Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This Week in Reading Sept. 27 - Oct. 3

Authors born this week -

Novelists and story writers
Miguel de Cervantes, Prosper Merimee, Elizabeth Gaskell, Alain-Fournier, Thomas Wolfe, Graham Greene, Louis Auchincloss, Josef Skvorecky, Truman Capote, Gore Vidal, Elie Wiesel, Jurek Becker, Carol Lynn Pearson, Tim O’Brien, Bernard Cooper, Irvine Welsh, Ben Greenman, Cecelia Ahern

Poets and Playwrights
Poets: Wallace Stevens, William Empson, W. S. Merwin, Kay Ryan Playwrights: Steve Tesich

Thinkers, Believers, Scientists, Historians, Biographers
Confucius, Miguel de Unamuno Believers: Al Sharpton Scientists: Albert Ellis, James Herriot, Mihalyi Csikszenthmihalyi, Barron Lerner Historians: George Bancroft, Louis Arragon, Daniel Boorstin

Humorists, Essayists, Editors, Journalists, Officials, Media and Others
Groucho Marx Essayists: Alvin Toffler, Rex Reed, Molly Haskell, Michael Medved Editors: Louis Untermyer Journalists: Sandy Gall, Dick Schaap Officials: Jimmy Carter Media and Others: J. B. Rhine

Mystery / Crime / Suspense Writers
Mystery: Colin Dexter Crime: Jim Thompson

Fantasy / Science Fiction Writers
Fantasy: Jack Finney, S. M. Stirling Horror: William Beckford

Adventure / Westerns
Westerns: Ernest Haycox

Visual Artists
Photographers: Annie Liebovitz Cartoonists: Thomas Nast, Al Capp, Harvey Kurtzman

Young People’s Writers
Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin, Stan Berenstain, Bernard Waber, John Hegley

Events to read about this week:
THIS IS BANNED BOOKS WEEK which happens every year. Imagine if you were not allowed to read any of this week's authors or read books about events that happened this week. Go ahead. Imagine it

Then check out a once banned book to see what some people want others to miss.

Essayist, lexicographer, columnist William Safire (79)

This Week’s Questions:
Again there are no winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature among those born this week but there are two winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. Who are they?

Three of them have stong library connections and two have libraries named after them. Who are they?

A few authors from last week wrote several of the 100 most challenged novels of the 20th Century but only one author from this week has one on that list. Who is it?

Answer to Last Week’s Questions:
The term Gothic Fiction comes from literature that emerged at the same time as the Gothic Revival in architecture, the later eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth. Reacting against the realism and scientism of the Age of Reason, two threads of emotion developed. While the Romantics took their anti-materialism toward celebration of the beautiful in art and spirit, more often tragic than merely satisfying, the Gothic Revivalists found beauty in the feelings of horror and romantic terror. They set their stories in the crumbling ruins of old castles and estates that had been built at the time of the Goth peoples in England and Europe. Beginning with Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto, the elements were haunting terrors, and romantic suspense. Even Bryron, a romantic poet, tried his hand at it.

Several other authors born last week and this week wrote gothic tales, Charles Maturin, William Beckford and Elizabeth Gaskell, while some of William Faulkner's books have been of the subgenre called Southern Gothic. Gothic themes have been in the works of the Brontes, Edgar Allan Poe, Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, Ambrose Bierce, Oscar Wilde and dozens of others up to and past Stephen King, Peter Straub, Clive Barker, through Anne Rice and Stephenie Meyer. Vampires and man made monsters have featured prominently in gothic romances from Mary Wollestonecraft Shelley and Bram Stoker to today's very popular vampires for whom romance is stronger than terror, but who are not free of the terror that the worst of their nature inspires in others and in themselves.

It has been said that Gothic fiction thrives most when the world seems like it's spinning out of rational control which is often the state of both the readers and the characters. "[T]his world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel," wrote Horace Walpole, who is credited with both the quote and the word "serendipity." The word, as the quote, comes from one of his letters to acquaintances, many of which are still worth reading today. He refers to an old folktale "The Three Princes of Serendip," (which, by the way, was the English version of what is Sri Lanka today,) to describe the "accidental sagacity" which he described as finding something while looking for something else.

Serendipity abounds in libraries. Simply by looking through shelves you can find other fascinating things to read instead of only the book for which you came into the library. You could call it libradipity. And if you happen to open a book unconsciously at the very page that includes the concept you were looking for, one of our librarians has a word for that, too. We call it bibliodipity.

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