Page 14 - The 'X' Chronicles Newspaper - April/May 2020 Edition
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14                         History Made During Quarantine

            7 Geniuses Who Made

            History in Quarantine

                     by Meghan Jones

        Masterpieces from trying times

        As people around the world continue to stay
        indoors in efforts to slow the spread of COVID-
        19, many are aspiring to tackle boredom by
        producing a creative work.  And people are
        sharing stories about how several well-known
        geniuses actually produced some of their
        masterpieces while in quarantine or another type
        of forced isolation—and some of these stories
        are true! Of course, as many people on the
        Internet are pointing out, it's important not to
        feel pressured to produce the best work of your
        life or finally complete a lifelong goal. But
        maybe these accounts of notable people
        producing some incredible works, in situations   Victor Hugo                                      pieces while ill.  And, unlike many others,
        similar to the one we're in right now, will help                                                  Munch actually didn't die from the flu. He
        provide a little bit of hope that something good  Ever heard of Les Misérables? We thought so.    actually survived for 25 years after that and
        could come out of this tough period. And for a   Before it was a blockbuster musical, it was a    continued producing works of art.
        little more levity, check out these secret       massive tome written by French author Victor
        messages painters hid in their world-famous      Hugo. But in 1851, Hugo was quite Simone de Beauvoir
        paintings.                                       disenchanted with the state of things in France.
                                                         He was a vocal critic of Napoleon III and went This 20th-century French voice of feminism lost
        Isaac Newton                                     into exile to avoid punishment. His exile took her teaching job during the Nazi occupation of

                                                         him from Belgium to the island of Jersey in the Paris. de Beauvoir helped out the French
        One of the most widespread claims on the         English Channel to the nearby island of Resistance within the city and produced several
        Internet right now is that Sir Isaac Newton was  Guernsey. In all, he spent nearly 20 years away literary works. (Way to be!) Perhaps most
        in isolation when he came up with his theory of  from his home country and did a whole lot of notable and relevant was her only play, Les
        gravity.  And it's accurate! In 1665, when       writing. In addition to three books of poetry, he Bouches inutiles ("the useless mouths"). Written
        Newton was a student at Cambridge, London        cranked out the majority of Les Misérables— in 1945, this play takes place during a 14th-
        was experiencing its last major epidemic of the  he'd begun it years earlier, but during his exile, century siege but was clearly inspired by the
        bubonic    plague.    Newton     retreated   to  he saw it to completion. While away from and Nazi regime. Its title refers to the way people in
        Woolsthorpe Manor, an hour away, where he        disenchanted with France, he wrote one of the charge would write off as "useless," or even
        spent 18 months, putting his nose to the         masterpieces of French literature. How about sacrifice, marginalized people, like the elderly,
        grindstone and did some serious studying. His    that?                                            women, and children, during times of siege to
        theory of gravity found its inception here, and he                                                save the lives of young, healthy men. Learn
        also wrote some of his papers on the as-yet-     Frida Kahlo                                      about some more amazing women in history you
        undiscovered calculus. What's more dubious is                                                     didn't learn about in class.
        whether his gravity epiphany was triggered by    The famous Mexican artist endured some
        an apple falling on his head, one of the famous  serious misfortune. For one thing, she contracted Salvator Rosa
        moments in history that didn't actually happen.  polio at age six, resulting in her first lengthy

                                                         period of forced bed rest. About 12 years later, This 1656 painting, "Human Frailty," is not
        William Shakespeare                              Kahlo, now a student, was riding a bus that particularly subtle. Its creator, Salvator Rosa,
                                                         collided with a streetcar. She suffered serious had just lost a young son in a 1656 plague
        Another claim that's everywhere right now? The   injuries from the crash, including a fractured outbreak that struck Naples hard. Two of Rosa's
        Bard himself wrote King Lear while in            spine and pelvis. After a hospital stay, there she siblings also died in the plague (started by the
        quarantine.  While this is impossible to fully   was, confined to her bed again. But historians same pathogen as the Black Plague). He
        prove, it is true that Shakespeare experienced   speculate that it was this healing period that produced this grim painting, in which a newborn
        many periods of plague during his life.          fully cemented her love of art (until then, she'd baby (representative of his son) signs his life
        Unfortunately, there's no evidence that the man  been studying medicine!). She painted her first over to a winged Death, the same year. It's
        himself was ever in quarantine, but throughout   self-portrait while in recovery—according to unsure whether he was actually in quarantine
        some of his most productive times, the city of, she actually used the mirror (his son's death actually suggests that he wasn't),
        London was shut down due to bubonic plague       above her bed for reference.  Want to sharpen but he certainly was in the midst of a devastating
        outbreaks.  This included theaters, which,       your smarts during self-quarantine? Here are outbreak. And, hey, if art, even with super-dark
        according to the Guardian, were closed en masse  some of our favorite brain games.                subject matter like this, helps you cope with a
        during Shakespeare's most prolific decade as a                                                    dark time, there's beauty in that! []
        writer, 1603–1613. Shakespeare reportedly        Edvard Munch
        wrote several poems, including  Venus and
        Adonis, during theater closures.  And the first  Are you familiar with  The Scream? Did you
        performance of King Lear, in late 1606,          know the name of its painter, Edvard Munch?                 THANK YOU
        certainly did come on the heels of a London      What about the fact that he was struck by the        FIRST RESPONDERS
        outbreak that summer. Love Shakespeare? See if   incredibly deadly influenza outbreak of 1918?
        you can identify him and these 9 other famous    No,  The Scream itself is not a product of the       AND ALL ESSENTIAL
        geniuses by their offices.                       outbreak (he painted it in 1893), but Munch did               WORKERS
                                                         paint a work called Self-Portrait with the
                                                         Spanish Flu, of his sickly self, and a few other
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