The Human Stain by Philip Roth

It is 1998, the year America is plunged into a frenzy of prurience by the impeachment of a president, and in a small New England town a distinguished classics professor, Coleman Silk, is forced to retire when his colleagues allege that he is a racist. The charge is unfounded, the persecution needless, but the truth about Silk would astonish even his most virulent accuser.

Coleman Silk has a secret, one which has been kept for fifty years from his wife, his four children, his colleagues, and his friends, including the writer Nathan Zuckerman. It is Zuckerman who comes upon Silk’s secret, and sets out to unearth his former buried life, piecing the biographical fragments back together. This is against backdrop of seismic shifts in American history, which take on real, human urgency as Zuckerman discovers more and more about Silk’s past and his futile search for renewal and regeneration.

 

Proposed by Mike

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Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles

two-serious-ladiesFew great writers produced less than Jane Bowles: one novel, one play and a dozen short stories. Yet hers is one of the most original, unique voices in twentieth century American literature. A novelist with an essentially tragic view, as Truman Capote concludes in his memoir, but also ‘a very funny writer … with at [her] heart the subtlest comprehension of eccentricity and human apartness.’

Here, then, is a novel unlike any other. A tale of two extraordinary heroines – Christina Goering, a wealthy spinster in pursuit of sainthood, and Frieda Copperfield, who finds a home from home in a Panama brothel. And a book whose lesbian themes were startling on its original publication in 1943.

Proposed by Mary

This collection of Poe’s best stories contains all the terrifying and bewildering tales that characterise his work. As well as the Gothic horror of such famous stories as ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’, ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’, ‘The Premature Burial’ and ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’, all of Poe’s Auguste Dupin stories are included.

These are the first modern detective stories and include ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’, ‘The Mystery of Marie Roget’ and ‘The Purloined Letter’.

From its first publication in 1719, Robinson Crusoe has been printed in over 700 editions. It has inspired almost every conceivable kind of imitation and variation, and been the subject of plays, opera, cartoons, and computer games. The character of Crusoe has entered the consciousness of each succeeding generation as readers add their own interpretation to the adventures so thrillingly ‘recorded’ by Defoe.

Praised by eminent figures such as Coleridge, Rousseau and Wordsworth, this perennially popular book was cited by Karl Marx in Das Kapital to illustrate economic theory. However it is readers of all ages over the last 280 years who have given Robinson Crusoe its abiding position as a classic tale of adventure.

Mr. Artur Sammler, Holocaust survivor, intellectual, and occasional lecturer at Columbia University in 1960s New York City, is a “registrar of madness,” a refined and civilized being caught among people crazy with the promises of the future (moon landings, endless possibilities). His Cyclopean gaze reflects on the degradations of city life while looking deep into the sufferings of the human soul. “Sorry for all and sore at heart,” he observes how greater luxury and leisure have only led to more human suffering. To Mr. Sammler-who by the end of this ferociously unsentimental novel has found the compassionate consciousness necessary to bridge the gap between himself and his fellow beings-a good life is one in which a person does what is “required of him.” To know and to meet the “terms of the contract” was as true a life as one could live.

Welcome to Literature in Pubs

Literature in Pubs (LIPs) is a community book group searching for literary stimulation in the relaxing atmosphere of a good pub. Currently the meetings are held at The Vernon Pub on Dale Street in Liverpool city centre, on the 3rd Monday of every month at 6:30pm-8pm.

The aim is to provide an informal setting for people to come and discuss their ideas in relation to a piece of literature once a month. No literary background is required, just a passion for discussion.

November 2018
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