A good novel supersedes reality and takes us into a different world. One which is not always positive, but when finished gives us a new outlook on life. This world is more often not a product of the circumstances, but the situations that the author has found himself in. Thus, a look into a book is a look into the life of a great thinker.
Great novelists are one in a million, and the birth of one should always be a cause for celebration. Thus, we bring to you a tribute to some of the truly great authors born in the month of Quintulus.
One of the widest read and best remembered novelists of the 20th century, Hemingway in earnest never conformed to the stereotypical image of a writer. Born on the 21st of July, 1889 he was a man of few words and much action. His image has made him a cult icon.
Starting out originally as a journalist, he published his first novel after he moved to Paris to work as a reporter. His best known works are ‘The Sun Also Rises’, ‘A Farewell to Arms’, ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’, and ‘The Old Man and the Sea’. The latter earned him a Pulitzer Prize in 1953. In Paris, he became part of the “Lost generation” of writers mentored by Gertrude Stein and worked alongside Fitzgerald, Pound and James Joyce and even legendary painter Pablo Picasso.
The man and his many interests:
When not writing, he enjoyed hunting, fishing and boxing. Interestingly enough, his tough guy image got him into many a brawl alongside James Joyce when he resided in Paris. On a safari in Africa in 1952, he suffered two near death experiences that left him in much discomfort for the rest of his life. New facts have uncovered the fact that he was also a spy for Moscow in the 40’s.
His maverick attitude has had a large impact on his writing. With an innate simplicity in his novels, the lead characters are usually steely armed realists.
“A writer’s style should be direct and personal, his imagery rich and earthy, and his words simple and vigorous.”
Hemingway’s works depart from past trends of literature, and are thus, best described in the twentieth century term, “hard boiled.” Uncompromising, non-diplomatic and at some points downright rude, the failed KGB spy’s prior journalistic training is evident in all his works.
Death and legacy:
Ironically, Hemingway died through suicide in 1961, after suffering from the injuries caused by his plane crash in Africa in 1952.
Hemingway was revered by his contemporaries, and is till date remembered as one of the two great American authors of the 20th century such apart from William Faulkner.
“Mr Hemingway does it extremely well. Nothing matters. Everything happens. One wants to keep oneself loose. Avoid one thing only: getting connected up. Don’t get connected up. If you get held by anything, break it. Don’t be held. Break it, and get away.”
– D.H. Lawrence on Hemingway
“Ernest Hemingway. In his own way, sort of the rock star of his time.”
– Kami Garcia on Hemingway
Pablo Neruda was a man of many professions, but probably best remembered as one of greatest poets of his time.
Career beginnings: Born on the 12th of July, 1904 in Basoalto, Chile as Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, Neruda took his pen name as a teenager, inspired by Czech writer Jan Neruda. His interest in writing became evident at an early age, however, his father did not approve of this interest. He published his first essay titled, ‘Enthusiasm and Perseverance’ at age 13. His writing only flourished when he commenced the study of French at the University of Chile in Santiago at the age of 16.
With the publication of ’20 Love Poems and A Song of Despair’, Pablo Neruda at the age of 19 had established himself as an international writer of note.
While his novels gathered much acclaim, the Chilean writer faced severe poverty and hardship. This financial hardship forced him to take up a job, which ultimately led him to a very successful career as a diplomat.
The man and his many interests: Ideologically, the Chilean was deeply influenced by Marxism and many of his works such as “Canto a Stalingrado” (1942) and “Nuevo canto de amor a Stalingrado” (1943) embody his views and ideals. His position as a staunch left-wing radical led to many subsequent events in his life such as becoming the “Communist Senator” of several provinces as well as his exile from Chile.
In 1971, he won the Nobel Prize on his second nomination, losing the first to Jean-Paul Sartre. Many argue that the reason he was not able to win it the first time was due to intense lobbying and defamation tactics being utilized by the United States, who were against him as a moral authority in the Communist World.
Writing Style: Neruda’s poetry was rich, expressive and emotional. His love poems are some of the most touching poems in the history of literature.
“Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
Write for example, “The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.”
The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her,
And sometimes she loved me too.”
– An excerpt from ‘Tonight I can write’.
