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English Literature

Do you enjoy novels? If so, you are not alone! Novels are a highly popular form of literature, which generates a large readership around the world. Many novelists choose English because it is a global language used by approximately 15% of the world's population.

Novelists prepared for writing/popular novelists StudySmarterAn open notebook and a pen, pixabay.

Who is a Novelist?

Novelists are authors who write novels. Some novelists exclusively write novels, while others like Margaret Atwood write poetry, novellas, and short stories.

Key features of the novel:

  • They are long and can be published in the form of a book.
  • They contain a fictitious prose narrative which is usually centred around key characters and driven by a main plot.
  • They focus on character development and the exploration of the human psyche. The characterisation is arguably just as important as the plot.

In his book, The Rise of The Novel (1957), Ian Watts argues that the first English Language novel is Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (1719), a claim which is generally accepted by literary critics. The novel is about the realities of human emotion and experience, such as jealousy, infatuation, and disillusionment as the protagonist is trapped on an island.

The following novels are considered classics due to the significant contribution they made to literature: Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (1878), Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), and H.G. Wells' Invisible Man (1952). Can you think of any more?

A timeline of the development of the Novel in the UK

Time period/literary movements.

Key developments.

Examples of novelists.

Renaissance

(1500-1660)

During the Elizabethan Age (1558-1603) of the Renaissance, prose fiction often contained long narratives that followed highly idealised characters and were early attempts at the Novel form.

John Lyly's Eupheus: The Anatomy of Wit (1578) is an epistolary book (structured as a series of letters) that is also considered to be an early English novel. It belongs to the genre of romance.

Neoclassical

(1600–1785)

Restoration

(1660-1700)

Augustan Age (1700-1745)

The Age of Sensibility

(1745-1785)

Early English novels often focus on inner turmoil and morality struggles. The novel of manners arose during the Neoclassical period and was highly popular in the first half of the 19th century. The literary genre involves a conflict between individual desires and socially/spiritually accepted behaviour.

The use of satire was highly popular in this period.

Samuel Richardson's epistolary novel Pamela (1741) follows the fate of a morally virtuous domestic servant who rejects her employers' many attempts to seduce her and make her his mistress. He eventually marries her and becomes a reformed character.

Jonathan Swift used satire in his novel Gulliver's Travels (1726) to criticise England's government and politics and to draw attention to the flaws of the monarchy.

Romantic

(1785-1832)

The Gothic and Historical novels emerged from the Romantic period. Another key development was the increasing number of female novelists.

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) is an example of a Gothic novel from the Romantic period.

Victorian

(1832-1901)

Victorian novels were often characterised by high levels of realism, where novelists attempt to recreate life right down to the small details and create well-rounded characters. It also focuses on the plight of ordinary people and ordinary conflicts.

Charles Dickens's novels were highly popular. In his semi-autobiographical novel, David Copperfield (1849), the protagonist experiences profound changes in fortune, living at times in middle-class comfort and, at others, in poverty.

Edwardian

(1901-1914)

This literary period saw many different forms of literature to celebrate the imaginative possibilities of new scientific discoveries and technologies.

This era satisfied its readership's curiosity about the wider world with science fiction, travel literature, and colonial romance novels.

HG Wells' War of the Worlds (1897) describes an alien invasion. Wells is frequently considered to be the father of science fiction.

A Room with a View (1908) by EM Forster is a quintessential form of Edwardian travel literature. It is set partly in Italy and in Britain.

Modern

(1914-present)

Inspired by WW1, the horrors of the war and social changes influenced the development of a lot of novel forms. Modernist novelists wanted the modern novel to reflect the essence of the times: the constant change and need for adaptation. They did this by experimenting with perspective, structure, and form in both novels and poetry.

Novels during this period often focused on personal and subjective experiences, using multiple perspectives or stream-of-consciousness narratives to represent the 'realistic' way people's thoughts appear.

During this period, Virginia Woolf published her first novel Voyage Out (1915). This novel features an uncommon narrative style called stream-of-consciousness narration which switches between different characters.

