“Great Books Saved My Sanity”

We love hearing from Great Books discussion group participants, and especially enjoy when they tell us about the impact reading and discussing literature had on their lives. Virginia Tschanz, a painter and writer from Westminster, Colorado, recently told us about her experience discovering Great Books in the 1960s.  We’re grateful for Virginia’s positive words and for taking the time to share them with us.

“This may sound like an exaggeration, but Great Books saved my sanity when my geologist husband was sent to train Colombian geologists while mapping the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Colombia was then the murder capital of the world and the drug lords were centered there. I was left in Barranquilla, a tropical port, while Mac was in the field three weeks of every month. The tropics are fine for a vacation, but just try to live in them for two years—bugs, snakes, bats, vultures, torrential rains, mold, and mildew. So, miserably unhappy I discovered Great Books and asked a local Peace Corps volunteer to be my co-leader.  The experience changed us and the other participants, including locals. The only requirement was to speak understandable English. Once back in the U.S., I couldn’t rouse any interest among my friends for the program, but for two years it was the center of my life. Thank you, Great Books.”

  1. Alice Dunlap-Kraft says:

    It was indeed a fascinating discussion with a delightful group. Our Mutual Friend was so much fun to read and so hard to put down that it was a treat to think deliberately about it for those 15 hours. The variety of perspectives among our group on the psychology and motivations of the characters was fascinating. I especially enjoyed Nancy’s questions about tests of character and relationships posed in the plot, who failed the tests, who surpassed them, and why. It was a wonderful week at Toronto Pursuits.

  2. Jess Hungate says:

    Nancy, this is a great note on Classical Pursuits, which I encourage all to consider attending, as well as on Dickens and the Shared Enquiry (TM) approach more generally. I remember with such fondness our consideration last year of that greatest of all (OK, well almost all) books, Middlemarch. The book, the July in Toronto, your leadership, and reading and discussion in general – all very highly recommended. I look forward to Classical Pursuits next July!!

  3. Nancy Carr says:

    Thank you, Jess! I’ve learned a great deal from participants at Classical Pursuits over the years, and I look forward to it each summer.

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