Jonathan Coe, Ogden Nash, Li-Young Lee, Frank McCourt, James Gould Cozzens, Louis Th. Lehmann, Inigo de Mendoza

De Engelse schrijver Jonathan Coe werd geboren op 19 augustus 1961 in Birmingham. Coe studeerde aan de King Edward’s School en aan Trinity College, Cambridge. Zijn romans, waarin hij vaak sociale en politike thema’s aansnijdt,  kenmerken zich door humor en satire. Zijn roman The Rotter´s Club uit 2001 is autobiografisch getint. Het boek werd zowel voor de radio als voor de televisie bewerkt.

Werk o.a: The Accidental Woman (1987), A Touch of Love (1989), What a Carve Up! (1994), The Closed Circle (2004)


Uit: The House of Sleep (1997)


“It was their final quarrel, that much was clear. But although he had been anticipating it for days, perhaps even for weeks, nothing could quell the tide of anger and resentment which now rose up inside him. She had been in the wrong, and had refused to admit it. Every argument he had attempted to put forward, every attempt to be conciliatory and sensible, had been distorted, twisted around and turned back against him. How dare she bring up that perfectly innocent evening he had spent in The Half Moon with Jennifer? How dare she call his gift ‘pathetic’, and claim that he was looking ‘shifty’ when he gave it to her? And how dare she bring up his mother–his mother, of all people–and accuse him of seeing her too often? As if that were some sort of comment on his maturity; on his masculinity, even…

He stared blindly ahead, unconscious of his surroundings or of his fellow pedestrians. ‘Bitch,’ he thought to himself, as her words came back to him. And then out loud, through clenched teeth, he shouted, ‘BITCH!’

After that, he felt slightly better.

Huge, grey and imposing, Ashdown stood on a headland, some twenty yards from the sheer face of the cliff, where it had stood for more than a hundred years. All day, the gulls wheeled around its spires and tourelles, keening themselves hoarse. All day and all night, the waves threw themselves dementedly against their rocky barricade, sending an endless roar like heavy traffic through the glacial rooms and mazy, echoing corridors of the old house. Even the emptiest parts of Ashdown–and most of it was now empty–were never silent. The most habitable rooms huddled together on the first and second floors, overlooking the sea, and during the day were flooded with chill sunlight. The kitchen, on the ground floor, was long and L-shaped, with a low ceiling; it had only three tiny windows, and was swathed in permanent shadow. Ashdown’s bleak, element-defying beauty masked the fact that it was, essentially, unfit for human occupation. Its oldest and nearest neighbours could remember, but scarcely believe, that it had once been a private residence, home to a family of only eight or nine. But two decades ago it had been acquired by the new university, and it now housed about two dozen students: a shifting population, as changeful as the ocean which lay at its feet, stretched towards the horizon, sickly green and heaving with endless disquiet.”


Jonathan Coe (Birmingham, 19 augustus 1961)


De Amerikaanse dichter Frederic Ogden Nash werd geboren in Rye, New York, op 19 augustus 1902. Zie ook mijn blog van 19 mei en mijn blog van 19 augustus 2006.


Goody for Our Side and Your Side Too

Foreigners are people somewhere else,
Natives are people at home;
If the place you’re at
Is your habitat,
You’re a foreigner, say in Rome.
But the scales of Justice balance true,
And tit leads into tat,
So the man who’s at home
When he stays in Rome
Is abroad when he’s where you’re at.

When we leave the limits of the land in which
Our birth certificates sat us,
It does not mean
Just a change of scene,
But also a change of status.
The Frenchman with his fetching beard,
The Scot with his kilt and sporran,
One moment he
May a native be,
And the next may find him foreign.

There’s many a difference quickly found
ween the different races,
But the only essential
Is living different places.
Yet such is the pride of prideful man,
From Austrians to Australians,
That wherever he is,
He regards as his,
And the natives there, as aliens.

Oh, I’ll be friends if you’ll be friends,
The foreigner tells the native,
And we’ll work together for our common ends
Like a preposition and a dative.
If our common ends seem mostly mine,
Why not, you ignorant foreigner?
And the native replies
And hence, my dears, the coroner.

So mind your manners when a native, please,
And doubly when you visit
And between us all
A rapport may fall
Ecstatically exquisite.
One simple thought, if you have it pat,
Will eliminate the coroner:
You may be a native in your habitat,
But to foreigners you’re just a foreigner.



