Dec. 3, 1999

The Snowman

by Wallace Stevens

Broadcast Date: FRIDAY: December 3, 1999

Poem: "The Snowman" by Wallace Stevens from The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens published by Alfred A. Knopf.

The Tennessee Williams play A Streetcar Named Desire opened on Broadway on this day in 1947, starring Jessica Tandy as Blanche DuBois, Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski and Kim Hunter as Stella Kowalski.

Today is the birthday of French film director Jean Luc Godard, born in Paris in 1930, known for his "cinema truth" films of the 1950s and 1960s. Godard studied Ethnology at the University of Paris, and was a fan and cinematic student of anthropologist and filmmaker Jean Roach who used a documentary style to capture the subjects of his anthropological studies. Godard employed elements of this improvisational style in many films — sometimes working without a script or completely improvising the entire narrative, scene by scene. Some of his films include The Little Soldier (1960), My Life to Live (1962), Made in U.S.A (1966) and Weekend (1967).

On this day in 1910, American writer, theologian and founder of the faith known as Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, died in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Due to a lifelong spinal malady, Eddy lived a large part of her life in an almost constant state of pain and ill health.

Today is the birthday of foreign-born author of great English literature, Joseph Conrad (Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski), born in Berdichev, Poland (now Ukraine) (1857). From his literary and well-read father, Conrad learned written English through the works of Shakespeare, Thackery, Dickens and others. Conrad despised school and soon left (1874) to pursue life in the realm of his true love: the sea. With his uncleís help, Conrad found work aboard various French and British vessels as a steward, deckhand, second and first mate, sailed in the French merchant service and eventually became a shipís captain and British citizen in 1886. Conrad was a troubled young man who took great risks and was often involved in dangerous affairs. It is widely believed that during his seafaring days Conrad was involved in smuggling, most likely gun-running (1876), and that he suffered a grave wound when he tried to commit suicide by shooting himself in the chest (1878). Conradís many novels, including Nostromo (1904), The Heart of Darkness (1899) and Lord Jim (1900) dealt with Conradís experiences at sea, his extensive travels to remote and exotic places, as well as several nihilistic themes: the heartlessness and power of nature, tragedy, corruption, manís loneliness and the struggles of good and evil.

Itís the birthday of American chemist and founder of the Home Economics movement in the U.S., Ellen Swallow Richards (nee Ellen Henrietta Swallow), born in Dunstable, Massachusetts (1842). In 1870, Swallow was the first woman to be admitted to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry, but was denied permission to receive a doctorate degree, despite her years of graduate study. Her chemistry focused on the cleanliness of air, sewage systems, water, as well as on the chemistry of good nutrition. She was concerned that youngsters were not learning the basic scientific principles behind the most common aspects of daily living, such as cooking and good nutrition, systematic housekeeping, thrifty household budgeting, and the cleanliness of the living environment. Richards devised a teaching curriculum for the subject, calling it Euthenics: The Science of Controllable Environment, and later published a book with that title (1910), along with many other books on Home Economics issues, including The Chemistry of Cooking and Cleaning (1882), Home Sanitation (1887), and Cost of Shelter (1905).

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