Love, Sex, Death & Words: Surprising Tales From a Year in Literature
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Why was publication of Huckleberry Fin delayed until February 18, 1885? Which great literary love affair came to a tragic end on February 11, 1963? What effect did March 19, 2007 have on Philip Roth’s alter ego? Arranged by days of the year, Love, Sex, Death & Words provides an absorbing companion to literature’s inspiring past.
John Sutherland is a recently retired professor of English literature at University College London, and a past chairman of the Booker Prize panel.
Stephen Fender was born in San Francisco and educated at Stanford and in the United Kingdom. He has taught in the United States at Santa Clara, Williams, and Dartmouth colleges.
man unjustly accused of rape turns the townspeople against the family, shattering the children’s innocence. The book has been classified as southern gothic – wrongly, since much of its apparent grotesquery is based on actual characters and events. Truman Capote, Lee’s childhood friend and the model for Dill, remembered the original of the mysterious Boo Radley, who lives in a boarded-up house and leaves little gifts for the children in the knothole of a tree. Stylistically, in other words, the
also debunked ‘the pieties generally accepted by the serious almanacs’, and so ‘had an implicitly irreverent and deflating effect on the form and the culture that was at odds with its overt allegiance’. Facing each other across the Atlantic, the satiric almanacs began to diverge in their politics as the 18th century advanced, the British remaining ‘staunchly royalist’ while Poor Richard’s became ‘more radical, Whiggish, and contrarian’. For all that, though, ‘both address the reader as a member
February Sylvia Plath commits suicide, in the coldest winter in England for fifteen years 1963 Only those (like the present authors) who lived through the winters of 1947 and 1963 can know not how cold they were (much less so, in terms of degrees, than winters in Plath’s native Boston) but how wretchedly ill-equipped British heating, plumbing and transport was for the unseasonably freezing weather. It was a bad time. The weather doubtless exacerbated Plath’s suicidal depression; but
spectacularly criminal as Sadleir. He inspired a string of wicked fictional ‘Napoleons of the City’: Merdle in Dickens’s Little Dorrit (1857); Davenport Dunn in Charles Lever’s 1858 novel of that name; Jabez Morth in Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Trail of the Serpent (1861); and Augustus Melmotte in Anthony Trollope’s The Way We Live Now (1875). One can almost forgive Sadleir the thousands of ruined widows and children for passages, such as the following, which his malefactions inspired: Mr Merdle
his living in Foston-le-Clay, in Yorkshire, conditional on his actually living there (instead of sending a curate to fill his place), he made the best of it, spending £4,000 on refurbishing the house and farm buildings where there had been no resident clergyman for 150 years, and (as he wrote in this same letter) playing ‘my part in the usual manner, as doctor, justice, road-maker, pacifist, preacher, farmer, neighbor, and diner-out’. ‘If I can mend my fortunes’, he added, ‘I shall be very glad;