The Pleasure of Not Hating William Hazlitt

William HazlittJoseph Pulitzer was born on this day back in 1847. I used to have a cat named Pulitzer. So for the record, it it pronounced poo-litzer, not peu-litzer. And yes: yellow journalism and all that. But it was still better than the pretend objectivity of the modern mainstream press. Playwright Clare Boothe Luce was born in 1903. She wrote The Women, which apparently was quite the feminist statement in 1936, but now comes off as more an apologia for “boys will be boys.” Harry Morgan was born in 1915 and lived to be 96. I’m not that fond of him, but he lived in my home town so I have a bit of a soft spot for him. The astrologer Linda Goodman was born in 1925. I’m no fan of astrology, but Goodman was a wonderful, amusing writer. And the great journalist, David Halberstam was born in 1934. He was in Vietnam in 1963 and reported on the self-immolation of Thich Quang Duc:

I was to see that sight again, but once was enough. Flames were coming from a human being; his body was slowly withering and shriveling up, his head blackening and charring. In the air was the smell of burning human flesh; human beings burn surprisingly quickly. Behind me I could hear the sobbing of the Vietnamese who were now gathering. I was too shocked to cry, too confused to take notes or ask questions, too bewildered to even think … As he burned he never moved a muscle, never uttered a sound, his outward composure in sharp contrast to the wailing people around him.

The great actor Max von Sydow of The Seventh Seal and many other films is 84 today. I think he’s got at least another ten years in him. The wonderful jazz composer Claude Bolling is 83. Author Anne Lamott is 59. Conservative pundit Juan Williams is also 59. I only bring him up because my father likes watching him on Fox News; my father thinks he is a liberal. And guitarist Brian Setzer is 54.

But the day belongs to the great essayist William Hazlitt who was born on this day back in 1778. His writing is clear and his thinking deep: two things we don’t much get from modern writers. He was also a literary critic and one of the few reasonable people writing about Shakespeare in the 18th century. I wrote a little about reading his essay, “The Pleasure of Hating.” Check him out!

Happy birthday William!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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