Storyline: The Portuguese-spouting pundit never shies away from controversy in either subject matter or political stances, in his very human take on his/story and love amongst its many ruins.

kJose de Sousa Saramago (1922-2010) - Portuguese writer, playwright and journalist. Outer: From a landless peasant background of farmers. Got his last name from the word for a plant whose leaves provided nourishment for the poor, which was his family nickname, and was included in his birth registration for reasons only known to the registrar. His sire, a former artillery man in WW I, became a policeman in Lisbon when he was two. Younger of 2 brothers, with the elder dying soon after the move. Grew up poor, and, despite being scholastically gifted, his parents couldn’t afford an education for him, and he wound up in technical school for 5 years, working as mechanic afterwards at a car repair shop, while using a public library to refine his burgeoning literary sensibilities. Spent his vacations in a small village with his grandparents, so as to have an urban and rural sense of his native country. In 1944, he married a typist, Ilda Reis, who later became a well-known engraver. One daughter from the union, which ended in divorce in 1970. Tall, and austere with a dry manner. Published his first novel in 1947, “The Land of Sin,” then felt he had nothing more to say and abandoned his literary pursuits for the next 19 years. Worked for the Social Welfare Service, then with a metal company, before joining a publishing concern as a production manager at the end of the 1950s. Also did translations, an activity he would pursue from the mid-1950s to the early 1980s, familiarizing himself with literature outside his native language. Spent two years as a literary critic, after publishing again in 1966. Joined the Communist Party in 1969, which was illegal, although remained critical of its workings, despite continuing to label himself a Marxist. Had a 15 year relationship with Isabel da Nobrega, a writer, between 1970 and 1986. Worked as a journalist, and then an assistant editor, but was fired in 1975, following a military coup. Over the next five years, he supported himself as a translator, while steadily publishing a variety of novels, before finally establishing himself as a writer of considerable note, with his breakthrough blasphemous love story “Baltasar and Blimunda,” published in 1982, when he was 60. In 1988, he married Pilar del Rio, a Spanish journalist. After having his “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ,” suffer censorship for its humane view of Catholicism’s central heartmaster, he moved to the Canary Islands in 1992, where he continued his prolific and award-winning output, ultimately winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998, the first Portuguese writer to do so. Ultimately sold more than 2 million books. Co-founded the National Front for the Defense of Culture before he left, and, despite his age, remained au courant with his own blog. Accused of anti-Semitism for his very public pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli stances, he was basically anti-theocratic, with a venom towards the intertwining of all religious and political cant. His unusual stylistics, where he eschewed quotation marks around dialogue, and instead presented it in run-on form, with capitalization indicating change of speakers, coupled with his often surreal allegorical subject matter, made him a completely unique figure in 20th century world literature, with an extremely human view of world events, as well as a cynical take on the uses and abuses of power, in both the public and private sphere. Died at home of multiple organ failure Inner: Self-described atheist and pessimist. Sly-humored and savage in his view of the frailty of the human condition. Viewed globalization as the new totalitarianism, with multinational corporations as a huge fascist threat. Subversive lifetime of slowly coming to literary prominence, allowing him a full and depthful view of the world around him before committing his unique vision and sense of metaphor to paper. kJoaquim Maria Machado de Assis (1839-1908) - Brazilian novelist, playwright and poet. Outer: Of mulatto and Portuguese descent, and the grandson of freed slaves. Father was mulatto and a wall painter, mother was a washerwoman. Born in the country home of the widow of a senator, who served as his family’s protectoress. Had a sister who died young, and was sickly from childhood on, suffering from epilepsy, and always afraid he would have an attack in public. Not particularly apt at his studies, he lost his mother at 10, and after his father remarried another mulatto, he wound up receiving most of his formal education in the kitchen at the girl’s school where she worked a dishwasher. Subsequently able to attract informal teachers to him through friendships, to expand his language skills, which would influence his later style. After befriending a bookstore owner and fellow mulatto, he had his first poem published at 15 in a newspaper. The following year he became a typographer’s apprentice, and later was a salesman and a proofreader at a bookshop, while leading a very sparse existence. Short and lean, with a stammer, and a feeling of social inferiority which made him shy, although his keen intelligence always shone through, attracting him to people of influence and culture. His first writings were published in periodicals, and by the time he was 25, he was acclaimed as a talented poet. Although he loved the theater, and penned several plays, it would not be a vehicle that served his ultimate unusual vision well. Served as a member and censor of the Brazilian Dramatic Conservatory between 1862 and 1864, and by decade’s nearend he was a successful man of letters. A liberal monarchist, he was made a director-assistant in the Diario Oficial in 1867, and also a knight by the emperor. In 1869, he married Carolina de Novaeas a cultured woman from a distinguished family, who was 5 years his senior. No children from the union, which was both happy and harmonious, despite the disapproval of her family and some of his friends because of the class and racial differences between them. Began working as a clerk and then as a director of the accounting division of the Ministry of Agriculture in 1873. Had a serious bout with epilepsy in 1879, and during his long convalescence, he began to delve deep into the human psyche, while, at the same time, abandoning any romantic notions he previously had, which characterized his earlier works. Able to read widely in English, French and German while he recovered, while using his attained knowledge of world literature to broaden his own cultural roots. His first novel after this period, “Posthumous Reminiscences of Bras Cubas,” published in 1881, is narrated by someone already dead, and his subsequent work would expand considerably on his imagination, by exploring madness and a host of unconventional themes, while showing his penetrating and profound understanding of both his society-at-large and the individuals in it. Because of his debility, he rarely traveled outside his native city, and also avoided any political involvements, including discussing the abolition of slavery, which had affected his life personally. Surprised at the overthrow of the monarchy in 1889, he remained an admirer of the fallen emperor, while turning his considerable insight to the dynamics of the newly-formed republic, so that his work took on an even deeper hue afterwards. Co-founded the Brazilian Academy of Letters in 1897, along with other liberal monarchists and served as its first president from 1897 to his death. Following his wife’s demise in 1904, he suffered an acute sense of loneliness, so that his last few years were deeply depressive. Ultimately penned 9 novels, a host of short-story collection, 4 volumes of poetry, 13 plays and numerous critical essays, with his works neatly cleft by his illness, which simultaneously plunged him into dark territory and elevated him to the status of Brazil’s greatest writer, although not until after his death. Curiously crude in some of his poetry, despite a deep lyrical sensibility in his other writings. Inner: Pessimistic, and extremely insightful, with an intuitive grasp of the subconscious. Traditional, ironic, skeptical and sensitive to the feminine. Extremely influential for a score of writers who followed him. Innovative lifetime of using a flawed physicality to dig deep into his own subconscious, in order to reorder the world around him according to his own highly-developed aesthetic. Tirso de Molina (Gabriel Tellez) (1584-1648) - Spanish playwright. Outer: May have been the natural son of the Duke of Osana, although his baptismal records list far more pedestrian parents. Studied at the Univ. of Alcala, and in 1601, followed a sister into the religious life, entering the Order of Mercy, and became a theologian of some repute, after being officially ordained in 1606, following studying in Toledo. Lived in various Spanish cities, as well as Portugal and the West Indies per the demands of his order, all the while penning plays, as a follower of Lope de Vega (Reinaldo Arenas) a good friend of his. Became more overtly political in his writing with the succession of Felipe IV (Walt Disney) to the throne, scandalizing his court and ultimately resulting in his condemnation. In 1622, while in Madrid living in a monastery, he participated in a poetry contest on the canonization of St. Isidore. Forced to adopt a more moralistic stance, due to his religious status, beginning in 1625. Ultimately wrote more than 300 plays and introduced the legendary charmer Don Juan to literature in “The Seducer of Seville.” His works are noted for their rich language, good humor and subtle psychological insights, making his characters come alive in the theological and classical themes he explored. His playwrighting, however, disturbed the authorities and in 1625, the Council of Castile asked him to stop and to leave Madrid. Went to Salamanca, and was named prior of the Monastery of Trujillo, during which time he stopped writing for eight years, while dedicating himself to his order, rising to the position of its official his/storian in 1632. His purely religious works would have none of the zest of his moral tales, while he also began playwrighting in collaboration with others, as the clearly dominant member of his various partnerships. Began to see some of his works published in the 1630s, during which time his religious activities and chronicling precluded his further playwrighting. In 1645, he was appointed prior of the Mercedarian Monastery in Soria, and spent his final three years there, before dying in Almazan. Inner: Good insight, rich sense of humor, with an inborn feeling for the theatrical. All his works are riddled with his obvious superior intelligence. Insightful lifetime of using his spiritual sense and innate understanding of the human condition to rich literary affect, while sating his love of knowledge through his role as a well-respected theologian, replete with his facility for nose-thumbing at convention, even during inquisitorial times. Edward I (Duarte) (1391-1438) - Portuguese king. Known as the Philosopher or The Eloquent. Outer: Of the House of Aviz. Father was Juan I of Portugal. Mother was Philippa of Lancaster, a daughter of John of Gaunt (Lyndon Johnson). Named after his great-grandfather, Edward III of England (Louis Montbatten). Oldest of six with five brothers including Henry the Navigator (Gilbert Grosvenor), who were known as the illustrious Generation because of their accomplishments. Pursued the policies of his sire, because of the tight reins he imposed on his sons, and while still an infante, penned several scholarly treatises, as well as poems. Along with his brothers, he was knighted in 1415, following the Portuguese capture of the North African city of Ceuta, becoming its second lord. In 1428, he married Eleanor of Aragon, the daughter of the king of Aragon. Nine children from the union, of whom five survived into adulthood, including his successor Afonso V. When his progenitor died of the plague in 1433, he succeeded to the throne, and showed himself to be open to rule by consensus with his siblings, who all served as his closest advisers. Enthusiastically supported his brother Henry, in his overseeing the exploration of the west African coast, financing the school of maritime navigation that he set up. Persuaded by his brothers Henri and Ferdinand to attack Morocco in 1437 in order to get a better base for Atlantic exploration, as well as to try to gain hold of Tangier, which had replaced Ceuta as a caravan destination. His other two brothers were against the expedition while he had strong misgivings, and they proved correct, since the venture cost far too many lives, as well as the capture of Ferdinand, who died as a hostage. Weakened by the failure, he passed on of the plague soon after, while trying to revise the Portuguese law code, and to the surprise of the country, appointed his wife Eleanor as regent rather than his brothers, causing considerable chaos in the wake of that decision. Inner: Cerebral, and a consensus ruler, with extremely close fraternal ties, until the near-end of his reign. Sibling revelry lifetime of coming in with a host of gifted brothers, and being allowed to pursue his usual cerebral interests, before a final failed expedition undid the close familial dynamic and sent him to a relatively early unhappy grave. John XXI (Pedro Juliao) (c1215-1277) - Portuguese pope. Outer: Father was a doctor. Went to the episcopal school of Lisbon Cathedral, then finished his education in France, at the Univ. of Paris, and possibly in Montpellier. Took a wide range of courses including medicine, physics and metaphysics, and was a noted scholar. Taught medicine at the Univ. of Siena, where he was known as Pedro Hispania because of his Iberian origin. Penned a manual on Aristotelian logic that was a text in European universities for the next three centuries, and also wrote on a variety of subjects pertaining to either medicine, philosophy or spirituality. Gained renown as a teacher before returning to Lisbon, where he acted as a councilor in the royal court for churchly matters. Served as a prior, but was blocked from becoming bishop of Lisbon, and instead became a university master in the city. A gifted logician, he penned numerous works in that field, as well as in medicine, with advice on birth control and contraception in his popular “A Poor Man’s Treasury,” although its true authorship remains in dispute. After returning to Italy and becoming physician to Gregory X, he was made Archbishop of Braga, and then Cardinal-Bishop of Frascati in 1273. Elected pope three years later and took on the name of John XXI, in a confusion of the numbers surrounding that appellation, for what would prove to be an extremely brief papacy of less than nine months, so that it was an anticlimax to a busy academic life. Attempted to launch a crusade to retake the Holy Land, and tried to effect a union with the Eastern church by restarting negotiations with them, while passing a few minor decrees. Had a cell he added to the papal palace so that he could study undisturbed, which proved his undoing. While he was alone in it, it collapsed on him, and he died less than a week later of the injuries suffered. His reputation would be eclipsed with suspicions he was a magician and heretic because of his cerebral nature, although he was accorded his due by the poet Dante (Ezra Pound) in his “Divine Comedy,” with his high placement in the heavenly section. Inner: Distrusted for his intelligence and criticized by contemporaries for moral instability, thanks to negatively expressed sentiments around the religious orders. Pen-in-hand lifetime of adding to the written cerebrations of his times, with his spiritual calling secondary to his desire to augment the secular canons of logic, medicine and philosophy.


