This Day In Writing History
On June 19th, 1947, the legendary Indian writer Sir Salman Rushdie was born in Bombay, India. His father was a lawyer turned businessman, his mother a teacher.
Rushdie graduated King's College, Cambridge with a degree in history. He worked in advertising - for two different agencies - before trying his hand at writing.
In 1975, Rushdie published his first book, Grimus, a science fiction / fantasy novel that told the story of Flapping Eagle, a young Indian who receives the gift of immortality after drinking a magic potion.
He then wanders the Earth for 777 years, searching for his sister, who is also immortal. He ends up falling through a hole in the Mediterranean Sea, where he crosses over into a parallel dimension.
There, he arrives at a place called Calf Island, where fellow immortals, tired of the mortal world, live in their own community and sacrifice their freedom to maintain their immortality.
Grimus was pretty much ignored by critics and readers alike, but Rushdie's second novel, Midnight's Children, published in 1981, was a huge success and made him world famous.
The novel won him the Booker Prize that year, as well as the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Midnight's Children introduced the magic realism style of writing that Rushdie's future works would become famous for.
The main character, Saleem Sinai, is born on August 15th, 1947, at the exact time that India becomes independent. He later discovers that all children born on that date, between 12 and 1AM, are gifted with telepathic powers.
Saleem embarks on a quest to gather together all his fellow telepaths and discover the meaning of their gifts. He then becomes swept up in the famous state of emergency declared by Indira Ghandhi in June of 1975, which would last for almost two years.
During this time, Ghandi suspended elections and civil liberties and granted herself the power to rule by decree. It was one of the most controversial periods in Indian history, where many innocent people were arrested and held without charge.
These political prisoners were subjected to abuse and torture. The government used public and private media outlets for the purposes of propaganda. A notorious family planning initiative forced thousands of men to have vasectomies against their will.
During this period, Saleem Sinai becomes a political prisoner for a time, and Salman Rushdie uses Saleem's ordeal to level scathing criticisms of Indira Ghandhi.
Rushdie's next novel, Shame (1983), dealt with political turmoil in Pakistan. It was followed by The Jaguar Smile (1987). The non-fiction book chronicled Rushdie's experiences with the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua during the seventh anniversary of their rise to power.
The Sandinistas were supported by U.S. President Jimmy Carter, but his successor, Ronald Reagan, secretly and illegally financed right-wing Contra guerillas in their attempt to overthrow the Sandinista government.
Nicaragua later won a historic case against the United States at the International Court of Justice, where the U.S. was ordered to pay twelve billion dollars in reparations for undermining Nicaragua's sovereignty.
In 1988, Rushdie published his most famous and most controversial novel, The Satanic Verses. In the dazzling, surreal narrative, two actors, Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha, are trapped on a hijacked plane during a flight from India to Britain.
The plane explodes over the English Channel, but the two actors are magically saved. Farishta is transformed into the Archangel Gabriel and Chamcha is changed into a devil, both men possibly suffering from multiple personality disorder as the result of their ordeal.
The novel features numerous dream vision narratives. One of these tells the story of how the prophet Muhammad - the founder of Islam - had originally included in the Quran verses of prayer to three Persian pagan goddesses - Allat, Uzza, and Manat.
Muhammad later renounces these verses as the work of Satan and removes them, hence the title The Satanic Verses. Later, one of Muhammad's companions doubts the prophet's divinity and claims to have altered parts of the Quran as Muhammad dictated them to him.
Another narrative tells the story of a fanatical imam who returns from exile to incite the people of his country to revolt, without any regard to their safety.
These narratives provoked great outrage in the Muslim world. The Satanic Verses was banned in most Muslim countries. In the West, Muslim extremists firebombed bookshops selling the novel and held rallies where copies of the book were burned.
Some people associated with translating or publishing the book were attacked and seriously injured or killed; in February 1989, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini - the spiritual leader of Iran - issued a fatwa condemning The Satanic Verses as "blasphemous against Islam."
The fatwa also called for Salman Rushdie's execution. A bounty was placed on the writer's head, and he was forced to live in hiding for years, under police protection. There were two failed attempts on Rushdie's life, one of them carried out by Hezbollah.
The UK government broke off diplomatic ties with Iran in protest of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. In 1998, nearly ten years later, Iran, in an attempt to restore diplomatic relations, made a public statement claiming that it would neither support nor hinder assassination attempts on Rushdie.
