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Type Of Study:
One Off Event
The London Lit Salon Book Club is a monthly book discussion group in South London that reads the finest 20th and 21st
The London Lit Salon Book Club is a monthly book discussion group in South London that reads the finest 20th and 21st century literature from around the world (with the occasional classic thrown in the mix for good measure).
The Book Club’s monthly schedule offers the same serious discussion and professional facilitation as the Salon’s other studies, while providing the opportunity to explore a world of literature for which we might not offer one of our multi-week, in-depth studies. Like all books we read at the Lit Salon, the book club selections speak to basic and enduring questions of what it means to be human.
The Lit Salon Book Club meets on Sunday evenings from 6:30pm – 8:30pm in the comfortable West Norwood (SE27) bungalow of our discussion facilitator Mark Cwik. Meetings for 2018/19 are scheduled for:
07 October — William Trevor’s Two Lives: Reading Turgenev and My House in Umbria.
18 November — Michael Ondaatje’s Warlight
06 January 2019 — Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights
03 February 2019 — Sjón’s The Blue Fox
03 March 2019 — Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses
07 April 2019 — Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita
28 April 2019 — Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go
26 May 2019 — Paul Auster’s The Music of Chance
28 July 2019 — Bridget Collins’ The Binding
08 September 2019 — Tessa Hadley’s Late in the Day
Our book for 08 September will be Tessa Hadley’s 2019 novel Late in the Day. Waterstones says: “Neatly navigating the ebbs and flows of the relationship between two couples as they weather the impact of a sudden tragedy on the ecosystem of their lives, Tessa Hadley has created a superbly nuanced portrait of friendship and marriage. Echoing the quiet, penetrating observation of Anita Brookner, Hadley writes with subtlety and great skill about the interplay between society, class, history and the passions that shape our everyday experience.”
Michael Upchurch in the Seattle Times says: “Tessa Hadley covers this territory (in Late in the Day) with freshness, subtlety and a deep, shifting empathy. . . . Her prose has the penetrating quality of Henry James at his most accessible (Hadley has written a book-length study of James) and is alert, as Virginia Woolf and Elizabeth Bowen were, to how time sculpts, warps or casually destroys us.”
And, from a review in the Guardian: “(Hadley’s) prose – measured, ironic, disarmingly perceptive – picks up on all the contradictions of human existence. . . .There’s a lovely stillness to Hadley’s writing, like an old house with many rooms.”
Registration for the Lit Salon Book Club is in six-month subscriptions of £90. You can also try us out with a one-month payment of £15. See below for payment options.
SPECIAL OFFER: if you’ve not attended before but would like to try us out, we invite you to attend your first meeting free of charge. Please email facilitator Mark Cwik to RSVP and we’ll provide you with location info.
With our friendly atmosphere of collaborative inquiry, high quality and challenging readings, professional facilitation and focused discussions, we are confident in calling the Lit Salon Book Club the best book discussion group in London.
TO REGISTER for this ongoing study, please use the secure Paypal payment button below to pay £90 for a six-month subscription:
OR, for monthly payment, use the Paypal button below to pay £15:
“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” Toni Morrison, writer, professor and essayist on issues
“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.”
Toni Morrison, writer, professor and essayist on issues including race, gender and forces of life, won the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. Beloved is regarded by many as Morrison’s best work, and once you have spent some time in the text, it is easy to understand why. Morrison works to help the reader grasp the psychological devastation wreaked by the institution of slavery by close observation of a community of ex-slaves creating lives in Ohio in the second half of the 19th century.
This text is meaty and evocative, and also quite difficult to read alone. The work also offers endless possibilities in terms of discussion of the formation of self, claiming of self, mother/child relationships, the fury of love, the permeable boundaries between the living and the not living, as well as the more predictable (but no less provocative) issues of race, gender and role of history.
But what you need to know– along with the history and context which will be provided as part of the Salon–is that the writing is so gorgeous. Morrison tackles the most painful aspects of human experience with an honesty and lyricism that will leave you breathless. If this is your first reading of the book, try not to read around too much: many reviews and commentary give away the central traumatic event that Morrison reveals carefully and purposefully in her own time. I think Morrison is very purposeful in the way she tells this story—we will discuss the framing and the narrative progression and her purpose there.
** 25.8.19 THIS STUDY IS NOW FULL*** please contact us to be added to the waiting list or to be alerted of a future Beloved study….
“Call me Ishmael. . . .” First published in 1851, Moby Dick ranks on almost any list as one of the greatest works
“Call me Ishmael. . . .”
