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Black Lamb

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Archive for April, 2002

A Week in Literary History

April 26th, 2002

American novelist and short story writer Bernard Malamud (The Magic Barrel, 1958) is born in Brooklyn in 1914.

Bernard Malamud, b. April 26, 1914, d. 1986

malamud.jpgAlthough he had published two books to little acclaim before his first collection of stories won awards and established him as a master of the shorter form, Malamud’s novels are riveting. Outside the mainstream of contemporary American life, his protagonists play out their stories of spiritual yearning and occasional redemption. In The Fixer, his finest book, the unforgettable setting — part Kafka, part Bashevis Singer, and part Dostoevsky — is Russia and its pogroms. And The Natural is the best baseball novel we have.

Suggested Reading Short stories The Magic Barrel, 1958. Idiots First, 1963. Rembrandt’s Hat, 1973. The Stories of Bernard Malamud, 1983. Novels The Natural, 1952. The Assistant, 1957. A New Life, 1961. The Fixer, 1966. Pictures of Fidelman, 1969. Dubin’s Lives, 1979. The Tenants, 1979. God’s Grace, 1982.

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

A Week in Literary History

April 24th, 2002

English novelist Anthony Trollope (Barchester Towers, 1857) is born in London in 1815.

trollope2Anthony Trollope, b. April 24, 1815, d. 1882

Begin with the Barsetshire books and then skip around in all the others for unalloyed pleasure. You’ll find interesting characters more fully presented than Dickens’s and a gentle but unrelenting vein of humorous social criticism, as well as fascinating portraits of London’s powerful institutions. In addition to his many novels, Trollope published more than a dozen volumes of short stories and two dozen on travel and literary criticism. His excessively modest autobiography reveals a writer of enormous energy and industry.

Suggested Reading Novels The Chronicles of Barsetshire, 1855-1867. The Palliser Novels, 1865-1880. Memoirs An Autobiography, 1883.

Posted by: The Editors
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A Week in Literary History

April 24th, 2002

In 1905, American poet and novelist Robert Penn Warren (All the King’s Men, 1946) is born in Guthrie, Ky.

Robert Penn Warren, b. April 24, 1905, d. 1989

warren.pngPenn Warren is the only person to have won Pulitzer Prizes for both fiction and poetry. He was also an influential literary critic, one of the founders of what was called the New Criticism. The success of his novel All the King’s Men, and the movie made from it two years later, overshadowed his more lasting contribution as a poet, but he was honored in every fashion possible during his lifetime, both by fellow writers and by his country.

Suggested Reading Poetry Selected Poems, 1923-1943, 1943. Promises: Poems 1954-1956, 1957. Now and Then, 1979. Fiction All the King’s Men, 1946. World Enough and Time, 1950. A Place to Come to, 1977. Literary Studies Understanding Poetry, 1938. Understanding Fiction, 1943. Democracy and Poetry, 1975.

Posted by: The Editors
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A Week in Literary History

April 23rd, 2002

William Shakespeare is born in Stratford upon Avon, 1564.

shakespearebyosbornWilliam Shakespeare, b. April 23, 1564, d. 1616

What can one add to the monument except to reveal — and this is an exclusive! — that in addition to his other successes in drama and verse, Shakespeare found time to write the entire literary output of Edward de Vere (1550-1604), the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford?

Suggested Reading The Works.

Posted by: The Editors
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A Week in Literary History

April 22nd, 2002

English novelist Henry Fielding (The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, 1749) is born near Glastonbury, in Somerset, in 1707.

Henry Fielding, b. April 22, 1707, d. 1754

Fielding burst on the literary scene as a parodist, with Joseph Andrews, in which the brother of the heroine of Samuel Richardson’s prissy novel Pamela undergoes a series of decidely unprissy adventures. Thereafter, Fielding cemented his reputation with three rollicking, picaresque tales before his untimely death.

Suggested Reading Novels The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews, and his Friend Mr. Abraham Adams, 1742. The History of the Life of the Late Mr. Jonathan Wild the Great, 1743. Tom Jones, the History of a Foundling, 1749. Amelia, 1751. Travel The Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon, 1755.

Posted by: The Editors
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A Week in Literary History

April 22nd, 2002

Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita, 1955) is born in St. Petersburg in 1899.

nabokov.jpgVladimir Nabokov, b. April 22, 1899, d. 1977

Nabokov, the transplanted White Russian who wrote a beautiful, elegant English, was the inheritor of Joyce and Kafka’s high modernist literary world, a parallel universe of art and words. At times, though, his work is also by turns hilarious and moving in its incidents and characters. Lolita is a work of genius, as is the playful and astonishingly clever Pale Fire. Yet other less famous novels — The Defense, Invitation to a Beheading, Bend Sinister, Pnin — show an emotionally deeper artificer at work.

