Great Books

Explore a wide variety of classic literature from ancient Greece to the mid-twentieth century. We rotate member moderators in this casual, conversational environment. Meets the first Wednesday of every month at 7 PM in the Mezzanine Meeting Room.
Wednesday, February 4: The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence

When T. E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom first appeared in 1922 it was immediately recognized as a literary masterpiece. In writing his extraordinary account of the Arab Revolt of 1916–1918 and his own role in it, T.E. Lawrence sealed his place in history and legend as Lawrence of Arabia. This is a towering achievement of both autobiography and military history, as well as a first-rate adventure story, Seven Pillars of Wisdom is a must read.


Wednesday, March 4: The Epic of Gilgamesh

Miraculously preserved on clay tablets dating back as much as four thousand years, the poem of Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, is the world’s oldest epic, predating Homer by many centuries. The story tells of Gilgamesh’s adventures with the wild man Enkidu, and of his arduous journey to the ends of the earth in quest of the Babylonian Noah and the secret of immortality. Alongside its themes of family, friendship and the duties of kings, the Epic of Gilgamesh is, above all, about mankind’s eternal struggle with the fear of death.

The Babylonian version has been known for over a century, but linguists are still deciphering new fragments in Akkadian and Sumerian. Andrew George’s gripping translation brilliantly combines these into a fluent narrative and will long rank as the definitive English Gilgamesh. 
  

Wednesday, April 1: The Ambassadors by Henry James

The second of James's three late masterpieces, was, in its author's opinion, "the best, all round, of my productions".

Lambert Strether, a mild middle-aged American of no particular achievements, is dispatched to Paris from the manufacturing empire of Woollett, Massachusetts. The mission conferred on him by his august patron, Mrs. Newsome, is to discover what, or who, is keeping her son Chad in the notorious city of pleasure, and to bring him home. But Strether finds Chad transformed by the influence of a remarkable woman; and as the Parisian spring advances, he himself succumbs to the allure of the 'vast bright Babylon' and to the mysterious charm of Madame de Vionnet.



Wednesday, May 6: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Generally considered the first English sensation novel, The Woman in White features the remarkable heroine Marian Halcombe and her sleuthing partner, drawing master Walter Hartright, pitted against the diabolical team of Count Fosco and Sir Percival Glyde. A gripping tale of murder, intrigue, madness, and mistaken identity, Collins's psychological thriller has never been out of print in the 140 years since its publication.