February 8th, 2013
06:46 PM ET

Foundation: Chile to exhume body of Nobel laureate Neruda

Chilean authorities will exhume the body of poet Pablo Neruda as part of an investigation into his 1973 death, a foundation said Friday.

Neruda is buried alongside his wife, Matilde Urrutia, in Isla Negra, a coastal area in central Chile.

He died on September 23, 1973, just 12 days after a right-wing military coup ousted socialist President Salvador Allende.

"We hope that the exam will help to clarify doubts that might exist with respect to the poet's death," the Pablo Neruda Foundation said in a statement.

It said a date for the exhumation has not been set.


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Filed under: Chile • Literature
A look back at Gore Vidal
Gore Vidal said he was a once-famous novelist who was relegated to going on TV because people "seldom read anymore."
August 1st, 2012
02:13 AM ET

A look back at Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal, an eclectic author who chronicled major cultural shifts in the United States in books, essays and plays, has died at his Los Angeles home. He was 86. Here's a quick look back on his life:

* Birth date: October 3, 1925

* Birth place: West Point, New York

* Birth name: Eugene Luther Vidal, Jr.

* Parents: Eugene,aviator and educator, and Nina (Gore) Vidal

* Education: Phillips Exeter Academy, New Hampshire, 1943

* Military service: U.S. Army, July 1943 – February 1946, Warrant Officer

Other Facts:

* Grandfather T. P. Gore helped write the state constitution of Oklahoma and was one of the first senators elected to represent the state.

* Began writing under the name Gore Vidal in high school, taking Gore after his maternal grandfather.

* At different times, both Vidal and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis were the stepchildren of Hugh Auchincloss. He was married to Nina Gore Vidal first, then to Janet Bouvier, Jackie O's mother.

* Ran for Congress twice and lost.


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Filed under: Literature • Uncategorized
January 22nd, 2012
04:04 AM ET

Salman Rushdie: Police lied to me about threat to my life

Author Salman Rushdie now believes police lied to him about a threat to his life to keep him away from India's largest literary festival.

"Rajasthan police invented plot to keep away Rushdie' I've investigated, & believe that I was indeed lied to. I am outraged and very angry," the Mumbai-born author of "The Satanic Verses" said in a post on his verified Twitter account late Saturday.

A verified account is one which Twitter officials have confirmed as belonging to the person who claims to own it.

Rushdie then linked to a story in The Hindu newspaper, which attributed the information to "two highly placed police sources" that it did not name.

In response to a follower who asked the author who in the police force is to blame, Rushdie tweeted, "Don't know who gave orders. And yes I guess the same police who want to arrest Hari, Amitava, Jeet and Ruchir. Disgusting."

Rushdie was referring to Hari Kunzru, Amitava Kumar, Jeet Thayil and Ruchir Joshi - four writers who read excerpts from his banned book to protest his absence at the Jaipur Literature Festival on Friday.

At least one lawmaker has demanded the arrest of the writers who read from the book.

CNN was not able to reach Rushdie and it was seeking comment from Rajashthan police.

"The Satanic Verses" was released more than a quarter century ago, but it continues to hound the celebrated author.

Rushdie canceled his appearance at the festival after he was informed of objections from hard-line Muslims and a threat of assassination.

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Filed under: Art • India • Literature • World
Austen manuscript fetches $1.6 million
Jane Austen never finished her novel "The Watsons," believed started in 1804, Sotheby's says.
July 14th, 2011
09:52 AM ET

Austen manuscript fetches $1.6 million

Sotheby's London auction house on Thursday sold a handwritten manuscript by Jane Austen for 993,250 British pounds, or about $1.6 million, more than triple the highest pre-sale estimate.

The partial manuscript of the unpublished novel "The Watsons" is full of corrections and strike-throughs in the author's own hand, Sotheby's e-catalog says.

"It is a tantalizing, delightful and highly accomplished fragment, which must surely have proved the equal of her other six novels, had she finished it," British author Margaret Drabble wrote in the description.


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Filed under: Auctions • Literature • United Kingdom
What a Babylonian laundry list says about you
Having trouble reading this ancient Babylonian tablet? Now you can look it up. It may be a grocery list. Or not.
June 10th, 2011
02:11 PM ET

What a Babylonian laundry list says about you

Scholars have completed a dictionary after 90 years of work. Considering the language they were working on is 4,500 years old, they made pretty good time.

The University of Chicago's Oriental Institute this week announced completion of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, a work begun by institute founder James Henry Breasted in 1921.

The 21-volume, 9,700-page opus identifies, explains and provides citations for the words written in cuneiform on clay tablets and carved in stone by Babylonians, Assyrians and others in Mesopotamia between 2500 B.C. and A.D. 100. The first 20 volumes were published as they were completed, but now the work is complete.

"I feel proud and privileged to have brought this project home," said Martha Roth, editor-in-charge of the dictionary, which has about 30,000 entries. She's a late arrival to the project, having only worked on it for 32 years.

