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Hans Christian Andersen

Author of the Week

Hans Christian Andersen Biography

Born: April 2, 1805
Odense, Denmark
Died: August 4, 1875
Copenhagen, Denmark

Danish writer, author, and novelist

Hans Christian Andersen was the first Danish author to emerge from the lowest class. He enjoyed fame as a novelist, dramatist, and poet, but his fairy tales are his greatest contribution to world literature.

Early life

Hans Christian Andersen was born on April 2, 1805, inOdense,Denmark. His father was a shoemaker, and his mother earned money washing other people’s clothes. His parents spoiled him and encouraged him to develop his imagination. At the age of fourteen, Andersen convinced his mother to let him try his luck inCopenhagen,Denmark, rather than studying to become a tailor. When she asked what he planned to do inCopenhagen, he replied, “I’ll become famous! First you suffer cruelly, and then you become famous.”

For three years Andersen lived in one ofCopenhagen’s most run-down areas. He tried to become a singer, a dancer, and an actor, but he failed. When he was seventeen, a government official arranged a scholarship for him in order to give him a second chance to receive an education. But he was a poor student and was never able to study successfully. He never learned how to spell or how to write in Danish. As a result his writing style remained close to the spoken language and still sounds fresh today, unlike the work of other writers from the same era.

After spending seven years at school, mostly under the supervision of a principal who seems to have hated him, Andersen celebrated the passing of his university exams in 1828 by writing his first narrative. The story was a success, and it was quickly followed by a collection of poems. Andersen’s career as an author had begun, and his years of suffering were at an end.

Literary career

In 1835 Andersen completed his first novel, The Improvisatore, and he published his first small volume of fairy tales, an event that attracted little attention at the time. The Improvisatore, like most of Andersen’s novels, was based on his own life. It was a success not only inDenmark but also inEngland andGermany. He wrote five more novels, but as a writer of drama, Andersen failed almost completely. Many of his poems are still a part of popular Danish literature, however, and his most lasting contributions, after the fairy tales, are his travel books and his autobiography (the story of his own life).

 A lifelong bachelor, Andersen was frequently in love (with, among others, the singer Jenny Lind). He lived most of his life as a guest at the country homes of wealthy Danish people. He made many journeys abroad, where he met and in many cases became friends with well-known Europeans, among them the English novelist Charles Dickens (1812–1870).

Fairy tales

Andersen began his fairy-tale writing by retelling folk tales he had heard as a child from his grandmother and others. Soon, however, he began to create his own stories. Most of his tales are original. The first volumes written from 1835 to 1837 contained nineteen stories and were called Fairy Tales Told for Children. In 1845 the title changed to New Fairy Tales. The four volumes appearing with this title contained twenty-two original tales and are considered Andersen’s finest works. In 1852 the title was changed to Stories, and from then on the volumes were called New Fairy Tales and Stories. During the next years Andersen published a number of volumes of fairy tales. His last works of this type appeared in 1872. Among his most popular tales are “The Ugly Duckling,” “The Princess and the Pea,” and “The Little Mermaid.”

At first Andersen was not very proud of his fairy-tale writing, and, after talks with friends and Danish critics, he considered giving them up. But he later came to believe that the fairy tale would be the “universal poetry” (poetry that exists in all cultures) of which so many romantic writers dreamed. He saw fairy tales as the poetic form of the future, combining folk art and literature and describing both the tragic and the comical elements of life. Andersen’s tales form a rich, made-up world. While children can enjoy most of the tales, the best of them are written for adults as well. The tales also take on different meanings to different readers, a feat only a great poet can accomplish. Andersen died inCopenhagen,Denmark, on August 4, 1875.

