LitBirthdays September 25 – October 1, 2011

Go To September 26| September 27| September 28| September 29| September 30| October 1|

September is

Be Kind to Editors and Writers


September 25

Ian Tyson
Ian Tyson (born September 25, 1933) – Canadian singer/songwriter – The Long Trail: My Life in the West(2010 autobiography)

Read abut Ian Tyson here

Ian Tyson performs Navajo Rug

Watch an interview with Ian Tyson

Interviewer: You write that “Four Strong Winds” was written as a response to hearing Dylan.
Ian Tyson: Yes it was. There was a little bar above this coffee house [in Greenwich Village]. That was our unofficial hangout for our group of people — Tom Paxton, Jack Elliott, Peter Paul & Mary — we hung out there. One rainy afternoon in the fall, Bob and I were in the bar upstairs — Kettle of Fish, it was called — and he sang me part of this tune. I liked it. And I thought, well, I can do that. How hard can that be? He [Dylan] was doing very folky, rural stuff. And I was folky and rural, from western Canada.

Johnny Cash sings Tyson’s “Four Strong Winds”

Four Strong Winds

Four strong winds that blow lonely
Seven seas that run high
All those things that don’t change
Come what may
But our good times are all gone
And I’m bound for movin’ on
I’ll look for you if I’m ever back this way

Think I’ll go out to Alberta
Where there’s good there in the fall
I’ve got some friends that I can go to workin’ for
Still I wish you’d change your mind
If I asked you one more time
But we’ve been through that a hundred times or more

If I get there before the snow flies
And if things are goin’ good
You could meet me if I sent you down the fare
But by then it would be winter
There ain’t too much for you to do
And those winds sure can blow cold way out there

Four strong winds that blow lonely
Seven seas that run high
All those things that don’t change
Come what may
But our good times are all gone
And I’m bound for movin’ on
I’ll look for you if I’m ever back this way

Ian and Sylvia sing “Four Strong Winds”

Born September 25

William Faulkner (born September 25, 1897) – U.S. novelist – The Sound and the Fury

Shel Silverstein (born September 25, 1930) – U.S. poet, songwriter, author of children’s books, humorist

Lu Xun (born September 25, 1881) Chinese short-story writer, poet – “A Madman’s Diary”

Andrzej Stasiuk (born September 25, 1960) – Polish novelist, essayist, critic – Fado (2009)

September 26

Raoul Cauvin
 Raoul Cauvin (born September 26, 1938) – Belgian comic strip author – The Bluecoats / Les Tuniques Bleues (series)

Read about Raoul Cauvin here

Read Terry’s review of a Bluecoats comic here

Cauvin answers questions from readers about his American Civil War series The Bluecoats (in French)

Q: When creating an episode, how much time does it take to research and make use of historical documents? (Particularly in stories such as “Duel in the English Channel,” where the dates and ships’ names are not completely fictitious.)

Cauvin: It depends on the topic. Documentation is always a matter of chance. Whether it’s before starting the story or after. Of course I imagined the history of the Alabama on the basis of real facts, but Lambil [the illustrator] had to invent a few details. We had the names of ships, but on the other hand, the famous cannon that was on the bridge and the boiler, he had to imagine those … After the episode was finished, I had an opportunity to go to Cherbourg where I met divers who had recently explored the wreck of the Alabama. They gave me some amazing information, but the story was already completed.

Q: The characters of Blutch and Chesterfield are very distinctive. Were you inspired by people you know? Congratulations on your great work!

Cauvin: Of course these characters were inspired by studying the people around me. The character of the sergeant dreaming only of medals, scars and glory, or the corporal who only wants to retreat… I encountered these types every day when I was doing my military service. I know what I’m talking about…

Q: Was the Civil War only a background for your stories or did you have a real interest in it?

Cauvin: Of course, the Civil War serves as the background for my stories. It was a period that I didn’t know too much about before starting The Bluecoats series. In brief, I am passionate about this fratricidal war. A stupid war, like many others…

Q: Hello, why didn’t you ever translate the Bluecoats into English, and do you plan to do so one day?

