Tag Archives: LitBash

Last minute gift ideas | LitBash 52

Looking for last-minute gift ideas? What better than something so intrinsically connected to the holiday season as writers who were…

Born this week:

Gustave Flaubert, France
“An author in his book must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere.”

Heinrich Heine, Germany
“Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.”

Jane Austen, UK
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

Arthur C. Clarke, UK
“I can never look now at the Milky Way without wondering from which of those banked clouds of stars the emissaries are coming.”

Philip K. Dick, USA
“Don’t try to solve serious matters in the middle of the night.”

Died this week:

Jose Martiniano de Alencar, Brasil
“Opportunity makes the man.”

Jean Richepin, France
“One may live without bread, not without roses.”

Max Mell, Austria

Joseph Heller, USA
“When I read something saying I’ve not done anything as good as Catch-22 I’m tempted to reply, “Who has?””

This concludes the LitBash series – a full year of literary celebrations. Search this blog for LitBash to find additional reading suggestions.

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Christmas party like no other | LitBash 51

This year’s Christmas parties not so exciting? You’re invited to join company like no other – writers who were…

Born this week:

Hans Hellmut Kirst, Germany
“All you have to do is anesthetize the masses by telling them they’re an elite, that they’ve got a mission, that they’re making history, that they’re fulfilling their destiny and fighting for a better world — and they swallow it like lambs — even when a guttersnipe says it.”

Carmen Martin Gaite, Spain
“There’s no way of calculating how many ramifications a story will take on once one spies a gleam of attention in another’s eyes.”

Eugene Sue, France
“Virtue often trips and falls on the sharp-edged rock of poverty.”

Albert Steffen, Switzerland

Alfred de Musset, France
“Great artists have no country.”

Maurice Leblanc, France

Died this week:

Alexandre Dumas, France
“It is sometimes essential to government to cause a man’s disappearance without leaving any traces, so that no written forms or documents may defeat their wishes.”

Anthony Trollope, UK

“I hold that gentleman to be the best dressed whose dress no one observes. I am not sure but that the same may be said of an author’s written language.”

Marin Sorescu, Romania

Thornton Wilder, USA
“Literature is the orchestration of platitudes.”

Jose Donoso, Chile
“I once asked the servants why none of them had blue eyes like my aunts. They replied that only the ladies could afford to buy the blue glass cups in which they kept their eyes at night to make them more blue and beautiful, and furthermore, if we went on asking silly questions, the rats that steal the faces of inquisitive children in order to wear them as masks would come to take us to live in the twilit world between the ceiling and the roof where no one ever dared to go.”

Luigi Pirandello, Italy
“Woe to him who doesn’t know how to wear his mask, be he king or pope!”

Artur Nils Lundkvist, Sweden

Book picks for the week | LitBash 50

Need something to read, but don’t know to chose? Try writers who were…

Born this week:


Stefan Zweig, Austria

“It is usual for a woman, even though she may ardently desire to give herself to a man, to feign reluctance, to simulate alarm or indignation. She must be brought to consent by urgent pleading, by lies, adjurations, and promises. I know that only professional prostitutes are accustomed to answer such an invitation with a perfectly frank assent – prostitutes, or simple-minded, immature girls.”

Alberto Moravia, Italy
“An uncertain evil causes anxiety because, at the bottom of one’s heart, one goes on hoping till the last moment that it may not be true; a certain evil, on the other hand, instills, for a time, a kind of dreary tranquillity.”

Konstantin Simonov, Russia
“I don’t know how others may see it, but for me, human friendship is the most precious feeling on earth. That feeling has its greatest strength when times are hard; and in war, times are very hard. “

Louisa May Alcott, USA
“Women have been called queens for a long time, but the kingdom given them isn’t worth ruling.”

Jonathan Swift, UK

“I have one word to say upon the subject of profound writers, who are grown very numerous of late; and I know very well the judicious world is resolved to list me in that number. I conceive therefore, as to the business of being profound, that it is with writers as with wells – a person with good eyes may see to the bottom of the deepest, provided any water be there: and often when there is nothing in the world at the bottom besides dryness and dirt, though it be but a yard and a-half under-ground, it shall pass, however, for wondrous deep upon no wiser reason than because it is wondrous dark.”

