Friday, October 26, 2012
Literary powerhouse Marilynne Robinson continues two-day talk at SMU
For Robinson, the American West is a source of rich literary inspiration.
DALLAS Though Marilynne Robinson has lived in Massachusetts for a wide swath of her adult life, the Pulitzer Prize winning writer did not feel immediately at home there. In fact, the Idahoan was repeatedly met with dubiousness toward her geographical identity.
“How are you smart if you are from the West?” she was often asked.
It is a sentiment – or rather, accusation – that Dallasites will understand intimately. Texas is, as part of the South or West or Southwest, at times widely and wrongly regarded as a bastion of American anti-intellectualism, a sizable dearth of national cultural contribution.
Robinson spoke Thursday night on this and other topics inherent to American identity at DeGolyer Library at SMU between readings from her new collection of essays, When I Was a Child I Read Books, and her novel, Gilead. Pointing out that it was Midwestern Americans who made some of the greatest strides in literary achievement throughout the twentieth century, Robinson discussed her particular brand of Americanism – at once a paean to rugged individualism and a call for social consciousness, deeply indebted to her understanding of and intellectual investment in Calvinistic theology.
The reading sold out in record time and served as an appetizer to an additional presentation by Robinson at SMU’s Hughes-Trigg Student Center on October 26.
A leading voice in not only American fiction but also literary criticism, Robinson is set to expand upon those issues at 6 p.m. Friday.
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