Cauvin: Translate The Bluecoats series into English? A dream. Very few comics have been so fortunate. The Smurfs, Lucky Luke, Asterix … You can count them on the fingers of one hand. Maybe one day we will have that chance. We can always dream.

Q: I wanted to ask you if you plan to write an episode about the Battle of Gettysburg, on the Nancy Harts (women rebel soldiers), the galvanized Yankees (Union prisoners enlisted to fight with the South), or the Bounty Jumpers (soldiers who enlisted only for the bonus and who then deserted). With a maximum bounty of $300 each, one of the soldiers got the most lucrative deal, making $7,750 in 10 months.
He was captured because he had been to the sheriff who was looking for him and had offered to help him, for a good reward, of course … Authentic subjects can add a historical touch to the episodes, and real facts may be even more fun! Good work! Long live the Bluecoats!

Cauvin: The Nancy Harts? I am not acquainted with them, but it’s not too late. In contrast, the Bounty Jumpers — I am writing about them in the next story, which tells about the riots that occurred because of conscription. Another historical touch, as you have said.

Watch an interview with Raoul Cauvin and Tony Laudec talking about the Cedric comic series (in French)

Born September 26

Jane Smiley (born September 26, 1949) – U.S. novelist – Private Life (2010)

T.S. Eliot (born September 26, 1888) – U.S. poet, playwright, essayist

Zhang Tianyi (born September 26, 1906) – Chinese short story writer – “The Secret of the Magic Gourd”

September 27

Romano Scarpa
Romano Scarpa (born September 27, 1927) – Italian animator and comic book story creator (Disney comics) – Uncle Scrooge Adventures (Walt Disney…) #38

Read about Romano Scarpa here and here

Read Disney comics by Romano Scarpa here, including “The Flying Scot” and “Anundsen’s Talisman”

Cartoon cels of Scarpa’s work (Tribute to Romano Scarpa)

Watch a test video of Duck Tales, a Romano Scarpa animation (Donald Duck / Uncle Scrooge)

Read memorial tributes to Scarpa here (in Italian)
Rosario: What can I say? Romano Scarpa and his intelligent irony were a welcome part of my childhood. A gentleman of another era, able to teach with just a pencil that life is beautiful! Thank you for the joy.

Demetrio: Dear Maestro, I’m sorry, I only just heard about your departure. It’s a scandal that the media hasn’t talked about it.
What can I say? I grew up with your characters. With your drawings, I dreamed of traveling. Enjoy a well earned rest and say hi to Uncle Walt and Uncle Charles!

Dreaming of Calidornia by Romano Scarpa

Google (born September 27, 1998) – U.S. Internet search engine

Read about it here

Born September 27

Josef Škvorecký (born September 27, 1924) – Czech/Canadian novelist – Ordinary Lives (2010)

Grazia Deledda (born September 27, 1871) – Italian novelist, playwright; 1926 literature Nobel prize winner – La Madre (1920)

September 28

Confucius Statue - Singapore
Confucius / 孔子 / Kǒng Zǐ (born sometime in 551 BCE) – Chinese philosopher – The Analects of Confucius

Read about Confucius here and here

No person has left a deeper mark on Chinese culture than Confucius, who lived 2500 years ago in an age of social turmoil. A striking feature of the Confucian canon is its overwhelming concern with life in this world. While there is an abstract Heaven and the obligation to respect one’s ancestors, God is conspicuously absent. Humans, according to Confucius, should waste no time in trying to understand the forces of heaven and the realm of the spirits, and concentrate instead on the problems of this world, best tackled through education and character development. Furthermore, the canon considers all men to be equal in their moral capacities and that any person can become a sage, or at least a superior man. That men may not pursue the path of self-improvement did trouble Confucius, as in his pithy but despairing remark that he had “never seen a man who loved virtue as much as sex”. Yet, he never lost his faith in the transforming and sustaining power of education.
[from “What Confucius Said” by By Namit Arora (Shunya, Nov 2008)]

