Well, asking and answering about well-known English and foreign-language literature work is frequent here; English works need no explanation, but those famous foreign works have been translated into English. For example, The Count of Monte Cristo which was written by French writer Alexander Duma.

But what about, for example, a not-so-well-known work from a Portuguese author that hasn't been translated to English yet?

Also, what about a translated or originally English work that isn't well-known yet?

  • 1
    From the help centre: "We interpet ‘literature’ in a broad sense, including written, spoken and sung works, in all genres, languages and forms". We've even had a question about a story that was never published and was just written for a Stack Exchange writing challenge!
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 13:43
  • Well that question you linked turned out to be a desperately sad biographical account rather that a short story. Shame the writer of it kept to comments rather than giving an authoritative answer,
    – Spagirl
    Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 15:06

3 Answers 3


As long as the question is about a work of literature within the scope defined in the help centre, it is on-topic. Works of literature, in general, are on-topic, and their fame, acclaim, or original language do not change that.

That being said, on-topicness aside, when asking about a relatively obscure work of literature (be it because it's new, or fell through the cracks of history, or isn't available in some "common" language), there's always the problem of getting the answers to your question.

So asking the question isn't a problem. Getting answers might be, but please don't let that stop you from asking.


Yes, questions about authors or works that are not famous are definitely on topic. What is on topic is based on the rather liberal criteria we have defined for "literature", not on "fame", which varies over time and space. Works that were once famous have fallen into oblivion; works that are famous in one part of the world are completely unknown elsewhere. For this reason, "fame" cannot be used as a criterion for the site's scope.

Since the language of the site is English, i.e. questions and answers are written in English, questions about specific passages in a foreign language should contain a translation of those passages. It does not matter whether that translation has been published somewhere or whether you wrote it yourself. Of course, it is not feasible to include translations of longer works.

The majority of the questions that have been submitted so far are about works originally published in English. However, we have topic challenges or reading challenges with the specific goal to encourage people to read works that are a bit outside their bailiwick. Submitting questions about non-English works is also encouraged outside of our topic challenges.


It's actually surprisingly difficult to determine what constitutes a "famous" work. Is it the number of sales? Is it its later influence? Is it how many people have heard of it? What about a book like, for example, The City of God, where the number of people who have heard of the book far exceeds the number of people that have actually read it? How do you even determine how many people have heard of a book? Are we going to send out a survey every time we want to post a question?

It can be extremely difficult to tell how many people have heard of a book, or what the direct or indirect influence of a book has been. For many older books, it can be difficult or impossible to determine how many people have read it or even what total sales have been. For example, how many people in ancient Greece read Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics? What were its total sales? How many people read it between 1600 and 1610? Obviously, most people would acknowledge that as a famous and influential book, but the point is even for such a well-known book it's simply not possible to quantify exactly how well-known or influential it is.

There are so many edge cases, and so many cases where it's difficult or impossible to tell how "famous" a book is, that it would be impossible to set any kind of general standard for this.

If someone posts a question about a book that you feel isn't worth considering, you are, of course, free to downvote the question, but we really can't set a general standard for a book not being well-known enough to be on-topic.

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