Jun. 30, 1998


by Leslie Ullman


Today's Reading: "French" by Leslie Ullman from SLOW WORK THROUGH SAND, published by University of Iowa Press.

18-year-olds all across the country got the right to vote on this day in 1971 when Congress passed the 26TH AMENDMENT. Up until that time, most states allowed only citizens 21 years of age and older the right to vote.

Alfred Hitchcock's movie "PSYCHO" opened on this day in 1960. The lonely motel run by Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh on the run with $40,000, the shower scene… "Psycho" was also the first film to show a toilet flushing.

It was on this day in 1936 that Margaret Mitchell's novel GONE WITH THE WIND was published. At 1,073 pages it was just about the biggest novel that many people back then had seen. It was also one of the fastest selling: sales peaked in October that year when, in one day, it sold 50,000 copies. The following year it won the Pulitzer Prize, and by the time Mitchell died in 1949 eight million copies had been sold.

It's the birthday in Lithuania, 1911, of poet CZESLAW MILOSZ, winner of the 1980 Nobel Prize in Poetry. He was raised in Poland and after WWII when his country came under Communist rule, he defected in Paris, then settled here in the States in 1960, teaching at the University of California-Berkeley, and became a citizen in 1970. He has several collections of poetry, an autobiography, a pair of novels, and a history of Polish literature, but is best known for his 1953 book, The Captive Mind, a collection of essays condemning communism.

Charles Dickens gave the FIRST PUBLIC READING OF HIS WORKS, on this day in London, 1857. Even though it was early summer, he read A Christmas Carol, a story that he'd dashed off some 15 years before in a few weeks' time. A Christmas Carol had made him a household name in England, and the reading was a big hit. For the rest of his life Dickens did regular readings, people lining up for hours to get a chance to see and hear him.

It's the birthday in Devonshire, England, 1685 of the writer JOHN GAY, best known for A Beggar's Opera. In early 18th-century London, Italian opera was all the rage with royalty: arias in Italian that only professionals could sing, and convoluted stories about fairy sprites and the gods. In 1728 Gay wrote a libretto in English about thieves and highwaymen that managed to poke fun at Italian opera and the British prime minister, and he found a musician to set his words to popular songs. Commoners loved A Beggar's Opera, and it started a craze for English opera based on simple stories with singable songs.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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