Other notable modernist novelists include James Joyce, Aldous Huxley, DH Lawrence, and Dorothy Richardson.

Postmodern

(1945–Present)

Postmodernist novelists take concepts that had previously been considered to have absolute meaning (such as gender, reality, and truth) and transform them into opportunities for reevaluation. Postmodern novels are open-ended, often unpredictable, and interpreted to have multiple meanings that question reality and memory.

Postmodernist novelists are often characterised by their use of parody and intertextuality.

Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus (1984) is a prime example of the postmodernist rejection of absolute truth. This novel employs magic realism and centres around an aerialist who claims to have real wings.

Angela Carter's A Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (1979) parodies the style of fairy stories and folk tales to question gendered roles in storytelling.

Summaries of popular Novelists

Here are some brief summaries of several popular novelists that we will cover and the literary movements they were a part of. These include classic English novelists, contemporary English novelists, and influential novelists from around the world who write in the English Language.

Jane Austen (1775-1817)

During her lifetime, Austen published her novels anonymously, signing them 'by a lady'. This was common practice for female novelists of her social class (gentry) during the regency period, as they weren't expected to openly engage in paid work.

Jane Austen wrote her novels during the Romantic Period (1785–1832), however, her works are very conservative. They are more characteristic of the Neoclassical period's Age of Sensibility (1745-1785), which brought us the novel of manners and celebrated the use of satire.

Novel of manners: this is a genre of realistic novels that focus on the minutiae of social customs, moral values, and the ethics of society. There is usually some conflict between personal desires and socially correct behaviour, which helps the reader understand the purpose behind social conventions of the nineteenth century.

The most famous novels by Jane Austen are:

Whilst all six of the listed novels are considered classics, one of her most notable works is Pride and Prejudice. The novel presents a social commentary on the lives of the British middle class in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It is also described as a comedy of manners, which we see in the author's use of satire and irony to subtly critique gender roles and the institution of marriage.

Comedy of manners: a genre that showcases the same in-depth observations of customs and ethical values as the novel of manners. However, unlike the novel of manners, it also uses satire to portray, critique, and poke fun at the behaviour of society or a social group.

Emily Bronte (1818-1848)

Emily Bronte was a novelist and poet who wrote during the Romantic Period. During her lifetime, Emily Bronte wrote under the pen name Ellis Bell due to the social stigma surrounding female novelists at the time. Her sisters, Charlotte and Anne, also wrote novels under the pen names of Currer and Acton Bell. Her brother, Branwell Bronte, was a painter who suffered from alcoholism and addiction.

Emily Bronte's most famous (and only) work of prose fiction is the Gothic novel Wuthering Heights (1847). The novel is characteristic of Romanticism, a literary movement that places great emphasis on individual experience, the expression of passionate feelings, and regards nature as a powerful, spiritual force. Wuthering Heights fulfils the key characteristics of the Gothic novel due to its setting, atmosphere, characterisation, and plot. It explores the possessive love that Heathcliffe has for his adoptive sister, Cathy, a love that goes beyond the grave. It also follows his desire for revenge and the consequences that this has for the next generation. The character of Heathcliffe is both a Byronic Hero and a villain.

Byronic Hero: a character that features in a lot of Gothic Fiction or Romantic fiction. Named after Lord Byron's poetic persona, the Byronic hero is arrogant, moody, an outcast, and often flaunts social conventions with his cynical viewpoints. Their self-destructive tendencies are often a draw for romance or gothic heroines in fiction.

Consider other Byronic Heros in fiction and television. Would you consider Mr Rochester from Jane Eyre (1847) a moody and arrogant hero? What about Edward Cullen in Twilight (2009)?

Bram Stoker (1847-1912)

Bram Stoker was an Irish author who also worked as a civil servant in Dublin and as a theatre manager. He wrote a range of short stories, theatre reviews, and a work of nonfiction. However, his most notable and widely read publication was his novel Dracula (1897). As well as being an epistolary novel, this novel is an example of Gothic Horror.