Read more: Hans Christian Andersen Biography – life, children, parents, story, school, mother, information, born, time http://www.notablebiographies.com/A-An/Andersen-Hans-Christian.html#ixzz1qxLg7Btd

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Know this Author: Saki / Hector Hugh Munro

Author of the Week

Saki / Hector Hugh Munro



Hector Hugh Munro was born in Akyab, Burmaon December 18, 1870. Hector’s father was Inspector-General of the Burma Police. The youngest of three children, Hector spent most of his early childhood at Broadgate Villa, in Pilton village near Barnstaple, North Devon. Their father had left the children there in the care of his two sisters and mother before leaving for India. Charles, Ethel and Hector grew up in a house populated by three adults, their aunts Charlotte (Tom) and Augusta, and their grandmother. Some of Saki’s characters come from this very household, his aunts were to serve as prototypes on which to base a number of his characters. Aunt Augusta is the inspiration for the women in both Sredni Vashtar and The Lumber Room while Aunt Tom was the creative impetus for The Sex that never Shops. Ethel Munro recalls that their tastes in reading (or being read to) centered around Robinson Crusoe, Masterman Ready, Alice in Wonderland. Saki was especially fond of Johnnykin and the Goblins.

Hector was not a very strong child, neither of the three children were. The family doctor had declared that neither of the siblings would reach adulthood. Out of concern for Hector’s health his departure for school was delayed and he was coached for many years by governesses. The children lived insular lives rarely meeting other children their age, both aunts lacked the demeanor necessary to raise young children. The three children got by on regular doses of excitement supplied by their Uncle Wellesly (who visited once a year), trips to family on their mothers side and visits from their father (who could only come down once every four years).

Hector was finally sent to Exmouth at age 12, the year after his grandmother passed away. Charlie had been to Exmouth as well and Hector spent three enjoyable years there before moving to Bedford Grammar at age 15. By the time he was 16, Hector’s father had reitred and was back to spend more time with his children. FOr the next few years the three children spent time with their father, often travelling to the continent. Ethel remembers fondly a few winters spent inDavos,Switzerland.

In June 1893, Saki left forBurma; his father had arranged a post fo rhim in the military police. Hector spent 13 months inBurma, he was sick on a number of occassions but found time to persue his study of Burmese animals, even raising a tiger-cub for a while. He continued collecting eggs, a hobby he had begun while inEngland. His love for wild animals solidified inBurmaas he found a more varied and exotic fauna towards which to direct his attention. In 1894 Saki had to return toEnglandafter a particularly severe bout of Malaria. In 1896, after spending some time convalescing in Westward Ho, where his father and sister had settled.

In 1896 Saki left for Londonand began to write political satires for the Westminster Gazette. The satires were illustrated by Carruthers Gould and depicted public figures as characters in Alice in Wonderland, these essays were later collected and published as The Westminster Alice. A collection called Not so stories was published soon after in 1902. Saki had earlier published a work called The rise of the Russian Empire which was his only work of serious non-fiction. 1902 also saw him in the Balkans as a correspondent for the Morning Post. Saki came to love the upheaval of the region, something that is apparent in his story The cupboard of the Yesterdays.

In early 1904 his job with the Morning Post took him to Warsaw and by that autumn he was in St. Petersburg where Ethel joined him for a while, together they watched fighting erupt all over St. Petersburg. Saki stayed in Petersburg for two years. In 1906 he moved to Paris, writing for the Morning Post and a French paper. In May 1907 Hector had to rush back to England as his father’s health ahdd taken a turn for the worse. A couple of days after Saki’s arrival, his father died. Ethel accompanied Saki to Pourville later that summer and by September he was back in Paris. In 1908 he returned to London and began to stay att 97 Mortimer Street. Saki spent evening at his club, The Cocoa Tree while inLondon. He’d also bought a cottage in Surrey Hills where Ethel stayed with him.

