Monday, July 30, 2012

Vasari wrote first Renaissance artist bios

Giorgio Vasari
It is the birthday of Italian Renaissance historian Giorgio Vasari (1511), who was a successful architect and painter but whose most significant contribution may be the biographies of Renaissance artists he wrote. Much of what we know about Leonardo da Vinci, for instance, started with Vasari's account.

Vasari grew up in Tuscany and studied in Florence as a teenager. He also studied in Rome, and worked in Naples and other places. His work as as architect can still be seen in Florence, where passageways he envisioned and built still bear his name, and churches still serve as testament to his talent.

Pope Pius V commissioned his painting titled The Adoration of the Magi (1567) for a church in a small town in northern Italy. The painting was recently restored and displayed in Rome and Naples and will eventually be returned to Santa Croce in Bosco Marengo, the pope's hometown.

But it is as an art historian that Vasari is best remembered. He was the first to create an encyclopedia of artists. He was the first to use the word "renaissance" in print, though others were certainly talking about the phenomenon as it was taking place.

However, Vasari was a bit parochial in his work, titled Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (1550). Scholars have noted a decided bias toward artists working in Florence, to the point of ignoring those in Venice and elsewhere. He did include artists working in Rome, perhaps because he had worked in Rome as well. As for artists working in other parts of Europe, forget about. They apparently didn't exist as far as Vasari was concerned.

The book was enlarged and partly rewritten in 1568, and woodcut portraits of the artists were added, including some from Venice after Vasari visited there. Still, the second edition remained largely biased toward Florentine artists.

Nevertheless, scholars and art historians, even today, still consider Vasari's book an important work, and many have used it as a primary source in their own studies of certain artists. In any case, it is hailed as  "the most influential single text for the history of Renaissance art." It served as a model for encyclopedias of artists. Furthermore, it gave great insight into the technical aspects of painting, sculpture, and architecture during the Italian Renaissance.

Among the more than 180 artists included in the work are Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Taddeo Gaddi, Raphael, Correggio, and Alfonso Lombardi. Giorgio Vasari also included a biography of himself, lest anyone forget him.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Malcolm Lowry wrote Under the Volcano

Malcolm Lowry
It is the birthday of English writer Malcolm Lowry (1909), whose novel Under the Volcano (1947) is considered one of the best novels of the 20th century.

It is the story of an alcoholic British consul who is stationed in a small town south of Mexico City in 1938. The story takes place on November 2, the traditional Mexican called Day of the Dead or All Souls' Day. It is based on Lowry's experience in the Mexican town of Cuernavaca on the same day in 1936. Lowry, who was a heavy drinker, went there with this first wife in an attempt to save their marriage. The attempt failed.

The book was rejected by many publishers before it was finally accepted in the United States and Britain. The British publisher wanted substantial cuts but Lowry refused to make them, explaining in great detail in a letter from Mexico why the book should remain intact. Lowry prevailed and the book was initially well received and continued through several editions.

John Huston directed a film adaptation of the book in 1984. Albert Finney was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor for his role as the consul. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Happy birthday, Hilaire Belloc

It is the birthday of English writer Hilaire Belloc (1870), who was one of the most prolific writers of the early 20th century and is considered, along with G.K. Chesterton, George Bernard Shaw, and H.G. Wells, among the Big Four of Edwardian letters. Except for a brief stint as an editor, Belloc made his living writing. An admirer once asked him why he wrote so much. He replied, "Because my children are howling for pearls and caviar." Belloc may be best remembered for his humorous poetry. His Cautionary Tales for Children (1907) was decidedly not for children. Here is a reading of one of his best known poems.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World

Aldous Huxley
It is the birthday of English writer Aldous Huxley (1894), whose science fiction novel Brave New World (1932) is considered among the best English-language novels of the 20th century.

The book predicted the loss of individual identity in a world of mass production. Huxley wrote it partly as a parody of H.G. Wells' A Modern Utopia (1905) and his Men Like Gods (1923), books that presented an upbeat vision of the future. Huxley took a dim view of what was to come. When it was published, Brave New World was widely panned by critics but has since come into favor in literary circles.

