Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Angry Writers

I'm feeling pretty angry these days, and from articles and comments regularly appearing in the (liberal) press, so too are many others. Anger is always with us, I guess. After watching "The Grapes of Wrath" on DVD recently, and reading a little about John Steinbeck's other novels, I thought, "Now here's a REALLY angry author". Then I recalled English writer, John Osborne, playwright and screenwriter, known in the 1950s as the original "angry young man".

He is best known for writing the play "Look Back in Anger" which captured the angry and rebellious nature of the postwar generation in the UK, who were unhappy with things as they were in the decades following World War II. John Osborne was a constant critic of the establishment in Britain, the monarchy, the pretentions and affectations which came with the class system.

I'm not altogether sure that John Osborne "walked the talk", and he does strike me as being very self-centered, whereas John Steinbeck's focus was always outward, towards the poor and needy.

Steinbeck was very, very angry. He wrote about the apalling conditions under which many ordinary folk in the USA had to struggle to live, especially during the time of the dust bowl in Oklahoma, during the Great Depression, and of the stoic determination of those good people. What they faced in those days make our concerns seem petty by comparison.

I wondered if I'd find any common thread in the natal charts of these two writers whose anger shone through their work.

John Steinbeck born February 27 1902, Salinas, California, 3pm.

John Osborne born Dec. 12 1929, London. No time known.

There are some similarities, the most significant is that Osborne's natal Sun lies just 3 degrees from angry Mars, in Sagittarius. Steinbeck had natal Sun within 6 degrees of Mars, in Pisces.(Both Sagittarius and Pisces were traditionally ruled by Jupiter)

Osborne had Mercury(the writers' planet) conjunct hard-headed, critical Saturn (at very end of Sagittarius and 1st degree of Capricorn(Saturn's home sign). Steinbeck had Mercury in humane and idealistic Aquarius, semi-sextile Saturn in Capricorn.

Those links between Sun/Mars and Mercury/Saturn are what I was hoping to find. There are some other similarities. Osborne's Sun is at 20* Sagittarius, and Steinbeck's Uranus is in exactly the same degree of that sign. (My own natal Venus is there too -and I'm writing about them both!)

Both men had Uranus (revolutionary, rebellious) trine Venus (in Fire, or Fire/Air)

The nodes of the Moon in both charts are Taurus/Scorpio, 7* for Steinbeck, 9* for Osborne, but they are reversed, Steinbeck's North node is in Scorpio, Osborne's in Taurus. I'm not sure whether this has any relevance or not. Steinbeck's natal Moon lay very close to his Scorpio North node, which probably served to emphasise the passion he felt for his concerns. Without Osborne's time of birth it's not possible to say how close his natal Moon was to Taurus North node, a birthtime of 9pm or later would put them quite close though.


(Wonderful, passionate writing from from Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath")

"Then from the tents, from the crowded barns, groups of sodden men went out, their clothes slopping rags, their shoes muddy pulp. They splashed out through the water, to the towns, to the country stores, to the relief offices, to beg for food, to cringe and beg for food, to beg for relief, to try to steal, to lie. And under the begging, and under the cringing, a hopeless anger began to smolder. And in the little towns pity for the sodden men changed to anger, and anger at the hungry people changed to fear of them. Then sheriffs swore in deputies in droves, and orders were rushed for rifles, for tear gas, for ammunition. Then the hungry men crowded the alleys behind the stores to beg for bread, to beg for rotting vegetables, to steal when they could."

From a review HERE"People discuss the impact this play had to this day. Books have been written about it. At the time, in the 50s in England, there were a group of writers who were referred to (and perhaps they referred to themselves as such) as 'angry young men'. They took a rebellious stance towards society, they were critical towards handed-down mores and beliefs ... not just critical. They raged against them. Not only did these writers rage against society - they raged against themselves, their disappointments in their own achievements, in who they were, in how they turned out. The play Look Back in Anger became a lightning rod for that generation."

There are some YouTube presentations about both authors. Here are links to a couple:

Grapes of Wrath

John Osborne

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