Suggested Reading Novels Mary, 1926. King, Queen, Knave, 1928. The Defense, 1930. Glory, 1932. Laughter in the Dark, 1932. Despair, 1934. The Gift, 1938. Invitation to a Beheading, 1938. The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, 1941. Bend Sinister, 1947. Lolita, 1955. Pnin, 1957. Pale Fire, 1962. Ada, 1969. Stories First Love, 1909. Spring in Fialta, 1938. The Visit to the Museum, 1958. Autobiography Speak, Memory, 1951.

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

Last Week in Literary History

April 21st, 2002

English novelist and playwright John Mortimer (A Voyage Round My Father, 1970) is born in Hampstead, London, 1923.

John Mortimer, b. April 21, 1923, d. 2009

mortimerjohn.jpgMortimer is celebrated for his creation of Horace Rumpole, the imperturbable barrister, and his wife Hilda, always referred to as She Who Must Be Obeyed. But he was also the writer of many other novels, plays, and non-fiction books, many of them superb. Our favorites are the Rapstone Chronicles, a trilogy of novels listed below after Rumpole, the autobiography Clinging to the Wreckage, the remarkable play A Voyage Round My Father, and two enchanting books of interviews with famous people (from Graham Greene and Georges Simenon to Mick Jagger and Raquel Welch), In Character and Character Parts.

Suggested Reading Novels & novellas Charade, 1947. The Rumpole Series (19 books), beginning with Rumpole of the Bailey, 1978, through Rumpole and the Reign of Terror, 2006. Paradise Postponed, 1985. Titmuss Regained, 1990. The Sound of Trumpets, 1998. Plays A Voyage Round My Father, 1971. Edwin and Other Plays, 1984. Non-fiction Clinging to the Wreckage, 1982. The Oxford Book of Villains, 1992. Murderers and Other Friends: Another Part of Life, 1994. The Summer of the Dormouse: A Year of Growing Old. Interviews In Character, 1983. Character Parts, 1986.

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

A Week in Literary History

April 21st, 2002

English novelist Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre, 1847) is born in Thornton, Yorkshire, 1816.

brontecharlotte.jpgCharlotte Brontë, b. April 21, 1816, d. 1855

The eldest of the three writing Brontë sisters, Charlotte wrote her first two published novels under the name Currer Bell to avoid being branded and ostracized as a woman writer. She didn’t fool many readers, but Jane Eyre remains a classic of English literature all the same. Charlotte died pregnant, probably not of tuberculosis like her sisters, but of dehydration and malnourishment brought on by severe morning sickness.

Suggested Reading Novels Jane Eyre, 1847. Shirley, 1849. Villette, 1853. The Professor, 1857.

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

A Week in Literary History

April 17th, 2002

In 1897, American novelist and playwright Thornton Wilder (Our Town, 1938) is born in Madison, Wisc.

Thornton Wilder, b. April 17, 1897, d. 1975

Wilder is rare in having been an extremely successful playwright and novelist, and for having won Pulitzer prizes in both genres. Extremely popular during his lifetime, he now persists in the literary consciousness only through revivals of the imperishable Our Town (1938), probably the most frequently performed play in American history, if you count grammar school and high school productions.

Suggested Reading Drama Our Town, 1938. The Skin of Our Teeth, 1942. The Matchmaker, 1954. Novels The Bridge of San Luis Rey, 1927. Heaven’s My Destination, 1935. The Eighth Day, 1967.

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

A Week in Literary History

April 16th, 2002

English novelist Kingsley Amis (Lucky Jim, 1954) is born in 1922 in London.

amiskingsley1.jpgKingsley Amis, b. April 16, 1922 d. 1995

Amis hit the jackpot with his hilarious novel Lucky Jim in 1954, but this was only the first of dozens of excellent books spread over a sixty-year writing career. He started as one of the so-called Angry Young Men and preserved his acerbity till the end. His The King’s English, published when he was seventy-five, is a classic of its kind.

Suggested Reading Novels Lucky Jim, 1954. Take a Girl Like You, 1960. One Fat Englishman, 1962. The Anti-Death League, 1966. The Old Devils, 1986. Non-fiction On Drink, 1972. Every Day Drinking, 1983. The King’s English: A Guide to Modern Usage, 1997. Other Memoirs, 1991. The Letters of Kingsley Amis, 2001.

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

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