Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The 1800s: Highlights

Charles Darwin changed the game for rills

The 1800s section of the Chronology starts here. The links there will lead you to the Listings.


The 19th century saw the births of by far the largest number of classics writers, artists, composers, and filmmakers of any of my (admittedly arbitrary) eras. With approximately 465 listings, it's 100 ahead of the 20th century which has 365 listings; the period of 1000-1499 had only 125, and the count dribbles down from there (see the top of this page for totals).

The question is: why? Was there something in the air? Certainly the century that gave us Darwin, Marx, and Freud must have had some special quality?

Or perhaps it's just temporal proximity: the Classics lists I'm using--The Great Books of the Western World, The Harvard Classics, the Lifetime Reading Plan, and so on--were created in the 20th century, when the 19th was still having a major impact (and the thinkers of the 20th hadn't yet caught up, or they were too recent to be considered important).

Or there could be social considerations. The increase in literacy, in printing, in travel and communications--all the blessing of the Industrial Revolution(s)--may have had some effect.

Who's to say? At any rate, the summary I'll offer can't begin to comprehend the enormous production of the century. I'll just scratch the surface, again moving generally West to East, starting in North America, and then I'll let you peruse the list for gems that have gone unmentioned.

I'll include under "America" some people who, though born elsewhere, did some (though not necessarily all) of their most famous work there. The 19th and 20th centuries were, after all, the time when it seems the whole world was tilted toward the North American continent, and anybody shaken loose from their moorings tumbled toward it. So we benefitted from the philosophy of Spanish-born George Santayana; the invention of Scottish-born Alexander Graham Bell, and the explorations of his countryman John Muir; the musical talent of Russian-born Irving Berlin, and the literary talent of his countryman Vladimir Nabokov; and many more, including not least Dr. Albert Einstein. Immigrant directors such as Ernst Lubitsch, Frank Capra, Michael Curtiz, Charlie Chaplin, and Alfred Hitchcock were major contributors to the development of the American film industry (along with such native-born types as D.W. Griffith, Cecil B. DeMille, and Preston Sturges).

The 19th century being the period of great ethnographical work, the creativity brought by immigrants was matched by the way in which the North American continent (like the African, South American, and Australian continents, and many of the islands of the world) yielded up its folk stories, represented here by the trickster Coyote and by the work of George Bird Grinnell. The book written by Black Elk gives a more personal (if somewhat romanticized) perspective on Native American life. Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict represent the more academic side of anthropology.

Before we get to literature, let's visit the arts. Painters: Edward Hopper; Georgia O'Keeffe; the homely Norman Rockwell; and proponents of the brand-new art of photography: Edward Steichen and Edward Weston. Music: the classical-to-pop transitions of Ferde Grofe and George Gershwin; but pre-eminently the "jazz men" and "Tin Pan Alley": Jelly Roll Morton; Hoagy Carmichael; W. C. Handy; Duke Ellington; and Broadway: George M. Cohan and Cole Porter.

And now, so many writers that I'm going to get list-y:
  • Pre-eminent American writers of the 19th century: Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens); Edgar Allan Poe; Herman Melville; Emily Dickinson; Walt Whitman; Henry David Thoreau; Nathaniel Hawthorne; Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Novelists: Willa Cather, and the hard-boiled Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett; manly men F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and Jack London; children's writers (often women) Laura Ingalls Wilder, L. Frank Baum, Frances Hodgson Burnett, and Louisa May Alcott
  • Poets: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; Robert Frost; Wallace Stevens; William Carlos Williams; Ezra Pound; Edna St. Vincent Millay; e. e.cummings; T. S. Eliot; Carl Sandburg
  • Playwrights: Eugene O'Neill and Thornton Wilder
  • Philosophers and theologians: William James; John Dewey; Paul Tillich; Reinhold Niebuhr
  • Historians and history-makers: Henry Adams; Abraham Lincoln; Theodore Roosevelt
  • And two people you may not have heard of, but who are some of my California-born personal favorites: Charles F. Lummis and Robinson Jeffers
Before we leave the Western Hemisphere completely, let's mention some Latin Americans: the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges and the Mexican artist Diego Rivera.

