Tuesday, April 15, 2014
M is for...Mann, Mitchell, and Marquez
Happy Tuesday, fellow A-Zers. It's a glorious day here in the Pacific Northwest (we've been experiencing abnormally nice weather for this time of year) and we're exactly halfway through with this years challenge...whoa! Today I'm bringing you the following M writers: Thomas Mann, Margaret Mitchell, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Thomas Mann (1875-1955)
The first time I read something by Thomas Mann I was hooked. It was a novella, so a quick read, and disturbing in so many ways. But this one story has stuck with me so much so that when I was in Italy, where the novella is set, I purposely went to the island of Lido because of it. A German novelist, short story writer, social critic, essayist, and Nobel Laureate in 1929, Mann's work is highly symbolic and noted for its views on the intellectual and the psychology of the artist. He was also adept at incorporating ideas from philosophers, such as Goethe, Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer. When World War II broke out in Europe, Mann fled to the United States and did not return until 1952. Every time I go to an antique shop or used bookstore, I always look for old copies of Mann's works; I've been lucky to find a few brilliant printings. Pure and simple, Thomas Mann is a genius.
*Recommendation: Death in Venice (a novella; there is also a film version) and Buddenbrooks
Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949)
It was in 8th grade that I first read Gone with the Wind because my Language Arts teacher suggested it after I asked for a recommendation. This sparked my long obsession with the Civil War and Antebellum South. I'll admit that, at 13, the 1000+ pages was daunting to say the least. Fortunately I stuck it out and the book quickly became one of my all-time favorites; still is, actually. Though it was the only book published during Margaret Mitchell's lifetime, it garnered her the National Book Award for Most Distinguished Novel in 1936 and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937. Several of her childhood and teenage writings have been published since her death. Mitchell spent much of her childhood listening to stories of the War from various relatives and family friends and this would eventually shape her writing. In addition, Mitchell was fairly flamboyant and interested in sexual exploration which is reflected in her novel Lost Laysen (published posthumously). Sadly, she was struck by a drunk driver while crossing the street in Atlanta with her husband. She was 48. Today, you can visit the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta where she wrote her famous novel.
*Recommendation: Gone with the Wind
Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927-2014**)
A Colombian novelist, short story writer, journalist, and screenwriter, Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of the best and most representative authors of Magical Realism, a literary style that utilizes magical elements in otherwise ordinary/realistic situations. He is considered one of the most significant authors of the 20th century and was awarded the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1972 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. Oftentimes, Marquez leaves out important details, such as characters names or important events, in an effort to force the reader to take a more participatory role than they would normally take. Though he often utilizes themes of reality, solitude, and transcendence, Marquez attempts to lighten most of his work through the use of humor. He also tends to set a majority of his work in the fictional town of Macondo or eliminates a specific location completely in an attempt to show the reader that setting is more a state of mind than an actual location.
*Recommendation: One Hundred Years of Solitude
Who are some of your favorite M writers?
**Update: Sadly, Gabriel Garcia Marquez passed away today, April 17, 2014.