Wednesday, October 15, 2008

This Week in Reading October 12 -18

Playwrights and philosophers highllight this week's strong authors. Starting with Alice Childress early in the week, Oscar Wilde and Eugene O'Neill were both born on the 16th, Arthur Miller on the 17th, and the 18th gives us Heinrich von Kleist, Sidney Kinglsley, and Wendy Wasserstein. Heavy thinkers include Henri Bergson, Hannah Arendt, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Michael Foucault, while social thinkers include John Kenneth Galbraith, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr, C. P. Snow and John W. Dean.

Bergson, O'Neill, and Gunter Grass won Nobel prizes in Literature. Other literary names of note on the list this week are the classical poet Virgil who always wrote in caps (because all literate Romans did), the modern poet e. e. cummings who didn't use any, and the short story master Italo Calvino.

Mario Puzo, Conrad Richter, P. G. Wodehouse, Ed McBain, Shel Silverstein, and Terry McMillan are very popular authors but none sold more volumes than Noah Webster, the dictionary maker.

This Week's Question: We all know Oscar Wilde is one of the most often quoted authors, and his witty aphorisms fill many pages. For example, "The good end happily, the bad unhappily -- that's what fiction means." and "All morning I worked on the proof of one of my poems, and I took out a comma; in the afternoon I put it back." One of the other writers born this week, however, probably had to work that way in the later years of life, so encumbered by a disease that it forced small movements of the hand such that only very tiny words could be written using the points of many pencils. Who created some of literature's most compelling, but most microscopic works this way?

Answer to Last Week's Question: As seen here, the 2008 Nobel Prize for literature went to Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio, an author of intercultural sensitivity with strong critical approval. We expect to see more of his works gaining American interest as this country now moves toward greater acceptance and understanding of world culture differences and similarities.

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