In 2005, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reaffirmed the fatwa and the death sentence of Salman Rushdie. Two years later, the Queen knighted Rushdie for services in literature, angering Muslims around the world. In Pakistan and Malaysia, mass demonstrations took place in protest of Rushdie's knighthood.
In the 20+ years that have passed, Salman Rushdie has written many more great novels. His latest, The Enchantress Of Florence, was published in 2008.
In 2006, in response to the outrage of Muslim extremists over the publication of a series of editorial cartoons satirizing Muhammad in a Danish newspaper, Rushdie signed the manifesto Together Facing The New Totalitarianism, which was published in the French leftist newspaper, Charlie Hebdo.
Death threats continue to be made against Rushdie. In January of 2012, he was scheduled to appear at the Jaipur Literature Festival in India, but had to cancel that appearance and the rest of his Indian tour.
Jaipur police warned Rushdie that hired assassins were planning to kill him either there or at another one of his appearances in India. He later investigated the police reports and concluded that the Jaipur police had deliberately lied to him.
Never one to back down, Salman Rushdie often appears as a discussion panelist on the HBO TV series Real Time With Bill Maher. He is without a doubt one of the world's great writers, as well as a crusader for freedom of expression.
Quote Of The Day
"The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture, because it seeks to turn other ideas — uncertainty, progress, change — into crimes." - Salman Rushdie
Today's video features Salman Rushdie's appearance on Authors@Google in June of 2008, discussing his most recent novel, The Enchantress Of Florence. Enjoy!
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
This Day In Writing History
On June 18th, 1903, the legendary French writer Raymond Radiguet was born. He was born in Saint-Maur-des-Fossés, just eight miles away from Paris. Not much is known of his early childhood.
Radiguet's father was a cartoonist, he grew up during World War I, and life on the French home front during the Great War influenced his writing. He started drawing and writing poetry at an early age.
At the age of 16, Raymond Radiguet abandoned his studies at a technical school to pursue his interest in literature. He went to Paris and became associated with the Dadaist and Cubist movements in literature and art.
He contributed to the magazine Sic, his works appearing alongside those of writers such as Louis Aragon, Andre Breton, and Philippe Soupalt.
The young Radiguet's talent attracted the attention and admiration of legendary French writer and filmmaker Jean Cocteau, who took him on as a protege. Radiguet wrote a book of poetry, Cheeks On Fire, and a play called Pelicans.
However, it was his classic debut novel - written at the age of seventeen - that made him a huge success and an object of controversy. It was called Le Diable au Corps - The Devil in the Flesh (1923).
The story is set on the French home front during World War I. The narrator is a fifteen-year-old boy who tells the tale of his passionate, tragic affair with a young married woman.
The novel opens with the boy striking up a friendship with Marthe Lancombe, a nineteen-year-old woman about to be married. They both share an admiration for the poet Baudelaire. Soon, the boy is skipping school to help Marthe shop for furniture.
Not long after her wedding, Marthe's soldier husband is sent to the front. The boy, smitten with her, sees his opportunity. Soon, the schoolboy and the lonely young married woman embark on a passionate, but doomed affair. Marthe becomes pregnant, causing a scandal.
The novel created quite a scandal itself. Critics expressed outrage at the novel's glorification of adultery and depiction of adolescent sexuality, but were soon won over by the author's skillfully crafted narrative, written in a sober and objective style.
Raymond Radiguet's prose effectively captures the teenage boy's conflicting emotions - his pride at becoming a man and the pain caused by his lack of maturity and being thrust into a love affair he's really too young to handle.
With the success of The Devil in the Flesh, Raymond Radiguet became the talk of Paris. How could this novel have been penned by an author barely older than his teenage protagonist?
Radiguet was proclaimed a genius. Although he denied it, The Devil in the Flesh was later revealed to be a semi-autobiographical novel based on Radiguet's real-life affair with an older woman.
A feature film adaptation of Devil In The Flesh would prove to be even more controversial than the novel. Italian director Marco Bellocchio's 1986 film was neither the first nor the last adaptation of Raymond Radiguet's novel.
Definitely the most famous film adaptation, it was the first mainstream feature film where a well-known, mainstream actress (Maruschka Detmers) engaged in uncensored, hardcore sexual acts on screen..
