Tag Archives: Friedrich Engels

Almanac – May 20

1799 – Honoré de Balzac born. French novelist and playwright.

His magnum opus was a sequence of short stories and novels collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the 1815 fall of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Due to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature, and is renowned for his multifaceted, morally ambiguous characters.

His writing influenced many subsequent novelists such as Marcel Proust, Émile Zola, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Gustave Flaubert, Benito Pérez Galdós, Marie Corelli, Henry James, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, and Italo Calvino, and philosophers such as Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx.

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Almanac – February 21

1848 – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published The Communist Manifesto.  It has since been recognized as one of the world’s most influential political manuscripts.

Commissioned by the Communist League, it laid out the League’s purposes and program. It presents an analytical approach to the class struggle (historical and present) and the problems of capitalism, rather than a prediction of communism’s potential future forms.

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1933 – Nina Simone born.  American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist.

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1965 – Malcolm X assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City by members of the Nation of Islam.  As he prepared to address the Organization of Afro-American Unity , a disturbance broke out in the 400-person audience—a man yelled, “Nigger! Get your hand outta my pocket!”

 As Malcolm X and his bodyguards moved to quiet the disturbance, a man seated in the front row rushed forward and shot him once in the chest with a double-barreled sawed-off shotgun.  Two other men charged the stage and fired semi-automatic handguns, hitting Malcolm X several times.  He was pronounced dead at 3:30 pm, shortly after he arrived at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.

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Almanac – November 28

1757 – William Blake born.  English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. His prophetic poetry has been said to form “what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language”.

 His visual artistry has led one contemporary art critic to proclaim him “far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced”. Although he lived in London his entire life except for three years spent in Felpham he produced a diverse and symbolically rich corpus, which embraced the imagination as “the body of God”, or “Human existence itself”.

Reverent of the Bible but hostile to the Church of England – indeed, to all forms of organised religion – Blake was influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the French and American revolutions, as well as by such thinkers as Jakob Böhme and Emanuel Swedenborg. Despite these known influences, the singularity of Blake’s work makes him difficult to classify. The 19th-century scholar William Rossetti characterised Blake as a “glorious luminary,” and as “a man not forestalled by predecessors, nor to be classed with contemporaries, nor to be replaced by known or readily surmisable successors”.

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1820 – Friedrich Engels born. German social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, alongside Karl Marx. In 1845 he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on personal observations and research. In 1848 he co-authored The Communist Manifesto with Karl Marx, and later he supported Marx financially to do research and write Das Kapital.

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1929 – Berry Gordy Jr. born. American songwriter,  record producer, and the founder of the Motown record label.

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Almanac – August 5

Oyster Day

Traditionally the beginning of the oyster-eating season.

Greengrocers rise at dawn of Sun
August the fifth – come haste away
To Billingsgate the thousands run
Tis Oyster Day ! Tis Oyster Day !

Every-Day Book, 1829

It was thought that anyone eating an oyster on this day would not lack for money for the rest of the year [an idea no doubt encouraged by oyster-sellers – “the more you eat, dearie, the richer you’ll be.”]

Kids in parts of London used to take more practical steps towards ensuring prosperity by gathering discarded oyster shells and building with them cone-shaped grottos with lighted candles inside or on top, exhibiting them on the streets and begging coins from passers-by for their efforts.

910 – The last major Danish army to raid England was defeated at the Battle of Tettenhall by the allied forces of Mercia and Wessex, led by King Edward the Elder and Earl Aethelred of Mercia.

1850 – Guy de Maupassant born.  19th-century French writer, considered one of the fathers of the modern short story and one of the form’s finest exponents.

1862 – Joseph Merrick born. Englishman with severe deformities who was exhibited as a human curiosity, popularly known as  the  Elephant Man.

1895 – Friedrich Engels died.  German-English industrialist, social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, alongside Karl Marx.

1925 – Plaid Cymru  formed with the aim of disseminating knowledge of the Welsh language that was at the time in danger of dying out. As a political party in Wales it advocates the establishment of an independent Welsh state. It won its first seat in 1966 and  by 2012 had 1 of 4 Welsh seats in the European Parliament, 3 of 40 Welsh seats in the Parliament of the United Kingdom, 11 of 60 seats in the National Assembly for Wales, and 206 of 1,264 principal local authority councillors.

1962 – Nelson Mandela  jailed. He would not be released until 1990.

1962 – Marilyn Monroe died.  Dr. Thomas Noguchi of the Los Angeles County Coroners office recorded cause of death as “acute barbiturate poisoning”, resulting from a “probable suicide”. Many theories, including murder, circulated about the circumstances of her death and the timeline after the body was found. Some conspiracy theories involved John and Robert Kennedy, while other theories suggested CIA or Mafia complicity. It was reported that President Kennedy was the last person Monroe called.

Mr. Frankenstein

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