Literary Birthdays – Week of June 21 – 27

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June 21

jean-paul-sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre (b. 1905) – French philosopher, playwright, novelist, 1964 Nobel prize winner, literature – Black Orpheus (1948)

Mary McCarthy (b. 1912) – U.S. novelist, essayist, theater critic – “The Unimportance of Being Oscar” Mary_McCarthy_Vassar_1933

Read about Mary McCarthy here and here

McCarthy is perhaps best known for her open treatment of what were considered taboo subjects of sexuality, from contraception to abortion to infidelity and sexual promiscuity, presenting both the comic overtones and the complex psychological and moral undertones to issues of female sexuality. 
[from The Mary McCarthy Society blog]

Read Vivian Gornick’s essay on Mary McCarthy in the New Yorker magazine

When my friends and I were in our twenties in the 1950s, we read two writers—Colette and Mary McCarthy—as others read the Bible: to learn better who we were and how, given the constraint of our condition, we were to live.

…Mary McCarthy spoke to another kind of romance alive in us, one closer to the bone: that of seeing ourselves as New Women, independent working girls out in the world, in pursuit of the kind of adventure that would strengthen, not deplete, us, as we would then be armed with experience. In this scenario, sexual love was flatly instrumental, and this too was exciting, as it illuminated a reality many of us were, unwittingly, beginning to inhabit: that of the unexpected setbacks that were encountered on the road to experience.

https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-company-they-kept


 June 22

Sandor Weores Sándor Weöres (b. 1913) – Hungarian poet
Poems of Sándor Weöres set to music by Sebo ensemble
(Marta Sebestyen is the soloist):

 

 

A TÜNDÉR/ The Elf
[The second song-poem in the video]


Bóbita, Bóbita táncol,  / Bobita, Bobita is dancing,

Körben az angyalok ülnek,  / While angels sit in a circle,

Béka-hadak fuvoláznak,  / The frog is croaking,

Sáska-hadak hegedülnek.  / The cricket is fiddling.

Bóbita, Bóbita játszik, / Bobita, Bobita is playing,

Szárnyat igéz a malacra, / Charming the pig with his fluttering wings

Ráül, igér neki csókot,  /  He rises and promises a kiss,

Röpteti és kikacagja. / Flying away and laughing at him.

Bóbita, Bóbita épít, / Bobita,  Bobita is building,

Hajnali köd-fal a vára, / Morning fog on the castle walls,

Termeiben sok a vendég,  / Many guests are in the halls,

Törpe-király fia-lánya. / For the son and daughter of the Dwarf-King.

Bóbita, Bóbita álmos, / Bobita, Bobita is sleepy,

Elpihen őszi levélen, / He makes his pillow on autumn leaves,

Két csiga őrzi az álmát, / While two snails have their dreams

Szunnyad az ág sürüjében. / Hibernating on the thick branch.

Thanks to Zelefant for providing the Hungarian text and helping translate into English.  Zelefant’s YouTube channel:

http://www.youtube.com/user/zelefant

Dan Brown (b. 1964) – U.S. novelist – The DaVinci Code DanBrown

Excerpt from The Da Vinci Code:

Da Vinci had been a cryptology pioneer, Sophie knew, although he was seldom given credit. Sophie’s university instructors, while presenting computer encryption methods for securing data, praised modern cryptologists like Zimmerman and Schneier but failed to mention that it was Leonardo who had invented one of the first rudimentary forms of public key encryption centuries ago. Sophie’s grandfather, of course, had been the one to tell her all about that.

As their armored truck roared down the highway, Sophie explained to Langdon that the cryptex had been Da Vinci’s solution to the dilemma of sending secure messages over long distances. In an era without telephones or e-mail, anyone wanting to convey private information to someone far away had no option but to write it down and then trust a messenger to carry the letter.


June 23

Anna Akhmatova Anna Akhmatova (b. 1889) – Russian poet

Read about Anna Akhmatova here

Lot’s Wife
And the just man trailed God’s shining agent,

over a black mountain, in his giant track,
while a restless voice kept harrying his woman:

at the red towers of your native Sodom,

the square where once you sang, the spinning-shed,

at the empty windows set in the tall house

where sons and daughters blessed your marriage-bed.

A single glance: a sudden dart of pain

stitching her eyes before she made a sound . . .

Her body flaked into transparent salt,

and her swift legs rooted to the ground.

Who will grieve for this woman? Does she not seem

too insignificant for our concern?

Yet in my heart I never will deny her,

who suffered death because she chose to turn.

Alfred Kinsey (b. 1893) – U.S. biologist who studied human sexuality – The Kinsey Reports (1948)

June 24

Anita Desai (b. 1937) – Indian novelist – Clear Light of Day Anita Desai
Saint John of the Cross (b. 1542) – Spanish monk, mystical philosopher, poet – Dark Night of the Soul
Excerpt from Verses of the Soul that Pines to See God

I live without life in me in

such manner longing

I’m dying of not dying.

I

In myself I no longer live

without God I can live no longer

himself, myself, having neither,

what can it mean to live?

A thousand deaths I believe,

for my one true life longing

and so dying of not dying.

II

Not life, but deprivation,

is this life I am living,

and so a continual dying,

till meeting is our union.

Hear me, my God, as one,

for this now I have no liking,

that I’m dying of not dying.

Read more of Saint John of the Cross poetry here:

http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Spanish/StJohnoftheCross.htm#_Toc200278194


June 25

George Orwell George Orwell (b. 1903) – British novelist, essayist – 1984
Anthony Bourdain (b. 1956) – U.S. food and travel writer – No Reservations

June 26

Yves Beauchemin BW Yves Beauchemin (b. 1941) – Canadian novelist – Le Matou / The Alley Cat (1981)
Noriaki Kubo (The Kubo) (b. 1977) – Japanese manga artist
Zombie_Powder

More Kubo manga art:

http://www.zerochan.net/Tite+Kubo


June 27

Helen Keller (b. 1880) – U.S. author
Bob Keeshan Bob Keeshan (b. 1927) – U.S. children’s TV personality and Creator of “Captain Kangaroo”

 


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