Nobel Laureates You May Not Know, Part 4: Philosophical and Political Fiction

GENINT 731.434

Osher (50+). In this course, we read three works of a philosophical nature and three works of political fiction.


About this course:

The Nobel Prize in literature is recognition for a lifetime's achievement; what is always singled out for praise is an original voice in the service of moral or social vision. The greatest literature always tells us (in broad or specific ways) how we live—and how we might live—giving us a window on human failures, hopes, and victories. In this course, we begin with three works of a philosophical nature: Camus’s The Stranger, an existentialist novel that explores what Camus himself termed “the nakedness of man faced with the absurd”; Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, whose protagonist reveals a journey of self-discovery during the time of the Buddha; and Naguib Mahfouz’s Arabian Nights and Days in which Mahfouz refashions the classic tales of Scheherazade into a collections of stories whose themes are the critique of absolute power, greed and corruption and the triumphant power of love. We conclude with three works of political fiction: Thomas Man’s Mario and the Magician, a parable about the rise and consequences of fascism; Imre Kertesz’s Fateless, a novel that reveals the experience humans face inside institutions that barbaric political ideology creates; and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, a narrative that imagines the disastrous attempt of a group of British boys, stranded on an uninhabited island, to govern themselves.

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