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Thursday, February 24, 2011

This Week in Literary History: To Live, To Die, To Love, To Doodle

There are two things that bind together the three writers featured in This Week in Literary History: 1) They are all dead. 2) Like the rest of us, they all doodled.

Monday, February 21 was the birthday of postmodernism heavyweight David Foster Wallace. He would have been 49 this year. Like all the greats, DFW has seen a vast growth in readership since his death: he has two books coming out this year - Fate, Logic and Language: David Foster Wallace's Essay on Fatalism and his follow-up novel to the infamous Infinite Jest, the unfinished The Pale King. Last year, The University of Texas at Austin acquired the David Foster Wallace Archive, consisting of manuscripts, books, childhood and collegiate writings, and a whole bunch of other miscellany. Along with the archive came parts of DFW's home library, including his personal copy of Cormac McCarthy's Sutree, where Wallace showed off some of his artistry:

Friday, February 25 marks the anniversary of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes first meeting at a party in London. Plath wrote about the encounter in her diary (a selection of which can be read here), saying that when he kissed her neck, "I bit him long and hard on the cheek, and when we came out of the room, blood was running down his face." Sounds like the start of a sturdy relationship to me! If you read her diary, you'll not only find little vampiric gems like the above, but also cute little doodles of Plath being chased by a hot dog and a marshmallow:

Finally, Wednesday, February 23 is the anniversary of John Keats death in 1821. Keats is yet another famous doodler, however I scowered the internet to find a single picture of the flowers he allegedly drew in the margins of his medical notebooks, and found nothing. Nada. There was once a link to a video that supposedly contained footage of the elusive doodles, but the video no longer exists. If you can find the pictures, send them to me!

Pick up Issue #26 of Meridian for some more author artwork. The issue contains illustrations from the manuscript of Jorge Luis Borges that are really great. Here's a photo from Flavorwire, the unofficial sponsor of this post because they are the ones who initially wrote the article and gathered the images for a post on author doodles:

Subscribe to Meridian to see more of Borges manuscript artwork and then check out Flavorwire to see some other famous authors' doodles.

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