Collection Spotlight: Give War and Peace a Chance, by Andrew D. Kaufman

Reviewed by Harold Henkel, Associate Librarian

“To love life is to love God. Harder and more blessed than all else is to love this life in one’s
sufferings, in undeserved sufferings.” (from Pierre Bezukhov’s dream in War and Peace)

Something must be in the air. In the past two years, three journalists and scholars have written books with the intention of convincing readers to tackle what are perhaps the three most formidable novels of the nineteenth century: Moby Dick1, Middlemarch2, and War and Peace3. The common thread in this approach to criticism is that reading great works of literature is not an exercise in self-abnegation, but a journey of discovery, and an enjoyable one at that.

The most recent of these worthy efforts is Give War and Peace a Chance: Tolstoyan Wisdom for Troubled Times, by Andrew Kaufman. Kaufman is Lecturer in Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Virginia. In 2009, he served as a sort of “scholar in residence” for Regent’s Big Read, conducting workshops and delivering the culminating lecture of the Library’s Tolstoy festival.

Give War and Peace a Chance comes three years after Kaufman’s scholarly monograph Understanding Tolstoy and is the fruit of the author’s desire to reach a wider readership. The book is quite a hybrid work, weaving elements of biography, critical analysis, philosophy, and memoir. In twelve chapters, Kaufman takes us on an excursion through the fundamental elements that form our lives, such as happiness, love, family, and death. He explains how these themes operated in Tolstoy’s life and how he gave expression to them in War and Peace.

Along the way, Kaufman also shares episodes from his own life to illustrate how works like War and Peace help us make sense of lives. Some readers might object to the author including his personal story into a book on Tolstoy, but for my part, Kaufman’s accounts of falling in love as a student with Natasha Rostova, or his grief as an adult at the death of a beloved kitten, illustrate the dual refraction that takes place when we read literature. Our temperament and past experiences combine to form our interpretation of a work, but books like War and Peace ultimately change us by enhancing our understanding of ourselves and compassion for others.

At the end of the introduction, Kaufman quotes Tolstoy’s explanation, written during the composition of War and Peace, of his philosophy of art: “The goal of the artist is not to solve a question irrefutably, but to force people to love life in all its countless, inexhaustible manifestations.” These words also appear movingly in Kaufman’s dedication of the book to his wife and son and encapsulate what he considers to be the ultimate reward awaiting readers who give War and Peace a chance.

___________________________________

1Nathaniel Philbrick, Why Read Moby-Dick? (New York: Penguin, 2013).

2Rebecca Mead, My Life in Middlemarch (New York: Crown, 2014).

3Andrew D. Kaufman, Give War and Peace a Chance: Tolstoyan Wisdom for Troubled Times (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014).

Rabbi Dr. Israel Zoberman to lead discussion on October 30

On Thursday, October 30, Rabbi Dr. Israel Zoberman will be at the Library to lead a discussion of Jews and Words, by Amos Oz and Fania Oz-Salzberger. Amos Oz is perhaps the most famous living Israeli author. Newsweek has described him as “a kind of Zionist Orwell: a complex man obsessed with simple decency and determined above all to tell the truth, regardless of whom it offends.” Fania Oz-Salzberger, Amos Oz’s daughter, is a professor of history at the University of Haifa School of Law and Center for German and European Studies.

In their book, father and daughter tell the tales behind Judaism’s most enduring names, adages, disputes, texts and quips. These words, they argue, comprise the chain connecting Abraham with the Jews of every subsequent generation.

As readers who have attended previous Book Club discussions with Rabbi Zoberman can attest, he is a terrific scholar, teacher, and raconteur. The Library is pleased to have him with us again to enrich our understanding of Jewish history and culture.

The discussion will take place at 1:00 pm in the Library Conference Room. All of the Library’s copies of the book are currently checked out, but Yale University Press has some generous excerpts available on Google Books.

Distance students and faculty welcome!

Distance students and faculty can join the discussion live via Google Hangouts, Google’s free videoconferencing software. Here is our permanent link for all Book Club events:

https://plus.google.com/hangouts/_/event/c0lnc83s5ok7tecuqdcnjg0mcno?authuser=0&eid=100028809078157626561&hl=en

The first time you click on the link, Google will prompt you to install the Hangouts plug-in. Once that’s done, the same link will take you to the Book Club discussion each month.

For more information about the Library Book Club and future events, visit our webpage.

New Trial Databases

The Library currently has trials to three terrific databases:

I wish I had had the Digital Loeb Classical Library.