Read Charles Muller’s translation of the Analects of Confucius

Simon Leys
Pierre Ryckmans (Simon Leys) (born September 28, 1935) – Belgian historian, sinologist, novelist, essayist – The Death of Napoleon

Read about Simon Leys/Pierre Ryckmans here and here

Geordie Williamson’s review of Leys’ essays in The Hall of Uselessness

Whether reading Don Quixote or Andre Gide’s Journals, the letters of George Orwell or the novels of Nabokov, Leys is first and foremost an enthusiast. He enjoys the luxury of writing only of those works that are precious to him, and the passion they inspire in him is infectious. He is unashamedly old-fashioned in reading the life of the author through the prism of his work (though always with Francois Mauriac’s proviso in mind, “the true life of the writer can only be told by the children of his imagination”), and equally antiquated in doing so across several languages and cultures, from the Analects of Confucius (which he also translated) to contemporary memoirs by French literary worthies.

Excerpt from “Lies That Tell the Truth” in The Hall of Uselessness: Collected Essays by Simon Leys

What I still remember is the postscript the great philosopher had inscribed at the bottom of that page. I remember it vividly because, at the time, I did not understand it and it puzzled me. The postscript said (underlined), “Most important of all, don’t forget: do read a lot of novels.” When I first read this note, as an immature student, it shocked me. Somehow it did not sound serious enough. For, naively. we tend to confuse what is serious with what is deep. It took me a long time to appreciate the full wisdom of my philosopher’s advice; now I frequently encounter echoes of it. And to the observation I have already quoted elsewhere, that one should prefer a medical practitioner who reads Chekhov, I would add that, if I commit a crime, I hope to be judged by a judge who has read Simenon.

Men of action — people who are totally involved in tackling what they believe to be real life — tend to dismiss poetry and all forms of creative writing as a frivolous distraction. Our great Polar explorer Mawson wrote in a letter to his wife some instructions concerning their children’s education. He insisted that they should not waste their time reading novels. but should instead acquire factual information from books of history and biography. This view — quite prevalent, actually — that there is an essential difference between works of imagination on the one hand, and records of facts and events on the other, is very naive. At a certain depth or a certain level of quality, all writings tend to be creative writing, for they all partake of the same essence: poetry. History (contrary to the common view) does not record events. It merely records echoes of events — which is a very different thing — and, in doing this, it must rely on imagination as much as on memory. Memory by itself can only accumulate data, pointlessly and meaninglessly.

The historian does not merely record; he edits, he omits, he judges, he interprets, he reorganises, he composes. His mission is nothing less than ‘to render the highest kind of justice to the visible universe, by bringing to light the truth, manifold and one, underlying its every aspect`. Yet this quote is not from a historian discussing history writing; it is from a novelist on the art of fiction; it is the famous beginning of Joseph Conrad`s preface to The Nigger of the Narcissus, a true manifesto of the novelist`s mission. The fact is, these two arts — history writing and fiction writing — originating both in poetry, involve similar activities and mobilise the same faculties: memory and imagination; and this is why it could rightly be said that the novelist is the historian of the present and the historian the novelist of the past. Both must invent the truth.

Born September 28

Prosper Mérimée (born September 28, 1803) – French archaeologist, writer – Carmen (1845)

Rosario Ferré (born September 28, 1938) – Puerto Rican novelist, essayist, short story and children’s book writer – Lazos de sangre / Blood Ties (Spanish language) (2010)

September 29

Gabor Csupo
Gábor Csupó (born September 29, 1952) – Hungarian animator, filmmaker –

Read about Gábor Csupó here and here

Read The Critical Eye interview of Gabor Csupo here

Gabor Csupo: Arlene and I started our own animation studio at the end of 1981, and then for a few years we did a bunch of commercials, music videos, and movie titles, … the very first time we got involved in storytelling animation was The Tracey Ullman Show, with The Simpsons. And then from there on we got into the production of 13 half-hours of that show, and then we got the Rugrats pitch over to Nickelodeon.