First published in 1851, Moby Dick ranks on almost any list as one of the greatest works in the English language. Its three famous opening words, and the image of the one-legged Ahab in mad pursuit of the great White Whale, have become cultural icons. This grand—and occasionally grandiose—adventure tale unites the many voices of Herman Melville in a mongrel mix of epic poetry, Shakespearean tragedy, encyclopedic cataloguing, biblical oratory—and not a small dose of comedy. With Moby Dick, Melville presents an insightful study of obsession, madness and charismatic leadership that anticipates many of our contemporary conversations of democracy, cosmopolitanism, capitalism and environmentalism.
“I am half way in the work . . . It will be a strange sort of book, tho’, I fear; blubber is blubber you know; tho’ you might get oil out of it, the poetry runs as hard as sap from a frozen maple tree;—and to cool the thing up, one must needs throw in a little fancy, which from the nature of the thing, must be ungainly as the gambols of the whales themselves. Yet I mean to give the truth of the thing, spite of this.” —Herman Melville
TO REGISTER for the study, please use the secure Paypal payment button below to pay £195. Opening notes will be sent shortly after registration.
FOR MONDAY STUDY:
This year is the 200th year celebration of Herman Melville’s birth–making it a particularly auspicious moment to study this great work. Philip Hoare (mentioned below as one of the curators of the Moby Dick Big Read project) writes on the importance of this work in our contemporary moment in his article Subversive, queer and terrifyingly relevant: Six reasons why Moby Dick is the novel for our times. “The book features gay marriage, hits out at slavery and imperialism and predicts the climate crisis – 200 years after the birth of its author, Herman Melville, it has never been more important.”
A few years ago, artist Angela Cockayne and writer Philip Hoare convened and curated a unique whale symposium and exhibition at Peninsula Arts, the dedicated contemporary art space at Plymouth University. This grew into an extraordinary compilation of voices (Tilda Swinton, Stephen Fry…) and art to illuminate each chapter…inspiring and inspired by this vast book.http://www.mobydickbigread.com
From the site:
‘I have written a wicked book’, said Melville when his novel was first published in 1851, ‘and I feel as spotless as the lamb’. Deeply subversive, in almost every way imaginable, Moby-Dick is a virtual, alternative bible – and as such, ripe for reinterpretation in this new world of new media. Out of Dominion was born its bastard child – or perhaps its immaculate conception – the Moby-Dick Big Read: an online version of Melville’s magisterial tome: each of its 135 chapters read out aloud, by a mixture of the celebrated and the unknown, to be broadcast online in a sequence of 135 downloads, publicly and freely accessible.
If you have any questions about this study, please contact us.
Great Ideas, Great Books is our ongoing, monthly Salon where you will encounter the core texts and core ideas in the western
Great Ideas, Great Books is our ongoing, monthly Salon where you will encounter the core texts and core ideas in the western intellectual tradition. Each month, we read a key work by authors such as Homer, Sophocles, Plato, Dante, Shakespeare, Machiavelli, Milton, Marx, Austen and Eliot. Through these works, you will wrestle with the basic and enduring questions of what it means to be human: What is right and wrong? How do we come to know things? What do we owe to our families, our society, ourselves? What is happiness? What is a good life? What is a good society? We will talk about justice, morality, beauty, love, honor, death, government, society, goodness, community.
To encourage careful reading, and to fit our discussions into busy lives, we keep each month’s selection to a manageable length. For longer works, we read the book over two or more months, or we read substantial selections that present an author’s most important ideas.
During our discussions, we examine a reading from many different angles, puzzling over difficult passages, exploring the intricacies of a plot line, the layers of meaning in a poetic phrase, the subtleties of an argument or the implications of a thesis. We examine the ideas an author has set out, and consider them seriously. We also step back from the details to see whether what an author has to say makes sense and is relevant to us or not.
You don’t need any specialized knowledge or background in classic literature to join Great Ideas, Great Books. It is our expectation that most participants will be reading many of the authors for the first time. All you really need is a willingness to read carefully, listen thoughtfully and entertain new and sometimes-challenging ideas.
In our first year since starting in September 2018, Great Ideas, Great Books has dwelt in the ancient Greek world, with Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, Sophocles, Plato and Aristotle. As the program progresses, we will move to later works including those from the Roman world, from the Judeo-Christian scriptural tradition, the middle ages and enlightenment, up to modern thought. Great Ideas is structured as a long-term project, with the flexibility to direct our focus to differing topics and time periods according to the interests of the group.
