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Thread: Literary Notes

  1. #161
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    Default January 27th

    It was on this day in 661 that Ali died. He was one of the scribes designated to write down the Qur'an, and he was the cousin, son-in-law, and successor of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam. It was Ali's death that resulted in the split into Sunni and Shi'ite Islam — a division that is still a cause of conflict in the Middle East.

    Ali was a well-respected scholar of the Qur'an and Islamic legal studies. Ali accused a caliph of being responsible for having brought "blameworthy innovations" into Islam. When the caliph was assassinated, his followers blamed Ali. But the opposing party championed Ali and set him up in office as the new caliph, replacing the murdered one.

    A few years later, a tribunal ruled that Ali was at fault for the previous caliph's death. Ali said that the tribunal's decision was not in accordance with Qur'anic law. Soon after, he was stabbed in the back while praying at the mosque of Kufa, in Iraq, and he died on this day, 1,348 years ago. The place where he was stabbed later became the Shi'ite holy city of Najaf.

    Ali is a figure revered by both Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims. Sunni Muslims consider Ali that last of the Rightly Guided Caliphs. The Shi'a believe that Ali was the rightful successor to the Prophet Muhammad himself.

    ~~~


    It's the birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born in 1756 in Salzburg, which is now in Austria.

    Mozart's father, Leopold, was one of Europe's leading music educators, and he took Mozart and his sister on tours throughout Europe. Young Mozart began composing original work at age five. During a trip to Italy, Mozart amazed his hosts when he listened only once to the performance of a Gregorio Allegri composition and then wrote it out from memory.

    Mozart moved to Vienna in 1781, and in 1782 he married Constanze Weber. The couple had six children, but only two of them survived into adulthood. Mozart continued to compose music, and he wrote his famous opera The Marriage of Figaro (1786).


    No one knows for sure why Mozart died at age 35. Many people speculate that he died of mercury poisoning while being treated for syphilis. Others think he died from eating badly cooked pork. Some insist that Mozart was murdered by his rival, Antonio Salieri. Mozart was buried in a mass grave because the country was battling an outbreak of bubonic plague, not because his family could not afford a proper burial.


    Mozart said, "When I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone, and of good cheer — say traveling in a carriage, or walking after a good meal, or during the night when I cannot sleep — it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best, and most abundantly. Whence and how they come, I know not, nor can I force them."


    ~~~


    It's the birthday of Lewis Carroll, born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson in Cheshire, England in 1832, the author of Alice's Adventures in WonderlandThrough the Looking-Glass (1871). (1865) and

    He was a faculty member in mathematics at Oxford and a serious photographer. When he was 24 years old, a new dean arrived at Carroll's church and brought his three daughters: Lorina Charlotte, Edith, and Alice. Carroll befriended the girls and spent a lot of time with them. In July of 1862, floating in a rowboat on a pond, he came up with a story about a girl's adventures in a magical underground world, and he told it to the three sisters.


    Many biographers have made out Carroll to be a shy, awkward recluse, but he was actually charming and sociable. He loved to host dinner parties, and he wrote about 97,000 letters in his lifetime.

    Carroll never forgot the day he invented the story of Alice and her adventures. He remembered "the cloudless blue above, the watery mirror below, the boat drifting idly on its way, the tinkle of the drops that fell from the oars ... the three eager faces, hungry for news of fairy-land." Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was published in 1865, and it became one of the most popular children's books in the world.
    ***********************
    We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
    ~Joseph Campbell

    There are three kinds of people : Those who can count and those that can't.




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    Default January 28th

    It's the birthday of José Martí, born in Havana, Cuba (1853). He was a poet and journalist, and he helped lead Cuba's struggle for independence from Spain.


    José Martí grew up in Cuba, opposed to the Spanish colonialists. When Martí was a teenager, officials uncovered a "subversive" letter that Martí had written to a friend, and they arrested him. Instead of defending himself at his trial, Martí used his chance in the spotlight to condemn Spain's colonial policy. He was sentenced to six years of hard labor, but after six months his dad intervened on his son's behalf, and Martí's sentence was commuted to exile in Spain.