Okay, off to the British Isles, where the lists are so long I've gone alphabetical (and been more interested in genre than separate countries, mixing Englishmen with Scots with Irish):
  • Not-to-be-missed: Charlotte Bronte; Emily Bronte; Lewis Carroll; Charles Darwin; Charles Dickens; Arthur Conan Doyle; George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans); Thomas Hardy; James Joyce; Rudyard Kipling; D.H. Lawrence; Robert Louis Stevenson; Alfred, Lord Tennyson ; Virginia Woolf; William Butler Yeats
  • Other authors: Samuel Butler; Agatha Christie; Joseph Conrad; E. M. Forster; Aldous Huxley; W. Somerset Maugham; Bram Stoker; William Makepeace Thackeray; Anthony Trollope; H. G.Wells
  • Writers for children and others: James M. Barrie; A. A. Milne; Edith Nesbit; Beatrix Potter; Margery Williams; J. R. R. Tolkien; C. S. Lewis; G. K. Chesterton
  • Poets: Robert Browning; Gerard Manley Hopkins; A. E. Housman; Christina Rossetti; Francis Thompson
  • Scientists and philosophers: John Stuart Mill; Bertrand Russell; Alfred North Whitehead
  • Playwrights (and more): George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde
  • Collectors, compilers, and re-tellers: Richard Francis Burton; Padraic Colum; George Frazer; Andrew Lang
  • Composer Gustav Holst
Now in Northern Europe (Scandanavia, the German speakers, etc., again without respect to separate countries):
  • Authors: Thomas Mann; Franz Kafka; Isak Dinesen; Hermann Hesse; and (for children) Hans Christian Andersen
  • Playwrights: Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg
  • Primarily known as a poet: Rainer Maria Rilke
  • Scientists and philosophers: Soren Kierkegaard; Marx and Engels; Friedrich Nietzsche; Karl Barth; Ludwig Wittgenstein; Martin Heidegger; Max Planck; Niels Bohr; Erwin Schrodinger
  • Explorers of the inner landscape: Sigmund Freud; Carl Jung; Otto Rank; and Rudolf Otto
  • Artists: Vincent van Gogh; Edvard Munch; M. C. Escher
  • Composers: Felix Mendelssohn; Robert Schumann; Richard Wagner; Johann Strauss the Younger; Johannes; Edvard Grieg; Gustav Mahler; Richard Strauss
Meanwhile, in Southern Europe (dominated by the French):
  • Writers: André Gide; Gustave Flaubert; Emile Zola; Jules Verne; Guy de Maupassant; Marcel Proust; Victor Hugo; Alexandre Dumas; the Greek Nikos Kazantzakis and Italian Luigi Pirandello
  • Poets: Stéphane Mallarmé; Arthur Rimbaud; Paul Verlaine; Charles Baudelaire and Spanish Federico Garcia Lorca
  • Artists: Claude Monet; Georges Braque; Edgar Degas; Henri Matisse; Marc Chagall; Edouard Manet; Paul Cezanne; Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec; Henri Rousseau; Georges Seurat; Auguste Renoir; Paul Gauguin; Auguste Rodin; and Spanish-born Pablo Picasso
  • Composers: French Maurice Ravel; Georges Bizet; Hector Berlioz; Jacques Offenbach; Gabriel Faure; Claude Debussy; Camille Saint-Saens; Italian Giuseppe Verdi; Giacomo Puccini; Ruggero Leoncavallo
  • Philosophers and scientists (all French): Jacques Maritain; Henri Bergson; Etienne Gilson; Pierre Teilhard de Chardin; Louis Pasteur; Jean-Henri Fabre; Marie Curie (who was Polish-born)
From Eastern Europe:
  • Writers (all Russian): Maksim Gorky; Ivan Turgenev; Fyodor Dostoyevsky; Nikolai Gogol; Anton Chekhov; Leo Tolstoy
  • Composers: Modest Moussorgsky; Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov; Igor Stravinsky; Peter I. Tchaikovsky; Alexander Borodin; Sergei Prokofiev; and the Czech Antonin Dvorak; the Hungarian Franz Liszt; and Polish Frederic Chopin
  • Russian Scientists Dmitri Mendeleev and Ivan Pavlov
  • Russian Revolutionary and political theorist: V. I. Lenin
From the Middle East, the creative philosopher and mystic G. I. Gurdjieff

In South Asia, the Indian thinkers and writers Paramahansa Yogananda; Ramakrishna; Rabindranath Tagore; and last but not least Mohandas Gandhi

From East Asia:
  • Chinese writers Lu Xun; Liu E; and Lao She
  • Japanese writers Inazo Nitobe; Natsume Soseki; Koda Rohan (Koda Shigeyuki); Nagai Kafu; Tanizaki Jun'ichiro; Kawabata Yasunari; Edogawa Ranpo (Tarō Hirai)
  • Japanese Poets: Takamura Kotaro; Taneda Santoka; Miyazawa Kenji; Akutagawa Ryonosuke
  • Filipino national hero, polymath, and novelist Dr. Jose Rizal
  • Defying nationality, but largely active in Japan, the international writer Lafcadio Hearn
Finally, from the Antipodes, Australian-born British novelist and children's writer P. L. Travers; and New Zealand short story writer Katherine Mansfield

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