“Cry God for Harry, England, and Saint George!”
Tomorrow, April 23, is William Shakespeare‘s birthday. It’s also William Wordsworth‘s birthday, and Vladimir Nabokov‘s birthday – and St. George’s Day, to boot.
It’s also the 8th annual “A Company of Authors” celebration at the Stanford Humanities Center, an all-afternoon gig celebrating the variety, richness and importance of the books produced by the Stanford community. (More on the event here.)
This year’s auspicious date is not entirely a coincidence. George Orwell biographer Peter Stansky, who founded the event along with the late, lamented Associates of the Stanford University Libraries, was particularly pleased by the possibilities offered by the juxtaposition.
Peter will open the event by reading a poem by George Steiner about the wisdom of choosing one’s birthday – you see, it’s Steiner’s birthday, too.
The event was inspired by the Los Angeles Times Book Fair and the annual Humanities Center Book party. There’s a difference, however: the books will be available for sale at a 10 percent discount. The fête kicks off at 1 p.m., and it’s free at the Humanities Center on Santa Teresa, and the company will be excellent, if I do say so myself.
“It is open to all who wish to come and learn more about the authors’ thinking behind their work, would like to chat with the authors in the periods between sessions and have the opportunity to purchase their books,” he said. It has another purpose – “and that we can all feel that somehow we are in the tradition of Shakespeare!”
Authors include: Charlotte Jacobs, Henry Kaplan and the Story of Hodgkin’s Disease;
Susan Krieger, Traveling Blind; William Kays, Letters from a Soldier; Gabriella Safran, Wandering Soul: The Dybbuk’s Creator: S. An-sky; Abbas Milani, Myth of the Great Satan and The Shah; Ian Morris, Why the West Rules—For Now; Karen Wigen, A Malleable Map; Elena Danielson, The Ethical Archivist; Jack Rakove, Revolutionaries; Karen Offen, Globalizing Feminisms; Myra Strober, Interdisciplinary Conversations; Stina Katchadourian, The Lapp King’s Daughter; Dan Edelstein, The Enlightenment: A Genealogy; Herbert Lindenberger, Situating Opera: Period, Genre, Reception; Debra Satz, Why Some Things Shouldn’t Be for Sale. And you guessed it, Humble Moi – Cynthia Haven for An Invisible Rope: Portraits of Czeslaw Milosz.
No RSVP needed
According to Peter, “Most importantly in my view, the books reflect the most important aspect of the University: the life of the mind which sometimes gets forgotten in the many day to day events that take place at Stanford. In my view, this event represents the essence of the University.”
It is also J.M.W. Turner‘s birthday as well as Shirley Temple‘s, which he doesn’t mention. “Perhaps you can arrange for Shirl ey Temple to come,” he suggested to me. Do you think?
Postscript: I know, I know … Shakespeare’s birthday is conjecture, based on his April 26 christening. Usually, in the 16th century, a birth was followed post haste by a christening in anticipation of instant death. And, given that he died on April 23, and that April 23 was St. George’s day, and, after all, he did need a birthday – the world fixed on April 23rd. Good enough for me. Hope for you, too. See you tomorrow.
Postscript on 4/23/2013 We mistakenly reported that Alexander Pushkin‘s birthday is on April 23. Wrong! It’s June 6, 1799 (what a pleasant way to usher in a new century!) The error has been corrected. Thank you, Tatiana Pahlen, for pointing it out to us.