Literary Birthdays – November 22 – 28

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November 22

George Eliot (Mary Ann [Marian] Evans) (b. 1819) – British novelist and poet – Brother Jacob

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Brother Jacob:

Jacob paused from his clinking, and looked into the hole, while David began to scratch away the earth, as if in doubtful expectation.  When the lozenges were laid bare, he took them out one by one, and gave them to Jacob.

“Hush!” he said, in a loud whisper, “Tell nobody–all for Jacob–hush–sh–sh! Put guineas in the hole–they’ll come out like this!” To make the lesson more complete, he took a guinea, and lowering it into the hole, said, “Put in _so_.” Then, as he took the last lozenge out, he said, “Come out _so_,” and put the
lozenge into Jacob’s hospitable mouth.

Jacob turned his head on one side, looked first at his brother and then
at the hole, like a reflective monkey, and, finally, laid the box of
guineas in the hole with much decision. David made haste to add every
one of the stray coins, put on the lid, and covered it well with earth,
saying in his meet coaxing tone–“Take ‘m out to-morrow, Jacob; all for Jacob! Hush–sh–sh!”

Jacob, to whom this once indifferent brother had all at once become a
sort of sweet-tasted fetish, stroked David’s best coat with his adhesive
fingers, and then hugged him with an accompaniment of that mingled
chuckling and gurgling by which he was accustomed to express the milder passions.

But if he had chosen to bite a small morsel out of his beneficent brother’s cheek, David would have been obliged to bear it. And here I must pause, to point out to you the short-sightedness of human contrivance. This ingenious young man, Mr. David Faux, thought he had achieved a triumph of cunning when he had associated himself in his brother’s rudimentary mind with the flavour of yellow lozenges. But he had yet to learn that it is a dreadful thing to make an idiot fond of you, when you yourself are not of an affectionate disposition: especially an idiot with a pitchfork–obviously a difficult friend to shake off by rough usage.

It may seem to you rather a blundering contrivance for a clever young man to bury the guineas. But, if everything had turned out as David had calculated, you would have seen that his plan was worthy of his talents.

The guineas would have lain safely in the earth while the theft was
discovered, and David, with the calm of conscious innocence, would have lingered at home, reluctant to say good-bye to his dear mother while she was in grief about her guineas; till at length, on the eve of his departure, he would have disinterred them in the strictest privacy, and carried them on his own person without inconvenience. But David, you perceive, had reckoned without his host, or, to speak more precisely, without his idiot brother–an item of so uncertain and fluctuating a character, that I doubt whether he would not have puzzled the astute heroes of M. de Balzac, whose foresight is so remarkably at home in the future.

November 23

nirad-c-chaudhuri Nirad C. Chaudhuri (b. 1897) – Indian (Bengali) writer –  A Passage to England

Read a brief biography here:

Or a more complete biography on Wikipedia:

Read the excellent New York Times obituary here:

A book review of A Passage to England

Excerpt from The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian (1951)

I shall cease generalizing at this point and relate some of the experiences of my boyhood. While living in Calcutta, as I have done for the greater part of my life, I hardly met any Muslims and became intimate with none. There I found an arrogant contempt for the Muslims and a deep-seated hostility towards them, which could have been produced only by a complete insulation of the two communities and absence of personal relations between their members. … The most serious and tragic aspect of the Hindu-Muslim discord in India today is the creation of a moral atmosphere in which it has become possible to extend the rancorous hatred which one can feel only for an abstract entity, or only for the foe who is of one’s household, to the relations between man and man, neighbor and neighbor, friend and friend, playfellow and playfellow, fellow-worker and fellow-worker, when they happen to be of rival faiths.

We began without this hatred. There was a number of Muslim lawyers in our street, whom we respected as much as any other colleague of my father. With their sons and nephews we were as friendly as with the children of our Hindu neighbors, and two boys, Akhtar and Karim, were my particular friends. A very large number of our school-fellows were Muslim, and in the whole school there were at least as many Muslim boys as Hindu. We worked, talked, and played with them quite naturally. We never associated them with the abstract entity labeled Muslim, existing in our historical consciousness, for which we had such hatred, and it never occurred to us that anything could happen which could make us modify our behavior towards our Muslim neighbors in the light of collective emotions generated by collective rivalries.

But the change inevitably came, and came very early. It was from the end of 1906 that we became conscious of a new kind of hatred for the Muslims, which sprang out of the present and showed signs of poisoning our personal relations with our Muslim neighbors and school-fellows. If the sprouting enmity did not go to the length of inducing us to give up all intercourse with them, it made us at all events treat them with a marked decline of cordiality. We began to hear angry comment in the mouths of the elders that the Muslims were coming out quite openly in favor of partition and on the side of the English.

November 24

Dale Carnegie (b. 1888) – U.S. writer – How To Win Friends and Influence People (1936) Dale Carnegie

November 25

Lope de Vega (Félix Lope de Vega y Carpio) (b. 1562) – Spanish playwright, poet – The Star of Seville

Read more about Lope de Vega here:

A Cristo en la Cruz / To Christ on the Cross

¿Quién es aquel Caballero / Who is that gentleman
herido por tantas partes, / Wounded in so many places,
que está de expirar tan cerca, / About to expire,
y no le socorre nadie? / And no one helps him?

«Jesús Nazareno» dice  / “Jesus of Nazareth,” says
aquel rétulo notable.  / that large sign.
¡Ay Dios, que tan dulce nombre / Oh God, promise that your sweet name
no promete muerte infame! / will not die in infamy!

