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Archive for September, 2002

A Week in Literary History

September 29th, 2002

Spanish satirist Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (Don Quixote, 1605-1615) is born in Alcalá de Henares, Crown of Castile, in 1547.

Miguel de Cervantes, b. September 29, 1547, d. April 23, 1616

cervantespainting.jpgCervantes is often called the first “novelist,” but whether his works are novels or satires or something else, he remains one of the most influential writers in history. A nation of writers (Great Britain) emulated him in one way or another for several centuries, and his famous knight has become a universal symbol of romanticism and futility, with a tinge of nobility.

Suggested Reading Don Quixote, 1605-1615. Novelas Ejemplares, 1613.

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

A Week in Literary History

September 26th, 2002

Anglicized American poet T.S. (Thomas Stearns) Eliot (The Wasteland, 1922) is born in St. Louis, Mo., 1888. In 1948 he will win the Nobel Prize for literature.

Thomas Stearns Eliot, b. September 26, 1888, d. 1965

eliotts.jpgWhen the so-called American-born English poet Thomas Stearns Eliot died on his seventy-seventh birthday, he was the most famous poet in the world, and one of the few to have won the Nobel Prize in literature. Having begun as an arch-modernist, he retained his distinctive, laconic voice through his entire career and also single-handedly brought to critical notice the metaphysical poets of the seventeenth century.

Suggested Reading Poetry Prufrock and Other Observations, 1917. The Waste Land, 1922. The Journey of the Magi, 1927. Ash Wednesday, 1930. Sweeney Agonistes, 1932. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, 1939. Four Quartets, 1943. Drama Murder in the Cathedral, 1935. The Family Reunion, 1939. The Cocktail Party, 1949. Essays Ezra Pound: His Metric Poetry, 1917. The Sacred Wood, 1920. Homage to John Dryden, 1924. Dante, 1929. The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism, 1933. Elizabethan Essays, 1934. Notes Toward the Definition of Culture, 1948. Poetry and Drama, 1951. The Three Voices of Poetry, 1954.

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

A Week in Literary History

September 26th, 2002

In 1961 English novelist Will Self (Cock and Bull, 1992) is born in London.

Will Self, b. September 26, 1961

The acknowledged bad boy of British fiction began his career with kudos for his short stories in 1991, followed that with a novel that was savaged by the critics, and became known as a “hack who gets hired because I do drugs.” Drug-free since 1998, he continues his successful career with novels, short stories, and journalism.

Suggested Reading Novels Cock and Bull, 1992. Great Apes, 1997. The Book of Dave, 2006. Umbrella, 1012. Short fiction The Quantity Theory of Insanity, 1991. Tough, Tough Toys for Tough, Tough Boys, 1998. Liver: A Fictional Organ with a Surface Anatomy of Four Lobes, 2008. Non-fiction Junk Mail, 1996. Feeding Frenzy, 2001. Psycho Too, 2009. The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Prawn Cracker, 2012.

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

A Week in Literary History

September 26th, 2002

America poet W.S. (William Stanley) Merwin (A Mask for Janus, 1952) is born in New York City in 1927.

W.S. Merwin, b. September 30, 1927

merwinat60.pngMerwin is America’s most celebrated living poet. He has won the Pulitzer Prize twice, thirty-eight years apart, the National Book Award in 2005, when he was almost eighty, and every other honor this country can bestow. He is also a graceful and lyrical writer of “prose poems” and a prolific translator.

Suggested Reading Poems A Mask for Janus, 1952. Green with Beasts, 1954. The Drunk in the Furnace, 1960. The Lice, 1967. The Carrier of Ladders, 1970. Writings to an Unfinished Accompaniment, 1973. The Rain in the Trees, 1988. The Shadow of Sirius, 2008. Prose The Miner’s Pale Children, 1970. The Lost Uplands: Stories of Southwest France, 1992. Translations Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair (Pablo Neruda), 1969. Osip Mandelstam: Selected Poems, 1974. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, 2005.

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

A Week in Literary History

September 25th, 2002

American novelist William Faulkner (As I Lay Dying, 1930) is born William Falkner in New Albany, Miss., 1897.

William Faulkner, b. September 25, 1897, d. 1962

faulkner.jpgIn one short burst during his early thirties Faulkner wrote the beginnings of six superb novels; then he finished them and went on to a thirty-year career of uniformly high quality. By the end of his life, as the most original and substantial American novelist of the twentieth century, winner of the Nobel and every other honor, he finally had the satisfaction of seeing his works widely published and praised.

