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The Praise of Folly is considered one of the most influential works of literature in Western civilization and one of the catalysts of the Protestant Reformation. It starts as a piece of virtuoso foolery but then moves into some darker orations praising self-deception and madness. Published in 1511, Folly's influence echoed down the subsequent centuries and in part spawned the art of adoxography, the praise of worthless subjects.
The work opens with an unnamed narrator listening to the reading of a manuscript written many years ago by a now dead young governess. The governess relates that soon after arriving to work in the house she learns that her predecessor had died under mysterious circumstances. As the tale unfolds the reader has room to doubt the reality of the evil that the governess feels is approaching.
The Underground Railroad says of itself: "An authentic record of the wonderful hardships, hairbreadth escapes, and death struggles which mark the track from slavery to freedom in the United States." The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes helping African Americans escape to 'free states' or Canada. Between 1810 and 1850 the Railroad may have moved as many 100,000 people to freedom.
Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), published in 1889, is a humorous account by Jerome K. Jerome of a boating holiday on the Thames between Kingston and Oxford. The trip has been recreated many times since most recently in 2005 for the BBC. Quotes and references turn up regularly, ranging from references in Robert A. Heinlein's 1958 Have space suit will travel through to the 2006 film Pirates of the Caribbean.
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