Wednesday, March 18, 2009

This Week in Reading March 15 - 21

Literary Names of Note This Week

Nobel Prize in Literature: Sully Prudhomme (1901) (first recipient), Paul Heyse (1910)

Thinkers, Spiritualists:, Scientists: Edgar Cayce, B. F. Skinner

Humorists, Essayists, Editors, Journalists, Biographers: Sir Richard F. Burton, Richard Ellmann, George Plimpton

Mystery / Crime / Suspense Writers: Lawrence Sanders

Fantasy / Science Fiction Writers: James Morrow, Margaret Weis, William Gibson.

Historical Fiction Writers: Jack Whyte

Illustrators, Cartoonists, Graphic Novelists: Kate Greenaway, Todd McFarlane, Mark Waid

Children’s / Teen Authors: Phyllis McGinley, Luc Besson, Sid Fleischman, Paul Zindel, Mister Rogers, Lois Lowry, MicheleJaffe

Events to read about: It’s mostly about time: the Ides of March, Freedom of Information Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Earth Day, Daylight Savings Time, and the first day of Spring.

This Week’s Question:

Henrik Ibsen wrote many of his major and most influential works while living away from his home country, not so much because he already scandalized their nineteenth century values but because he knew he would. He was considered the first “modernist’ playwright who wrote “naturalist realism’ into his ‘problem plays.’ What do those terms mean?

Answer to Last Week’s Questions:

Richard Steele wrote about reading as mental exercise, and how one continues to learn as one ages. Steele and Joseph Addison, created one of the first must read daily magazines in England, The Spectator, in 1711, They intended their daily 2500 word ‘talking points’ "to enliven morality with wit … to bring philosophy out of the closets and libraries, schools and colleges, to dwell in clubs and assemblies, at tea-tables and coffeehouses.” In other words, to be just like many a good blog today. Will today’s better, wittier blogs be studied by literary graduate students three hundred years from now as well? Probably. Social literary motive doesn’t change, the media we use do.

Many question whether he really did get any better at writing with age, but the salacious detective writer was only interested in being a better Mickey Spillane. At the other end of the spectrum, the very literary playwright who felt a responsibility to instruct, and did, was Edward Albee. The brilliant humorist who understood, and was likely in awe of, both of them was Douglas Adams whose Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy also had room for Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.. What is literature after all but people talking to others in diverse ways?

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