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Archive for January, 2002

A Week in Literary History

January 23rd, 2002

French novelist Stendhal (The Red and the Black, 1830) is born Marie-Henri Beyle in Grenoble, 1783.

Stendhal, b. January 23, 1783, d. 1842

stendhalcolorAs one of the earliest realist writers, Marie-Henri Beyle also influenced French, English, and Russian writers in his psychological insight into his characters. Starting late, Stendhal wrote furiously till the end of his life, leaving behind two luminous novels, several biographies, an autobiography, and a book of literary criticism.

Suggested Reading Novels The Red and the Black, 1830. The Charterhouse of Parma, 1839. Biography A Life of Napoleon, 1817-1818. A Life of Rossini, 1824. Non-fiction Racine and Shakespeare, 1823-1835. Autobiography Memoirs of an Egotist, 1892.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: A Week in Literary History, Books and Authors | Link to this Entry

A Week in Literary History

January 22nd, 2002

Poet George Gordon, Lord Byron (Don Juan, 1819-24) is born with a club foot in London, 1788.

Lord Byron, b. January 22, 1788, d. 1824

byronbywestall.jpgDescribed as “mad, bad and dangerous to know,” Byron was the most brilliant versifier of his age, the swashbuckling epitome of the Romantic artist, as famous for his amours as for his poetry. His early death contributed greatly to his reputation, but he is remembered now for his free spirit and for his deliciously frank and witty poetry.

Suggested Reading Poems She Walks in Beauty, 1814. My Soul is Dark, 1815. So, we’ll go no more a roving, 1830. Major Works English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, 1809. Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, 1812-1818. The Prisoner of Chillon, 1816. Prometheus, 1816. Manfred, 1817. Don Juan, 1819-1824.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: A Week in Literary History, Books and Authors | Link to this Entry

A Week in Literary History

January 19th, 2002

English novelist Julian Barnes (Flaubert’s Parrot, 1984) is born in Leicester in 1946.

Julian Barnes, b. January 19, 1946

Barnes’s fascination with literary style has made him both famous and suspected of artsiness by his English reading public; in France he is fêted as a genius. After thirty years of writing and a number of nominations, he finally won the Booker Prize last year, more for his career’s work than for his most recent novel.

Suggested Reading Novels Metroland, 1980. Flaubert’s Parrot, 1984. A History of the World in 101/2 Chapters, 1989. Talking It Over, 1991. England, England, 1998. Love, etc, 2000. Arthur & George, 2005. The Sense of an Ending, 2011. Memoir Nothing to Be Frightened Of, 2008.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: A Week in Literary History, Books and Authors | Link to this Entry

A Week in Literary History

January 19th, 2002

In 1921, American novelist Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley, 1955) is born Mary Patricia Plangman just outside Fort Worth, Texas.

Patricia Highsmith, b. January 19, 1921, d. 1995

highsmithyoungish.pngHighsmith’s oeuvre is one of the most unsettling in literature because she repeatedly portrays amorality and perversity triumphant. The Ripley books show Tom Ripley getting away with murder over and over, and her short stories make your flesh crawl. If the writing weren’t so good one could dismiss her, but she’s brilliant.

Suggested Reading Novels Strangers on a Train, 1950. The Talented Mr. Ripley, 1955. A Game for the Living, 1958. The Tremor of Forgery, 1969. Ripley Under Ground, 1970. Ripley’s Game, 1974. The Boy Who Followed Ripley, 1980. Ripley Under Water, 1991. Stories The Snail-Watcher and Other Stories, 1970. Little Tales of Misogyny, 1974. Mermaids on the Gold Course, 1985.

Posted by: The Editors
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A Week in Literary History

January 19th, 2002

In 1809, American poet and writer of tales Edgar Allan Poe ("The Raven," “The Tell-Tale Heart”) is born in Boston.

Edgar Allan Poe, b. January 19, 1809, d. 1849

poebybrady.jpgAt the age of thirty-six, Poe finally won fame with the publication of "The Raven" in a New York newspaper. Four years later, he was dead, but his fame swept the world, where his name is still a watchword for the macabre. His spine-tingling tales and death-obsessed, sing-songy verse are well known, but for the real goods, read Arthur Gordon Pym, a fascinating book-length exploration of his favorite themes and one of the strangest stories ever written.

Suggested Reading Poems Tamerlane and Other Poems, 1827. Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems, 1829. Poems, 1831. The Raven and Other Poems, 1845. Eureka: A Prose Poem, 1848. Short stories Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, 1840. Tales, 1845. Novella The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, 1838.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: A Week in Literary History, Books and Authors | Link to this Entry

A Week in Literary History

January 19th, 2002

Theater critic, essayist and Algonquin Round Table habitué Alexander Woollcott (While Rome Burns, 1934) is born in Phalanx, N.J., in 1887. To Heywood Broun he is ”the smartest of Alecs”; to James Thurber, “Old Vitriol and Violets.”

