Key Facts about Steppenwolf

First published in Germany in 1927 and translated into English in 1929, Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf has endured a fairly harsh mix of critical receptions. First criticized as immoral for its open depictions of sex and drug use, these judgements eased as cultural norms began to change by the 1960s. Later critics criticized the novel for being too … Read more

Key Facts about The Prince

The extreme positions advanced in Machiavelli’s The Prince have been the subject of debate ever since it was written. Scholars in the 18th Century, unable to accept such an unrestrained endorsement of murder and tyranny, made the case that the work was actually political satire. Other scholars insist that though Machiavelli’s ideas are immoral and extreme, they were … Read more

Key Facts about Anne of Green Gables

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables has been so enormously popular that there is literally an entire industry attached to the novel. Museums, replicas of the farm, postage stamps, tourism centers—virtually a world of merchandise, books, and other entertainment media have followed in the wake of this novel. In a 2003 survey called The Big Read, … Read more

Key Facts about To Kill a Mockingbird

When the novel To Kill a Mockingbird was out, it became an immediate success, which greatly surprised its author. However, the reviews varied. Some reviewers liked the author’s style, called her a skilled writer and found the book nationally significant; other found the book childish, melodramatic, or even immoral. Some noted than a six-year-old protagonist cannot think … Read more

As I Lay Dying

Key Facts Full title: As I lay Dying Author: William Faulkner Genre: Satire, rural comedy, tragedy, Southern Gothic Narrator: First person narration, split between fifteen different characters The Movie:  As I Lay Dying is a 2013 American film, directed by and starring James Franco. The movie is largely based on the William Faulkner novel of the same name, originally published … Read more

Key Facts about Atlas Shrugged

The novel is fundamentally an exploration of Rand’s philosophy of rational selfishness, the belief that all virtue and vice is basically an expression of reason and that we are at root motivated by selfish impulses. To think otherwise is naïve and dangerous. Rand is at great pains to run counter to Marxism and the idea … Read more

Key Facts about Alice in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll, or Charles Dodgson, got the beginnings of Alice in Wonderland during an outing with the three young daughters of Henry Liddell, the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University and Dean of Christ Church. As they rowed a boat on the river, Dodgson invented the tale to amuse the young girls, and one of them, Alice Liddell, asked … Read more

Key Facts of Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Full Title: Tess of the d’Urbervilles Author: Thomas Hardy Time of Writing: 1880’s, England Date of First Publication: 1891 Setting: Wessex, Southwest of England Conflict: Tess is seduced, left pregnant and then abandoned by the son of a wealthy family, making her true love unable to accept her as worthy later in life.

The Stranger Keys Facts

First published in 1941, the novel went through several editorial changes due in some part to the explosive nature of the times. The looming threat of Nazi censorship impacted everything in Europe during this time. It was eventually published in 1942 in its final form. The 1946 version translated by Stuart Gilbert became the standard … Read more

Key Facts about The Awakening

The Awakening was the second and last novel written by Kate Chopin who was originally named Katherine O’Flaherty. Chopin was severely criticized for her feminist writing and especially of her portrayal of a woman having extramarital affairs which was considered outrageous at the time. Kate Chopin was brought up in a matriarchal household and was surrounded … Read more

Key Facts About Heart of Darkness

Complete title: Heart of Darkness Written By: Joseph Conrad Genre: Symbolism, adventure tale, colonial literature Time and Place of writing: England in 1899 Date of first publication: Blackwood’s Magazine, 1899. Later published in the volume Youth: A Narrative; and Two Other Stories in 1902 Major Conflict: Marlow and Kurtz face conflict between their views of themselves as civilized men and the … Read more

Key Facts about The Sun Also Rises

The novel is based on Hemingway’s trip to Spain in 1925 in which he experienced European café life and the running of the bulls in Pamplona. He wrote the novel in about two months, spending just a few months on revisions. It was published in 1926. The novel is an example of the Roman a clef, … Read more

Key Facts about Le Morte d’Arthur

The origins and authorship of Le Morte d’Arthur are murky. There were numerous people who went by the name of Thomas Mallory around the time of the publication of the book. Scholars generally agree the author was one “Knyght presoner Thomas Malleorre” (“Sir Thomas Maleore” according to Caxton), born in 1416, who was the actual author of … Read more

Key Facts about The Pearl

Key Facts John Steinbeck wrote and published The Pearl in 1947 as his 11th novel. The novel was adapted from a folk tale that the author had heard while on a trip to Mexico in 1940. The author did not intend to create a novel and was actually meaning to write a film script instead. With the direction … Read more

Key Facts About The Things They Carried

Full Title: The Things They Carried Written by: Tim O’Brien Type of Literary Work: A collection of short stories Genre: War stories, memory stories Date of first publication: 1990 Narrator: Tim O’Brien Tone: The Things They Carried is an meditative depiction of the methods and reasons for storytelling. The narrator is often unreliable, speaking of the necessity of crossing the lines between … Read more