Our readings so far:
September 2018—Homer, The Iliad, Books 1 – 12
October 2018—Homer, The Iliad, Books 13 – 24
November 2018—Herodotus, The Persian Wars, selection
December 2018—Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War, selection
January 2019—Plato, Meno
February 2019—Sophocles, Oedipus Rex
March 2019— Sophocles, Antigone
April 2019—Aristotle, Poetics
May 2019—Plato, Apology, Crito, Phaedo
June 2019—Euripides, Medea
17 September 2019—The Epic of Gilgamesh
15 October 2019—Plato, Republic, Books 1 – 5
19 November 2019—Plato, Republic, Books 6 – 10
The Great Ideas group currently has two seats available. Registration for Great Ideas, Great Books is in six-month subscriptions. The £25 per month registration includes introductory notes that set the context for each reading, and questions to help focus your reading and prompt your thinking about key aspects of the text.
TO REGISTER for the study, please use the secure Paypal payment button below to pay £150. Opening notes will be sent shortly after registration.
‘The Waste Land’ is the early Modernist poem classic. T. S. Eliot was striving to understand a shattered world post WWI and
‘The Waste Land’ is the early Modernist poem classic. T. S. Eliot was striving to understand a shattered world post WWI and how the inherited cultural knowledge could offer direction or solace in a broken, mechanistic world. His use of literary and cultural allusions may feel overwhelming at first, but an open mind and supportive discussion will illuminate this gorgeous poem.
At this moment of Modernism, the urge was to separate from the oppressing past (‘Make it new!’ charged Ezra Pound, Eliot’s mentor) but this becomes a double gesture. The attempt to repress or break free from the past ends up haunting the writers and thinkers of the modern period—until they negotiate a link with the myths and images of the past that threatened. ‘Waste Land’ demonstrates this in the specific allusions to past works and in its melding of characters of the past and the present (Cleopatra becoming a modern working woman in ‘A Game of Chess’ for example) as well as the use of myth to reconnect our lost modern psyche to a past of ritual and meaning.
The experience of ‘The Waste Land’ combines a dig through allusions to a sense of what we hear: the journey is impressionistic. Eliot struggles to rediscover primitive, authentic emotion against the falseness of modern life. He employs the poetic technique of multiplying references (thinking of form of sedimentary rock—the layers evoking ages but holding discordant impressions together).
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
—from The Burial of the Dead
Tuesdays 7:00-9:00; I plan to offer a five meeting study of Four Quartets in this same time slot starting October 29 running until the end of November.
To register, please use the paypal button below to pay £70 for this three meeting study. Upon receipt of payment, I will send you the opening notes, resources and preparation suggestions.
*September 6th: This Study is now FULL * please contact us to be added to the wait list or to request a future study
The shorter Salon format is a wonderful way to experience the Salon briefly. As we prepare for the fall course offerings, this study will give participants the opportunity to energise the brain with provocative images and philosophical considerations on the tragedy of humanity in the aftermath of WWI.
If you have any questions about this study, please contact us.
Within a Budding Grove - Vol. II Proust's A la recherche du Temps Perdu “When we are in love, our love is too
“When we are in love, our love is too big a thing for us to be able altogether to contain it within ourselves. It radiates towards the loved one, finds there a surface which arrests it, forcing it to return to its starting-point, and it is this repercussion of our own feeling which we call the other’s feelings and which charms us more then than on its outward journey because we do not recognise it as having originated in ourselves.”
― Marcel Proust, Within a Budding Grove
After completing incredibly satisfying studies of Ulysses and Magic Mountain, we have turned to the next big mountain of Modernism, Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. We spent eight weeks reading the first volume of the work– now we turn to Vol. II: Within a Budding Grove (recommended edition: Vintage Classics, trans. C. K. Scott Moncrieff). Even if you have not read the first volume, it is possible to pick up from Vol. II and move forward–you can always go back into the first book. Here is how one Salonista describes the pleasure and work of reading Proust: ” This is a velvet jewel of a book that demands the attention of a lover full of enchantment and obsession ,we need not get impatient as all good lovers perfect their art in taking their time.”
Reading Proust teaches the reader to observe how the world is experienced, to be aware that although humans are tempted to give greater weight to the perceptual universe, it is the entwining of memory, idealized experience (dreams) and relationships with what our senses perceive that molds our consciousness.
Proust also uses his curious and attentive narrator to uncover the ombre—the part of the self that hides in the shade or shadow. As we come to know the characters in the narrator’s world, each turns out to have aspects that reveal a savagery or laziness or discrepancy that was not what appeared on the surface. Of course, as soon as Proust reflects this to the reader, we recognize this truth of human nature: all carry a shadow, an untoward or simply unmanageable part of the self that we struggle to contain. In Proust’s world, these aspects are equally a part of the coherent self…this has me thinking a great deal about how carefully we construct the social self—and how we temper what simmers beneath the surface.