    In Spain, he wrote and published a pamphlet describing the horrors of prison labor camps. He got degrees in law and philosophy. He lived in France, Mexico, and Guatemala, and finally settled in New York City in 1881. For the next 14 years, he wrote poetry, taught high school Spanish, and wrote for The New York Sun. And he crusaded for Cuba's independence from Spain. From New York, he founded the Cuban Revolutionary Party, and in 1895, he decided that the time was right for an uprising. In April, he set sail for Cuba, leading a band of revolutionaries to liberate the colony from Spain. He was killed in an ambush in May and became a legendary figure.

    The year before he died, he published the poem "A Morir," in which he wrote:
    I wish to leave the world
    By its natural door;
    In my tomb of green leaves
    They are to carry me to die.
    Do not put me in the dark
    To die like a traitor;
    I am good, and like a good thing
    I will die with my face to the sun.
    Pete Seeger's folk song "Guantanamera" is a translation of an autobiographical poem by José Martí.

    ~~~


    It's the birthday of the novelist Colette, born in Saint-Sauver-en-Puisaye in Burgundy, France (1873). She is best known as the author of Chéri (1920) and Gigi (1945).

    ~~~


    It's the birthday of the English novelist and critic David Lodge, born in London, England (1935). He is the author of comic novels, including The Picturegoers (1960), Ginger, You're Barmy (1962), and his most recent, Deaf Sentence (200, about a retired academic who is losing his hearing.

    He said, "A novel is a long answer to the question 'What is it about?' I think it should be possible to give a short answer — in other words, I believe a novel should have a thematic and narrative unity that can be described."
    ***********************
    We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
    ~Joseph Campbell

    There are three kinds of people : Those who can count and those that can't.




  3. #163
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    Default January 29th

    It's the birthday of Anton Chekhov, born in Taganrog, Russia (1860). His father came from a long line of serfs, but his grandfather had bought the family's freedom before he was born.


    Chekhov went to Moscow to study medicine, and he started writing short, funny stories for comic magazines to earn extra money. In 1884, he got his medical degree and began his career as a doctor. He set up free clinics in provincial Russia, and he fought the cholera and famine epidemics of 1891 and 1892.

    Chekhov continued to write stories for weekly magazines and newspapers, but he often used pseudonyms, embarrassed by his writing. He didn't think he was a very good writer, so didn't want to try anything too ambitious.

    Today, Chekhov is considered one of the inventors of the modern short story. His stories were usually short, full of passive characters, and without much of a plot or big emotional climaxes. Chekhov wrote about prostitutes and criminals, but he didn't condemn their actions. He said, "A writer should be as objective as a chemist."


    Chekhov's first play, The Seagull, opened in 1885. The audience hated it, and Chekhov walked out at intermission and vowed never to write another play. But two years later, it was produced again, this time to rave reviews. That inspired him to continue as a playwright, and he wrote The Three Sisters (1901), The Cherry Orchard (1904), and Uncle Vanya (1897).

    Chekhov said, "Any idiot can face a crisis; it is this day-to-day living that wears you out."

    ~~~


    It was on this day in 1845 that Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" was first published in the New York Evening Mirror. It begins:
    Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
    Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
    As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
    "'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door —
    Only this, and nothing more."

    Poe became famous almost immediately. Within a few years, "The Raven" had been reprinted in newspapers and magazines across the country, and included in poetry anthologies. Poe became a popular lecturer and dinner party performer, where his recitations of the poem were legendary.

    "The Raven" became the target of many parodies. Abraham Lincoln, a country lawyer at the time, read a parody before he read the real thing. Lincoln eventually committed all of "The Raven" to memory.
    ***********************
    We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
    ~Joseph Campbell

    There are three kinds of people : Those who can count and those that can't.




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    Default

    I personally liked Maria Muldar.....



