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Archive for September, 2002

A Week in Literary History

September 21st, 2002

English novelist H.G. Wells (The War of the Worlds, 1898) is born in 1866 in Bromley, Kent.

wellscartooncolor*H.G. Wells, b. September 21, 1866, d. 1946

An brilliant polymath and largely self-educated, Wells became extremely well-known and popular for his use of scientific information in his many books. His Outline of History remains a wonderful summation, and his novels still pulsate with visionary prescience.

Suggested Reading Novels The Time Machine, 1895. The Island of Dr. Moreau, 1896. The Invisible Man, 1897. The War of the Worlds, 1898. The First Men in the Moon, 1901. Tono-Bungay, 1909. The History of Mr. Polly, 1910. The World Set Free, 1914. Stories The Country of the Blind, 1911. Short Stories of H.G. Wells, 1927. Essays & Studies Mankind in the Making, 1903. Socialism and Marriage, 1908. God, the Invisible King, 1917. The Outline of History, 1920. A Short History of the World, 1922. Mind at the End of Its Tether, 1946. Autobiography Certain Personal Matters, 1897. An Experiment in Autobiography, 1934.

Posted by: The Editors
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A Week in Literary History

September 20th, 2002

In 1902, English poet Stevie (Margaret Florence) Smith (Not Waving but Drowning, 1957) is born in Hull, Yorkshire.

Stevie Smith, b. September 20, 1902, d. 1971

smithstevie.jpgFlorence Margaret Smith received little recognition in her prime for her literary work; it wasn’t until a series of BBC radio readings that she began to accumlate a devoted following, and her reputation has grown since her death. Her novels are based so closely on events from her life that people who were portrayed often complained. But her poetry is her real legacy: humorous, defiant in the face of death and depression, and beautifully evocative.

Suggested Reading Poems Collected Poems, 1975. Novels Novel on Yellow Paper, 1936. The Holiday, 1949.

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A Week in Literary History

September 19th, 2002

English novelist and Nobel laureate William Golding (Lord of the Flies, 1954) is born in 1911 in Newquay, Cornwall.

goldingWilliam Golding, b. September 19, 1911, d. 1993

Golding experienced instant success with his first novel in 1954 and rode his success for three decades, winning the Booker Prize in 1980. When he was awarded the Nobel in 1983, the English literary mafia seemed to turn against him, thinking him less worthy of that award than Graham Greene and Anthony Burgess. Golding had the last laugh, though, and continued to publish novels until almost the age of eighty.

Suggested Reading Novels Lord of the Flies, 1954. The Inheritors, 1955. Pincher Martin, 1956. Free Fall, 1959. The Spire, 1964. Darkness Visible, 1979. Rites of Passage, 1980.

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A Week in Literary History

September 18th, 2002

English writer Lord Berners (The Camel, 1936) is born in 1888 in Aplev Park, Shropshire.

Lord Berners, b. September 18, 1883, d. 1950

berners.pngA composer, novelist, painter, and conspicuous aesthete, known as “the English Satie,” Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt-Wilson Berners is remembered as the model for Lord Merlin in Nancy Mitford’s novel The Pursuit of Love, for his quirky, sometimes fantastic, and wickedly delicious tales, especially The Camel, and for his two superb volumes of autobiography.

Suggested Reading Tales Percy Wallingford, 1914. The Camel, 1936. Mr. Pidger, 1939. Count Omega, 1941. The Romance of a Nose, 1941. Far from the Madding War, 1941. Autobiography First Childhood, 1934. A Distant Prospect, 1945.

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A Week in Literary History

September 18th, 2002

Eighteenth-century literary colossus Samuel Johnson is born in Lichfield, 1709.

Samuel Johnson, b. September 18, 1709, d. 1784

johnson.jpgThe Great Cham is the only literary figure of importance, Oscar Wilde excepted, to be remembered as much for his conversation as for his literary work. Even his monumental dictionary (the first systematic, etymological one in the language) and his annotated edition of Shakespeare are less well known than his remarks and ripostes, as lovingly recorded by James Boswell, who eulogized Johnson as “a man whose talents, acquirements, and virtues were so extraordinary, that the more his character is considered, the more he will be regarded by the present age, and by posterity, with admiration and reverence.”

Suggested Reading Essays The Rambler, 1750-52. The Idler, 1758-60. Lexicography Dictionary of the English Language, 1755. Biography Life of Richard Savage, 1744. Lives of the Poets, 1779-81. Poems London, 1738. The Vanity of Human Wishes, 1749. Novel The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia, 1759.

