Archive for the 'Authors and Books' Category
Here are some literary centenaries coming up in 2015
- February 2 - Khushwant Singh, Indian novelist and journalist
- March 18 - Richard Condon, novelist (died 1996)
- June 10 - Saul Bellow, writer (died 2005)
- July 7 - Margaret Walker, poet and novelist (died 1998)
- July 14 - Jerome Lawrence, dramatist (died 2004)
- July 31 - Herbert Aptheker, historian (died 2003)
- August 19 - Ring Lardner Jr., journalist and scriptwriter, one of the “Hollywood Ten” (died 2000)
- August 28 - Claude Roy, French poet (died 1997)
- October 17 - Arthur Miller, dramatist (died 2005)
- November 8 - G. S. Fraser, poet and critic (died 1980)
- December 22 - David Martin, poet (died 1997)
- December 27 - John Cornford, poet (died 1936)
- May 3 - The rondeau ”In Flanders Fields” is written by Canadian poet John McCrae; it is first published on December 8 in the London magazine Punch.
- May 7 - Sinking of the RMS Lusitania: Americans among the 1,198 killed in this torpedo attack on a civilian passenger liner include: writer and playwright Justus Miles Forman(b. 1875); theatrical producer Charles Frohman (b. 1856); writer and philosopher Elbert Hubbard (b. 1856) and his second wife Alice Moore Hubbard (b. 1861); and playwright Charles Klein (b. 1867). Survivors include British-born writer and educator Ian Holbourn and bookseller Charles E. Lauriat, Jr.
- June 24 - Dedication of Widener Library at Harvard University.
- September 30 - D. H. Lawrence‘s novel The Rainbow is published in London, immediately prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act 1857 and suppressed by his publisher, Methuen.
- October - Franz Kafka‘s seminal novella The Metamorphosis (“Die Verwandlung”) is first published in Die Weißen Blätter (Leipzig).
- James Joyce, Tristan Tzara and Vladimir Lenin all take up residence in Zürich.
- Alfred A. Knopf, Sr., establishes the Alfred A. Knopf publishing house in New York City.
This castle, the Château d’Ussé, located in the Loire Valley overlooking the Indre River near the towns of Chinon and Azay le Rideau, is said to have been the one that Charles Perrault used as a model for his famous fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. In addition to the castle you’ll find a beautiful exhibit of period costumes depicting castle life, and a delightful garden designed by Le Nôtre. Here ‘dream, reality, history and legend intertwine.’
Here François-René de Chateaubriand worked on his Mémoires d’Outre-Tombe as the guest of duchesse Claire de Duras. Here too was where Walt Disney came to get inspiration for the design of his many Disney Castles.
I know. It’s getting tiresome, my constant marvelling at Wikipedia. Still, what an headshakingly impressive resource. Here’s where Mother Goose et al came from:
Charles Perrault (12 January 1628 – 16 May 1703) was a French author and member of the Académie française. He laid the foundations for a new literary genre, the fairy tale, with his works derived from pre-existing folk tales. The best known of his tales include Le Petit Chaperon rouge (Little Red Riding Hood), Cendrillon (Cinderella), Le Chat Botté (Puss in Boots), La Belle au bois dormant (The Sleeping Beauty) and La Barbe bleue (Bluebeard). Many of Perrault’s stories, which were rewritten by the Brothers Grimm, continue to be printed and have been adapted to opera, ballet (such as Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty), theatre, and film (Disney). Perrault was an influential figure in the 17th-century French literary scene, and was the leader of the Modern faction during the Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns.
In 1695, when he was 67, Perrault lost his post as secretary. He decided to dedicate himself to his children. In 1697 he published Tales and Stories of the Past with Morals (Histoires ou Contes du Temps passé), subtitled Tales of Mother Goose (Les Contes de ma Mère l’Oye). Its publication made him suddenly widely known beyond his own circles. He is often credited as the founder of the modern fairy tale genre, yet his work reflects awareness of earlier fairy tales written in the salons, most notably by Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, Baroness d’Aulnoy, who coined the phrase “fairy tale” and was writing tales as early as 1690.Even so, many of the most well-known tales that we hear today, such as Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood, are told as he wrote them. He had actually published his collection under the name of his last son (born in 1678), Pierre (Perrault) Darmancourt (“Armancourt” being the name of a property he bought for him), probably fearful of criticism from the “Ancients”. In the tales, he used images from around him, such as the Chateau Ussé for The Sleeping Beauty and in Puss in Boots the Marquis of the Château d’Oiron, and contrasted his folktale subject matter, with details and asides and subtext drawn from the world of fashion. Following up on these tales, he translated the Fabulae Centum (100 Fables) of the Latin poet Gabriele Faerno into French verse in 1699.
