Today's Page: August 6th
Paul Claudel, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Ben Jonson, and Jorge Amado are the acclaimed authors who were born or died on a day like this.
Paul Claudel, born on a day like this in 1868, was a French poet, dramatist and diplomat. He was most famous for his verse dramas, which often convey his devout Catholicism. In his youth Claudel was heavily influenced by the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud and the Symbolists. Like them, he was horrified by modern materialist views of life. Unlike most of them, his response was to embrace Catholicism. All his writings are passionate rejections of the idea of a mechanical or random universe, instead proclaiming the deep spiritual meaning of human life founded on God's all-governing grace and love. The most famous of his plays are "The Break of Noon" (1906), "The Tidings Brought to Mary" (1910) focusing on the themes of sacrifice, oblation and sanctification through the tale of a young medieval French peasant woman, and "The Satin Slipper" (1931), his deepest exploration of human and divine love and longing set in the Spanish empire of the siglo de oro, which was staged at the Comédie-Française in 1943. In later years he wrote texts to be set to music, most notably "Joan of Arc at the Stake" (1939). Claudel was always a controversial figure during his lifetime, and remains so today. His devout Catholicism and his right-wing political views, both slightly unusual stances among his intellectual peers, made him, and continue to make him, unpopular in many circles. Claudel died on 1955, aged 86.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom during much of Queen Victoria's reign and remains one of the most popular poets in the English language. Tennyson excelled at penning short lyrics, such as "In the Valley of Cauteretz", "Break, Break, Break", "The Charge of the Light Brigade", "Tears, Idle Tears" and "Crossing the Bar". Much of his verse was based on classical mythological themes, such as Ulysses, although In Memoriam A.H.H. was written to commemorate his best friend Arthur Hallam, a fellow poet and fellow student at Trinity College, Cambridge, who was engaged to Tennyson's sister. Tennyson also wrote some notable blank verse including Idylls of the King, "Ulysses," and "Tithonus." During his career, Tennyson attempted drama, but his plays enjoyed little success. A number of phrases from Tennyson's work have become commonplaces of the English language, including "Nature, red in tooth and claw", "'Tis better to have loved and lost / Than never to have loved at all", "Theirs not to reason why, / Theirs but to do and die", "My strength is as the strength of ten, / Because my heart is pure", "Knowledge comes, but Wisdom lingers", and "The old order changeth, yielding place to new". He is the ninth most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. The Lord Tennyson passed away on October 6, 1892 at age 83.
Benjamin "Ben" Jonson was an English Renaissance dramatist, poet and actor. A man of vast reading and a seemingly insatiable appetite for controversy, Jonson had an unparalleled breadth of influence on Jacobean and Caroline playwrights and poets. In 1598 he was mentioned by Francis Meres in his Palladis Tamia as one of "the best for tragedy." None of his early tragedies survives, however. An undated comedy, "The Case is Altered", may be his earliest surviving play. A contemporary of William Shakespeare, he is best known for his satirical plays, particularly "Volpone", "The Alchemist", and "Bartholomew Fair", which are considered his best, and his lyrics poems. In 1598 Jonson produced his first great success, "Every Man in His Humour", capitalising on the vogue for humorous plays which George Chapman had begun with "An Humorous Day's Mirth". William Shakespeare was among the first actors to be cast. Jonson followed this in 1599 with "Every Man out of His Humour", a pedantic attempt to imitate Aristophanes. It is not known whether this was a success on stage, but when published it proved popular and went through several editions. Jonson passed away on a day like this in 1637, aged 65.
Jorge Leal Amado de Faria was a Brazilian writer of the modernist school. He was the best-known of modern Brazilian writers, his work having been translated into some 49 languages and popularized in film, notably "Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands" in 1978. His work reflects the image of a mestizo Brazil and is marked by religious syncretism. A cheerful and optimistic country and at the same time, with deep social and economic differences. He occupied the 23rd chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters from 1961 until his death in 2001. "The War of the Saints" (1988), "Showdown" (1984), and "Tent of Miracles" (1969) are some of his works. Amadinho passed away on a day like this in 2001, aged 88.
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