Literary Birthdays – July 26 – August 1

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July 26

George Bernard Shaw (born July 26, 1856) – Irish playwright, novelist, essayist – Man and Superman


Excerpt from Man and Superman

THE DEVIL: An epoch is but a swing of the pendulum; and each generation thinks the world is progressing because it is always moving. But when you are as old as I am; when you have a thousand times wearied of heaven, like myself and the Commander, and a thousand times wearied of hell, as you are wearied now, you will no longer imagine that every swing from heaven to hell is an emancipation, every swing from hell to heaven an evolution.

Where you now see reform, progress, fulfilment of upward tendency, continual ascent by Man on the stepping stones of his dead selves to higher things, you will see nothing but an infinite comedy of illusion. You will discover the profound truth of the saying of my friend Koheleth, that there is nothing new under the sun.

Vanitas vanitatum

Listen to George Bernard Shaw in these BBC archive recordings:

Carl G. Jung (born July 26, 1875) – Swiss psychiatrist – The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

July 27

Hilde Domin (born July 27, 1909) – German poet – Das Gedicht als Augenblick von Freiheit / Poetry as a Moment of Freedom

Read some of Hilde Domin’s poems (translated) and her biography:

Watch an excerpt from Anna Ditges’ documentary of Hilde Bonin:

 Bobbie Gentry

Bobbie Gentry (born July 27, 1944) – U.S. country music singer/songwriter – Ode to Billy Joe

Read the Wikipedia article about Bobbie Gentry here

Listen to Ode to Billy Joe:

July 28

Helen Beatrix Potter (born July 28, 1866) – U.K. writer/illustrator of children’s books – The Tale of Benjamin Bunny (1904) Benjamin Bunny-1

Read The Tale of Benjamin Bunny here:

NPG P1825; Beatrix Potter (Mrs Heelis) by Charles King

by Charles King, circa 1913

July 29

Ruud Janssen (born July 29, 1959) – Netherlands artist/writer specializing in Mail Art Ruud Janssen.jpg

Read Janssen’s biography here

Read more about Mail Art at Janssen’s blog:


July 30

Emily Jane Brontë (born July 30, 1818) – British novelist, poet – Wuthering Heights

Read more about the family Brontë at the Bronteana blog:

Salvador Novo (born July 30, 1904) – Mexican poet, playwright, essayist – Mi Vida Es Como Un Lago

Mi Vida Es Como Un Lago

Mi vida es como un lago taciturno. /  My life is like a silent lake.
Si una nube lejana me saluda, / If a far-off cloud salutes,
si hay un ave que canta, si una muda / If a bird sings,  if a mute
y recóndita brisa / and distant breeze
inmola el desaliento de las rosas, / sacrifices the dejection of the roses,
si hay un rubor de sangre en la imprecisa / if there is a blush upon the uncertain
hora crepuscular, / twilight hour,
yo me conturbo y tiendo mi sonrisa. / I am moved and tend to show my smile.
¡Mi vida es como un lago taciturno! / My life is like a silent lake!
Yo he sabido formar, gota por gota,  / I have known how to make, drop by drop,
mi fondo azul de ver el Universo.  / my blue depths see the universe.
Cada nuevo rumor me dio su nota,  / Each new murmur has given me its tone,
cada matiz diverso / each diverse shade
me dio su ritmo y me enseñó su verso. / has given me its rhythm and taught me its line.
Mi vida es como un lago taciturno…. / My life is like a silent lake…

[Translation help from wordreference forum members Alicatado, Sprachliebhaber, and Aztlaniano – thank you very much!]

July 31

J.K. Rowling
J. K. (Joanne) Rowling (born July 31, 1965) – U.K. novelist (Harry Potter series) – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

August 1

Herman Melville
Herman Melville (born August 1, 1819) – U.S. novelist – Moby Dick



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Read the Wikipedia article about Bobbie Gentry here


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