Russian poet Alexander Pushkin (born June 6, 1799) was part of the country’s literati from age 15. By 26, he had begun publishing the serialization of Eugene Onegin, his novel in verse. By 37, he was dead, killed in one of the 29 duels that he fought in his short life.
April 1, 1816: The Prince Regent enjoyed Jane Austen’s novels, but he requested that she try her hand at a historical romance with less satirical and humorous elements. Austen was not amused. On this day, she wrote to the Prince Regent, “I could not sit down to write a serious romance under any other motive than to save my life.”
The Internet is literally full of critics of the figurative use of literally. While employing this metaphorical usage might make many casual language lovers’ ears bleed, descriptivist lexicographers will hail you as a language innovator. My advice: be self-aware. Know that if you use literally figuratively, it will sound horrible to some, and perfectly acceptable to others.
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By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
Happy Halloween! Stage lore has it that Shakespeare’s witchy tragedy, Macbeth, is cursed. Thespians refuse to utter the title inside a theater, calling it instead, “the Scottish play.” What’s your favorite spooky story?
October 15, 1920: Italian American author Mario Puzo is best known for writing The Godfather, which popularized mafia literature in America. He also wrote the original screenplay for the 1978 version of Superman.
The pleasure of all reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books.
October 14, 1888: Short story writer Katherine Mansfield lived a brief and rebellious life, full of affairs with both men and women. She left her native New Zealand in part due to disgust over the treatment of the Maori people and lived a bohemian life in London before dying of tuberculosis at 34.
I wish I were a girl again, half-savage and hardy, and free.
July 30, 1818: Reclusive and shy during her life, Emily Brontë achieved widespread fame after her early death at age 30, thanks to the publication of her only novel, Wuthering Heights. She was born in Yorkshire, England, 195 years ago today.