He, however, also wrote on general issues that he had views on. This poetry had a generally darker tone to it. An analyses of his poetry reveals an extremely passionate man, who had a deep and dark past but longed for better times and situations in the future.
Death and legacy:
“If nothing should save us from death, then at least love should save us from life.”
Pablo Neruda passed away in 1973, with the official reason declared being prostate cancer. However, keeping his revolutionary ideas and the simultaneous rise of the dictator Augusto Pinochet in mind, many propound a conspiracy theory that he was in fact, poisoned.
His works, however live on, and can be appreciated more today than at the time. Encouraged by future Nobel laureate Gabriela Mistral, his talent was true, however he rarely had most of the essential conditions required to write. As we look back on the nature of his nomadic existence characterised, the same is reflected in his book.
Mark Strand of the New Yorker brilliantly encapsulates this,
“Many of his poems reflect the shifting conditions under which he lived, and have at heart a longing for fixity, whether of place or of idea.”
‘We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already. We have the power to imagine better.’
JK Rowling is an example of what a person can do with their life, granted they have the will and determination to succeed. Born on the 31st of July 1965, she had to go through , depression, failure and poverty before ultimately making a success out of her life.
Career beginnings and life before her fame:
“Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.”
JK Rowling was always interested in writing, and by the age of 9, she wrote fantasy stories. She graduated from the University of Exeter with a degree in French and literature. It was only after this, when she was working for AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL that she conceived the idea for writing the Harry Potter series.
After starting work on the Harry Potter books, Rowling moved to Portugal where she taught English. Here she met Jorge Arantes, whom she married and had a child. This did not however end well and she moved back to the UK, where she filed for divorce from Arantes.
After moving back, Rowling suffered from depression as she saw herself as a failure. Living in relative poverty, Rowling applied for state welfare. Around this time, with her young child she used to sit in cafés and write what is now known as ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’.
In 1995, she finished her book and it was published by Bloomsbury Publishers of London. Scholastic Inc. bought the rights to publish the book in the United States for an excess of $100,000 and since then there has been no looking back.
Writing Style: Rowling has heavily used influences in her own life in the Harry Potter series, most notably the loss of her mother. She was writing the first installment when her mother passed away, and she used this experience of loss to elaborate on Harry’s feelings of the same in the book.
‘Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’
– Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter
Her battle with depression gave rise to the character of dementors, who would suck the happiness and soul out of a person.
Rowling has also embarked on other projects. Her book, ‘The Casual Vacancy’ which based itself on more mature themes such as drugs, sex, politics and other such issues was one of the best-selling novels on 2012. She is also currently working on a new series of children’s books. She has also written titles under the pen name of Robert Gailbraith.
Having suffered from poverty herself, she has also taken a stand against poverty. She helped raise funds for the UK anti-poverty charity by writing booklets that later raised 15.7 million pounds for the organisation. In fact, she has donated so much money to charity that it cost her a place on the Forbes Billionaires List.
Her philanthropic work does not end here. She is also president of the charity for single parents “Gingerbread Families”, and has donated large sums for the research and treatment of multiple sclerosis, the communication disorder from which her mother suffered.
Critics have had mixed reviews regarding the authors work, with some praising her creative drive while others brand it immature, and non-literary. Therefore, it can be said that her work splits opinion.
“How to read “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”? Why, very quickly, to begin with, and perhaps also to make an end. Why read it? Presumably, if you cannot be persuaded to read anything better, Rowling will have to do.”
– Harold Bloom on Harry Potter.
“The Harry Potter series is literature, in spite of what some people might say. The way J.K. Rowling worked that world out is quite something.”
– Gary Oldman
JK Rowling, despite all her critics, is one of our favourite authors. Its not just that she writes great books, or the fact that the film adaptations of her books have earned $7.7 million, its her overall personality.
Having suffered from poverty, and having been a single parent she has not turned her back on the cause.
As she continues to do what she loves, we are sure that her new play, ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ will be just as entertaining and successful as every one of the endeavors she has undertaken as a writer.
Other notable writers born in July :
Herman Hesse: July 2nd, 1877
Franz Kafka: July 3rd, 1883
Alexandre Dumas: July 24th, 1802
Bernard Shaw: July 26th, 1856
Emily Bronte: July 30, 1818