Jul. 29, 1999

In Another's Hands

by Henry Taylor

Broadcast Date: THURSDAY: July 29, 1999

Poem: "In Another's Hands," by Henry Taylor, from Understanding Fiction (Louisiana University Press).

It's the birthday in Seoul, South Korea, 1965, of the American novelist CHANG-RAE LEE, author of Native Speaker (1995), which won the PEN Award. His new novel, A Gesture Life, comes out in September.

It's the birthday in Worcester, Massachusetts, 1905, of poet STANLEY KUNITZ, winner of the 1959 Pulitzer Prize for his Selected Poems and the 1995 National Book Award for his collection Passing Through.

It's the birthday in 1869, Indianapolis, of writer BOOTH TARKINGTON, best known for his stories of life in the Midwest early in this century. He wrote the "Penrod" series, about the young boy Penrod Schofield, based on Tarkington's own memories of growing up in Indiana, The Magnificent Ambersons (1918), and Alice Adams (1922). He was probably the most prolific author in America early in this century; he wrote many short stories, 21 novels, and 19 plays.

On July 29, 1868, President Andrew Johnson proclaimed the FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT to the Constitution, granting former slaves the right to vote. It was known as the "Reconstruction Amendment."

It's the birthday in Paris, 1805, of the political scientist and writer, ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE, author in 1840 of the four-volume Democracy in America. He wrote it after a nine-month visit to the States, which actually started out as a study-tour to inspect American prisons, but became a kind of fact-finding mission that de Tocqueville wanted to use to shape France's own democracy. He said of the United States: "I know of no country, indeed, where the love of money has taken stronger hold on the affections of men and where a profounder contempt is expressed for the theory of the permanent equality of property," and "[The Americans] have all a lively faith in the perfectibility of man, they judge that the diffusion of knowledge must necessarily be advantageous, and the consequences of ignorance fatal; they all consider society as a body in a state of improvement, humanity as a changing scene, in which nothing is, or ought to be, permanent; and they admit that what appears to them today to be good, may be superseded by something better tomorrow."

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