Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mysterious Birthdays

Today is the birthday of the poet W.H. Auden, whose famously furrowed face inspired the composer Igor Stravinsky to quip "Soon we shall have to smooth him out to see who he is."

Auden was the author of many famous poems, one of which is the mysterious "The Unknown Citizen," a quiet satire which raises questions about conformity, government, freedom and happiness, and which I always like to contrast with Camus' The Stranger.

On a less literary note, today is also the birthday of the wonderful Alan Rickman, whose career has produced many notable roles. I must admit to loving the most commercial of them: his performance as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies. Rickman has an amazing voice, wonderfully nasal and well-modulated, which adds nuance to his roles. Snape must be in the top five of the most mysterious characters created in the last decade, and Rickman captures that mystery on screen.

(photo link here)

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