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Archive for the ‘personalities’ Category

Pen Portraits- Theodor Herzl
Theodor Herzl (1860-1904)
founder of the political form of Zionism, a movement to establish a Jewish homeland. His pamphlet The Jewish State (1896) proposed that the Jewish question was a political question to be settled by a world council of nations. He organized a world congress of Zionists that met in Basel, Switz., in August 1897 and became first president of the World Zionist Organization, established by the congress. Although Herzl died more than 40 years before the establishment of the State of Israel, he was an indefatigable organizer, propagandist without whose vision the state of Israel might have turned out altogether different and out of step with the times.

A Jew in name but in all other things totally assimilated into the prevailing consciousness of Germanic culture as an ideal,he even joined a fencing club Albia in his Vienna days to prove he was unlike the typical Jew bred in the dingy ghetto. 1881 pogrom in Tsarist Russia coincided with closer at home politicians of the Right and Catholic clergy inveighing against liberalism that had given Jews certain exceptions. The Church of Rome had singled the Jews for their ire since they supported Bismarck’s anti-clerical policies. The changing political climate was something like the verse from the Exodus. ‘There arose up a new king over Egypt who knew not Joseph.’(ex.1:8)
It is however difficult not to bring in Moses for comparison. The original Moses turned back on the Egyptian culture but Herzl wanted to create a secular nation than a Jewish homeland revolving about the Torah. He did not even believe Moses as the author of Penteteuch. He was a Reluctant Moses who set out achieve his goal once he was sure of the vast scope of his mission. It appealed to the dreamer in him, and the oversized ego that equalled matched his commanding presence.

Born and brought up in the dual monarchies of Austro-Hungarian empire he spoke German and not Hungarian. Born to parents who were well to do (assimilated in secular ideals) he preferred literary fame above all. Among earliest of his heroes none were of Jewish persuasion. In his youth he had seen the Iron Chancellor creating a grand German Federation and in his life mission it must have unconsciously served as the template. Pan-Germanism was inclusive of all peoples subscribing to German culture that cut across various client states about Berlin. Growing up in Vienna Herzl was well tuned to the growing trends. There was also anti-semitism running into all levels of the society. As a reporter in Paris during the Dreyfus Affair he realized there was no other way to recast the proverbial Shylock image into a citizen of the world. It would require a nation. People don’t change from within, but change their social structure they would also change, a dictum that seems very valid. There were quite many detractors but it certainly speaks of the optimism and impermeable spirit of the man to stay his course.
In a sense his dedication to the cause to which personally he had great antipathy but nevertheless a great cause to give his all, makes him ‘King’ Herzl. He is rightly called the father of the nation of Israel.
benny

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Samuel F. B. Morse(1791-1872), American artist and inventor, designed and developed the first successful electromagnetic (magnetism caused by electricity) telegraph system.
Samuel Finley Breese Morse the first son of a Charlestown clergyman at first wanted to go for a career in art, studied under the American artist Benjamin West.
In 1815 he returned and and set up a studio in Boston. Having failed in his career he went back to Europe and it was in October 1832 during a long sea voyage home he knew his career lay in something else. He was interested in gadgetry even as he wanted to be an artist. His turning point was in meeting Charles Thomas Jackson, an eccentric doctor and inventor, with whom he discussed electromagnetism. Jackson assured Morse that an electric impulse could be carried along even a very long wire. Morse later recalled that he reacted to this news with the thought that “if this be so, and the presence of electricity can be made visible in any desired part of the circuit,I see no reason why intelligence might not be instantaneously transmitted by electricity to any distance.” He immediately made some sketches of a device to accomplish this purpose. His shipboard sketches of 1832 had clearly laid out the three major parts of the telegraph: a sender, which opened and closed an electric circuit; a receiver, which used an electromagnet to record the signal; and a code, which translated the signal into letters and numbers. By January 1836 he had a working model of the device that he showed to a friend, who advised him of recent developments in the field of electromagnetism—especially the work of the American physicist Joseph Henry (1797–1878). As a result, Morse was able to greatly improve the efficiency of his device.
In September 1837 Morse formed a partnership with Alfred Vail, who contributed both money and mechanical skill. They applied for a patent. The American patent remained in doubt until 1843, when Congress approved thirty thousand dollars to finance the building of an experimental telegraph line between the national capital and Baltimore, Maryland. It was over this line, on May 24, 1844, that Morse tapped out his famous message, “What hath God wrought [made]!”
Morse was willing to sell all of his rights to the invention to the federal government for one hundred thousand dollars, but a combination of a lack of congressional interest and the presence of private greed frustrated the plan. Instead he turned his business affairs over to Amos Kendall. Morse then settled down to a life of wealth and fame. He was generous in his charitable gifts and was one of the founders of Vassar College in 1861. His last years were spoiled, however, by questions as to how much he had been helped by others, especially Joseph Henry.
Morse died in New York City on April 2, 1872.( ack:www.notablebiographies.com)

