Displaying articles for: September 2009

"Your fat chief of police tried to assassinate me."

October 1: "Peter Collinson" published "Arson Plus" in Black Mask magazine on this day in 1923, introducing a nameless hero called "the Continental Detective." Soon the hero was "the Continental Op," and soon Dashiell Hammett was signing his work with his real name. Read more...

A Single Night

September 30: Elie Wiesel was born on this day in 1928, and on this day in 1946 the verdicts in the first of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials were registered, the twenty-two judgments — 3 acquittals, 7 prison terms, 12 death sentences — read in open court the next day. Read more...

Roommates

September 29: W. H. Auden died on this day in 1973, aged sixty-six. In 1972 Auden returned to England to become a permanent poet/personality-in-residence at Oxford. While there he continued to work at a wide array of projects, but the biographies are full of anecdotes about his declining interest, especially in prolonging life by curbing the intake of vodka and cigarettes. One haiku from the very end — Auden’s last poem, according to companion Chester Kallman — turns the ambivalent mood into a sort of death rag... Read more...

Evidence of Exploitation

September 28: Anita Loos’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes opened on Broadway on this day in 1926, becoming as big a hit there as it was in its other incarnations — the 1925 book, the 1928 and 1953 movies, the 1949 musical, the sequel, which was titled But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes. Read more...

Henry James: Playwright

September 26: Henry James’s The American, his adaptation of his 1877 novel, had its London premiere on this day in 1891. Though his first venture into the theater, James thought that he had “written a big (and awfully good) four-act play, by which I hope to make my fortune.” The opening night of the provincial tour seemed to suggest that he was right: coaxed out from the wings, James shared numerous bows with the cast and, as described in a letter to a friend afterward, gave himself up to the thrill of the footlights... Read more...

Felicia Hemans

September 25:Felicia Hemans was born on this day in 1793. Hemans was widely read in her native Britain, and she became especially known in the U. S. for “The Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers in New England,” which became a second national anthem and a staple of the elementary school curriculum. Her poem imagines the pilgrims’ voyage as storm-tossed and dream-driven, their goal much greater than gold or glory... Read more...

"Her soul is in Florence"

September 24: A. P. Herbert was born on this day in 1890. Herbert was a lawyer, a British MP and a prominent writer across many genres. His popular Misleading Cases books satirized the English legal system with such accuracy that some lawyers mistook them for actual trial proceedings. At issue in "Trott vrs. Tulip" is whether the literary critic, Mrs. Tulip, was defamatory when she accused the popular novelist, Miss Trott, of being "a bit of a highbrow," thereby ruining her sales... Read more...

Down to the Seas Again

September 23: On this day in 1891, John Masefield began his first sea apprenticeship, at the age of thirteen. Masefield had been orphaned, and his aunt thought that his dreamy, bookish ways might be corrected by English naval discipline. Four years later, Masefield deserted ship in New York, vowing to "be a writer, come what might." Despite his reluctant and limited years upon it, Masefield became the 'Poet of the Sea' for a generation, and his beloved “Sea Fever,” written when he was just twenty-two, became a sea-faring hymn

Read more...

Hemingway on Broadway

September 22:Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms opened on Broadway on this day in 1930, adapted by Laurence Stallings. The play closed after three weeks, but it gave the 1929 novel another boost — most reviews told theatergoers to buy the book instead — and the literary historians say that the play was “the earliest and most tangible product of the Hemingway industry.” When Paramount adapted Stallings's script for their 1932 movie, they kept as much of the sex as they dared; below, the two taglines they used in the promotional appeals... Read more...

The It Girl

September 21: Elinor Glyn, regarded as a pioneer in mainstream romance fiction, died on this day in 1943. Glyn’s steamy novels pushed the sexual barriers as far as they might go in the first decades of the 20th century, and the “high priestess of the God of love” (her self-description) pushed her novels and movies so relentlessly that the jingle-writers and the wits, from Mark Twain to Dorothy Parker, took aim. Read more...

Theroux's Rail Odyssey

September 19: On this day in 1973 Paul Theroux departed on the 15:30 from London's Victoria Station for Paris, the Orient Express, and the twenty-nine other trains that would take him on the fourteen-week journey documented in The Great Railway Bazaar. This was the first of Theroux's travel books, and decades later it is still on many Top Ten lists, credited with having revived an exhausted genre. Read more...

Troublesome Kindness

September 18: Samuel Johnson was born on this day in 1709 in Lichfield, Staffordshire. The annual birthday celebrations in Johnson's hometown will be especially festive in this tercentenary year, though Johnson himself was famously unenthusiastic about such things. In a letter written to Hester Thrale just after his sixty-fourth birthday, Johnson sourly notes the day's passing... Read more...

