Thought of the Day

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people." --G.K. Chesterton

Today in Literary History – December 31, 1933 – Edward Bunker, crimonal turned crime novelist, is born

Edward Bunker, the criminal turned crime writer, was born on December 31, 1933, in Los Angeles, California. Bunker's parents were both drawn to Hollywood by the lure of opportunities in the film industry. His mother, originally from Vancouver, was a dancer in Busby Berkeley musicals and his father was a stage hand and grip. They …

Today in Literary History – December 20, 1865 – Rudyard Kipling is born

The Nobel Prize-winning author and poet Rudyard Kipling was born on December 30, 1865, in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, where his father, a British sculptor, taught at a newly opened art college. (Kipling's parents had spent their honeymoon on Lake Rudyard in the West Midlands of England and named their firstborn son in its honour.) …

Today in Literary History – December 29, 1916 – A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is published

James Joyce's first novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, was published on December 29, 1916, when Joyce was 34 years old. It is an autobiographical modernist novel that tells the story of Joyce's stand-in, Stephen Dedalus, up to the age of twenty -- the age that Joyce was when he left …

Thought of the Day

"If God listened to the prayers of humans, all humans would quickly have perished: for they are forever praying for evil against one another." --Epicurus

Today in Literary History – December 28, 2004 – Susan Sontag dies

The American essayist, cultural critic and novelist Susan Sontag died on December 28, 2004, from leukemia, at the age of 71, after having survived breast and uterine cancers. At the time of her death she was often described as a "polarizing" or "divisive" figure. Much of the controversy Sontag's career attracted can be attributed to …

Today in Literary History – December 27, 1969 – Sarah Vowell is born

One of my favourite contemporary humorists, Sarah Vowell, was born on December 27, 1969. She has written seven books on historical topics, well researched and with a decidedly liberal slant, told with sly deadpan wit. Vowell was born in Oklahoma and grew up in Wyoming and is part Cherokee. ("Being at least a little Cherokee …

Thought of the Day

The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less. — Václav Havel

Today in Literary History – December 24, 1863 – William Makepeace Thakeray dies

The novelist William Makepeace Thackeray died suddenly from a stroke on December 24, 1863. He had been in poor health for a long time due to his indolence and gluttony. He described his chief activities as "guttling and gorging." Thackeray was born in India, where his father was an official with the British East India …

Today in Literary History – December 23, 1815 – Jane Austen’s Emma is published

Jane Austen's Emma was first published on December 23, 1815 (although the copyright says 1816). It was the last novel she published before her death in 1817. Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were both posthumously published in 1818. The title character of the novel is Emma Woodhouse, a pretty and intelligent 20-year-old woman who is also …

Book Review – MY TWENTIETH CENTURY EVENING AND OTHER SMALL BREAKTHROUGHS: THE NOBEL LECTURE by KAZUO ISHIGURO and THE NOBEL LECTURE by BOB DYLAN

Kazuo Ishiguro, the winner of this year's Nobel Prize for literature, and Bob Dylan, last year's winner, have both just published the texts of their Nobel Lectures in slim volumes. Ishiguro delivered his lecture on December 7, 2017 at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm, as is customary. Dylan wasn't so accommodating. He submitted an audio …

Today in Literary History – December 21, 2017 – Diana Athill is born

Diana Athill, the literary editor, memoirist and novelist is celebrating her 100th birthday today. She was born on December 21, 1917, during the First World War, and is still an avid reader, supplying generous blurbs for new books she admires. Her most recent book, Alive, Alive Oh!, was published just last year. She was born …

Today in Literary History – December 20, 1902 – John Steinbeck is born

Nobel Prize winning novelist John Steinbeck was born on December 20, 1902. He was born in rural California and spent most of his life there. During the Depression Steinbeck and his neighbours suffered severe hardship, which became the subject of many of his books, especially The Grapes of Wrath, his masterpiece about Dust Bowl migration. …