LitBirthdays July 17 – 23, 2011

July is

Read an Almanac Month

July 17

Maria Arbatova
 Maria Arbatova (Марии Арбатовой) (born July 17, 1957) – Russian playwright, novelist

Read about Maria Arbatova here and here

Watch (in Russian language) an interview with Maria Arbatova (at 2 min 25 secs.) discussing separate classes for boys and girls in schools.

A 2011 interview (in Russian)


Born July 17

Erle Stanley Gardner (b. 1889) – U.S. detective fiction writer (Perry Mason series) – The Case of the Perjured Parrot (1939)


July 18

Elizabeth Gilbert
 Elizabeth Gilbert (born July 18, 1969) – U.S. novelist, memoirist – Eat, Pray, Love (2006)

Read about Elizabeth Gilbert here and here

Elizabeth Gilbert speaks about her book Eat, Pray,  Love

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela (born July 18, 1918) – South African political leader, activist – Long Walk to Freedom (1994)

Read about Nelson Mandela here

Oprah Winfrey interviews Nelson Mandela

Nelson: All I can say is that I was less foolish than I was when I went in. I equipped myself by reading literature, especially classic novels such as The Grapes of Wrath.

Oprah: That’s one of my favorite books.

Nelson: When I closed that book, I was a different man. It enriched my powers of thinking and discipline, and my relationships. I left prison more informed than when I went in. And the more informed you are, the less arrogant and aggressive you are.

Oprah: Do you disdain arrogance?

Nelson: Of course. In my younger days, I was arrogant—jail helped me to get rid of it. I did nothing but make enemies because of my arrogance.

Oprah: What other characteristics do you abhor?

Nelson: Ignorance—and a person’s inability to see what unites us instead of only those things that divide us. A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.

News article about Mandela’s 93rd birthday

100 facts about Nelson Mandela for his 100th birthday in 2018

Born July 18

Yevgeny Yevtushenko (b. 1933) – Russian poet


July 19

Norman Manea

Norman Manea (Photo: Lowell Handler)

 Norman Manea (born July 19, 1936) – Romanian novelist, essayist

Read about Norman Manea here and here and here

Norman Manea’s essay “Revolutionary Shadows”

For someone who lived through two totalitarian systems, it is almost unbearable to contemplate America’s decline. Although we refugees, immigrants, exiles, and outcasts do not boast ad infinitum that “we are the best,” as many Americans do, we still believe that the US remains a powerful guarantor of freedom and democracy, and we consider its incoherence part of its liberty. The US, and the entire world, seems condemned to simplification of thought, action, and feeling in the service of immediate, quotidian efficiency.


Born July 19

Garth Nix (b. 1963) – Australian fantasy novelist – Mister Monday (2003, Keys to the Kingdom series)

A.J. (Archibald Joseph) Cronin (b. 1906) – Scottish novelist – The Stars Look Down (1935)

Vladimir Mayakovsky (b. 1893) – Russian poet, playwright – The Bedbug (1929 play)


July 20

Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca) (born July 20, 1304) – Italian humanist, poet Petrarch

Read the Authors Calendar biography of Petrarch

Petrarch was regarded as the greatest scholar of his age, who combined interest in classical culture and Christianity and left deep influence on literature throughout Western Europe. The majority of his works Petrarch wrote in Latin, although his sonnets and canzoni written in Italy were equally influential. Petrarch was known as a devoted student of antiquity, who had a passion for finding and commenting on the works of the ancients. In his letter to posterity he confessed that he always disliked his own age: “I would have preferred to have been born in any other time than our own.”

Who was Francesco Petrarch?
Petrarch was born in 1304 and though his family sent him to be a lawyer he quickly found his passion in the texts of antiquity. He continually strived to collect the works of Cicero and others believing that they contained knowledge and insights into the human condition which would take an eternity to recreate.

Who was Laura?
Laura may have been a figment of Petrarch’s imagination, or she may have been the untouchable love of his life. For her he perfected the sonnet and wrote the Canzoniere. Who Laura was and even if she really existed is a bit of a mystery.

Petrarch sonnets set to music (Unquiet Thoughts blog)

‘Che debb’ io far? che mi consigli, Amore?’ is a setting of the poetry of Francesco Petrarch (1304 – 1374) by Bartolomeo Tromboncino (c. 1470 – 1535).

The first stanza of the poetry (Rima sparse, n. 268) with an English translation is as follows:

Che debb’ io far? che mi consigli, Amore?
Tempo è ben di morire,
ed ò tardato più ch’i’ non vorrei.
Madonna è morta, et à seco il mio core,
et volendol seguire,
interromper conven quest’anni rei,
perché mai veder lei di qua non spero,
e l’aspettar m’è noia, poscia ch’ogni mia gioia,
per lo suo dipartire in pianto è volta,
ogni dolcezza de mia vita è tolta.

