With the ringing of the bells, another year of reading has begun for the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle.
For some members of the community, the Chautauqua experience has given them so much that they feel compelled to give back, sharing their time and talents.
When Edward Curtis decided to document all of the Native American nations in the United States before they disappeared, he did not hold back. He traveled across the country, took more than 40,000 photographs, studied the Native American lifestyles and participated in their rituals. More than once he recorded the words of a native language spoken by the last member of its people.
Food has been the topic of countless books and writing workshops — Kevin Young’s upcoming Week Three Writers’ Center workshop, for example — but food inspired by writing is more unusual.
In a world where everything is available with a click of a mouse, people tend to get impatient — they want instant downloads, rewards, credit and coffee.
Robert Weil, editor-in-chief and publishing director of Liveright & Co., believes we call books “instant classics” to celebrate authors’ muscularity and self-promotion, but that time will discern the difference between a classic and a “false positive.”
Babcock said Weil’s lecture — at 4 p.m. today in the Hall of Philosophy — ties into the morning lecture platform’s theme of “Digital Identity,” and that it will contrast the idea that we are going digital with the idea of “classics” — even in a digital world.
The grounds of Chautauqua have been a haven for good literature for more than a century. With the announcement this week of The Chautauqua Prize, the Institution soon will honor authors with more than just an invitation to the podium.
At a special lecture Monday night by Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, Sherra Babcock, director of the Department of Education, announced a nationwide prize for good writing. By honoring an exceptional new work of fiction or nonfiction, the prize will be a boost to Chautauqua’s presence as a destination for excellence in the literary arts, she said.
“So many people inside and outside of Chautauqua are saying, ‘You just don’t know how much credibility you have in the literary world,’ and it’s just something that should be done, it seems,” Babcock said.