Cover image for Brewer's curious titles
Brewer's curious titles
Crofton, Ian.
Publication Information:
London : Cassell, [2002]

Physical Description:
ix, 548 pages ; 20 cm
General Note:
Includes indexes.
Added Author:
Electronic Access:
Publisher description
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
Z1002 .B8 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Find the origins of obscure titles of over 1,500 films, novels, plays, paintings, and musical compositions. Some are humorous or ironic, others risque or purposely baffling. "All Quiet on the Western Front" is an ironic reference to blacked-out news reports while thousands of soldiers were dying. "Hobson's Choice," a 1916 play, comes from liveryman Thomas Hobson (c.1544-1631) who always offered customers the horse nearest the door of the stable, and no other. A "Yankee Doodle" comes from the Dutch pejorative, a Jan Kees (John Cheese), meaning an arrogant fellow. See how many films and books you can list with insects in the title, or that start with "I Was a..." or "I Married a...." Then see how many you missed.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

In selecting the novels, plays, paintings, and musical works whose titles he explains here, Crofton (A Dictionary of Art Quotations) acknowledges that keeping the volume to a manageable length made it impossible to include all the works he would have liked to cover. As he notes, the book is "not intended as a comprehensive cultural companion, but as an exploration of byways, oddities and serendipities." Entries run from D.H. Lawrence's Aaron's Rod through Edward Albee's Zoo Story and tell us the story behind each title. The section on T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, for example, indicates that the title is taken from Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur and associated with the quest for the Holy Grail and cites works whose titles derive from Eliot's poem. The resource also features titles in such quirky categories as body parts, "the oddest title of the year award," St. Cecelia, and Salome. One index covers the authors, composers, and artists whose works are included, while the other cross-references sources from which titles explained in the book are taken. This informative and entertaining work is recommended for both public and academic libraries.-Denise J. Stankovics, Rockville P.L., Vernon, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.