The Epistolary Novel: a genre of prose fiction in which the novel's form is made up of letters, documents, or diary entries. In these novels, characters speak in a confessional tone to the person they address or are evasive of the kind of information they want to impart in the document. Sometimes, it is up to the reader to gather the information together to understand what is happening in the character's head or to figure out what is left undocumented.

Four key characteristics of Gothic Horror:

  • Setting: castles, manors, and bleak or dangerous landscapes such as mountains, forests, and moors

  • An atmosphere of mystery

  • The supernatural

  • Female characters in danger or distress

Dracula showcases each of these characteristics. We have a grand and dangerously isolated setting in the Count's fortress-like castle in Transylvania, surrounded by deep forests full of howling wolves. The concept of the supernatural and an atmosphere of mystery are also established early on in the novel. The exact location of the castle itself is shrouded in mystery, and upon his arrival to carry out his duties as a solicitor, Johnathan Harker is informed of its locked, forbidden rooms and given a rosary for protection.

Bram Stoker's villain, Count Dracula, captured the imagination of screenwriters. There are over 200 different film adaptations of this character, such as Nosferatu (1922), Dracula (1931), and Bram Stoker's Vampire (1922), to name but a few. Arthur Doyle's Sherlock Holmes is the only fictional character to be more frequently represented in film and television.

F Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)

F Scott Fitzgerald was a renowned novelist and short story writer. He wrote during the Jazz Age, a term which he popularised, and his writings often capture the essence of this era. He also wrote his novels during the Modernist period (1914-1945).

F. Scott Fitzgerald completed four novels, these are:

  • This Side of Paradise (1920)

  • The Beautiful and Damned (1922)

  • The Great Gatsby (1925)

  • Tender Is the Night (1934)

Capitalism and the American Dream are key themes in Fitzgerald's novels. He employs satire to depict the vibrant culture of the Jazz Age, with its music, fashions, and parties. This use of satire could be interpreted as a critique of excess during the Jazz Age and to critique the American Dream.

The American Dream: this refers to the ideal that, through hard work, anyone is able to achieve financial success. Works such as Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman (1949) attempted to expose this ideal as an illusion.

Do you think that The Great Gatsby (1925) suggests that the American Dream is attainable or not?

Margaret Atwood (1939-present)

Margaret Atwood is a Canadian novelist, poet, essayist, and literary critic. She has also taught at the Universities of British Columbia, Sir George William's University, and the University of Alberta. Her literary works are of interest to Feminist literary criticism, and she explores ecocriticism, female sexuality, and postmodern theory.

Some of Margaret Atwood's most famous novels are:

The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian work of fiction, which has recently been adapted for the screen by Bruce Miller. The postmodernist rejection of absolute truth and meaning is seen in the protagonist's ambiguous fate inThe Handmaid's Tale.

In The Handmaid's Tale, the narrative shifts to an anthropological lecture on Gileadean Studies set far in the future, in the year 2195, based on the tape recordings created by the protagonist. The lecturer invites her audience to consider her possible fate, leaving it open-ended.

What do you think happened to the protagonist and why?

Novelists a wide selection of novels/popular novelists StudySmarterA library, pixabay.

Exemplary novels in the English Language

Novelists cover a wide range of human experiences and genres (such as Gothic and Dystopian fiction) and come from many places around the world, like the United States of America.

The Gothic

The Gothic Novel is usually characterised by elements of mystery, the supernatural, emotional distress and feature a well-rounded villain. The setting and atmosphere often feature bleak landscapes, crumbling castles, and forbidden places.

Rebecca (1938)

An exemplary novel of this key genre is Daphne du Maurier's novel Rebecca (1938).

The novel is narrated by the unnamed protagonist and begins with a description of the devastation of her former home, Manderly. There is also a hint of the supernatural as the narrator recounts a dream where she sees herself as a ghost, flitting through the charred ruins. As the narrator does not explain how Manderly came to be in ruins, a sense of mystery is created.