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Victoriana-pen portraits
Dante Rossetti-(1828-1882)
Dante grew up fluent in both English and Italian. As part of a large Italian expatriate community in London he grew up among many exiles from Mazzini to organ-grinders his outlook was far from the parochial insulated circumstances of his contemporaries. He never was obsessed with money the way that Tennyson was.
In 1846 he was accepted into the Royal Academy but was there only a year before he became dissatisfied and left to study under Ford Maddox Brown. In 1848 he, William Holman Hunt, and John Everett Millais began to call themselves the Pre-Raphelite Brotherhood.This group attracted other young painters, poets, and critics.In 1849 and 50 D.G.R. exhibited his first important paintings, The Girlhood of Mary Virgin. At about the same time he met Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal, a milliner’s assistant, who became a model for many of his paintings and sketches. They were engaged in 1851 but did not marry until 1860. She helped him clarify his feminine ideal of beauty,which would change to the tall, thin, long-necked, long-haired stunners of frail health that we see in paintings like Beata Beatrix, Pandora, Proserpine, La Pia, and La Donna della Finestra. The persistence of the Pre-Raphaelite ideal shows up in photographs of William Butler Yeats’ idealized beauty, Maud Gonne. Jack Yeats, the father of the poet, was connected with the Pre-Raphaelites, and Yeats himself said of his younger days, “I was in all things Pre-Raphaelite.” In 1871 Rossetti and Morris leased Kelmscott Manor in Oxfordshire. In the late ’60s Rossetti began to suffer from headaches and weakened eyesight, and began to take chloral mixed with whiskey to cure insomnia. Chloral accentuated the depression and paranoia latent in Rossetti’s nature, and Robert Buchanan’s attack on Rossetti and Swinburne in “The Fleshly School of Poetry” (1871) changed him completely. In the summer of 1872 he suffered a mental breakdown from which he would never completely cured.
Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898)
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, more perceptive than any of his contemporaries, was the ideal person for Edward Burne-Jones to present himself to as a young, aspiring artist. He recognized Burne-Jones’s native talent and encouraged him to build upon it without recourse to the stifling academic procedures. but by the 1860s Burne-Jones was discovering his own artistic “voice”which would be clarified by his visit to Italy (1859 and 1862). It had been an enriching experience, manifest by rich and dark coloration, tending towards the choice of iron reds and dark oranges combined with deep greens. Thus his naive view presented in his earlier drawing became more complex by the inclusion of sumptuous colour, at this time chiefly derived from study of Venetian painting.. In 1877, he was persuaded to show eight oil paintings at the Grosvenor Gallery (a new rival to the Royal Academy). These included The Beguiling of Merlin. The timing was right, and he was taken up as a herald and star of the new Aesthetic Movement.