Saki wrote for the Morning Post, Bystander, Westminster Gazette and the Daily Express. In 1910 Reginald in Russia was published. This was followed in 1912 by The Chronicles of Clovis and in 1913 by When William Came. By the Spring of 1914 Saki was writting a column called Potted Parliament for Outlook and in 1914 Beasts and Super Beasts was published. When war was declared in late 1914, Hector rushed to enlist and was stationed with the 22nd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers inHorsham,Sussex. Hector’s brother Charlie attempted to enlist as well but was not given leave from his position as Governor of Mountjoy Prison inDublin. The next year was hectic for Saki, he spent a number of months training in Horsham with one brief visit back toBarnstaple when his AUnt Tom died in January 1915.

In November 1915 Saki’s company was sent toFranceafter rumours that they were to be sent toSerbiawere not substantiated. Saki would have liked to return to the Balkans as a soldier. Hector spent the next year with his troops inFrance. He was still a Non Commissioned Officer, and he left forFranceas a Corporal, having refused a number of opportunities for commission. In June 1916 Saki returned toLondonon a short leave and spent a few days with Ethel and Charles.

In September Saki was promoted to Lance-Sergeant, he’d always held that he would learn to be a soldier before he’d feel ready to command other soldiers. Saki suffered another bout of Malaria in October and spent about a month at the battalion’s hospital. When he heard of the impending attack on Beaumont-Hamel he returned to his Battalion in the weakened state his illness had left him.

Hector Hugh Munro, Saki was killed by a sniper early in the early hours of a wintry dawn on November 13, 1916

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Tomas Gösta Tranströmer – Nobel prize Literature 2011

Tomas Gösta Tranströmer (born Stockholm, Sweden,15 April 1931) is a Swedish writer, poet and translator, whose poetry has been translated into over 60 languages. Tranströmer is acclaimed as one of the most important European and Scandinavian writers since World War II. Critics have praised Tranströmer’s poems for their accessibility, even in translation; his poems capture the long Swedish winters, the rhythm of the seasons and the palpable, atmospheric beauty of nature. He was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Tomas Tranströmer studied poetry and psychology at the University of Stockholm. His numerous collections of poetry include Windows and Stones (1972), an International Poetry Forum Selection and runner-up for the National Book Award for translation, and The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems (2006, 2011), Robin Fulton’s translation of Tranströmer’s complete body of work. His longstanding friendship with poet Robert Bly, who has also translated and edited some of his work, is documented in Air Mail (2001), a collection of more than 25 years of their correspondence. Tranströmer has also published a memoir, Minnena Ser Mig (Memories Look At Me, 1993).
Tranströmer’s poetry, building on Modernism, Expressionism, and Surrealism, contains powerful imagery concerned with issues of fragmentation and isolation. “He has perfected a particular kind of epiphanic lyric, often in quatrains, in which nature is the active, energizing subject, and the self (if the self is present at all) is the object,” notes critic Katie Peterson in the Boston Review. Critic and poet Tom Sleigh observed, in his “Interview with a Ghost” (2006), that “Tranströmer’s poems imagine the spaces that the deep then inhabits, like ground water gushing up into a newly dug well.”
In addition to the Nobel Prize, his honors include the Lifetime Recognition Award from the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry, the Aftonbladets Literary Prize, the Bonnier Award for Poetry, the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the Oevralids Prize, the Petrarch Prize in Germany, the Swedish Award from International Poetry Forum, and the Swedish Academy’s Nordic Prize.

Tranströmer suffered a stroke in 1990, and after a six-year silence published his collection Sorgegondolen (Grief Gondola, 1996); this collection was translated into English by Michael McGriff and Mikaela Grassl as The Sorrow Gondola (2010). Prior to his stroke, he worked as a psychologist, focusing on the juvenile prison population as well as the disabled and stroke victims, convicts, and drug addicts. He lives with his wife Monica in Stockholm, Sweden.


