Quote of the Week | Edgar Allan Poe

October is marked by the conspicuous onslaught of Halloween. Stick-on scarecrows pose brokenly in shop windows. Ghostface masks pop-up in drug stores. Pumpkin spice lattes dilute the otherwise smoky smell of the city.

In books, memoirs and biographies are set aside in favor of more mysterious, macabre materials. To jumpstart preparations for the spooky holiday, our Quote of the Week features the man who “became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.” Ladies and gentleman, Mr. Edgar Allan Poe.

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.” – Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven

Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston to the British actress Elizabeth Arnold Poe and the American actor David Poe, Jr. When he was three, Poe’s mother died of tuberculosis and his father disappeared; he was thereafter raised by the Richmond-based tobacco merchant John Allan and his wife, Frances Valentine. Poe was writing poetry by the age of 13 and – much to his foster-father’s displeasure – liked to write drafts on the back of Allan’s business papers.

After a not-so-successful career in the military, Poe turned to writing full-time. Looking for opportunities, he lived in New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Richmond, publishing poems and short stories. In 1835, he started writing for the Southern Literary Messenger.

Original manuscript copy of “Spirts of the Dead”, a poem by Edgar Allan Poe.

Poe made a name for himself writing scathing reviews of his contemporaries’ work. He’s also credited with launching the new genre of detective fiction with “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” published in 1841. His poem “The Raven,” however, published in 1845, is generally agreed to be the piece that made his career. Ironically enough, the “Father of the Detective Story” died under mysterious circumstances on a train to Philadelphia in 1849.

For more Poe, the “The Black Cat” (1843), “The Tell-Tale Heart” (1843), and “Annabel Lee (1849) are readily available to read online. The Morgan Library & Museum is also hosting an advance screening of the PBS American Masters documentary film Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive next Friday, October 20, from 7–10pm. Tickets are free with museum admission. You can watch the trailer here:

Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive premieres on the American Masters series Monday, October 30 at 9 pm on THIRTEEN and nationwide on PBS.

 

Quote of the Week |

Mohandas Gandhi

October 2nd marks The International Day of Non-Violence, a 24-hour period set aside by the United Nations to “disseminate the message of nonviolence” and work towards “a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and nonviolence” throughout the world. The commemoration falls deliberately on the birthday of Mohandas Gandhi, whose nonviolent philosophy of passive resistance helped orchestrate the Indian independence movement. (His work came to a culmination on August 15, 1947 when the Indian Independence Act was made into law.)

In light of recent events, our Quote of the Week features the man whose acts of nonviolent protest inspired human rights movements around the globe, including Martin Luther King Jr.’s civil rights moment in the United States (1954–1968) and Nelson Mandela’s campaign to end apartheid in South Africa (1959–1994).

“If nobody reads the writing on the wall, man will be reduced to the state of the beast, whom he is shaming by his manners.”
― Mahatma Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments With Truth

Gandhi – later known as Mahatma or “the great-souled one” – was born on October 2, 1869 in Porbandar, Kathiawar, India, then a part of the British Empire. At 13, he married Kasturba Makanji, the daughter of a merchant; together, they had four boys: Harilal, Ramdas, Manilal, and Devdas. When he was 18, Gandhi sailed to England to study law. He struggled to find work in India after graduation, and so accepted a one-year legal contract in South Africa. It was here that he was first struck by the unjust treatment of Indian immigrants by the British.

After moving his wife and children to South Africa, Gandhi organized his first civil-disobedience campaign in 1906, which he called “Satyagraha,” or “truth and firmness.” The crusade was coordinated to protest South Africa’s recently-imposed restrictions on the rights of Indians in the country, like the government’s refusal to recognize Hindu marriages. Seven years later, in 1913, the South African government imprisoned hundreds of people from India, including Gandhi. Eventually, “under pressure, the South African government accepted a compromise negotiated by Gandhi and General Jan Christian Smuts that included recognition of Hindu marriages and the abolition of a poll tax for Indians.”