Huxley came from a family of overachievers. His father was an educator and writer. His grandfather was a prominent biologist and such a staunch advocate of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution that he earned the appellation "Darwin's Bulldog." His brother and half brother were also biologists.

Huxley first trained in his father's botanical lab and was taught by his mother until she died. Then he went to Eton College and later Oxford. He was exempted from military duty during World War I because of an illness that left him mostly blind, though in later years he recovered most of his eyesight.

He taught French at Eton for a year and proved to be a terrible teacher, unable to maintain discipline in his classes. Among his students was Eric Blair, who later became George Orwell. He eventually started writing and wrote several novels and many magazine articles. He was a regular contributor to Vanity Fair.

Huxley moved to Hollywood in 1937 and lived there until his death in 1963, though he lived for a brief time in Taos, New Mexico. He wrote Ends and Means (1937), a collection of essays on ethics, nationalism, religion, and war. He was a vocal pacifist.

 He tried writing for the movies, completing a screenplay for Madame Curie for MGM and contributing to the studio's 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice. He also worked on the 1943 production of Jane Eyre for 20th Century Fox. But his leisurely style didn't fit energetic Hollywood.

He later became interested in spiritualism and psychedelic drugs. He became associated with Swami Prabhavananda in Hollywood and became active with the Vedanta Society of Southern California. He wrote extensively for the organization.

Huxley died on the same day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Author C.S. Lewis also died that day. Christian theology writer Peter Kreeft was inspired by those events to write the novel Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley (1982), in which the three men discuss Jesus from different points of view.

Brave New World was adapted as a TV movie in 1998.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Protagonist loved books more than people

Elias Canetti
It is the birthday of Bulgarian writer Elias Canetti (1905), who won the 1981 Nobel Prize in Literature. He is best known for his Crowds and Power (1960), a study of the dynamics of packs and crowds. His best known novel is Auto-da-Fé (1935), a book about a man who was more interested in books than people.

Canetti was born in a Bulgarian town on the Danube River to a Jewish family with roots in Spain and founders of Ruse,  a Jewish enclave in Bulgaria. His mother's family had been in the region from the late 18th century. His father was a successful merchant.

The family moved to England in 1911, his father died suddenly in 1912, and the family moved to Switzerland and then to Vienna, where he grew up. He learned German (and wrote in that language) but also spoke Bulgarian, English, and French.

Canetti was also known for his writing about life in Vienna before Germany annexed Austria in 1938.

But his modernist novel Auto-da-Fé brought him wider acclaim when it was translated into English in 1946, and his Crowds and Power (translated in 1962), a nonfiction book written in a highly poetic style, gained him worldwide attention.

Auto-da-Fé tells the story of a man who studied linguistics and history with an emphasis on China, and was so absorbed in his studies that he grew to fear physical contacts and social interaction. He valued his books more than he valued people.

"Books, even bad ones, tempted him easily into making a purchase," writes Canetti. "Fortunately, the great number of  book shops did not open until after eight o'clock."

The man married his housekeeper, thinking she could help him protect his books, but the relationship deteriorated within days and the wife threw her husband out of their apartment. Disconnected from his books, the man sank into despair.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Benét won Pulitzer for Civil War poem

Stephen Vincent Benét
It is the birthday of writer Stephen Vincent Benét (1898), who received a Pulitzer Prize for John Brown's Body (1928), a book-length narrative poem about the Civil War, and a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for Western Star, a narrative poem on the settling of the United States that he never finished.

Benét is also known for his short stories, The Devil and Daniel Webster (1936), a fantasy in which the famous lawyer defends a man who has sold his soul to the Devil, and By the Waters of Babylon (1937), a futuristic story set in a time after the destruction of industrial civilization.

