Culture

William Saroyan Centennial

(August 31, 1908 - May 18, 1981)

Monday 22 September 2008, by Ceyda Turan

Internationally renowned Armenian-American novelist and playwright William Saroyan, was born in Fresno, California in 1908. He published over 4,000 literary works, including short stories, plays, and novels. His first published success was a short story called “The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze.” In 1939 he became a playwright with “My Heart’s in the Highlands.”

It was Saroyan’s optimistic, exuberant voice that made him a literary sensation at the age of 26. His stories celebrated optimism in the midst of the Great Depression. He created a prose style full of enthusiasm for life layered over melancholy that came to be called “Saroyanesque.” In his own words:

“Three times in my life I have been captured: by the orphanage, by school, and by the Army. I was four years in the orphanage, seven or eight in school, and three in the Army. Each seemed forever, though. But I’m mistaken. The fact is I was captured only once, when I was born, only that capture is also setting free, which is what this is actually all about. The free prisoner.”

“The writer is a spiritual anarchist, as in the depth of his soul every man is. He is discontented with everything and everybody. The writer is everybody’s best friend and only true enemy - the good and great enemy. He neither walks with the multitude nor cheers with them. The writer who is a writer is a rebel who never stops.”

At the age of 32, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his The Time of Your Life but declined it on the grounds that commerce could not judge art. Professor Dickran Kouymjian, the editor of two collections of Saroyan’s plays said ‘’He was the most famous writer in the United States in that short period. There is no one close to it.’’ His satirical novel The Adventures of Wesley Jackson was described as the first anti-war novel of the Second World War.

Saroyan’s plays were drawn from deeply personal sources. Aram was the name of his own son, but his “My Name is Aram” was an autobiographical collection of short essays. He won an Academy Award in 1943 for the original story of “The Human Comedy.”

À propos de Ceyda Turan

Titulaire d’une maîtrise en développement international de l’Université de Londres (SOAS) en Angleterre, Ceyda détient également un diplôme en science politique et développement international de l’Université McGill. Originaire de Turquie et ayant étudié dans le monde en développement, elle connaît bien les enjeux du développement international. Elle a un intérêt marqué pour des questions touchant les droits humains et a entre autres collaboré au Kurdish Human Rights Project de Londres comme traductrice en plus d’assumer le poste de secrétaire de la section locale d’Amnistie Internationale à SOAS. Avant de se joindre à l’Institut des politiques sociales et de la santé de l’université McGill en tant qu’assistante de recherche et de communication, elle travaillait au sein du programme immigration et employabilité d’Alternatives. Elle continue contribuer au Journal Alternatives.

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