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Articles from the Blog

The King of the Jazz Age: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Life and Times

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Just like Mark Twain before him, F. Scott Fitzgerald both literally and symbolically defined an age in American history. While Twain coined “The Gilded Age” to describe late 19th-century America, Fitzgerald popularized “The Jazz Age” for the 1920s. Although Fitzgerald’s name is inextricably linked to that era of bootleggers, speakeasies, and flappers, his fiction is so much more than a historical relic. The lyricism of Fitzgerald’s prose and the profound themes his works explore have earned him a spot alongside greats like Henry James, Faulkner, and Hemingway. To get a better understanding of the man behind the greatest “Jazz Age” […]

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Five of the Most Influential German Authors [Infographic]

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Five of the Most Influential German Authors

Germany has produced some of the finest artistic and intellectual minds in the Western world. Here are just a few of the famous German geniuses to revolutionize the fields of music, philosophy, and science: Beethoven Bach Einstein Kant Perhaps there’s no better way for non-Germans to understand the German psyche than to read some of the finest books by the greatest German authors. Who are these authors, you may ask? Although there are hundreds of awe-inspiring artists to read from the canon of German literature, today we’ll take a look at five of the greatest German authors. Get a sneak […]

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Five of the Best French Authors

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From the Medieval poem La Chanson de Roland to the modern day author Michel Houellebecq, French authors have produced some of the most daring and influential works of European literature. But you don’t have to take our word for it. Indeed, France still holds the world record for the most Nobel Prizes for Literature. Not only does France produce great artistic minds, it attracts them too. As you probably know already, many of America’s finest authors “found their voice” in a Parisian café (e.g. Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, Ezra Pound). In this list, we’ll take a look at five of France’s greatest writers. All […]

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Henry David Thoreau: America’s Favorite Rebel

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The 19th century was a special time in American literature. Sometimes referred to as the American Renaissance, this era produced some of the finest American authors ever, including: Walt Whitman Herman Melville Emily Dickinson Edgar Allan Poe Nathanial Hawthorne One name that inescapably makes its way onto the lists of American canonical writers from this period is Henry David Thoreau. Famous for both his interesting lifestyle and his contemplative essays, Thoreau was a major critic of progress and technology and a strong supporter of individuality, political activism, and the natural world. In this article, we’ll explore why this Concord bachelor […]

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Virginia Woolf: England’s Modernist Master

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Along with James Joyce and William Faulkner, Virginia Woolf is considered one of the undisputed masters of “stream of consciousness” writing. Born in England in 1882, Woolf’s legacy far outlasted her short life, and her immense oeuvre continues to inspire artists, especially female writers, around the world. Photograph of Virginia Woolf, via Wikimedia Commons All of the greatest Virginia Woolf novels challenge how we think about the nature of human perception with their experimental prose and non-linear plots. Her work has also exerted and immense influence on feminist critics and historians who’ve worked hard to uncover an unbiased history of women in the Western […]

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Words Wednesday: Carlos Ruiz Zafón

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Carlos Ruiz Zafón quote, The Shadow of the Wind

This Carlos Ruiz Zafón quote comes from his 2001 novel The Shadow of the Wind. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón Originally written in Spanish, The Shadow of the Wind was translated into English by Lucia Graves in 2004. It has since been translated into more than 40 languages around the world. The novel is set in Barcelona in 1945, during the Spanish Civil War, and follows the life of a young boy named Daniel. The son of a book dealer, Daniel is taken to the secret Cemetery of Forgotten Books, where he chooses a mysterious book […]

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Il Sommo Poeta: Dante Alighieri’s Life and Times

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Life and Times of Dante Alighieri

Along with Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid, and Milton’s Paradise Lost, Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy is one of the indispensable epics in the Western Canon. Without a doubt, the Divine Comedy is the most important literary work produced during the so-called “Dark Ages.” But don’t think Dante’s work is just a historical curiosity that has no bearing on how we live nowadays. Dante’s words and images still have the power to profoundly move 21st century readers. Indeed, many Italians still call Dante “il Sommo Poeta” (which means “The Supreme Poet”) or simply “The Poet.” With an epithet like that, you […]

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Jane Austen: Great Britain’s Greatest Novelist

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The British novelist Jane Austen only published four novels during her brief lifetime. Despite the rather small oeuvre of Jane Austen novels (six major novels, including two posthumously published works), nobody doubts Austen’s status as one of the greatest writers in the English language. Portrait of Jane Austen, via Wikimedia Commons Indeed, Austen is one of those rare authors beloved by both critics and the general public. It might seem strange that people in our technophilic 21st century would be at all interested in Austen’s “novels of manners” set in Regency England. However, every time a new film based on […]

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Words Wednesday: John Steinbeck

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John Steinbeck quote from East of Eden

This John Steinbeck quote comes from his 1952 novel East of Eden. East of Eden by John Steinbeck Published in September 1952, East of Eden follows several generations of two families whose stories intertwine: the Trasks and the Hamiltons. Set in the Salinas Valley of Central California, the setting is as much a character as any person in the novel. The story begins on the ranch of Irish immigrants Samuel and Liza Hamilton. While their land is notoriously infertile, the nearby lands are lush and productive—and it’s these lands that purchased by the wealthy stranger Adam Trask. Adam moves to […]

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Words Wednesday: Viet Thanh Nguyen

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Viet Thanh Nguyen quote from The Sympathizer

For today’s Words Wednesday, we’re featuring a recent Viet Thanh Nguyen quote from his 2016 novel, The Sympathizer. The Sympathizer (2015) by Viet Thanh Nguyen Published in 2015, The Sympathizer is the debut novel of Viet Thanh Nguyen, a Vietnamese American professor of literature. The novel follows the story of an unnamed narrator who works as a North Vietnamese mole in the South Vietnamese army. After the fall of Saigon, the narrator is moved to Los Angeles, where he continues his spying work in the city’s close-knit Vietnamese community. Often called “a man of two minds,” the narrator struggles with this […]

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