Benét's grandfather was born in St. Augustine of Minorcan parents. Benét wrote of 18th century Florida of his ancestors in Spanish Bayonet (1926). His short story The Sobbin' Women was based on the classical Roman tale of the Sabine Women who were abducted by Roman men to be their wives. An adaptation of Benét's story became the movie musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Tyrone Power, Judith Anderson and Raymond Massey starred in a dramatic reading of his play John Brown's Body on Broadway in 1953. Charles Laughton directed.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Happy birthday, Papa!

In honor of Ernest Hemingway's birthday, here's a link to a collection of stories from The New York Times. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Thackeray satirized English aristocracy

William Makepeace Thackeray
It is the birthday of English satirist William Makepeace Thackeray (1811), whose satirical novels Vanity Fair and The Luck of Barry Lyndon brought him fame and fortune. At the height of his popularity, he was considered second only to Charles Dickens in writing talent. Though he receives less attention today, Vanity Fair remains on many college reading lists.

Both books poke fun at the English aristocracy in the 19th century, and both have been adapted for film several times in the 20th century. It was the English aristocracy who were most intrigued by Thackeray's work, a factor that some critics say led to his losing that sharp wit in his later works. Thackeray was the toast of English society and often sought as a speaker.

Thackeray was born in Calcutta to a writer for the East India Company and the daughter of a writer for the East India Company. He was sent back to England at the age of four for education. He did not like the boarding schools he attended and satirized them in some of his writings. He attended Trinity College, Cambridge but didn't graduate, choosing instead to travel in Europe. When he returned to England, he tried studying law but quit that as well.

At age 21 he received an inheritance but frittered much of it away gambling and investing in two newspapers that eventually failed. He also lost considerable sums when two Indian banks failed. Forced to work for a living, Thackeray turned to writing. Most of his work was published by Fraser's Magazine. Vanity Fair and The Luck of Barry Lyndon were both serialized in the publication.

Vanity Fair, which concerns the exploits of  Becky Sharp, a scheming social climber who manipulates those around her to achieve financial security and position, drew praise from critics during Thackeray's lifetime. He made two trips to America, where he was well received. The story has been adapted for movies, television and radio for generations, most recently as a 2004 film starring Reese Witherspoon.

The Luck of Barry Lyndon tells the story of an impoverished Irish gentleman who tries to become a member of the English aristocracy. After a series of hilarious misfortunes in Europe, he stumbles into a favorable marriage and remakes himself into a fashionable country squire, only to later be ruined again. Director Stanley Kubrick adapted the book into a film in 1975.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Another installment of P.D.Q. Bach

It is the birthday of Peter Schickele (1935), who brought the world P.D.Q. Bach. Enjoy his take on popularizing classical music by turning it into a sports event.

Monday, July 16, 2012

P.D.Q. Bach! You remember him, right?

Tomorrow is the birthday of parodist Peter Schickele (1935), who created the fictional composer P.D.Q. Bach, a parody of members of the Bach family, whom Schickele called the "only forgotten son" of the Bach family. Seems to be as good an excuse as any to post this hilarious piece.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Happy 100th birthday, Woody Guthrie

It is the 100th birthday of folksinger Woody Guthrie (1912), who is remembered not only for his most famous song, This Land Is Your Land, but also for his great body of folk music and his profound influence on such song writers as Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp, not to mention his own son, folksinger Arlo Guthrie. Here is a collection of songs by Guthrie recorded by folklorist Alan Lomax. Click on through to YouTube to hear whole collection. Enjoy!

Friday, July 13, 2012

John Clare, English peasant poet

John Clare
It is the birthday of English peasant poet John Clare (1793), who wrote his most famous poem, I Am, in an insane asylum near the end of his life after struggling with mental illness for many years.

Clare's work celebrates the English countryside and laments the changes to it that occurred during the Industrial Revolution/Agricultural Revolution, when common land was fenced in, pastures were plowed and forests were cut. Clare delighted in nature and rural life, and such changes were distressing to him.

Clare grew up in a working-class family in Northamptonshire north of London, and worked in the fields as a child. He was educated in a church school until he was 12 years old, then worked in a tavern and later as a gardener in a 16th century country house. He served in the militia, lived with the gypsies, worked at a ceramic kiln, and lived on relief.

