Tag: literature

Kafka

Carefully constructed: the language of Franz Kafka

A few months ago I took part in a discussion of Kafka on Melvyn Bragg’s radio programme In Our Time. One of the other participants asserted that Kafka’s style describes horrific events in the emotionally deadpan tone of a bureaucrat report. This struck me immediately as wrong in lots of ways. I didn’t disagree, because […]

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golden compass

The language of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of Northern Lights (published in the US as The Golden Compass), the first novel in Philip Pullman’s hugely successful His Dark Materials trilogy. In the preface, the author tells us that the story is set in a universe ‘like ours, but different in many ways’. One […]

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utopia

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classics

Quiz: which classic should you read next?

To celebrate World Book Day, we’ve put together a quiz to help you determine which of six Oxford World’s Classics titles you should line up for your next read. Take the quiz and see which title you get… Whether or not you’re convinced by your result, why not join the Oxford World’s Classics Reading Group? […]

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teenager_large

Tweens, teens, and twentysomethings: a history of words for young people

In August 2010, the cover of the New York Times Magazine half-wondered, half-complained to the world, “Why are so many people in their 20s taking so long to grow up?” The article was a splashy survey of research being conducted by psychology professor Jeffrey Arnett into what he called “emerging adulthood”—better known as “your twenties.” […]

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Poe and Lovecraft

The inventive words and worlds of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft

To celebrate this week’s birthday of H.P. Lovecraft, one of Gothic horror’s most acclaimed authors, here is a brief look into the contributions H.P. Lovecraft and fellow Gothic writer Edgar Allan Poe have made to the English language. Poe’s words Though Edgar Allan Poe, the progenitor of the modern day horror genre (across all mediums), […]

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language identity

Does learning a second language lead to a new identity?

Every day I get asked why second language learning is so hard and what can be done to make it easier. One day a student came up to me after class and asked me how his mother could learn to speak English better. She did not seem to be able to break through and start […]

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Poetry quiz

Can you match these famous first lines to the right poems?

Many of us have memorized a poem in our day—and may even be able to call it quickly to mind right now. However, even if it’s difficult to recall at will the verses you had recited carefully in school, often all it takes is the first line or two for the entire poem to come […]

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