So, it has been eleven or twelve blogless days while I have been traveling around Scotland and Ireland. Sorry to say, I am now back and with a certain refreshed outlook on the literary world and those who reside in it.... or have resided in it more specifically.
Friday, June 12, 2009
A Writer Under The Influence
There was one thing I really appreciated about Edinburgh and Dublin and that was their loyalty and gratitude towards the writers than were born in their cities and their talents that were born out of them. It was never hard to find a monument, statue, bastille, museum or plaque that had been erected in their names. And for good reason, the class of writers that I am referring to were sick with talent, technical skill, originality, swagger and most of all paved the way for the literary world as we have come to love or hate it today.
One of the worlds most famous poets, Robert Burns lived in the mid-late 1700's in and around Edinburgh and truly did posses a way with words. He is a pioneer of the romantic movement and his works embody the beauty and elegance of his homeland. He has taught me that true poetry should have a flow and rhythm and not always just appear as a collection of words that may or may not have some remote meaning to their author - something I am guilty of myself.
Sir Walter Scott
Another 1700's writer hailing from the land of Scotts, Walter Scott was the talented, intelligent and ballsy author of classics such as "Waverley", "Ivanhoe" and "Rob Roy"... to name a few. There are many things about Scott that intrigue me, beyond his apparent literary prowess. One is the fact that he wrote the first many of his major works anonymously, even after it was obvious that there would be no issue with claiming the authorship. Apparently, he kept up this facade out of fun, which is just plain cool. Secondly, he has the largest monument in the world ever erected for a writer, you should see this thing, it's like a damn war memorial.
Yes, we all know James Joyce. Or at least we all know of James Joyce. What fascinates me most about Joyce, aside from his great work, is the fact that he seriously disagreed with the literary movement that was happening in the city of Dublin at the time, around 1904. Because this movement seemed so false and unmotivated to him, he went into self-imposed exile first in Zurich, then on to Trieste and Paris. Yet, Dublin still treats him as his own. His works include "Dubliners" a series of short stories, "Ulysses" and "Finnegan's Wake" which took 17 years and is written in an idiosyncratic language making it a hard read.
The most quotable man in the world... Yes, more quotable than the movie "Dumb and Dumber". Wilde pretty much revolutionized the notion of the celebrity. He fast became known outside of artistic circles in Dublin and began writing plays, many of which are still celebrated today. Later in life he was imprisoned for two years on 'gross indecency' charges relating to his homosexual behavior. He had more than enough time to flee the country before his jail time, still he stayed, willing to do his time. Later, after his imprisonment, he would flee to Paris where he could live the life he chose. Can you say Roman Polanski? Anyways, if you want a great example of Wilde's poetic skill read the poem "The Ballad Of Reading Goal" which is one of the only pieces he wrote after his prison sentence.
One of the original Bad Boy's of literature, it isn't so much Behan's writing that fascinates me, but why he started writing in the first place. As a young man he was part of the IRA and served lots of prison time because of it. It was in prison that he started writing poetry and published it in the IRA news letters. It is rumored that he began writing pornography to pay the bills once out of prison. His drinking problem worsened throughout his life, and as the fame came at him harder, harder to the drink he went. Notorious for drunken public episodes on television and stage, the people began to love and crave his escapades - a love that would soon diminish and leave Behan as a lonely drunk who could no longer write. "There's no bad publicity except an obituary" - Brendan Behan
writing under the influence of greatness,