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Archive for August, 2002

A Week in Literary History

August 25th, 2002

English novelist Howard Jacobson (The Finkler Question, 2010) is born in Manchester in 1942.

Howard Jacobson, b. August 25, 1942

When the English novelist Howard Jacobson finally won the Man Booker Prize last year for his eleventh work of fiction, The Finkler Question, it was seen as an “it’s about time” moment by the British writing community. His two previous books, Kalooki Nights (2006) and The Act of Love (2008), had been lavishly applauded by critics and fellow writers, as, in fact, had his preceding eight novels, but Jacobson had somehow remained a sort of secret pleasure. No longer.

Suggested Reading Novels Creeping from Behind, 1983. The Very Model of a Man, 1992. No More Mister Nice Guy, 1998. Kalooki Nights, 2006. The Act of Love, 2008. The Finkler Question, 2010. Non-fiction In the Land of Oz, 1987. Roots Schmoots: Journeys Among Jews, 1993. Seriously Funny: From the Ridiculous to the Sublime, 1997.

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

A Week in Literary History

August 24th, 2002

Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges (Ficciones, 1962) is born in Buenos Aires in 1899.

borgesbyavedonJorge Luis Borges, b. August 24, 1899, d. 1986

The blind bibliophile Borges implausibly rocketed to fame in the Sixties with the translation of his prose pieces into English, sparking a cottage industry for a generation of library-bound PhD candidates, but his cachet faded fast. One is reminded of the remark that, we think, Nabokov made, to this effect: “In first reading Borges, I felt that I was standing on the porch of a magnificent baroque mansion, about to enter. After further reading, I realized that the porch was not attached to any house.”

Suggested Reading Stories Ficciones, 1944. The Aleph, 1949. The Book of Sand, 1975. Parables and Poems El Haceador, 1960. Essays Other Inquisitions, 1952.

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

A Week in Literary History

August 24th, 2002

Dominican novelist Jean Rhys (Wide Sargasso Sea, 1966) is born Ella Gwendolen Rees Williams in 1890 in Roseau, Dominica, British West Indies.

Jean Rhys, b. August 24, 1890, d. 1979

rhyscolor1Rhys became famous only when she was in her seventies, with the publication in 1966 of Wide Sargasso Sea, a fascinating prequel to Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. It was then that her earlier books were published and she took her place as substantial literary figure of the Twenties and Thirties.

Suggested Reading Novels Quartet, 1928. Voyage in the Dark, 1934. Good Morning, Midnight, 1939. Wide Sargasso Sea, 1966. Stories The Left Bank and Other Stories, 1927. The Collected Short Stories, 1987.

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

A Week in Literary History

August 24th, 2002

English caricaturist and novelist Henry Maximilian “Max” Beerbohm (Zuleika Dobson, 1911) is born in 1872 in London.

beerbohmcaricatureMax Beerbohm, b. August 24, 1872, d. 1956

Beerbohm found his vocation while still studying at Oxford and went on to publish many collections of his exquisite and parodic caricatures of artists, writers, and politicians. He also found time to write, an ability for which ascribed to his love of Latin.

Poems, novels & other prose The Happy Hypocrite, 1897. Zuleika Dobson, or An Oxford Love Story, 1911. A Christmas Garland, Woven by Max Beerbohm, 1912. Seven Men, 1919. A Peep into the Past, 1923. Caricatures Caricatures of Twenty-five Gentlemen, 1896. The Poet’s Corner, 1904. A Book of Caricatures, 1907. Fifty Caricatures, 1913. Rossetti and His Circle, 1922.

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

A Week in Literary History

August 23rd, 2002

In 1868, American poet Edgar Lee Masters (Spoon River Anthology, 1915) is born in Garnett, Kansas.

masters.pngEdgar Lee Masters. b. August 23, 1869, d. 1950

Masters wrote verse all his life, publishing collections from 1898 until 1942, but he is remembered chiefly for his Spoon River Anthology of 1915, a wondrous collection of interconnected poems about a fictional town in western Illinois: timeless and beautiful.

Suggested Reading Poems Spoon River Anthology, 1915. Selected Poems, 1925. Illinois Poems, 1941.

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

A Week in Literary History

August 22nd, 2002

American wit, poet, and short story writer Dorothy Parker (Here Lies, 1936) is born Dorothy Rothschild in West End, N.J., 1893.

Dorothy Parker, b. August 22, 1893, d. 1967

parkerdorothy.jpgDorothy Parker’s bittersweet reflections on the mating game took up a lot of her creative energy, but she also wrote some immortal book and drama criticism. Of Katherine Hepburn in a stage play: “She ran the gamut of emotions from A to B.” Reviewing as Constant Reader, of A.A. Milne’s Pooh books: “Tonstant Weader Fwowed up.” Contrary to popular belief, and her expectation, she did not die young.

