Nov. 8, 1999

The Party

by Raymond Carver

Broadcast Date: MONDAY: November 8, 1999

Poem: "The Party" by Raymond Carver from All of Us: The Collected Poems published by Alfred A. Knopf.

It's the birthday of novelist Margaret Mitchell, born in Atlanta (1900)—author of Gone With the Wind (1936—Pulitzer Prize). A Jazz Age beauty and daughter of the president of the Atlanta Historical Society, she grew up hearing tales of the Confederacy. Before writing her one novel, she was a reporter for the Atlanta Journal for 6 years, then spent 10 years researching and writing her panoramic tale of the Civil War and Reconstruction, told from the Southern point of view. For many years, Gone with the Wind remained the greatest publishing success ever, selling a record 1,383,000 copies its first year. The movie came out in 1939, won the Best Picture Academy Award the next spring, and went on to make more money than any other film for more than two decades. Mitchell died at 48, after being hit by a taxi while crossing an Atlanta street.

On this date in 1900, Theodore Dreiser's first novel, Sister Carrie, was published by Doubleday, Page & Company. While it is now viewed as the first great novel of America's naturalistic movement, at the turn of the century the book was a scandal. Not only does Carrie, a small-town girl loose in the big city, use her looks and her wiles to become a Broadway star; she destroys George Hurstwood, the married man who runs off with her, in the process. Buckling to public outrage, the publisher yanked it from bookstores after just 456 copies had sold. Dreiser's royalties came to $68.40.

It's the birthday of horror writer (Abraham) Bram Stoker, born in Clontarf [KLAWN- tahrf], Ireland (1847)—author of the gothic classic>Dracula (1897). After 10 years as a civil servant, he met the actor Sir Henry Irving, then worked as his manager, writing 50 letters a day and accompanying him on American tours. Stoker turned to writing fiction in his forties, and was 50 when he introduced Count Dracula, the villain from Transylvania, who lures innocent victims so he may feed himself on their blood. The story is told through journals kept by Jonathan Harker, whose fiancée (and then wife) is adored by Count Dracula. Stoker based the book on folktales of the nosferatu, or ‘undead,' and on historical accounts of a 15th-century prince called Vlad the Impaler, who, after spearing 100,000 victims, was called ‘Dracula' from the Romanian word ‘drac,' for ‘devil.'

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