I wish I had had the Digital Loeb Classical Library.

Digital Loeb Classical Library
“Founded by James Loeb in 1911, the mission of the Loeb Classical Library® has always been to make Classical Greek and Latin literature accessible to the broadest range of readers…Harvard University Press is honored to renew James Loeb’s vision of accessibility, and presents an interconnected, fully searchable, perpetually growing, virtual library of all that is important in Greek and Latin literature…represented here with up-to-date texts and accurate English translations.”

Trial expires November 19, 2014

FMG: World Cinema Collection
“With more than 380 feature films from the most renowned directors across the globe, this unique collection includes the best of the silent era, groundbreaking international directors, American and European masterpieces from the mid-20th century, and award-winning contemporary films featured by Global Lens. The collection shines a light on the history of cinema while also providing a glimpse into the cultures and issues of countries around the world, making it useful beyond film studies departments by bringing value to programs in area studies, political science, history, world languages, and more.”

Trial expires November 7, 2014

Value Line
“The uncontested authority in reliable, unbiased information, Value Line puts you in the driver’s seat with accurate and insightful investment research on companies, industries, markets and economies. From the latest data, sophisticated tools and proven ranks to expert analysis and guidance, Value Line gives you the power to evaluate investments with confidence. Make smarter, more profitable decisions with Value Line.”

Trial expires November 13, 2014

The Library strives to spend its electronic resources budget on databases that best support the research of Regent students, staff, and faculty. Your input during trials helps us decide whether or not to subscribe to a new database. Please share your opinions on these resources by completing our short evaluation form.

Image credit: Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest, “Augustus of Primaporta,”
http://quest.eb.com/#/search/107_3363746/1/107_3363746/cite

Virtual Library of Virginia celebrates 20th anniversary.

by Sara Baron, Ed.D., Dean of the University Library

The Virtual library of Virginia (VIVA) is a consortium of nonprofit academic libraries in Virginia. Its mission is “to provide, in an equitable, cooperative and cost effective manner, enhanced access to library and information resources for the Commonwealth of Virginia’s nonprofit academic libraries serving the higher education community.”1

VIVA benefits Virginia because “students and faculty at institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth have access to digital and print journals, books, reference sources, and databases that are essential for educational success and research enterprise.”2 That includes students and faculty here at Regent University! Through the VIVA consortium, the University Library has been able to license numerous scholarly databases that would have been cost prohibitive otherwise. Furthermore, a vibrant interlibrary loan community among Virginia libraries allows us to share resources back and forth among institutions, making even more available to students and faculty.

Founded 20 years ago, VIVA is celebrating its history and future with a new brochure that outlines services, explains how cost-effective the consortium is, and lists member institutions. Get your copy from the Circulation desk today!

______________________________

1http://www.vivalib.org/aboutviva/whatisviva.html

2http://www.vivalib.org/

Access the Chronicle of Higher Education anywhere, anytime.

by Leanne Strum, Ph.D., Associate Dean

Regent University Library is excited to share the news that our students, faculty, and staff can now access The Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE) online, anywhere and anytime. The Library now subscribes to an upgraded version of CHE that provides for direct off-campus access via a Regent University e-mail addresses.

CHE provides news and information about higher education, job listings in academia, online discussion forums, and career-building tools such as online CV management, salary databases, and more.

To access CHE off-campus, users simply click “Log In” at the top of the page, choose “Create a Free Account” and enter their Regent University e-mail address.

Here are step-by-step instructions for creating a Chronicle of Higher Education account:

  1. Go to the Library’s A-Z database list at http://libguides.regent.edu/databases.
  2. Click on letter “C.”
  3. Click on The Chronicle of Higher Education link. (If off-campus, you will be prompted to log in with your MyRegent ID and password.)
  4. Once you are on the CHE site, click on the “Log In” link at the top right of the page.
  5. Once you are on this page click on “Create a Free Account.”
  6. Follow the three simple steps to create your own personal account. It is that easy!
  7. Be sure to use your Regent University e-mail address so that the CHE server will recognize it as a paid member account.

With this account you will have three new ways to access CHE:

  1. From an iPad: Install the Chronicle’s free iPad app to download all sections of CHE. Includes both current and past issues. (Download at the iPad app store.)
  2. From a smart phone or tablet using a Web browser: The mobile interface makes CHE easy to read when one is on the go.
  3. From any computer: Go to chronicle.com from any location without having to sign in via the Library databases.