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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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The Inspiration Behind Herman Melville's Moby Dick

By Leah Dobrinska. Aug 21, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Fine Press, Book History

We often wonder at, marvel over, and debate the inspiration behind great works of literature. Is Philip Roth's work autobiographical in some cases? Was there an actual "Uncle Tom" figure who inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe? And so on. In the case of Moby Dick, Herman Melville's personal whaling experiences as well as accounts of the whale, "Mocha Dick," undoubtedly played a role in the novel's composition. However, one tale in particular must have had particular resonance. After reading the story of the doomed Essex, a whaling ship from Nantucket that came face-to-face with a seemingly deranged whale, Melville set out with fervor to pen his masterpiece. While Melville’s tale culminates with the attack of the long-sought Moby Dick, for the captain and crew of the Essex, their encounter with a massive, dangerous whale was only the beginning. The story of the Essex is a haunting one, and it’s bound to make even the heartiest of seafarers shudder.

     
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Quiz: How Well Do You Know the Brontës?

By Andrea Koczela. Aug 20, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Quizzes

The Brontës remain one of history's most famous literary families. Of the six siblings, two died during childhood. The remaining three sisters, Anne, Charlotte, and Emily, became published authors during their lifetimes. Although all three died young, their writings have endured as literary classics. How well do you know the lives and works of this legendary family? Take a moment to test your knowledge with the following quiz:

     
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