Bless Me, Ultima is a coming-of-age novel about a young boy's loss of innocence and approach to maturity. But it also deals with tradition and education, faith and doubt, and good and evil. And if Antonio doesn't find an absolute truth in his search, he still comes to believe with his father that "sometimes it takes a lifetime to acquire understanding, because in the end understanding simply means having a sympathy for people."
Why are words so important to Jews? Novelist Amos Oz and historian Fania Oz-Salzberger roam the gamut of Jewish history to explain the integral relationship of Jews and words. Through a blend of storytelling and scholarship, conversation and argument, father and daughter tell the tales behind Judaism's most enduring names, adages, disputes, texts and quips. These words, they argue, comprise the chain connecting Abraham with the Jews of every subsequent generation. Rabbi Dr. Israel Zoberman will lead the discussion.
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen's witty comedy of manners--one of the most popular novels of all time--that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship. Dr. Susannah Clements will lead the discussion.
Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013. The incomparable Alice Munro's bestselling and rapturously acclaimed Runaway is a book of extraordinary stories about love and its infinite betrayals and surprises, from the title story about a young woman who, though she thinks she wants to, is incapable of leaving her husband, to three stories about a woman named Juliet and the emotions that complicate the luster of her intimate relationships. Dr. Susannah Clements will lead the discussion.
Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series has been described by George Will as comprising some of the greatest novels of the twentieth century. Before turning his creative energies to Nelson’s navy, however, O’Brien penned Testimonies, a tragic tale of love and death set in Wales, a timeless story with echoes of Thomas Hardy and Mary Webb. Dr. Eric Patterson will lead the discussion.
The Screwtape Letters is a classic on spiritual warfare and the dynamics of temptation. This profound and striking narrative takes the form of a series of letters from Screwtape, a devil high in the Infernal Civil Service, to his nephew Wormwood, a junior colleague engaged in his first mission on earth, trying to secure the damnation of a young man who has just become a Christian. Distance participants should click on the title for special log-in instructions for this discussion.
Lila is Marilynne Robinson’s third novel set in the fictional plains town of Gilead, Iowa. This time the narrative focuses on Lila, the young bride of elderly Reverend Ames. The courtship of the couple—John Ames: tentative, tender, shy, and awkward; Lila: naive, suspicious, wary, full of dread—will endure as a classic set piece of character revelation, during which two achingly lonely people discover the comfort of love and marriage. What brings the couple together is a joyous appreciation of the beauty of the natural world and the possibility of grace. The novel ends with the birth of their son. Dr. Michael Palmer will lead the discussion.
Haruki Murakami, one of the greatest living novelists, was born in 1949 in Kyoto, the son of a Buddhist priest. The six stories in After the Quake are set at the time of the catastrophic 1995 Kobe earthquake, when Japan became brutally aware of the fragility of its daily existence. Murakami, who returned to live in Japan after the Kobe earthquake, measures his country's suffering and finds reassurance in the inevitability that love will surmount tragedy, combining his elegant prose and sense of the absurd in the service of healing.
Set in the eighteenth century, Treasure Island spins a heady tale of piracy, a mysterious treasure map, and a host of sinister characters charged with diabolical intentions. Seen through the eyes of Jim Hawkins, the cabin boy of the Hispaniola, the action-packed adventure tells of a perilous sea journey across the Spanish Main, a mutiny led by the infamous Long John Silver, and a lethal scramble for buried treasure on an exotic isle.
Rich in atmosphere and character, Treasure Island continues to mesmerize readers with its perceptive views of the changing nature of human motives. Dr. Peter Fraser will lead the discussion.
Little Women is one of the best loved books of all time. Lovely Meg, talented Jo, frail Beth, spoiled Amy: these are hard lessons of poverty and of growing up in New England during the Civil War. Based on Louise May Alcott's childhood, this lively portrait of nineteenth-century family life possesses a lasting vitality that has endeared it to generations of readers.