While reveling in the success of his debut novel, Raymond Radiguet began writing his next book. Le Bal du Comte d'Orgel - Count d'Orgel's Ball (1924) told the story of a handsome, charming, carefree aristocrat, his wife (the Countess), and his protege, François de Séryeuse.
All three characters become ensnared in a web of adultery, deception, and self-deception, culminating in Count d'Orgel's masquerade ball, where the guests wear masks and later reveal their true selves - in more ways than one.
Count d'Orgel's Ball was also acclaimed by critics and readers alike, but Radiguet never lived to bask in it. Shortly after completing the novel, he contracted typhoid fever. He died in December of 1923 at the age of twenty.
Radiguet's mentor, the great Jean Cocteau, was devastated. While trying to work on his own writing, he plunged into a quagmire of depression and drug addiction. From this despair would come Cocteau's classic novel, Les Enfants Terribles - Terrible Children (1929).
Meanwhile, Count d'Orgel's Ball and other writings by Radiguet, including a second poetry collection, were published posthumously.
One can only imagine what the young genius Raymond Radiguet may have written, had his life not been tragically cut short.
Quote Of The Day
"Listen to me. I have something terrible to tell you. In three days, I am going to be shot by the soldiers of God." - Raymond Radiguet, spoken to Jean Cocteau shortly before his death.
Today's video features a clip from the 1947 French feature film adaptation of Raymond Radiguet's classic novel, The Devil in the Flesh, in French with no subtitles. Enjoy!
Monday, June 17, 2013
The Guiding Nose of Ulfant Banderoz by Dan Simmons
Solstice by P.J. Hoover
Bled & Breakfast: An Immortality Bites Mystery by Michelle Rowen
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Reposted on: June 16, 2013
Exercise: In a two-person dialog of no more than 400 words show us as much as you can about the characters' personalities and their situation. Stick to their own words. Use as little exposition/description as possible.
Listen to people talking. How are their words strung together? Are the speakers aiming for meaning or for effect? Do they speak formally, in complete sentences and well-thought-out paragraphs, or do they use verbal shortcuts? From their conversation, what can you tell about their moods, their ages, backgrounds, emotional states, their relationships, their personalities, their "stories"?
Well-written dialog puts us with the characters and tells us a lot about them and their situation.
Exercise: In a two-person dialog of no more than 400 words show us as much as you can about the characters' personalities and their situation. Stick to their own words. Use as little exposition/description as possible.
In your critique you should aim to tell the author whether you get a clear picture of the two characters through the dialog and explain why. Are the two voices distinct? What do these characters tell us about themselves and their relationship through their conversation? Are they believable? Are they interesting? Can we tell where they are and why they are there? If it is important to the piece, can we tell the sex and age of these people? What did you like best about the author's use of dialog? Do you see room for improvement?
These exercises were written by IWW members and administrators to provide structured practice opportunities for its members. You are welcome to use them for practice as well. Please mention that you found them at the Internet Writing Workshop.
Friday, June 14, 2013
This Day In Writing History
On June 14th, 1811, the legendary American writer and activist Harriet Beecher Stowe was born. She was born Harriet Elisabeth Beecher in Litchfield, Connecticut. Her mother died when she was five years old.
Harriet and her nine siblings were left to be raised by their father, Hyman Beecher, a Presbyterian minister known for his evangelical fervor. He co-founded the American Temperance Society and preached about the evils of drink.
Beecher was an abolitionist - and a hypocrite. He preached against slavery from the pulpit, but he was also a racist. He was opposed to the forced emancipation of slaves by the federal government, believing that the institution of slavery would eventually die out.
When that time came, he believed that blacks should be repatriated to their African homeland rather than be allowed to live freely in America and integrate with whites. As president of the Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati, he refused to admit black students. Fifty white students left the seminary in protest.
Reverend Beecher's virulent racism was not limited to blacks. In 1834, he delivered a fiery anti-Catholic sermon in Boston that was believed to have inspired the burning of a nearby convent.
He also authored a notoriously racist Nativist tract, A Plea for the West, where he urged the federal government to strictly limit immigration or restrict it entirely to protect white Christian (Protestant) Americans from racial and religious undesirables. Sound familiar?