Después del nombre y la patria, / After the name and the country
Rey dice más adelante, / it says “king”
pues si es rey, ¿cuándo de espinas / but how is he king,  when thorns
han usado coronarse? / have been used to crown him?

Dos cetros tiene en las manos, / Two scepters are in his hands,
mas nunca he visto que claven / but never have I seen them nailed
a los reyes en los cetros / by the king’s
los vasallos desleales. / disloyal subjects.

Unos dicen que si es Rey, / Some say that if he is King,
de la cruz descienda y baje; / let him descend from the cross;
y otros, que salvando a muchos, / and others — that he saves many,
a sí no puede salvarse. / but himself he cannot save.

De luto se cubre el cielo,  / Heaven is covered in mourning,
y el sol de sangriento esmalte, / and the sun is varnished in blood,
o padece Dios, o el mundo / either God suffers, or the world
se disuelve y se deshace. / is dissolving and coming apart.

Al pie de la cruz, María / At the foot of the cross, Mary
está en dolor constante, / stands in constant sorrow,
mirando al Sol que se pone / looking at a Sun that sets
entre arreboles de sangre. / in a red glow of blood.

Con ella su amado primo / With her is his beloved disciple,
haciendo sus ojos mares, / their eyes swollen with tears,
Cristo los pone en los dos, / Christ looks upon them both,
más tierno porque se parte. / so tenderly because he is leaving.

¡Oh lo que sienten los tres! / Oh the sorrow of those three!
Juan, como primo y amante, / John, the beloved disciple,
como madre la de Dios, / the mother of God,
y lo que Dios, Dios lo sabe. / and he who is God, as God knows.

Alma, mirad cómo Cristo, / My soul, look how Christ,
para partirse a su Padre,  / upon going to his Father,
viendo que a su Madre deja, / and seeing his Mother below,
le dice palabras tales: / said these words to her:

Mujer, ves ahí a tu hijo / “Mother, see here your son”
y a Juan: Ves ahí tu Madre. / and to John: “See here your Mother.”
Juan queda en lugar de Cristo, / John takes the place of Christ,
¡ay Dios, qué favor tan grande! / Oh God, how great a favor!

Viendo, pues, Jesús que todo / Jesus seeing, then, that it all
ya comenzaba a acabarse, /  was coming to an end,
Sed tengo, dijo, que tiene / said, “I thirst,”
sed de que el hombre se salve. / the thirst that saves man.

Corrió un hombre y puso luego / A man ran up and placed
a sus labios celestiales / to those heavenly lips
en una caña una esponja / a sponge on a stick
llena de hiel y vinagre. / filled with vinegar and gall.

¿En la boca de Jesús / In the mouth of Jesus
pones hiel?, hombre, ¿qué haces? / you put gall, man? What are you doing?
Mira que por ese cielo / Look to heaven
de Dios las palabras salen. / from which come the words of God.

Advierte que en ella puso / Know that she holds
con sus pechos virginales / within her virgin breasts
una ave su blanca leche / a holy white milk
a cuya dulzura sabe. / whose sweetness you know.

Alma, sus labios divinos, / My soul, your divine lips,
cuando vamos a rogarle, / when we go to pray,
¿cómo con vinagre y hiel / how with vinegar and gall
darán respuesta süave? / will they give sweet answer?

Llegad a la Virgen bella, / Go to the holy Virgin,
y decirle con el ángel: / and tell her and the angel:
«Ave, quitad su amargura, / “Hail Mary, leave your bitterness behind,
pues que de gracia sois Ave». / then thou will be full of holy grace.”

Sepa al vientre el fruto santo, / Know the blessed fruit of this womb,
y a la dulce palma el dátil; / and the sweet palm dates;
si tiene el alma a la puerta / if someone is at your door
no tengan hiel los umbrales. / don’t keep bile on the threshold.

Y si dais leche a Bernardo, / And if you give milk to St. Bernard,
porque de madre os alabe, / to praise the mother,
mejor Jesús la merece, / Jesus is more deserving,
pues Madre de Dios os hace. / than the Mother of God.

Dulcísimo Cristo mío, / My sweet Christ,
aunque esos labios se bañen / although your lips are coated
en hiel de mis graves culpas, / with the bile of my grievous faults,
Dios sois, como Dios habladme.  / You are God; speak to me as God.

Habladme, dulce Jesús, / Speak to me, sweet Jesus,
antes que la lengua os falte,  / before your tongue fails you,
no os desciendan de la cruz / do not descend from the cross
sin hablarme y perdonarme. / without speaking and forgiving me.

November 26

Charles Schulz Peanuts Characters

Charles M. Schulz (b. 1922) – U.S. cartoonist – Peanuts (1950)

Visit the Charles M. Schulz Museum website:

Watch an excerpt from A Charlie Brown Christmas

November 27

Twista (Carl Terrell Mitchell) (b.  1972) – U.S. rapper

Watch Twista (with Faith Evans) perform Hope

November 28

Dervla Murphy

Dervla Murphy (b. 1931) – Irish travel writer – The Island That Dared: Journeys in Cuba (2008)

Listen to a BBC-4 radio interview of Dervla Murphy

Jonathan “Jon” Stewart (Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz) (b. 1962) – U.S. comedian – The Daily Show (TV program); Naked Pictures of Famous People (book) (1998)


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