famous literature

3

In 1895, celebrated writer Oscar Wilde was convicted of homosexual activity and sentenced to two years in the infamous Reading Gaol. The British prison closed 2013, but it has just reopened for an unusual art exhibition; “Inside” features installations and texts inspired by the prison and Wilde’s experiences there.

Cells where solitary prisoners counted down the days are now filled with art. And every Sunday, a different performer reads Wilde’s De Profundis – the 50,000-word letter he wrote to his lover and betrayer – in front of the original door to Wilde’s cell. Organizers say it wasn’t hard to enlist an A-list cast of readers, including Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw and Patti Smith; all they had to do was reach out to those who’ve cited Wilde as an influence.

Reading Gaol, Where Oscar Wilde Was Imprisoned, Unlocks Its Gates For Art

Mitleid mit den Tieren hängt mit der Güte des Charakters so genau zusammen, dass man zuversichtlich behaupten darf, wer gegen Tiere grausam ist, könne kein guter Mensch sein.
—  Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), German philosopher in “The Basis of Morality” (’Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good person.’)
When someone starts spouting nonsense about Lewis Carroll and they clearly don’t know what they’re talking about.

Maya Angelou is an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and was credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of 17 and brought her international recognition and acclaim. In 1993, Angelou recited her poem On the Pulse of Morning (1993) at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration, making her the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961. Her honors included a Pulitzer Prize nomination for her book of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie, a Tony Award nomination for her role in the 1973 play Look Away, and three Grammys for her spoken word albums. She served on two presidential committees, and was awarded the Spingarn Medal in 1994, the National Medal of Arts in 2000, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. Angelou was awarded over fifty honorary degrees. 

Image: Langston Hughes (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

In the 1920s and ‘30s, Langston Hughes was at the heart of the Harlem Renaissance. And after the movement ended, he didn’t go far: The writer moved into a brownstone on Harlem’s 127th Street, where he lived for the last 20 years of his life. The building is a national landmark, but it’s been mostly empty for decades. In that time, Harlem has begun to gentrify. Now, in an effort to keep Hughes’ former home from becoming one more high-end co-op, a neighborhood nonprofit is raising money to lease the building as an arts center.

Langston Hughes’ Harlem Home May Get Its Own Renaissance — As An Art Center