Mark Twain, USA
“I haven’t a particle of confidence in a man who has no redeeming petty vices whatsoever.”

Lucy Maud Montgomery, Canada

Joseph Conrad (Born Józef Korzeniowski), Poland / UK
“It’s only those who do nothing that make no mistakes.”

Died this week:


Conrad Meyer, Switzerland

Oscar Wilde, UK
“I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.”

Donatien Alphone Francois de Sade (Marquis de Sade), France
The law which attempts a man’s life [capital punishment] is impractical, unjust, inadmissible. It has never repressed crime—for a second crime is every day committed at the foot of the scaffold.”

Namik Kemal, Turkey

Edmond Rostand, France
“To joke in the face of danger is the supreme politeness, a delicate refusal to cast oneself as a tragic hero.”

Robert Louis Stevenson, UK
“In every part and corner of our life, to lose oneself is to be a gainer; to forget oneself is to be happy.”

Gustav Meyrink, Austria
“I have not let myself be stultified by science, whose highest goal is to furnish a `waiting room’, which it would be best to tear down.”

Re-Kindling the fire in your heart | LitBash 49

A book will light a fire in your heart. Pick a book by a writer who was…

Born this week:

Voltaire, France
“What we find in books is like the fire in our hearths. We fetch it from our neighbor’s, we kindle it at home, we communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all.”

George Eliot, UK
“I’m proof against that word failure. I’ve seen behind it. The only failure a man ought to fear is failure of cleaving to the purpose he sees to be best.”

Andre Gide, France
“One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight, for a very long time, of the shore.”

Charles Vildrac, France

Mats Traat, Estonia

Carlo Collodi, Italy

Lope de Vega, Spain

Eugene Ionesco, France / Romania
“No society has been able to abolish human sadness, no political system can deliver us from the pain of living, from our fear of death, our thirst for the absolute. It is the human condition that directs the social condition, not vice versa.”

Died this week:

Jack London, USA
“A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.”

Aldous Huxley, UK
“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”

C. S. Lewis, UK
“100 per cent of us die, and the percentage cannot be increased.”

Anthony Burgess, UK

Andre Malraux, France
“One cannot create an art that speaks to me when one has nothing to say.”

Johannes Vilhelm Jensen, Denmark

Upton Sinclair, USA
“American capitalism is predatory, and American politics are corrupt: The same thing is true in England and the same in France; but in all these three countries the dominating fact is that whatever the people get ready to change the government, they can change it.”

Yukio Mishima, Japan
“There is no virtue in curiosity. In fact, it might be the most immoral desire a man can possess.”

Arnold Zweig, Germany

Alexandre Dumas, France
“It is sometimes essential to government to cause a man’s disappearance without leaving any traces, so that no written forms or documents may defeat their wishes. It has always been so and always will be. Governments change yet they remain all alike.”

Eugene O’Neill, USA
“One may not give one’s soul to a devil of hate — and remain forever scatheless.”

Brighten up the darkest autumn | LitBash 48

Short days? Long evenings? Nothing on TV? A book brightens up the most dreary of days, and helps pass the longest evening. Here are some writers who were…

Born this week:

Hussein Taha, Egypt

Astrid Lindgren, Sweden
“There is very little you can beat into a child, but no limit to what you can hug out of it.”

Gerhart Hauptmann, Germany
“Poetry evokes out of words the resonance of the primordial world.”

Heinz Piontek, Germany

Rene Arcos, France

Henri Bosco, France

Jeannie Ebner, Austria

Klaus Mann, Germany
“Work is the never ending burden without which all other burdens would be unbearable.”

Selma Lagerlof, Sweden
“It is a strange thing to come home. While yet on the journey, you cannot at all realize how strange it will be.”

Nadine Gordimer, South Africa
“Writing is making sense of life. You work your whole life and perhaps you’ve made sense of one small area.”

