Meet some of the world’s most fascinating writers and their works. A weekly celebration of literary anniversaries, an opportunity to read a book! Read, because, as John Milton said "A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life."
Born this week:
Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy, Writer
Author of great historical novels.
Hans Kirk, Writer
Danish author, who penned the best-selling novel of all-time in his native Denmark, The Fishermen (1928)
Alan Paton, Writer, Anti-apartheid Activist
"There is only one way in which one can endure man's inhumanity to man and that is to try, in one's own life, to exemplify man's humanity to man."
Charles Perrault, Writer
Author of fairy tales, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood...
She said to her, "Grandmother, what great arms you have!"
"That's to embrace you the better, my child."
"Grandmother, what great legs you have!"
"That's to run the better, my child."
"Grandmother, what great ears you have!"
"That's to hear the better, my child."
"Grandmother, what great teeth you have!"
"That's for to eat you."
And upon saying these words, this naughty Wolf threw himself upon Little Red Riding Hood, and ate her.
Johann Pestalozzi, Writer, Educator
"It is life itself that educates."
Jack London, Writer
"The mobilization of a whole working population may lead to unpleasant results, conscription to revolution. There are strong tendencies threatening the present social order which cannot be lightly passed over. Also, a strong anti-military propaganda has grown up. The small protesting voices of the past have merged into the roar of the peoples. The world has lifted itself to a higher morality. The aim of the human is to alleviate the ills of the human. Among all classes the opposition to war is keen and growing."
Ferenc Molnar, Writer
"Molnár is remembered principally for The Paul Street Boys, the story of two rival gangs of youths in Budapest. The novel is a classic of youth literature, beloved in Hungary and abroad for its treatment of the themes of solidarity and self-sacrifice."
Haruki Murakami, Writer
"Mediocrity is like a spot on your shirt, it never comes off."
Michael Bond, Writer
"There aren't many of us left where I come from."
"And where is that?" asked Mrs. Brown.
The bear looked round carefully before replying.
Hugh Lofting, Writer
Author of Doctor Dolitle. "If one place is as good as any other, it's high time we decided. Otherwise when we get there, we won't know we've arrived."
Anatoly Rybakov, Writer
"Death solves all problems — no man, no problem."
Yukio Mishima, Writer, Political Activist
Attempted a coup against the government, committed seppuku. "What transforms this world is — knowledge. Do you see what I mean? Nothing else can change anything in this world. Knowledge alone is capable of transforming the world, while at the same time leaving it exactly as it is. When you look at the world with knowledge, you realize that things are unchangeable and at the same time are constantly being transformed."
"We die only once, and for such a long time!"
Alexandr Griboyedov, Writer
One hit wonder: He is recognized as homo unius libri, a writer of one book, whose fame rests on the brilliant verse comedy Woe from Wit (or: The Woes of Wit), still one of the most often staged plays in Russia.
Susan Sontag, Writer
"We live in a culture in which intelligence is denied relevance altogether, in a search for radical innocence, or is defended as an instrument of authority and repression. In my view, the only intelligence worth defending is critical, dialectical, skeptical, desimplifying."
Died this week:
Sinclair Lewis, Writer
"Every compulsion is put upon writers to become safe, polite, obedient, and sterile. In protest, I declined election to the National Institute of Arts and Letters some years ago, and now I must decline the Pulitzer Prize."
Thomas Hardy, Writer
"To discover evil in a new friend is to most people only an additional experience."
Friedrich Schlegel, Writer, Humorist
"People who are so eccentric that they are completely serious in being and becoming virtuous understand one another in everything, find one another easily, and form a silent opposition against the prevailing immorality that pretends to be morality."
Agatha Christie, Writer
"There are things going on, things that shouldn’t be. […] It’s blossoming everywhere and in every country. […] Youth is what you might call the spearhead of it all. But that’s not really what’s so worrying. They – whoever they are – work through youth. Youth in every country. Youth urged on. Youth chanting slogans, slogans that sound exciting, though they don’t always know what they mean. So easy to start a revolution. That’s natural to youth. All youth has always rebelled. You rebel, you want the world to be different from what it is. But you’re blind too. There are bandages over the eyes of youth. They can’t see where things are taking them. What’s in front of them? And who it is behind them, urging them on? […] They’re not only fancies. That’s what people said about Hitler. Hitler and the Hitler Youth. But it was a long careful preparation. It was a fifth column being planted in different countries all ready for the supermen. The supermen where to be the flower of the German nation. Somebody else is perhaps believing something like that now. There’s something somewhere, and it’s running on the same lines."
James Joyce, Writer
"The pity is the public will demand and find a moral in my book — or worse they may take it in some more serious way, and on the honor of a gentleman, there is not one single serious line in it."
Lewis Carroll, Writer
"I do not know if 'Alice in Wonderland' was an original story — I was, at least, no conscious imitator in writing it — but I do know that, since it came out, something like a dozen story-books have appeared, on identically the same pattern."
Anais Nin, Writer
"The morning I got up to begin this book I coughed. Something was coming out of my throat: it was strangling me. I broke the thread which held it and yanked it out. I went back to bed and said: I have just spat out my heart."
Mikhail Prishvin, Writer
Author of the excellent The Chain of Kashchey. the book that took some 30 years to write.