literature

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“. Youth and Education C. P. Snow was born in Leicester to William Snow, a church organist and choirmaster, and his wife Ada.…
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Jean de La Bruyère and the Characters

Jean de La Bruyère and the Characters

On August 16, 1645, French philosopher and moralist Jean de La Bruyère was born. La Bruyère is best known for one work, Les Caractères de Théophraste traduits du grec avec Les Caractères ou les moeurs de ce siècle (1688; The Characters, or the Manners of the Age, with The Characters of Theophrastus), which is considered to be one of the masterpieces of French literature. “Life is a tragedy for those who feel,…
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Merz Pictures – The Collages of Kurt Schwitters

Merz Pictures – The Collages of Kurt Schwitters

On June 20, 1887, German artist Kurt Hermann Eduard Karl Julius Schwitters, known as Kurt Schwitters was born. Schwitters worked in several genres and media, including Dadaism, Constructivism, Surrealism, poetry, sound, painting, sculpture, graphic design, typography, and what came to be known as installation art. He is most famous for his collages, called Merz Pictures. Kurt Schwitters was born in Hanover, Germany, the only child of Eduard Schwitters, the (co-)proprietor of a ladies’…
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Nothing is Stronger than an Idea whose Time has come – The Life of Victor Hugo

Nothing is Stronger than an Idea whose Time has come – The Life 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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Egon Erwin Kisch – The frenzied Reporter

Egon Erwin Kisch – The frenzied Reporter

On April 29, 1885, Austrian and Czechoslovak writer and journalist Egon Erwin Kisch was born. Kisch styled himself Der Rasende Reporter (The frenzied reporter) for his countless travels to the far corners of the globe and his equally numerous articles produced in a relatively short time (Hetzjagd durch die Zeit, 1925), Kisch was noted for his development of literary reportage and his opposition to Adolf Hitler‘s Nazi regime. “And there is nothing more…
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How Anthony Trollope invented the Red Postal Box

How Anthony Trollope invented the Red Postal Box

On April 24, 1815, English novelist of the Victorian era Anthony Trollope was born. Trollope wrote novels on political, social, and gender issues, and other topical matters. Among his best-known works is a series of novels collectively known as the Chronicles of Barsetshire, which revolves around the imaginary county of Barsetshire. He furthermore introduced the familiar red pillar boxes in Britain as street-side receptacles of letters for collection by the Post Office.…
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Nikolai Gogol and Russian Surrealism

Nikolai Gogol and Russian Surrealism

On March 4, 1852, Russian novelist Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol passed away, whose novel Myortvye dushi (Dead Souls) and whose short story “Shinel” (“The Overcoat”) are considered the foundations of the great 19th-century tradition of Russian realism. However, later critics have found in his work a fundamentally romantic sensibility, with strains of surrealism and the grotesque. “What a dreary world we live in, gentlemen.” — Nikolai Gogol, How the Two Ivans Quarrelled (1835)…
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The Fantastic and Visionary Worlds of Leo Perutz

The Fantastic and Visionary Worlds of Leo Perutz

On November 2, 1882, Austrian novelist and mathematician Leo Perutz was born. Perutz was a mathematician who formulated an algebraic equation which is named after him and worked as a statistician for an insurance company. He is best known as author of fantasy novels, which gained the admiration of Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, Ian Fleming, Karl Edward Wagner and Graham Greene. Early Life and Education Leo Perutz was born in Prague,…
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Theodor Fontane and German Realism

Theodor Fontane and German Realism

On September 20, 1898, German novelist and poet Theodor Fontane passed away. Fontane is regarded by many as the most important 19th-century German-language realist writer. Theodor Fontane was born in Neuruppin, a town 30 miles northwest of Berlin, into a Huguenot family as son of the pharmacist Louis Henri Fontane. At the age of sixteen he was apprenticed to an apothecary. His further education was in Leipzig where he came into contact…
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Guy de Maupassant – Master of the Short Story

Guy de Maupassant – Master of the Short Story

On August 5, 1850, French writer Henri René Albert Guy de Maupassant was born. Maupassant is remembered as a master of the short story form, and as a representative of the naturalist school of writers, who depicted human lives and destinies and social forces in disillusioned and often pessimistic terms. I’ve read Maupassant‘s Bel Ami by the time I graduated in computer science, a novel that did make a lasting impression. What I…
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