Ralph and Walt

September 17: In his autobiographical Specimen Days, Walt Whitman notes that he visited Ralph Waldo Emerson, the Alcotts and others in Concord on this day in 1881. Whitman toured the old Manse and added a stone to the cairn which marked the site of Thoreau's Walden cabin, but his visit with Emerson was the highlight — "a long and blessed evening … in a way I couldn't have wish'd better or different." Whitman was sixty-two, with a decade left; then seventy-eight and suffering from advanced senility, Emerson had just seven months to live; as described in Specimen Days, this last of a handful of visits shared by the two men is autumnal in every sense. Read more...

A Temporary Crown

September 16: This Side of Paradise, F. Scott Fitzgerald's "novel about flappers for philosophers," was accepted for publication on this day in 1919. The acceptance date is regarded as an important one: the first edition of this first novel (the most financially successful one of his career) would sell out in three days, spring-boarding the twenty-four-year-old Fitzgerald to fame and all that came with it. Read more...

"A land more kind than home"

September 15: Thomas Wolfe died on this day in 1938, several weeks before his thirty-eighth birthday -- his novel You Can’t Go Home Again was published on September 18, 1940. The posthumous editing of Wolfe’s manuscripts has been much debated — some objecting, for example, that the tragic foretelling in the quotation following is editorial contrivance, the passage having been taken from a short story Wolfe published months before his death... Read more...

Bumppo to Babbitt

September 14: Sinclair Lewis’s Babbitt was published on this day in 1922. Though still resident in James Fenimore Cooper’s frontier, Babbitt has devolved from a Pathfinder to a lip-serving, glad-handing, prairie realtor. Read more...

Native Son

September 11: On this day in 1885 D. H. Lawrence was born in Eastwood, outside Nottingham. In his autobiographical novel Sons and Lovers Lawrence made famous the tortured conditions of his upbringing... Read more...

Deadly Duo

September 10: The sentence was delivered in the famous Leopold and Loeb murder trial on this day in 1924. Having convinced teen-aged Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb to plead guilty to the ‘thrill murder’ of another Chicago teen, Clarence Darrow managed to get life in prison for his defendants... Read more...

Joyce's Tower

September 9, 1904: Twenty-two-year-old James Joyce moves into the Martello Tower in Sandycove (just outside Dublin) with his friend Oliver St. John Gogarty. Joyce only stayed with Gogarty for a week — there were disagreements, and in October Joyce and Nora Barnacle left for Europe — but their relationship and the Tower setting would become the opening chapter of Ulysses... Read more...

Magellan's Closer

September 8: On this day in 1522 Captain Sebastian del Cano returned to Spain, completing Magellan's first circumnavigation of the earth.

Read more...

Lost Lisa

September 7: On this day in 1911 the poet Guillaume Apollinaire was jailed, suspected of being involved in the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. Read more...

Bard on Board

September 5: On this day in 1607 Hamlet was performed on board the merchant ship "Red Dragon," anchored off the coast of Sierra Leone. Read more...

Crossing Visions

September 4: François-René de Chateaubriand was born on this day in 1768, and Richard Wright was born on this day in 1908. Read more...

Of Dust and Parentheses

September 3: E. E. Cummings died on this day in 1962. Read more...

"A most horrid malicious bloody flame"

September 2: On this day in 1666, the Great Fire of London began... Read more...

Black September

September 1: On this day in 1939, Germany invaded Poland, beginning the Second World War. Read more...

To wake people up

August 31: On this day in 1946, The New Yorker devoted an entire issue to John Hersey’s sixty-eight-page article on the bombing of Hiroshima. Read more...

Back to the Land

August 15: The Woodstock Festival began forty years ago today. Read more...

Galsworthy and the Sense of Property

August 14: John Galsworthy was born on this day in 1867, into the sort of wealthy, upper middle-class family that he chronicled and criticized in his nine-book Forsyte Saga. Read more...

Time to Go

August 13: H. G. Wells died on this day in 1946, six weeks before his eightieth birthday. Read more...

Bond's Goodnight

August 12: Ian Fleming died on this day in 1964. Read more...

Chest-baring in the Afternoon

August 11: Ernest Hemingway and Max Eastman wrestled to a split decision in the office of Scribner's editor, Max Perkins on this day in 1937. Read more...

"I feel no more than a rock."

August 10: Virginia Stephen and Leonard Woolf married on this day in 1912, against all odds. Read more...

The Scream and the Laugh

August 8: On this day in 1965 Shirley Jackson died of heart failure at the age of forty-eight. Read more...

The Joy of Sesquipedalians

August 7: Anne Fadiman, author of Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader was born on this day in 1953. Read more...

"Houghmagandie"

August 6: On this day in 1786 twenty-seven-year-old Robert Burns served his third and last public penance for having "ante-nuptial fornication" with his eventual wife, Jean Armour. Read more...

"All lovely things will have an ending"

August 5: Marilyn Monroe died on this day in 1962. Read more...

"I have no pensées"

August 3: Colette died on this day in 1954, and four days later was honored by France with the first state funeral given a woman… Read more...

Frost's Road Home

August 1, 1915: On this day in 1915, two of Robert Frost's most famous poems, "The Road Not Taken" and “Birches,” were first published in The Atlantic. Read more...

