Wednesday, January 21, 2009

[Last] Week in Reading January 15 - 21

This week is an extraordinarily historical one with the inauguration of the President Obama on Tuesday, and a more than significant Martin Luther King, Jr, holiday on Monday. But in all the hoopla one author probably got shoved to the curb again.

Monday, January 19, 2009 was also the bicentennial of the birth of one of America's most revered authors, Edgar Allan Poe. Surely there will be publishing, library, and association events throughout the year, and the celebrants at this year's Edgar awards for best mystery writing, named for Poe, will obviously take note. And, at the Poe House in Baltimore, ceremonies were and are being held throughout the year.

Politics, however, did Poe in then and now, as on his last day of life it is believed by many that he, already a heavy drinker and drug user, was kept drunk and dazed by corrupt election ward thugs, moved from one precinct to another to have him cast votes for their candidate under names of voters who had recently died, and then was left in a gutter to die, and this year, his two hundredth birthday, fell at just the wrong time to be noticed by many. Was it in your newspaper?

But in other great literary news in an NEA report conducted by the Census Bureau, called Reading on the Rise, "For the first time in the history of the survey - conducted five times since 1982 - the overall rate at which adults read literature (novels and short stories, plays, or poems) rose by seven percent." Way to go, library borrowers and Book Talk readers!

Born This Week:

Literary Names of Note: Charles de Montesquieu, Peter Roget. Poe, Anne Bronte, Alexander Woollcott.

Poets and Playwrights: Pedro Calderon de la Barca, Moliere, Konstanin Stanislavsky, Robert W. Service.

Nobel Prizewinners: Johannes V. Jensen (1944)

Thinkers, Essayists, Historians: Ben Franklin, Susan Sontag.

Mystery Writers: Patricia Highsmith

Popular Authors: Nevil Shute, William Kennedy.

Children’s and Teen Authors: A. A. Milne

This Week’s Questions: While his poetry was Romantic, and his fiction Gothic, Edgar Allan Poe is often credited as the progenitor of the Detective Fiction genre in America. What was the name of his sleuth? Also, what is the word describing the actions by which he was believed to have died? How many Edgars has Patricia Highsmith won?

Answer to Last Week's Question: Psychologist and philosopher William James said: "The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual.The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community. "

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