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Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Most Unromantic Valentine's Day Post You'll Ever Read

Valentine's Day is upon us! Unfortunately (or happily, for some), we don't all have a sweetheart with whom we can share the day. Here are some great nuggets that happened on February 14 that have absolutely nothing to do with love.

    Frederick Douglass
    • Frederick Douglass was born a slave in February of 1818. Once when he was a child, his mother called him her Valentine. He chose to celebrate his birthday on February 14 in honor of her memory. He became a staunch abolitionist and went on to edit a newspaper and to author many autobiographical works, such as A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. That's about one of the sweetest things I've ever read, and I definitely felt myself becoming emotional as I read it. Romantic value? Oh, about a 0.
    • Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest opened in London on February 14, 1895. Although there is an air of romance about the play, the sheer genius of Wilde's droll wit has always been what has impressed me. Some Oscar Wilde, with or without a date, is always rewarding.
    • Some of the results of
      the Dresden firebombing
      The eve of 1945's Valentine's Day and well into the morning of Love Day itself heralded the beginning of the firebombing of Dresden during World War II. Kurt Vonnegut's controversial novel Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death goes into some detail about the bombing. Nothing like a little firebombing to put you in an unromantic mood.

    • On Valentine's Day 1974, Alexander Solzhenitsyn was charged with treason for his book The Gulag Archipelago. The book is a detailed examination of the gulag prison system in the now former Soviet Union. Treason, exile, and Siberian prison camps: three things that don't make me feel loving or lovable.
    • P. G. Wodehouse, the author of the Jeeves and Wooster books (one word: hilarious) and various other books, short stories, and plays, had a heart attack and died February 14, 1975. Not the best Valentine's Day for his loving wife Ethel.
    • Salman Rushdie and
      The Satanic Verses
      On February 14, 1989 the Ayatollah Khomeini, the religious and political ruler of Iran, issued a fatwa asking for author Salman Rushdie's death. Rushdie's book, The Satanic Verses, caused much conflict in the world of Islam, and many Muslims agreed with Khomeni that the book attacked the Prophet Mohammed and the sacred book the Koran. Not in a loving mood at all, was he?
    • There are at least two men to whom Valentine's Day is attributed; neither of them met a pretty end. Saint Valentine of Terni was tortured and beheaded, while Saint Valentine of Rome was merely beaten and beheaded. Either way, once you've lost your head, you're probably not thinking much about romance.
    If you didn't see it last year be sure to check out our Valentine's Day tribute to loving names. The Reference Department at the Mississippi Library Commission hopes you have a happy and well-read February 14th.

    "Frederick Douglass." Notable Black American Men, Book II. Ed. Jessie Carney Smith. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 14 Feb. 2013.
    "P(elham) G(renville) Wodehouse." Contemporary Popular Writers. Ed. Dave Mote. Detroit: St. James Press, 1997. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 14 Feb. 2013.

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