  6. #166
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    Default January 30th

    It's the birthday of poet and novelist Richard Gary Brautigan, born in Tacoma, Washington (1935). He moved to San Francisco, where he read his poetry at psychedelic rock concerts, helped produce underground newspapers, and became involved with the Beat Movement. He had long blond hair and granny glasses.

    In the summer of 1961, he went camping with his wife and young daughter in Idaho's Stanley Basin. He spent his days hiking, and it was there, sitting next to trout streams with his portable typewriter, that he wrote his most famous work, Trout Fishing in America (1967).

    ~~~


    It's the birthday of the novelist and short-story writer Shirley Hazzard,The Transit of Venus (1980), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award.
    born in Sydney, Australia (1931). She's best known for her novel


    ~~~


    It is the birthday of historian Barbara Tuchman, born in New York City (1912). She wrote The Guns of August (1962), a study of the events that led to the outbreak of World War I.

    She said, "War is the unfolding of miscalculations."
    ***********************
    We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
    ~Joseph Campbell

    There are three kinds of people : Those who can count and those that can't.




  7. #167
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    Default oh heck! think I may TRY to add to this daily. TRY!!!

    It's the birthday of Julia A. Moore,(books by this author) born in Plainfield Township, Michigan, on this day in 1847. She grew up on a Michigan farm, dropped out of school at the age of 11, bore 10 children, and is famous for writing really bad poetry — so famous for it, in fact, that Mark Twain modeled a character after her in The Adventures of Huck Finn, and he wrote a parody of Moore's bad poetry for that character, Emmeline Grangerford, to recite.


    She's sometimes referred to as a "poetaster," which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as "a petty or paltry poet; a writer of poor or trashy verse; a rimester." This distinction usually entails things like the use of awkward meter, painfully sappy sentimentality, words that rhyme in an unpleasant way, or poor taste in subject matter. Other poetasters famous enough to be anthologized include J. Gordon Coogler, William McGonagall, and James McIntyre.



    As for Moore, her favorite topics included abstinence, temperance, sudden death, terrible destruction, obituaries of small children, and big disasters, such as train wrecks or fires. One of her most famous poems is about the Chicago Fire. She wrote:

    The great Chicago Fire, friends,
    Will never be forgot;
    In the history of Chicago
    It will remain a darken spot.
    It was a dreadful horrid sight
    To see that City in flames;
    But no human aid could save it,
    For all skill was tried in vain.


    Her first collection was published locally as The Sentimental Song Book (1876). But then a big Cleveland publisher picked it up, re-titled it The Sweet Singer of Michigan Salutes the Public, and sent out a bunch of copies to newspapers around the nation, along with a review of mock praise he'd written up. In spite of all this bad publicity, or perhaps because of it, Julia Moore's book of verse became a national best-seller, and she began to give public readings.



    The readings did not go well. She was jeered off stage, and her husband, a Michigan farmer, made her promise to never publish any more poetry. She waited until her husband died, and then she published some more.



    Each year in Michigan, the Flint Public Library holds a Julia A Moore poetry contest, and people have the chance to do their best imitations. In 1997, 150 years after her birth, the governor of Michigan set aside a week in her honor. A new edition of her poems was published a couple years later by Michigan State University Press, edited and introduced by Thomas J. Riedlinger; it's called Mortal Refrains: The Complete Collected Poetry, Prose, and Songs of Julia A. Moore, The Sweet Singer of Michigan (199. She once said, "Literary is a work very hard to do."


    In her poem "Sketch of Lord Byron's Life," she wrote:
    "Lord Byron" was an Englishman
    A poet I believe,
    His first works in old England
    Was poorly received.
    Perhaps it was "Lord Byron's" fault
    And perhaps it was not.
    His life was full of misfortunes,
    Ah, strange was his lot.
    The character of "Lord Byron"
    Was of a low degree,
    Caused by his reckless conduct,
    And bad company.
    He sprung from an ancient house,
    Noble, but poor, indeed.
    His career on earth, was marred
    By his own misdeeds.
    ***********************
    We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
    ~Joseph Campbell

    There are three kinds of people : Those who can count and those that can't.




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