Category Archives: Books

December 15

Nero: Poet, Hedonist and Sadist

On the 15th of December 37 AD, Nero, the famous Roman Emperor (54-68 AD), was born in Antium, Italy. He was a controversial figure known for his explosive violence, homoeroticism, love of poetry and bad acting. This puzzling mélange of character traits has spawned numerous anecdotes and stories about Nero’s life. They present him as […]

October 21

Was Don Quixote Kafka’s Alter Ego?

On the 21st of October 1917 Franz Kafka wrote a brief parable The Truth about Sancho Panza. Its original title “Die Wahrheit über Sancho Pansa” was given by Max Brod, who later published the text in the volume “Beim Bau der chinesischen Mauer”.  The parable is composed of only two sentences, yet its meaning is […]

October 12

History in Nursery Rhymes: Three Blind Mice

On the 12th of October 1609, the popular children’s nursery rhyme Three Blind Mice was published in London. A version of this rhyme, together with music, was published in Deuteromelia (1609); the editor was Thomas Ravenscroft (c.1582-1635), still a teenager at the time of its publication. London life in the 1600s was hard for everyone. The capital […]

September 26

Marcel Proust and his Mother: A Unique Bond

On the 26th of September 1905, Jeanne Clémence Weil, mother of writer Marcel Proust, died in Ile de France, Paris. Madame Proust, as she was to be known, seeing as Marcel never got married, was born Jewish on both sides of her family. Her genealogy actually shows that Marcel Proust and Karl Marx were distant cousins, albeit seven […]

August 30

The Tragedies of Mary Shelley

On the 30th of August 1797, English novelist Mary (Wollstonecraft) Shelley was born in London. She was the wife and muse of Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley, daughter of political philosopher William Godwin and of philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. Short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, she was most famous […]

August 26

Peggy Guggenheim: The Woman Behind the Art

On the 26th of August 1898, American matron and collector of the arts Peggy Guggenheim was born in New York. “Peggy Guggenheim was one of ten children-the second of three daughters-born to Benjamin Guggenheim and Florette Seligman, both second-generation members of German-Jewish families that had built their wealth in America. Two of her uncles, Solomon […]

July 31

Primo Levi: Chemistry and the Holocaust

On the 31st of July 1919, the Italian Jewish chemist and writer Primo Levi was born in Turin, Italy. A survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp, he emerged after the war as one of the most incisive and candid intellects among those writers who had experienced the Holocaust. He grew up during the years preceding […]