He wrote sonnets and poems in his off time, and when his parents faced eviction from their home, he tried to sell his poems to local bookseller to help them. The bookseller's cousin was a publisher and produced Clare's first book, Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery (1820), when he was 27 years old.

His former employer at the country house provided an annuity, and over the years various friends and patrons in London pooled resources to help him but in the end his was in poor health and suffered bouts of anxiety, stress, and depression. At the suggestion of friends, he admitted himself to a private asylum for a time and seemed to improve. But eventually he left, and lived at home for a few months.

His wife called in doctors as he showed signs of delusions and he was admitted to an asylum in Northampton, where he wrote his most famous poem, I Am.

He was virtually forgotten in the 18th century but scholars began to take interest in the early 20th century, and by the 1940s some of his work was being set to music by composer Benjamin Britten. Interest in England's greatest labor-class poet continues to grow.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Happy birthday, Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau
It is the birthday of writer Henry David Thoreau (1817), who is most famous for building a small hut in the woods on borrowed property, living in it for two years, studying himself and nature, and writing what he learned. His book became Walden; on Life in the Woods (1854).

Thoreau's treatise on self-sufficiency, simple living and personal independence wasn't particularly well received in his lifetime, though his popularity has increased in recent decades. Poet John Greenleaf Whittier sniffed that he seemed to want mankind to lower himself to the level of a woodchuck and walk on four legs. Nathaniel Hawthorne thought it hideous that Thoreau didn't have a regular job and wanted to live like an Indian among civilized men. Robert Louis Stevenson found his desire to live apart from society unmanly.

George Eliot, also a contemporary, was critical of Thoreau's critics, charging that they were narrow minded and lacked imagination. Later writers admired him. Poet Robert Frost said Walden surpassed all American writing. John Updike, noting his popularity among the back-to-naturists, preservationists and anti-government, anti-business contingents, called Thoreau "so perfect a crank and hermit saint."

Though he specifically said he did not advocate anarchy, his writing suggesting the best government was no government led famous anarchist Emma Goldman to write that Thoreau was "the greatest American anarchist." Indeed, Thoreau wrote: "That government is best which governs not at all; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government they will have."

Thoreau's disposition toward civil disobedience is well known. Opposed to the Mexican-American War and slavery, he refused to pay his poll tax for six years, and was jailed because of it. He left jail reluctantly when he aunt paid his taxes.

In his two-year, two-month and two-day experiment, Thoreau lived on land owned by poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, in whose home he had lived, serving as editorial assistant, tutor for Emerson's children, gardener and all-round handyman. Emerson served as a mentor, encouraging Thoreau to write and to keep a journal. He did, and produced Walden.

"I went to the woods," Thoreau wrote in Walden, "because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what I had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

E.B. White co-wrote writing guide

E.B. White
It is the birthday of writer E.B. White (1899), who is best remembered for being co-author of The Elements of Style, the well known English language style guide also known as Strunk and White, and for his children's books, and Stuart Little (1945) and Charlotte's Web (1952).

White joined the staff of The New Yorker in 1925, and was a contributor for about 60 years. He married the magazine's literary editor, Katharine Angell, and they had a farm in Maine. White was a quiet man who avoided meeting new visitors to his office by exiting down the fire escape.

The Elements of Style was first written by William Strunk, Jr. , White's English professor at Cornell University, and published in 1918. It was a short, concise list of words often misspelled, expressions often misused and rules for writing proper English. White had used it when he was in school but by 1957, when he was at The New Yorker, he had forgotten about it. That's when it came across it and wrote a feature story about his old professor's devotion to clear, concise writing.

White was commissioned by Macmillian and Company to revise the Strunk's book. He modernized and expanded it with an introduction about Strunk and a final chapter, An Approach to Style, as a broader guide to clear writing. It was published in 1959 and sold two million copies. Since then it has been revised several times and new editions have been published, including an illustrated edition in 2005. More than 10 million copies of the various editions have been sold.