In my opinion, my biggest frustration was when I came to this country and looked around, although I saw a lot of inspired good work, I always felt that everybody was just imitating the already successful formulas of Disney and Warner Bros., and nothing new was flourishing out of this unbelievable possibility of an artform. I was surprised that no one would try to tap into new kinds of designs, and daring drawings, that everybody was just drawing the same kind of characters with a little bit of a different haircut and a different outfit, but nothing was new. And I thought that mixing good storytelling with kind of a different type of a more daring, edgy design would probably get more attention than if we just tried to imitate the ones which were on every TV channel.

Watch Csupo’s animation trailer/music video for his 2008 feature Immigrants (American Dreams / L.A. Dolce Vita)

Watch animations produced by Klasky Csupo Studio, including The Tracey Ullman Show – The Simpsons shorts

The Simpsons / The Tracey Ullman Show 1-6 Burping Contest

“Do the Bartman” 1991 music video (written by Michael Jackson and Matt Groening)

Do the Bartman

The Simpsons / The Tracey Ullman Show“Good Night”

Born September 29

Steve Tesich (born September 29, 1942) – Serbian / American screenwriter, novelist – Breaking Away (film – 1979)

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (born September 29? 1547; baptized Oct 9, 1547) – Spanish novelist – Don Quixote de La Mancha

September 30

Francesco Tullio Altan (born September 30, 1942) – Italian comics artist – Tre uomini in bicicletta / Three Men on Bicycles Francesco Altan

Read about Francesco Altan here and here

Candida Martinelli’s webpage about Italian humor, including Altan cartoons, here and here

“Altan is a famous Italian creator of vignette and fumetti, cartoons and comic strips. One of his more memorable characters is Cipputi, a died-in-the-wool communist factory worker who is continually dreaming of the day the worker’s revolution will transform Italy. Francesco Tullio Altan is most famous for two of his cartoon creations: Cipputi the communist machinist, and Pimpa a puppy in a cartoon series for children”

Watch an excerpt from Pimpa – A Special Day

Watch the trailer for Cipputi Gino, a documentary about Altan and his communist worker character, Cipputi (Italian language)

Excerpt from an article about Cipputi Gino in La Stampa

The DVD Cipputi Gino (SIP / CGIL Lombardy) is an interview, conducted in Altan’s home in Aquileia, done in a light, transparent style. The interview is interspersed with images of old working-class life (going to work, at work, exiting work, fog, cycling), now disused factories, and includes commentary from workers, trade unionists, the scholar Mario Tronti, the poet Edoardo Sanguineti, and songs of another exemplary film, The Working Class Goes to Heaven by Elio Petri, with Gian Maria Volonte, 1972.

Cipputi is a symbol of the proletariat, a man full of what Gramsci called “passionate sarcasm” — illuminating, bitter, and very funny; sometimes conversing with the lawyer Agnelli (a symbol of capitalism), and often talking with a co-worker. Altan is tall and handsome, with white beard and hair, but he is youthful and tanned. He says that Cipputi was born at night (he used to work after dark) in the fall of 1976.


Born September 30

Laura Esquivel (born September 30, 1950) – Mexican novelist, screenwriter – Like Water for Chocolate / Como Agua para Chocolate (novel and film – 1989, 1992)

Elie Wiesel (born September 30, 1928) – Romanian/U.S. holocaust survivor, writer, Nobel Peace Prize winner (1986) – And the World Was Silent [aka Night ] (1955)

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (born September 30, 1207) – Persian philosopher, poet, mystic – Dīwān-e Kabīr (Great Work)

October 1

Julie Andrews
Julie Andrews (Julia Wells) (born October 1, 1935) – U.K. singer, actress, author – Little Bo (1999)

Read about Julie Andrews here and here

Julie Andrews sings “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” from My Fair Lady

Julie Andrews My Fair Lady

Born October 1

Majrooh Sultanpuri (Asrar Hussain Khan) (born October 1, 1919) – Indian poet (Urdu language); Bollywood film lyricist – Never Mind Your Chains (1999)

Jimmy Carter (born October 1, 1924) – U.S. president, 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner – Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (2006)

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