Literary Daybook, Feb. 6

Real and imaginary events of interest to readers.

By the Salon Books Editors
Published February 6, 2002 8:00PM (EST)

Today in fiction

On Feb. 6, 2057, a breakthrough is achieved on Mars emigration policy.
-- "Red Mars" (1993)
by Kim Stanley Robinson

From "The Book of Fictional Days"
Know when something that did not really happen
occurred? Send it to

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Today in Literary History

On this day in 1915, Robert Frost's "The Death of the Hired Man" was published in New Republic magazine. The poem was written years earlier, during Frost's farming days in Derry, N.H., and had first appeared in print some months earlier in the British edition of Frost's second collection, "North of Boston." British reviewers had praised it and several other poems in the collection as "masterpieces of deep and mysterious tenderness"; its publication in an influential American magazine, just weeks before the American edition of "North of Boston," helped greatly to promote sales, and to bring Frost himself home from England to stay:

"...'Warren,' she said, 'he has come home to die:
You needn't be afraid he'll leave you this time.'

"Home," he mocked gently.

"Yes, what else but home?

It all depends on what you mean by home.
Of course he's nothing to us any more
Than was the hound that came a stranger to us
Out of the woods, worn out upon the trail."

'Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in...'"

Some reviewers of "North of Boston" wondered in print why "a made-in-England reputation is so coveted by poets of this country," but with 20,000 copies sold in its first year, an almost unheard of number for a book of poetry, Frost was able to implement his plan of buying a new farm, "and getting Yankier and Yankier."

-- Steve King

To find out more about "Today in Literary History," e-mail Steve King.

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