Thursday, October 14, 2010

5 Famous Writers That Lived in Exile

The writers listed here are among the best and the brightest who created works that would go on to inspire and influence fellow writers and students for ages. Sure, maybe you’ve heard of Tolstoy and the Marquis de Sade, but do you know where they were as they skyrocketed to fame? Probably not. Here’s the stories behind five famous writers that lived in exile.

1. Dante Alighieri. Dante Alighieri is usually known as Dante and his most famous work is Divine Comedy. It consists of three parts and arguable Inferno is the work that resonates most with readers. Dante went to battle with the Florentine Guelphs against the Ghibellines in 1289. The Guelphs won and from there divided into two sects – the White Guelphs and the Black Guelphs. Dante belonged to the White Guelphs, which was ruled by Vieri de Cerchi. The Whites wanted more freedom for the citizens in Rome, while the Blacks supported rule by the Pope. The Pope asked Dante to remain in Rome, which later led to being condemned to exile for two years, along with a fine. Though Dante refused to pay the fine because he felt he did nothing wrong, the Black Guelphs had already seized his funds. It is while in exile that Dante creates Divine Comedy. Dante was granted amnesty in 1315 after the fall of the Black Guelphs. A fine and public penance were required and again, Dante refused, choosing instead to stay in exile.

2. Aristotle. There isn’t a subject Aristotle didn’t cover with his immense work. Whether it was art, philosophy, nature or logic, Aristotle had an opinion on everything and wasn’t afraid to share it. At the young age of 17, Aristotle went on to study at the Academy in Athens. He later became a tutor for Amyntas’ grandson – the future Alexander the Great (you might have heard of him). Alexander’s father was killed and later Alexander died, prompting the Assembly in Athens to rise against Antipon. Due to his background and connection to Alexander the Great, Aristotle was labeled pro-Macedonian and sentenced to exile, where he died at the age of 63.

3. Marquis de Sade. The Marquis de Sade and his work have made their way into pop culture in a major way. The Marquis de Sade was far ahead of his time and had a mind that begged to be censored in the 18th century. After a few relationships, the Marquis has a tryst with a prostitute in Paris who accuses him of verbal assault. A little over a week later, the Marquis is arrested and later exiled to his chateau. It is here that he creates his explicit works that are still deemed racy in the modern age. Though historical evidence shows the Marquis dabbled in explicit sexual activity prior to his being exiled, it is perhaps because he was confined that he chose to write stories on the subject.

4. Victor Hugo. After many attempts, Victor Hugo finally became a member of the French Academy, giving him a strong hold in the arts in France at that time. Many French academics tried to stop Hugo’s addition to the Academy, wanting to put a stop to romanticism in literature. Because of this, Hugo was forced to take a great interest in politics. When Napoleon III seized France in 1851, Hugo moved around after calling him a traitor in public. In exile, Hugo published several pamphlets which were banned by the French government. He also wrote several poems and his most notable work, Les Miseralbes. He saved the lives of six Irish prisoners who were accused of terrorism and whose lives were spared by the Queen Victoria government. Hugo’s influence is known for removing the death penalty from Colombia, Portugal and Geneva. Hugo was in Paris during the Prussian siege and ate animals from the Paris zoo. Towards the end of the Prussian invasion, he resorted to “eating the unknown.” By the time he was released from exile, Hugo was deemed a hero by the people of France.

5. Leo Tolstoy. The fascinating life story of one of the world’s greatest writers is just as interesting as his prolific books. Leo Tolstoy became revered in Russia by the people. Bred from upper crust society, Tolstoy was still a man for the people which led to his exile by the church in 1901. Though labeled an anarchist, Tolstoy was also a devout Christian and his excommunication from the church was taken with a heavy heart. Still, Tolstoy created his own philosophy which the public embraced. His formal exile from organized religion does not put a hiccup in Tolstoy’s faith. He continues to be religions, even refusing surgery for his ill wife at first because he feels she is spiritually fit for death. Eventually, Tolstoy gives in the surgery and his wife is well.

While exile isn’t exactly something we suggest to get your creative juices flowing, for a few famous writers, it did exactly that. This allowed them to leave their mark on the world with their words.

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