1882 Unites Longfellow and Joyce

I bought some postcards of famous literary figures, artists and composers at the Ocean State Job Lot for a dime a piece recently.  Longfellow, Goethe, Dickens, Joyce, Evelyn Waugh, who is a man by the way, Thomas Mann, who is also a man, and many, many more.  My daughter and I bought 90 all together, which the cashier counted out individually.  I told the checker as she counted that we had 90 and that messed up her count and she had to start over again.  This took about 10 minutes as the line behind us began to grow…restless.

As I sorted through the historical portraits of dozens of poets and authors, I began looking at their dates of birth and death and noticed that there were some common dates among some. For example, Longfellow and Joyce share the date, 1882.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow died in 1882, the same year James Joyce was born.  Stylistically, the two were nothing alike.  Longfellow’s poetry is delicate smooth, conventional –  pleasing to the ear.  Joyce on the other hand wrote with a harsh, inventive, experimental style.  His stream of consciouness narrative technique in Ulysses inspired Faulkner who “streamed” all through  The Sound and the Fury.

In their postcard appearances, the two might as well have been from another planet.  Longfellow looks like a weathered and leathered sea captain, as if home from a 10 year whaling expedition.  A dapper Joyce looked to have been at a dinner party on a Yacht where he might have run into a chain cigar smoking Evelyn Waugh.

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