Storyline: The namesake navigator turns to storytelling after his adventuring lives are over, while continuing his fascination with the country that bears his earlier appellation, in his ongoing need to rediscover and mythologize the New World through his considerable imagination.

kSergio Leone (1929-1989) - Italian filmmaker and screenwriter. Outer: Father was Vincenzo Leone, a pioneering film director who worked under the name of Roberto Roberti. Mother was silent film actress Edvige Valcarenghi, who plied her trade under the name Bice Waleran. Schoolmate for a while with Ennio Morricone, who would provide memorable scores for his films. Fascinated by the American wild west as a child, which he would later reinterpret through his unique sense of filmic vision. Destined for the law, he dropped out of school, and, instead, began penning screenplays for the his/storical action genre known as “swords and sandals.” Served his apprenticeship by working as an assistant director on several lavish international productions at Cinnecita Studios in Rome. 5’8”, and increasingly heavier as he got older. Subbed for an ailing director on The Last Days of Pompeii, which led to his debut film, The Colossus of Rhodes in 1961, giving him an expertise at sumptuous low-budget fare. In 1960, he married Carla Panelli, a ballerina, two daughters and a son from the union, with the daughters serving as extras in some of his films. Became a cult favorite in 1964, with the first of a series of what came to be known as “Spaghetti Westerns,” shot in Spain. His initial effort was A Fistful of Dollars, a remake of Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, who sued him, and was given compensation from his next film. These ultra-violent and completely ambiguous oaters starred Clint Eastwood as the Man with No Name, and made him an international star, although he would be extremely critical of the latter’s limited range as an actor. Used a combination of gritty realism, underscored music and body counts by the dozens to fashion a trinity of films around Eastwood, including For A Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Continued to explore the American west in Once Upon a Time in the West, which was also mostly shot in Europe, although it was largely gutted by Paramount Pictures, which didn’t care for his stylistics of counterpointing lingering close-ups with long shots, and stretched out silence with bursts of action. While the film initially did poorly in America, it was a huge hit in Europe. Much of his later work would be less telling, as he both produced and reshot other director’s work, and continued to explore westerns, comedies, and as a change of pace, commercials for European TV. Turned down a chance to direct The Godfather to do his own take on American gangsters with Once Upon a Time in America in 1984, although, it, too, was butchered by its financing studio, Warner Bros., who once again felt his storytelling style was too leisurely for American tastes. As before, the resultant effort failed in the U.S., and succeeded in its original, and much longer version elsewhere. Although it would eventually be released as it was created, to much critical U.S. acclaim, it would prove his final effort, and he would be deeply bothered by all the interference his work received. A glutton to the point of obesity, he died of a heart attack, while in the midst of working on a film about the 900 day siege of Leningrad during WW II. Inner: Temperamental, angry, difficult and prone to feuding. Also extremely oral, with food as an obsessive element in his life. Loved the actor Henry Fonda’s work, and was thrilled to finally work with him. Insecure about many of his own efforts, often announcing each of his films would be his last, although continually kept his plate filled with projects. Used translators to work with American actors. Sequel lifetime of going to Spain to rediscover his fantasy version America, as he had once done, while finding the real America and its commercial consumption interests far less hospitable to his vision of it, much to his self-consuming displeasure. kEmilio Salgari (1862-1911) - Italian novelist. Outer: From a family of modest merchants. Mother was Venetian, and his father was from Verona. Wanted to be an explorer, and enrolled at the Royal Technical and Nautical School in Venice, although never received a diploma because of poor grades, and subsequently only made one voyage on the Adriatic for three months, aboard a merchant ship. It would be enough, however, to give him a lifetime of sea stories, the first of which he published at the age of 20. After establishing himself, he began using the title Capt. Salgari in his authorship, while also embellishing his own adventures so that they matched the tales he told, despite his extremely limited travels. Took his stories from the research he did in the books available to him, and used the world and its exotic settings for backdrops, while his heroes were equally unusual, and product of a variety of cultures. Had an affinity for pirate stories, writing several series around them, and also America’s wild west, which would ultimately feed into his next go-round as well. Ultimately wrote more than 200 adventure stories and novels, with his most popular creation, Sandokan, a Bornean prince who became a pirate, fighting against the imperialists of western Europe, as did his other creations in the New World. While his moral sense extended to the outlaws of both the land and seas, they would invariably do battle with the greed and corruption of those considered the emblems of empire. In 1889, his father killed himself, giving a taint to the family that would be followed by both him and his son forty-two years later. Met Buffalo Bill Cody (Clint Eastwood), while the former’s show was in Verona, which he bragged about, and was ultimately knighted for his efforts. Always showed women as the equal of men in their macha abilities, in contrast to the way other adventure writers of his era portrayed them, and rewrote Romeo and Juliet several times. Married actress Ida Peruzzi in 1892, and was devoted to her. Four children from the close union. His wife began showing signs of dementia in 1903, and the cost of treatment for her forced him to turn to hack work, translating, writing under assumed names, and living in such dire poverty, he couldn’t even afford a new fountain pen, and had to use one that was held together by string. As his wife grew sicker, his imagination began to fail and he felt he was losing his ability to write. Made a suicide attempt in 1910, although was nursed back to health. In 1911, his wife was confined to an institution, and he was completely at sea without her. Six days after she was institutionalized, he said goodbye to his children, went to a nearby park, and committed seppuku, slitting his stomach open in the traditional manner of the Japanese samurai. His fast-paced, violent and well-humored tales would be such, that others would later add to his canon, writing under his name. The most popular writer of Italian fiction ever, and a schoolboy favorite for generations throughout western Europe. His works would eventually find their way into comic form, animated films and features, with some 50 movies developed out of his oeuvre. Many of Europe’s and Latin America’s prime literary figures would single him out as an early influence, having cut their creative teeth on his penned adventures, despite their failure to find favor with the critics of the time, because of their unpolished style. Inner: Despite his huge successes, much of his adult life was lived hand-to-mouth. Sensitive to the feminine, and highly resentful that others profited greatly off his works, while he did not. Pulp fiction lifetime of expanding his inner sense of adventure through his imagination, in a curious repeat of his earlier discovery go-round in this series, while ultimately becoming undone through his failure to integrate the independent feminine into his life, despite a strong sense of simpatico in that arena. kAmerigo Vespucci (1454-1512) - Italian/Spanish explorer and merchant. Outer: Father was a notary. One brother. Educated by an uncle, who was a scholarly Dominican, and a close friend of firebrand Girolamo Savonarola (Martin Heidigger), showing a strong interest in philosophy and geography. Raised in the Republic of Florence, he served the ruling house of de’ Medici there as a clerk, before being sent to one of its banking agencies in Seville, Spain, in 1491 where he dealt in traded goods. Commissioned to complete a contract by the outfitter of Christopher Columbus, he made his first sailing to the New World in 1497 in a four ship fleet with the desire to find a route to Asia, before returning home the following year. Maintained that he reached the mainland of the Americas 8 days prior to John Cabot (Stansfield Turner), although all his claims would ultimately be highly questionable. In 1499, he joined what would be the second of his four voyages of discovery in a three ship flotilla, exploring the eastern coast of South America and the West Indies, before returning to Spain in 1500. Entered the service of the Portuguese king, and the following year he claimed to have made it down to the nearend of the South American continent, although his assertions would differ in two tellings of his adventures, so that his quartet of voyages remain obscured, with only his word as testament to them. His fourth and final voyage would be a further exploration of South America, with a fleet of 6 ships. Married Maria Cereza in 1505, and became a naturalized Spanish citizen the same year. No children from the union. Visited explorer Christopher Columbus (Fulgencio Batista), who entrusted him with a letter for his son, while a pamphlet published in 1507 credited him with far more discoveries than he ever made, and set up the erroneous notion that it was he who had unearthed the New World for Europe’s subsequent exploitation and subduement. In 1508, he was appointed chief pilot of Spain, holding that position until his death four years later. His letters and claims would lead to a feminized version of his first name finding itself appended to the two continents of the western hemisphere, through the beneficence of cartographer Martin Waldseemuller, who erroneously believed he was the discoverer of America, granting him an immortality far beyond any accomplishment he might have achieved. His legacy would be a testament to an unusual imagination that would continue to entertain the larger world for centuries to come. HIs very letters, upon which his reputation rests, may have been total fabrications, as well, written by others, so that his life and accomplishments would wind up the product of the projections of others, rather than his own achievements. Inner: Skillful cartographer, and equally adept at self-embellishment. May have made only two voyages, while his exact contributions to them remain a matter of conjecture. Name-dropping lifetime of allowing fate to take his cognomen and make it the primary appellation of the New World, which he would visit again and again in his unusual imagination in succeeding go-rounds, in his ongoing desire to discover his complex and self-destructive self through his creative efforts.


