The Muses Companion

The Muses Companion – January 12, 2024

Good day, readers. Today is January 12th, the 12th day of the year 2024, with 354 days remaining.

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.

Edgar Degas

Today in Literary History:

On this day in 1628, Charles Perrault, a French author and member of the Académie Française, was born. He laid the foundations for a new literary genre, the fairy tale, with tales like “Cinderella,” “Sleeping Beauty,” and “Little Red Riding Hood.” His works have shaped children’s literature and continue to influence modern storytelling and cinema.

Notable Birthdays:

Jack London (January 12, 1876 – November 22, 1916), an American novelist, journalist, and social activist, was born on this day. London’s adventure-filled stories, such as The Call of the Wild and White Fang, explore themes of survival, nature, and humanity in the context of the American frontier and have inspired readers worldwide.

Today’s Readings:

From The Call of the Wild by Jack London: “He had learned well the law of club and fang, and he met it with all the latent cunning of his nature and the acquired knowledge of experience.”

Literary Fact of the Day:

On January 12, 1908, a long-lost play by William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Won, was reported to have been found by a professor in Spain. However, the claim was later debunked as a hoax. This episode serves as a fascinating footnote in literary history, reflecting the ongoing mystery and excitement surrounding Shakespeare’s works.

Poem of the Day:

“Musée des Beaux Arts” by W.H. Auden:

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

This poem poignantly illustrates the indifference of the world to individual human suffering through the lens of paintings by the Old Masters, suggesting a deep and abiding disconnect between personal tragedies and the ongoing march of everyday life.

Advice for Writers:

Inspired by Charles Perrault’s ability to transform traditional folk tales into literary classics, consider how you can take familiar stories or themes and reinvent them for contemporary audiences. Adapting classic narratives can connect historical perspectives with modern concerns, resonating across generations.

Have a reflective and creative day, dear readers. Until tomorrow, may your insights deepen and your expressions inspire.

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