In addition to painting and stained glass, Burne-Jones worked in a variety of crafts; including designing ceramic tiles, jewellery, tapestries, mosaics and book illustration, most famously designing woodcuts for the Kelmscott Press’s Chaucer in 1896. Beardsley would draw much of his inspiration from him.
Trivia: ‘What is my line?’
In 1860 Burne-Jones married Georgiana “Georgie” MacDonald (1840–1920), one of the MacDonald sisters. She was training to be a painter, and was the sister of Burne-Jones’s old school friend. After marriage she made her own work in woodcuts and became a close friend of George Eliot. (Another MacDonald sister married the artist Sir Edward Poynter, a further sister married the ironmaster Alfred Baldwin and was the mother of the Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, and yet another sister was the mother of Rudyard Kipling. Kipling and Baldwin were thus Burne-Jones’s nephews by marriage).

(ack: the Victorian Web)
benny

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Pen Portraits- Martin Luther

(1483-1546)
Born in Germany in 1483, Martin Luther became one of the most influential figures in Christian history when he began the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. He called into question some of the basic tenets of Roman Catholicism, and his followers soon split from the Roman Catholic Church to begin the Protestant tradition.
Born of peasant stock Martin at first wanted to become a lawyer for which in 1501, he entered the University of Erfurt, where he received a Master of Arts degree (in grammar, logic, rhetoric and metaphysics). However, in July 1505, Luther had a life-changing experience that set him on a new course. Caught in a horrific thunderstorm where he feared for his life, Luther cried out to St. Anne, the patron saint of miners, “Save me, St. Anne, and I’ll become a monk!”

Through his studies of scripture, Martin Luther finally gained religious enlightenment. Beginning in 1513, while preparing lectures, Luther read Psalm 22, which recounts Christ’s cry for mercy on the cross, a cry similar to his own disillusionment with God and religion. Two years later, while preparing a lecture on Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, he read, “The just will live by faith.”Finally, he realized the key to spiritual salvation was not to fear God or be enslaved by religious dogma but to believe that faith alone would bring salvation. This period marked a major change in his life and set in motion the Reformation.
In 1517, Pope Leo X announced a new round of indulgences to help build St. Peter’s Basilica. On October 31, 1517, an angry Martin Luther nailed a sheet of paper with 95 theses on the university’s chapel door. Though he intended these to be discussion points, the Ninety-Five Theses laid out a devastating critique of the indulgences as corrupting people’s faith. Aided by the printing press, copies of the Ninety-Five Theses spread throughout Germany within two weeks and throughout Europe within two months.

The Church eventually moved to stop the act of defiance.
On May 8, 1521, the Diet of Worms released the Edict, banning Luther’s writings and declaring him a “convicted heretic.” This made him a condemned and wanted man. Friends helped him hide out at the Wartburg Castle. While in seclusion, he translated the New Testament into the German language, to give ordinary people the opportunity to read God’s word.

Though still under threat of arrest, Martin Luther returned to Wittenberg Castle Church, in Eisenach, in May 1522. Miraculously, he was able to avoid capture and began organizing a new church, Lutheranism. He gained many followers and got support from German princes. When a peasant revolt began in 1524, Luther denounced the peasants and sided with the rulers, seeds of which we see coming to fruition when the German Lutheran Church would try to appease Hitler and his totalitarian program*. The Church of Rome was battling against an idea that had come of age. Printing made even a friar who had the courage of convictions and knew his Scriptures take on the mighty edifice that shall become tainted steadily for the reason it was organized and in the process had repackaged the Scriptures. In the end it would neither fit with the state nor with God. (ack: biography.com)

*MARTIN LUTHER AND THE NAZIS
The Nazi Party had argued that Hitler held the same beliefs and goals as Martin Luther. Martin Luther had warned the Germans against the Jews, and Luther’s writings, including “The Jews and Their Lies,” had been used by the Nazis to encourage anti-Semitism in the 1930s and 1940s. The Nazis went so far as to say that Adolf Hitler was carrying on the work of Luther. The Nazi Minister of Education reflected these beliefs when he wrote, “I think the time is past when one may not say the names of Hitler and Luther in the same breath. They belong together — they are of the same old stamp.”

