The Twilight of Freedom: Learning from Literature
TWO MONDAYS, NOVEMBER 14 AND 21, 6:00–7:30 P.M.
PRIVATE RESIDENCE. DIRECTIONS WILL BE PROVIDED TO SUBSCRIBERS. LIMITED ENROLLMENT.
In these sessions we will explore two novels: The Passenger by Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz and Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler. Written only months apart, both authors were sounding an alarm as their worlds sank deeper into totalitarianism. While providing a lens onto their time, both works continue to resonate today. We will bookend each session with a look at poems by two of their contemporaries, the German Bertolt Brecht and the Russian Osip Mandelstam.
The title of the seminar comes from a 1918 poem by Mandelstam. Revolution in Russia still held the promise of a new age—the twilight before sunrise. Later that year, after the German surrender in World War I, a period of revolutionary unrest gave way to the establishment of the first German republic, which at one point held the promise of becoming a stable democracy. Twenty years later, both countries found themselves in the grip of totalitarian regimes. The twilight turned out to be the period before what Churchill called “the long night of barbarism” descended.
Our speaker, Philip Boehm, has translated both novels into English for the contemporary audience. He is an American playwright, literary translator, and theater director. Mr. Boehm has translated into English more than 30 novels and plays by German and Polish writers. He has received a number of translation awards as well as National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim fellowships.