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Five Fascinating Facts about William Gibson

Interesting William Gibson facts

1. William Gibson popularised the term ‘cyberspace’ in a short story of 1982. Defined as ‘the notional environment in which communication over computer networks occurs’, cyberspace first appeared in fiction in William Gibson’s 1982 story ‘Burning Chrome’ (no relation to Google Chrome, we’re told), a story about a couple of freelance hackers. (Before it was published, Gibson read this story out at a science fiction convention – to an audience of four people.) But contrary to a widely held belief, William Gibson did not actually coin the term: it had originated, surprisingly, back in the 1960s when two Danish artists styled themselves as Atelier Cyberspace, after ‘cybernetics’, a term invented by Norbert Wiener way back in 1948 in his book Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. (‘Cybernetics’, by the way, comes from the Greek meaning ‘steersman’ or ‘pilot’.) Gibson, however, helped to bring the term ‘cyberspace’ to a much wider audience, especially after the success of his smash-hit cyberpunk novel, Neuromancer, in that uncannily dystopian year, 1984. Read the rest of this entry

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10 Famous Book Titles Taken from Surprising Works of Literature

Classic book titles that allude to other literary works

Everyone knows that Aldous Huxley ‘borrowed’ the title of his best-known novel Brave New World from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Similarly, it’s well-known that Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls takes its title from a sermon by John Donne. But sometimes a famous book title can hide a surprising allusion to another, perhaps less well-known, work of literature. Here are ten of our favourites. How many of these titles did you know owed their existence to another literary work?

Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms. Hemingway’s WWI novel takes its title from a poem of the same name by George Peele, an Elizabethan playwright and poet best remembered for (possibly) collaborating with Shakespeare on Titus Andronicus. The full title of Peele’s poem is A Farewell to Arms (To Queen Elizabeth). Read the rest of this entry

12 Interesting Facts about French Literature

The best facts about French literature

French literature has often been one step ahead of the literary curve, to risk mixing our progressive metaphors. Before T. S. Eliot and other Anglophone poets had found a way to write about the modern city, Charles Baudelaire had already shown a way forward. In the realm of medieval romance, French writers and troubadours led the way. Gustave Flaubert influenced James Joyce, Henry James, and countless others. So, in this post, we thought we’d pay homage to French literature and Francophone writers by sharing a dozen of our favourite interesting facts about French writers and French literature.

The most popular novel among soldiers in the American Civil War was Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.

Georges Perec wrote a novel, La disparition, without once using the letter ‘e’ (apart from four times on the title-page, presumably, when the author’s name is cited).

French philosopher and critic Roland Barthes was killed by a laundry van.

French writer Colette started her working day by picking the fleas off her cat and would write only on blue paper, by artificial light, in her bare feet. Read the rest of this entry