Calendar for 2011-2012

Revised Schedule

September 8, 2011 – Foreword to The 7 Deadly Sins Sampler – Amy [change of venue: meeting at Walt Library for this occasion only]

September 22, 2011 – Flannery O’Connor: “Good Country People” – Kathleen

October 13, 2011 – Edith Wharton: “Roman Fever” – Mary

October 27, 2011 – Tobias Wolff: “Smokers” – Denise

November 10, 2011 – Rudyard Kipling: “Mary Postgate” – Eli

December 8, 2011 – Margaret Atwood: “Hairball” – Anita

January 12, 2012 – Anton Chekhov: “The House with the Mezzanine” – Bob

January 26, 2012 – Bobbie Ann Mason: “Shiloh” – Howard

February 9, 2012 – D. H. Lawrence: “The Rocking-Horse Winner”

February 23, 2012 – Elizabeth Bowen: “The Inherited Clock”

March 8, 2012 – Raymond Carver: “Fat”

March 22, 2012 – Xu Xi: “Famine” – Marilyn

April 12, 2012 – Perri Klass: “Not a Good Girl”

April 26, 2012 – Nathan Englander: “For the Relief of Unbearable Urges”

May 10, 2012 – William Faulkner: “A Rose for Emily” – Amy

May 24, 2012 – Snow date

Calendar 2010-2011

2010 - 2011

September 9, 2010 – From the Bible: Ecclesiastes

September 23, 2010 – *Sophocles: Oedipus the King

October 14, 2010 – Freud: On Dreams

October 28, 2010 – *Kafka: The Metamorphosis

November 11, 2010 – *Goethe: Faust, Part One

December 9, 2010 – Kant: First Principles of Morals

January 13, 2011 – *Flaubert: A Simple Heart

January 27, 2011 – Hume: Of Personal Identity

February 10, 2011 – Nietzsche: Thus Spoke Zarathustra

February 24, 2011 – Dante: The Inferno

March 10, 2011 – Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France

March 24, 2011 – Adams: The Education of Henry Adams

April 14, 2011 – *Shakespeare: King Lear

April 28, 2011 – Aristotle: On Tragedy

May 12, 2011 – Plato: The Republic

May 26, 2011 – Snow date

* Complete work

Upcoming discussions.

April 22, 2010 - The Federalist.
What could be more timely? Some great works never go out of style.

May 13, – Gogol: The Overcoat
May 27, – The book of Job (Bible). Snow date

Join us for always-lively discussions.

April 8, The Tempest

Shakespeare's last play for which he was the sole playwright was The Tempest, produced in 1611. More than in any other play, Shakespeare the person, perhaps only in shadowy outline, can be glimpsed -- in the character of Prospero. In three late plays, The Tempest, The Winter's Tale, and Pericles, as well as the earlier King Lear, Shakespeare creates an extraordinarily strong father-daughter bond. These scenarios, retrospectively, seem to foretell the author's decision to return to Stratford for his remaining years, not to the apparently estranged wife Anne, nor to unfortunately married younger daughter Judith, but to his beloved daughter Susanna and her family
It seems likely that Shakespeare expected to live past 1616. However joyous or melancholy those last five years, he gave to Prospero a fitting valedictory for himself.

Now my charms are all o'erthrown,
And what strength I have’s mine own,
Which is most faint. Now, ’tis true,
I must be here confined by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardoned the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell,
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands.
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardoned be,
Let your indulgence set me free.

March 11. Discussion of Montaigne's opinions on just about everything

Sixteenth century commentator Michel de Montaigne had a refreshingly modern view of the world based on his extensive reading of the ancients. To him we owe such observations as:
  • Nothing is so firmly believed as that which least is known.
  • Not being able to govern events, I govern myself.
  • No man is a hero to his own valet.
  • The only thing certain is nothing is certain.
  • To forbid us anything is to make us have a mind for it.
  • Life in itself is neither good nor evil, it is the place of good and evil, according to what you make it.

And for all the feline friends out there:
When I play with my cat, how do I know that she is not passing time with me rather than I with her?

An recent essay on Montaigne entitled "Addle-pated Modernist" in the Spectator magazine is at

Coming Again. Plato --- To a Great Books Discussion Near You.

On February 25 we will have a post-Valentine's Day discussion of Plato's dialogue, Symposium.

The topic:  Love.