Among the Rigs

July 31, 1786: Robert Burns’s Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect was published on this day in 1786. Read more...

Black and White and Read...

July 30, 1935: The first Penguins were published on this day in 1935, the event generally regarded as the birth of the modern paperback industry. Read more...

Absurdity, Rage, and Fame

July 29, 1909: If the absurdity in Chester Himes’s life – born this day in 1909 -- derived from mischance or mistake, it was often compounded by racism. Read more...

A cape, forsooth!

July 28, 1655: On this day in 1655 Hercule Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac died at the age of thirty-six. Read more...

Wheat under troubled skies

July 27, 1890: On this day in 1890 Vincent Van Gogh shot himself in a wheat field outside Auvers-sur-Oise, France; he died two days later, at the age of thirty-seven. Read more...

The Lie Box

July 25 , 1914: Anaïs Nin began her diary on this day in 1914, aged eleven, as she left Europe for America. Read more...

"Never fear quarrels, but seek adventures."

July 24, 1802: Alexandre Dumas (père) was born on this day in 1802. Read more...

Summer Friends

July 23, 1846: On this day in 1846 Henry David Thoreau was jailed for refusing to pay his poll tax. Read more...

In a dark, glassy

July 22, 1844: William Spooner was born on this day in 1844 Read more...

Gardner's Split World

July 21, 1933: John Gardner was born on this day in 1933. Read more...

"Your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint."

July 20, 1945: The French writer and philosopher Paul Valéry died on this day in 1945. Read more...

Letters from Miss Austen

July 18, 1817: On this day in 1817, Jane Austen died, at the age of forty-one. Read more...

Twain vs. Cooper

July 17, 1895: Mark Twain published “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses” on this day in 1895. Read more...

Fields of Rye?

July 16, 1951: On this day in 1951 J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye was published. Read more...

Strange Angel

July 15, 1892: Walter Benjamin was born on this day in 1892. Read more...

To the Bastille!

July 14, 1789: Today is Bastille Day. In preparation for A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens said he read Carlyle’s The French Revolution “about 500 times,” absorbing not just the facts but the tone and sentiment. Read more...

Spirtualist Sherlock?

July 13, 1930: A memorial tribute and séance was held for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle at London's Royal Albert Hall on this day in 1930, six days after his death. Read more...

Cutting the Porter

July 11, 1754: The (in)famous censor Thomas Bowdler was born on this day in 1754. Read more...

The House of the Story

July 10, 2009:Alice Munro turns seventy-eight today. Read more...

Gloomy and Sublime

July 9, 1764 and July 9, 1775: The eighteenth-century Gothic novel is tied to July 9th through two birthdays, those of Ann Radcliffe (1764) and Matthew “Monk” Lewis (1775). Read more...

Eliot & Bloomsbury

July 8, 1923: Virginia Woolf wrote to a friend that she had “just finished setting up the whole of Mr. Eliots [sic] poem with my own hands — you see how my hand trembles." Read more...

Full Tilt in Pamplona

July 7: The running of the bulls begins in Pamplona today, on the first morning of the nine-day Feast of San Fermin. Read more...

Faulkner's Unquiet Grave

July 6, 1962: William Faulkner died on this day in 1962. Styron attended the small funeral, one of the few non-family members invited, and several weeks later he published a tribute entitled “As He Lay Dead, A Bitter Grief” in Life magazine. Read more...

National Verse

July 4, 1855: The first edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass was published on this day in 1855, the poet clearly choosing Independence Day as the perfect moment for his theme. Read more...

This Little Mother Has Claws

July 3, 1937: Tom Stoppard (originally Tomas Straussler) is born in Czechoslovakia — not Prague but Zlin. Read more...

Hemingway's End

July 2, 1961: On this day in 1961 Ernest Hemingway committed suicide at the age of sixty-one. Read more...

Battle Stations

July 1, 1863 and July 1, 1926: On this day two of the most famous battles in military history began — the Battle of Gettysburg (1863), and the Battle of the Somme (1916). Read more...

Locust's Landing

Nathanael West wrote to F. Scott Fitzgerald on this day in 1939 to give him the latest report on The Day of the Locust, published six weeks earlier. Read more...

The Canine Muse

After attending a production of Rudolf Besier’s play, The Barretts of Wimpole Street, and then rereading Barrett Browning’s poetry and letters, Virginia Woolf was inspired to write her “biography” of Barrett Browning's dog. Read more...

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).

Watching Them Be

What makes a film actor into a larger-than-life movie star? James Harvey's passionate, freewheeling essays explain why there are some faces (from Greta Garbo's to Samuel L. Jackson's) from which we cannot look away.

Landline

What if you called up the spouse on the verge of leaving you -- and instead found yourself magically talking to his younger self, the one you first fell for?  Rainbow Rowell, author of the YA smash Eleanor & Park, delivers a sly, enchanting take on 21st-century love.