Nadine Gordimer, Don DeLillo, Thomas Chatterton, Sheema Kalbasi, Selma Lagerlöf, Yevgenia Ginzburg

De Zuidafrikaanse schrijfster Nadine Gordimer werd geboren op 20 november 1923 in Springs. Zie ook mijn blog van 20 november 2006 en ook mijn blog van 20 november 2007 en ook mijn blog van 20 november 2008.
Uit: Get A Life

„His mother fetched him from the hospital. He opened a door of the rear seat of the car, to sit in there, right from the start he must begin to follow a certain conduct of himself, make it a habit for the time being, but his mother is like him (if that’s not a reverse order of inherited characteristics), she has decided on her own code of conduct in response to the threat he represents. She leans to open the door of the passenger seat beside her and pats it authoritatively.
He has a wife and child.
Whose life, whose risk is worth less than these?
Parents are responsible for bringing into the world their progeniture whether deliberately or carelessly and theirs is an unwritten covenant that the life of the child, and by descent the child’s child, is to be valued above that of the original progenitors.
So Paul—that’s him, the son—he has come home—oh differently, for the time being, yes—to the old home, that of his parents.
Lyndsay and Adrian are not old.
The ladder of ageing has extended since medical science, sensible exercise, healthy diet have enabled people to linger longer and younger before ascending to disappear in the mystery at the top. (‘Passing away’ is the euphemism, but to where?) Unthinkable that the son is preceding, ahead of them, up there. His father is about to retire at a vigorous sixty-five from managing directorship of an agricultural vehicle and equipment plant. His mother, fifty-nine looking forty-nine, a longtime natural beauty with no wish for face-lifts, is considering whether or not she should leave her partnership in a legal practice and join her other partner in this new phase of existence.
The dog jumps and paws at him, sniffs the cold hospital pungency of his bulging hold-all and the delivered suitcase with what his wife anticipated his needs might be here, in this phase of his existence.—Which room?—It is not his old room, it’s his sister’s that has been turned into a study where his father will follow whatever interests he’s supposed to have in readiness for retirement. This sister and brother born only twelve months apart due to excessive youthful passion or a mistaken reliance on the contraceptive efficacy of breast-feeding—Lyndsay still laughs at her ignorance and the opportunism of quick breeding! There are two other sisters, better biologically spaced. He has no brother.
He’s unique.“



Nadine Gordimer (Springs. 20 november 1923)


De Amerikaanse schrijver Don DeLillo werd op 20 november 1936 geboren in New York City als zoon van Italiaanse immigranten. Zie ook mijn blog van 20 november 2008.


Uit: The Body Artist


Time seems to pass. The world happens, unrolling into moments, and you stop to glance at a spider pressed to its web. There is a quickness of light and a sense of things outlined precisely and streaks of running luster on the bay. You know more surely who you are on a strong bright day after a storm when the smallest falling leaf is stabbed with self-awareness. The wind makes a sound in the pines and the world comes into being, irreversibly, and the spider rides the wind-swayed web.

It happened this final morning that they were here at the same time, in the kitchen, and they shambled past each other to get things out of cabinets and drawers and then waited one for the other by the sink or fridge, still a little puddled in dream melt, and she ran tap water over the blueberries bunched in her hand and closed her eyes to breathe the savor rising.

He sat with the newspaper, stirring his coffee. It was his coffee and his cup. They shared the newspaper but it was actually, unspokenly, hers.

“I want to say something but what.”

She ran water from the tap and seemed to notice. It was the first time she’d ever noticed this.

“About the house. This is what it is,” he said. “Something I meant to tell you.”

She noticed how water from the tap turned opaque in seconds. It ran silvery and clear and then in seconds turned opaque and how curious it seemed that in all these months and all these times in which she’d run water from the kitchen tap she’d never noticed how the water ran clear at first and then went not murky exactly but opaque, or maybe it hadn’t happened before, or she’d noticed and forgotten.

