Author of the day: St. Augustine

Mainly because of The Confessions, I thought St. Augustine deserves some recognition. The Confessions were most probably the first narrative prose work in literary history and ultimately led to the creation of the novel, or prose writing in the form of a novel. Here are texts in their original Latin, English, German, and Russian. Here's a general page to introduce one to Augustine of Hippo. Another original latin version. And please do not misconstrue...I believe St. Augustine has much to offer as a writer. In fact, it has absolutely nothing to do with religion. What he accomplished as a writer was a watershed in literary history. Some people want to make it about religion. But this is just silly. The Confessions adumbrate the concept of the journey. At times I feel like I'm reading Jung when I pick it up and read. I'm most familiar with William Watts' bilingual edition of 1631. I can't find it online because of those Loeb people. I'll do my best to find and provide it at some later time.

Honorable Mention: Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra who wrote Don Quixote de la Mancha (1605), the first fictional (and fictionalizing) narrative novel in history. And said, "In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd." Here are the texts in the original Spanish, part one (.gif, navigatible html first edition) and part two, English (trans. Ormsby, 1885), Italian (trans. Perino, 1888) and illustrated

Other translations and forms of Don Quixote: English and searchable, Gutenberg .txt version in English (easiest to dl and save to hard drive), Illustrated English (trans. Ormsby), to download Part One and Part Two in smaller sections, a cool Java version that's better on the eyes if you're reading online (click open button on the right), Learn Spanish by reading Don Quixote (for English or Italian native speakers, in .wav format, sentence by sentence!)

And here's a Don Quixote dictionary for English readers. An online interactive journey through Don Quixote in English, French, Italian, and Castellano. This will show you how Cervantes fictionalized his great accomplishment. It is certainly based in fact and factual places.

An online exhibit on Don Quixote de la Mancha and Cervantes, given by Johns Hopkins University. (in english and spanish)

To dispel any western perverse attachment to classical writings...my idol is Khalil Gibran. I just visited his home in B'sharri, or Bet Sharre ("the place of kings") a few months ago. Of course, he studied/wrote/painted/worked in Boston and New York! But he's the pinnacle of the written word for me. He captures and expresses what cannot be captured and expressed. He is the timeless author. And I need not offer a post for his sake. If you haven't noticed, I'm Lebanese too. That's my mother's side. And that side of the family is much more complex. One day I'll explain.

Until next time, Blessings for Iraq...and while thinking of Gibran, Blessings for the fruits of B'sharri's past and future... and that valley, those mountains so beautiful. Blessings, too, for Lebanon. Let us hope Iraq will not become another Lebanon.

on way to Bsharri, october 2003


Blog Archive