The narrator then recounts the events that led to its destruction. These events and details function as clues, as the reader is actively engaged in piecing together the mystery. The reader learns how the protagonist becomes obsessed with her husband's late wife, Rebecca, who is said to have died in a tragic boating accident. They follow as the narrator unpicks at the small details of the deceased's life and eventually uncovers the shocking truth of her demise, neatly solving the Gothic element of mystery.

Dystopian

A dystopia is the mirror opposite of a utopia. Dystopian Fiction is often characterized as a setting in the aftermath of a natural or political calamity. Themes include government control, the need for survival, loss of individuality, human rights abuses, technological advances, and environmental destruction.

A utopia or utopian society can be defined as an imaginary society where all its community members enjoy perfect happiness and live peacefully. In utopias, there is no crime or conflict.

Key characteristics of Dystopian Fiction:

  • Loss of individualism

  • Government control

  • Technological control

  • Environmental destruction

A Brave New World (1932)

Aldous Huxley's A Brave New World (1932) is an example of a dystopian society called the World State that controls its citizens before they are born.

In this society, humans are no longer born as a result of sexual reproduction and are rather artificially cloned and decanted. As fetuses, these clones are separated into social classes: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon. The lower class groups are given less oxygen as fetuses to reduce their physical and mental prowess so that their abilities are matched to the work required of their social group, and so will achieve perfect happiness in this society.

From infancy, the citizens are conditioned through a mixture of techniques such as aversion therapy and hypnopaedia to feel satisfied in their social station and separate from the other social classes, to dislike nature, and to be avid consumers. Citizens are also expected to be sexually promiscuous and are discouraged from maintaining monogamous relationships. They consume a drug called soma in their leisure time to maintain a euphoric state.

The society can be seen as the embodiment of the dystopian characteristic of the loss of the individual. Citizens are genetically identical to thousands of others and are frequently hypnotised to act in a specific set way or they are ostracised. There is no room in A Brave New World (1932) for individual expression, and those who are unable to conform are banished to islands or reservations which have maintained their way of life.

American Literature

Reading American Literature can help us to gain a greater awareness of different cultures and how American history and literature has inspired or been inspired by other literature around the world.

Beloved (1987)

Toni Morrison is an acclaimed American novelist who wrote during the Postmodernist (1945-present).

Morrison's acclaimed novel Beloved (1987) offers an emotive insight into American history and attitudes towards race. Morrison achieves this by using the genre of historical fiction to blend fictional narratives with the real historical event of American Slavery and African American lynching and racism.

The novel explores a family's escape from slavery to Ohio (a free state). However, their freedom is short-lived as they find themselves about to be forcibly returned to slavery under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1815. The mother attempts to commit family annihilation to protect her beloved children from being returned to the horrors of slavery. However, she is only able to kill her youngest daughter before the US marshals break into their home.

Family annihilation is the act of murdering all the members of one's immediate family. This is often, but not always, followed by the murderer committing suicide.

The home is a central motif in the novel because it is literally haunted by the ghost of Beloved and metaphorically haunted by the ghost of slavery and the mother's actions of the past. Themes of fraught family relations and exorcism represent the ways trauma and grief continue to linger within families, homes, and communities.

Love through the ages

The topic area of love through the ages invites you to explore elements such as the text's historical context of social conventions and taboos. Love has been a classic theme and inspiration for writers for centuries.

Don't limit yourself to the exploration of romantic love. Love is an immensely multi-faceted theme; look into love between family and friends, grief, jealousy, and infatuation versus mature love.

Jane Eyre (1847)

An exemplary novel belonging to this topic is Jane Eyre (1847) by Charlotte Bronte. It invites us to consider the social conventions, religious significance, and legality of marriage in a different time period.

In this novel, the protagonist places great importance on both love and her own perspective of morality. She refuses a loveless marriage to her cousin, St John, who sees her as a potential assistant for his religious missions abroad. In this time period, marriages of convenience, where the couples were not in love, but the marriage was mutually beneficial, were commonplace.