Symbols, Important Quotes and Key Facts Lolita

Symbols The Theatre: The theatre is symbolic of artistry and artifice. Humbert blames Lolita’s newly learned ability to lie on her participation in a school play. Quilty uses that same school play to convince Lolita to come with him. Lolita is drawn to the theatre because of Quilty. This is particularly upsetting for Humbert, as he … Read more

Key Facts about the Little Prince

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry used his love for doodling to create his own watercolor illustrations for The Little Prince. The Little Prince was first published in the U.S in English and French but would be later translated into over 250 languages. The French version of the novel was titled Le Petit Prince. It is said that the … Read more

Key Facts about The Handmaid’s Tale

Key facts Margaret Atwood’s novel was originally titled Offred. The atmosphere of paranoia in Atwood’s novel was inspired by  Orwell’s 1984 as well as her experience of feeling as if she was being spied on when she was writing the novel in 1984 in West Berlin before the fall of the Berlin wall. The novel won the … Read more

Key Facts about Brave New World

Much of Huxley’s novel was directly inspired by places and things that really existed. Huxley visited San Francisco in 1920s and was struck by what he saw as rampant consumerism and unrestricted promiscuity in American youth culture. He saw this type of mass behavior as indicative of the world to come, a world driven entirely … Read more

Key Facts about Wuthering Heights

The novel was written between 1845 and 1846 and was published by Emily Brontë herself, after being rejected by many publishers. Brontë, aware of the patriarchal society at the time, wrote under the male pseudonym Ellis Bell. Wuthering Heights was inspired by the surroundings of the author as she lived on the moors and also by the … Read more

Key Facts About Doctor Faustus

Full working title: The Tragicall History of D. Faustus and later, The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus. Author: Christopher Marlowe Type of Work: Play Narrator: None, however, the Chorus appears between scenes to offer background information and to provide commentary Point of View: Dr. Faustus is the central figure of the play, there are multiple long soliloquies … Read more

Key Facts about The Outsiders

Title: The Outsiders. Author: S.E. Hinton. Genre: Coming of age, struggle between socio-economic classes. Time written: Tulsa, 1960. Point of View: First-person narrative by Ponybo. Major conflict: The clash between the lower-class greasers and the upper-class Socs (or Socials), Ponyboy’s own struggle to grow and mature. Rising action: Johnny murders a Soc, He and Ponyboy go into hiding, The tension between the … Read more

Key Facts About Beowulf

Beowulf is written in Old English. Though this is English in the most technical sense, it would be unrecognizable to a modern reader. We can read Chaucer’s Middle English with a little help from a glossary of terms, but Old English resembles a completely foreign language. Here is a sample from the opening lines of the … Read more

Key Facts About Night

Key Facts Complete title: Night Written by: Elie Wiesel Genre: WW2 and Holocaust memoir Language: The book was originally 800 pages long, and written in Yiddish. It’s original title was Un di Velt Hot Geshvign (And the World Remained Silent) Time of Writing: Night was written in Paris in 1950. The author had previously taken a ten year vow of silence, … Read more

Key Facts about Flowers for Algernon

Key Facts According to Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon is a product of 14 years of thought formation. Keyes first published Flowers for Algernon as a short story in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction  in 1959 and won a Hugo Award for Best Short Story. The novel only came as an extended and more in depth version of … Read more

Their Eyes Were Watching God Symbols and Key Facts

Symbols Hair As is the case in many novels with strong African-American characters, hair plays an important role in Their Eyes Were Watching God. To Janie, her hair is a symbol of power and identity. It is representative of her individuality and strength in three ways. Initially, her hair is representative of her independence and refusal to … Read more

Key Facts About The Odyssey

Complete title: The Odyssey Written by: Homer (although some believe that there were multiple authors) Classification: Poetry Language of Origin: Ancient Greek Time and Place of Original Text: Presumed to be 700 BCE, Greece Point of View: Narrated in third person. The narrator regularly offers insights into the thoughts and emotions of minor characters, gods and mortals. Protagonist: Odysseus Rising Conflict: Odysseus has … Read more

Key Facts of Things Fall Apart

The bulk of the novel is set in a fictional village based on Achebe’s birthplace of Ogidi. His actual village comprised an Igbo-speaking people. This was a society of independent villages united under the legal authority of a counsel of elders. Set in the 1890s, the events in the novel mirror the rapid transformation of … Read more

Key Facts About A Doll’s House

Full title: A Doll’s House Written By: Henrik Ibsen Type of Work: Play Original Language: Norwegian Time and Place Written: Rome, Italy 1879 Major Conflict: Nora’s continued struggle with Krogstad, who threatens to out her to her husband, provokes her path to self discovery and creates most of the dramatic suspense of the play. Nora’s main conflict, though, is with the … Read more