Ogden Nash (19 augustus 1902 – 19 mei 1971)


De Amerikaanse dichter Li-Young Lee werd geboren op 19 augustus 1957 in Jakarta, Indonesië. Hij stamt uit een Chinese familie. In 1959 ontvluchtte zijn familie het land vanwege de anti Chinese stemming en kwam via Hongkong, Macau en Japan uiteindelijk in 1964 in de VS terecht. Lee bezocht o.a. de universiteit van Oittsburgh, waar hij zijn liefde voor het schrijven ontwikkelde. Daarna doceerde hij zelf aan verschillende universiteiten, waaronder Northwestern en de University of Iowa. Terukerende thema’s in zijn poëzie zijn ballingschap en de moed om te rebelleren.


The Gift

To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.


I can’t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.


Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy’s palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife’s right hand.


Look how I shave her thumbnail down
so carefully she feels no pain.
Watch as I lift the splinter out.
I was seven when my father
took my hand like this,
and I did not hold that shard
between my fingers and think,
Metal that will bury me,
christen it Little Assassin,
Ore Going Deep for My Heart.
And I did not lift up my wound and cry,
Death visited here!
I did what a child does
when he’s given something to keep.
I kissed my father.



Li-Young Lee (Jakarta, 19 augustus 1957)


De Iers-Amerikaanse schrijver Frank McCourt werd geboren op 19 augustus 1930 in New York als zoon van een immigrantenfamilie. Toen hij vier jaar was keerde zijn familie naar Ierland terug. Daar groeide hij in armoedige omstandigheden op in het katholieke Limerick. Zijn vader was werkloos en gaf het meeste van zijn uitkering aan drank uit. In 1949 had McCourt genoeg geld om een ticket naar New York te kunnen betalen. Daar werkte hij in hotels en ging hij in het leger. Na zijn diensttijd verdiende hij het geld om een studie te betalen in pakhuizen en op doks. Hij werd leraar en doceerde tenslotte op de gerenommeerde Stuyvesant High School in New York. Na zijn oensionering verwerkte McCourt zijn moeilijke jeugd in de autobiografische roman Angela’s Ashes. Het werd met zes miljoen verkochte exemplaren een internationale bestseller en leverde hem in 1997 de Pulitzer prijs op. Ook werd het boek in 1999 door Alan Parker verfilmd. Zie ook mijn blog van 19 augustus 2006.

Uit: Angela’s Ashes


“First Communion day is the happiest day of your life because of The Collection and James Cagney at the Lyric Cinema. The night before I was so excited I couldn’t sleep till dawn. I’d still be sleeping if my grandmother hadn’t come banging at the door.

Get up! Get up! Get that child outa the bed. Happiest day of his life an’ him snorin’ above in the bed.

I ran to the kitchen. Take off that shirt, she said. I took off the shirt and she pushed me into a tin tub of icy cold water. My mother scrubbed me, my grandmother scrubbed me. I was raw, I was red.

They dried me. They dressed me in my black velvet First Communion suit with the white frilly shirt, the short pants, the white stockings, the black patent leather shoes. Around my arm they tied a white satin bow and on my lapel they pinned the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a picture with blood dripping from it, flames erupting all around it and on top a nasty-looking crown of thorns.

Come here till I comb your hair, said Grandma. Look at that mop, it won’t lie down. You didn’t get that hair from my side of the family. That’s that North of Ireland hair you got from your father. That’s the kind of hair you see on Presbyterians. If your mother had married a proper decent Limerick man you wouldn’t have this standing up, North of Ireland, Presbyterian hair.”


Frank McCourt (New York, 19 augustus 1930)


De Amerikaanse schrijver James Gould Cozzens werd geboren op 19 augustus 1903 in Chicago. Hij studeerde twee jaar aan de universiteit van Harvard, waar hij in 1924 zijn eerste roman Confusion publiceerde. Een paar maanden later, ziek en geplaagd door schulden, verliet hij Harvard, ging naar New Brunswick in Canada en schreef zijn tweede roman Michael Scarlett. Geen van de boeken verkocht goed. Cozzens vertrok naar Cuba om les te geven aan kinderen van Amerikanen. Hij begon korte verhalen te schrijven en verzamelde materiaal voor Cock Pit (1928) en The Son of Perdition (1929). Tijdens WO II diende hij bij de Amerikaanse luchtmacht. Zijn ervaringen daar vormden de basis voor Guard of Honor, zijn romaqn uit 1948 die hem in 1949 de Pulitzer prijs opleverde. Verrassenderwijs werd By Love Possessed in 1957 een enorm succes. Het boek stond vierendertig weken op de The New York Times Best Seller list.


