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Archive for the 'A Week in Literary History' Category

A Week in Literary History

October 27th, 2002

In 1795, English poet John Keats (Endymion, 1818) is born in Finsbury Pavement.

keatsdrawing2.pngJohn Keats, b. October 31, 1795, d. 1821

Keats died so young that he was able to produce only a small amount of poetry, none of it appreciated much in his lifetime. In fact it is said the savage reviews of Endymion precipitated his death. The poems he did write, however, have taken their place among the finest in the English language.

Suggested Reading Poetry Poems, 1816. Endymion, 1818.

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

A Week in Literary History

October 25th, 2002

English novelist Zadie Smith (White Teeth, 2000) is born Sadie Smith in London in 1975.

Zadie Smith, b. October 25, 1975

Smith has emerged during the past decade, since her powerful and clever debut with White Teeth in 2000, as one of England’s best novelists. Although very much a “literary” writer, she is a master of every sort of language, from the refined to the most proletarian. Her opinions on writing and literature are deep, challenging, and refreshing. She’s the most brilliant young writer to have come along in many a year.

Suggested Reading Novels White Teeth, 2000. The Autograph Man, 2002. On Beauty, 2005. NW, 2012. Essays Changing My Mind, 2009. Other The Book of Other People, 2007.

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

A Week in Literary History

October 22nd, 2002

English Nobel novelist Doris Lessing (The Golden Notebook, 1962) is born in 1919 in Kermanshah, Persia.

Doris Lessing, b. October 22, 1919, d. 2013

lessingdorisA prolific author in many genres, Lessing became the oldest person to ever receive the Nobel in literature, in 2007. From her early realist novels to her later futuristic novels and four volumes of memoirs, she showed a fearless willingness to attack sacred cows and confront the most difficult human issues.

Suggested Reading Novels The Grass is Singing, 1950. Martha Quest, 1952. A Proper Marriage, 1954. The Golden Notebook, 1962. The Four-Gated City, 1969. Briefing for a Descent in Hell, 1971. Shikasta, 1979. The Good Terrorist, 1985. Short Stories African Stories, 1964. London Observed: Stories and Sketches, 1992. Autobiography Going Home, 1957. African Laughter: Four Visits to Zimbabwe, 1992. Under My Skin, 1994. Walking in the Shade, 1997.

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

A Week in Literary History

October 18th, 2002

In 1904, American gourmand and journalist A.J. (Abbott Joseph) Liebling (The Road Back to Paris, 1944) is born in New York City.

A.J. Liebling, b. October 18, 1904, d. 1963

lieblingOne of the best of a generation of great journalists, many of them nurtured by The New Yorker, Liebling claimed to be able to write faster than anyone who could write better and better than anyone who could write faster. He was also a legendary talker and eater. His books, which range over topics from France to boxing to gastronomy, are fortunately all in print again, and they reveal a journalist both of and ahead of his time: old-fashioned reportage mixed with New Journalism “personalism.” Wonderful, vivid stuff.

Suggested Reading Books Back Where I Came From, 1938. The Telephone Booth Indian, 1942. The Road Back to Paris, 1944. The Wayward Pressman, 1947. Chicago: The Second City, 1952. The Honest Rainmaker: The Life and Times of Colonel John R. Stingo, 1953. The Sweet Science, 1956.

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

A Week in Literary History

October 17th, 2002

In 1903, American novelist Nathanael West (Miss Lonelyhearts, 1933) is born in New York City.

westnathanael.jpgNathanael West, b. October 17, 1903, d. 1940

Nathanael West’s premature death in an automobile accident cut short a career that might have given us more novels as strong as The Day of the Locust, his last one, and might not. West’s vision was a dark one, and it had undoubtedly been darkened further by his work in Hollywood, grinding out scripts for B-movies. His two good books — and Miss Lonelyhearts and Day are extremely good — end in apocalypse; it’s difficult to imagine how he would have gone on or what more he had to say. But we’ll never know.

