Literary Birthdays – Week of June 21 – 27

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June 21


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

 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):



[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:

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.


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.


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:

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

More Kubo manga art:

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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