In Volume II, Proust will continue to explore class structures and awakening sexuality. As we considered in V1, the form of love as Proust conceives it is an entity not necessarily shared between the lovers—but may often be a projection from one onto the love object—and therefore limited in how much that love depends on the actuality of the other in its conception.
Use the correct Paypal button below to register . The cost is £230 for the eleven-week study–this will cover the entire volume. I will send along opening notes and critical resources once I have received your registration. Studies start September 18th.
Every reader finds himself. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument that makes
Every reader finds himself. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument that makes it possible for the reader to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself. -Marcel Proust
After completing incredibly satisfying studies of Ulysses and Magic Mountain, we have turned to the next big mountain of Modernism, Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. A wonderful group has worked through the first three volumes, overturning ideas around intimacy, jealousy, perspective, history– now we turn to Vol. IV: Sodom and Gomorrah (recommended edition: Vintage Classics, trans. C. K. Scott Moncrieff). This six week study will consider the second 300 pages of the work: our experience has taught us that 50 pages per week is more than enough.
The Proust study thus far has helped us to embrace the experience of slow reading and contemplation. Proust\’s writing requires a wide awake mind as the reader is drawn into dissecting the world as it is experienced and the way our minds decorate and create memories, values and paradigms of understanding. This sounds so dry; the wonder is how deeply sensual Proust\’s work is– he is most concerned with the experience of intimacy and how this dance between two beings is fractured and re-imagined through the lens of perception. This volume, in particular, explores the map of passions and the hidden constructions of desire.
Chris Power\’s review in the Guardian offers some useful perspective: “If volume one of In Search of Lost Time represents the novel\’s overture, and volumes two and three are concerned chiefly with Marcel\’s jejune preconceptions about society and their subsequent explosion, then Sodom and Gomorrah is, as its title suggests, unabashedly about forbidden passions. From Marcel\’s chance witnessing of a spur of the moment coupling between an aristocrat and a tailor to the male bordellos of Paris, the book bulges with accounts of love at its most urgent, jealous, lubricious and clandestine.”
If you have not been part of this journey so far & want to join the Proust adventure, the Wednesday evening study has a few spaces and is still early in the volumes. Here is how one Salonista describes the pleasure and work of reading Proust: ” This is a velvet jewel of a book that demands the attention of a lover full of enchantment and obsession ,we need not get impatient as all good lovers perfect their art in taking their time.”
Part II—Sodom & Gomorrah
Six-week study from September 19ththrough November 7th2019
THE REST OF THE STUDY: Captive-Fugitive (two volumes in one book) will take 15 weeks; Time Regained= 450 pages over 8 weeks (approx.. 55 pgs per week)—this has us finishing approx. end of May/ mid-June 2020! I propose:
Use the Paypal button below to register for the study and pay 145 pounds for the six week study– I will send along opening notes and critical resources once I have received your registration. The study starts September 19th 2019 and will conclude v. IV.
At the London Literary Salon we offer a special blend of great literature, great ideas and great conversation. We also know that
At the London Literary Salon we offer a special blend of great literature, great ideas and great conversation. We also know that our weekly studies are sometimes hard to fit in among the demands of everyday life. If you’re looking to add more meaningful conversation into your life, without another 100 pages a week to read—our Spontaneous Philosophy Study has the answer!
Each month we meet—with no prep necessary—for an on-the-spot close reading of a short passage from the great authors that we read elsewhere in the Salon. This study might also be called Short Works, Big Ideas. We read concise and provocative passages from the likes of Plato, Kant, Marx, Mill, Dewey, James, Confucius, Kafka and lots more.
To add to the fun, the author and reading each month are a surprise: everyone will be seeing the text for the first time, with all the excitement of encountering the ideas fresh together. Together we work our way through one to four pages each time, mostly from the giants of philosophy, but with the occasional short story, poem, or even a fairy tale tossed in—you won’t know until you show up. The emphasis is on close reading and a shared inquiry to build understand of new ideas.
Meetings are on the third or fourth Tuesday of the month, 6:00pm to 8:30pm, at the lovely Rudolf Steiner House just below Regent’s Park.
Registration is £15, which covers our room charge and a bit for the facilitator. After you RSVP, all you’ll need to do is show up and be ready to think! Seats are limited, so be sure to RSVP by registering via Paypal below. If you prefer, you can send an email to facilitator Mark Cwik, as well.
Spontaneous Philosophy is a low-advance-commitment way to practice some intellectual self-care, with a bit of hard thinking and a lot of good discussion.
TO REGISTER for the Spontaneous Philosophy study, please use the secure Paypal payment button below to pay £15.