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Great Books Reading and Discussion Group
  Sinbad the Sailor: drawing by Milo Winter (1914)  
Alumni meet monthly to discuss one of the classics of literature

Cost: Free, apart from the cost of food & drink
No Registration Required
The Great Books Reading Group continues its exploration of the character of Odysseus throughout literature from Homer to the present. For August and September we will be looking at how 19th Century Europe responded to the story of Ulysses and the early European world and the traditions of their colonial subjects in their popular and "middle brow" art. So while the readings are short, I'm sure the scope for discussion will be large.

At our August meeting, we will discuss "The Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor" from the One Thousand and One Nights. Sindbad is a fictional sailor, described as living in Baghdad, during the Abbasid Caliphate. The stories of Sindbad were not in the original One Thousand and One Nights, but were part of a separate story cycle added to the collection in the 17th Century.

Sindbad makes a total of seven voyages throughout the Indian ocean and meets real and magical creatures, people and monsters. He is shipwrecked multiple times and meets with many disasters, but like Odysseus, uses his craft, cunning and intelligence to make the best of each situation, ending up rich and prosperous with many a tale to tell. Sindbad, in turn, has become a popular culture staple, with multiple movies based closely or loosely on his adventures and his story has been borrowed by writers from Edgar Alan Poe to James Joyce to John Barth, and has even become the stage name of a successful contemporary entertainer.

Some notes on a few of the various translations: There is a recent "accurate" translation by Husain Haddawy. But it's dull, since it's "accurate" and since Haddawy has a peculiar translation philosophy. The Sinbad Tales and other "non-authentic" stories are in a separate volume. Speaking of peculiar philosophies, there's the deeply strange and kind of unreadable version by Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton. Fascinating, but not really recommended, unless you know what you're doing. Andrew Lang, beloved Victorian collector of Fairy Tales, created a version that's supposed to be quite good, if a bit bowdlerized. There is a fine English translation by E.P. Mathers of J.C. Mardrus' French translation. It has a wonderful Art Nouveau sensibility. Sindbad is in Volume 2, I believe.

For an overview of the proposed long-term schedule for our study of Odysseus, please see our Google Doc

Event Contact
Larry Brown PhD, 1992

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Event Information
Monday, Aug 22 2016 at 6:15pm - 8:00pm [ iCal ]
Agora Restaurant
1527 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036 USA
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