What shall I do? What do you counsel me, Love?
It is surely time to die,
and I have delayed more than I would wish.
My lady is dead, and has my heart with her,
And if I wish to follow it
I must break off these cruel years,
For I never hope to see her on this side,
And waiting is painful to me,
since by her departure my every joy is turned to weeping,
every sweetness of my life is taken away.

Pavarotti sings Petrarch

Benedetto sia ‘l giorno, et ‘l mese, et l’anno,et la stagione, e ‘l tempo, et l’ora, e ‘l punto,e ‘l bel paese, e ‘l loco ov’io fuigiuntoda’duo begli occhi che legato m’ànno;et benedetto il primo dolce affanno ch’i’ ebbi ad esser con Amor congiunto,et l’arco, et le saette ond’i’ fui punto,et le piaghe che ‘nfin al cor mi vanno.Benedette le voci tante ch’io chiamando il nome de mia donna ò sparte,e i sospiri, et le lagrime, e ‘l desio;et benedette sian tutte le carteov’io fama l’acquisto, e ‘l pensier mio,ch’è sol di lei, sí ch’altra non v’à parte. Blessed be the day, and the month, and the year, and the season, and the time, and the hour, and the moment, and the beautiful country, and the place where I was joinedto the two beautiful eyes that have bound me: and blessed be the first sweet suffering that I felt in being conjoined with Love, and the bow, and the shafts with which I was pierced, and the wounds that run to the depths of my heart. Blessed be all those verses I scattered
calling out the name of my lady, and the sighs, and the tears,  and the passion: and blessed be all the sheets where I acquire fame, and my thoughts, that are only of her, that no one else has part of.

[from Peter Sadlon’s Petrarch website]

Read about Petrarch’s influence on the design of playing cards


Born July 20

Imam Bukhari (Muhammed Al-Bukhari) (b. 810) – Turkistan Sunni Islamic scholar – Sahih Al-Bukhari

(Elizabeth) Dilys Powell (b. 1901) – U.K. film critic, essayist – The Golden Screen: Fifty years at the films (1989)


July 21

Suso Cecchi d’Amico (born July 21, 1914) – Italian screenwriter  Suso Cecchi d'Amico

Read about Suso Cecchi d’Amico here and here

Read a 2006 interview of Suso Cecchi d’Amico

MCA: So the atom bomb dropped and…

SCA: Yes. That story about a professor and a girl suddenly seemed so… Well, we just knew we had to do something different.

MCA: What film came of that fateful experience?

SCA: To Live in Peace (Vivere in pace 1947). It was directed by Luigi Zampa and based on a little story I had written.

MCA: That was your first film.

SCA: Yes, but I still only regarded it as a job. Screenwriting is the work of an artisan, not a poet. Let us be clear about that. I am not a poet, I am an artisan.

Read the New York Times obituary for Suso Cecchi d’Amico

She developed her technique on the fly, combining man-in-the-street interviews with her wide literary education to create rich, memorable characters like the displaced southern Italians in “Rocco and His Brothers.”

Early on, she cultivated concision in dialogue, in part through necessity, since many of her actors were amateurs pressed into service. “We were very careful not to give them big mouthfuls or long lines, because they froze,” she told Cineaste. “They couldn’t deliver the lines.”


Born July 21

Mohammed Dib (b. 1920) – Algerian novelist, poet – La Grande Maison / The Big House (1952)

Ernest Miller Hemingway (b. 1899) – U.S. short story writer, novelist – For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940)


July 22

Ala Ghawas photo by Simon Chauvin

photo by Simon Chauvin

Ala Ghawas (born July 22, 1981) – Bahraini singer/songwriter

Read about Ala Ghawas here and here and here

Ala Ghawas performs “Replica”

Ala Ghawas “Roadie”

Ala Ghawas & Likwid – Love for Rent


Born July 22

Emma Lazarus (b. 1849) – U.S. poet – The New Colossus (1883)

Albert Brooks (b. 1947) – U.S. comedian / screenwriter / film director – Defending Your Life


July 23

Milisav Popovic

Milisav Popović (born July 23, 1978) – Montenegrin novelist – Forgotten Mountain (2008)

Read about Milisav Popovic here

Milisav Popovic talks about his book Zaboravljena Gora (Forgotten Mountain) [Serbian language]


Born July 23

Eugène François Vidocq (b. 1775) – French criminal turned police detective/private investigator – Les Voleurs 

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