Died this week:

Wilhelm Raabe, Germany
“A man without imagination is like a bird without wings.”

Albert Engstrom, Sweden

Marcel Proust, France
“Even in the most insignificant details of our daily life, none of us can be said to constitute a material whole, which is identical for everyone, and need only be turned up like a page in an account-book or the record of a will; our social personality is created by the thoughts of other people.”

Leo Tolstoy, Russia
“Subtleties, allegories, humorous fancies, the wildest generalizations abound, but nothing simple and clear, nothing going straight to the point, that is, to the problem of life.
Besides these graceful frivolities, our literature is full of simple nastiness and brutality, of arguments that would lead men back in the most refined way to primal barbarism, to the principles not only of the pagan, but of the animal life, which we have left behind 5,000 years ago.”

Leonardo Sciascia, Italy
“I hate and detest Sicily in so far as I love it, and in so far as it does not respond to the kind of love I would like to have for it.”

How to choose a book | LitBash 47

spywriter

Are you overwhelmed by bookstore shelves that are brimming with books? Don’t know which book to pick? Use lists, such as one with writers who were…

Born this week:

Albert Camus, France
“A character is never the author who created him. It is quite likely, however, that an author may be all his characters simultaneously.”

William Wharton, Germany

Bram Stoker, UK
“I am Dracula, and I bid you welcome.”

Margaret Mitchell, USA

Peter Weiss, Germany
“I could buy myself paper, a pen, a pencil and a brush and could create pictures whenever and wherever I wanted. … That evening, in the spring of 1947, on the embankment of the Seine in Paris, at the age of thirty, I saw that it was possible to live and work in the world, and that I could participate in the exchange of ideas that was taking place all around, bound to no country.”

Peer Hultberg, Denmark

Ivan Turgenev, Russia

Imre Kertesz, Hungary
“If one takes the path of success, then one ends up either successful or unsuccessful, there is no third alternative.”

Carl Sagan, USA
“Humans — who enslave, castrate, experiment on, and fillet other animals — have had an understandable penchant for pretending animals do not feel pain.”

Friedrich von Schiller, Germany
“Did you think the lion was sleeping because he didn’t roar?”

Max Mell, Austria

Arnold Zweig, Germany

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Russia
“Granted I am a babbler, a harmless vexatious babbler, like all of us. But what is to be done if the direct and sole vocation of every intelligent man is babble, that is, the intentional pouring of water through a sieve?”

Kurt Vonnegut, USA
“Well, I’ve worried some about, you know, why write books … why are we teaching people to write books when presidents and senators do not read them, and generals do not read them. And it’s been the university experience that taught me that there is a very good reason, that you catch people before they become generals and presidents and so forth and you poison their minds with … humanity, and however you want to poison their minds, it’s presumably to encourage them to make a better world.”

Carlos Fuentes, Mexico
“What the United States does best is to understand itself. What it does worst is understand others.”

Michael Ende, Germany
“Time is Life.”

Robert Louis Stevenson, UK
“In anything fit to be called by the name of reading, the process itself should be absorbing and voluptuous; we should gloat over a book, be rapt clean out of ourselves, and rise from the perusal, our mind filled with the busiest, kaleidoscopic dance of images, incapable of sleep or of continuous thought. The words, if the book be eloquent, should run thenceforward in our ears like the noise of breakers, and the story, if it be a story, repeat itself in a thousand coloured pictures to the eye.”

Died this week:

Carl Erik Soya, Denmark

Ken Kesey, USA
“The job of the writer is to kiss no ass, no matter how big and holy and white and tempting and powerful.”

Emmuska Orczy, Hungary / UK
“I have so often been asked the question: “But how did you come to think of The Scarlet Pimpernel?” And my answer has always been: “It was God’s will that I should.”

