Serendipitous choice of date for launch of 2009 literary festival

That the organizers of the Galle Literary Festival 2009 have decided to commence events on January 28th is an extraordinary coincidence, for this date is of important yet little-known literary significance to Sri Lanka in several ways, the first of which has enriched the English language.

January 28, as I mentioned in my article "If Crowley had met Lawrence and Lawrence had met Jung . . ." (The Sunday Times, February 25, 2007) is a date that saw the coinage in 1754 by Horace Walpole of the word most associated with Sri Lanka, "serendipity".

Furthermore, in the realm of fiction, Jules Verne chose January 28, 1868, as the day that Captain Nemo and his fellow submariners aboard the Nautilus first caught sight of the island in Twenty-Thousand Leagues under the Sea (1870).

Aleister Crowley, the most famous and infamous magician of modern times, the self-styled "Great Beast 666", who provided most perceptive comments about the island, left after his second visit exactly 150 years to the day that Horace Walpole coined serendipity on January 28, 1754.

Let the Galle Literary Festival be blessed by such wonderful calendar connections!

Richard Boyle, via e mail

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