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Here's the latest installment in the regular best-of-quarter collections, the purpose of which is to gather some particularly good Literature Q&A in order to get some easily available links to showcase our site.

One use for this post could be to gather links for promotion on Literature's community-run Twitter X account. But it's also useful for any kind of site promotion - if we want to show off the site to literary friends, it'll be much easier if we have a list of particularly great posts to point to.

Please nominate some exemplary Q&A from the fourth quarter (Oct/Nov/Dec) of 2023.

(Also, if you find a great post from some previous month, feel free to go and post answers on any of the older posts linked above. The date of the meta answer doesn't matter - late entries are still more than welcome! - only the date of the post on the main site that's being nominated.)

  • When choosing nominations, please remember the primary purpose: to showcase our site to people elsewhere in the hope of maybe tempting them to come here. Let's try to focus mainly on great questions with great answers, and perhaps also great unanswered questions (which we can advertise as "hey, why not come and answer this") - not anything with subpar answers, which will tend to give a bad impression and defeat the purpose.
  • Remember that votes don't necessarily reflect quality, and the purpose of this is to promote quality over score. Highly-voted posts are easy to find, underappreciated gems less so.
  • Getting a wide range of different stories represented in our list here would also be nice, but not strictly necessary - feel free to nominate a bunch of Q&A about the same book, if you think they're all outstanding. But don't nominate questions just because they're about your favourite book.
  • Multiple nominated posts per answer here is fine.
  • Feel free to nominate either some of your own posts which you're particularly proud of, or posts from other people which really impressed you.
  • Ideally, some explanation of why the nominated questions and answers are so good would be useful - constructive feedback might give people ideas about what to aim for in the future.
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As for my own answers, I think this belated one to What does "pull down the blinds" mean in Yeats's poem "The Mountain Tomb"? is accurate while the accepted one is at least incomplete. And I enjoyed researching and writing up this answer to Rand al'Thor's question Was there a unified "First World War poetry" movement (during the war itself)?, because it rebuts a polemical argument and exemplifies a very verbose way of saying "Yes".

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There are two answers of Gareth that involve disentangling games of whispers that I find absolutely amazing.

The first one is his answer to the question "There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings" — where does this Dostoyevsky quote come from?" (This was already suggested as a best answer by verbose.) Gareth shows how the Russian line meaning “No, because I’m unworthy of my suffering.” was translated through French and German to become the line in question.

The second one is his answer "Did George Bernard Shaw write the poem 'Living Grave'?" where he shows that the poem was misattributed because of a misunderstanding of a passage by Isadora Duncan.

And in the previous quarter, in response to my question "What evidence do we have that, after her death, Christina Rossetti's brother destroyed some of her poems before he published the rest?" he brilliantly disentangled another chain of whispers, which had led to the belief that her brother William Rossetti destroyed some of Christina's poems because they revealed lesbian inclinations. This was nominated for a best answer in the 3rd quarter best answer post.

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  • Thanks for posting about these! Would you like to post the last one as an answer to the 3rd quarter meta post? Also, I think your second nomination is missing a link.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Jan 7 at 19:32
  • @Rand al'Thor: I had a formatting error that kept the link from appearing; many thanks for pointing out it was missing. (And the last question and answer are already in the 3rd quarter meta post.)
    – Peter Shor
    Jan 7 at 19:37

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