Harriet Beecher determined to become a writer at the age of seven, when she won a school essay contest. After completing her primary education, she enrolled in a progressive school for girls run by her older sister Catharine.
As an educator, Catharine was known for her feminist educational philosophy and her early advocacy for adopting the German kindergarten class for little children into the American public education system.
When she was 21, Harriet moved to Cincinnati to attend her father's seminary. There, she became a member of a writer's group called the Semi-Colon Club, whose membership also included her two sisters.
Another member was one of the seminary's professors, Calvin Stowe, with whom she fell in love. They were married, and she bore him seven children, including twin daughters. Unlike Harriet's father, Calvin was a ferocious abolitionist who called for immediate emancipation - freedom for all slaves.
She shared her husband's convictions, and their home soon became part of the Underground Railroad - the famous secret network of safe houses for fugitive slaves. The escaped slaves would move from house to house as they traveled en route to free states, where slavery was illegal.
In 1850, Congress, bowing to pressure from the South, tried to tighten the screws on the Underground Railroad by passing the Fugitive Slave Act, which made it illegal for people - even those living in free states - to assist fugitive slaves.
The law also compelled local law enforcement to arrest fugitive slaves and provide assistance to the vicious bounty hunters privately hired to track runaway slaves. The free states reacted with outrage to the Fugitive Slave Act, which resulted in gross abuses.
Many free states openly defied it. Several of them passed laws granting personal liberties, including the right to a fair trial, to fugitive slaves. Wisconsin's state Supreme Court declared the Fugitive Slave Act unconstitutional.
The law failed to disrupt the Underground Railroad; by the time it was passed, the network had become far more efficient. After the Act was passed, the Underground Railroad grew as the unjust law inspired scores of moderate abolitionists to become passionate activists.
The passage of the Fugitive Slave Act inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe to do more than just dedicate her home to the Underground Railroad. She wrote to Gamaliel Bailey, editor of the abolitionist magazine The National Era, to tell him that she planned to write a story that would expose average white Americans to the true horrors of slavery.
A year later, the first installment of her novel was published in a serialized format in The National Era. Uncle Tom's Cabin (1851) told the unforgettable story of a kind and noble slave whose faith cannot be broken by the evils of slavery.
The novel opens on a Kentucky farm owned by Arthur and Emily Shelby, who like to think that they're kind to their slaves. But, when he needs money, Arthur has no problem selling two of his slaves without regard to where they might end up.
The slaves in question are Uncle Tom, a wise and compassionate middle-aged man, and Harry, the son of Emily's maid, Eliza. The Shelbys' son George, who looked upon Uncle Tom as a friend and mentor, hates to see him go.
Uncle Tom and Harry are sold to a slave trader and shipped by riverboat down the Mississippi. While on the boat, Uncle Tom strikes up a friendship with Eva, a little white girl. When she falls into the river, he saves her life.
Eva's grateful father, Augustine St. Clare, buys Uncle Tom from the slave trader and takes him to his home in New Orleans. There, the friendship between Uncle Tom and Eva deepens. Sadly, Eva becomes severely ill and dies - but not before sharing her vision of heaven.
Moved by how much Uncle Tom meant to Eva, her father vows to help him become a free man. His racist cousin Ophelia is moved to reject her prejudice against blacks. Unfortunately, Augustine is killed at a tavern, and his wife reneges on his promise to help Uncle Tom. She sells him at auction to Simon Legree, who owns a plantation in Louisiana.
Simon Legree is an evil, perverse, sadistic racist who tortures his male slaves and sexually abuses the women. When Uncle Tom refuses to follow Legree's order to whip another slave, Legree beats him savagely.
The beating fails to break Uncle Tom's spirit or his faith in God. The sight of Uncle Tom reading his bible and comforting other slaves makes Legree's blood boil. Legree determines to break Uncle Tom and nearly succeeds, as the daily horrors of life on the plantation erode the slave's faith and hope.
Just when it appears that Uncle Tom will succumb to hopelessness, he has two visions - one of little Eva and one of Jesus himself. Moved by these visions, Uncle Tom vows to remain a faithful Christian until the day he dies.
He encourages two fellow slaves, Cassy and Emmeline, to run away. Later, when Simon Legree demands that Uncle Tom reveal their whereabouts, he refuses. A furious Legree orders his overseers to beat Uncle Tom to death.