Uit: Snow Falling on Cedars


At the intersection of Center Valley Road and South Beach Drive Ishmael spied, ahead of him in the bend, a car that had failed to negotiate the grade as it coiled around a grove of snow-hung cedars. Ishmael recognized it as the Willys station wagon that belonged to Fujiko and Hisao Imada; in fact, Hisao was working with a shovel at its rear right wheel, which had dropped into the roadside drainage ditch.
Hisao Imada was small enough most of the time, but he looked even smaller bundled up in his winter clothes, his hat pulled low and his scarf across his chin so that only his mouth, nose, and eyes showed. Ishmael knew he would not ask for help, in part because San Piedro people never did, in part because such was his character. Ishmael decided to park at the bottom of the grade beside Gordon Ostrom’s mailbox and walk the fifty yards up South Beach Drive, keeping his DeSoto well out of the road while he convinced Hisao Imada to accept a ride from him.
Ishmael had known Hisao a long time. When he was eight years old he’d seen the Japanese man trudging along behind his swaybacked white plow horse: a Japanese man who carried a machete at his belt in order to cut down vine maples. His family lived in two canvas tents while they cleared their newly purchased property. They drew water from a feeder creek and warmed themselves at a slash pile kept burning by his children–girls in rubber boots, including Hatsue–who dragged branches and brought armfuls of brush to it.”



James Gould Cozzens (19 augustus 1903 – 9 augustus 1978)


De Nederlandse schrijver, dichter en vertaler Louis Th. Lehmann, werd geboren op 19 augustus 1920 in Rotterdam. Zie ook mijn blog van 19 augustus 2006.

Als ‘k dood ben

Als ‘k dood ben zijn mijn kleren rare dingen.
De overhemden, nieuw of dragensbroos,
de pakken hangend waar ze altijd hingen,
steeds wijzend naar omlaag, besluiteloos.

Ik was ze, ik alleen droeg hen altoos.
En omdat ze mij vaak vervingen,
of omdat ik hen uit hun winkel koos;
zij tonen iets van mijn herinner

Oh, vrienden, enigszins van mijn formaat,
ik roep U als de dood te wachten staat,
(maak ik het sterven bij bewustzijn mee)
‘k Geef U of leen, ’t zou niet de eerste keer zijn
mijn pakken, vormt met hen die mij niet meer zijn
dan langs mijn kist een onzwart defilé.


Louis Th. Lehmann (Rotterdam, 19 augustus 1920)


De Spaanse dichter Iñigo López de Mendoza werd geboren op 19 augustus 1398 in Carrión de los Condes, Palencia. Mendoza was van adelijke afkomst en diende aan het hof van Johan II van Kastilië en onderscheidde zich in militaire dienst. In zijn laatste levensjaren wijdde hij zich aan de literatuur. Zijn gedichten ontstonden onder invloed van de Italiaanse Renaissance.




From Calatrava as I took my way

At holy Mary’s shrine to kneel and pray,

And sleep upon my eyelids heavy lay,

There where the ground was very rough and wild,

I lost my path and met a peasant child:

From Finojosa, with the herds around her,

There in the fields I found her.


Upon a meadow green with tender grass,

With other rustic cowherds, lad and lass,

So sweet a thing to see I watched her pass:

My eyes could scarce believe her what they found her,

There with the herds around her.


I do not think that roses in the Spring

Are half so lovely in their fashioning:

My heart must needs avow this secret thing,

That had I known her first as then I found her,

From Finojosa, with the herds around her,

I had not strayed so far her face to see

That it might rob me of my liberty.


I questioned her, to know what she might say:

“Has she of Finojosa passed this way?”

She smiled and answered me: “In vain you sue,

Full well my heart discerns the hope in you:

But she of whom you speak, and have not found her.

Her heart is free, no thought of love has bound her,

Here with the herds around her.”



Vertaald door  John Pierrepont Rice




Iñigo López de Mendoza (19 augustus 1398 – 25 maart 1458)