Suggested Reading Novels Soldier’s Pay, 1926. Mosquitoes, 1927. Sartoris, 1929. The Sound and the Fury, 1929. As I Lay Dying, 1930. Sanctuary, 1931. Light in August, 1932. Pylon, 1935. Absalom, Absalom! 1936. The Wild Palms, 1939. The Hamlet, 1940. Go Down, Moses, 1942. Intruder in the Dust, 1948. Requiem for a Nun, 1951. A Fable, 1954. The Town, 1957. Short stories These Thirteen, 1931. Doctor Marino and Other Stories, 1934. The Unvanquished: Sartoris Stories, 1938. Knight’s Gambit, 1949. Collected Short Stories of William Faulkner, 1950.

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

A Week in Literary History

September 24th, 2002

In 1896, American novelist F. Scott (Francis Scott Key) Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby, 1925) is born in St. Paul, Minn.

fitzgeraldfscottphoto.jpgF. Scott Fitzgerald, b. September 24, 1896, d. 1940

Before he immersed himself in Hollywood and drank himself to an early death, Fitzgerald was, for a moment, a writer of great lyrical beauty. The Great Gatsby is one of those rare literary works in which not a word could be changed for the better. But he could not cope with success, and his truncated career seems in retrospect a sad story of wasted talent.

Suggested Reading Stories Flappers and Philosophers, 1921. The Beautiful and Damned, 1922. Tales of the Jazz Age, 1922. All the Sad Young Men, 1926. Taps at Reveille, 1935. The Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1951. The Pat Hobby Stories, 1962. Novels This Side of Paradise, 1920. The Great Gatsby, 1925. Tender is the Night, 1934. The Last Tycoon, 1941. Other The Crack-Up, edited by Edmund Wilson, 1945. The Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1963.

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

A Week in Literary History

September 24th, 2002

capote.jpgAmerican writer Truman Capote (In Cold Blood, 1966) is born in 1924 in New Orleans.

Truman Capote, b. September 30, 1924, d. 1984

Capote was a strange little man/boy, often unspeakably arch and bitchy, who frittered away his last years in shameless self-promotion. He could always write beautifully, when he sat down to do it, and in his 1966 book In Cold Blood he created a masterpiece and a new genre, the non-fiction novel, which has been copied many times since and broadened the possibilities of what had seemed to many to be a dying art form. His recently published letters are an unalloyed delight; reading them is like watching an especially literate Bette Davis movie.

Suggested Reading Novels Other Voices, Other Rooms, 1948. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1958. Drama The Grass Harp, 1952. House of Flowers, 1954. Non-fiction The Muses Are Heard, 1956. In Cold Blood, 1966. Collected fiction & non-fiction Music for Chameleons, 1980. Letters Too Brief a Treat: The Letters of Truman Capote, 2004.

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

A Week in Literary History

September 23rd, 2002

American writer William H. McGuffey (McGuffey’s Eclectic Readers, 1836-57) is born in 1800 near Claysville, Pa.

William H. McGuffey, b. September 23, 1800, d. 1873

A professor and lecturer on moral and biblical subjects, McGuffey compiled his famous readers as textbooks at a publisher’s request, having been recommended for the job by Harriet Beecher Stowe. The four books eventually became classroom standards for a century; 120 million were in circulation by 1960, and they have continued to sell at the rate of 30,000 a year for the past half-century.

Suggested Reading Books McGuffey’s Eclectic Readers, 1836-57.

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

A Week in Literary History

September 23rd, 2002

Greek dramatist Euripides (Medea, 431 BCE) is born around 480 BCE on the island of Salamis, Greece.

Euripides, b. September 23, 480 BCE, d. 406 BCE

euripidesEuripides was the youngest of the great triumvirate of Greek tragedians. More of his plays survive (19 of the 92 he wrote) than those of Aeschylus and Sophocles combined, although he won fewer drama competitions than either of the other two, probably because he held outspoken philosophical views and was connected to Socrates.

Suggested Reading Plays (All dates BCE) Medea, 431. Andromache, c. 425. Electra, 420. The Trojan Women, c. 415. Iphigenia in Tauris, c. 414. Orestes, 408. Bacchae, 405. Iphigenia at Aulis, 405.

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

A Week in Literary History

September 22nd, 2002

English belletrist Philip Dormer Stanhope, Lord Chesterfield (Letters to His Son, 1774) is born in 1694 in London.

Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield, b. September 22, 1694, d. 1773

chesterfieldAlthough the priggish Samuel Johnson said that they “teach the morals of a whore, and the manners of a dancing master,” Lord Chesterfield’s Letters to His Son have survived as a lively and well written guide to life in the eighteenth century. Chesterfield’s wise, frank, and practical advice seems as timely now as it did then.

Suggested Reading Works Letters to His Son, 1774.

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

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