Question of the Day

Nov 02, 2016

Yesterday, we asked: "November is "National Novel Writing Month". While Don Quixote, Robinson Crusoe, and Moll Flanders have all been named at one point or another 'the first novel ever written,' there's another non-English novel that predates them all by centuries and has now become the consensus 'first novel ever written.' What is it?"

Answer: OK, this actually gets a little complicated depending on what one considers a novel. The consensus pick and the answer we're looking for is "The Tale of Genji," written in Japan sometime before 1021 by Murasaki Shikibu (which, as @debkrol pointed out, also makes it the first novel ever written by a woman). Congrats to David Daniel for answering first with an honorable mention going to Carrie Gray for answering second.

But literary classifications can be tricky, so we'd like to also give a shout-out to Judyth Mermelstein who answered "The Satyricon," which was written in the late 1st Century AD by the Roman Empire's Gaius Petronius, and "The Epic of Gilgamesh," which was written around 2100 BC in ancient Mesapotamia by an unkown author. ("The Satyricon," though described by some literary scholars as a novel, is a mixture of prose and verse, while "The Epic of Gilgamesh," though novelesque by today's standards, is considered by most to be an epic poem.

Your question of the day for today is...

Today is National Stress Awareness Day (which is all too fitting considering the consternation caused by this insane election). Stress can cause serious health problems, so please do what you can today to relieve some stress, whether it's yoga or squeezing a stress ball. Speaking of stress balls, their history actually dates back hundreds of years when they were made out of iron and called Baoding Balls. Can you name the stress ball's country of origin and the historical era in which they were invented?

Good luck! And as always, click here to tweet your answer to @MuckRack.

About the author

reporter covering music tech + politics. bylines @FastCompany @Guardian @thedailybeast @Stereogum I wrote @propublica's fracking song

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