Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This Week in Reading June 22 - 28

Officially Summer now, this week's list of authors begins and ends with adventure and suspense as it probably should. H. Rider Haggard's novels and stories of colonialist adventurers have been made into countless movies. Eric Ambler was one of the most widely read suspense writers of his era, and the success of his amateur-who-gets-caught-up-with-spys novels brought him to live in Los Angeles as a successful screenwriter.

Two more highly successful suspense novelists were born this week. Lawrence Block has written dozens of mystery novels in at least five series. Dan Brown's Angels and Demons is currently about to be filmed as a follow up to his blockbuster DaVinci Code.

Pearl S. Buck wrote family sagas based on her Chinese missionary childhood that were so good she became the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize in literature. And let us not forget, (though we did at first), that this week gives us George Orwell, as well.

This Week's Question: What other author born this week won the Nobel Prize in literature?

Answer to Last Week's Question: Jean Paul Sartre won the Nobel prize in Literature but turned it down. His questions in existential philosophy underlie his most famous novel Nausea. That "sweet sickness" happens to his protagonist who grows to despise his (and every one else's) physical existence but learns that he must live with it, including the Self Taught Man who was reading every book in the library in alphabetical order. Often related to the problem encountering Hamlet, both this book and Oblamov, written many years earlier in Russia by Ivan Goncharov, find their characters faced with "to be or not to be." Oblamov eventually answered no, but Sartre's Antoine, has to say yes.

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