Mori Ōgai, Georg Britting, Andrew Paterson, Margaret Truman, Maria Rossetti, Ruth Rendell

De Japanse schrijver Mori Ōgai werd geboren op 17 februari 1862 als Mori Rintaro in het dorpTsuwano in Iwami. Hij was de oudste zoon in een artsenfamilie. In 1872 verhuisde Mori met zijn familie naar Tokio, waar hij twee jaar later begon met studies geneeskunde aan de Universiteit van Tokio. Rond deze tijd maakte hij voor het eerst kennis met poëzie. In het bijzonder tanka en Chinese gedichten. Wat later begon hij ook romans te lezen. In 1881 werd Mori Ōgai de jongste persoon ooit die een diploma geneeskunde kreeg aan de Universiteit van Tokio.  Na zijn graduatie begon Mori een carrière als legerarts. In 1884 moest hij van de regering voor vier jaar in Duitsland gaan studereren. Hij ontdekte zo dat er een groot verschil bestond tussen de Europese en Japanse literatuur.  Toen hij terugkwam in Japan, probeerde Mori Ōgai om niet alleen de Japanse geneeskunde te moderniseren, maar ook de Japanse literatuur. Hij deed dit onder andere door in 1889 zijn eerste werk Omokage te publiceren. Het was een collectie van vertaalde westerse gedichten. Datzelfde jaar trouwde hij met Akamatsu Toshiko. Hun huwelijk bleef echter maar een jaar duren. In het jaar van hun scheiding publiceerde hij zijn eerste roman, Maihime. Dit ging over een Japanner die een affaire had met een Duits meisje. Het is één van de werken die beschouwd wordt als het begin van de moderne Japanse literatuur.


Uit: The Wild Geese (Vertaald door Kingo Ochiai en Sanford Goldstein)


„THIS STORY happened long ago, but by chance I remember that it occurred in 1880, the thirteenth year of Emperor Meiji’s reign. That date comes back to me so precisely because at the time I lodged in the Kamijo, a boardinghouse which was just opposite the Iron Gate of Tokyo University, and because my room was right next to that of the hero of the story. When a fire broke out inside the house in the fourteenth year of Meiji, I was one of those who lost all of their possessions when the Kamijo burned to the ground. What I’m going to put down, I remember, took place just one year before that disaster.

Almost all the boarders in the Kamijo were medical students, except for the few patients who went to the hospital attached to the university. It’s been my observation that a residence of this kind is controlled by one of its members, a lodger who rises to a position of authority because of his money and shrewdness. When he passes through the corridor before the landlady’s room, he always makes it a point to speak to her as she sits by the square charcoal brazier. Sometimes he’ll squat opposite her and exchange a few words of gossip. Sometimes he seems to think only of himself when he throws

sake parties in his room and puts the landlady out by making her prepare special dishes, yet the truth is that he takes care to see that she gets something extra for her troubles.
Usually this type of man wins respect and takes advantage of it by having his own way in the house.

The man in the room next to mine was also powerful in the Kamijo, but he was of a different breed.

This man, a student called Okada, was a year behind me, so he wasn’t too far from graduating. In order to explain Okada’s character, I must speak first of his striking appearance. What I really mean is that he was handsome. But not handsome in the sense of being pale and delicately thin and tall. He had a healthy color and a strong build. I have hardly ever come across a man with such a face. If you force me to make a comparison, he somewhat resembled the young Bizan Kawakami, whom I got to know later than the time of this story, and who became destitute and died in misery. Okada, a champion rower in those days, far surpassed the writer Bizan in physique.“



Mori Ōgai (17 februari 1862 – 9 juli 1922)



De Duitse dichter en schrijver Georg Britting werd op 17 februari 1891 geboren in Regensburg. Zie ook mijn blog van 17 februari 2007 en ook mijn blog van 17 februari 2009.


Zorn im späten Februar


Schön war der Föhn.  Er blies die hellen Flöten. 

Sie sind verstummt.  Und Winter herrschet jetzt. 

Die armen Hasen sind in argen Nöten:

Sie hatte schon das erste Gras geletzt!