THE REICH CHURCH
Pro-Nazis in the Lutheran Church, along with members of the Reformed and United churches, formed The German Christians’ Faith Movement in the 1930s. The movement was lead by the Nazi Ludwig Mueller, who called for the unification of all Protestant churches into one national church supporting Nazi racial and nationalist ideology. The members of this movement accepted the Nazi doctrine of a German super race and the inferiority of other races, including the Jews. The Lutheran Church was merged with the Reformed and United churches of Germany to form the Protestant Reich Church, officially known as the German Evangelical Church, in 1933, and Ludwig Mueller was appointed “Reich bishop,” answering to the Nazi Party. The Reich Church banned the use of the Old Testament of the Bible based on its Jewish origin, and excluded Christians of Jewish heritage. By the late 1930s and the beginning of World War II, the Reich Church had raised “Mein Kampf” above all other books, and had replaced the cross with the swastika. This church was the dominant form of Protestant and Lutheran Christianity in Germany during the war.(ack:http://people.opposingviews.com/lutheran-church-during-wwii)

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NIKOLAI I. BUKHARIN (1888-1938) Russia

 

Political Theorist

 

 

 

Next to Lenin, Bukharin was the most intellectually gifted among the Russian revolutionary leaders of 1917, and his pre-revolutionary writings on imperialism and the State anticipated many conclusions Lenin arrived and acted upon. His works included Imperialism and World Economy Theory of Historical Materialism (an account of Marxist sociology ) and ABC of Communism (1921,co-authored byEvgenii Preobrazhensky) remain a vision of a Communist Utopia that never had a chance to get off the ground by political events at home. A growing personality cult around Stalin had obviated need for it.

Bukharin allied at first with Joseph Stalin in the mid-20s and took the mantle of Nestor in the coterie around the Georgian. His high visibility as ideological spokesman of Socialism was to prove his downfall. In 1928-29 his *gradualist, pro-peasant economic policy collapsed he rejected Stalin’s solution of collectivization and allied with Trotsky-Zinoviev. His fall from power was complete with his liquidation in 1938. One glimmer of his immense talent wasted may be seen in 1936 Constitution, much of it was written by him but the democratic promise Soviet socialism would be negated by political and international events and the threat of Nazism.

*Gradualism

Bukharin’s economic policies became more conservative as necessary to reap the fruit of revolution of 1917: his policy of gradualism was his belief that socialism in the Soviet Union could evolve only over a long period of gestation. His agricultural policies were also controversial. Bukharin’s theory was that the small farmers only produced enough food to feed themselves. The large farmers, on the other hand, were able to provide a surplus that could be used to feed the factory workers in the towns. To motivate the kulaks to do this, they had to be given incentives, or what Bukharin called, “the ability to enrich” themselves. From hindsight one may appreciate this idea was far ahead of the times.

 benny

 

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Pen Portraits-Paul Dirac

PAUL DIRAC (1902-1984)

Theoretical Physicist

While sailing on an ocean liner to Japan in 1929 Paul Dirac found Werner Heisenberg, both in their 20s and unmarried, as companion. Heisenberg gregarious as ever loved dancing. One day Dirac asked why he danced and got the unsurprising answer that it was a pleasure to dance with nice girls. After about five minutes of silence, he asked: ‘Heisenberg, how do you know beforehand that the girls are nice?’”
Dirac was the unlikely hero and he still is widely declared the second greatest scientist of the 20th century. He proposes anti-matter not on the basis of physical observation, but because his own mathematical logic tells him that it must exist. Even this day anti-matter remains elusive.*

