This post is a continuation of the grand old tradition (well, one quarter old) of gathering collections of particularly good Literature Q&A, so that we have some easily available links to show off to people.

Now that Literature has a community-run Twitter account, one obvious use for this post will be to gather links for tweeting. 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 2017.

  • 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"), but 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.

2 Answers 2


There are a few particular users I'd like to give recognition to for their excellent answers this quarter.

Experts in specific works of literature

DVK was our resident expert for April's topic challenge, and he provided some great Hard to Be a God answers. Others did too, of course, but the following answers really stood out for the amount of work put into them, the first two analysing an issue from many different angles and using knowledge of the real-world cultural context, and the third going into a lot of detail with a whole list of differences.

Metro Boomin, a relatively new arrival on the site, quickly made their mark by providing a couple of thoughtful and well-written answers to To Kill a Mockingbird questions.

Experts on a wide range of topics

Gilles wrote some detailed answers displaying knowledge on a broad range of subjects.

Peter has been a member of the site for a while, but only started contributing recently, and very quickly made it clear that he's a great asset we should keep hold of.

  • Why did the Seed-Merchant thank God? - this brilliant analysis completely convinced me of his interpretation; by performing a close reading of the lines leading up to the end of the poem, he made perfect sense of what had previously seemed very opaque and ambiguous.
  • Who is the speaker in “The Unreturning”? - another great answer which massively increased my appreciation and even basic understanding of the poem, as well as using his broader knowledge of sonnets and intertextual references to support his case.
  • What is the “heap of broken images” in The Waste Land? - having tried to answer this question, I know first-hand how difficult it is to analyse The Waste Land; but Peter has studied this poem extensively and was able to provide a very interesting interpretation backed up with knowledge of the historical and cultural context around it.
  • What is your criteria for including answers on this list?
    – user111
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 14:22
  • 3
    @Hamlet I don't really have well-defined criteria. I actually hate answering these "best of" meta posts, because I know there'll always be some posts I've forgotten and there's no definitive way of selecting the 'best' ones. This is just some people whom I remember as particularly impressing me, and their best answers from Q2. I may edit this answer later if I remember more great posts that have slipped my mind currently.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 14:28
  • I agree with including DVK's and Gilles' answers to my HtBaG questions. DVK rocked the challenge :), and while I don't fully agree with Gilles' answer, it is as plausible an explanation as the others (maybe more so, depending on the reader). (That doesn't mean I don't support other nominations - I just lack the knowledge to judge). Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 18:07

In general, I give bounties to answers that meet my criteria for an excellent answers. So if you want to see what answers I think are the best, take a look at my profile.

My criteria for "excellent answers" are the same as they always are.

  1. Good, clear writing.
  2. Is correct in the big picture sense and the little details sense.
  3. Broad in scope, meaning that it answers the specific question, but does so in a way that it illuminates a broader aspect of the text or the text's place in society.
  4. Bonus points if the answer considers an overlooked perspective.

So here are the nomination for this quarter:

  1. Matt Thrower's excellent answer to Language in A View from the Bridge. It does a great job explaining and breaking down the language used in that passage.

  2. Gilles answer to Why is the tense wrong in the beginning of The Stranger?: again, another great look at the implications of word choice.

  3. Peter's answer to Who is the speaker in "The Unreturning"?: an excellent example of close reading.

I would also like to nominate two of my own answers, which I personally think are quite good:

  1. Why does the poem "Naming of Parts" contrast war with nature?

  2. How can the Huexotzinco Codex be read?

What I like about these answers is that they don't just answer the question asked; they answer the question in a way that teaches the reader a different way of looking at literature. I think that's something these answers have in common with the best answers on this site.

I also think the tag deserves an honorable mention. You can't talk about poetry without also talking about scansion, and I've been doing my best to write some quality questions and answers, with the hope of making this site a resource that others can consult to learn more about the topic.

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