23 January 2017

Book Titles

In our continuing series of posts about where titles of books and other works originated, we add these book titles.

The novel about colonialism in Africa,Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, takes its title from a W.B. Yeats’s poem, “The Second Coming.” to name his story about colonialism, pride, and loss:

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world...”

Flannery O’Connor's short story collection, Everything That Rises Must Converge  borrows from the book Omega Point by the French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

“Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! At the summit you will find yourselves united with all those who, from every direction, have made the same ascent. For everything that rises must converge.


Evelyn Waugh turned to T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Wasteland” for his book A Handful of Dust.

“I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

John Steinbeck often turned to the Bible for titles. His Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath  sounds like it might be Biblical. After several other working titles, his wife suggested a phrase from the song “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” by Julia Ward Howe.

“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.”


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