His great achievement was to provide Physics with the modern mathematics now used universally to cope with its most fundamental problems. Dirac began work on the new quantum mechanics as soon as it was introduced by Heisenberg in 1925 independently producing a mathematical equivalent for calculating atomic properties – and wrote a series of papers on the subject. This led up to his relativistic theory of the electron (1928) and the theory of holes (1930). This latter theory required the existence of a positive particle having the same mass and charge as the known (negative) electron. This positron also was discovered experimentally at a later date (1932).
At a time quantum theory based on matter and radiation was causing a ripple in the academic world , -there were two versions extant, one that of Schroedinger, de Broglie and the other of Bohr , this Lucasian Professor of Mathematics showed Einstein’s theory of relativity as well as the other two were a different aspect of a more general mathematical concept of the atom (1926-1932).
In 1933 he received Nobel Prize along with Schroedinger for his Relativistic theory of the electron(1928)
Dirac established the relativistic equation for the electron, which now bears his name. The remarkable notion of an antiparticle to each particle – i.e. the positron as antiparticle to the electron – stems from his equation. He was also the first to develop quantum field theory, which underlies all theoretical work on sub-atomic or “elementary” particles today, work that is fundamental to our understanding of the forces of nature.
Excerpt from the Guardian:
“Here’s a puzzle. Bristol boy– has an unhappy childhood, but doesn’t mention it for 50 years; learns to speak French, German and Russian, but becomes famous for his long silences; embarks on the wrong career; gets interested in mathematics and ends up at Cambridge, where he becomes famous for his even longer silences; hears about Einstein and gets into advanced physics; and then goes to Copenhagen to meet Niels Bohr, who grumbles to Ernest Rutherford, “This Dirac, he seems to know a lot of physics, but he never says anything.”

Somehow this silent, solemn, young beanpole earns the enthusiastic friendship and admiration of vibrant and merrymaking geniuses such as Bohr himself, Robert Oppenheimer, Werner Heisenberg, George Gamow, Peter Kapitza and so on, is a proof of super-symmetry at quantum level can well accommodate genius although devoid of reciprocal entertainment or conversation.

*antimatter:
in Nov.2010 an international team of 42 scientists trapped 38 antihydrogen atoms – one by one – for a fraction of a second. The goal is to test fundamental theories of physics and to potentially unravel one of the great mysteries of science. Physicists theorize that there was an equal amount of matter and antimatter created at the Big Bang, yet antimatter somehow vanished.

benny

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Pen Portraits- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
DIETRICH BONHOEFFER (1906-1945) German

Theologian

Bonhoeffer was born in Breslau, Germany, in 1906. His family were not religious, but had a strong musical and artistic heritage. From an early age, Bonhoeffer displayed great musical talent, and music was important throughout his life. His family were quite taken aback when, at the age of 14, he announced he wanted to train and become a priest. He knew his calling but had to make his election sure. In the process he would signify through his own life what it was to be a disciple of Christ in the 20th Century.
Ministry for him meant life of service and not to be insulated from life of the oppressed where fascism was alarmingly growing strident across the length and breadth of Europe. In preparation for his ministry his tour across Spain and America broadened his outlook: For example his visit to the US made him see things “from below” — from the perspective of those who suffer oppression. He observed, “Here one can truly speak and hear about sin and grace and the love of God…the Black Christ is preached with rapturous passion and vision.” Later Bonhoeffer was to refer to his impressions abroad especially his stay in Harlem as the point at which “I turned from phraseology to reality.”
In 1931 — at the age of 25 — he was ordained as a pastor of St. Matthew’s Church, Berlin.
Bonhoeffer’s promising academic and ecclesiastical career was dramatically altered with Nazi ascension to power on January 30, 1933. In April, Bonhoeffer raised the first voice for church resistance to Hitler’s persecution of Jews, declaring that the church must not simply “bandage the victims under the wheel, but jam the spoke in the wheel itself.”
At a time Nazification of German Evangelical Church began in right earnest Bonhoeffer refused to be part of it. Instead the 27-year-old Bonhoeffer accepted in the autumn of 1933 a two-year appointment as a pastor of two German-speaking Protestant churches in London.
His writings on Christianity’s role in the secular world have become widely influential, and many have labelled his book The Cost of Discipleship a modern classic.
Apart from his theological writings, Bonhoeffer became active politically, opposing Hitler’s euthanasia program and genocidal persecution of the Jews. He was also involved in plans by members of the Abewehr (the German Military Intelligence Office) to assassinate Hitler. He was arrested in April 1943 by the Gestapo and executed by hanging in April 1945 while imprisoned at a Nazi concentration camp, just 23 days before the German surrender.
benny

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American Genius

1847-1931)

Edison had very little formal education as a child, attending school only for a few months. He was taught reading, writing, and arithmetic by his mother, but was always a very curious child and taught himself much by reading on his own. This belief in self-improvement remained throughout his life.