Storyline: The self-celebrating bard goes for popular appeal and sacrifices both his talent and ultimately his name in his desires for mass approbation to reflect his great love of self.

kYevgeny Yevtushenko (Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Gangnus) (1933-2017) - Russian poet, actor, lecturer, and film director. Outer: From peasant stock, with mixed Russian, Ukrainian and Tatar blood. Both his grandfathers had been arrested in the 1930s during the Stalin purges as subversives. Mother was a geologist and singer, who entertained the troops during WW II and father was a geologist. His parents divorced, and he spent his early years in Moscow with his mother and sister, taking on his mother’s name. At 15, he had his first poem published, and at the same time accompanied his progenitor on the first of several geological expeditions. Educated at the Gorki Institute of Literature, during which time he brought out his first volume of poems. 6’3”, and slender, albeit athletic. Influenced by poet Vladimir Mayakovsky (Notorious B.I.G.), but without his strength and convictions. Pro-Stalinist until the dictator’s death in 1953, then began writing love poetry. Married Bella Akhmadulina, a poet, in 1954 and later divorced. Became a public figure after a self-celebrating autobiographical poem tracing his own fascination with himself. Married Galina Semyonova, a literary translator in 1962, later divorced, one son from the union. Achieved enormous popularity during the Khruschev era as a spokesman of young Russia, thanks to his simplified verse geared towards touching as large an audience as possible, while his subsequent denouncements of Stalinism made him a world figure. His political poetry was largely rhetorical, making him far more effective as a lyric poet. Best known for Babi Yar, a reaction to anti-Semitism that he tossed off in 2 hours. Employed simplified language in a deliberate pandering to mass tastes. Often traveled abroad as a performing poet, personifying the creative Russian spirit. The publication in Paris of his autobiography in 1963, however, caused official censure, and his privileges were revoked, although were reinstated two years later. Criticized Russia’s invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, and also its exile of writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, while his speeches were continually censored. Married a 3rd time in 1978, to Jan Bulter, an English translator, later divorced, 2 sons from the union. His 4th marriage in 1986 was to Maria Novika, a physician, which also produced 2 sons. His later career saw him abandon poetry in favor of prose, and enjoy success in a variety of mediums, including plays, novels and film. During the era of Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost, he was heavily criticized for being a useful tool of the state in showing that its citizens could verbally oppose its policies, without effecting them in any way. Divided his year between teaching at the Univ. of Tulsa, where he taught poetry and European cinema. Suffered from cancer beginning in the 20-teens and had part of his kidney removed, although it eventually returned. Died peacefully in his sleep of heart failure at a Tulsa Medical center. Buried in a Moscow cemetery next to writer Boris Pasternak, per his wish Inner: Middlebrow poet, ardent communist, although never joined the party. His great ambition was to become the poetic spokesman for his generation, with the widest, most undiscriminating audience possible. Known for his many romantic liaisons. Corrupted lifetime of actively pursuing fame, at the expense of both integrity and talent. kAlexander Blok (1880-1921) - Russian poet. Outer: From an aristocratic family of both Russian and German descent. Mother was a translator, and a possessive and highly cultivated woman, as well as the daughter of the rector of the Univ. of St. Petersburg. Father was a sardonic scholar and professor of law. His parents divorced soon after his birth, and he went to live with his mother, who gave him a cultural and idyllic childhood at her father’s country estate, which he would inherit when he was in his early 20s. Always searching for the ideal feminine, he began writing magical love poetry as a way of attaining it. Studied law at the Univ. of St. Petersburg, without evidencing a feel for it, and finally got his degree in philology. In his mid-20s, he married his muse, Lyubov Mendeleeva, the daughter of chemist Dmitri Mendeleyev, and idealized her as the incarnation of Divine Wisdom. Because of the irreal sense to it, the marriage was a disaster, and was made even worse by writer Andre Biely’s (Woody Allen), obsession with his unamused muse, bringing the two to near mortal blows via duels several times. With the ability to make his language magical, he became one of the most important Russian Symbolists, although his disillusionment with his wife turned his earlier exalted verse into pessimistic irony. His later efforts became much harder-edged as a result, with his father’s mocking sensibilities showing through. Wished for a purging storm, following the reactionary period after the 1905 revolution, and wrote a trilogy of plays satirizing his own early mysticism, while replacing the Divine Feminine with a love of idealized country. Wrote criticism and essays and fell into poverty and heavy drinking, as he grew more and more disillusioned with his existence. Traveled to Italy and France, which inspired some of his best writing, while he continued to contrast an idealized Russia with its dead soul actualities. Joined the army in 1916, serving behind the front lines in a civil defense position, then accepted the 1917 revolution, seeing it as a manifestation of the spirit of music. Afterwards, he worked for the provisional government as an interrogator of czarist ministers. His most famous poem was "Dvenadstat," in which he envisioned a dozen Red Army soldiers marching behind Jesus Christ at their head, through the icy streets of Petrograd. Became the spent prophet of the revolution, with nothing more to say afterwards, having become disenchanted with the succeeding political dynamic, as they were with him, seeing him far too independent and vague for their tastes. Held a series of minor cultural posts and faded out with his ensuing silence, dying of heart failure brought on by malnutrition. Inner: Mystical and idealistic, with a preference for an elite cultured readership. Haunted by the sounds of events, as well as the dis-ease of the world. Gullible and confused politically, but with a powerful sense of aesthetics. Naive lifetime of being a voice for events he could not fully comprehend, before being ultimately quieted by them. kNikolai Nekrasov (1821-1878) - Russian poet, publisher and editor. Outer: Mother was dreamy and meek, father was a squire and retired army officer who brutalized his wife and spent his time debauching with his mistresses and drinking. Very close with the former, who introduced him to poetry, which he began writing at the age of seven. Received a spotty early education before being sent by his sire to a military academy in St. Petersburg. Decided to go to the university there instead, and was disowned, causing him to live in extreme poverty for years, while doing hack work to survive. Had a strong-willed practical nature, with an unrefined look about him, replete with penetrating eyes. Published his first book of verse, “Dreams and Sounds,” in 1840, which was savaged by critic Vissarion Belinsky (Leon Trotsky) as a compendium of romantic clichés, causing him to buy back all the copies and destroy them. Later became friends with Belinsky, who served as his mentor, and urged him to put his verse to use in promoting social justice, while using his own life experience for subject matter. Became a publisher and editor, discovering numerous future luminaries, including Ivan Goncharov (Joseph Heller), Fyodor Doestoevsky (Alexander Solzhenitsyn) and Leo Tolstoy (John Gardner). In 1846, he bought “The Contemporary,” which featured many of Russia’s finest writers, although a decade later, it became the repository for leftist literary rants, and many of its more moderate contributors abandoned it. Continued as the most popular poet of his times with his subsequent collections, while Russia’s social radicals committed much of his verse to heart, and used his metaphors for slogans. Worked closely with Avdotya Panaeva, the wife of the co-owner of the review he edited, and his mistress for sixteen years. Some saw him as an unscrupulous exploiter, and, much like his father, a gambler, drinker and womanizer, while others saw him as a deeply, wounded soul Bought a second review, “The Fatherland Notes,” and edited it, before spending the last two years of his life in in great pain, suffering from cancer, and eventually succumbing to the disease. An uneven writer, with the ability to express sorrow and pain, as well as the ordinary in day-to-day language, heretofore not used in Russian poetics. Inner: Sensitive and a hypochondriac, with a need to rationalize his dark ways, using his poetry to express democratic ideals, which were otherwise not evident in his life. Saw his work as “joyless and uncouth,” despite the genuine compassion he expressed for peasant life. Tortured lifetime of being a folksong writer at heart, while carrying the shadow of his unloving father, and using his expressive gifts to try to free himself of him.


Storyline: The passionate national playwright continues to explore his longtime culture, through literal new eyes via cinematography, as a longtime artistic chronicler of the emotional essence of Italian life.