She crossed to the cabinet with the blueberries wet in her hand and reached up for the cereal and took the box to the counter, the mostly brown and white box, and then the toaster thing popped and she flipped it down again because it took two flips to get the bread to go brown and he absently nodded his acknowledgment because it was his toast and his butter and then he turned on the radio and got the weather.

The sparrows were at the feeder, wing-beating, fighting for space on the curved perches.

She reached into the near cabinet for a bowl and shook some cereal out of the box and then dropped the berries on top. She rubbed her hand dry on her jeans, feeling a sense somewhere of the color blue, runny and wan.

What’s it called, the lever. She’d pressed down the lever to get his bread to go brown.

It was his toast, it was her weather. She listened to reports and called the weather number frequently and sometimes stood out front and looked into the coastal sky, tasting the breeze for latent implications.

“Yes exactly. I know what it is,” he said.

She went to the fridge and opened the door. She stood there remembering something.

She said, “What?” Meaning what did you say, not what did you want to tell me.

She remembered the soya granules. She crossed to the cabinet and took down the box and then caught the fridge door before it swung shut. She reached in for the milk, realizing what it was he’d said that she hadn’t heard about eight seconds ago.“



Don DeLillo (New York City, 20 november 1936)


De Engelse dichter en schrijver Thomas Chatterton werd geboren op 20 november 1752 in Bristol als zoon van een koster. Zie ook mijn blog van 20 november 2008.

The Resignation


O God, whose thunder shakes the sky,

Whose eye this atom globe surveys,

To thee, my only rock, I fly,

Thy mercy in thy justice praise.


The mystic mazes of thy will,

The shadows of celestial light,

Are past the pow’r of human skill,–

But what th’ Eternal acts is right.


O teach me in the trying hour,

When anguish swells the dewy tear,

To still my sorrows, own thy pow’r,

Thy goodness love, thy justice fear.


If in this bosom aught but Thee

Encroaching sought a boundless sway,

Omniscience could the danger see,

And Mercy look the cause away.


Then why, my soul, dost thou complain?

Why drooping seek the dark recess?

Shake off the melancholy chain.

For God created all to bless.


But ah! my breast is human still;

The rising sigh, the falling tear,

My languid vitals’ feeble rill,

The sickness of my soul declare.


But yet, with fortitude resigned,

I’ll thank th’ inflicter of the blow;

Forbid the sigh, compose my mind,

Nor let the gush of mis’ry flow.


The gloomy mantle of the night,

Which on my sinking spirit steals,

Will vanish at the morning light,

Which God, my East, my sun reveals.



Thomas Chatterton (20 november 1752 – 5 augustus 1770)
‘Chatterton’s Holiday Afternoon’. Gravure van W Ridgway


De Iraanse dichteres, vertaalster en mensenrechten-advocate Sheema Kalbasi werd geboren op 20 november 1972 in Teheran. Zie ook mijn blog van 20 november 2008.

Mama In The War


You took us,

your children,

under your hands, mama,

beneath the steps of our home’s first floor,

to protect us from the bombs.


You never slept

and in the hot summer nights

your only mission

was our safety.


You are my president mama,

you and all those women,

who protected

and still defend their children

against the blinded-with-hatred

soldiers of death

…all around the world…


Under the bombs, you showed no fear.

The drastic
changes in our lives,

you took

quiet and peaceful

with your inner love and belief

and tried to dispel,

the terror of death

from the

filled-with-fear eyes

of your children.


You made a new reform of solidarity

and election of bravery

in our home.


You drove us to

the polished satisfaction

of holding each other’s hands

through the rough times…


In the deepest corners of my memory,

deep in my heart,

deep in my thoughts,

of blackout

and no candlelight,

I could see your blond hair,

brown eyes

and comforting face.


My vote goes to you, Mama.



Sheema Kalbasi (Teheran, 20 november 1972)


De Zweedse schrijfster Selma Lagerlöf werd geboren op 20 november 1858 in Östra Emterwik in Zweden. Zie ook mijn blog van 20 november 2006 en ook mijn blog van 20 november 2008.