Jane falls in love with her employer, Mr Rochester, and is looking forward to marrying him when it is revealed he is already married. His wife, Bertha, suffers from mental illness and is incarcerated in the attic. Only when Mr Rochester's first wife is dead does Jane accept his offer of marriage (how romantic!). The two live happily ever after, a love match sanctified by religion, the law, and society.

Novelists - Key takeaways

  • Many novelists choose to write in English even when it is not their mother tongue as it is the most widely spoken global language.
  • Novelists cover a broad range of human experiences and emotions.
  • A novel may belong to either one or a combination of different genres.
  • The influence of literary movements can be seen in novels through characteristics such as structure and form, shared themes, and philosophies.
  • Literary movements are a product of their time period.

Frequently Asked Questions about Novelists

A novelist is a writer of long, narrative prose that centres around key characters and is driven by a main plot. Notable novelists you may be familiar with include Daphne du Maurier, Bram Stoker, Chinua Achebe, and the Bronte sisters. 

An author has written and published a literary work. This may be anything from an essay for an academic journal to a recipe book or a collection of children's stories. A novelist, however, specifically writes novels. 

Some examples of novels include, but are not limited to, Wuthering Heights (1847) by Emily Bronte, The Great Gatsby (1925) by F Scott Fitzgerald, and White Teeth (2000) by Zadie Smith. 

An example of a famous English novelist, whose novels are widely read around the world, is Jane Austen. 

Shakespeare was not a novelist, he was a poet and a playwright. 

Final Novelists Quiz

Question

Which of the following does not describe Shakespeare?

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Answer

A novelist.

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Who is the first novel attributed to?


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Daniel Defoe.

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Which of the following is NOT a literary movement?


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Soliloquy.

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Which of the following is a Dystopian novel?

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Brave New World (1932).

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Which of the following does NOT characterize a dystopian society?


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Youth culture. 

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Which of these characterises postmodern literature. 


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The rejection of absolute meaning. 

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Which of the following is a novel?


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Things Fall Apart (1958)

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Which of the following is a requirement for defining a novel as a classic?


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It must be representative of a genre or writing style or considered as having made a significant contribution to literature.

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Which of the following was a common reason why women historically wrote under pen names or anonymous?


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Social stigma.

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Which of the following does not describe a novel?


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Non fiction. 

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Which of the following characters from a popular novel is the most represented character in film and television?


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Sherlock Holmes.

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Which literary movement places a great emphasis on the expression of passionate and intense emotions and feelings?


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Romanticism.

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What genre does Nights at the Circus (1984) belong to?

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 Magic Realism.

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In which century did British women gain the right to vote?


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Twentieth. 

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What are novels usually centered around?

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Key characters.

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What do novels of manners focus on?

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The minutiae of social customs and ethics of society. 

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Which of the following is NOT a novel of manners?

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Emma (1815).

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The novelist Emily Bronte wrote during which period?

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The Romantic Period.

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Why do many novelists choose to write in English?

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 It is a global language used by 15% of the world’s population. 

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Regardless of genre, what do most novels showcase?

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Different types of human experiences and feelings.

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Novels can belong to more than one genre simultaneously.

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True.

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Which novel is widely accepted as the first novel?

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Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719)

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Which of the following novels is from the Neoclassical Period?

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Pamela (1741).

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Which of the following writers is NOT a novelist?

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William Shakespeare.

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Which of the following best describes a flat characters?

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Lacking emotional depth and fleshed out back stories.

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Which of the following best describes a round character?

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A complex character with a backstory, strengths and weaknesses.

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Which of the following is NOT a standard feature of a setting within a Gothic novel?

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A modern penthouse suite.

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What literary genre were the majority of Stoker's works part of?

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Gothic romanticism

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What is epistolary?

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A literary work in the form of letters

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What is the name of Dracula's last book?

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The Lair of the White Worm (1911)

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Which of these locations were an inspiration for Dracula?

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Slains Castle

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True or False? The supernatural is a key feature of Gothic romanticism.

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True! Supernatural beings are often found in Gothic romanticism. For example, the vampire Dracula in Dracula.

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Who is the author of The Picture of Dorian Gray?

