Monday, April 13, 2009

Literary References

“Man is a creature who lives not upon bread alone, but primarily by catchwords.” –Robert Louis Stevenson

I ran across an interesting list on, 11 Literary References People Make Without Realizing It. I thought I’d share a few of my favorites:

Women: Can't live with them, can't live without them. I would assume that few, if any, people realize that this isn't a quote from "I Love Lucy" or a Borscht Belt comedian... it's actually from "Lysistrata", a Greek comedy written by Aristophanes... back in 411 B.C.The translations vary, but the most commonly accepted one is "These impossible women! How they do get around us! How true the saying: 'Can't live with them, or without them.'"


Siren song. When we talk about women luring us in through their sweet, sweet voices (like, for instance, my mysterious and inexplicable love of Kelly Clarkson), we talk about their siren song.Which, of course, is a reference to the sirens of Greek mythology, most notably mentioned during the non-boring portion of Homer's "Odyssey".(He also popularized "cyclops." There you go. This entry is a two-for-one. I should go register now.)


Yahoo. We know it either as a way to describe an idiot or as the Betamax of search engines. But... yahoo is really a term that was coined by Jonathan Swift in "Gulliver's Travels".In the book, Gulliver ends up in a country ruled by horses... where they boss around deformed, brutish, primitive humans, called Yahoos. That's how the term yahoo entered the cultural lexicon as a way to describe low-brow humans. And, apparently, the guys who founded picked that name because they felt the word yahoo described the unsophisticated, undeveloped Internet at that time.


Blood on my hands. This comes from "Macbeth". Little tip for future games of Trivial Pursuit: Anytime there's any Shakespeare quote about blood, it's probably from "Macbeth". That play was blood CRAZY, man. It's like Shakespeare's "Saw 2".
Do you have a favorite literary reference?

Thanks for stopping by.


Anonymous said...

Interesting bits of literary history, Jane!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Never knew!

And the only references going through my head at the moment are movie ones. Pretty sure "I'll be back" really IS from 'The Terminator' as well!

L. Diane Wolfe

Helen Ginger said...

The only one I knew was the Macbeth one. Thanks for the lesson.


Morgan Mandel said...

You do come up with some great research on wonderful topics, Jane.

Morgan Mandel

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world