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Aravind Adiga

Author of the Week

Aravind Adiga

The winner of the Man Booker Prize 2008 for his debut novel The White Tiger, 33 year old Aravind Adiga is a journalist and author by profession who is an Australian citizen of Indian origin. His debut novel, The White Tiger won the Man Booker Prize of 2008

Born in the year 1974 in Madras, present day Chennai, Adiga grew up in Mangalore and received his basic education at Canara High School and at St. Aloysius High School from where he graduated out with a SSLC degree in 1990.
He studied at James Ruse Agricultural High School in Sydney, Australia where he and his family emigrated during the 90s.
He further went on to study English Literature at Columbia College, Columbia University in New York in the U.S. from where he graduated in the year 1997.

Adiga’s career in journalism began as a financial journalist as in intern at Financial Times, Money and the Wall Street Journal. His area of coverage was the stock market and investment.
He wrote a review on Peter Carey’s book, the winner of Booker Prize 1998 Oscar and Lucinda, which appeared in an online literary review called The Second Circle. He was eventually appointed by TIME where he worked as a South Asia correspondent for about three years before he started freelancing. This was the time when he wrote The White Tiger. Adiga currently lives in Mumbai, India.

Winning the Man Booker Prize of 2008 for his debut novel, The White Tiger made Adiga the fourth Indian born author to win the prize since Arundhati Roy, Salman Rushdie and Kiran Desai. Adiga’s novel is about “India of darkness” or the rural India and the “India of the light” or the urban Indian. Its about the protagonist Balram Halwai’s imminent journey from “darkness” into “light”. Keeping Balram’s story in view, the novel studies the antithesis between the rise of India as a modern global economy – where the rich zoom around in their egg-like shelled cars which only crack open to let a bejeweled hand of a lady to throw an empty mineral bottle into the street – and all that Balram represents, – the poorest section of rural India where life itself is smeared with dark and struggle-some reality right from one’s birth to one’s death.
Adiga points out that it becomes significant for writers like him to feature remorseless injustices of Indian society especially during a time when India is undergoing great changes with China presumably inheriting the legacy of the world from the west. He makes it clear that his endeavor in doing so is not an assailment on the country, instead it’s about “the greater process of self-examination.”
He further defends his point by elaborating on the fact that criticisms by writers like Flaubert, Dickens and Balzac during the 19th century helped England and France improve their ways becoming a better place to live in.

Between the Assassinations, Adiga’s second book featuring 12 short stories was released in India on the 1st of November 2008.

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KALIDASA, (kaalidaasa), India’s greatest Sanskrit poet and dramatist


In spite of the celebrity of his name, the time when he flourished always has been an unsettled question, although most scholars nowadays favor the middle of the 4th and early 5th centuries A.D., during the reigns of Chandragupta II Vikramaaditya and his successor Kumaaragupta. Undetermined also is the place of Kaalidaasa’s principal literary activity, as the frequent and minute geographic allusions in his works suggest that he traveled extensively.

Numerous works have been attributed to his authorship. Most of them, however, are either by lesser poets bearing the same name or by others of some intrinsic worth, whose works simply chanced to be associated with Kaalidaasa’s name their own names having long before ceased to be remembered. Only seven are generally considered genuine.

Plays. There are three plays, the earliest of which is probably the Malavikaagnimitra ( Malavikaa and Agnimitra), a work concerned with palace intrigue. It is of special interest because the hero is a historical figure, King Agnimitra, whose father, Pushhpamitra, wrested the kingship of northern India from the Mauryan king Brihadratha about 185 B.C. and established the Sunga dvnasty, which held power for more than a century. The Vikramorvashiiya ( Urvashii Won Through Valor) is based on the old legend of the love of the mortal Pururavaas for the heavenly damsel Urvashii. The legend occurs in embryonic form in a hymn of the Rig Veda and in a much amplified version in the ShatapathabraahmaNa.

