A Weekly Literary Celebration: LitBash 1

Celebrate literature: fascinating people and writers who were born, or died, this coming week. Buy or download their books, or books about them. Read, because, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “In the highest civilization, the book is still the highest delight. He who has once known its satisfactions is provided with a resource against calamity.”

Born this week:

Rene Bazin, Writer.
Author of “novels of great charm and delicacy”

Yevgenia Ginzburg, Writer.
Upon sentencing to 10 years, and loss of property: “To live! Without property, but what was that to me? Let them confiscate it — they were brigands anyway, confiscating was their business. They wouldn’t get much good out of mine, a few books and clothes — why, we didn’t even have a radio. My husband was a loyal Communist of the old stamp, not the kind who had to have a Buick or a Mercedes… Ten years! …Do you [the judges], with your codfish faces, really think you can go on robbing and murdering for another ten years, that there aren’t people in the Party who will stop you sooner or later?”

John Cowper Powys, Writer.
Author of Wolf Solent, “the only book in the English languiage to rival Tolstoy.”
“Man is the animal who weeps and laughs — and writes. If the first Prometheus brought fire from heaven in a fennel-stalk, the last will take it back — in a book.”

Jean Baptiste Racine, Writer.
“Today, let us make haste to enjoy life. Who knows if we will be tomorrow?”

Heinrich Boll, Writer.
“One ought to go too far, in order to know how far one can go.

Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Writer.
“When a peasant gives me his bit of cheese he’s making me a bigger present than the Prince of Làscari when he invites me to dinner. That’s obvious. The difficulty is that the cheese is nauseating. So all that remains is the heart’s gratitude which can’t be seen and the nose wrinkled in disgust which can be seen only too well.”

Julien Benda, Writer.
In The Betrayal of the Intellectuals, Benda argued that French and German intellectuals in the 19th and 20th century had often lost the ability to reason dispassionately about political and military matters, instead becoming apologists for crass nationalism, warmongering and racism.

Henry Miller, Writer.
“This is not a book. This is libel, slander, defamation of character. This is not a book, in the ordinary sense of the word. No, this is a prolonged insult, a gob of spit in the face of Art, a kick in the pants to God, Man, Destiny, Time, Love, Beauty … what you will”

Alejo Carpentier, Writer.
Travel, Music and Writing… my dream.

Jesus Christ
Makes the list for having inspired plenty of works of literature 😉

Died this week:

Yury Tynianow, Writer.
Author of historical novels and biographies.

F. Scott Firzgerald, Writer.
“All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.”

James Hilton, Writer.
Hilton found literary success at an early age. His first novel, Catherine Herself, was published in 1920, when he was 20. Several of his books were international bestsellers and inspired successful film adaptations, notably Lost Horizon (1933), which won a Hawthornden Prize; Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1934); and Random Harvest (1941). Lost Horizon, which sold briskly in the 1930s as one of the first Pocket Books (it in fact bore the serial number “1”), is sometimes referred to as the book that began the paperback revolution.

John Steinbeck, Writer.
“The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty.”

Carl Sagan, Writer.
“I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking.”

Giovanni Boccaccio, Writer.
“I have always been given to understand…that whereas a single cock is quite sufficient for ten hens, ten men are hard put to satisfy one woman.”

Kurt Tucholsky, Writer.
“For four years, there were whole square miles of land where murder was obligatory, while it was strictly forbidden half an hour away. Did I say: murder? Of course murder. Soldiers are murderers.”

Lion Feuchtwanger, Writer.
Feuchtwanger served in the German Army during World War I, an experience that contributed to a leftist tilt in his writings. After studying a variety of subjects, he became a theater critic and founded the culture magazine, “Der Spiegel”, in 1908. He soon became a figure in the literary world, and was sought out by the young Bertolt Brecht, with whom he collaborated on drafts of Brecht’s early work, The Life of Edward II of England, in 1923-24. According to Feuchtwanger’s widow, Marta, Feuchtwanger was a possible source for the titles of two other Brecht works, including Drums in the Night (first called Spartakus by Brecht).

George Eliot, Writer.
“My own experience and development deepen everyday my conviction that our moral progress may be measured by the degree in which we sympathize with individual suffering and individual joy.”

Nikolay Ostrowski, Writer.
“Man’s dearest possession is life. It is given to him but once, and he must live it so as to feel no torturing regrets for wasted years, never know the burning shame of a mean and petty past; so live that, dying he might say: all my life, all my strength were given to the finest cause in all the world- the fight for the Liberation of Mankind.”

Benito Lynch, Writer.
An eccentric, Lynch’s quirky short stories, (he wrote more than a hundred) in a neo-gauchoesque manner that sometimes evokes magic realism, have been often filmed and dramatized. He also strikes a genuinely and authentically popular vein.

Samuel Beckett, Writer.
“I think the next little bit of excitement is flying. I hope I am not too old to take it up seriously, nor too stupid about machines to qualify as a commercial pilot. I do not feel like spending the rest of my life writing books that no one will read. It is not as though I wanted to write them.”

Anatoly Rybakov, Writer.
His most popular novel Children of the Arbat was written and distributed via samizdat in the 1960s, but was not published until 1987 despite having been officially announced for publication in 1966 and 1978 (in both cases publication was canceled at the very last moment by the Soviet government). The eventual publication of the novel and its sequels – 1935 and Other Years («Тридцать пятый и другие годы», 1989), Fear («Страх», 1990) and Dust & Ashes («Прах и пепел», 1994) – were considered a landmark of the nascent glasnost, as the first in the trilogy was one of the earliest publications of previously forbidden anti-Stalin literature.

William Makepeace Thackeray, Writer.
“Dare, and the world always yields: or, if it beat you sometimes, dare again, and it will succumb.”

Arturo Barea, Writer.
His The Forge (La Forja) tells the story of his childhood and adolescence growing up in Madrid between 1905 and 1914. ( It was reviewed favourably by George Orwell in Horizon, ” a fragment of autobiography, and we may hope that others will follow it..if the Fascist powers have done no other good, they have at least enriched the English-speaking world by exiling all their best writers. ”

Louis Aragon, Writer.
As a novelist he encompasses the whole ethos of the Twentieth century: surrealist novel, socialist realism, realism, nouveau roman. Indeed he was one of the founding personalities of the novel of his time.

Harold Pinter, Playwright.
“The U.S. is really beyond reason now. It is beyond our imagining to know what they are going to do next and what they are prepared to do. There is only one comparison: Nazi Germany… Nazi Germany wanted total domination of Europe and they nearly did it. The U.S. wants total domination of the world and is about to consolidate that…
Blair sees himself as a representative of moral rectitude. He is actually a mass murderer. But we forget that — we are as much victims of delusions as Americans are.”

Vladimir Korolenko, Writer, Activist,
“Violence feeds on submission like fire feeds on dry grass.”

Paul Charles Bourget, Writer.
“At certain moments, words are nothing; it is the tone in which they are uttered.”

Karel Capek, Writer.
“Much melancholy has devolved upon mankind, and it is detestable to me that might will triumph in the end … Art must not serve might.”

Louis de Vilmerin, Writer.
“Francis Poulenc nearly literally sang her praises, considering her an equal to Paul Éluard and Max Jacob, found in her writing “a sort of sensitive impertinence, libertinage, and appetite which, carried on into song [is] what I tried to express in my extreme youth with Marie Laurencin in Les Biches.”


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