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Oscar Wilde

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When wasThe Picture of Dorian Gray published?

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1891. Though, an initial version was published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in 1890.

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What was the name of the philosophical movement that Oscar Wilde was a follower of?

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Aestheticism

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When was Ernest Hemingway born?

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July 21st, 1899.

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Where did Ernest Hemingway serve during WWI?

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Hemingway was a member of an ambulance unit in Italy during WWI.

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What was the name of the group of expatriate artists that lived in Paris during the 1920s?

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The Lost Generation.

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What was Hemingway's first novel, published in 1926?

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The Sun Also Rises

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For which novel did Ernest Hemingway win the Pulitzer Prize?

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Hemingway won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953 for The Old Man and the Sea (1951).

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In what year did Ernest Hemingway win the Nobel Prize for Literature?

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1954

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When did Ernest Hemingway die?

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Ernest Hemingway died by suicide in 1961.

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What is notable about Ernest Hemingway's writing style?

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Hemingway writes using simple sentences without literary embellishments. His sentences rarely include adjectives and adverbs. 

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When was A Farewell to Arms published?

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1929

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Where is A Farewell to Arms set?

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Italy

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What is the French phrase for a literary work that relies largely on autobiographical events?

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Roman à clef

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What are the key themes of A Farewell to Arms?

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Love and war.

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What role does Frederic Henry serve in the Italian army?

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He is a lieutenant serving in an ambulance unit

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What is significant about the title A Farewell to Arms?

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The title is taken from a 16th-century English poem that also considers the key themes of love and war. The title also plays on the word 'arms', which can mean the arms of a lover, or violent ammunition.

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How was A Farewell to Arms first published?

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The novel was initially published in a serialised form in Scribner's Magazine from May 1929 to October 1929.

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When was Zadie Smith born?

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October 25 1975

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How old was Zadie Smith when she changed her name?

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14

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What was Zadie Smith's first novel, released in 2000?

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White Teeth

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Where did Zadie Smith attend university?

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Zadie Smith attended the University of Cambridge.

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When was Zadie Smith's second novel, The Autograph Man, published?

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2002

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Which 1910 novel was an inspiration for Zadie Smith's third novel, On Beauty?

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Howard's End by E.M. Forster

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When did Zadie Smith become a tenured professor at New York University?

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2010

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What is Zadie Smith's most recent novel?

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Swing Time, published in 2016

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How many novels has Zadie Smith published?

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5

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When did Zadie Smith make her playwriting debut?

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2021

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When was NW by Zadie Smith published?

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2012

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Where does the title NW get its name?

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The title is a reference to the London postcode NW, where the novel is set

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How many sections is NW split into?

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Five

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What is the title of the first and last sections of NW?

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visitation

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What is the name of the council estate that the main characters of NW grew up on?

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Caldwell

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Where is NW set?

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The northwest area of London, particularly the areas of Kilburn and Willesden.

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What are the key themes presented in NW?

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Class, a search for identity and the impacts of urban living

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What kind of narration does Zadie Smith use in NW?

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Smith switches between first and third-person narration throughout the novel

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Who are the main characters in NW?

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Leah Hanwell, Keisha (Natalie) Blake, and Felix Cooper

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What are some of the narrative devices that Smith uses in NW?

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Stream-of-consciousness narration, flashbacks, text message conversations and map directions

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When was Jean Rhys born?

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Answer

24 August 1890

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Where was Jean Rhys born?

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Answer

Dominica, an island in the Caribbean

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When did Jean Rhys move to England?

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In 1907. She was sixteen years old.

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Who was Jean Rhys' literary patron and mentor in Paris during the early 1920s?

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Answer

English writer Ford Madox Ford

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What was the name of Jean Rhys' first short story collection, published in 1927?

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Answer

The Left Bank and Other Stories

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When was Jean Rhys' debut novel, Quartet, published?

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Answer

1928

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What was Jean Rhys' last novel published in 1939, before she withdrew from public life?

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Answer

Good Morning, Midnight

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When was the final novel of Jean Rhys' career published, and what is its title?