Suggested Reading Verse Enough Rope, 1926. Death and Taxes and Other Poems, 1931. Not So Deep As a Well, 1936. Collected Poetry, 1944. Short stories Laments for the Living, 1930. Here Lies, 1939. Collected Stories, 1942. Other Constant Reader, 1970. The Portable Dorothy Parker, 1973.

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

A Week in Literary History

August 19th, 2002

American versifier Ogden Nash (I’m a Stranger Here Myself, 1938) is born in Rye, N.Y., 1902.

nashogden.jpgOgden Nash, b. August 19, 1902, d. 1971

Great light verse is impossible to define, but you know it when you see it, or, in the case of Ogden Nash, when you see and hear it. Nash has delighted generations of readers with his talent for gnarled rhymes, sometimes based on odd spellings (“awesome” and “blawssom”) but more often on bold, unashamed ingenuity, as in this representative sample from his collection The Private Dining Room:

The Caterpillar

I find among the poems of Schiller
No mention of the caterpillar,
Nor can I find one anywhere
In Petrarch or in Baudelaire,
So here I sit in extra session
To give my personal impression.
The caterpillar, as it’s called,
If often hairy, seldom bald;
It looks as if it never shaves;
When it walks, it walks in waves;
And from the cradle to the chrysalis
It’s utterly speechless, songless, whistleless.

Suggested Reading Verse collections Hard Lines, 1931. I’m a Stranger Here Myself, 1938. Good Intentions, 1942. Many Long Years Ago, 1945. Versus, 1949. The Private Dining Room, 1953. Marriage Lines, 1964.

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

A Week in Literary History

August 19th, 2002

English poet, critic, and playwright John Dryden (Mac Flecknoe, 1682) is born in 1631 in Northamptonshire.

drydenJohn Dryden, b. August 19, 1631, d. 1700

Dryden was the preeminent English man of letters between Shakespeare and the eighteenth century wits. He dominated poetry and literary criticism following the Restoration of the monarchy and also spread appreciation of classic authors with his translations of Horace, Juvenal, Ovid, Homer, and Vergil. Only after the appearance of Alexander Pope did his status as his country’s leading poet falter.

Suggested Reading Poetry Annus Mirabilis, 1667. Absalom and Achitophel, 1681. Mac Flecknoe, 1682. The Hind and the Panther, 1687. Plays The Conquest of Granada, 1670. Marriage à la mode, 1672. All for Love, 1678. Criticism An Essay of Dramatick Poesie, 1668.

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

A Week in Literary History

August 17th, 2002

In 1925, American experimental novelist John Hawkes (The Lime Twig, 1961) is born in Stamford, Conn.

hawkes.jpgJohn Hawkes, b. August 17, 1925, d. 1998

Hawkes rose to prominence in 1961 with the publication of his novel The Lime Twig, which might be described as a surrealistic thriller, and he took his place among the experimental writers of the day. His early works hold up best, in our opinion, especially his masterpiece Second Skin, strange and richly evocative in its language.

Suggested Reading Novels Charivari, 1949. The Cannibal, 1949. The Beetle Leg, 1951. The Lime Twig, 1961. Second Skin, 1964. Stories Lunar Landscapes, 1969.

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

Last Week in Literary History

August 17th, 2002

In 1932, Indian-Caribbean novelist V.S. (Vidiadhar Surajprasad) Naipaul (A House for Mr. Biswas, 1961) is born in Trinidad.

V.S. Naipaul, b. August 17, 1932

Naipaul has become an immensely respected and honored writer (Booker Prize in 1971, Nobel thirty years later) without surrendering his reputation for controversy. His novels and especially his non-fiction works have been intrepreted as racist and neo-colonial, he has been an unrepentant apologist for Western civilization, he has angered almost everyone with his view that women’s writing is inferior to men’s, and he has not hesitated to be critical of Islam. More thoroughly than any other living writer, he has turned an uncomforting mirror to our times.

Suggested Reading Novels The Suffrage of Elvira, 1958. A House for Mr Biswas, 1961. In a Free State, 1971. A Bend in the River, 1979. A Way in the World, 1994. Non-fiction & Travel The Middle Passage, 1962. The Loss of El Dorado, 1969. India: A Wounded Civilization, 1977. A Congo Diary, 1980. Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey, 1981. A Turn in the South, 1989. A Writer’s People: Ways of Looking and Feeling, 2007.

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

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