Key Facts about Death of a Salesman

Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, published in 1949, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play the same year. It premiered on Broadway in February of 1949 and ran for almost 800 performances. It is still considered one of the best examples of 20th Central American Drama. Death of a Salesman has been … Read more

Les Misérables Important Quotes, Symbolism and Key Facts

Important Quotes “Valjean strained his eyes in the distance and called out…”Petit Gervais!…” His cries died away into the mist, without even awakening an echo…[H]is knees suddenly bent under him, as if an invisible power suddenly overwhelmed him with the weight of his bad conscience; he fell exhausted…and cried out, “I’m such a miserable man!” … Read more

The Tempest Symbolism and Key Facts

Symbolism of the Book Prospero’s Cloak and BooksProspero’s cloak and books are revealed as the authentic source of his magical ability. Only twice does he remove his cloak; when he is explaining to Miranda their history and her true identity and again, at the end of the play, when he chooses to give up his … Read more

The Catcher in the Rye Symbolism and Key Facts

Symbolism Prep School The image of the prep school embodies all of Holden’s attitudes. The prep school veneer of perfection that conceals a world of inconsistency and hypocrisy is the primary symbol of all of Holden’s attitudes. Even the way the schools are advertised are a lie to Holden. Holden explains that Pencey Prep shows … Read more

Key Facts about Hamlet

First published in 1603, in a pirated quarto edition titled The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet and then in 1604 in a superior quarto edition. Hamlet is probably the most famous of Shakespeare’s tragedies. The source of the story of Hamlet is actually quite old. Some scholars date the tale of a hero-as-fool tale to classical antiquity. The most likely … Read more

Frankenstein Symbolism and Key Facts

Symbolism of Frankenstein The book uses some Christian imagery, referring to Victor Frankenstein as the “Creator”, thus comparing him to God, and comparing the Creature to Adam, the first man whom God created. Victor is also compared to Prometheus, a rebellious Titan from Ancient Greek mythology, and Prometheus, in his turn, shares many common features with Satan … Read more

Important Quotes and Key Facts in Grapes of Wrath

“I got thinkin’ how we was holy when we was one thing, an’ mankin’ was holy when it was one thing. An’ it on’y got unholy when one mis’able little fella got the bit in his teeth an’ run off his own way, kickin’ an’draggin’ an’ fightin’. Fella like that bust the holi-ness. But when … Read more

Symbolism and Key Facts in 1984 by George Orwell

Symbolism Big Brother This is both the source of all power in the novel but also the symbol of the “benevolent dictatorship” of the party. It is a source of fear and the symbol of brotherly affection the Party holds toward the people. This is Orwell’s condemnation of central authority and the abuse they represent. … Read more

Symbolism and Key Facts in The Crucible by Arthur Miller

Symbolism The witch hunt is perhaps the most significant symbol in the play. The because the play deals with historical problems that attend the House Committee on Un-American Activities and the hunt for communists in American society, the entirety of the witch hunt stands as symbol for this series of events. As the play enacts … Read more

Animal Farm Key Facts

Complete working title: Animal Farm – A Fairy StoryDate of writing: 1944 to 1945Location of writing: EnglandDate of original publication: 1945Genre: Novel, Allegory, Fairy TaleLocation: A small farm in early 20th century EnglandRising moment: When the pigs stand on their hind feet and the sheep can be heard echoing “Four legs good, two legs better!”Main Character: … Read more

Key Facts About Pride and Prejudice

First published in 1813, Pride and Prejudice is Jane Austen’s second novel. It was written in 1797-1798 when she was only 21. Originally titled First Impressions the novel quickly made its way into print. It is written in the epistolary format, which is in the form of letters, that was extremely popular at the time. … Read more

All Quiet on the Western Front Key Facts about the Book

The novel was first published from November to December 1928 in the German newspaper Vossische Zeitung. It was first published in book form in late January 1929 and enjoyed great popularity in the whole world. It was translated into 22 languages just 18 month after its publication. This book and its sequel, The Road Back (1930), were … Read more

Key Facts About The Great Gatsby Book

The Great Gatsby is a great book that changed the destiny of its author and the course of American literature development in general. It’s a must read and you will never regret spending time on it. But if the class is in five minutes and you need a quick overview of the text, here are … Read more

Key Facts about Fahrenheit 451

The title is derived from Bradbury’s opinion that book paper catches fire and burns at temperature of Fahrenheit 451. Depending on paper type the temperature of burning can vary from 440 to 740 ºF. Fahrenheit 451 was written and published in 1953. It took nine days for Bradbury to finish the first draft called The … Read more