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Friday, May 02, 2014

A Meme For May 3!

Looking for literary things that happened on May 3 I found some Pulitzer Prizes, a famous war poem and a number of other things that weren't literary but looked interesting anyway.
I couldn't find many birthdays that interested me and no festivals or anniversaries that were of interest, so here's what I did find, mostly in HistoryOrb and Wikipedia.


 1374 BCE: Solar eclipse seen at Ugarit by Mesopotamian astromoners "On the day of the new moon, in the month of Hiyar, the Sun was put to shame, and went down in the daytime, with Mars in attendance." I don't imagine the Mesopotamians called it Mars, but still... Nice that we can find out things that happened so very long ago!

1915: Classic war poem, "In Flanders Fields" written by Canadian poet John McCrae, the one beginning,"In Flanders fields the poppies blow..." It was a poem written by the author, a doctor, while sitting in an ambulance the day after a close friend had died at the second battle of Ypres. The poem was used as propaganda for some time - sad, but not anti-war(this was early in the piece)and, while poppies have been associated with war for some time, it was this one that inspired all those red poppies for sale around Remembrance Day.

1937:  Margaret Mitchell wins the Pulitzer Prize for Gone With The Wind. Not my favourite novel, as I have mentioned before, but undoubtedly a classic.

1948: The Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Tennessee Williams, for  his play A Streetcar Named Desire, which has been performed and filmed and imitated and become a part of our cultureand to James A Michener for Tales Of The South Pacific, a collection which included a short story that became the musical South Pacific. I have read some of his thicker novels and enjoyed them very much; Geraldine Brooks's People Of The Book reminds me of Michener's The Source, which also had a lot of stories from history, centred around objects found during a framing story. 

1953 Westchester conference of the ALA proclaims "Freedom To Read" - this was about censorship, so I think it very much about books and reading.

1978 - The very first spam email sent! The Internet was very small in those days; it was sent out on something known as ARPANET by some marketing executive. It's thanks to this that you now get all those Nigerian scam emails, prizes for lotteries you never entered, bank emails from banks you don't have any money in asking for your login details and offers of cheap Viagra. Remember May 3.


1415: Cecily Neville, mother of Richard III, subject of so much fiction, and her daughter Margaret(1446). The poor woman outlived many of her children and would have been around long enough to hear the first Tudor propaganda about her youngest son. Still, she would have been a great grandmother by then, by her granddaughter Elizabeth of York, even if that awful man Henry Tudor was their father.

1469: Niccolo Machiavelli, author of The Prince, after whom we have the term "Machiavellian" for anything sneaky and sly. I read this book for European History at university and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to read. Must have been a good translation, but still, it's a slim volume and a lot of it is likely to be somebody's introduction, which you can skip if you want. Read it if you're curious about where the term comes from and what he actually said as opposed to what people think he said.

So, anyone else got some May 3 stories I might have missed?

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