I got spooked yesterday by a kid while coming off the bus.It reminded me that Halloween is nigh and that I should post something relevant to celebrate!
Here are 5 interesting facts I found about some well-known authors:
1.Emily Bronte used to beat her British Bullmastiff called Keeper to a pulp and until its eyes were all swollen whenever it was found napping on one of the beds in the house.Moreover,every time Keeper would fight against other dogs on the street,Emily would pour pepper in the poor creature’s eyes.The funny thing is that she would always nurse the dog’s wounds afterwards,and Keeper would remain loyal to her.
2.Agatha Christie would disappear suddenly on Friday 3 December 1926.She was already famous by then,and her disappearance sparked an unprecedented manhunt: one thousand policeman,hundreds of civilians and airplanes were all involved.She was eventually found in a hotel in Harrogate,11 days after she was last seen.She couldn’t help the police in explaining the incident,for she didn’t remember anything.Christie would never talk about what had happened during those 11 days later in her life,leaving the speculation to the media and her fans.
3.Ambrose Bierce took a trip to Mexico at the age of 71 to cover the Mexican Revolution and was never seen since.Some say that he had been killed by a firing squad while others believe that he never went to Mexico,but committed suicide instead.
4.Charles Dickens was fascinated with dead people and used to visit the Paris morgue to stare at dead bodies.He also liked to watch these cadavers being worked on.
5.Edgar Allan Poe tells the story of four sailors adrift at sea in his novel ”The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket”.Having no food on board,the young cabin boy suggests that they draw lots so that the one with the shortest lot will be sacrificed and eaten.The loser turns out to be the cabin boy himself.His name was Richard Parker.Forty-six years later,the Mignonette was ship wrecked,forcing its four-man crew to move on a 13-foot lifeboat.Far from sea and starving,the other men rationalized to kill their young cabin boy who was dying anyway.His name was Richard Parker.
With Valentine’s day in two days,I deemed it fitting to write a post about great authors at their romantic best.Some of the love letters below might be among the best you’ll ever see in your life. (They are listed in no particular order).
If you plan to reading these letters,don’t forget to vote in the poll found completely below.It’ll be interesting to see what you think!
1.Leo Tolstoy to Valeria Arsenev I already love you in your beauty, but I am only beginning to love in you that which is eternal and ever previous – your heart, your soul. Beauty one could get to know and fall in love with in one hour and cease to love it as speedily; but the soul one must learn to know. Believe me, nothing on earth is given without labour, even love, the most beautiful and natural of feelings.
Beautiful from Tolstoy.I like how throughout his life he has always emphasised that external beauty doesn’t count for much;it was he who said, ”It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.”
2.Honoré de Balzac to Countess Ewelina Haska
MY BELOVED ANGEL,
I am nearly mad about you, as much as one can be mad: I cannot bring together two ideas that you do not interpose yourself between them. I can no longer think of nothing but you. In spite of myself, my imagination carries me to you. I grasp you, I kiss you, I caress you, a thousand of the most amorous caresses take possession of me. As for my heart, there you will always be — very much so. I have a delicious sense of you there. But my God, what is to become of me, if you have deprived me of my reason? This is a monomania which, this morning, terrifies me. I rise up every moment say to myself, ‘Come, I am going there!’ Then I sit down again, moved by the sense of my obligations. There is a frightful conflict. This is not a life. I have never before been like that. You have devoured everything. I feel foolish and happy as soon as I let myself think of you. I whirl round in a delicious dream in which in one instant I live a thousand years. What a horrible situation! Overcome with love, feeling love in every pore, living only for love, and seeing oneself consumed by griefs, and caught in a thousand spiders’ threads. O, my darling Eva, you did not know it. I picked up your card. It is there before me, and I talked to you as if you were here. I see you, as I did yesterday, beautiful, astonishingly beautiful. Yesterday, during the whole evening, I said to myself ‘She is mine!’ Ah! The angels are not as happy in Paradise as I was yesterday!
