Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Happy birthday, Andrew Lang.

The waspish novelist, poet, journalist, translator, and critic Andrew Lang, best known for editing various volumes of fairy tales (The Blue Fairy Book, etc.), was born today in Selkirk, Scotland, in 1844. His prodigious literary activities include angering his countrymen in Pickle the Spy (1897) when he proved that a Scottish nobleman once spied for the British (gasp!); cowriting The World's Desire (1890) with
H. Rider Haggard, which imagines Odysseus's last voyage; and penning the "shilling shocker" The Mark of Cain (1886), which features, according to The Westminster Review, "one out-and-out villain, who had himself elaborately tattooed for felonious purposes" (590). For some of Lang's critical essays, see his Adventures among Books (1905) and Letters to Dead Authors (1886); another interesting work is The Valet's Tragedy (1903), where Lang discusses historical mysteries such as the Man in the Iron Mask. An overview of his work is provided in "Two Scotsmen of Letters" by Brander Matthews in Aspects of Fiction and Other Ventures in Criticism (1902).

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