Reading with pleasure Thomas Wright’s Built of Books, How Reading Defined the Life of Oscar Wilde. Pretty clear early on that Oscar was a hard core Literary Tourist. And I quote:
Wilde believed that the external world became more significant and familiar when viewed in a ‘mythopoetic’ rather than an objective fashion. Nature, he claimed, is brought to life, and becomes identifiable to us, through the stories we tell about it: thus the Greeks, in their myths, ‘peopled the grove and hillside with beautiful and fantastic forms ‘in order to make Nature one with humanity.’ The folk tales that cradled Wilde performed precisely this function. Some of the legends in his parents’ anthologies inspired the place names of modern Ireland; they include stories in which the deeds of the little people leave indelible marks on the Irish landscape, such as the hollows that are still known in Ireland as ‘fairy glens. Most of the tales are attached to a particular place: it is as though they have grown up, irresistibly, form their native soil. An inspired amateur archaeologist [Sir William Wilde, Oscar's father] was able to identify the land’s characteristics with the help of an ancient manuscript account of [the legendary Battle of Magh-Tura. On one occasion, wandering over the hills near their home with a copy of the manuscript in his hands, he suddenly stopped and ordered his labourers to dig. Buried beneath the earth they found a square chamber made of flagstones, with a small ornamented urn inside containing human bones, which Sir William believed to be those of a heroic Fir Bolg youth… Poetry and nature werre married in Wilde’s mind and, from a tender age, he believed that words might exercise a supernatural power over the material world.
Later on we learn that one of Oscar’s tutors at Trinity College in Dublin, John Pentland Mahaffy, traveled extensively in Greece in order to acquire an intimate knowledge of the land and its peoples…
In Wilde’s eyes, the fact that Mahaffy had visited Greece, ‘and saturated himself there with Greek thought and feeling’ elevated him above the other dons.
Later Wilde went to Greece with his tutor, and despite being penalized because of it by the College, he never regretted his decision. The trip animated Greek art and literature for him, infusing it with a ‘living reality.’
Muse of Fire: A Shakespearean Road Movie
About the video:
Georges Simenon ‘fathered’ the French Inspecteur Maigret, while
Englishwoman Agatha Christie ‘mothered’ the Belgian inspector Hercule Poirot.
La Coupee, Sark. Credit: Clemensfranz
When I was a young boy we went to live on the island of Sark. We stayed for almost a year.
Visits to Sark gave Victor Hugo material for his novel Les Trailleurs de la Mer. The book put octopi (okay, octopuses) on the map, to such an extent that octopus hats were worn at the sea-side and octopus dishes filled beach resort menus.
David Mason, with boss in the foreground.
I met with David Mason recently to talk about his memoir The Pope’s Bookbinder. As the Biblioasis website wordsmiths have it:
“From his drug-hazy, book-happy years near the Beat Hotel in Paris and throughout his career as antiquarian book dealer, David Mason brings us a storied life. He discovers his love of literature in a bathtub at age eleven, thumbing through stacks of lurid Signet paperbacks. At fifteen he’s expelled from school. For the next decade and a half, he will work odd jobs, buck all authority, buy books more often than food, and float around Europe. He’ll help gild a volume in white morocco for Pope John XXIII. And then, at the age of 30, after returning home to Canada and apprenticing with Joseph Patrick Books, David Mason will find his calling.”
“David Mason boldly campaigns for what he feels is the moral duty of the antiquarian trade: to preserve the history and traditions of all nations, and to assert without compromise that such histories have value. The Pope’s Bookbinder is an engrossing memoir by a giant in the book trade—whose infectious enthusiasm, human insight, commercial shrewdness, and deadpan humour will delight bibliophiles for decades to come. “
Listen to Part l of our conversation here: