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We will meet to discuss One Man’s Meat by E. B. White on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 12:30 p.m. in room 1550.

From One Man’s Meat – Walden:

   Miss Nims, take a letter to Henry David Thoreau.  Dear Henry:  I thought of you the other afternoon as I was approaching Concord doing fifty on Route 62.  That is a high speed at which to hold a philosopher in one’s mind, but in this century we are a nimble bunch.

   On one of the lawns in the outskirts of the village a woman was cutting the grass with a motorized lawn mower. What made me think of you was that the machine had rather got away from her,  although she was game enough, and in the brief glimpse I had of the scene it appeared to me that the lawn mower was mowing the lady.  She kept a tight grip on the handles, which throbbed violently with every explosion of the one-cylinder motor, and she sheered around bushes and lurched along at a reluctant trot behind her impetuous servant, she looked like a puppy who had grabbed something that was too much for him.  Concord hasn’t changed much, Henry;  the farm implements and the animals still have the upper hand.

   I may as well admit that I was journeying to Concord with the deliberate intention of visiting your woods;  for although I have never knelt at the grave of a philosopher nor placed wreaths on moldy poets,  and have often gone a mile out of my way to avoid some place of historical interest,  I have always wanted to see Walden Pond.  The account that you left of your sojourn there is,  you will be amused to learn, a document of increasing pertinence;  each year it seems to gain a little headway,  as the world loses ground.  We may all be transcendental yet, whether we like it or not.  As our common complexities increase, any tale of individual simplicity (and yours is the best written and the cockiest)  acquires  a new fascination;  as our goods accumulate, but not our well-being,  your report of an existence without material adornment takes on a certain awkward credibility.

~~  E. B. White  June 1939

Selections from One Man’s Meat for our meeting -

Foreword
Removal
Children’s Books
Salt Water Farm
Movies
The World of Tomorrow
Walden
First World War
Freedom
The Practical Farmer
Maine Speech
Dog Training
The Trailer Park
Once More to the Lake
Memorandum
Intimations (written after Pearl Harbor)
Bond Rally

Please join us on Wednesday August 20, 2014 at 12:30 pm when we discuss The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson.  We plan on holding this meeting in the courtyard.   In case of rain or high temperatures, the discussion will be held in the IT Conference room (room 0424).

From Bill Bryson’s  Official Website:

Bill Bryson was born in the middle of the American century—1951—in the middle of the United States—Des Moines, Iowa—in the middle of the largest generation in American history—the baby boomers. As one of the best and funniest writers alive, he is perfectly positioned to mine his memories of a totally all-American childhood for 24-carat memoir gold. Like millions of his generational peers, Bill Bryson grew up with a rich fantasy life as a superhero. In his case, he ran around his house and neighborhood with an old football jersey with a thunderbolt on it and a towel about his neck that served as his cape, leaping tall buildings in a single bound and vanquishing awful evildoers (and morons)—in his head—as “”The Thunderbolt Kid.””

Using this persona as a springboard, Bill Bryson re-creates the life of his family and his native city in the 1950s in all its transcendent normality—a life at once completely familiar to us all and as far away and unreachable as another galaxy. It was, he reminds us, a happy time, when automobiles and televisions and appliances (not to mention nuclear weapons) grew larger and more numerous with each passing year, and DDT, cigarettes, and the fallout from atmospheric testing were considered harmless or even good for you. He brings us into the life of his loving but eccentric family, including affectionate portraits of his father, a gifted sportswriter for the local paper and dedicated practitioner of isometric exercises, and OF his mother, whose job as the home furnishing editor for the same paper left her little time for practicing the domestic arts at home. The many readers of Bill Bryson’s earlier classic, A Walk in the Woods, will greet the reappearance in these pages of the immortal Stephen Katz, seen hijacking literally boxcar loads of beer. He is joined in the Bryson gallery of immortal characters by the demonically clever Willoughby brothers, who apply their scientific skills and can-do attitude to gleefully destructive ends.

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We will meet to discuss Catch-22 by Joseph Heller on Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 11:30 a.m. in room 2609 1550.

From Wiki:

Catch-22 is a satirical novel by the American author Joseph Heller. He began writing it in 1953; the novel was first published in 1961. It is set during World War II from 1942 to 1944. It is frequently cited as one of the greatest literary works of the twentieth century.  It uses a distinctive non-chronological third-person omniscient narration, describing events from the point of view of different characters. The separate storylines are out of sequence so that the timeline develops along with the plot.

The novel follows Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier. Most of the events in the book occur while the fictional 256th Squadron is based on the island of Pianosa, in the Mediterranean Sea, west of Italy. The novel looks into the experiences of Yossarian and the other airmen in the camp. It focuses on their attempts to keep their sanity in order to fulfill their service requirements so that they may return home.

The phrase “Catch-22″ has entered the English language, referring to a type of unsolvable logic puzzle.

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We will meet to discuss One of Ours by Willa Cather on Wednesday, June 25, 2014.  We will meet at 11:30 a.m. in room 1550.

“Willa Cather’s novel, One of Ours chronicles the life of Claude Wheeler, a Colorado man desperate to make more of his life than becoming a farmer like his prosperious father, or a businessman like his older brother. Claude believes a wife, Enid, will settle his soul and give him purpose. But, when Enid goes to China to tend to her ailing sister, Claude goes back to suffering through what he feels is a meaningless existence. However, as soon as World War I becomes a tangible reality for the United States, Claude cannot think of anything better to do with himself than go immediately to a training camp and enlist. After camp, Claude leaves for France, where Claude gains a sense of himself.

One of Ours is gorgeously written. Cather artfully weaves her use of an extensive vocabulary into her calculated prose. As always, Cather describes the land surrounding her characters with such vivid imagery that the characters become a part of the landscape from which they are created. Cather provides the reader with a touching account of a young man forming his identity and discovering his place in the world. The story is honest and consistent and a pleasure to read from the first word to the last!”

from www.examiner.com

 

Please join us on Wednesday May 21, 2014 when we discuss The Aspern Papers by Henry James.  We will meet at 11:30 a.m.  in room 1560.

From Wiki -

The Aspern Papers is a novella written by Henry James, originally published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1888, with its first book publication later in the same year. One of James’ best-known and most acclaimed longer tales, The Aspern Papers is based on the letters Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote to Mary Shelley’s step sister, Claire Clairmont, who saved them until she died.  Set in Venice, The Aspern Papers demonstrates James’ ability to generate suspense while never neglecting the development of his characters.

The full text of The Aspern Papers can be found on http://www.gutenberg.org/files/211/211-h/211-h.htm and an audio version at https://archive.org/details/aspernpapers_0907_librivox.

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.

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