 

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Edison began working at an early age, as most boys did at the time. At thirteen he took a job as a newsboy, selling newspapers on the local railroad that ran through Port Huron to Detroit. He seems to have spent much of his free time reading scientific, and technical books, and also had the opportunity at this time to learn how to operate a telegraph. By the time he was sixteen, Edison was proficient enough to work as a telegrapher full time.

The second half of the 19th Century saw rapid growth in communication and Edison turned to invention and his first invention was a failure. It made him resolve never to spend his time and energy but only what made profit. From Boston he moved to New York and set up his base in Menlo Park,25 miles southwest of New York City. Edison established a new facility containing all the equipment necessary to work on any invention.

The first invention that brought him international fame was the tin foil phonograph. The first machine that could record and reproduce sound was a sensation.Electric lighting was nothing new but Edison made it practical for home use. Edison’s eventual achievement was inventing not just an incandescent electric light, but also an electric lighting system that contained all the elements necessary to make the incandescent light practical, safe, and economical.

After one and a half years of work, success was achieved when an incandescent lamp with a filament of carbonized sewing thread burned for thirteen and a half hours. The first public demonstration of the Edison’s incandescent lighting system was in December 1879, when the Menlo Park laboratory complex was electrically lighted. Edison spent the next several years creating the electric industry. In September 1882, the first commercial power station, located on Pearl Street in lower Manhattan, went into operation providing light and power to customers in a one square mile area; the electric age had begun.

By the 1890s, Edison began to manufacture phonographs for both home, and business use. Like the electric light, Edison developed everything needed to have a phonograph work, including records to play, equipment to record the records, and equipment to manufacture the records and the machines. In the process of making the phonograph practical, Edison created the recording industry. It was a logical extension of the inventor’s mind to move on the working on a device that, “does for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear”, this was to become motion pictures. Edison first demonstrated motion pictures in 1891, and began commercial production of “movies” two years later.

Like the electric light and phonograph before it, Edison developed a complete system, developing everything needed to both film and show motion pictures. Edison’s initial work in motion pictures was pioneering and original. Its importance had caught on that by 1918 the industry had become so competitive forcing Edison to get out of the movie business all together.

Edison thought that electric propulsion was clearly the best method of powering cars, but realized that conventional lead-acid storage batteries were inadequate for the job. Edison began to develop an alkaline battery in 1899. It proved to be Edison’s most difficult project, taking ten years to develop a practical alkaline battery. By the time Edison introduced his new alkaline battery, the gasoline powered car had so improved that electric vehicles were becoming increasingly less common, being used mainly as delivery vehicles in cities. However, the Edison alkaline battery proved useful for lighting railway cars and signals, maritime buoys, and miners lamps. Unlike iron ore mining where he lost heavily the storage battery eventually became Edison’s most profitable product. Further, Edison’s work paved the way for the modern alkaline battery.

As age caught up with him Edison’s role in life began to change from inventor and industrialist to cultural icon, a symbol of American ingenuity.The last experimental work of Edison’s life was done at the request of Edison’s good friends Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone in the late 1920s.

 (ack:inventors.answers.com)

benny

 

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Pen Portraits- William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth(-1770-1850) Poet Laureate
William enjoyed hiking: during the “long” (i.e., summer) vacation of 1788 he tramped around Cumberland county;and two years later went on a walking tour of France, Switzerland, and Germany; and in 1791, he was back in France full of enthusiasm for a new world order which he saw was in the making of the French Revolution. The ardent idealist had an affair with a girl and left her and his child behind. He stayed put in England through convulsions of the Reign of Terror.
In 1794 he was reunited with his sister Dorothy, who became his companion, close friend, moral support, and housekeeper until her physical and mental decline in the 1830s. The next year he met Coleridge, and the three of them grew very close, the two men meeting daily in 1797-98 to talk about poetry and to plan Lyrical Ballads, which came out in 1798. The three friends travelled to Germany that fall, a trip that produced intellectual stimulation for Coleridge and homesickness for Wordsworth. After their return, William and Dorothy settled in his beloved Lake district, near Grasmere.

