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Category Archive: Literature

Anna Akhmatova – Russian poet

Anna Akhmatova - Russian poet

Anna Akhmatova – Russian poet

Anna Akhmatova was a Russian poet, translator and literary critic. She is one of the most significant figures of Russian literature of XX century. In 1965 Akhmatova was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. She is the best-known member of the Acmeist movement.
Her fate was tragic. Her first husband, Nikolai Gumilev, was shot in 1921. Nikolai Punin, third husband, was arrested three times and died in the camp in 1953. Her only son, Lev Gumilyov, spent in detention more than 10 years. She reflected her woe in one of her most important work – the poem Requiem. This lyrical masterpiece is dedicated to the victims of Josef Stalin’s terror.
Anna Andreyevna Gorenko was born on June 23, 1889 in Odessa. Her father was a retired naval officer, who moved the family to St. Petersburg when Anna was a young girl. She studied at the Tsarskoe Selo Women’s Gymnasium. At the age of 11 Anna wrote her first poem and decided to become a poet. However, Anna’s father thought it was a waste of time and prohibited to use her real surname. Anna chose a pen-name – Akhmatova – maiden name of her grandmother.
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Matsuo Basho – Japanese poet

Matsuo Basho – Japanese poet

Matsuo Basho – Japanese poet


Matsuo Basho was one of the greatest Japanese poets. He is associated with the celebrated Genroku era (ca. 1680-1730). He was an innovator in poetry. Basho elevated haiku, a traditional form of Japanese poetry, to a serious art.
The haiku became an independent form in the latter part of the 16th century. The haiku is a 17-syllable verse form divided into successive phrases or lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables.
Basho (his real name was Matsuo Manefusa) was born in 1644 near Kyoto, Japan. He was one of six children in a family of samurai. Basho started out as a samurai warrior in the service of a local lord.
After his lord’s death in 1666 he wandered about Japan in search of imagery and is known as a traveler as well as a poet. Basho is an author of some of the most beautiful travel diaries ever written in Japanese. Basho wrote poems as he traveled. He wrote about the sights and landscapes he saw.
In 1672, at the age of 29, Basho went to Edo (modern Tokyo).
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Aesop – Greek writer

Aesop - Greek writer

Aesop – Greek writer


Aesop was a Greek writer, who wrote hundreds of stories called fables. The word “fable” means “amazing” or “larger-than-life”—or even “imaginary”. His fables are animal stories. They are still used to teach children.
Little is known about the ancient Greek writer Aesop (c. 620 B.C.E.–c. 560 B.C.E.). He was said to have been a slave who earned his freedom through his storytelling and went on to serve as advisor to a king.
The fables of Aesop were probably part of an oral history—stories that were told aloud. An early English-language version of the stories was published in 1692.
Most of the fables are about animals with human characteristics. Most end with a moral, or a statement of the lesson that the fable teaches.
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Francesco Petrarca – Petrarch

Francesco Petrarca – Petrarch

Francesco Petrarca – Petrarch


Francesco Petrarca (or Petrarch) was a Renaissance humanist, historian, and poet. He is widely recognized as the “father of humanism.” He played a major role in launching the Renaissance in literature.
Francesco Petrarca was born on July 20, 1304 in Arezzo. His father, Pietro di Parenzo, was a notary who had migrated to Florence from his hometown of Incisa. In 1305, Petrarch and his mother, Eletta Canigiani, moved to Incisa, where his brother Gherardo was born in 1307. The family spent six years in Incisa and moved to Pisa in 1311. The following year they moved to Carpentras in southern France. In 1316, his father decided that Petrarch should become a lawyer and sent him to the University of Montpellier.
In 1320, Francesco and his brother went to Bologna to continue his legal studies. When his father died in April 1326, he returned to Avignon.
On April 6, 1327 in the Church of Saint Clare in Avignon, Petrarch saw and fell in love with a woman who inspired his poetic imagination for the rest of his life.
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Denis Diderot – philosopher and writer

Denis Diderot - philosopher and writer. Portrait by Louis-Michel van Loo

Denis Diderot – philosopher and writer. Portrait by Louis-Michel van Loo

Denis Diderot was a French philosopher, playwright, and novelist during the time of the Enlightenment. He is best known as the editor of the Encyclopedie.
Denis Diderot was born on October 15, 1713 in Langres, Compagne.
In 1726 Denis enrolled in the Jesuit college of Louis-le-Grand. Later he attended the Jansenist College d’Harcourt in Paris. While studying, Diderot worked as a tutor for wealthy families, wrote sermons, and did English translations.
In 1732 he earned a master of arts degree in philosophy.
In 1734 Diderot decided to become a writer. He broke with his family and for the next 10 years lived a rather bohemian existence.
In 1743 he married Antoinette Champion, who gave birth to one child, Angelique.
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Alan Alexander Milne – British author

Alan Alexander Milne – British author

Alan Alexander Milne – British author

Alan Alexander Milne was a British essayist, a playwright, a poet, and an adult novelist. He is best known as a master of Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh.
A.A. Milne was born on January 18, 1882, in London, England. He was the youngest of three sons. His father, John Vine Milne, was the headmaster at Henley House, a private school, where Milne received his early education. He continued his education at Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated with a degree in mathematics in 1903. He was elected the editor of the literary magazine, Granta.
After college Milne began a career as a freelance writer. Later he was hired as an assistant editor for Punch magazine. During this period he also published his first novel, Lovers in London, a collection of sketches.
On June 4, 1913, Milne married Dorothy de Selincourt.
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Louisa May Alcott – American author

Louisa May Alcott – American author

Louisa May Alcott – American author

Louisa May Alcott was a U.S. author best known for her novel Little Women. The book was based on her own experience growing up in a close-knit New England family. It is one of several of her stories that are still cherished by young readers.
She was also a reformer, working in the causes of temperance and woman’s suffrage.
Louisa May Alcott was born on November 29, 1832 in Germantown, Pennsylvania. Louisa May was the second of four daughters. She and her three sisters spent their childhood in poverty. Her father was a teacher and philosopher and Louisa received most of her schooling from him. She began writing at a young age. When Louise was two years old, the family moved to Boston, where her father founded an experimental school and joined the transcendentalists club, led by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Soon the Alcotts moved to Concord, Massachusetts, where they joined the utopian settlement Fruitlands, based by transcendentalists.
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