Last April, the National Endowment for the Arts selected the University Library to participate in The Big Read initiative. The purpose of The Big Read is “to restore reading to the center of American culture.” The Library will organize a community read in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Williamsburg of Tolstoy’s novella, The Death of Ivan Ilyich. To reach the widest possible audience, we are forming partnerships with a diverse group of academic, civic, governmental, and church organizations.
Besides group discussions of the novel, we are putting together a program designed to foster appreciation for Tolstoy as well as Russian literature and culture. Some of our events will include:
- A symposium on Tolstoy and The Death of Ivan Ilyich.
- A full Russian meal at the Regent Ordinary.
- A guest lecture at the College of William & Mary on the role of Tolstoy in European culture.
- A film series at William & Mary dedicated to adaptations of Tolstoy’s works.
A distinguished speaker will kick-off our Big Read in early January 2009. Discussions and events will proceed for the entire month.
The Death of Ivan Ilyich is one of the most powerful treatments in literature of life’s most inescapable fact. At the same time, the novel is short (only 128 pages) and written in the spare, clear style of Tolstoy’s late style, making it not only profound, but unusually accessible. We hope that the entire Regent community will be able to participate in this opportunity to read together one of masterpieces of world literature.