Alexander Woollcott, b. January 19, 1887, d. 1943

woollcott3.jpgYou can dip into Woollcott’s books anywhere without fear and find a warm and intelligently sentimental companion with a million fascinating stories up his sleeve. There’s a good dose of the celebrated Algonquin Round Table acid wit in the collected essays, although even as a theater critic, Woollcott preferred praise to censure. Above all, his books are valuable for their picture of an America in its last throes of civilization, when newspapers and magazines still offered literacy, and when people still knew how to appreciate it.

Suggested Reading Books & Collected Essays Château-Thierry, 1919. Command is Forward, 1919. Shouts and Murmurs, 1922. Going to Pieces, 1928. Two Gentlemen and a Lady, 1928. Woollcott Reader, 1935. Good Companions, 1936. While Rome Burns, 1936. Woollcott’s Second Reader, 1937. Dark Tower: A Melodrama, 1937. Long, Long Ago, 1943. Letters of Alexander Woollcott, 1972. Enchanted Aisles, 1975.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: A Week in Literary History, Books and Authors | Link to this Entry

A Week in Literary History

January 18th, 2002

Swiss-English thesaurist Peter Mark Roget (Roget’s Thesaurus, 1852) is born in London in 1779.

rogetPeter Mark Roget, b. January 18, 1779, d. 1869

Roget started his thesaurus as a hobby when he was in his twenties, but he began work on it seriously after some family deaths plunged him into depression; his father and his wife died young, and an uncle committed suicide in his presence. He finished and published his magnum opus when he was in his seventies, and it has been a help to writers ever since.

Suggested Reading Works Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases Classified and Arranged so as to Facilitate the Expression of Ideas and Assist in Literary Composition, 1852.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: A Week in Literary History, Books and Authors | Link to this Entry

A Week in Literary History

January 16th, 2002

Scottish poet Robert Service, who will later become Bard of the Yukon and die in France, is born in Preston, Lancashire in 1874.

service.jpgRobert W. Service, b. January 16, 1874, d. 1958

Service’s famous Yukon Territory poems grew out of the decade he spent as a bank manager in Whitehorse. Once The Shooting of Dan McGrew, The Cremation of Sam McGee, and the others were published in 1907, he became a very wealthy man and lived the rest of his life in either Brittany or Hollywood. In Paris during the Hemingway-Fitzgerald-Proust-Joyce years, he had a lot more money than the rest of them combined.

Suggested Reading Verse The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses, 1907. The Rhymes of a Red-cross Man, 1916. Memoir Ploughman of the Moon, 1945.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: A Week in Literary History | Link to this Entry

A Week in Literary History

January 16th, 2002

American novelist William Kennedy (Ironweed, 1983) is born in 1928 in Albany, N.Y.

William Kennedy, b. January 16, 1928

kennedy.pngKennedy’s series of seven novels depicting the life of mid-twentieth-century Albany, N.Y., the third of which, Ironweed (1983), won the Pulitzer Prize, provide a riveting history of that city and its denizens, famous and infamous. His non-fiction account of his native city, O Albany! (1983,) is just as fascinating.

Suggested Reading Novels The Ink Truck, 1969. The Albany novels Legs, 1975. Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game, 1978. Ironweed, 1983. Quinn’s Book, 1988. Very Old Bones, 1992. The Flaming Corsage, 1996. Roscoe, 2002. Non-fiction O Albany!: Improbable City of Political Wizards, Fearless Ethnics, Spectacular Aristrocrats, Splendid Nobodies, and Underrated Scoundrels, 1983.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: A Week in Literary History, Books and Authors | Link to this Entry

A Week in Literary History

January 15th, 2002

French comic dramatist Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known as Molière (The Misanthrope, 1666), is baptized in Paris in 1622.

Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, baptised January 15, 1622, d. 1673

Under his stage name, M. Poquelin was the most famous comic dramatist and actor of his day, and he has taken his place among the immortals with his hilarious, satiric characters: the hypochondriac, the fop, and misanthrope, the miser, the faker. Deliciously, he died, almost on stage, while playing the “imaginary invalid.”

Suggested Reading Plays L’École des femmes, 1662. Tartuffe, 1664. Dom Juan, 1665. Le Misanthrope, 1666. Le Médecin malgré lui, 1666. L’Avare, 1668. Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, 1670. Le Malade imaginaire, 1673.

Posted by: The Editors
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