With the Swank Life Guide to Literary References, you too can be a literary snob without even having to read the source material! Seriously, who has time to wade through hundreds of pages of what is essentially dreck with a few golden nuggets hidden sporadically inside? By incorporating the following ten references into your everyday patter, your friends and enemies will think you’re the best read person they know.
How swank is that?
1. 1984 – Believe it or not, the long-running reality show Big Brother doesn’t get credit for the name. First dibs go to George Orwell’s omnipresent government in the novel 1984.
2. Catch 22 – The phrase “catch 22” has its humble beginnings in probably the greatest American novel, written by Joseph Heller. What was it called? Uhh, Catch 22. And the particular number he used in the title was completely random.
3. Lolita – Without the 1955 novel written by Vladimir Nabokov, the alliterative possibilities of referring to Amy Fisher as the Long Island Lolita would have been seriously undermined. Need to drop a word into your vocab about a sexually advanced but underage girl? Lolita it is.
4. Scrooge – Bet Dickens never thought his character of Ebenezer Scrooge would continue to live on in pop culture infamy so many years after A Christmas Carol was published.
5. Lysistrata – Women: can’t live with ‘em and can’t live without ‘em. No, actually Lucille Ball didn’t invent this phrase. It originated from a Greek comedy written by Aristophanes – in 411 B.C.!
6. Gulliver’s Travels – Way before Yahoo was used to refer to a second tier search engine, Jonathan Swift wrote a little book you might have heard of called Gulliver’s Travels, in which our hero Gulliver stumbled into a country where horses ruled over humans, who were referred to as Yahoos.
And a few honorable mentions:
- “Siren song” from Homer’s Odyssey
- “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities
- “Oompa loompa,” from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.
- “The sky is falling,” from Chicken Little
Which is our favorite? Oompa loompa, of course, is the phrase of choice when you’re searching to drop the most elegant of literary references into a swanky conversation. Simply say “oompa loompa” and wait.
And now you’ll never have to actually read the book. (Top image: Flickr | fernandO)
The Jake Swank Team