kMatteo Garrone (1968) - Italian filmmaker. Outer: Grandfather, Adriano Rimoldi, was an actor and writer who died before he was born. Father was Nico Garrone, a theater critic, and sometime actor and scriptwriter, mother was a photographer. Originally trained as a painter, before becoming part of the Italian neorealist movement, showing an uncompromising ability to portray the darker side of his country’s soul, with a particular emphasis on visual stylistics as a means of doing so. Came to notice in 1996 with a prize-winning short, Silhouette, which would be incorporated into his first feature, Terra di Mezzo. Using people he has directly known for subject matter, he has been able to transcend the usual reproachful mold of contemporary filmmakers in their depictions of the corrupt worlds around them, to create an oeuvre of ready accessibility, relying on the familiar, to bring forth the obsessive, and often unfamiliar emotions behind his tangled characters. Always carefully investigates his environments before rendering them filmable, while exploring his deeply-held view that his country is a victim of a despairing disconnected loneliness, bred by political and economic instability, and a pathological need to fill up the emptiness within with anything that’s available. Focused, in his early films, on outsiders, while often utilizing a hand-held camera for a cinema verité approach to his work, which includes long takes without any cuts, to give the viewer a sense of direct involvement. Always works the cameras on his films, while using the same people on the production end of all his movies. Although unmarried, he has a son with his longtime companion, Nunzia. Won the 2008 Cannes Grand Prix with Gomorrah, for which he was also the screenwriter. The film, a look at the camorra, a non-Sicilian Mafia-style criminal organization, gained him a worldwide audience with the universality of its pathologies. A close observer of life around him, with a sensitivity to ordinary language, he also prefers working with amateurs, as a counterbalance to professional actors, making for a unique body of work that has quickly vaulted him to the top tier of international cinema. Inner: Sees himself as an interpreter of contemporary Italian life, relying on both a deeply-ingrained sense of language, and a strongly realized visual patina to give it added resonance. Often plays with obsessions, as the pathology of love gone completely astray. Lenscraftsman lifetime of adding the visual to his long-held mastery over the verbal dramatic, to become, as always, one of the cultural luminaries of his longtime land. kLuigi Pirandello (1867-1936) - Italian playwright, novelist and short story writer. Outer: From an upper-class family involved in the sulfur industry. Mother was also from the top tier of Italian society. The two families were very much into the reunification of Italy, with his father literally a follower of Italian guerrilla leader Guiseppe Garibaldi (Antonio Banderas). The ultimate Risorgimento, however, would prove bitterly disappointing to his mother, and the feeling was passed down to her son, who was born six years after it. Spent his childhood surrounded by nurses and servants, and adored by his mother. Educated initially at home, while his servant, Maria Stella, filled his imagination with folk tales, which would prove his true literary schooling. By 12, he had already penned his first tragedy. Began his formal education at a technical school, per his progenitor’s wish that he enter into the world of commerce, but soon switched to humanities. When he was 13, his family moved to the Sicilian capital, Palermo, where he finished high school, and began writing poetry, while falling in love with a cousin, Lina. Discovered proof his father had been cheating on his mother, creating an Oedipal dynamic in the family, with a complete distrust of his progenitor, and a veneration of his saintly, suffering mother. Went to the Univ.. of Rome where he studied philology, only to leave after a quarrel with a professor of classics there, then received his Ph.D. from the Univ. of Bonn in the same subject, writing his dissertation on the dialect of his native town. In 1894, he married Antonietta Portulano, the daughter of a business associate of his father, in an arranged union, that gave him the financial independence he needed so that he could devote his full time to writing. Two sons and a daughter from the union. His first published works were short stories, for which he received no payment, before turning to the theater in 1898, and ultimately writing 50 plays. Taught Italian at a teacher’s college in Rome and also cofounded a weekly, where he published one of his plays, and several novellas. Proved extremely prolific during this period, while enjoying a lively intellectual life with friends, which was reflected in his works. In 1903, a landslide shut down the sulfur mines that had been his family’s source of money, and he was suddenly rendered relatively impecunious. At the same time, his wife developed a persecution mania, showing herself to be insanely jealous of her husband to such extent, that he had to have her removed to a sanitarium in 1919, where she spent the rest of her unbalanced life, despite his frustrated feeling that he could help her. Able to transmute his nullities into his novels, while seeing his son taken captive by the Austrians during WW I, although he returned home unharmed at war’s end. Extremely prolific, with his ultimate reputation lying with his plays, and their overriding theme of forging identities. His characters are usually defeated by the larger forces of life in their search for themselves, in a universe marked by its dense perversity. Best known for “Six Characters in Search of an Author,” a play within a play illustrating the dynamics of dramatics, which toured the world, with his own company, Teatro de’Arte, after an early mixed reception to its completely unconventional structure. Initially viewed as far too cerebral a playwright, although his underlying compassion for his characters eventually brought him universal acclaim. Had an uneasy relationship with the Fascists, since he enjoyed dictator Benito Mussolini’s support. Claimed to be both atheistic and apolitical, despite subsequent public disagreements, which ultimately saw him a subject of close secret police surveillance. Usually wrote about people of modest achievement. After his company dissolved because of financial losses, he spent his final years traveling. Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1934. Died alone at his home. In his will, he wished no public ceremony marking his death, preferring to be seen for his work, rather than for himself. Inner: Viewed life in terms of sadness and buffoonery, with an underlying bitterness to it, per his own disappointing and disillusioning experiences. Had a good deal of compassion for his fellow sufferers, thanks to a large heart capable of a deep understanding of the human condition. Opposed to social conventions, wherein he saw much hypocrisy, with the nature of projected realities as his dominating theme. Excellent psychological insight, with the subconscious a character all its own in his works. Author in search of characters lifetime of limning the human tragicomedy through an innate ability to give ideas palpable and recognizable form. kVittorio Alfieri (1749-1803) - Italian playwright and poet. Outer: From a wealthy patrician family, in an area where French was often spoken, in lieu of Italian. Father was in his sixties when he was born, and died shortly afterwards. Raised by his mother, who had married previously, and would wed a third time, creating an anti-intellectual atmosphere for her son to grow up in. Educated by an ignorant priest in a lonely, melancholic childhood, marked by his delicate, introspective nature. Attempted suicide before he was 8, and was sent to the Royal Academy at Turin when he was 10, where he began writing sonnets, in imitation of earlier Renaissance Italian writers. At 13, he began to prepare for a career in civil and canonical law, per the wishes of relatives, although it only managed to enflame his interest in literature. At 14, he came into his inheritance, and joined a riding academy, where he developed his lifelong love of horses and equestrianship. Tall, thin and red-haired. In 1766, he began his European travels, which lasted the next six years. In Holland, he fell in love with a married woman and attempted suicide when their affair ended. On his return to Italy, he studied Plutarch (Raymond Aron), which filled him with the romantic ideals of freedom and liberty, and he took to the road again, up to the north countries and the wilderness, while continuing to stoke his awakened sensibilities. Fought a duel with the husband of a married woman, then traversed western Europe and the Iberian peninsula, before finally returning home again. Settled down at 23, to live the ne’erdowell life of an aristocrat with a Turin estate. When another amorous entanglement threatened to undo him, he had a servant tie him to a chair, and used the frustrated obsession to pen his first tragedy, “Cleopatra.” After finishing it, he saw his life’s true purpose, and began studying his native language, while traveling in Tuscany, and passing his property off to a sister, a contessa, while taking an annual annuity from his estate. His earlier sense of dissipation dissolved, now that he suddenly had a focus for his considerable energy. Used Grecian tragedy for his basic playwrighting model, with its unified actions and passions divorced from the detail of philosophic waxings and ornamental, florid language, per the usual Italianate form. Formed one final lasting liaison with the Countess of Albany (Jacqueline Bisset), the wife of the dissipated Charles Edward Stuart (Ethan Hawke), the pretender to the English throne, and began penning lyric poetry in celebration of her. She, in turn, petitioned the pope to live apart from her husband, and the two continued their discreet affair in Rome, while he finally found his muse. Used classical characters from legend and his/story for his protagonists, in his short, intense works, which brimmed with passion, without being overwhelmed by language in their simple structures. In between his prolific output, he traveled periodically without his muse, and in 1787, arranged to have his tragedies printed in France. The pair also moved to Paris at the same time, and in 1788, she finally became a widow, which allowed them the freedom, at long last, of an aboveboard relationship. Forced to leave Paris in 1792 because of the upheaval of the French revolution, they made their way back to Tuscany, where he spent the final decade plus of his life studying Greek and trying to write comedies, although it was a form for which he was ill-suited. Tried to cure himself of his own debilities in his latter years, which only made him sicker, and his final words were, “Clasp my hand, dear friend, I am dying.” Buried alongside the Countess, in between the tombs of Michelangelo (Henri Matisse) and Niccolo Machiavelli (Stephen Fry). Penned his autobiography, which was published posthumously, while the Countess made sure his works saw permanent print in some 22 volumes. Inner Irritable, impetuous, prideful and highly temperamental. Had an impassioned hatred of tyranny, and was ultimately able to ameliorate his character through his total dedication to his craft. Also warm and generous, thanks to the one grounded love of his life, which opened him up considerably. Served as a secularizer of the Italian spirit, in his ability to transmute national character into palpable, worthy drama. Romantic lifetime of arcing between absolute dissoluteness and serious craft, all wrapped around a genuine love, for both art and a living personification of it, allowing him to transcend his earlier self, and become a figure for the ages in the Italian pantheon of poets and playwrights. kLuigi Alamanni (1495-1556) - Italian poet and statesman. Outer: From a prominent Florentine noble family, and one of six brothers. Spent the early part of his life with fellow scholars of classical literature. Father was a follower of the ruling de’ Medici clan. In 1516, he married Alessandra Serristori, who was noted for her great beauty. Two sons who survived him from the union. As a friend of Niccolo Machiavelli (Stephen Fry) he became involved in a conspiracy against Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici (Joachim von Ribbentrop), for his strict rule which inhibited the independence of the city’s young nobles. Planned to directly assassinate him, but when the cabal failed, he fled to Venice. When the latter became Pope Clement VII, he exiled himself to the French court. Able to return in 1527, after the fall of the de’ Medicis, and became an important element in the Republic’s political affairs. Three years later, however, the de’ Medici returned to power, and he was declared an enemy of the state, forcing him once more to flee to the French court, where he would spent the rest of his life, as a diplomat in service to the king. Used his exile time in writing poetry, introducing the epigram into Italian verse, as well as plays, penning both a comedy and tragedy, although his true métier was in satiric verse. Also a prolific letter writer to friends, maintaining his Florentine contacts even though he could no longer return there for very long. Attached himself to the French court and became a favorite of the king, Francois I (Bob Geldof) who sent him as an ambassador to the HRE Charles V (Napoleon Bonaparte) in 1544. Proved an agile diplomat, whose expertise with language served him extremely well. Continued his close connection with the French court with Francois’s successor, Henri II (Robert Downey) who made him French ambassador to Genoa, as well as his maitre d’hotel. Able to live extremely comfortably with his family in France, and eventually died of dysentery. Best known for his “La Coltivazione,” a didactic poem written in imitation of Virgil (Ezra Pound). Attempted his own simulacrum of Homer’s “The Iliad,” but never completed it. Inner: Elegant writer, with a facility for verbal legerdemain that he used in his international dealings as well. Transitional lifetime of turning to language as his primary tool of interconnection and power in preparation for several go-rounds as Italy’s premier poet of the stage. John VII Palaeologus (1370-1408) - Byzantine basileus. Outer: Father was Andronicus IV Palaeologus (Robert Bly), who tried to usurp the throne before his time from his own sire, John V Palaeologus (Rajiv Gandhi). Mother, Keratsa (Elizabeth Bishop), was the daughter of the Bulgarian emperor. Made co-emperor when his sire took the throne in 1376, only to be blinded in one eye, along with his progenitor, when the latter failed to hold the crown in 1379. His progenitor was made co-emperor again two years later, despite his treachery, and was given a governorship on the north shore of the Marmara, where he accompanied, and then succeeded, him on his death in 1385. Took advantage of his grandfather’s great age in 1390, and briefly ousted him, until his son Manuel II (Robert Graves) restored the latter with the help of the Venetians five months later. Took refuge with the Ottoman emperor, Bayezid I, who confirmed his status with his previous governorship, so that his relations with his cousin improved. Married around this time to Irene Gattilusio, who descended from his same Palaeologus line. At least one son from the union. Named as Manuel’s heir, since the former was still unmarried at the time, and had yet to produce the sons who would succeed him. During Bayezid’s siege of Constantinople at century’s near-end, he was left in charge of the city, while Manuel sought aid in western Europe against the Ottomans. Able to hold the fort, and was rewarded when Bayezid was defeated by the Mongol conqueror Tamerlane in 1402. A succession struggle and civil war ensued in the Ottoman empire, and he was able to take full advantage of it, securing a return of former Byzantine territories on the European side of the Sea of Marmara through treaties. Willingly gave up his position when Manuel returned, and retired to Thessalonica, where he ruled as emperor of Thessaly, along with his son Andronicus V, who predeceased him by a year. Spent his last years endowing and establishing religious and charitable foundations so as to make peace with his projection of the deity, and, in the end, like many of his predecessors, donned a monk’s habit and took on the name of Joasaph. Inner: Ambitious, although able to accept the larger judgments of fate, and settle contentedly into a lesser role, when his brief rule was summarily terminated. Brief run at the top lifetime of making a move for the entire empire, before settling for a small piece of it, and realizing at the end, that appeasing divine will was far more important than selfishly sating earthly power.


Storyline: The subjective Objectivist lauds total self-involvement as the key to self-worth, while becoming an icon for artistic individualists searching for the ecstasy of sheer cerebrality as the ultimate in human achievement.

