The Best Literary Facts from the Twitterverse

I am inspired to get a pet lobster and name him “Nuances of Growth”! (or maybe Nuisance?)

Interesting Literature

Last Wednesday, we issued our 50,000 followers on Twitter with a challenge: to tweet us with the best literary fact they know. The reason for this was simple: since last December, the modestly sized research team here at Interesting Literature has been tweeting (as @InterestingLit) little facts, quotations, and links based on all aspects of literature, but one of the joys of literature is that as well as being a solitary experience (reading, writing) it can also be a social and communal interest (blogging, tweeting, discussing). And everyone who is interested in literature knows far more interesting things about it than they probably even realise themselves, so we saw this challenge as a chance for our followers to show us what they’ve got. They didn’t disappoint.

So, here are what our followers tweeted us. The author of each fact is included in brackets after the relevant tweet, placed in…

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Fright Night Villanesque

Fright Night
Fright Night (Oil and Cold Wax, 16″x16″)

Fright Night Villanesque

Strip it down bare-boned, meet the beasts head-on

The serotinal thief is cowardly

Fright night’s raging will pale when day is done

The swirly eyes feverish when light is gone

The brake lights, air bags all but memory

Strip it down bare-boned, meet the beast head-on

Sharp fangs glisten, triangles having fun

In sad abandon they blink forever uselessly

Fright night’s raging will pale when day is done

The pulse of light, a gonner, such was man

The scritching sounds of horror legs scurry

Strip them down bare, boned; meet the beast; head on

Dismembered in the day’s light, now there’s none

Just the skid marks on an easel, somewhat sunny

Fright night’s raging will pale when day is done

But lie down and dream deeply, hon

Those leglike lashes come crawling for more fun

Stripped to bare bone, meat- the beast’s head

Fright night’s whimper will pale when life is done

Coup de chapeau au Passé: J’ay perdu ma Tourterelle, translated here…(Lichtenstein too-two-II, of course…tipping the hat is so much better than tipping the cow, no?)


Susurrus (SussieRus)

Let the mindpebbles mollyslip

on the smooth sand


do not probe

do not stab at the shark pups through the bars


do not step harshly on the

coral fingers of the skull cave


softly softly catch the sea monkey


don’t go diving in that submarine

its 533 gauge torpedo tubes

have little tolerance

for the clownfish

of inquiry


slide smooth along the seabed’s undulations

embrace the susurrus

of silence

Un Petit Peu de Pushkin


Apparently, today is Take-your-poet-to-work Day…Well, it would be pretty crowded in the studio then. I have been meaning to read some more Pushkin. I have unfortunately not seen the Eugene Onegin opera, but you can listen to it here! Just as delicious, you can listen to the translated poem here, read by the inimitable Stephen Fry. The poem has been translated by various people, including Vladimir Nabokov and Douglas R. Hofstadter (of Gödel, Escher,Bach).

There is a beautiful ink self-portrait of Pushkin on the Wikipedia site:

English: Russian poet Alexander Pushkin (1799-...
English: Russian poet Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) Русский: Русский писатель и поэт Пушкин, Александр Сергеевич (1799-1837), Институт русской литературы, Санкт-Петербург (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This poem seemed apt:


Vous me demandez mon portrait,

Mais peint d’après nature :

Mon cher, il sera bientôt fait,

Quoique en miniature.

Je sais un jeune polisson

Encore dans les classes :

Point sot, je le dis sans façon

Et sans fades grimaces.

Onc, il ne fut de babillard,

Ni docteur de Sorbonne

Plus ennuyeux et plus braillard

Que moi-même en personne.

(from Poems by Alexander PushkinAleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin– January 1888, Cupples and Hurd- Publisher on Google Play)


(Another interesting resource I found, as translated by G.R Ledger: Pushkin’s Poems…)



LobTail Regrets

(h/t to Vintage Printable)
(h/t to Vintage Printable)

LobTail Regrets

Since changing into a cat

I cannot read anymore

The world has cats

and dogs

Cats that vomit up hairballs

in slime

Dogs that gobble it up

with glee

I wish there were more whales

that vomited verdigris

Is that green-grey?


(green prom dress made with love

to match my eyes

the wrong green

the wrong green

not chromium oxide green

not sap green

not olive green

the colour of seared leprechaun green)


No, Payne’s grey, verdigris

a mix of fine ash and bees wax

with kernels of golden squid beaks

Those whales, how they

spy-hop and make sweet!

I am hungry for

whale vomit

(via The Uffish Thumb)

Imogen and the Jellicle Cats

Imogen (pencil sketch), CC-BY-3
Imogen Too
Imogen Too (pencil sketch) CC-BY-3

I was reminded of a sketch I did many years ago when I read this interesting blog post on the Interesting Literature site. I always liked the name Imogen.

“3. Cymbeline. This is unusual among Shakespeare’s plays, being one of the ‘problem plays’ – named partly because the central character must face some sort of social problem (in this case, Cunobelinus, the British king – or ‘Cymbeline’ – has to deal with the Romans who have occupied Britain) and partly because the play doesn’t fit comfortably into either genre, comedy or tragedy. This play, written late in Shakespeare’s career, features the famous song ‘Fear no more the heat o’ th’ sun’ (which, despite its status as a great tragic lament, is actually sung to an empty tomb, since the character in whose honour it is performed is not actually dead).

Interesting Fact: The girls’ name Imogen derives from this play – probably from a misprint. Somewhere along the line, the pre-existing name ‘Innogen’ (meaning ‘girl, maiden’) was misread as ‘Imogen’, with the ‘nn’ being confused for a letter ‘m’. Girls named Imogen have been thankful ever since (or should be!).”

(Note that the original piece does not contain the embedded links to Wikipedia. I put them in for further context, and because I find them interesting.)

I love this tidbit From Wikipedia’s entry on Cymbeline:

“Probably the most famous verses in the play come from the funeral song of Act IV, Scene 2, which begins:

Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,
Nor the furious winter’s rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

These last two lines appear to have inspired T. S. Eliot; in “Lines to a Yorkshire Terrier” (in Five-Finger Exercises), he writes:

Pollicle dogs and cats all must
Jellicle cats and dogs all must
Like undertakers, come to dust.”