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Literature and Contemporary Chinese Politics

By Audrey Golden. Aug 31, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature, History

What is the relationship between literature and contemporary Chinese politics? China has a long literary tradition, but works written in both Classical Chinese and Vernacular Chinese haven’t always been available in translation to Western audiences. As such, many of us don’t have as much knowledge as we’d like to have about the links between fiction and current sociocultural matters. Let’s remedy that, at least in part, by thinking about some of the greatest known Chinese writers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and the role their fiction plays in our understanding of Chinese politics.

     
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Narratives of Great Explorers and Their Cathartic Value

By Alex Marcondes. Aug 30, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: History, exploration

As history documents, Ernest Shackleton and his fellow crew members embarked on the Imperial Trans-Atlantic Expedition to walk across the Antarctic continent in 1914. Trapped in ice floes, they were forced to abandon ship several months into their journey and retreat. We struggle, at times, to understand why we're captivated by such endeavors. They failed, after all, and walking across the continent doesn't seem to be an especially worthwhile project. However, there is a measure of catharsis available to all who hear these stories. Just as Aristotle describes the cathartic nature of the theatre, the legends of these explorers bleed us of our insecurities, inadequacies, and hopelessness in the face of seemingly insurmountable anxieties.

     
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Maurice Maeterlinck and the Mystery of Life

By Matt Reimann. Aug 29, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Nobel Prize Winners, Drama

Maurice Maeterlinck was a Belgian playwright and essayist who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911. If Maeterlinck’s name is new to you, as it may well be, it’s likely because his work is of an uncommon variety. What has certainly hurt the playwright’s longevity is that he chose to pick sides...and lost. Maeterlinck staunchly resisted the aesthetic tides of naturalism and realism, instead aligning himself with the aims and sensibilities of the Symbolist movement. The problem is, of course, that the realistic style has prevailed to this day, while Symbolism has ostensibly perished. Yet, Maeterlinck’s defiance of the dominant trend helped him to admirably explore his principle concern: What lies behind the mysteries of life?

     
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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Notable Quotes

By Brian Hoey. Aug 28, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Drama

“More light!” —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s last words

In a letter to Carl Friedrich Zelter, the iconic German poet and playwright Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote, “All poetry is supposed to be instructive but in an unnoticeable manner; it is supposed to make us aware of what it would be valuable to instruct ourselves in; we must deduce the lesson on our own, just as with life.” If his words are to be taken at face value, that makes Goethe himself one of the most valuable teachers the world has ever known.

     
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Ira Levin: Coupling the Creepy with the Conventional

By Neely Simpson. Aug 27, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Horror

“Mr. Levin’s suspense is beautifully intertwined with everyday incidents; the delicate line between belief and disbelief is faultlessly drawn.”
-Thomas J. Fleming, on Rosemary's Baby in The New York Times Book Review

Ira Levin, master of all things creepy, knew as early as the age of 15 he wanted to be a writer. Early aspiration lead to early success, and his senior year at NYU, he entered a half-hour television script he'd written into a contest hosted by CBS. While the script didn't win, it was a runner-up, and shortly after the contest Levin sold it to NBC. So, after graduating from NYU, when he asked his parents if he could stay home to work on his writing, they were supportive. Levin's father told him he could have two years to concentrate solely on writing, and if he wasn't able to make a go of it in that amount of time, it would be time to join the family toy business.

     
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A List of Authors' Famous Last Words

By Matt Reimann. Aug 26, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

If you spend your entire life writing, it makes sense to make your last words count. Mark Twain recommended employing one's final breath in a deliberate, dignified message. Death is too important an occasion for improvisation or whimsy. Twain wrote, “There is hardly a case on record where a man came to his last moment unprepared and said a good thing — hardly a case where a man trusted to that last moment and did not make a solemn botch of it and go out of the world feeling absurd." After all, no author ought to die failing in the very thing he or she made a living perfecting. Below, there are numerous examples of writers' last words. Some, you'll find, are more poetic than others.

     
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Bret Harte, Mark Twain, Pioneer Fiction, and a Play Gone Wrong

By Nick Ostdick. Aug 25, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Mark Twain

It’s 1876 and two of America’s most revered writers have decided to collaborate on what turned out to be one of the most disastrous plays in American dramatic work – and one that would severely damage a budding literary friendship.

     
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Libraries and Special Collections: The New York Academy of Medicine

By Katie Behrens. Aug 24, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Libraries & Special Collections

There is no limit on the subjects worthy of a special library collection – comic books, calligraphy, automobiles, you name it. But there is something extra special about medical library collections. Medical knowledge has changed drastically in the past 500 years or so, and to see that history with your own eyes can really knock your socks off. The New York Academy of Medicine Library is a phenomenal institution that aims to preserve medical history and make it just as relevant to audiences today.

     
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Visiting Halldór Laxness’s Home

By Audrey Golden. Aug 23, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

Have you ever thought about taking a trip to Iceland? If you fly into Reykjavík, you’re only a short drive from Gljúfrasteinn, the home of the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Halldór Laxness. Laxness was born in 1902 in Reykjavík, and he traveled through Europe in his 20s before settling down in Iceland. Some of the author’s most prominent works include The Great Weaver from Kashmir (1927), Independent People (1935), The Atom Station (1948), The Fish Can Sing (1957), and Under the Glacier (1968). A short while ago, we took a tour of his home and learned more about Laxness’s possessions, writing habits, and deep love for the landscape of his country.

     
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Six Interesting Facts About Ray Bradbury

By Neely Simpson. Aug 22, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Science Fiction, Fantasy

Ray Bradbury revolutionized science fiction, bringing it to the forefront of American pop culture. He inspired and continues to inspire countless innovators and creatives who have come after him. The innumerable list of people who call themselves Bradbury fans includes vanguards such as Stephen King, Steve Wozniak, Steven Spielberg, Stan Lee, Ursula Le Guin, Hugh Hefner, Buzz Aldrin, R.L. Stine, and Neil Gaiman. Here are six interesting facts about the man who unlocked the doors to America's imagination.

     
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