Weiß liegt das Feld in schauerlicher Öde,

Und alle Schatten sind so schwarz wie Tusche.

Die Raben freuts.  Sie flügeln, und im Husche

Erwischen sie die Maus, und die stirbt schnöde


Unter dem scharfen Hieb der Schnabeltiere.

Nur zu, nur zu!  Erfriere Welt, erfriere,

Frier tief hinunter bis zu Krebs und Fisch,

Du letztes Lämpchen, leer von Öl, erlisch!


Komm, Eisbär, komm, und heb die weißen Tatzen!

Erfriere, Welt, an diesem Wintertag!

Ihr Wölfe kommt, und ihr, sibirische Katzen,

Kommt auch heran, weist eure wüsten Fratzen:

Heut ist es so, wies eure Seele mag!



Die Sonnenblume


Über den Gartenzaun schob sie

Ihr gelbes Löwenhaupt,

Zwischen den Bohnen erhob sie

Sich, gold und gelb überstaubt.


Die Sonne kreist im Blauen

Nicht größer, als ihr gelbes Rad

Zwischen den grünen Stauden,

Den Bohnen und jungem Salat.




Georg Britting (7 februari 1891- 27 april 1964)
In de Münchense Ruhmeshalle


De Australische dichter Andrew Barton “Banjo” Paterson werd geboren op 17 februari 1864 in  Narambla in New South Wales. Zie ook mijn blog van 17 februari 2007 en ook mijn blog van 17 februari 2009.



A Singer of the Bush 


There is waving of grass in the breeze

And a song in the air,

And a murmur of myriad bees

That toil everywhere.

There is scent in the blossom and bough,

And the breath of the Spring

Is as soft as a kiss on a brow —

And Spring-time I sing.


There is drought on the land, and the stock

Tumble down in their tracks

Or follow — a tottering flock —

The scrub-cutter’s axe.

While ever a creature survives

The axes shall swing;

We are fighting with fate for their lives —

And the combat I sing.



The Plains 


A land, as far as the eye can see, where the waving grasses grow

Or the plains are blackened and burnt and bare, where the false mirages go

Like shifting symbols of hope deferred – land where you never know.


Land of the plenty or land of want, where the grey Companions dance,

Feast or famine, or hope or fear, and in all things land of chance,

Where Nature pampers or Nature slays, in her ruthless, red, romance.


And we catch a sound of a fairy’s song, as the wind goes whipping by,

Or a scent like incense drifts along from the herbage ripe and dry

– Or the dust storms dance on their ballroom floor, where the bones of the cattle lie.




Andrew Paterson (17 februari 1864 – 5 april 1941)
Standbeeld in Gladesville


De Amerikaanse schrijfster Margaret Truman werd geboren op 17 februari 1924 in Independence, Missouri. Zij was de enige dochter uit het huwelijk van president Harry S. Truman en. Bess Truman. In 1956 trouwde zij met de journalist Clifton Daniel.
Zij begon in de late jaren veertig aan een loopbaan als zangeres, maar richtte zich later op het schrijven. Zij schreef een biografie over haar vader, een boek over dieren in het Wiite Huis en had groot succes met een serie detectives, om te begionnen met „Murder in the White House“ uit 1980.


Uit: The President’s House


„The last time I was in Washington, D.C., I walked by the White House on the way to dinner at a nearby restaurant. Hidden floodlights made the historic building glow like a mansion in a vision or a dream. Suddenly I thought: I am not the woman who lived in that house more than fifty years ago. She is a completely different person. I barely know her.

The words whispered in my mind like a voice from another world. I was remembering, or trying to remember, what it meant to be the daughter of the president of the United States, living in that shining shimmering house. The one inescapable thing I recalled was the difference. I have lived in several houses and apartments, and spent some time in splendid establishments, including a few royal palaces. But not one of them–or all of them together–can compare to the feeling I recalled from my White House days.