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A Week in Literary History

September 15th, 2002

American humorist Robert Benchley (The American Roundup, 1954) is born in Worcester, Mass. in 1889.

Robert Benchley, b. September 15, 1889, d. 1945

benchleyfireman.jpgHaving gained fame as a writer of wacky humorous pieces for The New Yorker, Benchley increasingly turned his pen to writing for movies. He also appeared as a funny character actor in many films and even won an Oscar for the short subject How to Sleep. He is best read now in collections of his short, hilarious, and inimitable pieces.

Suggested Reading Collections Of All Things, 1921. Love Conquers All, 1922. Pluck and Luck, 1925. The Early Worm, 1927. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; or, David Copperfield, 1928. The Treasurer’s Report, and Other Aspects of Community Singing, 1930. From Bed to Worse; or, Comforting Thoughts About the Bison, 1934. My Ten Years in a Quandary, and How They Grew, 1936. After 1903 — What? 1938.

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A Week in Literary History

September 13th, 2002

American novelist and short story writer Sherwood Anderson (Winesburg, Ohio, 1919) is born in Camden, Ohio, 1876.

Sherwood Anderson, b. September 13, 1876, d. 1941

andersonsherwood.jpgWith the publication of Winesburg, Ohio in 1919 Anderson became a famous and successful writer, but he lived to see his reputation fall as, one by one, other, younger American writers repudiated his undoubted influence on them, among them Hemingway, who parodied Anderson’s novel Dark Laughter in his The Torrents of Spring.

Suggested Reading Novels Poor White, 1920. Many Marriages, 1923. Dark Laughter, 1925. Stories Winesburg, Ohio, 1919. The Triumph of the Egg, 1921. Horses and Men, 1923. Death in the Woods and Other Stories, 1933. Autobiography A Story Teller’s Story, 1924. Tar: A Midwest Childhood, 1926. Sherwood Anderson’s Memoirs, 1942.

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A Week in Literary History

September 12th, 2002

In 1892, American publisher Alfred A. Knopf is born in New York City.

knopf.jpgAlfred A. Knopf, b. September 12, 1892, d. 1984

Knopf and the publishing house he founded in 1915 became synonymous with serious fiction as he published books in attractive editions by Maugham, Gide, Lawrence, Forster, Sartre, Beauvoir, Mann, Freud, and Kafka, not to mention the Americans Mencken, Dreiser, Baldwin, Cather, and Updike, among many others.

Suggested Reading Books Borzoi 1920, 1920. Portrait of a Publisher, 191501965, 1965. Sixty Photographs, 1975.

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A Week in Literary History

September 12th, 2002

American writer H.L. (Henry Louis) Mencken (The American Language, 1919-48) is born in Baltimore in 1880.

H.L. Mencken, b. September 12, 1880, d. 1956

mencken.jpgPerhaps no other writer has influenced the tone and style of American prose more than the Sage of Baltimore, the incomparable stylist and thinker who ruled literary America for twenty or thirty years early in the twentieth century. Decades later, his writing remains a model of vigorous, memorable, and original expression.

Suggested Reading Essays & studies George Bernard Shaw—His Plays, 1905. The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, 1908. A Book of Prefaces, 1917. In Defense of Women, 1918. Prejudices (in six series), 1919-1927. Notes on Democracy, 1926. Treatise on the Gods, 1930. Treatise on Right and Wrong, 1934. Generally Political, 1944. A Mencken Chrestomathy, 1949. Philology The American Language, 1919. Supplements, 1945-1950. Autobiography Happy Days, 1940. Newspaper Days, 1941. Heathen Days, 1943. Diary The Diary of H.L. Mencken, 1989.

Posted by: The Editors
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A Week in Literary History

September 11th, 2002

English novelist David Herbert Lawrence (Sons and Lovers, 1913) is born in 1885 in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire.

lawrencedhD.H. Lawrence, b. September 11, 1885, d. 1930

Lawrence’s views on sexuality obscured his larger theme of the negative effects of industrial society, which he explored in all his books and stories. The excitement over Lady Chatterley’s Lover was remembered long after his best books were forgotten.

Suggested Reading Novels Sons & Lovers, 1913. The Rainbow, 1915. Women in Love, 1920. Lady Chatterley’s Lover, 1928. Short Stories The Prussian Officer and Other Stories, 1914. The Rocking-Horse Winner, 1926. Travel Sea and Sardinia, 1921. Mornings in Mexico and Other Essays, 1927. Sketches of Etruscan Places and Other Italian Essays, 1932. Letters The Selected Letters of D H Lawrence, 1997.

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