Simply marvellous.Balzac knew how to use language to good effect,and this letter proves it.Oddly enough,I read somewhere that many women were disappointed upon meeting him,as they expected someone refined and very sensitive.It turns out that the man loved gambling and drinking and having many lovers.Haha,good old Honoré . 🙂
3.John Keats to Fanny Brawne
You fear, sometimes, I do not love you so much as you wish?
My dear Girl I love you ever and ever and without reserve.
The more I have known you the more have I lov’d. In every way – even my jealousies have been agonies of Love, in the hottest fit I ever had I would have died for you.
You are always new. The last of your kisses was ever the sweetest; the last smile the brightest; the last movement the gracefullest.
When you pass’d my window home yesterday, I was fill’d with as much admiration as if I had then seen you for the first time. Even if you did not love me I could not help an entire devotion to you: how much more deeply then must I feel for you knowing you love me.
My Mind has been the most discontented and restless one that ever was put into a body too small for it.
I never felt my Mind repose upon anything with complete and undistracted enjoyment – upon no person but you.
When you are in the room my thoughts never fly out of window: you always concentrate my whole senses.
Long regarded as the most beautiful love letter ever penned,it has,this year,been voted second behind Jonny Cash’s letter to his wife.With all due respect to Cash,I still think Keats’s letter is better and more poetic.
4.Zelda Sayre to F.Scott Fitzgerald
Scott — there’s nothing in all the world I want but you — and your precious love — All the material things are nothing. I’d just hate to live a sordid, colorless existence — because you’d soon love me less — and less — and I’d do anything — anything — to keep your heart for my own — I don’t want to live — I want to love first, and live incidentally — Why don’t you feel that I’m waiting — I’ll come to you, Lover, when you’re ready — Don’t don’t ever think of the things you can’t give me — You’ve trusted me with the dearest heart of all — and it’s so damn much more than anybody else in all the world has ever had —
How can you think deliberately of life without me — If you should die — O Darling — darling Scott — It’d be like going blind. I know I would, too, — I’d have no purpose in life — just a pretty — decoration. Don’t you think I was made for you? I feel like you had me ordered — and I was delivered to you — to be worn — I want you to wear me, like a watch — charm or a button hole boquet — to the world. And then, when we’re alone, I want to help — to know that you can’t do anything without me.
This one is both amazing and tragic.Amazing,because it conveys to perfection the passion of Zelda Sayre for her future husband.Tragic,because we know how their lives would end.
5.Elzie Segar to Myrtle Johnson
While I reckon it is not as poetic as the previous ones,I find this cartoon pretty cute.(I hate using that word).If you’re wondering,Elzie Segar is the creator of Popeye.At the time of drawing this cartoon,he was just an ordinary cartoonist.Three years later,he would marry Myrtle,and Popeye would come to life.
6.Franz Kafka to Felice Bauer
I belong to you; there is really no other way of expressing it, and that is not strong enough.How could I, fool that I am, go on sitting in my office, or here at home, instead of leaping onto a train with my eyes shut and opening them only when I am with you?
For all his gloomy stories,Kafka was a very sensitive individual.His letter somehow reflects his style; he never uses a flowery language,but writes with a honesty that never fails to touch you.
7.Nathaniel Hawthorne to Sophia Hawthorne
Dearest, – I wish I had the gift of making rhymes, for methinks there is poetry in my head and heart since I have been in love with you.
You are a Poem.
Of what sort, then? Epic?
Mercy on me, no! A sonnet?
No; for that is too labored and artificial.
You are a sort of sweet, simple, gay, pathetic ballad, which Nature is singing, sometimes with tears, sometimes with smiles, and sometimes with intermingled smiles and tears.
8.James Joyce to Nora Barnacle
You are my only love.
You have me completely in your power.
I know and feel that if I am to write anything fine and noble in the future I shall do so only by listening at the doors of your heart.
I would like to go through life side by side with you, telling you more and more until we grew to be one being together until the hour should come for us to die.
