Courses coming with spaces remaining:
Beloved four weeks starting mid-April
The Years—Five-day intensive study in St Ives April (two spaces available)
Yoga and Literary Retreat in Umbria early June of Henry James: The Portrait of a Lady –one space available
A Mercy Two meetings; June 2020
The Iliad One-week travel study on the island of Agistri in Greece September 2020
We are trying to squeeze in a few more studies in the coming months—I am inspired by a recent study of Toni Morrison’s A Mercy and am offering a short study of this powerful work in June. Having just finished a rich study of Jazz with Geoff Brown we realised how much is packed into these fluid pages—I need another look– aiming for a study in the autumn.
Coming in April, I am offering a Beloved four-week study—this is such a complex and powerful read, each tour through the loaded and lyric pages yields insights on racism, parenting, the claim of the ancestors, the hunger for beauty in an abject world…
After two sold-out trips to Greece to read Homer’s Odyssey, we’re very excited to announce a week-long study this September in Greece to explore the Iliad. This time, facilitator Mark Cwik will be your guide into Homer. Mark is just wrapping up our study here in London of the myths and legends of Troy, and will be bringing that rich background to this immersion into the world of the Iliad.
I am preparing my first study of Virginia Woolf’s final book, The Years. We are combining this with the essays she composed (gathered in the Leaska-edited volume The Pargiters) to comment on the politics she was addressing through the fiction. This study, five days in beautiful St Ives, is a unique opportunity to delve into the on-going question of the ability of narrative art to act politically. Woolf also looks directly at the sexual suppression of her time and how this translates into broken relationships in intimate as well as social spaces.
The group currently moving through the layers of honeysuckle and nihilism in Sound and the Fury have found much to consider—and as with many studies, our work will extend beyond the final meeting with an after-math gathering. We will endure.
The current long-term studies in the Salon exemplify the connections and depth available when we spend time intensely working through the web of ideas held in significant literature. These long-term studies also provide a safe space to consider afresh the hard parts of our lives. Great art reflects the contradictions of ourselves—and in our work together, we move beyond the limits of our own perspective and experience.
Our Finnegans Wake group has been meeting for two and half years—and we aren’t done yet. Each meeting covers about five pages of text—in that time we may travel from Paradise Lost references to Emily Dickinson, sexual exploits to toxic masculinity, cyclical history…and constantly opening ourselves to the work.
There are currently three Proust groups moving through In Search of Lost Time. The Thursday group travelled to Iliers/ Combray last spring; this year we will spend a weekend together in Paris that includes a visit to the Hôtel Littéraire Le Swann curated as a passionate tribute to the writer and his vision-—as well as a stay in ancient convent and visits to museums that expand our knowledge of Proust’s world and French history and art. The two Wednesday groups are deep into the Guermantes Ways—turning over ideas about constructed femininity and masculinity, the unshakeable nature of social power systems, the vulnerability of our constructed identity, love as performance art…. I hope to start a new Search in the autumn.
We are living in truly challenging times. I continue to find some salve in the beauty of the literature, the passionate response to the realm of ideas offered in the Salons—and the generosity Salonistas show in our work together.