The third play, AbhiGYaanashaakuntala ( Shakuntalaa Recognized by the Token Ring), is the work by which Kaalidaasa is best known not only in India but throughout the world. It was the first work of Kaalidaasa to be translated into English from which was made a German translation in 1791 that evoked the often quoted admiration by Goethe. The raw material for this play, which usually is called in English simply Shaakuntala after the name of the heroine, is contained in the Mahaabhaarata and in similar form also in the PadmapuraaNa, but these versions seem crude and primitive when compared with Kaalidaasa’s polished and refined treatment of the story. In bare outline the story of the play is as follows: King Dushhyanta, while on a hunting expedition, meets the hermit-girl Shakuntalaa, whom he marries in the hermitage by a ceremony of mutual consent. Obliged by affairs of state to return to his palace, he gives Shakuntalaa his signet ring, promising to send for her later. But when Shakuntalaa comes to the court for their reunion, pregnant with his child, Dushhyanta fails to acknowledge her as his wife because of a curse. The spell is subsequently broken by the discovery of the ring, which Shakuntalaa had lost on her way to the court. The couple are later reunited, and all ends happily.

The influence of the AbhiGYaanashaakuntala outside India is evident not only in the abundance of translations in many languages, but also in its adaptation to the operatic stage by Paderewski, Weinggartner, and Alfano.

Poems. In addition to these three plays Kaalidaasa wrote two long epic poems, the Kumaarasambhava ( Birth of Kumaara) and the Raghuvamsha ( Dynasty of Raghu). The former isconcerned with the events that lead to the marriage of the god Shiva and Paarvatii, daughter of the Himaalaya. This union was desired by the gods for the production of a son, Kumaara, god of war, who would help them defeat the demon Taaraka. The gods induce Kaama, god of love, to discharge an amatory arrow at Siva who is engrossed in meditation. Angered by this interruption of his austerities, he burns Kaama to ashes with a glance of his third eye. But love for Paarvatii has been aroused, and it culminates in their marriage.

The Raghuvamsha treats of the family to which the great hero Rama belonged, commencing with its earliest antecedents and encapsulating the principal events told in the RaamaayaNa of Vaalmikii. But like the Kumaarasambhava, the last nine cantos of which are clearly the addition of another poet, the Raghuvamsha ends rather abruptly, suggesting either that it was left unfinished by the poet or that its final portion was lost early.

Finally there are two lyric poems, the Meghaduuta ( Cloud Messenger) and the Ritusamhaara ( Description of the Seasons). The latter, if at all a genuine work of Kaalidaasa, must surely be regarded as a youthful composition, as it is distinguished by rather exaggerated and overly exuberant depictions of nature, such as are not elsewhere typical of the poet. It is of tangential interest, however, that the Ritusamhaara, published in Bengal in 1792, was the first book to be printed in Sanskrit.

On the other hand, the Meghaduuta, until the 1960′s hardly known outside India, is in many ways the finest and most perfect of all Kaalidaasa’s works and certainly one of the masterpiece of world literature. A short poem of 111 stanzas, it is founded at once upon the barest and yet most original of plots. For some unexplained dereliction of duty, a Yaksha, or attendant of Kubera, god of wealth, has been sent by his lord into yearlong exile in the mountains of central India, far away from his beloved wife on Mount Kailasa in the Himaalaya. At the opening of the poem, particularly distraught and hapless at the onset of the rains when the sky is dark and gloomy with clouds, the yaksa opens his heart to a cloud hugging close the mountain top. He requests it mere aggregation of smoke, lightning, water, and wind that it is, to convey a message of consolation to his beloved while on its northward course. The Yaksha then describes the many captivating sights that are in store for the cloud on its way to the fabulous city of Alakaa, where his wife languishes amid her memories of him. Throughout the Meghaduuta, as perhaps nowhere else So plentifully in Kaalidaasa’s works, are an unvarying› freshness of inspiration and charm, delight imagerry and fancy, profound insight into the emotions, and a oneness with the phenomena of nature. Moreover, the fluidity and beauty of the language are probably unmatched in Sanskrit literature, a feature all the more remarkable for its inevitable loss in translation.

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National Book Week, 14-20, Nov.2013

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