Literary Birthdays – Week of March 28 – April 3

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March 28

Dimcho Debelianov (Димчо Дебелянов) (b. 1887) – Bulgarian poet Dimcho Debilianov

Read the Wikipedia biography for Dimcho Debelianov


A moontide tonight is quietly stirring
Flooding the aches of a road empty, deep,
Covering shame, drying eyes teary-blurring,
The day’s swarm of sorrows is blissful, asleep.
Through fields open wide and fruitful ranges,
No movement of sickle, no singing of scythes –
As though a zephyr of dew-bearing angels
Is sprinkling from amphoras in a gentle flight.
A distant star in the sky tumbles over,
Desertly silent in the black-clothed dome,
A wave rises-up and then topples-over,
Where a grass-hidden stream soundlessly roams.
Full of emotions, I’m still, yet I swim in
A sea of tranquillity, of heartfelt delights
And thus humbled, fervent,
I feel like I’m kissing
Through tearful visage, familiar eyes.

[Translated by Costa Manolchev]

The Legend of the Dissolute Queen

And there on coast deserted and alone

Caressed by eternal waters, but forever thrown

An ancient and nostalgic castle guards the shore

Castle – ominously wailing with its voiceless moan

There gardens shyly whisper timid dreams
While the poisonous dew softly trembles in its grief
And the dead water of the fountain seems
To be drowning shadow trees and vague sunbeams.
Walls and vaults are dying tranquilly in age
While moss spreads with nails in columns’ range
No hour revealing happiness of sunny ray
No silver horn announcing gala day.
Only now and then a feeble whiff like breath
Awakes in sudden startled moan, so sad
That the dark pity of the virgin glory never shown
Reminds of some widowed and forgotten throne

Hidden Moans

To come back to your father’s place When quiet day is slowly dying And silent night’s unfolding to embrace And take the poor and the crying.

Read Debelianov’s poems in Bulgarian

March 29

Andrija Maurović (b. 1901) – Croatian illustrator, comic book author – Bride of the Sword (1935)

Brief biography and examples of Andrija Maurovic’s art

Read about Andrija Maurovic and Croation Comics

Ugled Magazine article about Andrija Maurovic

March 30

Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay (Bangla: শরদিন্দু বন্দোপাধ্যায়) (b. 1899) – Bengali novelist, screenwriter  byomkesh-bakshy-poster

Read the Wikipedia entry for Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay

Read about Byomkesh Bakshi, the Bangali Sherlock Holmes

Read why Byomkesh Bakshi is the most popular detective on film

March 31

Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut (b. 1823) – U.S. Civil War diarist – A Diary from Dixie (1886)

Read a biography of Mary Chesnut here and here

Read A Diary from Dixie online

The plucky way in which our men keep up is beyond praise. There is no howling, and our poverty is made a matter of laughing. We deride our own penury. Of the country we try not to speak at all.

April 22d. – This yellow Confederate quire of paper, my journal, blotted by entries, has been buried three days with the silver sugar-dish, teapot, milk-jug, and a few spoons and forks that follow my fortunes as I wander. With these valuables was Hood’s silver cup, which was partly crushed when he was wounded at Chickamauga.

It has been a wild three days, with aides galloping around with messages, Yankees hanging over us like a sword of Damocles. We have been in queer straits. We sat up at Mrs. Bedon’s dressed, without once going to bed for forty-eight hours, and we were aweary.

Colonel Cadwallader Jones came with a despatch, a sealed secret despatch. It was for General Chesnut. I opened it. Lincoln, old Abe Lincoln, has been killed, murdered, and Seward wounded! Why? By whom? It is simply maddening, all this.

I sent off messenger after messenger for General Chesnut. I have not the faintest idea where he is, but I know this foul murder will bring upon us worse miseries. Mary Darby says, “But they murdered him themselves. No Confederates are in Washington.” “But if they see fit to accuse us of instigating it?” “Who murdered him? Who knows?” “See if they don’t take vengeance on us, now that we are ruined and can not repel them any longer.”

The death of Lincoln I call a warning to tyrants. He will not be the last President put to death in the capital, though he is the first.

Illustration from the 1905 edition of A Diary from Dixie

April 1

Milan Kundera (b. 1929) – Czech-French novelist – The Joke (1967)

Read the Wikipedia biography of Milan Kundera

Read an analysis of Kundera’s work

April 2

Émile François Zola (b. 1840) – French novelist –  L’Oeuvre / The Masterpiece

Portrait of Émile Zola by Edouard Manet

Read a brief biography of Émile Zola

Read the Wikipedia entry for Émile Zola

Read “Cézanne and Zola’s The Masterpiece”

“…This close childhood friendship lasted for about thirty-four years until the publication of Zola’s book called The Masterpiece, (L’Oeuvre), whose main character is believed to have been modeled after Cézanne. After receiving a copy of the novel from Zola in 1886, Cézanne sent a succinct and formal note back to Zola stating: ‘…I thank the author of Les Rougon-Macauart for this kind token of remembrance and ask him to allow me to clasp his hand while thinking of bygone years. Ever yours under the impulse of past times, Paul Cézanne’. This letter denoted the dissolution of their long and intimate friendship.”

Read about Zola’s editorial in defense of Alfred Dreyfus: “J’accuse!”

Read “J’accuse!” (English translation)

…Here then, Mr. President, are the facts which explain how a miscarriage of justice could be made; and the moral evidence, the financial circumstances of Dreyfus, the absence of reason, his continual cry of innocence, completes its demonstration as a victim of the extraordinary imaginations of commander Du Paty de Clam, of the clerical medium in which it was found, of the hunting for the “dirty Jews”, which dishonours our time.

April 3

Unni Lindell

Unni Lindell (b. 1957) – Norwegian novelist, poet, children’s book writer

Read the Wikipedia entry for Unni Lindell

Unni Lindell’s novels are not yet available in English, although some of her work is on DVD (Cato Isaksen series). Here is a machine translation about Lindell’s 2004 thriller Rødhette / Little Red Riding Hood:

In Unni Lindell’s new novel, Little Red Riding Hood is more dangerous than the wolf. Who knows what the little girl being attacked by a wicked man in the forest is capable of when she becomes an adult? “Little Red Riding Hood” is an unconventional crime novel with a bold plot.

Review by Anne Cathrine Straume:

“Beware, Wolves! Soon Red Riding Hood will get you!” With this warning Unni Lindell’s new crime novel opens — a real page-turner. I can often get a little tired of the constant crime plots, but I let myself be  smoothly carried away in this story about a woman who kills.

Three Sisters

The woman is one of three sisters, neglected by their  alcoholic mother, and raised by their grandmother in a small village in Tromsdalen. All three have their own reasons to hate men, as their experiences with men have been rather unpleasant.

But which of them was the one ambushed in the woods at the age of six? Which of them is writing in her secret diary, and which of them is a killer? Is it big sister Judith, who is a photographer,  or Lisbeth the midwife, or is  it the youngest sister Carol, a pill addict?


Readers know that it is one of the sisters, and so does retired sheriff Holger Eliassen, who is on the trail of the murderer.

While the tension in the first half of the book relates to who really is the killer,  in the second part it shifts to the race between the killer and the detective. We are constantly exposed to our women – who are seriously mentally ill, but at the same time, strangely enough the killer becomes a kind of heroine.

Female Avenger

It is an exciting composition that Lindell has dared in this narrative, pure both technically and thematically, and the reader – at least one female reader – gets a much better understanding of a killer, and actually thinks that the nasty man got only as he deserved!

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