literature

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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The Visionary Dystopies of Aldous Huxley

The Visionary Dystopies of Aldous Huxley

On July 26, 1894, English writer, novelist, philosopher Aldous Leonard Huxley was born. He was best known for his novels including Brave New World, set in a dystopian London, and for non-fiction books, such as The Doors of Perception, which recalls experiences when taking a psychedelic drug, and a wide-ranging output of essays. Nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in seven different years, Huxley was widely acknowledged as one of the…
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Samuel Taylor Coleridge and English Literary Romanticism

Samuel Taylor Coleridge and English Literary Romanticism

On July 25, 1834, English poet, literary critic and philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge passed away. Together with his friend William Wordsworth, he is considered the founder of the Romantic Movement in England. He wrote the poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan, as well as the major prose work Biographia Literaria. His critical work, especially on Shakespeare, was highly influential, and he helped introduce German idealist philosophy to English-speaking culture. It…
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J. M. Barrie and the Boy who wouldn’t grow up

J. M. Barrie and the Boy who wouldn’t grow up

On May 9, 1860, Scotish author and playwright Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet was born. Barrie is best remembered for being the creator of Peter Pan in his novel “Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up“, a “fairy play” about an ageless boy and an ordinary girl named Wendy who have adventures in the fantasy setting of Neverland. James Matthew Barrie was the ninth child of ten. When he…
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The Murder of August von Kotzebue and the Supression of the Liberal Press

The Murder of August von Kotzebue and the Supression of the Liberal Press

On May 3, 1761, German dramatist and writer August von Kotzebue was born. In 1817, one of Kotzebue‘s books was burned during the Wartburg festival. He was murdered in 1819 by Karl Ludwig Sand, a militant member of the Burschenschaften, which gave Metternich the pretext to issue the Carlsbad Decrees, which dissolved the Burschenschaften, cracked down on the liberal press, and seriously restricted academic freedom in the states of the German Confederation.…
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Bettina von Arnim and the Romantic Era’s Zeitgeist

Bettina von Arnim and the Romantic Era’s Zeitgeist

On April 4, 1785, German romantic author Elisabeth Catharina Ludovica Magdalena Brentano, better known as Bettina von Arnim was born. Moreover, she was a writer, publisher, composer, singer, visual artist, an illustrator, patron of young talent, and a social activist. She was the archetype of the Romantic era’s zeitgeist and the crux of many creative relationships of canonical artistic figures. Best known for the company she kept, she numbered among her closest friends…
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The Literary Decadence of Arthur Machen

The Literary Decadence of Arthur Machen

On March 3, 1863, Welsh author and mystic Arthur Machen was born. He is best known for his influential supernatural, fantasy, and horror fiction. His novella The Great God Pan (1890) has garnered a reputation as a classic of horror. Stephen King has called it “Maybe the best horror story in the English language“. “For, usually and fitly, the presence of an introduction is held to imply that there is something of…
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