literature

Molière – Grandmaster of Comedy

Molière – Grandmaster of Comedy

(Probably) on January 14th, 1622, Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, French playwright and actor who is known by his stage name Molière was born. He is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature. Jean-Baptiste Poquelin was baptized in Paris on January 15, 1622 as son of Jean Poquelin and Marie Cressé, the daughter of a prosperous bourgeois family. His father was one of eight valets de chambre tapissiers de…
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J’Accuse – Émile Zola and the Dreyfus Affaire

J’Accuse – Émile Zola and the Dreyfus Affaire

Title page with Émile Zola’s famous public letter ‘J’accuse…!’ On January 13, 1898, French novellist Émile Zola published an open letter in the newspaper L’Aurore entitled “J’accuse” (“I accuse”, or, in context, “I accuse you”). In the letter, Zola addressed the President of France Félix Faure, and accused the government of anti-Semitism and the unlawful jailing of Alfred Dreyfus, a French Army General Staff officer sentenced to penal servitude for life for espionage. Alfred Dreyfus was…
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Isaac Asimov and the Three Laws of Robotics

Isaac Asimov and the Three Laws of Robotics

Isaac Asimov (1920 – 1992) © U.S Library of Congress On January 2, 1920, the Russian-born author and professor of biochemistry Isaac Asimov was born. He was best known for his science fiction works in which he coined the term ‘robotics‘ and his popular science books. 1.A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 2. A robot must obey the orders…
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John Bunyan and the Pilgrim’s Progress

John Bunyan and the Pilgrim’s Progress

Probably on November 28, 1628, English writer and Puritan preacher John Bunyan was born. Bunyan is best remembered as the author of the Christian allegory The Pilgrim’s Progress. In addition to The Pilgrim’s Progress, is regarded as one of the most significant works of religious English literature, Bunyan wrote nearly sixty titles, many of them expanded sermons. John Bunyan was born in the parish of Elstow, Bedfordshire, UK, to Thomas and Margaret…
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The Murder-Suicide of Heinrich von Kleist

The Murder-Suicide of Heinrich von Kleist

On November 21, 1811, German poet, dramatist, novelist, short story writer and journalist Heinrich von Kleist committed suicide. Kleist stood as an outsider in the literary life of his time beyond the established camps and the literary eras of Weimar classical and romanticism. He is best known for the “historical knight play” Das Käthchen von Heilbronn, his comedy plays Der zerbrochne Krug and Amphitryon, the tragedy Penthesilea as well as his novels…
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Alain-René Lesage and The Devil upon Two Sticks

Alain-René Lesage and The Devil upon Two Sticks

On November 17, 1747, French novelist and playwright Alain-René Lesage passed away. Lesage is best known for his comic novel The Devil upon Two Sticks (1707, Le Diable boiteux), his comedy Turcaret (1709), and his picaresque novel Gil Blas (1715–1735). Lesage was born in Sarzeau, a commune in the Morbihan department of Brittany in north-western France, located on the Rhuys peninsula between the Gulf of Morbihan and the Atlantic Ocean. His father,…
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Robert Musil and the Man without Qualities

Robert Musil and the Man without Qualities

On November 6, 1880, Austrian philosophical writer Robert Musil was born. Musil‘s unfinished novel The Man Without Qualities (German: Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften) is generally considered to be one of the most important and influential modernist novels. “We do not have too much intellect and too little soul, but too little intellect in matters of the soul.”, Robert Musil, Helpless Europe (1922) Robert Mathias Musil was born in Klagenfurt, Carinthia, Austria, the only…
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The Emanzipation of Dorothea von Schlegel

The Emanzipation of Dorothea von Schlegel

On October 24, 1764, German novelist and translator Dorothea von Schlegel was born as Brendel Mendelssohn. The daughter of famous philosopher of the enlightenment Moses Mendelsohn, she met the poet, critic, and future husband Friedrich von Schlegel in the salon of her friend Henriette Herz. It was also in Herz‘s salon, where she met European scholars such as e.g. Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt. Dorothea von Schlegel was born in Berlin, Germany,…
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Charles Percy Snow and the Two Cultures

Charles Percy Snow and the Two Cultures

On October 15, 1905, English physical chemist and novelist Charles Percy Snow, Baron Snow was born. Snow is best known for his series of novels known collectively as Strangers and Brothers, and for The Two Cultures, a 1959 lecture in which he laments the gulf between scientists and “literary intellectuals“. C. P. Snow was born in Leicester to William Snow, a church organist and choirmaster, and his wife Ada. His father, a…
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The Writings of Victor Hugo

The Writings of Victor Hugo

On May 22, 1854, French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement Victor Hugo passed away. Hugo is considered one of the greatest and best-known French writers. Outside France, his best-known works are the novels Les Misérables, 1862, and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, 1831. In France, Hugo is known primarily for his poetry collections. “So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in…
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