"It is a language that is no longer alive, this is absolutely true, but it is a language that records a society and culture that impacts the Western world in a way that is not always clear to us," said Roth, who is dean of humanities at the University of Chicago.

Other than glimpses provided by Hebrew and Greek writings, the modern world knew little about ancient Mesopotamian cultures until 19th-century scholars started to decipher cuneiform inscriptions, Roth said.

"We began to see entire civilizations that had been thriving, flourishing for 3,000 years and more," she said. "This was 3,000 years of history that we've discovered."

Compiling and defining every word of the ancient language allows us to glimpse everyday life in that place and that time and draw connections to our own place and time, Roth said.

The writings gave us "the histories that went into forming who we are," Roth said. They told a creation story older than the Hebrew creation story, told a flood story that preceded the Noah story, and described a code of laws that predated Moses, she said.

Robert Biggs, professor emeritus at the Oriental Institute, worked on the dictionary and also as an archaeologist on digs where he recovered tablets.

"You'd brush away the dirt, and then there would emerge a letter from someone who might be talking about a new child in the family, or another tablet that might be about a loan until harvest time," he said. "You'd realize that this was a culture not just of kings and queens, but also of real people, much like ourselves, with similar concerns for safety, food and shelter for themselves and their families.

"They wrote these tablets thousands of years ago, never meaning for them to be read so much later, but they speak to us in a way that makes their experiences come alive," Biggs said.

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Filed under: Education • Illinois • Literature • Middle East • Science
Look! Look! A new Seuss book!
A new book of Dr. Seuss stories will be published in September, Random House says.
April 19th, 2011
09:36 AM ET

Look! Look! A new Seuss book!

We're really not trying to be obtuse, but there's another book coming from Dr. Seuss. You could read it in a house. You could read it with a mouse.

We'll stop there. You get the idea.

"The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss" will hit store shelves in September, according to publisher Random House Inc.

The seven stories have been published before, but never in book form. They appeared in magazines in 1950 and 1951, the publisher says.

Seuss scholar Charles D. Cohen tracked down the stories, whose fantastical illustrations will have more vibrant colors in the book than were possible in the 1950s magazines, according to Random House.


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Filed under: Art • Literature
March 4th, 2011
01:03 PM ET

'Archie' comic book brings record bid

Archie Comics #1 originally sold for 10 cents in 1942.

Comic book character Archie has always been a sort of awkward, goofy dude, but to at least one collector, he's a superhero.

A copy of Archie Comics No. 1 sold at auction last week for $167,300, the highest amount ever paid for a non-superhero comic book, according to Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas.

"Archie may have a ways to go to catch the likes of Superman and Batman, his Golden Age counterparts, but you can bet that collectors sat up and took notice when this comic brought that price," said Lon Allen, managing director of comics at Heritage Auction Galleries. "This amount exceeds the priciest of Spidey and Hulk comic books we've sold, which brought in excess of $125,000 each."

Archie Comics No. 1 was published in 1942, according to Comic Book Resources, and the brand continues today.

The winning bidder, who chose to remain anonymous, had been hunting a long time for a copy in great condition, according to the auction house.

"It's not going to leave my possession until I die," he reportedly told the auction house.

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Filed under: Art • Auctions • Literature • Texas
Acclaimed author Reynolds Price dies
Southern writer Reynolds Price was the recipient of numerous literary awards.
January 21st, 2011
01:25 PM ET

Acclaimed author Reynolds Price dies

Reynolds Price, a renowned Southern writer and a professor at Duke University for more than 50 years, has died.

Price died of cancer Thursday at age 77, the university announced.

"With a poet's deep appreciation for language, Reynolds Price taught generations of students to understand and love literature," Duke President Richard H. Brodhead said in a statement on the university's website.

"Reynolds was a part of the soul of Duke; he loved this university and always wanted to make it better. We can scarcely imagine Duke without Reynolds Price."

Price's 1962 book "A Long and Happy Life" received the William Faulkner Award for a notable first novel. His novel "Kate Vaiden" received the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1986.


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Filed under: Art • Literature • North Carolina • Obituary
Edgar Allan Poe's cognac-carrying admirer fails to materialize again
January 19th, 2011
03:08 PM ET

Edgar Allan Poe's cognac-carrying admirer fails to materialize again

How appropriate for the creator of the mystery novel.

The shadowy visitor who left roses and a half-full bottle of cognac at Edgar Allan Poe's Baltimore grave on the writer's birthday, every year for 60 years, has failed to appear for the second year in a row. And no one knows why.

The tradition began on January 19, 1949, according to the Edgar Allan Poe Society. The last visitation came two years ago, on the 200th anniversary of the birth of Poe, the author of such dark classics as "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Telltale Heart," "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," and the poem "The Raven."


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Filed under: Literature • Maryland • U.S.