This was just the start of a prodigious life rooted in civil disobedience. His  enduring campaigns were made famous by great victories, like the 24-day Salt March in 1930 (protesting Britain’s Salt Acts, which prevented people in India from collecting or selling salt), the “Quit India” movement in 1942 (which called for Britain’s immediate withdrawal from India), and other lifelong efforts to remove India from imperialist influence.

On January 30, 1948, Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu fundamentalist in Delhi.

Today, various anthologies of Gandhi’s writings are available to read. His autobiography, The Story of My Experiments With Truth, describes his life from early childhood to 1921. On the work: “Gandhi was a fascinating, complex man, a brilliant leader and guide, a seeker of truth who died for his beliefs but had no use for martyrdom or sainthood. His story, the path to his vision of Satyagraha and human dignity, is a critical work of the twentieth century, and timeless in its courage and inspiration.”

 

Quote of the Week | Tom Wolfe

Well, everyone, we’ve made it to week two. First and foremost, congratulations. Between classes, assignments, and publishing events, we’ve all hit the ground running.

For returning students, the transition from summer to fall is a familiar one. For new students, many of whom have never lived – or perhaps even visited – this dense and sprawling city, the shift and pace of life can seem overwhelming and mysterious. Even the great mystery novelist Agatha Christie is reported to have said, “It is ridiculous to set a detective story in New York City. New York City is itself a detective story.”

That said, the American novelist, poet, and short story writer John Updike is renowned for having said, “The true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding.” 

These teaser quotes have paved the way for what the blog is going to spotlight today for the Quote of the Week. It is an uplifting, hopeful statement  meant to put New York City newbies – those who are familiarizing themselves with Updike’s understanding of the city’s charms – at ease.

One belongs to New York instantly. One belongs to it as
much in five minutes as in five years. “
 — Tom Wolfe


Tom Wolfe
was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1931. After studying at Washington and Lee and Yale, he became a reporter. Very early on in his career, his coverage of Cuba for The Washington Post won him the Washington Newspaper Guild’s foreign news prize. Wolfe is best known, however, for helping to bring about the New Journalism movement, in which literary techniques were combined with journalistic principles to highlight actual events. Wolfe is also the author of 14 books. His most recent novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons, was published by Picador in 2005. (Picador is a Macmillan imprint.)

For more on Tom Wolfe, check out this interview with The Daily Beast on memoirs and memory.

 

Quote of the Week | John Irving


Quotes on Education are a dime a dozen on the Internet (please excuse the cliched use of this idiom). Some are real gems, and some are too earnest to post this early-on in the year. Since we’re all embarking on our first full week of the semester, however, education seemed an apropos theme for blog one of the 2017/18 academic year. After all, as screenwriter Gene Perret once said, “Education can get you the only thing that really matters in today’s world – an assigned parking space,” and that’s why we’re all really here – to get a parking space in front of the publishing house that inspired us to apply to this program.

But Perret is not the author we’d like to feature in today’s post. Instead, let’s pivot to the best-selling novelist (and former wrestler) whose writing style has been compared to Charles Dickens by The Boston Globe.


“With every book, you go back to school. You become a student. You become
an investigative reporter. You spend a little time learning what it’s like to live in someone else’s shoes.” — John Irving

Born in Exeter, New Hampshire in 1942, John Irving wrote his first novel, Setting Free the Bears, in 1968 when he was just 26 years old. Throughout his illustrious career, Irving has had 17 books published – 14 novels, two memoirs, and one collection of short stories, although he is best known, perhaps, for his novel The Cider House Rules, which won him an Oscar in 2000 for Best Adapted Screenplay. Irving is no stranger to awards, however. His 1978 novel The World According to Garp earned the National Book award in 1980 and In One Person, his 2014 novel about a bisexual man falling in love with a transgender woman, won the Lambda Literary Award in 2013. His most recent novel, Avenue of Mysteries, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2015.

For more on John Irving’s writing process, check out his Big Think interview on “The Thrill of the Black Page.”