9.A Very Dirty James Joyce to Nora Barnacle
My sweet little whorish Nora I did as you told me, you dirty little girl, and pulled myself off twice when I read your letter. I am delighted to see that you do like being fucked arseways. Yes, now I can remember that night when I fucked you for so long backwards. It was the dirtiest fucking I ever gave you, darling. My prick was stuck in you for hours, fucking in and out under your upturned rump. I felt your fat sweaty buttocks under my belly and saw your flushed face and mad eyes. At every fuck I gave you your shameless tongue came bursting out through your lips and if a gave you a bigger stronger fuck than usual, fat dirty farts came spluttering out of your backside. You had an arse full of farts that night, darling, and I fucked them out of you, big fat fellows, long windy ones, quick little merry cracks and a lot of tiny little naughty farties ending in a long gush from your hole. It is wonderful to fuck a farting woman when every fuck drives one out of her. I think I would know Nora’s fart anywhere. I think I could pick hers out in a roomful of farting women. It is a rather girlish noise not like the wet windy fart which I imagine fat wives have. It is sudden and dry and dirty like what a bold girl would let off in fun in a school dormitory at night. I hope Nora will let off no end of her farts in my face so that I may know their smell also.
You say when I go back you will suck me off and you want me to lick your cunt, you little depraved blackguard. I hope you will surprise me some time when I am asleep dressed, steal over to me with a whore’s glow in your slumberous eyes, gently undo button after button in the fly of my trousers and gently take out your lover’s fat mickey, lap it up in your moist mouth and suck away at it till it gets fatter and stiffer and comes off in your mouth. Sometimes too I shall surprise you asleep, lift up your skirts and open your drawers gently, then lie down gently by you and begin to lick lazily round your bush. You will begin to stir uneasily then I will lick the lips of my darling’s cunt. You will begin to groan and grunt and sigh and fart with lust in your sleep. Then I will lick up faster and faster like a ravenous dog until your cunt is a mass of slime and your body wriggling wildly.
Goodnight, my little farting Nora, my dirty little fuckbird! There is one lovely word, darling, you have underlined to make me pull myself off better. Write me more about that and yourself, sweetly, dirtier, dirtier.
And I tell you that man was crazy!! This letter leans towards pornography,and there many other such letters that he sent to his wife.Funny,weird,old man.
10.Dylan Thomas to his wife Caitlin
Caitlin darling darling
I love you for millions and millions of things, clocks and vampires and dirty nails and squiggly paintings and lovely hair and being dizzy and falling dreams.
I want you to be with me; you can have all the spaces between the houses, and I can have a room with no windows; we’ll make a halfway house; you can teach me to walk in the air, and I’ll teach you to make nice noises on the piano without any music; we’ll have a bed in a bar, as we said we would, and we shan’t have any money at all and we’ll live on other people’s.
I like the nonchalant air in this letter.Oddly enough,many predictions in it turned out to be true…
I hope you’ve liked this post.It was certainly a delight for me to write it! 🙂
And yes,don’t forget to vote for your favourite letter here:
Have you heard the good news?There will be a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird.It is titled Go Set a Watchman.
Lee wrote it during the 1950s but set it aside following the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird.In fact the novel was the original book to be published,but Lee ended up writing To Kill a Mockingbird as advised by her editor.
The book will evidently feature Scout.Only this time she will be an adult…
More here: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/feb/03/harper-lee-new-novel-to-kill-a-mockingbird?CMP=fb_gu
I’m currently reading The Inheritance of Loss,and I’m in total awe of Kiran Desai’s unique writing style.Below are two short interviews I felt I had to share,for they show how humane and knowledgeable this lady is.Unlike so many others,she doesn’t put on airs and her very spontaneous way of talking doesn’t betray her age.
Ever since I saw Niccolo Machiavelli’s epitaph in early 2013,I’ve been planning on writing a post about the most beautiful engravings on the tombs of some of the greatest literary figures.The tragic ending of some of these authors’ lives,I reckon,make these epigraphs all the more grand and poignant.
Death is the enemy.Against you I will fling myself,unvanquished and unyielding o Death.The waves broke on the shore.
So much sadness and grandeur in this epitaph.
Alien Tears Will Fill For Him Pity’s Long-Broken Ern, For His Mourners Will Be Outcast Men, And Outcasts Always Mourn.