Ayn Rand (Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum) (1905-1982) - Russian/American writer and pop philosopher. Outer: Oldest of three sisters of a Jewish pharmacist. Mother had been a dentist before marrying. Grew up in comfortable circumstances in a nonobservant home, until the advent of the Russian Revolution, at which time she and her family fled to the Crimea, losing everything. Returned home in 1921, to face brutal survival conditions, by now a determined atheist and rationalist. 5’2”, brown-haired and stumpy with piercing eyes. Majored in his/story at Petrograd State Univ., which was now open to both Jews and women, and became an enthusiast of ancient Greek philosophy. Literate in several languages, which widened her reading, she was eventually purged from the school for bourgeoisie tendencies just before graduating, although she was later able to do so. Studied for another year at the State Technicum for Screen Arts, which led to her first published piece, an essay on Polish actress, Pola Negri. Gobbled up American cinema, and worked as a tour guide, before emigrating to the U.S. Chose her nom de pen at immigration, with a Cyrillic contraction of her birth surname, and a Finnish first name, which she shortened to a single syllable. Initially stayed with relatives in Chicago, who she drove crazy in her obsessive need to improve her language skills via late-night typing, before going out to Hollywood, determined to be a screenwriter. Wound up spending years in the wardrobe department at RKO, instead, which she eventually headed. Married actor Frank O’Connor, a handsome and gallant but ineffectual partner, in 1929, and two years later became an American citizen. Sold her first screenplay in 1932, and had her first stage play, “Night of January 16th” produced on Broadway in 1935, which gave her the wherewithal, via royalties, to begin writing full-time. Her first novel appeared the following year and quickly went out of print. Her husband, who eventually became an artist, contributed nothing to the household, and her ongoing failures returned her to the studios as a reader, which gave her the contact she needed to have her first magnum opus, “The Fountainhead,” published in 1943. Its glorification of artistic integrity via an architect who blows up his own housing project, made it a bestseller and a popular film, for which she wrote the screenplay. Finally financially secure for the first time since childhood, she was now a cultural icon with a devoted following of young acolytes eager to explore and exploit their individuality for maximum selfish rewards. Moved to NYC to be closer to her most obsessive follower, Nathan Blumenthal, and spent the rest of her life there. Blumenthal, who rebranded himself Nathaniel Branden, became sexually involved with her for half of the 1950s, per her proscription of idealized mutually inspiring relationships, despite both being married at the time, and a quarter century age difference between the two. Her second novel, “Atlas Shrugged,” which was published in 1957, extolled geniuses and showed them as victims of those far less gifted than they. It, too, achieved bestseller status, despite being critically savaged. Depressed over its reception, she allowed Branden to give her a second life as a lecturer, expounding on her philosophy of Objectivism, which celebrates the purely rational as the ultimate in sense perception, and happiness as the singular goal worth striving for. Her final works would be collections of essays from her monthly newsletter. A contretemps between herself and Branden wound up with her branding him a Judas and forcing him out of her movement, including an institute which bore his name. Found herself the brunt of a bevy of criticism, as her sphere of influence precipitously lessened. A lifelong smoker, she had surgery for lung cancer in 1974, adopting the name Ann O’Connor in order to be eligible for a government program to deal with her affliction, despite a long-standing repudiation of welfare on her part. The operation drained her of a lot of her vitality, while her husband drank himself into dementia, and died in 1979. Still involved in projects til her life’s end, when she died of heart failure. Her followers would keep her name alive afterwards, as a champion of reason and individualism, so that her works would continue to sell, while a collection of unpublished stories, plays and essays would be published posthumously. Inner: Never taken seriously by anyone other than her disciples. Absolutely refused to allow her publisher to edit her manuscripts, despite her pedestrian-at-best writing style. Extremely self-involved, per her beliefs, with laissez-faire capitalism as a bedrock of her economic views, and hands-off government its political corollary. Largely unhappy, cruel and always self-serving, with a resistance to all physical activity, as if it took away from any and all mental gymnastics. Highly judgmental and controlling, excommunicating followers for small infractions. Unhygienic germophobe, with little attention paid to her personal appearance. Controversialist lifetime of dedicating herself to the precept that ideas matter, despite struggling with the emotions and reactions surrounding them, in her subjective desire to be as objective as possible around the extraordinary dynamics of being human. Varvara Golovina (Varvara Galitzin) (1766-1821) - Russian/French countess and memoirist. Outer: Father was a Russian prince and lieutenant general. Spent her first fourteen years on her sire’s estate, and following his death in 1780, she and her mother moved to St. Petersburg. Served as maid of honor to Catherine II (Indira Gandhi) in 1783, and involved herself in court life. Despite her mother’s strong opposition, she married Count Nicolai Golovin in 1786, the scion of a wealthy family of boyars, although her handsome, caddish husband was anything but faithful, fathering several children, including a son with French revolutionary Theroigne de Mericourt (Cher). Four daughters from their gossip-filled union, with two dying in infancy and the survivors marrying Polish noblemen. A noted beauty herself, she was an intimate friend of the future czarina Elizabeth (Pola Negri), and was also victim of vicious court gossip, which forced her to move to Moscow when Pavel I (Shah Pahlavi) came to the throne shortly after the turn of the century. Converted to Catholicism under the influence of the Jesuits, and lived in Paris among the émigré society of Russian aristocrats there, where she composed and sang love songs at soirees, accompanying herself on the piano. Returned to Russia when Napoleon took power, then came back to Paris after his fall and the Bourbons resumed the throne, and wrote her memoirs, which were published in France nearly a century after her death. Inner: Charming, witty, with a facility for all the arts, and a strong interest in the literary currents of her times. Aristocratic lifetime of exploring the various modes of expression available to her, while viewing life from its most privileged upper reaches both at home and abroad, with little regard for those beneath her, as prelude to making total self-involvement the capstone of her ultimate philosophic view.


Storyline: The restless wanderer trots across the European political landscape with journalistic lance in hand to tilt against the ‘isms’ that defined the 20th century.

kArthur Koestler (1905-1983) - Hungarian/German/English writer. Outer: Parents were assimilated Jews, who were comfortably middle-class, and moved to Vienna at the outbreak of WW I. Had a troubled relationship with authority, and was also completely ambivalent about his roots. 5’8”, stocky, but naturally thin. Educated at the Univ. of Vienna, where he studied engineering, although was expelled after his father’s business failed and he couldn’t pay school fees. After being involved in Zionist organizations, he became a journalist in Palestine, then the Middle East, Paris and Berlin, but lost his position when he joined the Communist Party in 1932 as a response to Nazism. Traveled widely in central Asia, then moved to Paris. Married Dorothy Asher in 1935 so that his wife wouldn’t be deported from Switzerland, but the duo separated several months later and remained amicable. Became a freelance journalist, and was captured while reporting from the Loyalist side of the Spanish Civil War. Although he thought he would be executed, and considered suicide, he was released in 1937 through the intervention of the British government, and found himself famous afterwards. Resigned from the Communist Party and moved back to Paris where he wrote his best known novel, "Darkness at Noon," a testament against the totalitarian state. When it was published he was in solitary confinement in a British gaol as an undesirable alien. Interned in France 1939, but escaped to England, becoming a citizen in 1948, and finding, for the first time, a sense of security and relative comfort for most of the remainder of his life. In 1950, he married Mamaine Paget, his English secretary and a former debutante, but the duo separated a year later and divorced. Continued his writing following the themes of social reform and an interest in a scientific basis for telepathy, while traveling to the east in search of esoteric wisdom. Renounced his political activism in 1955, and in 1965, he married Cynthia Patterson, yet another of his secretaries who was much younger, and she remained devoted to him. After 7 years of crippling Parkinson’s Disease coupled with chronic lymphatic leukemia, he committed suicide via an overdose of barbiturates and alcohol along with his wife in a mutual pact, despite her good health. In his will he endowed a chair in parapsychology at Edinburgh Univ. Wrote some 40 books, the last 30 in English, including several autobiographical tomes. Inner: Restless, manic-depressive, obsessive and constantly in the need of the company of friends. Called himself the “Casanova of causes,” and wound up imprisoned in three countries, while attracting the attention of a host of intelligence agencies. Attractive to women, although treated them crudely, and was compulsively seductive, taking great delight in creating harems for himself, with hundreds of affairs, many of them recorded in his notebooks. Attracted to “beautiful cinderellas, infantile and inhibited,” who could be easily bullied. Allegedly raped the wife of a British M.P. Prickly, alcoholic, prone to fisticuffs and monumentally insecure, although capable of lifelong friendships. Migratory lifetime of bad behavior while exploring ‘isms’ from both sides, including Zionism, materialism and communism, and allowing his penetrating, albeit narrowly focused, mind to journalistically dance across the political embers of Europe’s dramatic 20th theater of ideas and ideals. kLudwig Tieck (1783-1853) - German writer. Outer: Father was a rope-maker. Passionately in love with his sister, which would continue to unbalance him throughout his life. An avid reader from the age of 5, he began writing early, when one of his teachers at the Gymnasium he attended, a writer of horror tales, hired him to pen the final chapters of his works. Wanted to be an actor, but his father objected, and instead he continued his education at several German universities, where he acquired a fund of knowledge on European literature, and soon focused on Elizabethan dramatists other than Shakespeare. Traveled with a companion to the wooded area of southeastern Germany, which aroused his interest in medievalia and would become a background for his later romantic tales. Hired by a publisher to adapt French fluff for German tastes, which aroused his risibilities, but because of his predilection for hallucination and depression, he had to give up the job. Married Amalie Alberti in 1798, one daughter from the union. Began writing the morbid, horrifying stories, based on folk tales, for which he would become known. An excellent satirist, but with a shimmering grip on reality. Hooked up with the romantics, and wrote both poetry and drama, but began suffering from rheumatic fever, which would plague him the rest of his life. Moved to Dresden, where he became a central figure in the literary court there, and became famous for his dramatic readings of Shakespeare, acting out the actor within. Wrote his most famous work, Phantasus, a collection of his varied works connected by conversational links extolling cultured society. Also worked as a drama critic, editor and translator, while establishing the short novel as a German literary form. When his beloved daughter died, he moved to Berlin in 1741 to assist in the direction of the Royal Theater. Denounced the course of romanticism in his later life, and by the time of his death, he was largely forgotten. A critic summed him up as having started as a hack writer of low standards and winding up as a hack writer of high standards, although other sources have been kinder. Inner: True romantic, felt that the artist’s life was the only one worth living. Troubled, obsessive, but dedicated to the upliftment of art. Demon-ridden lifetime of acting out his romantic nature during a creative time that supported his personal obsessions and idiosyncrasies, only to be ultimately consigned as a marginal figure, despite a fevered imagination and an equally tortured soul.


Storyline: Il professore provocatore loves to tweak the sensibilities of conservative traditionalists with his various stances, be they political, sexual or religious, in his ongoing self-appointed role as teacher of the sacred within the mundane.

