literature

Jean de La Fontaine and the Moral of the Story

Jean de La Fontaine and the Moral of the Story

On July 8, 1621, Jean de La Fontaine, the most famous French fabulist and one of the most widely read French poets of the 17th century, was born. He is best known above all for his Fables, which provided a model for subsequent fabulists all across Europe. “History some truths contains, which well may serve  For lessons.” – Jean de la Fontaine, Fables (1668–1679), Book I (1668), Dedication “To Monseigneur the Dauphin”. The…
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Franz Kafka – A struggle between “Bureau” and literary vocation

Franz Kafka – A struggle between “Bureau” and literary vocation

On July 3, 1883, German-speaking Bohemian Jewish novelist and short-story writer Franz Kafka was born. Kafka’s works are counted among the canons of world literature. For the description of his unusual way of portrayal a separate word has developed: “kafkaesque“. Most of Kafka’s works were published after his death and against his last will and testament by Max Brod, a close friend and confidant whom Kafka had appointed as executor. “As Gregor…
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Hermann Hesse and his Quest for Self-Knowledge

Hermann Hesse and his Quest for Self-Knowledge

On July 2, 1877, German poet, novelist, painter, and Nobel Laureate Hermann Hesse was born. He is best known for his novels ‘Steppenwolf‘, ‘Siddhartha‘, or ‘The Glass Bead Game‘, in which he explores the individual’s search for authenticity, self-knowledge and spirituality. “In the beginning was the myth. God, in his search for self-expression, invested the souls of Hindus, Greeks, and Germans with poetic shapes and continues to invest each child’s soul with poetry…
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Georg Christoph Lichtenberg – Master of Aphorism

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg – Master of Aphorism

On July 1, 1742, German scientist, satirist and Anglophile Georg Christoph Lichtenberg was born. He is remembered best for his posthumously published notebooks, which he himself called Sudelbücher, a description modeled on the English bookkeeping term “scrapbooks”, and his aphorisms. A book is a mirror: if an ape looks into it an apostle is hardly likely to look out. We have no words for speaking of wisdom to the stupid. He who understands…
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Yamamoto Tsunetomo and the Way of the Samurai

Yamamoto Tsunetomo and the Way of the Samurai

On June 12, 1659 (other sources report June 11, 1659 – according to the Julian calendar July 13), Japanese Samurai Yamamoto Tsunetomo was born. He is best known for the publication of his compiled commentaries and aphorisms about the life of the Samurai under the title of Hagakure, a word that can be translated as either In the shadow the Leaves or The Hidden Leaves. Above all, the Way of the Samurai…
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Pierre Corneille and the Baroque Drama in France

Pierre Corneille and the Baroque Drama in France

On June 6, 1606, French tragedian Pierre Corneille was born. Seen on a European scale, his entire oeuvre belongs to the Baroque era. Along with Molière [1] and Jean Racine, he is considered one of the great playwrights of the French classical period. “La raison et l’amour sont ennemis jurés.” (Reason and love are sworn enemies.) – Pierre Corneille, La nourrice, La Veuve [The Widow], (1631), Youth and Literary Beginnings Pierre Corneille was the…
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Giacomo Casanova and his Underestimated Literary Legacy

Giacomo Casanova and his Underestimated Literary Legacy

On June 4, 1798, Italian adventurer and author Giacomo Girolamo Casanova passed away. Although being famous or almost notorious because of his frequent and elaborate love affairs, he also is considered to be a brilliant author. His autobiography ‘Histoire de ma vie‘ (The Story of my Life), is regarded as one of the most authentic sources of the customs and norms of European social life during the 18th century. Being associated with European…
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Thomas Moore – Ireland’s National Bard

Thomas Moore – Ireland’s National Bard

On May 28, 1779, Irish poet, singer, songwriter Thomas Moore was born. He is best remembered for the lyrics of “The Minstrel Boy” and “The Last Rose of Summer“. Moreover, he was responsible, with John Murray, for burning Lord Byron’s memoirs after his death.[3] Thomas Moore – From Laws to Poetry Thomas Moore’s father came from a Catholic Irish-speaking family in a Gaeltacht region of County Kerry, his mother was from Wexford; her…
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Dashiell Hammett, the Dean of the Hard-boiled School of Detective Fiction

Dashiell Hammett, the Dean of the Hard-boiled School of Detective Fiction

On May 27, 1894, American author Samuel Dashiell Hammett was born. He also published under the pseudonym Peter Collinson. Hammett is considered the founder of the American hardboiled detective novel even before Raymond Chandler.[2] He was also a screenwriter and political activist. Among the enduring characters he created are Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon), Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man), and the Continental Op (Red Harvest and The Dain Curse). “Samuel…
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Honoré de Balzac and the Comédie Humaine

Honoré de Balzac and the Comédie Humaine

On May 20, 1799, French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac was born. He is best known for his his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, which is reflected in his opus magnum, the Comédie Humaine, sequence of short stories and novels, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the 1815 fall of Napoleon Bonaparte, the period of the Restoration and the July Monarchy (1815–1848).…
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