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Archive for June, 2002

A Week in Literary History

June 10th, 2002

In 1928, American writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are, 1963) is born in Brooklyn.

Maurice Sendak, b. June 10, 1928

Sendak writes and illustrates for children, but his own books transcend the genre of children’s literature in their psychological depth and poetic beauty. Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen don’t take long to read (or to look at), yet they remain indelibly in the mind ever after because of their unerring feel for children’s basic emotions, conscious and subconscious. Also active as a set designer for plays and operas and as the factotum of his own theater, The Night Kitchen, Sendak is quite simply a profound writer and artist.

Suggested Reading Written & illustrated Charlotte and the White Horse, 1955. Kenny’s Window, 1956. Where the Wild Things Are, 1964. Hector Protector and As I Went Over the Water, 1965. In the Night Kitchen, 1970. The Nutshell Library (contains Chicken Soup with Rice, One Was Johnny, Pierre, and Alligators All Around), 1986. Illustrated Robert Graves’s The Big Green Book, 1962. Poems from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence, 1967. Randall Jarrell’s The Animal Family, 1976. Jacob Grimm’s King Grisly-Beard, 1978. Frank Corsaro’s The Love of Three Oranges, 1984. Herman Melville’s Pierre, or The Ambiguities, 1995.

Posted by: The Editors
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A Week in Literary History

June 10th, 2002

In 1911, prolific English playwright Terence Rattigan (Separate Tables, 1945) is born in London.

Terence Rattigan, b. June 10, 1911, d. 1977

rattigan.pngRattigan suffered from being called old-fashioned after the likes of Osborne and Beckett captured the stage in the 1950s, but he is now being hailed as one of the twentieth century’s finest playwrights, a master of both comedies and dramas, and his elegantly crafted works are being restaged a quarter-century after his death.

Suggested Reading Drama French Without Tears, 1936. After the Dance, 1939. The Winslow Boy, 1946. The Browning Version, 1948. The Deep Blue Sea, 1952. Separate Tables, 1954. In Praise of Love, 1973.

Posted by: The Editors
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A Week in Literary History

June 10th, 2002

American novelist Saul Bellow (The Adventures of Augie March, 1953) is born in 1915 in Lachine, Québec. In 1976 he will win the Nobel Prize for literature.

bellowSaul Bellow, b. June 10, 1915, d. 2005

Winner of the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes and the National Book Award, Bellow transcends the label “Jewish writer” in his monumental Augie March and wildly imaginative Henderson the Rain King. He is the great American novelist of the second half of the twentieth century, a national treasure whose vivid, generous prose, crammed with intellectual energy and virile audacity, will live long after he is gone.

Suggested Reading Novels Dangling Man, 1944. The Victim, 1947. The Adventures of Augie March, 1954. Seize the Day, 1956. Henderson the Rain King, 1959. Herzog, 1964. Mr. Sammler’s Planet, 1970. Humboldt’s Gift, 1975. The Dean’s December, 1982. Short fiction Mosby’s Memoirs and Other Stories, 1968. Him with His Foot in His Mouth and Other Stories, 1984. Nonfiction To Jerusalem and Back: A Personal Account, 1976. It All Adds Up, 1994.

Posted by: The Editors
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A Week in Literary History

June 9th, 2002

Booker Prize winning Scottish novelist James Kelman (How Late It Was, How Late, 1994) is born in 1946 in Glasgow.

James Kelman, b. June 9, 1946

kelman.pngKelman sprang to fame a dozen years ago when his novel How Late It Was, How Late won the Booker Prize. It was a hotly debated award because of the novel’s low-life hero and his unremitting gutter language, but Kelman is devoted to portraying the lives of down-and-outers, and How Late aspires to the status of Samuel Beckett in its scary but luminous and incantatory prose. His earlier and later novels and stories handsomely repay rereading.

Suggested Reading Novels The Busconductor Hines, 1984. A Chancer, 1985. A Disaffection, 1989. How Late It Was, How Late, 1994. Translated Accounts, 2001. You Have to Be Careful, 2004. Stories An Old Pub Near the Angel, 1973. Not Not While the Giro, 1983. The Burn, 1991. Busted Scotch, 1997. The Good Times, 1998.

Posted by: The Editors
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A Week in Literary History

June 6th, 2002

In 1799, Russian poet Aleksandr Pushkin (Eugene Onegin, 1823-31) is born in Moscow.

Alexandr Pushkin, b. June 6, 1799, d. 1832

Pushkin is universally credited with being the father of Russian literature because he originated the subtle level of the Russian language and increased its vocabulary. Hailed by all Russian writers as the greatest of Russian poets, he was also a prolific dramatist and the author of the greatest novel in verse, Eugene Onegin. His early death of a dueling wound deprived literature of one its giants.

