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Thread: Great books that reference great books

  1. #1
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Great books that reference great books

    I read in a pull-out section of The Times a couple of days ago, that Pip from Great Expectations was reading Mary Shelly's Frankenstein when Magwitch knocked on his door that stormy night.

    I have not read Catcher in the Rye, but I gather the protagonist references David Copperfield in the opening passage.

    What other books have you read that refer to other books.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

  2. #2
    Registered User mona amon's Avatar
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    A character in The Moonstone is obsessed with Robinson Crusoe.

    “You are not to take it, if you please, as the saying of an ignorant man, when I express my opinion that such a book as ROBINSON CRUSOE never was written, and never will be written again. I have tried that book for years—generally in combination with a pipe of tobacco—and I have found it my friend in need in all the necessities of this mortal life. When my spirits are bad—ROBINSON CRUSOE. When I want advice—ROBINSON CRUSOE. In past times when my wife plagued me; in present times when I have had a drop too much—ROBINSON CRUSOE. I have worn out six stout ROBINSON CRUSOES with hard work in my service. On my lady's last birthday she gave me a seventh. I took a drop too much on the strength of it; and ROBINSON CRUSOE put me right again. Price four shillings and sixpence, bound in blue, with a picture into the bargain.

    ― Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone
    In Shirley Caroline Helstone reads Coriolanus with Robert Moore, mostly to teach him not to be too high handed with his mill workers.
    Exit, pursued by a bear.

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    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    I would draw your attention to a great deal of J.L. Borges' writings.
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
    The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.- Mark Twain
    My Blog: Of Delicious Recoil

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by stlukesguild View Post
    I would draw your attention to a great deal of J.L. Borges' writings.
    The great thing about Borges is that he doesn't just reference great authors, he really fosters an interest in seriously checking them out.
    Vladimir: (sententious.) To every man his little cross. (He sighs.) Till he dies. (Afterthought.) And is forgotten.

  5. #5
    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    In Northanger Abbey, the characters both read The Mysteries of Udolpho (like Pip reading Frankenstein) and the narration continuously parodies its style and conventions (which is more like the Catcher situation).

    Trollope' The Eustace Diamonds has a very funny chapter of the pretentious heroine who says she loves Shelley actually trying to read Queen Mab. (The only bit of Trollope I'd bother with.)
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

  6. #6
    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    In Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust the luckless Tony Last ends up imprisoned by the mysterious Mr Todd deep in the Amazonian jungle so that he can endlessly read the complete works of Dickens aloud to him.

    Golding's The Lord of the Flies is apparently a response to a forgotten Victorian plucky boy's classic, The Coral Island.

    And talking about children and desert islands, Treasure Island is clearly the inspiration for Arthur Ransome's Peter Duck, one of the Swallows and Amazons series. Indeed the kids in those books are such compulsed literary fantasists, that their reading is continually referred to. I'm pretty sure they are on an island in Windermere in Swallows and Amazons because they've read Robinson Crusoe.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

  7. #7
    Registered User Emil Miller's Avatar
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    Annixter one of the main characters in The Octopus by Frank Norris is reading David Copperfield at the start of the novel.

    There are references to The Picture of Dorian Gray and Anna Karenina in F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise as well as mentioning many authors in passing.
    "L'art de la statistique est de tirer des conclusions erronèes a partir de chiffres exacts." Napoléon Bonaparte.

    "Je crois que beaucoup de gens sont dans cet état d’esprit: au fond, ils ne sentent pas concernés par l’Histoire. Mais pourtant, de temps à autre, l’Histoire pose sa main sur eux." Michel Houellebecq.

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    I've bought blindly Pickwick Papers after one of characters from Anne of the Island by Montgomery mentioned it. The book surprised me a bit (simply not what I would expect), but for sure didn't disappoint.
    English is not my mother tongue, so please go easy on me.
    All corrections and tips are strongly appreciated - I'm here for picking up some books but also polishing my language-skills.
    Thanks for understanding!