kPier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975) - Italian filmmaker poet, journalist, actor and painter. Outer: Mother was an elementary schoolteacher, to whom he was extremely close. Father was a lieutenant in the Italian army, who once saved the life of dictator Benito Mussolini, and with whom he was strongly conflicted because of his middle-class values. Older of two brothers. After his sire was arrested for gambling debts in 1926, he moved to his mother’s family house in the Friuli region. Began penning poetry at 7, and following his father’s release, the family moved often, which unsettled him. Initially quite fervid in his religiosity, he would soon turn that ardor towards literature and soccer, taking part in the Fascist government’s emphasis on sports and competition. Hid his true same-sex feelings behind a virile physicality, and remained internally conflicted while growing up. Went to the Literature College at the Univ. of Bologna, and tried to publish a poetry magazine, while utilizing Friulian, a peasant dialect he had learned from his mother. Published his first collection of poetry in 1941, which was well-received. After traveling to Germany, he saw the limits of Fascism vis-à-vis Italian culture, and began his own political transition to communism. Went with his family to Casarsa in northeastern Italy to wait out the war in 1942, only to be drafted just prior to Italy’s capitulation in 1943. After being captured by the Germans, he escaped disguised as a peasant, and returned home, focusing on poetry and trying to steer clear of politics and partisan activity. Along with his mother, he taught those unable to go to school because of the fighting, and had his first homophile affair with one of them. Lost his brother in the latter stages of the larger war, and less than a week later co-founded the Friulian Language Academy, from which he graduated, after writing a thesis on the works of Giovanni Pascoli. Continued penning poetry, as well as a drama, and in 1947, wrote a controversial newspaper article extolling communism’s potential to shepherd in a reborn Italian culture. Became more involved with politics, although in 1949, was expelled from the Communist Party after being arrested on a moral’s charge, which also cost him his teaching position. Remained, however, an avowed Marxist the rest of his life. Moved to Rome afterwards, with his mother. Continued to teach, worked for Italian state radio, and also involved himself with the Cinecitta film studios. In 1955, he published his first novel, “Boys of Life,” a tale of male prostitutes, pimps and thieves, which brought moral charges against him, in his ongoing battle with conservative Italian authority. Similarly, his first film, Accatone! in 1961, which dealt with the Roman underworld, considerably raised conservative hackles. Subsequently used amateurs in his productions, preferring their naturalness and spontaneity to that of seasoned actors, and when he did use professionals, he tried to elicit their unadorned elements rather than their superficial selves. Traveled in India, the Middle East and Africa, doing documentaries, while continuing his nose-thumbing output. Best known for The Gospel According to St. Matthew in 1964, which actually received Church support for its stripped-down depiction of the life of the prophet Jesus. Alone among his fellow leftists, he supported the police in their confrontations with students in 1969, declaring them the true proletariat, not the privileged protesters. Bought an old castle north of Rome in 1970, and continued to explore sexual politics in his subsequent works, such as Bocaccio’s The Decameron and Arabian Nights. His final film, Salo, went far beyond tastes of the times in its sado-masochistic violence, and would wind up as his most controversial work. Brutally murdered by a hustler, Pino Pelosi, who ran over him several times with his own car at a beach, although the latter would recant his confession 30 years later, claiming anti-communists had done it. May have been a contract killing, involving more than one person, or it also may have been his final staged act, as a coda to a life where art and politics fatally conjoined. Buried in the jersey of the Italian Showmen national soccer team, which he had helped found. A neorealist in all he assayed, with a wish to portray the profound sadness of modern existence, thanks to a mindless materialism that usurped the true essence of the Italian character, particularly its peasanthood and the various dialects that once made each region unique. Inner: Deliberately provocative in his challenging of conventional morals, as well as the consumerist mentality of postwar Italy. A professed atheist, he felt that the world was sacred in and of itself, and had need no for any institutions to realize its holiness. Nonconformist choirboy lifetime of celebrating the political, spiritual and cultural divine in the sacred mundane. kGiosuè Carducci (Giosuè Alessandro Michele Carducci) (1835-1907) - Italian poet and critic. Outer: Father was a physician from an old Florentine family, and active politically in the fight to unite Italy, having been imprisoned during the revolution of 1831. Mother was quite cultured, and guided his early literary tastes. Because of political considerations, the family was forced to move quite often, while he came to rebel against his sire’s tastes, and the religious and cultural narrowness of the Catholic educational institutions he attended, creating a lifelong enmity against the Church. Wound up in Florence, and won a scholarship to the Univ. of Pisa. Short, powerfully built, with a large forehead above small, piercing eyes. In 1855, he published his first book, an anthology, showing a preference for classical Latin poets of antiquity . After graduation, he taught at a couple of institutions, before accepting the chair of Italian literature at the Univ. of Bologna in 1860, where one of his prize students was poet Giovanni Pascoli. Three years earlier his brother mysteriously committed suicide, and his father died the next annums, with both events disturbing him greatly. In 1859, he married Elvira Menicucci, and at the same time co-founded a short-lived periodical, where his critical essays led to his university appointment. Two daughters and a son who died in infancy from the union. Stressed pre-romantic Italian traditions, and renaissance humanism in his work, while he evolved politically from being a patriotic monarchist to becoming a democratic republican, with a strong anti-Catholic bias, particularly the abuse of power of the Vatican, seeing it as an enemy of Italy. His “Hymn to Satan,” published in 1865, was well-received by republicans wishing to limit papal authority in Italy, and as a mason, he was intimately involved with the the various forces fighting for the unification of the country and the limitation of the powers of the papacy. Subsequently identified as a satanist, he was far more anticlerical than pro-devil, viewing religion more in political terms than spiritual ones, with freedom of expression, celebration of nature’s wonders and humanistic enterprise as his own personal pietistic credo. Wrote in a restrained style, which ran counter to his personal and often fiery teaching persona. By the 1880s, he was a seminal figure in Italian culture, noted for his educational oratory and the depth and ardor of his teaching, although he was still the subject of criticism for some of his subject matter, which he defended most eloquently. His “Rime Nuove” and “”Odi Barbare,” both published at the end of the 1880s, are prime examples of his depth of intellect, in his reintegrating the ancient with the modern in language and rhythm. In 1890, he was made Senator of Italy, after earlier and briefly holding a seat in the Italian chamber. Despite his anticlerical stances, he saw Christianity as a temperer of humanity’s barbaric nature, and God as a high force overseeing all nations. Grew more moderate as he became older, eventually accepting monarchy as an emblem of Italian sovereignty. Suffered partial paralysis in 1899, and retired from teaching five years later because of declining health. The following year he was given a generous pension from the government to honor his long service to the country as one of its preeminent teachers and in 1906, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, the first Italian to be so honored, although he was too ill to accept it in person. Died a few months afterwards. In addition to his poetry, he was an accomplished translator, and also wrote literary criticism, biographies and essays. Inner: Lively and nonconformist, and a self-proclaimed radical rationalist, with little use for romantic sentimentalism. Had an extremely strong affinity for the classical past, and, as a humanist, little patience for superstition and patriotic doggerel. Attenzione classe lifetime of championing the past as the clearest and most eloquent voice of the revolutionary present, in his ongoing support of intellect, reality and reason as the ultimate trinity behind the sacredness of life.


Storyline: The former doomed diarist returns to fulfill her potential, using her considerable skills to remind her nation of its infamous past, while subsuming and burying her own personality to serve a far greater need to redress former horrors perpetrated on her as a world-famous archetypal victim.
nElfriede Jelinek (1946) - Austrian novelist and playwright. Outer: Mother was a personnel director from a prosperous Viennese family, and of mixed Romanian and German Catholic heritage. Father was a chemist of Jewish-Czech descent. Lost several family members to the Shoa during WW II, although her sire managed to survive because his work was important to the Nazi industrial war effort. Eventually, however, he died in a mental hospital in 1969. An only child, she went to a Roman Catholic convent school in Vienna, finding it extremely confining, while her mother, with whom she had a tense relationship, wished her to pursue a musical career, and she was given instrumental lessons towards that end. Had a lonely childhood, and while at the Vienna Conservatory, where she studied composition, she suffered an emotional breakdown at the age of 17, just before exams. During her recovery period, she turned to writing as a balm, and found her pen far more conducive to self-expression than her music ever did. Also attended the Univ. of Vienna, where she studied art his/story and drama, although did not graduate. Active in politics as a student, she later joined the Communist Party for 17 years, and her views of the use and cruel misuse of power would become a strong element in her works, winning her the strident enmity of Austria’s very vocal right-wing. Her first published work was a book of poetry, “Lisa’s Shadow,” in 1967. Her novels would follow, after traveling in Berlin and Rome, beginning with “We’re Decoys, Baby,” in 1970, which showed her originality in intermixing pop culture figures with her characters. Viscerally-visioned, she would counterpoint a flat writing style with the horrifics of her demented creations, in her desire to depict the grotesqueries that lie beneath conventional Austria’s view of itself. Although largely unknown outside the German speaking world, her works would strike an incendiary chord within them surrounding their fascist past and blind-eyed present, including “Wonderful, Wonderful Times,” about a pair of thrill-seeking teenage twins and their dense compatriots as a metaphor for past and present Austria. In 1974, she married Gottfried Hungsberg, an information-systems engineer, no children from the union. Has written extensively for the stage, with her works primarily performed in German-speaking countries, where they receive more than their share of “boos,” for their unremitting focus on opening wounds of the past and her blunt and often obscene depictions of her culture and society. In 1998, the plays were briefly banned because of their subject matter. After Jorg Haider’s Freedom Party won elections in 2000, she refused to allow them to be performed in Austria while he remained in office. His assessment of her work as “degenerate,” was a direct throwback to Nazi denunciations of all art which did not fit their turgid standards. Her larger body of work would focus on relationships, and the often distasteful dynamics behind them, using the personal to limn the social and the political. Best known outside Austria for “The Piano Teacher” which was made into a film, and was also her first work to appear in English, in 1988. Also wrote the libretto for an opera based on filmmaker David Lynch’s Lost Highway. In addition to numerous awards in her homeland, she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2004, although did not attend the ceremony claiming “extreme social phobia.” Per usual in reaction to her, one of the male awardees stalked out in protest over the selection, claiming her oeuvre to be pornographic and little more. Inner: Chillingly frank, fiercely political and extremely private. Feels everyone is a cauldron of inner turmoil, and is acutely interested in gender politics on the personal, and the huge imbalances that exist in the larger world on the political. Last name means “little deer” in Czech. Resurrected lifetime of bringing her sensibilities to full maturity in order to address an outer world still not yet recovered from the atrocities that did her in the last time around in this series, as she fearlessly forces her larger society to view them anew through her acute artistic lens. nAnne Frank (1929-1945) - German diarist. Outer: Father was a German-Jewish businessman. After a comfortable upbringing in Frankfurt, her progenitor took his wife and 2 daughters to live in Amsterdam when the Nazis came to power. Originally wanted to be a writer. Went into hiding for 2 years with the family and 4 others in a back room office of a spice warehouse for her father’s food-products business to avoid going to forced labor camp. Her father sent letters to the U.S. begging for money for visas, although his pleas were totally ignored. Supported by sympathetic friends who smuggled them food and supplies for 2 years, until they were raided by the Gestapo, who had been told by informers of their whereabouts. Sent to separate concentration camps, where she died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen. Only her father survived the war. Kept a remarkable diary during her underground existence, which she received on her 13th birthday, when she was still attending school. The diary became an intimate friend to her, to whom she could confide all her wishes and desires. Rewrote it, when she realized it might be a read record of the war. Its remarkably precocious insights were saved by friends after the family’s departure and given to the father after the war, who had it published, and it went on to have a life of its own, being translated into more than 30 languages. Despite all her travail, it revealed someone of optimistic heart who believed in the innate goodness of people. Later excerpts, which were not originally published, showed family strains and an unloving marriage. Also wrote fairy tales, short stories and essays. Inner: Extremely self-aware, with a great need to record herself. Fantasized about being a Hollywood star. Underground lifetime of exploring adolescence through recorded conversations with herself in the intense isolation of political imprisonment. nMaria Bashkirtseff (Maria Konstantinova Bashkirtseva) (1860-1884) - Ukrainian/French artist and writer. Outer: Daughter of wealthy Russian nobility, with her parents separating when she was 7. Spent her childhood with her mother in a house in southern France, passing her winters in Italy and summers in Germany, until they finally settled in Paris, where the latter bought her an apartment. Received an excellent education from private teachers, and became fluent in four languages, including ancient Greek. At first she pursued a singing career, but after her voice failed, she turned to art. Studied painting at the Academie Julien and exhibited at the 1880 salon, at which time she contracted tuberculosis. Her best known work was a study of Paris slum children called “The Meeting.” Spurned several titled suitors who may have been more interested in her money than her, and spent the rest of her brief life focused on her art, which consisted mainly of portraiture, including several studies of herself. Considered herself a feminist and penned several articles for a newspaper espousing that view under the name Pauline Orrel. Corresponded with both Guy de Maupassant (Roman Polanski) and Alexandre Dumas, fils (Tennessee Williams) while keeping her relationships with the opposite gender platonic. Her health, which had always been fragile, began to worsen, and she became deaf, before succumbing to tuberculosis just before her 24th birthday. Kept a diary from the time she was 12, which was published posthumously in France, showing her to be extremely sensitive to her isolation and frailties. The diary served as her inner voice, recording her evolution as an artist and maturing adolescent, with an excellent sense of insight about herself. In unhappy irony, most of her artworks were destroyed by the Nazis during WW II. Inner: Extremely self-aware, with a great need to record herself, as if her dialogues with herself were her most profound intimacy. Candle in the wind lifetime of exploring adolescence and early womanhood through portraiture and recorded conversations with herself, a seemingly repetitive theme of hers.