Suggested Reading Poetry Ruslan and Ludmila, 1820. Prisoner of the Caucasus, 1821. The Fountain of Bakhchisaray, 1823. The Bronze Horseman, 1833. The Tale of the Golden Cockerel, 1834. Verse novel Eugene Onegin, 1825-32. Drama Boris Godunov, 1825. The Stone Guest, 1830. Mozart and Salieri, 1830. Short stories The Tales of the Late Ivan Petrovich Belkin, 1831. The Queen of Spades, 1834.

Posted by: The Editors
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A Week in Literary History

June 6th, 2002

In 1875, German Nobel novelist Thomas Mann (The Magic Mountain, 1924) is born in Lübeck.

manncolor.jpgThomas Mann, b. June 6, 1875, d. 1955

During his lifetime Mann was a towering literary presence, a spokesman for the modern intellectual. His monumental and ironic and novels and novellas continue to remind us of the creative artist who defied Hitler, rose above the political chaos of his time, and became a symbol of civilization during the carnage of World War II.

Suggested Reading Novels & novellas Buddenbrooks, 1901. Death in Venice, 1912. The Magic Mountain, 1924. The tetralogy Joseph and His Brothers, 1933-42. Lotte in Weimar, 1939. Doktor Faustus, 1947.

Posted by: The Editors
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A Week in Literary History

June 5th, 2002

English novelist Ivy Compton-Burnett (Bullivant and the Lambs, 1947) is born in Pinner in 1884.

Ivy Compton-Burnett b. June 5, 1884, d. 1969

compton-burnett.pngLate in life, Ivy Compton-Burnett acknowledged that her novels were “much of a muchness,” and she was right. But it was a wonderful muchness, supplying an endless panorama of sharply drawn characters and families. In a deliciously barbed style, with a minimum of exposition and a maximum of dialogue, she wove tale after tale of generational conflict that made her a literary cult figure long before radio broadcasts of some of her books attracted a wider audience. Every so often, take down a volume and savor its wicked world, secure in the knowledge that a dozen-and-a-half more, just as tasty, are waiting.

Suggested Reading Novels Pastors and Masters, 1925. Brothers and Sisters, 1929. Men and Wives, 1931. More Women Than Men, 1933. A House and Its Head, 1935. Daughters and Sons, 1937. A Family and a Fortune, 1939. Parents and Children, 1941. Elders and Betters, 1944. Manservant and Maidservant, 1947. Two Worlds and Their Ways, 1949. Darkness and Day, 1951. The Present and the Past, 1953. Mother and Son, 1955. A Father and His Fate, 1957. A Heritage and Its History, 1959. The Mighty and Their Fall, 1961, A God and His Gifts, 1963. The Last and the First, 1971.

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

A Week in Literary History

June 3rd, 2002

American poet Allen Ginsberg (Howl, 1955) is born in Newark, N.J.

ginsbergreclining.jpgAllen Ginsberg, b. June 3, 1926, d. 1997

Ginsberg the poet built a reputation on an output of very mixed quality — only Howl, 1955, and Kaddish, 1961, represent him at his best. He was more famous as a crusader against censorship and as a political rebel with a goofy penchant for Buddhism and sexual waywardness.

Suggested Reading Poems Howl and Other Poems, 1956. Kaddish and Other Poems, 1961. Reality Sandwiches, 1963.

Posted by: The Editors
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A Week in Literary History

June 2nd, 2002

English novelist and poet Thomas Hardy (Jude the Obscure, 1899) is born in Higher Bockhampton, near Dorchester, in 1840.

Thomas Hardy, b. June 2, 1840 d. 1928

hardydrawing.jpgHardy’s novels made him famous and wealthy, and they’re worth reading for the depiction of his beloved fictional Wessex and for the fatalistic outlook he shared with other turn-of-the-century writers in England, France and the USA. Jude the Obscure is especially poetic and gloomy, almost impossibly so, but luckily for posterity it was Jude, or rather its poor reception by critics, that gave us perhaps Hardy’s most lasting legacy, his poetry, taken up again in middle age and pursued for the rest of his literary life, after the writing of novels (14 of them) had been put aside.

Suggested Reading Novels A Pair of Blue Eyes, 1873. Far from the Madding Crowd, 1874. The Return of the Native, 1878. The Mayor of Casterbridge, 1886. Tess of the D’Urbervilles, 1891. Jude the Obscure, 1895. Poetry Wessex Poems, 1898. Poems of the Past and Present, 1902. Satires of Circumstance, 1914. Moments of Vision, 1917. Collected Poems, 1930.

Posted by: The Editors
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A Week in Literary History

June 1st, 2002

English poet John Masefield (Salt-Water Ballads, 1902) is born in 1878 in Ledbury, Herefordshire.

masefieldyoungJohn Masefield, b. June 1, 1878, d. 1967

Masefield became known for being the United Kingdom’s Poet Laureate from 1930 until his death thirty-seven years later, and some of his poetry can still be read with profit. But he is best remembered for two children’s books.

Suggested Reading Children’s books The Midnight Folks, 1927. The Box of Delights: or When the Wolves Were Running, 1935. Poetry Salt-Water Ballads, 1902. Sonnets, 1916. Some Verses to Some Germans, 1939.

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

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