Sunday, February 3, 2008

This Week in Reading February 3 - 9

As indicated before it's bestselling authors on parade this week. Within this span of a few days in February we have the birth dates of popular and prolific authors Charles Dickens, Jules Verne, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Sinclair Lewis, James Michener, John Grisham, Alice Walker and Andrew Greeley all of whom who have sold books in the millions to readers and to public libraries like this one.

Besides those very popular fiction writers there are also literary names well known to more serious readers, such as playwrights Christopher Marlowe, Brendan Behan, poet Amy Lowell, and countercultural heroes Gertrude Stein and William S. Burroughs, most of whom have sold millions of copies to college libraries and their students after their deaths.

This Week's Question: Christopher Marlowe, perhaps born this week, (no one really knows,) was killed at the age of twenty-nine in May of 1593, according to official transcripts, possibly as a result of his underworld spying activities. Before that time he had written the plays Doctor Faustus, Tamburlaine (parts 1 and 2), The Jew of Malta, Edward II, and his first, at the age of twenty-three, a collaboration called Dido, Queen of Carthage. Because of his poetical and dramatic skills there is little doubt in many literary historians' views that had he lived he would have been not just a contemporary but an equal to William Shakespeare. However, there has been ongoing controversy among only a very few that he, among other candidates, was, in fact, the man who wrote the plays attributed to a front man known as 'Shakespeare'. While recognizing that no one has ever proved, nor likely can, that Marlowe, nor any of the others, was Shakespeare, a few base facts are nonetheless tantalizing. Marlowe was born in 1564. When was Shakespeare born? And at what age did Shakespeare begin his playwriting career?

Answer to Last Week's Question: The Library of Congress was begun anew after its 1814 burning by the acquistion of 6,487 books from the personal collection of Thomas Jefferson.

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