There are numerous internet sites where you can find a free translation of this reading to download.  Here is one: 

Next Discussion: February 11, 2010

February 11, 2010 – St. Augustine: The City of God -

Some Random Comments on G. B. Shaw

Born: 26 July 1856
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: 2 November 1950 (natural causes)
Best Known As: The author of Pygmalion

George Bernard Shaw was a superstar playwright and tart-tongued literary personality of the early 20th century. He first gained fame as a music critic under the pen name 'Corno di Bassetto,' but by then had already begun writing essays, political pamphlets, books and (eventually) plays. Among his most famous plays are Arms and the Man (1894), Major Barbara (1905), Saint Joan (1923), and Pygmalion (1914). The last was adapted 50 years later into the Broadway musical My Fair Lady. (Shaw also won an Oscar in 1938 for his screenplay for a non-musical movie version of Pygmalion.) For all these successes, Shaw is still better known for his famously large ego and sometimes prickly personality: He was a vegetarian and teetotaler, a radical socialist and social reformer, and a noted caustic wit who remained active until his death at age 94.

Shaw won the 1925 Nobel Prize for Literature. He remains the only person to win both an Oscar and a Nobel Prize. (American politician Al Gore won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize and also starred in the Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, but was not himself awarded an Oscar for the film)... Shaw's ascerbic style is sometimes described with the adjective Shavian.
The most famous and possibly the most controversial of 20th‐century English dramatists was described by the Times in its review of the first major American production of Arms and the Man as “the eccentric and able London socialist, essayist, music critic, Ibsenite, and wearer of gray flannel clothes.” With occasional shadings of difference, critical opinion of Shaw in America has remained much the same ever since. Especially in early years his subjects offended many playgoers and critics, dealing as they did with such matters as prostitution, religious hypocrisy, slum landlordism, profiteering, and, of course, socialism.-
He is the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize for Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938), for his contributions to literature and for his work on the film Pygmalion, respectively. Shaw wanted to refuse his Nobel Prize outright because he had no desire for public honors, but accepted it at his wife's behest: she considered it a tribute to Ireland. He did reject the monetary award, requesting it be used to finance translation of Swedish books to English.
Mrs Warren's Profession is a play written by George Bernard Shaw in 1893. The story centers on the relationship between Mrs Warren, a prostitute, described by Shaw as "on the whole, a genial and fairly presentable old blackguard of a woman," and her "prudish" daughter, Vivie.[1] Mrs Warren is a middle-aged woman whose Cambridge-educated daughter, Vivie, is horrified to discover that her mother's fortune was made managing high-class brothels. The two strong women make a brief reconciliation when Mrs Warren explains her impoverished youth, which originally led her into prostitution. Vivie forgives her mother until learning that the highly profitable business remains in operation.

Shaw said he wrote the play "to draw attention to the truth that prostitution is caused, not by female depravity and male licentiousness, but simply by underpaying, undervaluing, and overworking women so shamefully that the poorest of them are forced to resort to prostitution to keep body and soul together."


49 BC Cicero "Until we know whether we are to have peace without honour or war with its calamities, I have thought it best to for them to stay at my house in Formiae and the boys too."[3]
ca. 1145 Theobald II, Count of Champagne "Peace with honor" written in a letter to King Louis VII of France.[4]
1607 William Shakespeare "That it shall hold companionship in peace/With honour, as in war."[5]
1775 Edmund Burke "The superior power may offer peace with honor and with safety....But the concessions of the weak are concessions of fear." [6]
1878 Benjamin Disraeli (British prime minister) "Lord Salisbury and myself have brought you back peace—but a peace I hope with honour, which may satisfy our sovereign and tend to the welfare of our country."[7] Said upon returning from the Conference of Berlin. Wags paraphased this as "Peace with honour -- and Cyprus too."
1916 Wilson Business Men's League "Wilson and peace with honor or Hughes with Roosevelt and War?" Part of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson's reelection campaign.[8]
1938 Neville Chamberlain (British prime minister) "My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is 'peace for our time.' Go home and get a nice quiet sleep." Said upon returning from the Munich Conference.[9]
1973 Richard Nixon "I have asked for this radio and television time tonight for the purpose of announcing that we today have concluded an agreement to end the war and bring peace with honor in Vietnam and in Southeast Asia."[2]

- a slogan translated from the French l’art pour l’art, which was coined in the early 19th century by the French philosopher Victor Cousin. The phrase expresses the belief held by many writers and artists, especially those associated with Aestheticism, that art needs no justification, that it need serve no political, didactic, or other end.
The concept was adopted by a number of French, British and American writers and artists, and by proponents of the Aesthetic Movement such as Walter Pater. It was a rejection of the accustomed role of art, since the Counter-Reformation of the sixteenth century, in the service of the state or official religion, and of Victorian-era moralism. It opened the way for artistic freedom of expression in the Impressionist movement and modern art. The slogan continued to be raised in defiance of those, including John Ruskin and the more recent Communist advocates of socialist realism who thought that the value of art lay in serving some moral or didactic purpose. The concept of “art for art’s sake” continues to be important in contemporary discussions of censorship, and of the nature and significance of art.

