds above the desert, and how it how it thunders but (crucially) doesn't rain. (To give you a few bigger hints. (1) Consider the connection between the poem and a [now debunked, but very influential at the time] anthropological theory about a fertility rite. Eliot discusses that rite several times in relation to Waste Land. Consider the fact that if it doesn't rain, the corpses/seeds can't sprout.)
> The "heap of broken images", under this interpretation, would be images of the dead person's life. It's said that you see images of your life flashing before you just before you die; and once you're dead, those images are all that's left of what used to be your life.
What? I have no idea how you got here from anything you said elsewhere in your answer. It's a plausible interpretation, but not at all supported by what's said in the poem.
> The branches growing from the grave are probably something metaphysical, perhaps symbolising eternal life after death. The "[s]on of man" cannot say or guess anything about them, for we know only the mortal life, the "heap of broken images", and are blind to what comes after it. We, the mortal children of man, see only the barren desert scene and the remains of the dead person's life, not what is sprouting from their corpse in a different dimension.
Nope, not at all. Again, you can't separate the theme of death from the theme of reproduction when talking about The Waste Land, you have to consider them together.
The Waste Land might not have been a good choice for a first poem to try close reading on, just because of how complicated the poem is. But it's a good first attempt, and I'm very happy to see you trying close reading to see what you can do with it.
In general, you want to find multiple lines of evidence when doing a close reading. It's very easy to get a false positive-- two passages share the word "rock". In a poem like The Waste Land, where every word is deliberate, it means something. But you have to find multiple connections before you can begin to interpret what it means.
2 hours later…
7:40 PM
Oh, that's so annoying. I wrote up most of a question, and some more research absolutely destroyed it. I'm debating whether to scrap it now, or post it as Q&A.
Hold on, no, I actually still have a question. Just need to significantly alter the whole question post. sigh
@Shokhet If it's a Sandman question, post it :)
@Gallifreyan No, it isn't, actually. @Mithrandir will probably have the best shot at answering it, actually
@Shokhet Then don't pollute the main page, reserve it for Sandman questions.
@Gallifreyan I actually had a Sandman Q/A drafted a little while ago, but didn't save it offline. My computer crashed, and I lost the draft because SE only sometimes saves the online post drafts :(
I also have at least one offline draft, but probably won't post it for a while because of potential spoilers.
7:56 PM
Stop answering that LotR question, people!
@Gallifreyan Wait, another one??
...maybe this is a question that needs protection.
@Shokhet hmm?
@Mithrandir You'll see :)
@Shokhet Guess who just protected it.
*raises eyebrows*
7:58 PM
I feel like a god.
@Gallifreyan Isn't it hard, though? (bad pun, sorry)
Bad puns are awesome. Don't be sorry.
Why don't we hear from Emrakul anymore? :(
Preview of “Jamie Hewlett” artbook. 400 artworks from Tank Girl to Gorillaz. Published by Taschen (December 1, 2017… https://twitter.com/i/web/status/880468621163679744
@Gallifreyan I noticed that, too. I hope everything's okay.
8:04 PM
@Gallifreyan @Emrakul hasn't been very active at all, it's true. But I've seen them... well, their 'last seen' time change...
(AKA that's a donk, Emrak)
Oohh. I'll have to do some research and see what I can dig up.
Thanks :)
I've been trying to think of a question to ask for a while. (I'll have to ask you for book recs at some point, @Mithrandir.)
(currently just reading an extremely old version of the Encyclopedia Judaica)
Q: Why was the text of "HaTikvah" changed?

Shokhet"HaTikvah," Israel's national anthem, was adopted from an earlier poem called "Tikvateinu," by Naftali Herz Imber. Here is the official text of the anthem (translation and transliteration can be found on the linked WP page): כָּל עוֹד בַּלֵּבָב פְּנִימָה נֶפֶשׁ יְהוּדִי הוֹמִיָּה,‏ וּלְפַ...

8:15 PM
@Mithrandir There's a newer version here: jewishvirtuallibrary.org/ha-tikvah
Good thinking!
It looks... exactly the same.
Although even that one is out of date. It says that the anthem hasn't been recognized by the Knesset, but it was in 2004.
Weird, though, that the article claims copyright 2008.
@Mithrandir ^^^ it probably wasn't changed at all since your version.
(I was actually playing this on the piano very recently...)
*heads to ויקיפדיה*
Which is, strangely, the name of a new hit song here. *eyeroll*
@Mithrandir Haven't heard that one yet. This one?
8:41 PM
@Gallifreyan stop freaking out, they posted something a day ago.
This. This, is a great suggestion. — Emrakul ♦ yesterday
@Hamlet I know they're alive, I just wondered why we don't meet in chat anymore.
I imagine that a good line of attack for this question would be to find the text of Doctor I. L. Metman Hacohen's change; whether it was in a book or newspaper. I'm trying to track that down, now. — Shokhet 9 secs ago
Wow, I can not scroll through several pages in Hebrew at a quarter to midnight. I'm sorry, but I can't focus enough for Wikipedia in Hebrew at this hour. WhatsApp isn't as formal writing. o_o (I should really read in Hebrew more often. It's actually a very nice language and I need to be able to communicate effectively in it since it's the language of the country...)
...I'm at a disadvantage, though, because I don't know how to spell that name in Hebrew. Is it "מטמן," "מתמאן" something else?
Heh. IL.
8:46 PM
@Mithrandir No rush :)
@Mithrandir 🇮🇱 🇮🇱 🇮🇱 :)
(On my computer, the Israeli flag emoji shows up as "IL")
@Mithrandir I also need to read more Hebrew. My skill at the language has tanked since I left; I just haven't been using it all that much.
That's why I wanted to ask you for book recs; do you know what schools read at the middle or high school level? Those books would probably help me a lot :)
...erm. I don't use the school system, like, at all, so... not really? Sorry. I just try to head to the library and pick out a book to read, and read it :P
Yeah. I knew that you and Sci were homeschooled; I was wondering if you knew what people around your age read in school. Oh well :/
@Mithrandir Oh; this is a good one. It also gives a different reason for Matmon-Cohen's (spelling?) change; to remove the Messianic connotation of King David from the song.
I have got to go now, but will look at these later. Thanks so much! :D
3 hours later…
11:58 PM
@Peter Great! We don't have all that many people here who actually hold qualifications or have professional experience in literature, so you're now one of the site's experts :-) And kudos to @Mithrandir for helping to bring you here!

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