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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 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 second quarter (Apr/May/Jun) of 2024.

(Also, if you find anything from previous months, 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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  • Questions without answers; answers.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Jul 5 at 14:26
  • @Tsundoku why only questions without answers? Surely a good q is a good q whether or not it has been answered?
    – verbose
    Commented Jul 12 at 20:24
  • @verbose "perhaps also great unanswered questions" (quoted from the post). Anyone can come up with other queries, but questions without answers have obviously received less attention than questions with answers.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Jul 12 at 21:34

2 Answers 2

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I'll nominate a Q&A exchange that I found very interesting, When or where did Gustave Flaubert say that Alexander Pushkin's work was "dull"? No less than four high quality answers were posted, with new user David eventually tracking the quotation down to an anecdote from Nikolaj Berg.

On a personal note, I thoroughly enjoyed attempting to untangle the content of Emily Jane Pfeiffer’s sonnet ‘To the Blind Architect of the City of Life', and uncover the science within.

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I'd like to nominate the question Did Tolkien invent Bilbo saving the Dwarves but forgetting about himself? and its answer.

In the question, Wastrel recalls how, in the Hobbit, to escape the elves, Bilbo seals all the dwarves in barrels and floats them down the river. However, Bilbo can't seal himself in a barrel, so he needs to find another method to escape — he puts on his ring of invisibility and clings onto a barrel. Wastrel asks the question: is this the first time in literature that somebody invents a method of escape that works for everybody but themself?

The answer, by b_jonas, shows that the same scenario happens in The Odyssey. Odysseus and his men are trapped in a cave by the blind cyclops Polyphemus. Odysseus ties Polyphemus's rams together in threes, and ties each man to the underside of the middle ram. Thus, Polyphemus will not be able to feel the men, as he will only be able to feel the undersides of the two outside sheep.

However, as the comments note, Odysseus can't use this method on himself because it's impossible to tie three sheep together and then tie oneself to the bottom of the middle one. So he simply clings onto one sheep and hopes Polyphemus doesn't investigate that particular sheep.

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