Guido Piovene, Italy

Elemir Bourges, France

Things cats and people have in common | LitBash 46

What do cats and people have in common? Both can live several lives. You can too – by reading a book and getting into the skin of its protagonist. Start with books by authors who were…

Born this week:

Hermann Broch, Austria
“The maker of kitsch does not create inferior art, he is not an incompetent or a bungler, he cannot be evaluated by aesthetic standards; rather, he is ethically depraved, a criminal willing radical evil. And since it is radical evil that is manifest here, evil per se, forming the absolute negative pole of every value-system, kitsch will always be evil, not just kitsch in art, but kitsch in every value-system that is not an imitation system.”

Ilse Aichinger, Austria
“The distance to the corner shops of childhood becomes unfathomable, immeasurable; the candy bars have changed. And change has changed.”

Gunter de Bruyn, Germany

Moa Martinson, Sweden

Andre Malraux, France
“The sons of torture victims make good terrorists.”

Ciro Alegria, Peru

Rene Maran, Martinique
“Hatred is one long wait.”

Robert Musil, Austria

“I am not only convinced that what I say is false, but also that what one might say against it is false. Despite this, one must begin to talk about it. In such a case the truth lies not in the middle, but rather all around, like a sack, which, with each new opinion one stuffs into it, changes its form, and becomes more and more firm.”

James Jones, USA
“I don’t think that combat has ever been written about truthfully; it has always been described in terms of bravery and cowardice. I won’t even accept these words as terms of human reference any more. And anyway, hell, they don’t even apply to what, in actual fact, modern warfare has become.”

Died this week:

Gertrud von Le Fort, Germany

Alexander Bek, Russia

Hans Erich Nossack, Germany
“Why go on? I mean, why record all this? Wouldn’t it be better to surrender it to oblivion for all time? For those who were there certainly don’t have to read it. And the others, and those who will come later? What if they read it only to enjoy something strange and uncanny and to make themselves feel more alive? Does it take an apocalypse to do that? Or a descent into the underworld?”

William Styron, USA
“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it.”

Leon Bloy, France
“There are places in the heart that do not yet exist; suffering has to enter in for them to come to be.”

Karel Capek, Czech

“Art must not serve might.”

Carl Sternheim, Germany

Johannes Urzidil, Austria

Claude Aveline, France

John Fowles, UK
“There are only two races on this planet—the intelligent and the stupid.”

Maurice Leblanc, France

Antonio Baldini, Italy

Blooming spring in autumn | LitBash 45

Autumn gets you down? Prefer Spring? Every book is a blooming flower. Enter the garden – start with authors who were…

Born this week:

Armand Lanoux, France

Venedict Yerofeyev, Russia

Ulrich Plenzdorf, Germany

Erasmus, Netherlands
“The most disadvantageous peace is better than the most just war.”

Kare Holt, Norway

Sylvia Plath, USA
“Nothing reaks quite as bad as a pile of unpublished manuscripts.”

Evelyn Waugh, UK
“Aesthetic value is often the by-product of the artist striving to do something else.”

Otto Flake, Germany

Jean Giraudoux, France
“As soon as war is declared it will be impossible to hold the poets back. Rhyme is still the most effective drum.”

Jean Rostand, France
“Kill a man, one is a murderer; kill a million, a conqueror; kill them all, a God.”

Carl Erik Soya, Denmark

Died this week:

Mary McCarthy, USA
“We all live in suspense, from day to day, from hour to hour; in other words, we are the hero of our own story.”

Gerard Walschap, Belgium

Carlo Collodi, Italy
Pinocchio

Arkady Gaidar, Russia

Heinz Piontek, Germany

Willi Bredel, Germany

Walter Raleigh, UK
“Better were it to be unborn than ill-bred.”

Nikolai Chernyshevsky, Russia
“History is fond of her grandchildren, for it offers them the marrow of the bones, which the previous generation had hurt its hands in breaking.”

Frances Burnett, UK
“And this, my lovely child, is your garden.”

William Wharton, USA
“What is love? As far as I can tell, it is passion, admiration, and respect. If you have two, you have enough. If you have all three, you dont have to die to go to heaven.”