White wrote Stuart Little for his niece. It is the story of a mouse that is born to human parents and their adventures and misadventures. White said the idea for the story came to him in a railway sleeping car when he dreamed about a tiny boy who acted like a mouse.

Charlotte's Web, about a barn spider and her relationship with a pig whom she saves from slaughter, has become a favorite in classic children's literature. It was adapted as an animated feature and a live action film.

White received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal for Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little. He won an honorary Pulitzer Prize for his body of work, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Happy birthday, Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust
It is the birthday of French novelist Marcel Proust (1871), whose seven-volume Remembrance of Things Past (published 1813 to 1827) is considered his masterpiece.

It is an ambitious work, including some 3,200 pages and almost 1.5 million words. There are 2,000 characters in the book. Critics call it one of the greatest works of the 20th century. It is certainly one of the longest.

It is narrated by a young man who wants to become a writer (surely Proust himself), and includes his observations on life in Paris in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Critics say it is not exactly a biography, for many of the incidents have been fictionalized or enhanced for literary effect. It does, however, mirror Proust's life in many ways.

Proust wrote articles for magazines and maintained a regular column in a Paris newspaper about Parisian aristocracy. He also volunteered at the Mazarine Public Library in Paris as a ploy to keep from having to get a real career as his father wished. Proust never really worked at the library. Instead he got an extended leave of absence that allowed him time to write.

Most notable about Proust's novel is the involuntary memory theme, in which everyday activities trigger recollections of events of the past. An aroma or a taste or the sight of a certain object might bring back thoughts of an earlier time. Famously, the book contains what is known as the episode of the madeleine, in which a sponge cake dipped into herbal tea produced a memory for the writer. Proust uses this involuntary memory device throughout the book.

The author published the first volume himself after being rejected by numerous publishers. Subsequent volumes were published by his original printer. With the success of the first volume, one of the publishers to whom he had submitted his book offered to publish the rest but Proust elected to stay with his original printer, at least until the company shut down at the beginning of World War I.

Only four volumes were printed in Proust's lifetime. His brother, Robert, published the other three volumes after Marcel's death in 1922. The book has been translated into English numerous times under the title In Search of Lost Time, most recently in Britain in 2002. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Ann Radcliffe perfected Gothic novels

Ann Radcliffe
It is the birthday of English writer Ann Radcliffe (1764), who is credited with perfecting the Gothic novel with vivid descriptions of settings, supernatural elements and a well reasoned explanation at the end of all the strange events in the story.

Radcliffe is said to have been a beautiful woman but very private. Little is known of the details of her life. Scholars say her husband was the editor and co-owner of a newspaper. It is said that he often worked late and that she occupied herself with her writing, which she read to him when he came home.

She wrote only six novels:

The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne (1789). A novel of intrigue among Scottish nobility set in ruined medieval castles along the rugged Scottish coastline. The castles themselves are key elements in the story.

A Sicilian Romance (1790). A monk relates the story of a doomed aristocratic Italian family and its shameful secrets. But all ends happily.

The Romance of the Forest (1791). A Frenchman and his wife and two servants flee his creditors in Paris and end up in a ruined abbey with a beautiful young woman and, later, the couple's son. Terrifying events occur, a great secret is revealed and all is right in the end. This was Radcliffe's first popular novel, and established her reputation. She and her husband traveled extensively on the earnings from her writing.

The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794). Set in the mountains of southern France and northern italy, this is the story of a young French woman whose father dies, her trials at the hands of an Italian bandit, her romance with a dashing young hero, and the revelation of secrets about her father. A character in Jane Austin's novel Northanger Abbey reads this book and begins to see her friends as characters in a Gothic novel in a send-up of Radcliffe's work. (Radcliffe appears as a friend encouraging Jane Austin to write in the movie Becoming Jane, though scholars say there is no evidence such a meeting took place.)

The Italian (1797). Set during the French Revolution, this is a novel of romance and intrigue and persecution.  The was the last book published in Radcliffe's lifetime.

