Marilynne Robinson is a lauded author of fiction. Her first novel Housekeeping was widely praised. Readers were smitten. Her trio of novels Gilead, Home, and Lila are haunting, beautiful and rich sagas of early 20th century American families, with stories reaching back to the Civil War. When I read Gilead I talked about it with friends for a year. Robinson’s novels had appreciative reception and many awards— nominated for, and winning too, the Pulitzer, the National Book Award, among others. For fiction Robinson is well known. We will read her four novels with appreciation and enjoyment.
Perhaps less well known are Robinson’s many books of essays and lectures. Though her nonfiction is not too obscure: a well read American, enamored of her writing, famously invited her to his House for a discussion that started with his praise for Gilead but mainly discussed the issues of her essays. https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2015/11/05/president-obama-marilynne-robinson-conversation/
These essays extend, with explanations, the ideas and sensibilities of her novels. They address her ideas of history, literature, religion, current politics, empathy and humanism.
Well written and engaging, Robinson's nonfiction and fiction are both valuable and inspiring; together they expand the breadth of her ideas and sensibilities, and our appreciation. In this SDG we read the four novels alternating with the essays recently published, essays written in the last few years, pertinent to our lives now.
Week 1: From What Are We Doing Here, Essays, 2018, Grace and Beauty.
Week 2 and Week 3: Housekeeping, 1980
Week 4: From What Are We Doing Here, Essays, 2018, Preface, and What Are We Doing Here?
Week 5: From What Are We Doing Here, Essays, 2018,. What is Freedom of Conscience?
Week 6 and Week 7: Gilead, 2004.
Week 8: From What Are We Doing Here, Essays, 2018, Our Public Conversation: How America Talks to Itself.
Week 9: From What Are We Doing Here, Essays, 2018, Mind, Conscience and Soul.
Week 10 and Week 11: Lila, 2014.
Week 12: From What Are We Doing Here, Essays, 2018, Theology for this Moment.
Week 13 and Week 14: Home, 2008