The Muses Companion

The Muses Companion – April 24, 2024

Good day, readers. Today is April 24th, the 114th day of the year 2024, with 252 days remaining.

“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”

Voltaire

Today in Literary History:

On this day in 1800, the United States Library of Congress was established. Its founding aimed to provide a repository of knowledge and resources necessary for legislation but has since become a treasure trove of America’s cultural and historical legacies, including an invaluable collection of books, manuscripts, and maps.

Notable Birthdays:

  • Robert Penn Warren (April 24, 1905-September 15, 1989), the first Poet Laureate of the United States and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, was born on this day in Guthrie, Kentucky. His works, including the novel All the King’s Men, poignantly explore the profound and often troubling intricacies of power, politics, and identity.
  • Anthony Trollope (April 24, 1815-December 6, 1882), one of the most successful, prolific and respected English novelists of the Victorian era, was also born today. Known for his keen observations of the British class system, Trollope’s series, particularly the Chronicles of Barsetshire and the Palliser novels, delve into the lives of both aristocrats and commoners with wit and humanity.

Today’s Readings:

From Middlemarch by George Eliot:
“For there is no creature whose inward being is so strong that it is not greatly determined by what lies outside it.”

Literary Fact of the Day:

On this day in 1967, Vladimir Nabokov, a Russian-American novelist and entomologist, delivered his final lecture at Cornell University. Nabokov’s lectures were noted for their precision and insight, particularly his analysis of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. His legacy continues to influence writers and scholars through his intricate novels and essays.

Reflection:

As we traverse the latter days of April, the crisp air tinged with the scent of blooming flora serves as a reminder of the cyclic nature of life and literature. Today, let us draw inspiration from the foundation of the Library of Congress, reflecting on the enduring power of words to preserve, educate, and transform societies.

Poem of the Day:

“To My Books” by Caroline Norton:

As one who, destined from his friends to part,
Regrets his loss, yet hopes again erewhile
To share their converse and enjoy their smile,
And tempers as he may affliction’s dart;

Thus, loved associates, chiefs of elder art,
Teachers of wisdom, who could once beguile
My tedious hours, and lighten every toil,
I now resign you; nor with fainting heart;

Advice for Writers:

In the spirit of Robert Penn Warren, remember that every character you create and every scene you set is a mirror reflecting back not just a story, but also the truths you wish to explore about the human condition. Literature, at its core, is about understanding and expressing the complexities of life.

Have an enriching and thoughtful day, dear readers. Until tomorrow, may your musings be deep and your readings delightful.

2 Comments

  • Christopher

    It’s intriguing to me that while Nabokov was teaching and writing literature he also contributed to the scientific study of butterflies, collecting specimens on long road trips. Art and science aren’t separate disciplines; each informs the other.

    • Thomas Slatin

      I agree! The interconnections between various scientific disciplines frequently manifest in surprising and underappreciated ways. These overlaps not only enhance our understanding of each field, but also enrich our comprehension of the world as a whole, revealing a rich understanding of the world that defies traditional academic boundaries.

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