Note: none of the above is original; all are quoted from articles available on the internet

January 28, 2010. Ancient history as Comedy

If you haven't read George Bernard Shaw's play, Caesar and Cleopatra,  this is your chance. Shaw takes on the Roman Empire, the British Empire, Aestheticism, Disraeli, English fashions, and myths of womanhood, manhood, heroism, and paganism in this play.  And he does it with his usual panache.  

Shaw won both the Nobel prize and an Oscar, and this play manages serious commentary on social problems while provoking laughter at the antics of the characters.

Come join us.  If you haven't read the play, you can still enjoy listening to the discussion.  Be amused.  Be inspired.  Warm up your winter with a great English wit.  

Hanway's 2009 Movie List

Compiled 1/2/10 by Don Hanway (105 releases seen to date); based on personal impact: intellectual/emotional/sensual/spiritual.

1. GOODBYE SOLO - Winston-Salem taxi driver befriends suicidal client
2. BRIGHT STAR - the brief, intense love of John Keats & Fanny Brawne 
3. AN EDUCATION - Carey Mulligan shines as smart girl seduced by charmer 
4. WENDY & LUCY - young woman traveler loses her only companion 
5. *THE STONING OF SORAYAH M. - religion used to do horrific injustice in Iran 
6. ADAM - young man in love & peril as he lives with Asperger's Syndrome 
7. UP IN THE AIR - smooth "termination engineer" discovers limits of freedom 
8, AVATAR - James Cameron creates visually stunning world of sci-fi adventure 
9. FOOD, INC. - expose of America's corporate food system & its effects 
10. AN UNLIKELY WEAPON - inspiring bio of other great photog named Adams 
11. INVICTUS - wily hero Mandela uses rugby cup to unite his divided nation 
12. MOON - lonely astronaut learns terrible truth at his lunar outpost 
13. STAR TREK - J.J. Abrams shows how crew was formed, with fresh cast 
14. *INGLORIOUS BASTERDS - Tarentino's revisionist fantasy, payback to Nazis 
15. THIS IS IT - impressive close-up view of Michael Jackson's genius at work 
16. BROTHERS - young officer brings war trauma home, shakes up his family 
17. JULIE & JULIA - Meryl is lively apostle of French cooking, inpires American 
18. *THE HURT LOCKER - danger is addictive for bomb disposal expert in Iraq 
19. A SERIOUS MAN - Coen brothers do modern Job story in absurdist comedy 
20. AMERICAN CASINO - how the bubble was manipulated, and who got hurt


*Movies marked with asterisk include graphic violence.


1) Worthy 2008 films seen too late for last year's list: SYNECDOCHE N.Y., STRANDED, I'VE LOVED YOU SO LONG.  


Published by permission:

January 14: John Stuart Mill

As we are watching Christiane Amanpour interview Muslims in London on their attitudes towards democracy, does anything said in the 19th century relate to our present fearful and watchful state in a war against an enemy that is as much an idea as an amorphous collection of guerrillas?

John Stuart Mill, known for a philosophical position known as "Utilitarianism,"  made a number of statements that might have been said last week, or last year, so much do they have the ring of urgency.   What might he have said about the present war in Afghanistan?  Possibly this?

 “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.”

Or something quite different?

 “I am not aware that any community has a right to force another to be civilized.”

Mill's focus, however, was not primarily on war but on the issue of human happiness -- how to know it, how to have it for oneself,  how to organize society to promote it.  As we readers of the Great Books consider his contributions to our civilization, we once again face the question that seems central to Great Books discussions:  What is the Good Life, and how shall we live it?

Join us for this discussion.

To read online or download:

POSTPONED! Dec. 10, Gere Library: The Bible

Join us later for a discussion of the Book of Job, in the Bible. . .  IN MAY.

Because of the weather, we have decided to discuss the Book of Job on a sunny evening in May. Check this site later for exact details. 

. . . In the meantime, listen to Bill McKibben's discussion of the book of Job, "moral math," and other aspects of the climate change problem and what we need to do about it on Dec. 10th broadcast of "Speaking of Faith" with Krista Tippett on NPR.  You can find the podcast on