The Dark Origins Of Children’s Fairy Tales

This is a guest post by Melissa Lobo. Many of the children’s stories that abound today involve charming main characters accompanied by silly (and only sometimes smart) sidekicks who, though they learn an important lesson on the way, end their adventures with a neat-and-tidy happily ever after. Nonetheless, this type of plot device has not […]

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Does That Sound Familiar?

Murray Leinster, in his 1946 science fiction story entitled A Logic Named Joe, seemed to anticipate the advent of the Internet. Most of his description of what would be called the Internet in the near future were spot on. Here is an extract:

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The Entire Corpus of T. S. Eliot

In 1948, when T. S. Eliot was heading to Stockholm, Sweden to receive the Nobel Prize, an American reporter asked which of his books did they award the Nobel Prize for. “I believe it’s given for the entire corpus,” Eliot replied. “And when did you publish that?” the reporter said. “It really might make a […]

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Gleanings From The Past #56

Living Forever I recently visited an Eastern sage and asked him, ‘Is it possible to live for ever?’ ‘Certainly,’ he replied, ‘You must undertake to do two things.’ ‘What are they?’ ‘Firstly, you must never again make any false statements.’ ‘That’s simple enough. What is the second thing I must do?’ ‘Every day you must […]

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Rejection Letter From A Chinese Editor

The following is said to be an exact translation of the letter sent by a Chinese editor to a would-be contributor whose manuscript he found it necessary to return: Illustrious brother of the sun and moon: Behold thy servant prostrate before thy feet. I kowtow to thee, and beg that of thy graciousness thou mayst […]

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A Hecatomb Of Oxen Or: Pythagoras’s Sacrifice

“Pythagoreans Celebrate the Sunrise” by Fyodor Bronnikov 1869 Legend has it that when the Greek philosopher Pythagoras discovered the Pythagorean theorem (the famous right-triangle theorem you probably first heard in algebra class then never heard it again until now), he celebrated by sacrificing a hecatomb (100 heads) of oxen to the gods. This event was […]

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Gleanings From The Past #51

Prediction Imagine the theatre of the future. […] [T]he masses will no doubt go to the theatre much as they do now. Only instead of seeing a company of actors and actresses, more or less mediocre, engaged in the degrading task of repeating time after time the same words, the same gestures, the same actions, […]

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“Successful And Fortunate Crime Is Called Virtue” And Other Parallels In Literature

Seneca the Younger While reading Edward Walker’s Historical Discourses (1705), the following sentence he quoted got my attention: Prosperum ac felix scelus, virtus vocatur. Walker neglected to provide the source of the quote. However, I am pretty sure that he was referring to the passage from the tragedy Hercules Furens (The Madness of Hercules) written […]

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Gleanings From The Past #49

Procrastination To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this petty pace, from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time! And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. — William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5

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A Misquoted Couplet

While reading an interesting article written by former UK Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone titled “Kin Beyond Sea” in The North American Review, Vol. 127, September-October 1878, I noticed a misquotation. He misquoted the following couplet from Reginald Heber’s long poem Palestine (1803): No hammer fell, no ponderous axes rung, Like some tall palm the mystic fabric sprung. […]

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