As he lay dying, Uncle Tom forgives the overseers, which inspires them to repent. George Shelby arrives with money to buy Uncle Tom's freedom. Sadly, he is too late. Uncle Tom dies before he can become a free man.
George returns to his parents' farm in Kentucky and frees their slaves, telling them to always remember Uncle Tom's sacrifice and unshakable faith.
That's actually just a bare outline of this classic epic novel. The publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin caused a national uproar. In the North, it was regarded as the bible of abolitionism.
The novel inspired many closet abolitionists to come out and join in the fight against slavery. In the South, the book was regarded as an outrage. It was called utterly false and slanderous - a criminal defamation of the South.
Many Southern writers who supported slavery took to writing literature dedicated to debunking Harriet Beecher Stowe's expose of the horrors of slavery. Their writings were called "Anti-Tom" literature.
This pro-Southern propaganda depicted white Southerners as benevolent supervisors of blacks, who were a helpless, child-like people unable to live without the direct supervision of their white masters.
To defend herself against the South's accusations of slander and defamation, Stowe wrote and published A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin (1853), a non-fiction book documenting the horrors of slavery that she both witnessed herself and researched.
The book included surprisingly graphic descriptions of the sexual abuse of female slaves, who, in addition to being molested or raped by their white masters and overseers, were also prostituted and forced to "mate" with male slaves to produce offspring that would make a good profit on the auction block.
When Uncle Tom's Cabin first appeared in book form in 1852, it was published in an initial press run of 5,000 copies. That year, it sold 300,000 copies. Its London edition sold 200,000 copies throughout the United Kingdom. It became a hit throughout Europe as well.
Ironically, by the time the Civil War broke out in 1861, the book was out of print in the United States, as Stowe's original publisher had gone out of business. She found another publisher, and when the book was republished in 1862, the demand for copies became huge.
That same year, Harriet Beecher Stowe was invited to Washington D.C. to meet with President Abraham Lincoln, who supposedly said to her, "so you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war."
The novel would be adapted many times for the stage, screen, radio, and television.
In the 20th century, Uncle Tom's Cabin courted a new controversy that continues to this day. African-American activists have accused the abolitionist novel of being racist itself, with its racial stereotypes and epithets.
This, like the accusations of racism leveled against Mark Twain's classic novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) comes from a failure to place the novel in its proper historical perspective and consider its overall message.
Although Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote many books, both fiction and non-fiction, none of her other works came close to eclipsing the power and fame of Uncle Tom's Cabin.
During the last 23 years of her life, she lived in Hartford, Connecticut - next door to her friend and fellow writer, Mark Twain. She died in 1896 at the age of 85.
There are two historical landmarks dedicated to her; the Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Hartford, and the Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Brunswick, Maine, where she wrote her classic novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin.
If you would like to download the public domain e-book of Uncle Tom's Cabin, you can find it here at Munseys archive.
If you would like to download the unabridged public domain audiobook, you can find it here at the LibriVox archive.
Quote Of The Day
"The power of fictitious writing, for good as well as for evil, is a thing which ought most seriously to be reflected upon." - Harriet Beecher Stowe
Today's video features a 2-part lecture on the history and legacy of Harriet Beecher Stowe's classic novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin by Professor Cyrus Patell of New York University. Enjoy!
Thursday, June 13, 2013
This Day In Writing History
On June 13th, 1865, the legendary Irish poet and playwright William Butler Yeats was born. He was born in Dublin, but spent most of his early childhood living in County Sligo.
Yeats' father, John, was a famous painter. His brother Jack would become an acclaimed artist as well. Young William, however, was interested in poetry, Irish folklore, and the occult.
The Yeats family belonged to the Protestant aristocracy, which was pro-British. While William was growing up, a nationalist revival in Ireland caused the Protestants to fall out of power.
The Catholic Church was able to take power in Ireland because most nationalists were middle class Catholics. Protestants were seen as traitors to Ireland. Many nationalists who hadn't been Catholic before were now converting.
Although the Protestant William Butler Yeats would become one of Ireland's greatest nationalist heroes, he never converted to Catholicism. Yeats loathed the Catholic Church, which he believed was only interested in grabbing power for itself, not in genuinely promoting Irish nationalism.