These lines come from Wilde’s poem ‘Ballad of Reading Gaol’.This epitaph is terribly sad ,for it is an immortal reminder of how so great a man like Wilde died like an absolute nobody.Interestingly people try to hold true to the epitaph,as there are always bizarre throngs next to the tomb and,as you might see in the picture,it is covered with lipstick kisses.It is a sight that will undoubtedly horrify those who are in charge of the tomb,but that would have made Wilde smile.The unorthodox man with the unorthodox grave. 🙂
Boatswain,Lord Byron’s Dog
Near this Spot are deposited the Remains of one who possessed Beauty without Vanity, Strength without Insolence, Courage without Ferocity, and all the virtues of Man without his Vices …
Is there a better way to pay tribute to a loyal companion? Contrary to popular belief,the poem on Boatwain’s tomb was not written by Lord Byron,but rather by his friend John Hobhouse. Still,this little fact doesn’t in the least detract any beauty from this homage.
Look at this monument….and to think that this was created in 1527! The epitaph,according to Wikipedia,means : ”so great a name (has) no adequate praise” or “no eulogy (would be appropriate to) such a great name”.
Death is the Starlit Strip Between the Companionship of Yesterday and the Reunion of Tomorrow
The Violets in the Mountains Have Broken the Rocks.
Tennessee Williams was a broken soul,as many failed to accept him as he was.It thus seems fitting that his epitaph speaks about the power of human feelings.This quote speaks volume and reminds me of a favourite of mine,from Charles Baudelaire: ‘The cry of our feelings is absurd; but it is sublime because it is absurd.’
The recent announcement of the short-list of the Man Booker Prize reminded me that the Nobel Prize in Literature for this year has not yet been awarded – time passes by so quickly that I tend to think it was Munro who won 2014’s prize!
Since Munro’s win,I have been trying to guess who would be among the nominees – the Nobel Prize panel has its own private list of nominees but stopped making it public for the last 50 years.At the start of the year,I was rooting for Atwood and Byatt,but hit by an absence of information regarding the potential winners, my interest for the Nobel Prize subdued day by day and instead went to the Man Booker Prize,which contrarily has a long-list and a short-list.But some days ago I (finally!) found an article regarding the favourites for the Nobel Prize,as per Ladbrokes’ odds,which I’ve listed below.
Note: I have linked every name to its Wikipedia page.Just hover on it to access the page.
As you have noticed,the second favourite behind the well-known Haruki Murakami is none other than Ngugi Wa Thiog’o.The odds for the Kenyan author have escalated rather spectacularly these past days and it won’t be a surprise to see him being awarded the Nobel Prize,especially given the Nobel panel’s propensity to reward lesser known authors and desire to make a stand through their winners.(If you don’t know what I’m talking about,see here.) Although he is unknown to some,I remember that,whilst looking for the greatest living African authors,I repeatedly found his name alongside Wole Soyinka – a Nobel Prize winner.As a little anecdote,Ngugi wrote his novel ‘Devil on the Cross’ on toilet paper during his imprisonment following the performance of his play ‘I Will Marry When I Want’.He is a much revered author who has taught in Yale University as well as New York University.
The names in the list are also consonant with the Nobel panel’s new policy of awarding the prize to seasoned authors who are on the brink of retirement,if not already in: the majority of them are more than 70 years old.
Among these 29 names,I’m sure you recognise some famous authors,such as Haruki Murakami, Milan Kundera, Joyce Carol Oates, Umberto Eco, Thomas Pynchon, Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie, and of course, Margaret Atwood.Although I’m quite disappointed not to see A.S Byatt’s name,I’m rooting for Kundera,Atwood and Oates.
I was reminded of Tolstoy’s birthday when I saw Google’s Doodle this morning.The Doodle is presented in the format of a slideshow and is as beautiful as it can get when it comes to honouring such a great man as the Russian.
Tolstoy remarkably lived up to his name when I read Anna Karenina – just see how many posts I’ve written about this book – and I’m now setting my eyes on War&Peace,which I wonder when I will have the time to read,now that my uni days are imminent.