Uit: Niels Holgersson’s wonderbare reis (Vertaald door Margaretha Meijboom)

Er was eens een jongen, die zoo ongeveer veertien jaar oud was, lang en mager en met vlashaar. Hij was eigenlijk een deugniet: hij had ’t meeste pleizier in slapen en eten, en verder hield hij van kattekwaad.

Nu was het een Zondagmorgen, en de ouders van den jongen waren bezig zich klaar te maken om naar de kerk te gaan. De jongen zelf zat in zijn hemdsmouwen op den rand van de tafel, en dacht er aan hoe heerlijk ’t was, dat Vader en Moeder allebei weggingen, zoodat hij een paar uur lang zijn eigen baas zou zijn.

“Nu kan ik Vaders geweer nemen en een beetje schieten, zonder dat iemand zich er meê hoeft te bemoeien,” zei hij in zichzelf.

Maar ’t scheen wel, dat Vader de gedachten van den jongen geraden had, want juist toen hij op den drempel stond, klaar om heen te gaan, bleef hij staan en keerde zich om.

“Nu je niet met Moeder en mij meê naar de kerk wilt gaan,” zei hij, “vind ik, dat je de preek ten minste wel hier thuis lezen kunt. Wil je me beloven, dat je dat doen zult?”

“Ja,” zei de jongen, “dat kan ik wel doen.” En hij dacht natuurlijk, dat hij niet meer lezen zou, dan waar hij lust in had.

De jongen vond, dat hij Moeder nooit zoo voortvarend had gezien. In een wip was zij bij den boekenhanger, kreeg het preekenboek, en legde het klaar op de tafel bij het venster, opengeslagen bij de preek van den dag. Ze zocht in den bijbel den tekst van de preek op, en legde ’t boek open naast het preekenboek. Toen trok zij den grooten leunstoel bij de tafel, waarin anders niemand dan Vader zitten mocht, en die ’t vorige jaar op de verkooping in de pastorie van Vemmenhög was gekocht.

De jongen zat er op den tafelrand over te denken, dat Moeder zich al te veel moeite gaf om de tafel in orde te maken, want dat hij niet van plan was meer dan één of twee bladzijden te lezen. Maar nu was het alweer, alsof Vader dwars door hem heen kon kijken. Hij ging op den jongen toe en zei streng:

“Denk er nu om, dat je behoorlijk leest; want als we thuis komen, zal ik je elke bladzij overhooren, en als je wat overgeslagen hebt, kom je er niet gemakkelijk af.”

“De preek is veertien en een halve bladzij lang,” zei Moeder, alsof ze de maat vol wou maken; “je mag wel gauw gaan zitten lezen, als je hem uit wilt krijgen.”

Toen gingen zij eindelijk heen, en toen de jongen hen in de deur stond na te kijken vond hij, dat hij in den val geloopen was. “Nu loopen ze er zich in te verheugen, dat zij ’t zoo mooi in orde gemaakt hebben, dat ik den heelen tijd met mijn neus in die preek zitten moet, zoolang ze weg zijn.”

carl_larsson selma lagerlöf

Selma Lagerlöf (20 november 1858 – 16 maart 1940)
Portret door Carl Larsson (detail)


De Russische schrijfster Yevgenia Ginzburg werd geboren op 20 november 1904 in Moskou. Zie ook mijn blog van 20 november 2008.

Uit: Marschroute eines Lebens


“Im Steinbruch erfuhr ich am eigenen Leib, was Zwangsarbeit ist. Es war Juli. Erbarmungslos trafen uns die ultravioletten Strahlen der fernöstlichen Sonne. Noch aus der Ferne ging von dem Gestein eine höllische Glut aus. Es kam hinzu, dass wir über zwei Jahre lang nicht einen einzigen Sonnenstrahl gesehen hatten und nach der Zeit in den Einzelzellen körperliche Arbeit nicht mehr gewohnt waren. Wir litten an Skorbut und Pellagra… … Und ausgerechnet wir mussten Erd- und Steinbrucharbeiten leisten, die selbst von Männern große Kraft und Widerstandsfähigkeit verlangen.”



Yevgenia Ginzburg (20 november1904 – 25 mei 1977)