Wednesday, November 26, 2008

This Week in Reading November 23 - 29

It's Thanksgiving week. Many of us are thankful for the end of hot, dry days and the enjoyment of cool evenings where we can sit indoors in a comfortable sweater with a cup of hot chocolate or hot cider next to us while we read.

This week is also a week to catch up on some of the mistakes we've made as we approach the end of the year. While we will edit out all those old Russian calendar mistakes after the year is done, we must correct a glaring one we made two weeks ago. One of the old literary books we relied upon has shown itself wrong on several occasions and we learned that French-Romanian playwright Eugene Ionesco was born this week instead. Sorry.

With time off from work, in between family to dos, catch a little bit of classic reading with Louisa May Alcott, Laurence Sterne, C. S. Lewis, or Jin Ba. You can go literary modern with James Agee, Nancy Mitford, Arundhati Roy, or Alberto Moravia. Classic fantasists are on the menu with Madeleine L'Engle, Nelson Slade Bond, L. Sprague de Camp, and science fiction's Frederick Pohl and Poul Anderson. Top it off with the poetry and art of William Blake or the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza.

This Week's Question: One the authors born this week created illuminated books. Who was it? And what are illuminated books?

Answer to Last Week's Question: Mary Ann Evans, the woman who wrote as George Eliot, was a woman in Victorian England when women were considered to be "silly" novel writers. She had planned to publish as Marion Evans. Contemporaneous with her, however, was a famous woman who became the wife of the British Prime Minster, himself a novelist, Benjamin Disraeli, and her name was Mary Anne Evans. Somehow the name George Eliot was decided on for the novel Adam Bede which secured its author a reputation as a great writer. Because an imposter, a man, claimed to be the successful novelist, Mary Ann Evans came out as the real George Eliot and Victorian society accepted her as she published several more great novels, albeit under the male name. Besides this, Evans refused Victorian ideas of piety and in fact lived unmarried, though as married, for over twenty years to a man who could not divorce his wife, who had several children by other men in their open marriage. After he died Evans finally did marry, but to an unstable man twenty years her junior. The last years of her life which will make good screen fodder, her changing impact on the literary world for women, are depicted in the recent novel The World Before Her by Deborah Weisgall.

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