[Daily article] February 1: Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo

Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo (1903?–1937) is Madagascar’s national poet. He
grew up impoverished and failed to complete secondary education, but
taught himself the traditions of French literature and Malagasy poetry,
and gained work in a publishing house as a proofreader and editor of its
literary journals. He produced numerous poetry anthologies in French and
Malagasy, as well as literary critiques, an opera, and two novels. After
an early period of modernist-inspired poetry, the originality of his
surrealist poetry garnered strong praise and drew attention in
international poetry reviews. Nevertheless, Rabearivelo never gained
support from colonial Madagascar’s high society. He suffered personally
and professionally: his three-year-old daughter died, the French
authorities excluded him from the list of exhibitors at the Universal
Exposition in Paris, and philandering and opium addiction worsened his
debt. After his suicide by cyanide poisoning, he was hailed by literary
figures including Léopold Sédar Senghor as Africa’s first modern poet.
A room has been dedicated to him in the National Library of Madagascar.

Read more:

Today’s selected anniversaries:


Fourteen-year-old Edward III became King of England, but the
country was ruled by his mother, Queen Isabella, and her lover, Roger


Giacomo Puccini’s opera La bohème premiered at the Teatro
Regio in Turin, Italy, eventually becoming one of the most frequently
performed operas internationally.


Four African American students staged the first Greensboro sit-
ins at a lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina.


Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned from exile and soon led
the Iranian Revolution to overthrow the US-backed Pahlavi dynasty.


Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir became Iceland’s first female Prime
Minister and the world’s first openly gay head of government of the
modern era.

Wiktionary’s word of the day:

1. The act of going from one room to another room by jumping from the
balcony of one room to the balcony of the other.
2. The act of jumping from a balcony towards a swimming pool.

Wikiquote quote of the day:

  Every today is at the same time both a cradle and a shroud: a
shroud for yesterday, a cradle for tomorrow. Today, yesterday, and
tomorrow are equally near to one another, and equally far. … Today is
doomed to die — because yesterday died, and because tomorrow will be
born. Such is the wise and cruel law. Cruel, because it condemns to
eternal dissatisfaction those who already today see the distant peaks of
tomorrow; wise, because eternal dissatisfaction is the only pledge of
eternal movement forward, eternal creation. He who has found his ideal
today is, like Lot’s wife, already turned to a pillar of salt, has
already sunk into the earth and does not move ahead. The world is kept
alive only by heretics: the heretic Christ, the heretic Copernicus, the
heretic Tolstoy. Our symbol of faith is heresy: tomorrow is an
inevitable heresy of today, which has turned into a pillar of salt, and
to yesterday, which has scattered to dust. Today denies yesterday, but
is a denial of denial tomorrow. This is the constant dialectic path
which in a grandiose parabola sweeps the world into infinity. Yesterday,
the thesis; today, the antithesis, and tomorrow, the synthesis.  
–Yevgeny Zamyatin

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