Sunday, February 10, 2008

This Week in Reading February 10 - 16

More bestselling authors are in another February list this week. France's great mystery writer, Georges Simenon, America's slick pop writer and producer, Sidney Sheldon, fantasist Jane Yolen, and childhood angst maven Judy Blume have all been both prolific writers and sure sellers. The inventor of the Simpsons, Matt Groening, has sold a few million of his print and media products as well, as did blockbuster screenwriter and director Joseph Mankiewicz.

Dr. Zhivago's creator, Boris Pasternak, reached millions of book sales as it was a middle brow Book of the Month Club selection, and millions more saw the movie based on the book. He was one of the few more commonly read winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Millions more copies of Bertolt Brecht's plays of alienation had been printed but rather than being sold in the commercial marketplace they were bought as assigned reading for literature and theatre students. It probably took Brecht fifty years to match the sales in Pasternak's two years of mainstream interest.
This Week's Question: Two authors born this week came into the world on the same day, but in different years, and they are both cartoonists whose works have been extremely influential, nearly genre creating. One won a Pulitizer Prize and the other won ten emmys. Who are they?

Answer to Last Week's Question: Shakespeare, like Marlowe, was baptized in 1564. The prevailing scholarship has generally found no facts of any kind but suppostion for a gap of years between the childhood of Shakespeare in Stratford and his emergence as a playwright of substance in London. From 1594, at the age of thirty -- the age Marlowe would have been had he lived --until his death the plays of Shakespeare we all know about were perfomed by one company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men, who changed their name to the King's Men at the death of Queen Elizabeth. While others contend class difference, (Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford) or alphanumerical puzzles, (Francis Bacon), some of us who just like drama by itself wonder about the authorship question with no real proof. Had Marlowe's espionage and extracurricular activities caused reason enough for him to stage his death just before the time William Shakespeare, at the same age, became known as the best playwright in London, usurping Marlowe's expectations?

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