Sunday, February 21, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Carl Czerny (1791-1857)
Leo Delibes (1836-1891)
Charles Marie Widor (1844-1945)
Kenneth Alford (1881-1945)
Nina Simone (1933-2003)
Elena Duran (1949)
Simon Holt (1948)


Anaïs Nin (1903-1977)
W. H. Auden (1907-1973)
Erma Bombeck (1927-1996)
Ha Jin (1956)
Chuck Palahniuk (1962)
David Foster Wallace (1962-2008)

From The Writer's Almanac:

The first issue of The New Yorker was published on this date in 1925. The magazine was founded by Harold Ross and his wife, Jane Grant, who was a reporter for the New York Times; Ross remained editor in chief until his death in 1951. The magazine was styled as a showcase for wit, gossip, and culture; its target readership was the New York sophisticate. As Ross said, “[I]t is not edited for the old lady in Dubuque.” The problem was that the magazine lacked a clear vision at first. In the second issue, editors published an apology for the first: “There didn’t seem to be much indication of purpose and we felt sort of naked in our apparent aimlessness.” Circulation had dropped to 12,000 by fall, but then it started to turn around; its recovery was helped along when Ross hired E.B. White as a staff writer in 1926, and brought James Thurber on board the following year. Gradually, the magazine stopped dropping names and began building a reputation as the home of outstanding contemporary poetry, short fiction, and essays.

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On this day in 1848, the most influential and best-selling political pamphlet of all time was first published: The Communist Manifesto, written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

Marx and Engels wrote the Manifesto as a call to action aimed at proletariat across Western Europe, and as an advertisement or plug for a specific type of socialism — the version Marx and his colleagues and the Communist League promoted. There were a lot of versions of socialism already circulating around Europe.
Most of the ideas that went into the Communist Manifesto were brainstormed over the course of a week and a half in a room above an English pub — a pub called the Red Lion, located in the Soho district of London. Karl Marx had the job of drafting the ideas into something publishable. He was supposed to get it done by New Year’s Day, but he missed his deadline. He finished it, along with help from Engels, by early February — and it was on this day in 1848 that the pamphlet was finally published.