Literature (2019 | Issue 2)

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Offbeat Lit Facts!

We learn so much from books. A whole new world opens up before us. Sometimes the lives of the people who write the books are just as interesting, dystopian or crazy as the lives of their characters. What’s Up, Germany? has collected some quirky literary facts for you. If you’re looking to impress someone, add some zing to a conversation with these interesting nuggets!

The Scent of Apples

When he found his writing mojo flagging, Friedrich von Schiller took a deep whiff of rotting apples stored in his desk. He claimed the smell of decay helped him write!

Of Mice & Men

Franz Kafka, the author of dark and unsettling tales, transformed a character in one of his short stories into a giant insect, while in real life he was terrified of tiny mice!


The little-known German poet Gottlob Wilhelm Burmann abhorred the letter “R” so much, he refused to use it in the130 poems he wrote!

What the Dickens?!

Charles Dickens was superstitious about which direction he slept. His head had to be facing north, otherwise he couldn’t sleep!

Burn! Burn! Burn!

Rumour has it, Ray Bradbury called the fire department to find out the temperature at which books burnt, and that’s how he came up with the title of his book Fahrenheit 451!

Grim Reality

Originally, the Grimm brothers’ fairy tales were meant for adults. The gory details were toned down to reach children.

50 Words of Play

Dr Seuss wrote the novel Green Eggs and Ham because of a bet with his publisher, who challenged him to write a book using 50 different words.

A Homecoming

Ernest Hemingway took home a urinal from his favourite bar and converted it into a garden fountain. He felt he had pissed away so much money down the urinal that he owned it!

In-flight Inspiration

JK Rowling came up with the idea for Harry Potter on a train to London. And she came up with the names of Hogwarts’ houses—Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin—on a flight. She actually wrote them down on the airplane’s sick bag!

Desert Delusions

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince is partly inspired by a real-life incident. After surviving a plane crash, the author was left stranded in a desert for days with almost no water or food. Once dehydration set in, he started experiencing severe visual hallucinations.