Today's Page: August 16th
Margaret Mitchell, Charles Bukowski, Albert Cohen, and Diana Wynne Jones are the acclaimed authors who were born or died on a day like this.
Margaret Munnerlyn Mitchell was an American author and journalist. One novel by Mitchell was published during her lifetime, the American Civil War-era novel, "Gone with the Wind". For it she won the National Book Award for Most Distinguished Novel of 1936 and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937. In more recent years, a collection of Mitchell's girlhood writings and a novella she wrote as a teenager, "'Lost Laysen", have been published. A collection of articles written by Mitchell for The Atlanta Journal was republished in book form. These additional works have enabled scholars and the public to more fully comprehend the richness and depth of Margaret Mitchell's writing. Perhaps the most enduring legacy of Mitchell's "Gone with the Wind" is that people worldwide would think it was the "true story" of the Old South and how it was changed by the American Civil War and Reconstruction. The film version of the novel "amplified this effect", and also won the Academy Award. Margaret Mitchell was struck by a speeding automobile as she crossed Peachtree Street at 13th Street in Atlanta with her husband, John Marsh, while on her way to see a movie on the evening of August 11, 1949. She died at Grady Hospital five days later on a day like this without regaining consciousness.
Henry Charles Bukowski was born on a day like this in 1920 in Andernach. He was a German-born American poet, novelist and short story writer. His writing was influenced by the social, cultural and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles. It is marked by an emphasis on the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships and the drudgery of work. Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories and six novels, eventually publishing over sixty books. When Bukowski was 24, his short story, "Aftermath of a Lengthy Rejection Slip", was published in Story magazine. Two years later, another short story, "20 Tanks from Kasseldown", was published by the Black Sun Press. Failing to break into the literary world, Bukowski grew disillusioned with the publication process and quit writing for almost a decade, a time that he referred to as a "ten-year drunk." These "lost years" formed the basis for his later semi-autobiographical chronicles, although they are fictionalized versions of Bukowski's life through his highly stylized alter-ego, Henry Chinaski. In 1986 Time called Bukowski a "laureate of American lowlife". Regarding Bukowski's enduring popular appeal, Adam Kirsch of The New Yorker wrote, "the secret of Bukowski’s appeal. . . [is that] he combines the confessional poet’s promise of intimacy with the larger-than-life aplomb of a pulp-fiction hero". Bukowski died on March 9, 1994 at the age of 73.
Albert Cohen, born on a day like this in 1895, was a Greek-born Romaniote Jewish Swiss novelist who wrote in French. He worked as a civil servant for various international organizations, such as the International Labour Organization. He became a Swiss citizen in 1919. Through four different books, Cohen's fiction can be considered as one long autobiographical fiction. It is the story of the radiant Solal - Cohen's double - the handsome and successful civil servant of the League of Nations whose charismatic identity is a constant struggle between his Jewish roots and his social status. His masterpiece, "Belle du Seigneur", originally included the novel that was later published as "Les valeureux". Belle du Seigneur is called "the book of love". In 1968, the novel received the French Academy award. Since then, the novel has been one of the biggest sellers of the prestigious Gallimard White Collection. Cohen passed away on October 17, 1981.
Diana Wynne Jones
Diana Wynne Jones was born in London on a day like this in 1934. She was a British writer, principally of fantasy novels for children and adults, as well as a small amount of non-fiction. Jones' books range from amusing slapstick situations to sharp social observation, to witty parody of literary forms. Foremost amongst the latter are her "Tough Guide to Fantasyland", and its fictional companion-pieces "Dark Lord of Derkholm" (1998) and "Year of the Griffin" (2000), which provide a merciless (though not unaffectionate) critique of formulaic sword-and-sorcery epics. The Harry Potter books are frequently compared to the works of Diana Wynne Jones. Many of her earlier children's books were out of print in recent years, but have now been re-issued for the young audience whose interest in fantasy and reading was spurred by Harry Potter. Wynne Jones passed away on March 26, 2011, aged 76.
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