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Posts Tagged ‘Reading Groups’

The New York Times reports that about half the world is in lockdown, due to COVID-19. So is now the time to read Proust? Some say yes. Others say no.

Drew Shannon’s Modern Library set of Proust

One naysayer is Suzanne Moore of The Guardian. She writes, “I never managed Proust in pre-virus days, so don’t saddle me with him now, for God’s sake.”

Others say yes. In fact, a Facebook group formed by Elisa Kay Sparks and dubbed “The Woolf Pack Reads Proust” has taken on Proust as a pandemic reading project. It has 29 members from around the globe.

Woolf on Proust

Woolf herself read Proust. Here’s what she had to say about him:

Last night I started on Vol 2 [Jeunes Filles en Fleurs] of him (the novel) and propose to sink myself in it all day. [. . . ] But Proust so titillates my own desire for expression that I can hardly set out the sentence. Oh if I could write like that! I cry. And at the moment such is the astonishing vibration and saturation and intensification that he procures?theres something sexual in it?that I feel I can write like that, and seize my pen and then I can’t write like that. Scarcely anyone so stimulates the nerves of language in me: it becomes an obsession. But I must return to Swann” – Letter to Roger Fry, 6 May 1922 (Letters II 525)

My great adventure is really Proust. Well–what remains to be written after that? I’m only in the first volume, and there are, I suppose, faults to be found, but I am in a state of amazement; as if a miracle were being done before my eyes. How, at last, has someone solidified what has always escaped–and made it too into this beautiful and perfectly enduring substance?  One has to put the book down and gasp. The pleasure becomes physical–like sun and wine and grapes and perfect serenity and intense vitality combined. Far otherwise is it with Ulysses. – Letter to Roger Fry, 3 October 1922 (Letters II 565-6)

Resources for reading Proust

Founding member Benjamin Hagen, who is also heading up the 30th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf: Profession and Performance, which has been postponed until 2021, has added a number of resources to the group page.

They include:

Hagen, assistant professor of 20th-Century British and Anglophone literature at the University of South Dakota, also posted this drawing and comment to the group page on April 6. He is also blogging about his experience.

Me [Ben Hagen] trying (with not too much success) to map out connections between topics / themes from last week’s reading.

Focusing — or not — on Proust

Hagen has made much more progress than I have, bless him. I must confess that the farthest I have gotten with reading Proust is locating the first volume on my bookshelf and dropping it on my desk. There it sits, unopened and unread.

The inability to focus on the task at hand is common at this time, no matter what we are doing. Here’s a quote shared to the group Facebook page by Gill Lowe, who said of her own reading of Proust: “I started. But I just can’t concentrate…”.

Proust on illness

It is illness that makes us recognise that we do not live in isolation but are chained to a being from a different realm, worlds apart from us and by whom it is impossible to make ourselves understood: our body. – The Guermantes Way by Marcel Proust

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Anne Fernald, professor of English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Fordham University, will lead a reading group on Virginia Woolf and E. M. Forster at the Center for Fiction in Brooklyn.

The cost of the five-session reading group, which begins Tuesday, Feb. 25, is $160.

“These are always really fun ways for brilliant common readers to get together and talk books,” Fernald said.

On Instagram, Fernald reported that a huge photo mural of Woolf dominates one of the landings at the Center.

A screenshot of Anne Fernald’s Instagram post covering the opening night party at the Center for Fiction. Virginia Woolf is featured in a mural that dominates one of the stairway landings.

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Anne Fernald

Anne Fernald

Anne Fernald, Fordham University professor and editor of the Cambridge University Press edition of Mrs. Dalloway (2014) and author of Virginia Woolf: Feminism and the Reader (2006), will lead a reading group on two Virginia Woolf novels this fall.

Mrs. Dalloway (1925) and To the Lighthouse (1927) will be under discussion every second Thursday for four sessions, beginning Sept. 17, from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Center for Fiction, 17 E. 47th St., New York City. Remaining dates are Oct. 1, Oct. 15 and Oct. 29.

The cost is $150 for members and $175 for non-members.

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A book club began reading To the Lighthouse three days ago. Let’s join them.

The Classics Club

September 10 through October 10To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

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All right, clubbers! Today is Day One of our third sync read, which is designed to be stress-free and place the focus on reading together, rather than completing assignments. (Unless that’s your thing.)

It’s also cleverly designed to keep your moderators from tearing out their hair doing research. So it’s about you, and the book. And you.

Are you reading? Weigh in below — chat, leave a link to your post if you wrote something, read quietly if you prefer to keep to yourself but love knowing you’re reading with others, even silently. Weigh in here and say nothing at your blog. Whatever suits your personality.

There is no Mr. Linky below because the point in this feature is to talk together in a central place, and list our blogs if it comes up. (Which…

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