Virtual Event: Daniel Mendelsohn
A Tale of Exile, Narrative, and Fate
in conversation with JAMES WOOD
October 15, 2020
7:00 PM ET
Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration
Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes celebrated memoirist, essayist, and critic DANIEL MENDELSOHN—author of the National Book Critics Circle Award–winning books Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays from the Classics to Pop Culture and The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million—for a discussion of his latest book, Three Rings: A Tale of Exile, Narrative, and Fate. He will be joined in conversation by esteemed novelist and literary critic JAMES WOOD, author of How Fiction Works.
Contribute to Support Harvard Book Store
While payment is not required, we are suggesting a $3 contribution to support this author series, our staff, and the future of Harvard Book Store—a locally owned, independently run Cambridge institution. In addition, by purchasing a copy of Three Rings on harvard.com, you support indie bookselling and the writing community during this difficult time.
About Three Rings
In this genre-defying book, best-selling memoirist and critic Daniel Mendelsohn explores the mysterious links between the randomness of the lives we lead and the artfulness of the stories we tell.
Combining memoir, biography, history, and literary criticism, Three Rings weaves together the stories of three exiled writers who turned to the classics of the past to create masterpieces of their own—works that pondered the nature of narrative itself. Erich Auerbach, the Jewish philologist who fled Hitler’s Germany and wrote his classic study of Western literature, Mimesis, in Istanbul; François Fénelon, the seventeenth-century French archbishop whose ingenious sequel to the Odyssey, The Adventures of Telemachus—a veiled critique of the Sun King and the best-selling book in Europe for one hundred years—resulted in his banishment; and the German novelist W. G. Sebald, self-exiled to England, whose distinctively meandering narratives explore Odyssean themes of displacement, nostalgia, and separation from home.
Intertwined with these tales of exile and artistic crisis is an account of Mendelsohn’s struggles to write two of his own books―a family saga of the Holocaust and a memoir about reading the Odyssey with his elderly father—that are haunted by tales of oppression and wandering. As Three Rings moves to its startling conclusion, a climactic revelation about the way in which the lives of its three heroes were linked across borders, languages, and centuries forces the reader to reconsider the relationship between narrative and history, art and life.
Praise for Three Rings
"Classicist, historian, memoirist, cultural critic, wit—with consummate skill and the sharp, sympathetic eye of the poet, Daniel Mendelsohn brilliantly combines these roles. Three Rings is a masterly exegesis and demonstration of digression as a high art." —Joyce Carol Oates
"Daniel Mendelsohn’s Three Rings is erudition, essayism, and memoir, made to dance together like a visible clockworks—or literary scholarship such as Ricky Jay might have practiced it onstage. This little book is ruminative, humane, and gorgeously precise." —Jonathan Lethem
"An astounding Borgesian document of clarity and brilliance. A book about telling stories that wanders down the seeming two roads of the Hebrew tradition and the classical, which, like Proust’s two ways, might turn out to be one way after all. Three Rings has the keeled force of a long poem." —Sebastian Barry
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