Gaston De Blondeville (1826). This is a story of murder and intrigue set in the 13th century in the court of King Henry III. Radcliffe's husband published it after her death.

In addition to Austin, Radcliffe's work also influenced Sir Walter Scott, Marquis de Sade and Edgar Allan Poe.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Happy birthday, Gustav Mahler

It is the birthday of Austrian composer Gustav Mahler (1860), who was a renowned conductor as well. His compositions, not as well regarded at the height of his career, have gained admirers since World War II. Mahler's work influenced Benjamin Britten, Dmitri Shostakovich, Kurt Weill, and Aaron Copland. Here is the beginning of Mahler's Symphony No. 8. Enjoy.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Rare Book Moment: What determines value?

No. 7: Michael Slicker discusses some of the factors that go into determining a book's value. Michael Slicker's Rare Book Moment is recorded at Lighthouse Books, ABAA in St. Petersburg, Florida. Music by Jack Payne: Back to Those Happy Days

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Franz Kafka wrote the surreal

Franz Kafka
It is the birthday of writer Franz Kafka (1883), who is considered by critics to be among the greatest writers of the 20th century. Most of his work was published after his death in 1924, by his friend and literary executor Max Brod.

He is most remembered for his books such as The Metamorphosis (1915), about a traveling salesman who wakes up to find himself transformed into a bug, and The Trial (1925), about a man arrested and prosecuted for a crime which is never revealed to him or to the reader. His bizarre plots gave rise to the term "Kafkaesque," suggesting a surreal situation and unidentified impending danger.

Kafka was born in Prague when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to a Jewish family. His father was the man in the community who ritually slaughtered animals according to Jewish dietary laws. Kafka had a lifelong fascination with the Jews of Eastern Europe but often seemed disconnected from Zionism. The Jewishness of his works remains the subject of debate among scholars.

He was educated in German and wrote most of his work in the language, though he also studied Czech and French literature. His writing was translated into English, and there are several English editions available.

Very little of his work was published during his lifetime. Kafka instructed that upon his death his unpublished work and his letters were to be burned but Brod ignored his instruction. Much of his work was published between 1925 and 1935, and translated into English later. A cache of letters he wrote to a lover was confiscated by the Gestapo during World War II. The location of the letters remains a fascinating project for literary sleuths.

Kafka's work is sufficiently ambiguous to allow broad interpretation. Writers see shades of anarchism, existentialism, Marxism, spiritualism, and Judaism in his writing.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hesse wrote Steppenwolf, Siddhartha

Hermann Hesse
It is the birthday of German writer Hermann Hesse (1877), who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946 for his work that highlighted an individual's search of enlightenment and self knowledge. He is best known for his novels Steppenwolf (1927) and Siddhartha (1922), which became must-read literature among counterculture enthusiasts in the 1960s through the writings of Timothy Leary and Colin Wilson.

Hesse grew up in a small town in the Black Forest area of Germany. He was a difficult child, resisted authority and became a loner. He knew he wanted to become a writer in his early teen years. By his late teens he was reading books on Greek mythology and such prominent German writers as Schiller, Lessing, Goethe, and Nietzsche.

His first successful novel was Peter Camenzind (1904), whose hero is a young man from a mountain town who struggles to become a poet.  The novel was popular throughout Germany and was praised by Sigmund Freud.

Steppenwolf (1927) concerns Harry Haller, who, much like Hesse, feels himself to be an outsider in society, and wrestles with his dual nature as both a spiritual man and a low, animalistic one. The book is named for the lone wolf of the steppes. The 1960s band Steppenwolf is named for Hesse's work. So is the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago. In San Francisco, the Magic Theatre Company is named for a place included in the novel. The Simon and Garfunkel song The Sound of Silence draws upon imagery in the book.

Siddhartha (1922) tells the story of a young man's pursuit for enlightenment in India  during the lifetime of the Buddha. An English translation was first published in the United States in 1951, and it became wildly popular as the youth of the Sixties turned to it in their own pursuit of enlightenment. Several musicians, including Pete Townshend, referred to Siddhartha in their work.

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