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Archive for the 'A Week in Literary History' Category

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
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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
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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.

Posted by: The Editors
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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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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