Suggested Reading Novels The Dream Life of Balso Snell, 1931. Miss Lonelyhearts, 1933. A Cool Million, 1934. The Day of the Locust. 1939.

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

At Week in Literary History

October 16th, 2002

American lexicographer Noah Webster (American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828) is born in 1758 in West Hartford, Ct.

Noah Webster, b. October 16, 1758, d. 1843

Do you wonder why Americans spell “colour” “color”? Blame this, and many other spelling eccentricities, on Mr. Webster, the first to publish a dictionary of the English language as used in the United States (and eventually Canada), completed over an 18-year period. Famous in his lifetime as a writer of spelling guides, he was also immensely respected as a scholar and man of letters.

Suggested Reading Any Webster’s dictionary.

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

A Week in Literary History

October 16th, 2002

In 1854, Irish playwright Oscar Wilde (The Importance of Being Earnest, 1895) is born in Dublin.

Oscar Wilde, b. October 16, 1854, d. 1900

“Either it goes or I do.” So declared Wilde of his wallpaper, while he lay dying in a cheap Paris hotel. The divine Oscar, who virtually self-destructed at forty-six, will always be remembered for his witty, sardonic one-liners and, one suspects, for little else. Still, there were enough of them to stock several plays and innumberable essays.

Suggested Reading Plays Lady Windermere’s Fan, 1892. Salomé, 1893. A Woman of No Importance, 1893. The Importance of Being Earnest, 1895. Prose Intentions, 1891. The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891. De Profundis, 1905.

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

A Week in Literary History

October 15th, 2002

The inimitable English writer P.G. (Pelham Grenville) Wodehouse, creator of Psmith and Jeeves, is born in Guildford, Surrey, in 1881.

P.G. Wodehouse, b. October 15, 1881, d. 1975

wodehouse.pngNo less an authority than Evelyn Waugh (see below) famously said of Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, “Mr Wodehouse’s idyllic world can never stale. He will continue to release future generations from captivity that may be more irksome than our own. He has made a world for us to live in and delight in.” Almost all of Wodehouse’s ninety-six books sold well and a great many are still in print, often in collections. Absolutely imperishable!

Suggested reading The Blandings Castle stories, the Drones Club stories, the Jeeves and Wooster stories, the Psmith stories, The Uncle Fred stories, the Ukridge stories.

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

A Week in Literary History

October 12th, 2002

COLUMBUS DAY

… Mr. Parkhill opened the class with these ringing words: “Tonight, let us set aside our routine tasks for a while to consider the man whose – er – historic achievement the world will commemorate tomorrow.”

Expectancy murmured its sibilant way across the room. “To this man,” Mr. Parkhill continued, “the United States – America – owes its very beginning. I’m sure you all know whom I mean, for he —”

“Jawdge Vashington!” Miss Fanny Gidwitz promptly guessed.

“No, no. Not George Washington — watch that ‘w,’ Miss Gidwitz. I refer to —”

“Paul Rewere!” cried Oscar Trabish impetuously….

Read the rest of this entry »

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

A Week in Literary History

October 9th, 2002

Senegalese poet and statesman Léopold Sédar Senghor (Éthiopiques, 1956) is born in Joal in 1906.

Léopold Sédar Senghor, b. October 9, 1906, d. 2001

One of the most important African intellectuals of the twentieth century, Senghor, a poet and cultural theorist, was the first African elected a member of the Académie française. Before his country’s independence, he founded the political party called the Senegalese Democratic Bloc, and then for two decades served as its first president (1960–1980).

Suggested Reading Poetry Chants d’ombre, 1945. Hosties noires, 1948. Nocturnes, 1961. Poèmes, 1964. Non-fiction La Belle Histoire de Leuk-le-Lièvre, 1953. Ethiopiques, 1956. Nation et voie africaine du socialisme, 1961.

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

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