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Black Lamb

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Now in its 14th year of publication, this magazine was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Black Lamb Review is a literate rather than a literary publication. Regular columns by writers in a variety of geographic locations and vocations are supplemented by features, reviews, articles on books and authors, and a selection of “departments,” including an acerbic advice column and a lamb recipe.

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Honorary Black Lambs

June 1st, 2003

BY BLACK LAMB

DorebookssquashingJune’s a jumble of juicy birthdays, but novelists are the overwhelming winners in the literary derby despite the appearance of one of the twentieth century’s greatest poets, William Butler Yeats on June 13, in 1865. Before he got old and Celtic mysticism got the best of him and his verse, Yeats wrote book after book of lyrical, transcendent poetry. The true goods.

Another poet, one of a different sort, adorns June, and that’s the late Allen Ginsberg, born on the 3rd in 1926. And a great master came on the scene, in Russia, on the 6th, in 1799, when Aleksandr Pushkin drooled his first. And although he’s better known for his grim novels, Thomas Hardy, born on the 2nd in 1840, was one of the great poets of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

There are also a few notable dramatists to mention. Pierre Corneille, writer of El Cid, came into being on the 6th in 1606. Ben Jonson, author of Volpone, howled his first howl on June 11, 1572, and Luigi Pirandello began his search for an author on the 28th, in 1867. John Gay, creator of The Beggar’s Opera, was born in 1685. His tombstone reads “Life’s a jest/And all things show it./I thought so once,/But now I know it.”

But those novelists! The deliciously acidic Ivy Compton-Burnett started her march to mastery on June 5, 1884, and Margaret Drabble began her own lurch toward mediocrity on the same day fifty-five years later. Ponderous Nobelist Thomas Mann, master of the never-ending sentence, was born on the 6th in 1875, and Elizabeth Bowen came along on the 7th in 1899. It’s Saul Bellow on the 10th, born in 1914 or 1915, writer of two of the richest twentieth-century novels, The Adventures of Augie March and Henderson the Rain King.

The Pennsylvanian novelist John Edgar Wideman was born on June 14, 1941, and novelist Ivan Goncharov, known for Oblomov, began his earthly existence on the 18th in 1812. Let us not forget Tobias Woolf and Salman Rushdie, born two years apart on June 19th, nor Mary McCarthy, a better memoirist and non-fiction writer than novelist, born on the 21st in 1912.

That leaves, among others too numerous or insignificant to mention, Ian McEwan, a master of short and longer narratives, born thirty-six years after Ms. McCarthy, to the day, and the magnificent stylist Eric Arthur Blair, who published under the name George Orwell, born June 25, 1887.

Finally, raise a birthday beaker to two masters of a somewhat different sort, Maurice Sendak, born on the 10th in 1928, and Antoine de Saint-Exupery (the 29th, 1900), and that rare Frenchman whose contribution to world literature is not overrated, Blaise Pascal (the 19th, 1623).

Remaining among June’s babies are the liars Jerzy Kosinski and Lillian Hellman, children’s author Richard Scarry, Texan Larry McMurtry, and playwrights Athol Fugard and Federico Garcia Lorca, not to mention Marguerite Yournecar, Terence Rattigan, Yasunari Kawabata, William Styron, Djuna Barnes, Anne Frank, Fanny Burney, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Joyce Carol Oates, John Hersey, Vikram Seth, Jean-Paul Sartre (Greenwich village graffito: “Jean-Paul Sartre is a fartre”), Rider Haggard, Anna Akhmatova, St. John of the Cross, Ambrose Bierce, John Ciardi, Lafcadio Hearn, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Mark Helprin. Best summer wishes, all. •

Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Book Issue, Honorary Black Lambs | Link to this Entry

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