- Mark Twain
Mark Twain here again:
In 1056 on this date,
a supernova in the Crab Nebula fades from the sight of the naked eye and folks began predicting dire consequences --
and weathermen have been spinning tales ever since.
In 1616, brave Miguel de Cervantes died in Madrid on this date.
Not so brave Adolf Hitler sees Soviet forces close in Berlin on this date in 1945
and admits defeat to his inner circle, saying suicide is his only recourse ---
In Roland's GHOST OF A CHANCE you find out the truth of the matter.
Seeing as how I was a newspaper man for decades, I like Rebecca West's definition of Journalism
she wrote in the New York Herald Tribune on this date in 1956:
"An ability to meet the challenge of filling the space."
Old Vladimir Nabokov was born on this day in 1899
(or tomorrow, depending on how you heathens convert leap year days from the old to the modern Russian calendar).
Below, a passage from his memoir Speak, Memory:
"I confess I do not believe in time. I like to fold my magic carpet, after use, in such a way as to superimpose one part of the pattern upon another.
A thrill of gratitude to whom it may concern -- to the contrapuntal genius of human fate or to tender ghosts humoring a lucky mortal."
As for those of you wondering what author I would pick for the letter S:
1. An early draft of John Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men was eaten by his dog.
It was Max, one of several dogs Steinbeck owned during his life, who devoured the novel’s draft and so became, in effect, the book’s first critic.
Which is why I, Mark Twain, always preferred cats. You never saw any of them eating my manuscripts!
This is probably Steinbeck’s most famous novel, and draws on his own experiences as a ‘bindlestiff’ (or migratory worker) in the US in the 1920s.
The novel’s title famously comes from the Robert Burns poem ‘To a Mouse’:
‘The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley’ (or ‘go often awry’).
2. He wrote one of the finest love letters in all of literature – a letter about falling in love.
In this letter of 1958, Steinbeck responds to a letter his son Thom had written to him.
Thom had told his father that he had fallen desperately in love with a girl named Susan
(at this time, Thom was away at boarding school).
Steinbeck’s tone is supportive and honest throughout, taking his son’s feelings into account but also offering advice on ‘what to do about it’ –
surely what every teenager in the first pangs of a love affair wants to know. ‘
The object of love is the best and most beautiful,’ he tells Thom. ‘Try to live up to it.’
He ends the letter by assuring his son,
‘And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens – The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.’
You can read the letter in full here.