Storyline: The oft-censored satirist does continual battle with his longtime vampire state, until he is finally given the freedom to allow his scathing vision its full surreal due, without defanging interference from above.

uViktor Pelevin (1962) - Russian writer. Outer: Father was a military officer, although not a Party member. Mother was an economist, and the family enjoyed nomenklatura, or preferred, status, without being part of the Communist apparatchik apparatus. At the age of 14, he read “The Master and Margarita,” his previous life’s grand opus, in his school library and it inspired him to become a writer, as well as a freethinker. In order to avoid military service, he went to the Moscow Institute of Power Engineering, where he worked on a secret project protecting MIG fighters from flying insects. Having satisfied his mandatory military requirements, he then studied at Moscow’s Gorky Institute of Literature. Worked in a design office afterwards, and then as an editor of “Science and Religion” magazine, where he familiarized himself with eastern mystical practices. Became fascinated with the shamanistic works of Carlos Castaneda, which were circulating around underground Moscow in the 1980s, while also becoming a full time writer. His first collection, “The Blue Lantern,” won the Little Booker Prize for Short Stories in 1993, and his follow up first novel, “Omon Ra,” established him as postmodern sci-fier of far more than passing interest. In his subsequent oeuvre, he has continued to explore the nature of reality and identity via the tensions between direct experience and the distancing state of observing it. Had his 1996 novel “Buddha’s Little Finger,” removed from competition, since it was deemed “a potential virus that could destroy the country’s cultural memory,” in a throwback to the censorship imposed on him from lives past in this series. Reached best seller status in 1999, with “Generation “P””, a satire on contemporary Russia and its convoluted values. Has continued to delve into hyperrealities, in his subsequent works, including the notion that we live in a vampire age. Is viewed by his contemporaries as the most influential pop thinker in postmodern Russia, and has allowed all his works written before 2006 to be accessed for free on the internet. Inner: Extremely cerebral, as well as private, keeping himself quite hidden from public view. Self-styled left of right centrists and tantric agnostic. Never directly addresses his readers, preferring they bring their own overviews to his writing, rather than having them shaped by him. Avoids other writers, and uses Buddhism as a means of emptying his mind of clutter. Liberated lifetime of finally being given the freedom to explore the full extent of his rollicking mind, allowing him to take it as far and as wide as both sanity and insanity permits. uMikhail Bulgakov (1891-1940) - Russian novelist and playwright. Outer: Both grandparents had been part of the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church. Father was a respected assistant professor at the Kiev Ecclesiastical Academy. One of seven children, and the oldest of a trinity of brothers. Mother had been a teacher as well. Grew up in a loving environment, and had a fascination with the theater from an early age, penning comedies for family entertainment. At 10, he went to the First Kiev Gymnasium, where he was introduced to the writings of his previous go-round in this series. Following the death of his sire in 1907, his mother made sure he completed his education, which he did at St. Vladimir Univ., allowing him to eventually graduate with a medical degree from Kiev Univ. Married Tatiana Lappa in 1913 in a childless union. Served with the Red Cross at the eastern front during WW I, where he was wounded in the abdomen, which would effect his health the rest of his life, putting him in chronic pain, for which he used morphine. Became an addict, although was able to break himself of the habit by year’s end, and later wrote about it. After serving as a surgeon and then a provincial physician, he opened a private practice in Kiev in 1918, only to be mobilized into the subsequent civil war, and barely survived typhus in the northern Caucasus. Wanted to emigrate to Paris with the rest of his family, but was refused permission because of his ill health. Became a journalist, which led to playwriting and a move to Moscow. Wrote short pieces for a variety of newspapers, as well as satiric short stories with a sci-fi edge to them, before turning to the stage, only to see his works either refused production or banned outright, for their failure to glorify the new Soviet state. In 1925, he divorced and married Liubov Belozerskaia. Won the support of Russian dictator Joseph Stalin, who was deeply impressed by his “Days of the Turbins,” seeing it repeatedly, and getting him work at the Moscow Art Theatre as a director. Despite receiving public praise for his subsequent comedies, the state critics gave them a resounding thumb’s down because of their ambivalence, and by the end of the 1920s, he found himself a permanent victim of state censorship. Began working on his best-remembered work, the diabolical “The Master and Margarita,” in 1928, knowing full well it would never see print while he lived, so that he poured his entire essence into it. Wrote a letter to Stalin, asking to emigrate, and received a personal phone call in response, in which he recanted his request and was allowed to rejoin the Art Theater as an assistant stage director. In 1932, after divorcing, he wed Yelena Shilovskiya, in an extremely close union, with their relationship serving as inspiration for the surreal connection between the two titular characters in his novel. In 1932, after divorcing, he wed Yelena Shilovskiya, in an extremely close union, with their relationship serving as inspiration for the surreal connection between the two titular characters in his novel. Yelena had been happily married to an army officer, and had two children when they met, in what would be an obsessive relationship on both their parts, following her divorce, and their wedding the following day. She would type all his manuscripts, and continue to champion him after his death. Continued his writing in a variety of genres, as well as doing translations, while his satires on the Soviet system stayed in his desk, since they could have meant exile and death for him. Deeply depressed over not being able to see his birth family, in addition to the closed fist of the censorial state, he still retained Stalin’s good graces, which saved him from arrest, but punished the artist within. Joined the Bolshoi Theater in the late 1930s as a librettist and consultant, only to see the ban on his efforts continue. Even when he wrote a complimentary play on Stalin’s early revolutionary days, he saw it banned before it reached the rehearsal state. Asked to emigrate once again, but was refused. His single source of hope was his novel, into which he poured his creative soul, finally finishing it in 1939. Died the following year from an inherited kidney disorder, which had also taken the life of his father. Began to be rehabilitated in 1962, and “The Master and Margarita” would finally be published by his widow in 1966, at which time, it would be hailed as a masterpiece in its incisive indictment of Soviet Russia, although some of his short stories, including “Heart of a Dog,” would be far more imaginative and consistent in their pursuit of similar themes. Inner: Dualistic, with equal draws towards the courageous and the self-sacrificial, along with an obdurate unwillingness to bend to the larger forces continually castrating his creativity. Censured lifetime of falling victim to an insensate state unable to countenance his unerring view of his dead soul society. uMikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin (Mikhail Saltykov) (1826-1889) - Russian satirist. Outer: Parents were members of an ancient landholding nobility. Educated sporadically during a melancholy childhood, before entering the Moscow Institute for Nobles at the age of 10. After transferring to the Tsarskoye-Selo Lyceum, his passion for literature emerged, through both reading and versifying, although the latter practice was not encouraged by the authorities. Nevertheless, his talents were recognized, in keeping with the school’s foremost graduate, Alexander Pushkin (Tupac Shakur), and he began publishing his poems in literary magazines while still a teen. Later rejected his verse, never writing in that form again, since he did not like the idea of being viewed as a poet. After graduating in 1844, he entered the civil service in St. Petersburg, and, while toiling as a clerk in the Office of the Military Ministry, began associating with progressive malcontents seeking a more just society. Started penning short stories, with his second, “An Intricate Affair,” coinciding with the 1848 revolutions in France. Ran afoul of the czarist authorities for his pro-serf sensibilities, and was sent off to Vyatka, well northeast of Moscow, where he was allowed to continue his civil service career, but in exile. His conscientious work ethic brought him promotions, and he ultimately became an adviser to the police administration of the province. In 1856, the year his exile was terminated, he married the 17 year old daughter of the vice-governor, and returned to St. Petersburg, taking a position with the Ministry of the Interior, where he worked on peasant reform. Used his eight years of exile as fodder for satirical sketches of provincial officials, writing under the name of Shchedrin, which eventually became linked with his own. Able to use his position and pseudonym to directly observe bureaucratic life, and reveal governmental malpractices. Became vice-governor of a wealthy province southeast of Moscow, as his fame as a satirist grew. Quit his position and joined the magazine that had published most of his sketches, “The Contemporary,” in 1863, only to return to government service the following year, because of both censorship, and the poor rewards of a pure literary life. In 1868, he was invited to share the editorship of a second magazine, “Notes of the Fatherland,” which promised better remuneration, and he resigned again. Visited Paris in the mid-1870s, and published his only novel, “The Golovyov Family,” in 1876, which lacked the bite of his shorter pieces. When his coeditor, the poet Nikolai Nekrasov (Yevgeny Yevtushenko) died in 1878, he became the magazine’s sole director, only to see its owners terminate publication in 1884, when it was banned by the government. Crushed by this loss of a direct linkage with his readers, he was able to join another journal the same year, and remained with it the rest of his life. Just before his death, he began a new work, wishing to remind people of the lost language of humanism in contemporary tsarist society, including “conscience, fatherland and humanity.” Wrote entirely in a satirical vein and chose as his subject matter social abuses, which he would limn in an offhand manner, often in fable form, so as to lessen the possibility of censorship. Published these tales in “Fables,” in 1885. Inner: Harsh critic of tsarist Russia, with his life dedicated to exposing its autocratic abuses, and feudal backwardness, without putting his own precarious existence at stake. Mordant lifetime of carefully sidestepping authorities in order to give life to his writings, as a social critic of the first order, forced by a second-rate culture to be far more circumscribed than he would have liked.


Storyline: The mordant humorist remains a prisoner of his own insecurities despite a scathing wit and the ability to augment the language with his ongoing inventiveness.

kJoseph Heller (1923-1999) - American writer. Outer: Parents were Russian immigrants. Father was a truck/driver for a bakery, mother barely spoke English. The former had been an agnostic and a socialist who fled the czar, and died of a botched ulcer operation, when his son was 5. Grew up near Coney Island, worked as a Western Union delivery boy, then briefly labored as a defense worker in a Navy blacksmith shop. During WW II, he spent 3 years in the U.S. Army Air Corps, flying 60 missions as a B-25 wing bombardier, rising to the rank of lieutenant. Afterwards, he went to USC and NYU on the G.I. Bill, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. Received his M.A. at Columbia and spent a year at Oxford as a Fulbright scholar. Worked as an instructor in English at Penn State for 2 years, an advertising writer for Time magazine, then Look, then as a promotion manager for McCall’s. Lifelong reader, the singular great passion in his life, aside from food. In his early 20s, he married Shirley Held, an extremely supportive fellow Brooklynite, 2 children from the union, daughter Erica became a writer. Put his war experiences into Catch-22, in his late 30s, which entered the language as a self-contradictory paradoxical phrase, although the book, and its absurdist view of war took a while to catch on. Became a fulltime writer with its success, as well as holding professorships at various schools, although he wound up recycling it in later work, and never really transcended its initial brilliance. His subsequent works were produced at great intervals, as he proved to be an agonizingly slow writer. After an adult lifetime of anxiety over his health, he was stricken with a nerve disease in the early 1980s that left him paralyzed for several months, and almost too weak to breathe. Recovered and wrote about the experience in No Laughing Matter. Also divorced his wife of nearly 40 years in 1984 and 3 years later, he married his nurse, Valerie Humphries. The first volume of his memoirs were published in 1998, Now and Then. Died of a heart attack just before the millennium. Inner: Extremely mordant view of the world, unable to find extended happiness in it. Highly social recluse and gourmand, with no other hobbies but thinking. Intelligent, and aggressively scholarly. Neurotic, argumentative, hidden, with his anger masked in humor, save towards those closest to him. Inveterate worrier, slow, methodical worker. Mordant lifetime of continuing patterns of searching for security and happiness, and finding an appropriate literary metaphor for his times, while a remaining a paralyzed prisoner of his own insecurities. kIvan Goncharov (1812-1891) - Russian novelist. Outer: Born into one of the leading grain merchant families of Simbirsk. His father died when he was 7, while his godfather, a retired naval officer and liberal-minded aristocrat, served as a surrogate parent. Often visited his estate, whose beauty he would later celebrate in his works. Learned French and German, then completed his education in Moscow, in a school of commerce, before attending the university there. Showed some signs of mental instability in his teens, which would come to far fuller flower later on. Unaffected by the romantic movement, and, unlike fellow literateurs of his generation who were revolutionaries or rebels, he became a civil servant afterwards, as a translator, pursuing that career the rest of his working life. Solid, well-proportioned and handsome. Began writing early, methodically applying himself to the study of literature, and published his 1st novel in his mid-30s, which was enthusiastically received. Took a 2 year trip to Japan when he was 40, that included England and South Africa on its route, as an his/storiographer to an admiral. The trip was ultimately scuttled because of the outbreak of the Crimean War. Made his way back via northern Siberia, and later wrote about the journey. Made censor after the death of the czar, officially holding the position for a year, but unofficially helping to lessen the stringency of this office for the rest of his governmental career. Completed his masterwork Oblomov in 1859, after working on it for a decade, and the archetypal indolent noble main character of that novel became part of the language, as someone totally superfluous. Retired from government work at the earliest age possible, 55, and devoted the rest of his life to literature, continuing to explore the same themes. Felt, without any concrete grounds, that he was being plagiarized by Ivan Turgenev (Vlaldimir Nabokov), and became quite maniacal over his suspicions, feeling anyone who asked him about his work was an agent of that writer. Never married, naming his housekeeper as his sole heir. After resigning from the civil service, he lived the rest of his life in a flat in St. Petersburg, in isolation and subject to his various delusions. Although his output was limited, he had a wide-reaching influence. Inner: Outwardly calm, retiring and extremely methodical, but inwardly suffered from a competitive imbalance. Plodding lifetime of a slow, sure focus to everything he did, so that he could let his imagination loose from a secure, if not particularly inspiring, economic base, as well as a mind not quite tethered to any reality other than his own.