  9. #9
    Inexplicably Undiscovered
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    This is a good thread with a fascinating topic. ( However, please don't use "reference" as a verb. The word is a noun. Please write "Great books that contain references to other books," or "refer to" or "allude to" instead.)

    The one example I could come up with (off the top of my head) was from The Inferno in the Canto involving Paolo and Franscesca. The couple winds up in the wind-swept first circle of Hell because of the sin of lust, stemming from the act of having read a book together, a steamy story from Arthurian legend. The illicit affair between Lancelot and Guinivere was, apparently, too hot for Dante's romantic couple to handle, and that's -- as the cliché goes-- "all she wrote." A pretext for Church-sanctioned censorship?

    It wasn't until the somewhat more "enlightened" late nineteenth century that Mark Twain quipped: "No girl was ever corrupted by a book."
    Last edited by AuntShecky; 10-06-2012 at 02:11 PM.

  10. #10
    Tu le connais, lecteur... Kafka's Crow's Avatar
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    I am reading Don Quixote these days and it is full of references to books of chivalric literature. Orlando Furioso is mentioned a couple of times as well as the Arthurian legends and many other similar poems from the antiquity. He also mentioned Pastor John who is one of the central themes in Umberto Eco's Baudolino.

    And then there is The Name of the Rose which is a book about books and Eco once stated that every single concept and sentence in that book was taken from other books.
    Last edited by Kafka's Crow; 10-07-2012 at 07:00 PM.
    "The farther he goes the more good it does me. I don’t want philosophies, tracts, dogmas, creeds, ways out, truths, answers, nothing from the bargain basement. He is the most courageous, remorseless writer going and the more he grinds my nose in the sh1t the more I am grateful to him..."
    -- Harold Pinter on Samuel Beckett

  11. #11
    lichtrausch lichtrausch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AuntShecky View Post
    ( However, please don't use "reference" as a verb. The word is a noun. Please write "Great books that contain references to other books," or "refer to" or "allude to" instead.)
    Sorry, this is prescriptivist nonsense.

  12. #12
    All are at the crossroads qimissung's Avatar
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    The word refernce can be used as a noun according to this dictionary entry, AuntShecky:

    World English Dictionary
    reference (ˈrɛfərəns, ˈrɛfrəns)

    — n
    1. the act or an instance of referring
    2. something referred, esp proceedings submitted to a referee in law
    3. a direction of the attention to a passage elsewhere or to another book, document, etc
    4. a book or passage referred to
    5. a mention or allusion: this book contains several references to the Civil War
    6. philosophy
    a. the relation between a word, phrase, or symbol and the object or idea to which it refers
    b. Compare sense the object referred to by an expression
    7. a. a source of information or facts
    b. ( as modifier ): a reference book ; a reference library
    8. a written testimonial regarding one's character or capabilities
    9. a person referred to for such a testimonial
    10. a. ( foll by to ) relation or delimitation, esp to or by membership of a specific class or group; respect or regard: all people, without reference to sex or age
    b. ( as modifier ): a reference group
    11. point of reference a fact forming the basis of an evaluation or assessment; criterion
    12. terms of reference the specific limits of responsibility that determine the activities of an investigating body, etc

    — vb
    13. to furnish or compile a list of references for (an academic thesis, publication, etc)
    14. to make a reference to; refer to: he referenced Chomsky, 1956

    — prep
    15. commerce re with reference to: reference your letter of the 9th inst

    Helen in Jane Eyre is reading The History of Rasselas Prince of Abyssinia by Samuel Johnson, which is a story about a young man’s search for happiness.
    Last edited by qimissung; 10-07-2012 at 12:20 AM.
    "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its' own reason for existing." ~ Albert Einstein
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  13. #13
    Registered User Calidore's Avatar
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    Merriam-Webster has "reference" as noun, adjective, and transitive verb. Sorry, Aunty.
    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi

  14. #14
    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks has the protagonist reading Anna Karenina

  15. #15
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    Roberto Bolano's The Savage Detectives is full of references to literature. William Gaddis' The Recognitions also.

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