The Peace of Amiens in 1802 allowed Wordsworth and his sister to visit France again to see Annette and Caroline. They arrived at a mutually agreeable settlement, and a few months later, after receiving an inheritance owed by Lord Lonsdale since John Wordsworth’s death in 1783, William married Mary Hutchinson.
He parted with Coleridge in 1810 and on the home front was not free from tragedy- he lost two children in 1812. In 1813 Wordsworth received an appointment as Distributor of Stamps for Westmorland, and the £400 per year which went with this post made him financially secure.
Wordsworth’s literary career began with Descriptive Sketches (1793) and reached an early climax before the turn of the century, with Lyrical Ballads. His powers peaked with Poems in Two Volumes (1807), and his reputation continued to grow; even his harshest reviewers recognized his popularity and the originality. During his lifetime he refused to print The Prelude, which he had completed by 1805, because he thought it was unprecedented for a poet to talk as much about himself — unless he could put it in its proper setting.Inspiration gradually failed him for this project, and he spent much of his later life revising The Prelude. Critics quarrel about which version is better, the 1805 or the 1850, but agree that in either case it is the most successful blank verse epic since Paradise Lost.

Finally fully reconciled to Coleridge, the two of them toured the Rhineland in 1828. When Robert Southey died in 1843, Wordsworth was named Poet Laureate. He died in 1850, and his wife published the much-revised Prelude that summer.
(ack:William Wordsworth: Biography-Glenn Everett, Associate Professor of English, University of Tennessee at Martin/www.the Victorian Web)

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Pen Portraits- RL Stevenson
(1850-1894)
Beset for much of his life by ill health, it would have been excusable if Robert Louis Stevenson had retreated into imagination and lived his days in story and poem. He chose another route, travelling the Cévennes accompanied by a donkey, living in an abandoned mine in California with a divorcee 10 years older than him, and settling eventually with her in Samoa, where the locals christened him “Tusitala”, the teller of tales.

Stevenson had been born into smothering conformity. The rationalism and propriety of Edinburgh’s New Town were not to his liking, and he did not want to enter the family business of lighthouse engineer. Having qualified as a lawyer, he found his true self in writing, and proved a master of diverse forms such as poetry for children (A Child’s Garden of Verses), adventure stories for all ages (Treasure Island, Kidnapped) and chilling psychological horror (Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde). He trusted to reveries, saying “brownies” (spirits) had brought Jekyll and Hyde to him in a dream – albeit a dream affected by the experimental medication he was on at the time.

His most famous book owes a debt to a real-life Edinburgh character, William Brodie, who was gentleman by day and miscreant by night. The young Stevenson knew that a wardrobe in his bedroom had been crafted by Brodie. Bed-bound by childhood ailments, he had also peered down into the gardens below, imagining seas and islands and mysteries to be unravelled.(ack: RLS- My Hero/Ian Rankin-The Guardian of June,8.2012)
When one reads the nonfiction work of Robert Louis Stevenson along with the novels and short stories, a more complete portrait emerges of the author than that of the romantic vagabond one usually associates with his best-known fiction. The Stevenson of the nonfiction prose is a writer involved in the issues of his craft, his milieu, and his soul. Moreover, one can see the record of his maturation in critical essays, political tracts, biographies, and letters to family and friends. What Stevenson lacks, especially for the tastes of this age, is specificity and expertise: he has not the depth of such writers as John Ruskin, Walter Pater, or William Morris. But he was a shrewd observer of humankind, and his essays reveal his lively and perspicacious mind. Though he lacked originality, he created a rapport with the reader, who senses his enthusiastic embrace of life and art. If Stevenson at first wrote like one who only skimmed the surface of experience, by the end of his life he was passionately committed to his adopted land of Samoa, to his own history, and to the creation of his fiction.(www.people.brandeis.edu)
He died on Dec.3,1894

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