Charles Calhoun: Great Books

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Charles Calhoun Great Books

Charles Calhoun at Thornton Oaks, in Brunswick

In this episode we join Charles Calhoun, author of the biography Longfellow: A Rediscovered Life and founder/emcee of Winter Weekend for a talk on great books. This is a recording of an event held on July 21, 2014 at the Thornton Oaks Retirement Community in Brunswick, Maine.

Calhoun discusses the definition of a great book and the ways in which the classics survive the modern world. He explains the relevance of some of the texts used in the Maine Humanities Council’s Winter Weekend. He also provides an example of classical works in a contemporary debate: a debate over the use of a Virgil quote in the 9-11 memorial in New York City.

“A classic is a book that has not only enduring power or iconic power in the culture, but has many levels of complexity. You can never really get to the bottom of it,” Calhoun explains. “You can read some stories and you’ve got them down pat and you move on. But the classics are the books you keep coming back to.”

For more, read Charles Calhoun’s article “Mississippi Comes to Maine: 18 Years of Winter Weekend.”