Four Sessions Mondays, 6:00 pm EDT - 7:30 pm EDT June 26 to September 11, 2023
The Center for Fiction
The ‘With Books’ option includes all titles required for this group at a 10% discount from our Bookstore.
6/26, 7/17, 8/14, 9/11
In Person at The Center for Fiction
Iris Murdoch (1919-1999) was an utterly protean figure: both an Oxford philosopher and a prolific novelist; a serious thinker invested in the zany and madcap possibilities of the comic novel; an imposing moralist known for her passionate extramarital romances, and so much more.
Murdoch always maintained that the best fiction was “adventure stories,” and so, in this celebratory survey, we will examine four of her most important novels through the lens of “adventure.” We will start with the philosophical comedy Under the Net (1954), which stages a picaresque adventure through mid-century London. Next, we will study The Bell (1958), a quiet novel of spiritual adventure, communal living, and the sublime. Moving ahead a couple of decades, we will discuss Iris’s formal masterpiece, The Black Prince (1973), a book that posits love as the greatest adventure of all. Finally, we will look at the first-person retrospective novel The Sea, the Sea (1978), an adventure of memory and fantasy (and the Murdoch novel everyone tells you to read). We will also touch on Iris’s writing on literature, as well as excerpts from Peter J. Conradi’s excellent biography, Iris Murdoch: A Life.
We will talk about so much in this class: women writing as men, sneaking philosophy and politics into a novel, Iris’s concept of “unselfing,” visual art and music, queerness, desire circuits, Shakespeare and, of course, dogs (so many dogs). Above all, I hope to share the joy of experiencing Iris’s staggering but ever-playful mind and to facilitate a dynamic encounter with a real reader’s writer.
- Session I: Under the Net
- Session II: The Bell
- Session III: The Black Prince
- Session IV: The Sea, the Sea
Before the first session, participants should have read Under the Net.
Chantal V. Johnson
Chantal V. Johnson
Chantal V. Johnson is a lawyer and writer who does not have an MFA. Her debut novel, Post-Traumatic, was longlisted for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and named a Best Debut Novel of 2022 by Debutiful. Chantal graduated from Stanford Law School and worked as a tenant lawyer for over seven years. She lives in New York.
About this series
Whether you’re looking to catch up on great novels or you’re interested in exploring a new writer or literary period, our reading groups offer high-level literary discussion led by experts in the field.
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Surgery on the Sentence Level with Omer Friedlander$150
Saturday & Sunday 12:00 pm EDT - 3:00 pm EDT September 30 to October 1, 2023
Writing History with Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond$125
Saturday, 12:00 pm EDT - 4:30 pm EDT September 30, 2023
Writing Fiction for Social Justice with Ruth Mukwana$495
Once a week Mondays, 12:00 pm EDT - 2:00 pm EDT October 2 to November 20, 2023
George Eliot’s Middlemarch with Sheila Kohler
Every Other Week Mondays, 6:00 pm EDT - 7:30 pm EDT October 2 to November 27, 2023
William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying with Elizabeth Howard
Once a week Wednesdays, 6:30 pm EDT - 8:00 pm EDT October 4 to October 25, 2023
Good Moms, Bad Moms: Mothers in Contemporary French Autobiographies with Lise Schreier$225
Five Sessions Thursdays, 6:00 pm EDT - 7:30 pm EDT October 5 to December 21, 2023
Belief and Doubt: The Novels of Graham Greene (and One by John le Carré) with Dennis Krieger
Five Sessions 7:00 pm EDT - 8:30 pm EDT October 5 to January 18, 2023
Writing Family Stories and Family Histories with Eraldo Souza dos Santos$150
Friday—Sunday October 6 to October 8, 2023
An Introduction to Comics with Sofia Warren$150
Saturday & Sunday 11:00 am EDT - 2:00 pm EDT October 7 to October 8, 2023
What's Italian? Collodi's Pinocchio and De Amicis’s Heart with Antonio Romani
Once a week Saturdays, 12:00 pm EDT - 1:30 pm EDT October 7 to October 28, 2023
Revising the College Essay with Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons$75
Saturday, 1:00 pm EDT - 3:00 pm EDT October 7, 2023
Genre/Gender-Bending Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy with Joy Sanchez-Taylor
Three Sessions Mondays, 6:00 pm EDT - 7:30 pm EDT October 9 to November 20, 2023
Writing Powerful, Characterizing Dialogue in Fiction with Joanna Cantor$395
Once a week Wednesdays, 7:00 pm EDT - 9:00 pm EDT October 11 to November 15, 2023
Henry Fielding's The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling with Rebecca Rukeyser
Once a week Wednesdays, 6:00 pm EDT - 7:30 pm EDT October 11 to December 13, 2023
How to Publish Translation Writing with Bruna Dantas Lobato$150
Saturday & Sunday 12:00 pm EDT - 3:00 pm EDT October 14 to October 15, 2023
Members Only: The NightlightersFree
Monday, 6:00 pm EDT - 7:30 pm EDT October 16, 2023
Georges Perec's Life: A User's Manual with Evan James
Once a week Tuesdays, 6:00 pm EDT - 7:30 pm EDT October 17 to December 19, 2023
Members Only: The LiterariansFree
Wednesday, 12:30 pm EDT - 1:30 pm EDT October 18, 2023
Creating a Book Marketing Plan: How to Authentically Promote Your Book and Engage Your Community with Eleanor Whitney$150
Saturday & Sunday 11:00 am EDT - 2:00 pm EDT October 21 to October 22, 2023