1950: Books and Literature

The Way West by A. B. Guthrie, Jr. wins the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Bertrand Russell won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The National Book Awards are established and the fiction award is presented by former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt to author Nelson Ahlgren for his book, Man With the Golden Arm.

The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli, published in 1949, went on to win the Newbery Award in 1950. The story a boy, Robin, during the Middle Ages who wants to become a knight like his father. However, disease (polio?) strikes, and Robin’s legs become paralyzed. He is taken to a monastery where he regains the use of his legs to some extent and strengthens his spirit and character with the friendship and help of the monks. Robin later becomes a hero. It’s a lovely story to read aloud to children who are trying to figure out what real bravery and heroism are.

The Carnegie Medal for Children’s Literature is awarded to The Lark on the Wing by Elfrida Vipont. Has anybody read it?

Published in 1950:
The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovanni Guareschi.
Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

So they went and knocked on the study door, and the Professor said “Come in,” and got up and found chairs for them and said he was quite at their disposal. Then he sat listening to them with the tips of his fingers pressed together and never interrupting, till they had finished the whole story. After that he said noting for quite a long time. Then he cleared his throat and said the last thing either of them expected:

“How do you know,” he asked, “that your sister’s story is not true?”

“Oh, but–” began Susan, and then stopped. Anyone could see from the old man’s face that he was perfectly serious. Then Susan pulled herself together and said, “But Edmund said they had only been pretending.”

“That is a point,” said the professor, “which certainly deserves consideration. For instance – if you will excuse me for asking the question – does your experience lead you to regard you brother or your sister as the more reliable? I mean, which is the more truthful?”

“That’s just the funny thing about it, sir,” said Peter. “Up till now, I’d have said Lucy every time.”

“And what do you think, my dear?” said the Professor, turning to Susan.

“Well,” said Susan, “in general, I’d say the same as Peter, but this couldn’t be true — all this about the wood and the Faun.”

“That is more than I know,” said the Professor, “and a charge of lying against someone whom you have always found truthful is a very serious thing; a very serious thing indeed.”

“We were afraid it mightn’t even be lying,” said Susan; “we thought there might be something wrong with Lucy.”

“Madness, you mean?” said the Professor quite coolly. “Oh, you can make your minds easy about that. One has only to look at her to see that she is not mad.”

“But then,” said Susan, and stopped. Shehad never dreamed that a grown-up would talk like the Professor and didn’t know what to think.

“Logic!” said the Professor half to himself. “Why don’t they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn’t tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.”

A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute.
Three Doors to Death and In the Best Families by Rex Stout. Nero Wolfe’s charge to his assistant Archie: “You are to act in the light of experience as guided by intelligence.”
The 13 Clocks by James Thurber. Reviewed at Things Mean a Lot.

“Once upon a time, in a gloomy castle on a lonely hill, where there were thirteen clocks that wouldn’t go, there lived a cold, aggressive Duke, and his niece, the Princess Saralinda. She was warm in every wind and weather, but he was always cold. His hands were as cold as his smile and almost as cold as his heart.”

Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl.

2 thoughts on “1950: Books and Literature

  1. I just wanted to let you know you made me happy this morning. I love C.S. Lewis and that passage is one of my favorites from one of my favorite books. It reminds me of another quote by Lewis in Mere Christianity, “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

  2. I just caught up with your “history” posts and thoroughly enjoy them, and I have to remember about your Saturday Review of Books.

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