1924 – Franz Kafka dies

Franz Kafka was one of the greatest writers of the early twentieth century; he died of tuberculosis at the age of 41. His published works were few during his lifetime, but many of them saw print after his death. Kafka is best known for works such Metamorphosis, The Trial, The Castle and In the Penal Colony.

His work reflects a distrust of authority – particularly bureaucratic authority – and a sense of alienation from the world; in this respect, he prefigures many of the writers who would follow him in the later years of the century. Among those writers he is known to have influenced are such names as William Gibson, George Orwell, Robert Anton Wilson and Phillip K. Dick.

Referenced in:

Kafka — The Valentinos

1989 – ‘Epitaph’ by Charles Mingus is first performed live

Mingus never believed that his ground-breaking composition would be performed while he lived – hence his title. He stated that he had written it “for my tombstone.” If it was an epitaph, it could scarcely have been a better one, for all that it was more than a decade since his death.

The manuscript was only found after his death, when Mingus’ works were being catalogued. In this, its first performance, the concert was produced by Sue Graham Mingus, his widow, and played by a 30-piece orchestra conducted by Gunther Schuller. Schuller later stated that Epitaph was “among the most important, prophetic, creative statement in the history of jazz,” and The New Yorker wrote that Epitaph represents the first advance in jazz composition since Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown, and Beige which was written in 1943.

Referenced in:
Woke Up This Morning – Alabama 3

1992 – The High Court of Australia decides in favour of Eddie Mabo

The Mabo decision – or in full, Mabo v Queensland (No 2) – was a landmark in the history of Australian Native Title legislation. The decision had several notable features, including the denial of the legal doctrine of terra nullius (which had served as the legal rationale for dispossessing the natives of their land) and the related doctrine of beneficial title (which stated that possession of the land invested in the Crown immediately upon acquisition of sovereignty).

The decision was hailed by Australia’s political left – which included the then-Prime Minister, Paul Keating (who felt that the decision didn’t go far enough) – and decried by the Australian right. To most Australians, little changed as a result of the decision – for the most part, the only time it affects most Australians is when they encounter a sign or speech recognizing the traditional owners of the land.

Referenced in:

Ma(m)bo — Keating! The Musical original cast