Pio Baroja, Basque

Burn these books | LitBash 44

If books entertain you – burn them! Start with authors who were…

Born this week:

Simon Vestdijk, Netherlands
“If it were to be claimed that intentional verse is not yet poetry, then I would equally have the right to claim that the most consummate, most differentiated sound poems are no longer poetry but a singular imitation of another art: music or declamation.”

Arthur Miller, USA
“I cannot write anything that I understand too well. If I know what something means to me, if I have already come to the end of it as an experience, I can’t write it because it seems a twice-told tale. I have to astonish myself, and that of course is a very costly way of going about things, because you can go up a dead end and discover that it’s beyond your capacity to discover some organism underneath your feeling, and you’re left simply with a formless feeling which is not itself art. It’s inexpressible and one must leave it until it is hardened and becomes something that has form and has some possibility of being communicated. It might take a year or two or three or four to emerge.”

Pierre de Laclos, France

“I was astonished at the pleasure to be derived from doing good.”

Ernst Didring, Sweden

Mikhail Kuzmin, Russia

Tibor Dery, Hungary

Kir Bulychev, Russia

Niels Albert Dam, Denmark

Miguel Angel Asturias, Guatemala
“If you write novels merely to entertain – then burn them! This might be the message delivered with evangelical fervour since if you do not burn them they will anyway be erased from the memory of the people where a poet or novelist should aspire to remain. Just consider how many writers there have been who – down the ages – have written novels to entertain! And who remembers them now?”

Elfriede Jelinek, Austria
“Very few women wait for Mr. Right. Most women take the first and worst Mr. Wrong.”

Ursula K. Le Guin, USA
“To leave the reader free to decide what your work means, that’s the real art; it makes the work inexhaustible.”

Gianni Rodari, Italy

Died this week:

Karl Kautsky, Germany
“The capitalist class rules but does not govern: it contents itself with ruling the government.”

Jean Amery, Austria

Jonathan Swift, UK / Ireland
“Proper words in proper places, make the true definition of a style.”

Jack Reed, USA
“War means an ugly mob-madness, crucifying the truth tellers, choking the artists, sidetracking reforms, revolutions, and the working of social forces.”

Jack Kerouac, USA
“All our best men are laughed at in this nightmare land.”

Charles Bertin, Belgium

Jose Andrade, Brasil

Good, or bad, they’re sacred | LitBash 43

Books from writers who were…

Born this week:

Claude Simon, France
“To begin with, our perception of the world is deformed, incomplete. Then our memory is selective. Finally, writing transforms.”

Harold Pinter, UK
“There can be no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.”

Gertrud von Le Fort, Germany

Francois Mauriac, France
“Most men resemble great deserted palaces: the owner occupies only a few rooms and has closed off wings where he never ventures.”

Takiji Kobayashi, Japan

Mikhail Lermontov, Russia
“Happy people are ignoramuses and glory is nothing else but success, and to achieve it one only has to be cunning.”

Alfred Neumann, Germany

Bernard von Brentano, Germany

Manuel de Fonseca, Portugal

Italo Calvino, Italy
“In an age when other fantastically speedy, widespread media are triumphing and running the risk of flattening all communication onto a single, homogeneous surface, the function of literature is communication between things that are different simply because they are different, not blunting but even sharpening the differences between them, following the true bent of the written language.”

Oscar Wilde, UK
“I put all my genius into my life; I put only my talent into my works.”

Dino Buzzati Traverso, Italy

Jose Saramago, Portugal
“Human nature is, by definition, a talkative one, imprudent, indiscreet, gossipy, incapable of closing its mouth and keeping it closed.”

Gunter Grass, Germany
“Even bad books are books, and therefore sacred.”

Died this week:

Alexy K. Tolstoy, Russia

Karl Adolph Gjellerup, Denmark

Anatole France, France
“Innocence most often is a good fortune and not a virtue.”

Ernst Didring, Sweden

Hjalmar Soderberg, Sweden

Marcel Ayme, France

Louis Guilloux, France

Danilo Kis, Serbia

“Do not get involved with anyone, a writer is alone.”