That was when I resolved to write this book about one of the most mysterious, terrifying, exalting, dangerous, fascinating houses in the world. It is a house that has changed people in amazing, unexpected ways. It is a house that has broken hearts and minds. It is a house that has made some people weep when they walked out the door for the last time–and others feel like escapees from a maximum security prison. Some marriages have been saved within those pristine white walls. Others have been irrevocably ruined.

Children have played marvelously clever games inside and outside this unique piece of architecture. Other children have twisted and turned in their death throes while their weeping parents, arguably the most powerful persons on the North American continent, clutched them in their impotent arms. In those same second-floor bedrooms, radiant brides have dressed in virginal white and descended to meet loving husbands as the world applauded.“



Margaret Truman (17 februari 1924 – 29 januari 2008)


De Engelse schrijfster  Maria Francesca Rossetti werd geboren in Londen op 17 februari 1827. Rossetti was een dochter van de oorspronkelijk uit Italië afkomstige dichter Gabriele Rossetti en de oudste zus van de eveneens als schrijvers actieve William Michael Rossetti en Christina Georgina Rossetti en van de dichter en kunstschilder Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Christina droeg haar gedicht Goblin Market op aan haar zuster. In 1871 verscheen haar boek The Shadow of Dante: Being an essay towards studying himself, his world, and his pilgrimage. In haar latere leven werd Maria een Anglicaanse non. Zij werd begraven op Brompton Cemetery in het westen van Londen.


Uit: A Shadow Of Dante


„DANTE is a name unlimited in place and period. Not  Italy, but the Universe, is his birthplace ; not the

fourteenth century, but all Time, is his epoch. He rises  before us and above us like the Pyramids awful, massive,  solitary ; the embodiment of the character, the realization of  the science, of his clime and day; yet the outcome of a  far wider past, the standard of a far wider future. Like the  Pyramids, again, he is known to all by name and by pictorial representation ; must we not add, like them unknown  to most by actual sight and presence ? Who among us has  indeed experienced
the soul-subduing hush of his solemnity ?  who beheld all average heights dwarfed by his sublimity ?

Even of his fellow-linguists how many have read his great  poem through ? One of themselves has said it few have  gone beyond the Inferno ; nay, most have stopped short at  two passages of the Inferno Francesca da Rimini and il  Conte Ugolino. And of his fellow-cosmopolitans how many

have read even so much ? If in cultivated society we start  him as a topic of conversation, how far is our interlocutor  likely to sympathize with our vivid interest? How many  young people could we name as having read Dante as a  part of their education ?“



Maria Rossetti (17 februari 1827 – 24 november 1876)


De Britse schrijfster Ruth Rendell werd geboren als Ruth Grasemann in Londen op 17 februari 1930. Zie ook mijn blog van 17 februari 2007 en ook mijn blog van 17 februari 2008 en ook mijn blog van 17 februari 2009.


Uit: End in Tears


When he lifted it off the seat the backpack felt heavier than when he had first put it into the car. He lowered it on to the soft ferny ground. Then he got back into the driving seat to move the car deep into a cave made by hawthorn bushes and brambles, and the hop vines which climbed over everything in this wood. It was late June and the vegetation very dense and luxuriant.
Getting out again and standing back to take a good look, he could barely see the car. Probably he only saw it because he knew it was there. No one else would notice it. He squatted down, hoisted the backpack up on to his shoulders and slowly stood up to his full height. The movement reminded him of something and it was a moment before he realised what it was: lifting up his little son to sit on his shoulders. A hundred years ago, it seemed. The backpack was lighter than the boy but felt heavier to him.
He was afraid that if he stood upright the pack would jerk him backwards and break his spine. Of course it wouldn’t. It just felt that way. All the same, he wouldn’t stand upright, wouldn’t even try it. Instead, he stooped, bending almost double. It wasn’t far. He could walk like this the two hundred yards to the bridge. Anyone seeing him from a distance in this half-light would have thought him a humpbacked man.
There was no one to see. The twisty country lane wound round Yorstone Wood and over the bridge. He could have brought the car right up to the bridge but that way it would have been seen, so he had driven off the lane along a ride and then through a clearing to find the hop-grown cave.“



Ruth Rendell (Londen, 17 februari 1930)