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Answer

1966. Wide Sargasso Sea.

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In what year did Wide Sargasso Sea win the W.H. Smith Literary Award?

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Answer

1976

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What are some of the key themes present in much of Jean Rhys' work?

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Answer

Alienation, domination, psychological deterioration and dependence.

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Question

What was Ken Kesey’s second novel called?

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Answer

Sometimes A Great Notion

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What was the name of the bus driven by The Merry Pranksters?


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Answer

Further

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What was the name of the hospital where Kesey worked as an aide?

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Answer

Menlo Park Veterans Hospital

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What was the name of the top-secret CIA project for which Kesey volunteered?

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Answer

MKULTRA

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What did Kesey call the parties at which guests took LSD?

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Answer

Acid Tests

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Which famous author wrote a novel about his experiences at Kesey’s LSD parties?


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Answer

Tom Wolfe

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Which famous Beat poet attended and wrote poetry about Kesey’s LSD parties?


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Answer

 Allen Ginsberg

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Which famous psychedelic rock band played at Kesey’s LSD parties?


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Answer

 The Grateful Dead

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Neal Cassady drove the Merry Pranksters’ bus. Which famous Beat novel had a lead character inspired by him?


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Answer

On The Road


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What was the name of Kesey’s first published short story?


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‘First Sunday of September’

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Where did Kesey study creative writing?


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Answer

 Stanford University

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Which sport did Kesey particularly excel at as a young man?

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Wrestling

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When was the novel Americanah published?

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2013

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Where is the main character, Ifemelu, from?

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Answer

Lagos, Nigeria

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What is the opening scene of the novel?

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Ifemelu having her hair braided in a salon.

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How does the novel end?

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Answer

Obinze tells Ifemelu he is leaving his wife, and she welcomes him into her flat.

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What event marks the climax of the novel?

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When Aunty Uju's son, Dike, attempts suicide.

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Through what medium does Ifemelu write?

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Answer

Blog posts

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What are the major themes of the novel?

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Answer

Race and identity

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What forms an important symbol for Ifemelu's identity?

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Answer

Her hair

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At which university is Ifemelu offered a fellowship?

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Answer

Princeton

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Why does Obinze move to London?

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Answer

He is denied a visa to the U.S. after harsher immigration laws are introduced due to the 9/11 terror attacks

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Who is the author of To the Lighthouse?

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Answer

Virginia Woolf

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When was the novel published?

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Answer

1927

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Where is the novel set?

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Answer

The Isle of Skye

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What is the name of the first part of the novel?

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Answer

The Window

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How many parts is the novel divided into?

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Answer

3

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What is the name of the final part of the novel?

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Answer

The Lighthouse

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How many Ramsay children are there?

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Answer

8

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Which two characters does Mrs Ramsay unsuccessfully attempt to arrange a marriage between?

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Answer

Lily Briscoe and William Bankes

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What are some of the main symbols in the novel?

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Answer

The lighthouse, the sea and Lily's painting

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What is the name of the literary movement that the novel is considered a classic of?

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Answer

Modernism, or the Modernist period

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When was Americanah published?

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Answer

2013

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Who is the main character of the novel?

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Answer

A young Nigerian woman called Ifemelu

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Why does Ifemelu move to America?

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Answer

To attend university

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Where is Ifemelu from?

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Answer

Lagos, Nigeria

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What happened in Nigeria between 1967 and 1970?

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Answer

The Nigerian Civil War

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What was the leadership of Nigeria like in the 1990s, as Ifemelu was growing up?

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Answer

It was a military dictatorship

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What is the 'American dream'?

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Answer

This is a term used to describe an idea that America is a land of true freedom, equal opportunities and social mobility.

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What does the term 'Americanah' mean?

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Answer

The term is used in Nigerian slang to describe someone who has become alienated from their culture after time spent in America.

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What narrative technique does Adichie use to disrupt the novel's narrative timeline?

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Answer

Flashbacks, or analepsis.

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What is the process by which one may become 'Americanah'?

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Answer

Americanisation

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