At the age of twelve, Yeats began his formal education after being educated at home by his father. He was a below average student. An early report card noted that he was "Only fair. Perhaps better in Latin than in any other subject. Very poor in spelling."
During his high school years, Yeats discovered his passion for poetry. Percy Bysshe Shelley became one of his literary idols. By this time, his family had moved back to Dublin and William hung out with the city's writers and artists.
In 1885, at the age of twenty, Yeats had his first poems and an essay published in the Dublin University Review. His early work would be heavily influenced by Shelley, Edmund Spenser, and the pre-Raphaelite style.
Soon, however, Yeats would develop his trademark style of poetry, which was steeped deep in symbolism and influenced by Irish folkore, mythology, and the writings of William Blake.
Although other modernist poets were experimenting with free verse, Yeats preferred writing in traditional formats with rhyme and meter. One of his first major works was Mosada (1886), a play in verse.
While pursuing his interest in the occult, Yeats became a member of the famous Golden Dawn magical order and struck up a close friendship with fellow member and legendary occultist Aleister Crowley.
Around this time, Yeats struck up a friendship with Maude Gonne, an heiress, art student, and fellow Irish nationalist. He fell in love with her, but it was a mostly unrequited love.
Like Maude, Yeats had belonged to a then fledgling nationalist group called the Irish Republican Army (IRA). As the IRA became more militant, Yeats distanced himself from its violent wing.
He wanted no part of violence, believing that he and other writers could use their words to further the cause of Irish nationalism, which would be more effective than violence.
Yeats was devastated when Maude married another man, fellow nationalist Major John MacBride. However, the marriage soon came to an end - but not officially. Unable to divorce in Ireland, they went to Paris, only to be denied by the court there.
Maude remained in Paris with her son while John returned to Ireland. Maude and Yeats rekindled their friendship. They finally became lovers, but ultimately drifted apart.
By 1890, the Yeats family had moved to London, where William co-founded the Rhymers' Club, a group of poets that met regularly in a Fleet Street pub to read their works.
In 1899, Yeats and his friends Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn, and George Moore founded the Irish Literary Theatre, which was devoted to Irish and Celtic plays. Its first production was a double bill featuring Yeats' play The Countess Cathleen and Lady Gregory's Spreading the News.
Yeats would remain a lifelong Irish nationalist, but kept his political beliefs mostly to himself as violence escalated between the Irish nationalists and British police and soldiers. He continued to write nationalist poetry.
In 1916, Yeats proposed marriage to his old love Maude Gonne, whose estranged husband had just been executed by the British. He really wanted to just take care of the poor woman, whose life had been ruined by her devotion to violent political activism and her drug addiction.
Yeats and Maude didn't marry. At 51 years of age, what he wanted most of all was to have a child. He ultimately married Georgie Hyde-Lees, a young woman of 25. Despite the age difference, their marriage was happy. They had two children.
Georgie shared Yeats' interest in the occult, especially spiritualism and automatic writing. They conducted seances in their home and experiments with trance states. This resulted in Yeats' non-fiction study of the paranormal, A Vision (1925).
By 1922, the Irish nationalists had won a surprising victory in the Irish War of Independence. Although the war actually ended in a truce, Southern Ireland was recognized as a free state republic within the United Kingdom.
Yeats became a senator in the new republic; when the issue of legalizing divorce came up for debate, he fought hard against the Catholic Church's attempt to legislate its doctrine against divorce, comparing the effort to a modern inquisition.
In December of 1923, Yeats won the Nobel Prize in Literature. It was a huge symbolic victory for an Irishman to win the award so soon after Southern Ireland won its independence.
For Yeats, winning the Nobel Prize also resulted in financial success. His publisher took advantage of the publicity, and his book sales took off. Though his later poetry would still be steeped deep in mysticism, it would also become devoted to more contemporary issues.
William Butler Yeats died in 1939 at the age of 73. He remains one of Ireland's greatest and most famous poets.
Quote Of The Day
“Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.” - William Butler Yeats
Today's video features a reading of William Butler Yeats' classic poem, The Stolen Child. Enjoy!
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
This Day In Writing History
On June 12th, 1929, the legendary German writer Anne Frank was born. She was born Anneliese Marie Frank in Frankfurt, Germany. Her father, Otto Frank, was a Jewish businessman and decorated veteran of World War I, where he served as an officer in the German army.
