Please join us on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 when we discuss The Great Gatsby  by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  We will meet at 11:30 a.m. in room 2140.  This is the selection for the Annual Great Books Student Symposium which will be held May 1, 2014 at Wilbur Wright College.  Good luck to all the participants.

From Wiki:

The “Great American Novel” is the concept of a novel that is distinguished in both craft and theme as being the most accurate representation of the spirit of the age in the United States at the time of its writing or in the time it is set. It is presumed to be written by an American author who is knowledgeable about the state, culture, and perspective of the common American citizen. The author uses the literary work to identify and exhibit the language used by the American people of the time and to capture the unique American experience, especially as it is perceived for the time. In historical terms, it is sometimes equated as being the American response to the national epic.

Prof. Donovan Braud has provided the following questions to ponder:

1.   In The Great Gatsby, which is arguably an intermediate text between realism and modernism, Fitzgerald uses a first person narrator that is not the protagonist as well as secondary characters to supply background information about Gatsby. Why does Fitzgerald do this? What does his narrative technique say about identity in the modern period?

2. The Great Gatsby discusses the changing nature of class mobility in America but also introduces elements of race and gender. Using one example (class, race, or gender) show how Gatsby critiques traditional social structures based on these identity categories.

3.  The Great Gatsby is arguably a text about texts – Gatsby as a fictional character in the “real” world of the text. What does Gatsby hope to achieve by rewriting himself? “Daisy” is not acceptable for this prompt – too obvious.

Something in his leisurely movements and the secure position of his feet upon the lawn suggested that it was Mr. Gatsby himself, come out to determine what share was his of our local heavens.

Something in his leisurely movements and the secure position of his feet upon the lawn suggested that it was Mr. Gatsby himself, come out to determine what share was his of our local heavens.

“Involuntarily I glanced seaward — and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock.”


Please join us on Wednesday March 26, 2014 when we discuss The Life of Henry V by William Shakespeare.  We will meet at 11:30 a.m.  in room 2140.

“Henry V is a study of kingship, patriotism, and heroic determination, tempered by tender comedy as Henry courts Katherine, Princess of France.

Henry, the noble and courageous young king of England, decides to invade France, to the throne of which he believes he has a rightful claim.  At Agincourt he leads his army into battle against the powerful French forces and, against all the odds, wins a famous victory.”  ~~ Complete Arkangel Shakespeare

At the Folger website, there is the following visual character/relationship chart.  Please also see the Shakespeare Resource Center for everything Henry V.

It has been suggested we view the 1989 film production of Henry V starring Kenneth Branagh.  Here is a short clip from YouTube.

Please join us on Wednesday February 26, 2014 when we discuss Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.  We will meet at 11:30 a.m.  in room 2140.

From The Literature Network:

With a new kind of heroine defiantly virtuous, morally courageous and fiercely independent, Charlotte Brontë brought about change in the style of fiction of the day, presenting an unconventional woman to be admired for her ability to overcome adversity. From her humble beginnings as an orphan under the care of a cruel aunt, governess Jane Eyre falls in love with her mercurial employer, the Byronic Edward Rochester. But then dark secrets of Thornfield Hall threaten to destroy everything she’s worked so hard to achieve. First published under her pseudonym Currer Bell, Charlotte’s famous Gothic romance attracted much public attention. People wanted to know who this new and talented writer was. It was highly lauded by such authors as William Makepeace Thackeray, and has since inspired numerous adaptations for television and film, and numerous other author’s works including Jean Rhys’ ‘prequel’ Wide Sargasso Sea (1966).

On Wednesday, January 22, 2014 we will meet to discuss The Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson with an Introduction By Conrad Aiken (by Modern Library New York published by Random House).  We will meet at 11:30 a.m. in room 3601  2140.

Find this moving?

If I can stop one Heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain
If I can ease one Life the Aching
Or cool one Pain

Or help one fainting Robin
Unto his Nest again
I shall not live in Vain.

Then grab your Index of First Lines, preferably the aforementioned book, and join us on the 22′nd of January.   Please check back after Winter Break for a listing of themes/specific poems to be covered.

Have you heard this before but didn’t know its origin?

I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – Too?
Then there’s a pair of us?
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog -
To tell one’s name -  the livelong June -
To an admiring Bog!

~~  Emily Dickinson

Please join us on December 18th as we celebrate our past year of Great reads, look forward to next year’s challenges,  and discuss:

  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson.  After a year that began with Anna Karenina and ended with Our Town, with many other ‘Greats’ in between, we turn to something completely different.  From Publishers Weekly, “The story features the Herdmans, the terror of their town.  When Imogene, Ralph, and Galdys muscle in on Sunday School and demand the leading roles in the Christmas pageant, they get their way because the other kids don’t dare challenge them.  Chaos results, as the Herdmans act out their unique version of what happened so long ago in Bethlehem.  And surprise – everyone agrees it was the best Christmas pageant ever.”
  • Books we’ve read this year and would recommend to others.  Books on your wish list.

Time permitting -

We will meet in room 1560 at 11:30 am.

If you can’t attend the meeting but would like to share your thoughts, please leave a comment.

Please join us on Wednesday November 20th when we discuss Our Town by Thornton Wilder.   We will meet at 11:30 a.m.  in room 1550.

From “The Village and the Stars” by Bill Coden:

“Much in the tradition of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, Our Town celebrates the commonplace, the ordinary, the daily life. The concern with the questions of youth, marriage, and death are our questions, as well as those of George and Emily. The audience is deeply involved in the play for it is Life. We make our own inner connections with the drama. As Goldstone avers, Our Town is a play about belonging to a family, to a community, and to a nation.

Wilder likened his vision to that of an archaeologist: the view of the telescope combined with the view of the microscope.  Our Town, he states, asks a question which is the central theme of the play:  What is the relation between the countless unimportant details of our daily life, on the one hand, and the great perspectives of time, social history, and current religious ideas, on the other?

He wished to depict, and to have us take part in, the life of a village against the life of the stars.  In searching for the best form to express the universality, Wilder decided that drama was ideal. Drama, he thought, typified raising individualized action what we see happening before us into the realm of the universal. Drama is always now, possessing heighten vitality.”


Please join us on Wednesday October 30th when we discuss The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.   We will meet at 11:30 a.m.  in room 1550.

From Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. -

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in full The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, also spelled Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde, novella by Robert Louis Stevenson, published in 1886. The work is known for its vivid portrayal of the psychopathology of a “split personality.”

The calm, respectable Dr. Jekyll develops a potion that will allow him to separate his good and evil aspects for scientific study. At first Jekyll has no difficulty abandoning the drug-induced persona of the repulsive Mr. Hyde, but as the experiments continue the evil personality wrests control from Jekyll and commits murder. Afraid of being discovered, he takes his life; Hyde’s body is found, together with a confession written in Jekyll’s hand.

The phrase “Jekyll and Hyde” has become shorthand for the exhibition of wildly contradictory behaviour, especially between private and public selves. An 1888 play was made of the novel, and several popular film versions highlighted its horrific aspects, from a 1921 adaptation starring John Barrymore to a 1971 B-movie, Doctor Jekyll and Sister Hyde, featuring a female alter ego.  Stevenson’s story continued to inspire riffs on the theme into the 21st century.

Happy Birthday Book Club!  5 years old in October.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.