Storyline: The sharp-eyed social commentator struts his telling stuff on two continents, showing a remarkable adaptability and the ability to make incisive statements in whatever cultural milieu he chooses to illuminate.

cMilos Forman (Jan Tomas Forman) (1932) - Czech/American filmmaker. Outer: Father was a Jewish professor of education. Mother was a Protestant. Raised by relatives after both parents died in Nazi concentration camps. 5’11 1/2”, 185 lbs. Graduated Prague’s Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and began writing screenplays in the mid-1950s, while participating in the Laterna Magika mixed-media shows. Married popular Czech actress Jana Brejchova in 1951, divorced 5 years later. Began his directorial career in his early 30s, coming to international attention with Loves of a Blonde and The Firemen’s Ball, two telling looks at Czech society. Allowed his actors the freedom of improvisation, while turning his satiric and ironic eye to the foibles of ordinary people, with the difference between the generations as his focus. Married another Czech actress, Vera Kresadlova, in 1964, later divorced, twin sons from union, Matej and Petr, both became actors. Was in Paris when his homeland was invaded in 1968 by Russia, and remained there and then emigrated the following year to the United States, where he embarked on a highly successful career as an expatriate director. His best known film is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a study in imbalanced rebellion, which won a score of Academy Rewards, including best director in 1975. Won a second Academy Reward for Amadeus, in 1984, which garnered 8 Oscars all told. Became an American citizen in 1975, and that year was appointed a full professor and co-director of the film division of Columbia Univ. Married a third time in 1999 to a Czech singer, Martina Zborilova, twin sons from union. Despite his alien eye, he has continued to direct works around the oddities of American culture, bringing a sure-handed technique and a sympathy to many of his unlikely subjects in a prolific career of unabated social and psychological commentary. Inner: Good-humored, sharp-eyed, with the ability to give a penetrating look at a variety of cultures in a variety of time periods. Émigré lifetime of transcending cultures in order to bring his ironic and satiric vision to a world-wide audience. cAlexander Ostrovsky (1823-1886) - Russian playwright. Outer: Son of a lawyer who did business with Moscow tradesman. Developed a love for the theater during his youth. Studied law at the Univ. of Moscow but left after 3 years without a degree to take a governmental post at the Courts of Equity and Commerce in 1843. Two years later, he switched to the Court of Commerce, where he labored for the next 6 years, before being dismissed. Used his work experience to limn the merchant classes and the law courts in his particular brand of satirical realism. Read his initial plays in literary salons, and by 1850, had established a reputation for himself, although the nature of his work won him the enmity of government censors and the Moscow merchants, whom he so devastatingly depicted. His first play, “A Family Affair,” aroused so much controversy, it wasn’t presented in its original form until 1881, after earlier causing his dismissal. Able to quit his job in his late 20s and devote his full attention to writing, eventually producing over 50 plays in his next four decades, in his almost exclusive focus on the theater. Most were written in blank verse. Also authored naturalistic prose, and did some translating from the canon of European classical literature. Married, several children from union. Despite his initial successes, he was unable to realize much financial reward for them, affecting both his health and outlook. Became one of the editors of a monthly magazine identified with the Slavophile movement. His later career gave him the material security earlier denied him, but his constitution remained weak from overwork. Ultimately was appointed artistic director of the Moscow Theatrical School in 1885, as well as the Repertory for the Moscow Theater, although the stress of the positions, coupled with his failing health, finally led to his death a year later. Much of his work focused on the conflicts between patriarchal fathers and the children who challenge them, and are often crushed in their attempts at changing things. Used types rather than well-developed characters, exploring manners, rather than deep psychological conflicts. Inner: Natural satirist, with a sharp eye for human foibles. Far more interested in psychological processes than great social issues. Great master of the Russian vernacular, much more a national writer than a universal one. Nose-thumbing lifetime of turning his observations and experience into entertaining and edifying exposition, as a bridge between the generations, while internalizing his own difficulties in making his insights commercially viable in an intransigent society which did not like its weaknesses tweaked.


Storyline: The dystopian expositor savages contemporary Russian society through both its reimagined past and future, while obscenely milling the profound gall he feels over the continued decline of both civilization and the Soviet state.

kVladimir Sorokin (1955) - Russian writer and artist. Outer: Father was a professor of metallurgy. Stuttered as a child, although art proved a breakthrough for him, allowing him to reclaim his verbal powers of expression. Despite having little interest in it, he attended the Gubkin Institute of Oil and Gas in Moscow, graduating in 1977 as an engineer, although never pursued the field as a career. Five years beforehand, he published his first piece in an oil industry journal. Worked for a year for the magazine, “Change,” before being forced to leave when he refused to become a member of Komsomol, a Communist youth organization. Participated in a number of art exhibitions during the 1970s, and also illustrated a host of books, while also teaching Russian literature and language in Japan. In 1977, he married a music teacher named Irina, two children from the union. Honed his literary talents as a member of Moscow’s avant-garde underground scene during the 1980s, publishing in samizdat hand-printed journals. Found an enthusiastic audience in France, for both his short stories and his first novel, “The Queue,” since his works were banned in Russia until the fall of the Soviet regime. Finally achieved recognition there, when a Latvian magazine published some of his stories in the fall of 1989. Identified with the Conceptualist school, where concepts reign, rather than aesthetics, with a parodist gift for limning the absurd, and a wide-ranging knowledge of Russian literature, allowing him to use folk tales and legends, while deconstructing Russian and Soviet classics, eliciting protests by young Putiniks against his nothing-is-sacred sensibilities in “Blue Lard,” in which he imagined former dictators Stalin and Khruschev having at one another sexually. Eventually renounced Conceptualism, seeing civilization in a downward spiral, brought on by the dehumanization of technology. Continues to explore the possibilities of both dystopia, and a return to a more primal state in his caustic works. Has also written both screenplays and scripts for the German cinema. Won the prestigious Andrey Bely (Woody Allen) Prize in 2001. His protagonists usually suffer horribly, and his works very rarely end optimistically, despite often beginning innocuously before violently veering off into the most morbid corners of the human psyche, including cannibalism. As a direct reflector of the Russian imagination, he first touched on forbidden areas, then when they became part of contemporary life following the fall of the Soviet Union, he ultimately had to turn to mythology in order to reexamine the world around him through the past and projected future, so that all of time resonates in the odd reflections he creates of Russia. Has enjoyed an international audience, with his works translated into 22 languages. Inner: Strongly anti-totalitarian, seeing Russia slipping backwards to that dreaded state. Continually fighting charges that his work is pornographic, because of his natural proclivity to reduce that which he despises to the obscene. Dreamguide lifetime of taking full advantage of the freedom of expression of his time to explore Russia’s darkest social and cultural edges. kYevgeny Zamyatin (1884-1937) - Russian writer. Outer: Mother was well-educated, and played the piano, while also passing down her love of literature to her son, who later proclaimed his best friends in childhood were books. Father was a Russian Orthodox priest as well as a schoolmaster. Saw letters in terms of colors, and properties, and pawned the gold medal he won at his high school. Studied naval engineering at the St. Petersburg Polytechnic Institute during the first decade of the century, and joined the Bolsheviks in the early stages of the Russian Revolution, while traveling and working in factories and on ships during his summers. Arrested in 1905 and exiled, although snuck back into St. Petersburg, illegally finishing his studies in 1908. Began lecturing and publishing both fiction and technical articles, with his first story story, based on his prison experience. Arrested and exiled again in 1911, before a general amnesty was issued in 1913, on the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Romanov dynasty. The same year a satire he wrote about small town life won him renown, although the following year he was tried for a story he penned that denigrated the military with its depiction of unsavory practices at an army garrison. Worked both in Russia and Europe, including England, where he supervised construction of ice breakers in 1916. His sojourn there produced two satires on English life, while he became known as “the Englishman,” because of his exaggerated formal behavior, as well as his liking for tweed suits. Became a journal editor following the Russian Revolution, while penning articles under the name M. Platonov for socialist newspapers, while lecturing on writing and translating popular English and American writers into Russian. More arrests followed in 1919 and 1922, as he continually protested the censorship of cultural authority. Although he remained a supporter in principle of the revolution, he detested its fear of nonparty line expositions, and his criticisms of the Communist Party did not sit well with its humorless leaders. After trying to smuggle out his best-known novel “We” to an émigré journal in Prague, his works were no longer published in the Soviet Union. “We” was a political satire on a future dystopian police state of the 26th century, where everyone is a number, rather than a name, and all life and thought are absurdly controlled, which was viewed as a maliciously slanderous work on socialism. By the end of the 1920s, his works were banned and he was forced to give up his leadership of the All-Russian Writer’s Union. Appealed by letter to dictator Joseph Stalin to leave the country in 1931, and was granted exile through the intercession of writer Maxim Gorki. Settled with his wife in Paris, and collaborated with French film director Jean Renoir on Gorki’s “The Lower Depths,” writing the screenplay. Never fully adjusted to French life, and died in poverty of a heart attack. Wasn’t rehabilitated until 1988. Inner: Saw himself as a neorealist, in his microscopic overview of Russian life. Also felt humor was an all-important element of perspective. Worked out of central metaphorical images, building on them, with a fondness for mathematical or geometric interplays. Well-organized thinker, with the belief that it is the heretics who are the true prophets of society. Heretic lifetime of pushing the narrow boundaries of critical art in a police state, and ultimately suffering mightily for his purity of vision.




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