In March of 1933, municipal council elections were held in Frankfurt, and Adolf Hitler won dictatorial control, becoming Chancellor of Germany. Anti-Semitic demonstrations began, and the Frank family feared for their safety.
Anne Frank, her older sister Margot, and their mother Edith went to stay with Anne's grandmother in Aachen. Later, after receiving an offer to start a company in Amsterdam, Otto moved the family to the Netherlands.
In February 1934, Edith and the girls arrived in Amsterdam. Anne Frank was enrolled in a Montessori school, where she showed advanced aptitude in reading and writing. Her friend, Hanneli Goslar, later recalled that Anne started writing in early childhood, but kept her writings a closely guarded secret and would not discuss them.
In 1938, Otto Frank started a second company, Pentacon - a wholesaler of herbs, spices, and pickling salts used to make sausages. His spice adviser was Hermann Van Pels, a Jewish butcher who had also fled Germany with his family.
Edith Frank's mother came to Amsterdam to live with the family in 1939. The Franks' quiet life would change forever when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands in May of 1940.
After defeating the Dutch army, the Nazis set up an occupation government and enacted discriminatory laws requiring Jews to register themselves and be segregated from the non-Jewish population.
In April of 1941, Otto Frank took steps to keep Pentacon from being confiscated as a Jewish-owned business, enabling him to earn a small income with which to support his family. Otto had the company liquidated and the assets transferred to his employee, Jan Gies. Jan and his wife Miep were close friends of the Frank family.
On June 12th, 1942, Anne Frank received a diary from her father as a gift for her thirteenth birthday. She had seen the handsome book, bound in red and green plaid cloth and with a small lock on the front, in a shop window. It was actually an autograph book, but Anne used it as a diary.
The following month, Margot Frank received a letter from the Central Office for Jewish Emigration ordering her to report for relocation to a work camp. So, on July 6th, the family fled their apartment after Otto planted a fake note to trick the Nazis.
The Franks moved into a hiding place - a three-story space located above the offices of Otto Frank's previous company, the Opekta Works. Anne called it the Secret Annex. A week later, they were joined by Hermann Van Pels, his wife Auguste, and their 16-year-old son, Peter. In November, Fritz Pfeffer, a dentist and Frank family friend, moved into the Secret Annex.
In her diary, (which she called Kitty, after the main character in her favorite series of children's novels) Anne wrote about the Van Pelses and Pfeffer, and their daily lives in the hiding place.
She described Hermann Van Pels and Fritz Pfeffer as self-centered and Auguste Van Pels as foolish. She became friends with Peter Van Pels, developed a crush on him, and experienced her first kiss. Anne's affection for Peter waned as she questioned her true feelings, wondering if she really did love him or if it was because there was no one else.
While in hiding, the Franks' only connections to the outside world were Jan and Miep Gies, and Otto's former employees Victor Kugler, Johannes Kleiman, and Bep Voskuijl, and Bep's father, Johannes Hendrik Voskuijl.
These contacts provided the Franks and their roommates with information, food, and supplies, all of them knowing that if they were caught, they would be executed for helping to hide Jews. The food and supplies had to be purchased on the black market.
Anne continued to write in her diary, expressing her feelings about her family and their roommates. She came to hate Fritz Pfeffer, with whom she had to share a room. She wrote of her strained relationships with her mother and sister, (her relationship with her mother was especially strained) and she wrote about what it was like to be confined, hidden, and always in fear of discovery.
In August of 1944, two years after they went into hiding, someone - it's not clear who - betrayed the Franks. On August 4th, the Secret Annex was raided by the German Security Police, and everyone was arrested.
When Miep Gies came for a visit, she found the Secret Annex vacant. She discovered Anne's diary and other writings (in notebooks and on looseleaf paper) and saved them, hoping that Anne would survive and reclaim them.
Anne, her sister Margot, and their mother Edith were sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, her father Otto to Auschwitz. At Bergen-Belsen, Anne developed a severe case of scabies. Her mother died from starvation after giving her food rations to her daughters.
When typhus swept the camp, Margot contracted the disease and Anne cared for her until she died. Anne then contracted typhus herself. Believing that her father had also died, Anne lost her will to live. She died of typhus in March of 1945, just three months before her sixteenth birthday - and just one month before Bergen-Belsen was liberated by the Allies.
