Sometimes thou seem’st not as thyself alone, But as the meaning of all things that are.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
February 10, 1862: Poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s wife, Lizzie Siddal, died 152 years ago today. At her funeral the distraught husband lay the only manuscript of his poems to rest in his wife’s coffin. Seven years later, he had her body exhumed and retrieved his work.
Good writers are monotonous, like good composers. They keep trying to perfect the one problem they were born to understand.
Alberto Moravia (born November 28, 1907) was the pseudonym of Alberto Pincherle, a novelist and short story writer who made a profound impact on 20th-century Italian literature. Themes of isolation, alienation, and emotional emptiness pervade his work, which includes Time of Indifference, Two Adolescents, The Woman of Rome, and The Conformist.
Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes.
~Peter F. Drucker
Peter F. Drucker (born November 19, 1909) was a management consultant, educator, and author, whose prolific outpouring of books for more than half a century served as guideposts for the business world. His best-known works include The Effective Executive, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, The Practice of Management, and Concept of the Corporation. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002.
The nicest veterans…the kindest and funniest ones, the ones who hated war the most, were the ones who’d really fought.
It’s Veterans Day and Kurt Vonnegut’s birthday. The bestselling author of Slaughterhouse-Five (born November 11, 1922) drew on his experiences during World War II to craft his satirical antiwar novel. He had been captured by the Germans and survived the firebombing of Dresden—an event that appears in the book. Among his other popular works are Cat’s Cradle, Breakfast of Champions, and God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater.
A creative life cannot be sustained by approval any more than it can be destroyed by criticism.
Will Self (born September 26, 1961) is an English novelist and TV personality who is married to the Scottish journalist Deborah Orr. He’s best known for his novel Dorian, which reimagines Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, and his novel Umbrella, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2012. As a journalist, his writing has appeared in The Guardian, The New York Times, and GQ, among other publications.
It is easy to crush an enemy outside oneself but impossible to defeat an enemy within.
Japanese novelist Eiji Yoshikawa (born August 11, 1892) is best known for his historical work Musashi, a vivid account of the life of a samurai. The author’s real name was Yoshikawa Hidetsugu, and primary school was the extent of his formal education. But he went on to write more books on Japanese historical figures, and he won major awards and was highly regarded for his literary achievements, historical knowledge, and psychological insight.
Serious literature does not exist to make life easy but to complicate it.
Polish novelist and playwright Witold Gombrowicz (born August 4, 1904) produced works that examined humanity from a psychological standpoint and were considered forerunners of the genre known as Theatre of the Absurd. His first novel, Ferdydurke, exposed the fundamental immaturity of people. Gombrowicz had trained as a lawyer at the University of Warsaw, and throughout his life he didn’t hesitate to challenge established opinions.
No doubt I shall go on writing, stumbling across tundras of unmeaning, planting words like bloody flags in my wake….
Scottish novelist Alexander Trocchi (born July 30, 1925) edited the literary magazine Merlin in the early 1950s, which published the work of Samuel Beckett, Henry Miller, Pablo Neruda, and Jean-Paul Sartre, among others. Trocchi’s own writing chronicled heroin addiction (Cain’s Book), which plagued him for most of his life. He is also best known for his dark novella (Young Adam) and pornography classic (Helen and Desire) as well as for his involvement in avant-garde movements of the mid-20th century.
Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life—and travel—leaves marks on you.
Happy birthday, Anthony Bourdain! The American chef, author, and television personality discovered his love of food during a family vacation in France. He stopped by an oyster fisherman’s boat, felt adventurous, and tried his first oyster. The rest is (delicious) history.
One can’t fight with oneself, for this battle has only one loser.
Mario Vargas Llosa
Happy birthday, Mario Vargas Llosa! The Peruvian writer and politician grew up believing his father was dead. In reality, his parents had simply divorced, but Llosa’s mother thought the lie was easier for a young boy to understand.