In 1945, having survived the horrors of Auschwitz, Otto Frank returned home to the Netherlands. After the Red Cross confirmed the deaths of Anne and Margot Frank, Miep Gies gave Anne's diary and other writings to her father.
Impressed with Anne's writing talent, the depth of her thoughts and feelings, and the way she chronicled the family's life in hiding - and remembering how she longed to be a writer - Otto considered having the diary published.
Anne herself had wanted to publish her diary; she'd heard a radio broadcast in March of 1944 by Gerrit Bolkestein - a member of the Dutch government-in-exile - who planned (after the war ended) to create a public record of the Dutch people's oppression under Nazi occupation.
Anne prepared her diary for future publication by editing, rewriting, and using pseudonyms for her family and their roommates. The Van Pels family became the Van Daans, and Fritz Pfeffer's name was changed to Albert Dussell - Dussell meaning idiot in German.
After Anne's death, Otto Frank edited her diary himself, restoring the Frank family's names, but retaining the other pseudonyms. He cut some sections, including Anne's harsh criticisms of her mother and biting comments about her parents' strained marriage. He also removed sections dealing with Anne's growing sexual awareness and her experiences with puberty.
Otto gave the edited manuscript to historian Annie Romein-Verschoor, and she tried, unsuccessfully, to get it published. When her husband Jan wrote an article about the diary titled Kinderstern (A Child's Voice), which was published in the Het Parool newspaper in April 1946, it attracted the attention of publishers.
Anne Frank's diary was published in the Netherlands as Het Achterhuis (The Diary) in 1947, then again in 1950. It was published in Germany and France in 1950, and then in the UK in 1952, though in the UK, it was unsuccessful and went out of print the following year.
Surprisingly, the diary's first edition was most successful in Japan, where it sold over 100,000 copies. The first American edition was published in 1952 as Anne Frank: The Diary Of A Young Girl. In the U.S., the book was just as successful and critically acclaimed as it was in Germany and France.
The Diary Of Anne Frank, a stage play adaptation by Francis Goodrich and Albert Hackett, premiered on Broadway in October 1955 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
A feature film adaptation of the play, starring Millie Perkins as Anne Frank and Shelley Winters as Mrs. Van Daan, was released in 1959. More adaptations followed, including a TV miniseries.
Over the years, the book's popularity has grown exponentially, selling over 25,000,000 copies worldwide. It often appears on middle school English and social studies teachers' assigned reading lists. I first read this amazing book in middle school, at the age of thirteen.
In 1999, Cornelius Suijk, a former director of the Anne Frank Foundation and president of the U.S. Center for Holocaust Education Foundation, announced that he possessed the sections of Anne Frank's diary that had been deleted by her father, Otto, prior to the book's initial publication.
Suijk claimed that Otto Frank had given them to him and claimed the right to publish the missing pages. He planned to use the proceeds to help fund his U.S. foundation.
After a court battle, Suijk agreed to turn over the pages to the Dutch Ministry of Education in exchange for a $300,000 donation to his foundation. He did so in 2001, and the diary has since been republished in an uncut special edition.
A companion volume was also published - Anne Frank's Tales from the Secret Annex - a collection of short stories and an unfinished novel called Cady's Life, all written by Anne during her two years in hiding. It's a fascinating book that showcases her writing talent, which was considerable.
But her diary was her legacy, and it continues to inspire nearly 70 years after her death. It's a profoundly moving testament to the courage of an ordinary teenage girl trapped in extraordinary circumstances and a testament to the evils of racism and fascism - one of the most important documents of the Holocaust.
The Secret Annex in Amsterdam where Anne Frank hid from the Nazis and wrote her famous diary was turned into a museum called the Anne Frank House by the Dutch government. First opened to the public in 1960, it was rededicated by the Netherlands' Queen Beatrix after its second renovation in 1999.
In 2007 alone, over a million people visited the Anne Frank House. If you go there, you can still see the pictures of movie stars that Anne tacked up on her bedroom wall.
Quote Of The Day
"For someone like me, it is a very strange habit to write in a diary. Not only that I have never written before, but it strikes me that later neither I, nor anyone else, will care for the outpouring of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl." - Anne Frank
Today's video is a tribute to Anne Frank, with pictures, readings from her diary, and music performed by Glenn Gould. Enjoy!