Dorothy Strachey’s 1949 novel “Olivia” on Zoom, October 13!


Dorothy Strachey (1865-1960), sister of the writer Lytton Strachey, was a Bloomsbury insider.

Please join Stanford’s Robert Pogue Harrison, Maria Florence Massucco, and Tobias Wolff, for a webinar discussion of Dorothy Strachey’s 1949 novel, Olivia.The event will take place 5:00-6:30 p.m. (PST) on Wednesday, October 13. Given the ongoing COVID situation, this will be a virtual event.

Stanford’s Prof. Robert Harrison, an acclaimed author and director of Another Look, will lead the discussion, joined by the eminent novelist Tobias Wolff, founding director of Another Look and a National Medal of Arts winner. Massucco, a PhD candidate in Italian Studies who specializes in the 20th century novel, will round out the panel.

André Gide calledOlivia“a little masterpiece,” and we think you’ll agree. The story traces the intense emotional currents among the girls and teachers in a finishing school outside Paris. Olivia, a 16-year-old English girl, finds herself falling under the spell of the charismatic Mademoiselle Julie, a founder of the school.The Times(London)praisedOlivia’s “strange combination of strength and delicacy” and theWall Street Journalnoted that the book is “extravagantly French in its sensibilities.”

Dorothy Strachey and her famous brother, the writer Lytton Strachey, were prominent in the Bloomsbury group.Olivia is her only novel.

The book is available through Amazon (also on Kindle), as well as Stanford Bookstore (650-329-1217) Kepler’s in Menlo Park (650-324-4321), and Bell’s Books in Palo Alto (650-323-7822). Secondhand copies are also available on Abebooksas well. If all else fails, you can order directly from Penguin at 800-793-2665, but allow for delivery time and shipping costs.

Like all our events, this webinar is free and open to the public, but please register on the link below. See you on Zoom!

William Kennedy’s “Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game” – a February 26 Zoom discussion!

William Kennedy and friends (Photo: New York Writers Institute)

Please join us at 3 p.m. on Friday, February 26, for the “Another Look” Zoom discussion of William Kennedy‘s Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game, the Pulitzer prizewinning novelist’s 1978 novel about a pool hustler and poker player during the 1930s. Kennedy has been called the “Bard of Albany.” Register for the event HERE.

Kennedy began his career as a reporter. After a stint in the military and in Puerto Rico, he returned to his hometown and saw the city of his birth with new eyes: “Without a sense of place, you don’t, as a writer, have very much. Place is all those forces of a given society impinging upon and determining character. Without it, a book becomes bloodless.”

According to Stanford’s Tobias Wolff, who will lead the discussion: “Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game belongs to William Kennedy’s celebrated Albany sequence of novels. Set during the Depression, it concerns a young gambler and bookie, the Billy of the title, who suffers a setback that compels him to embark on an odyssey – and I use that word advisedly – through the demimonde of his city, during which he encounters temptations and dangers that test his resolve to the limit. There are gangsters, there is a kidnapping, but at its core this novel is about character, and what this man will do and endure to preserve his honor.”

The discussion will be lead by National Medal of Arts winner Tobias Wolff, with panelists Carol Edgarian, novelist and founding editor of Narrative Magazine; and Robert Pogue Harrison,

As many of you recall, this event was originally scheduled for April 7, but cancelled because of COVID. The rescheduled event marks Another Look’s triumph over adversity.

Please join us in celebrating with this special event – our second Zoom get-together, and only the second time we have featured a living writer. You can read Cynthia Haven‘s Q&A interview with her over at The Los Angeles Review of Books here.

Again, register for the event here.

Henry James’s “The Aspern Papers” on Zoom – a dynamic and provocative hit!

In the Preface to the New York edition of The Aspern PapersHenry James wrote, “The historian, essentially, wants more documents than he can really use; the dramatist only wants more liberties than he can really take.” So the tension between author and the character he has created: the unnamed scholar craves original documents, violating the privacy of those around him; yet novelist James based his work perhaps a little too closely on a real event, as James did for The Aspern Papers. How much privacy are even the famous entitled to?

Those were some of the issues discussed during our hour-and-a-half Another Look discussion, which included audience questions, on Monday, August 24. Panelists included Tobias Wolff, Robert Pogue Harrison, Elena Danielson, and Cynthia Haven.

Our wide-ranging conversation considered privacy in the cyberworld, the role of letters in the Jamesian world, the ruthlessness of scholarly acquisitiveness, and much more.

An astonishing 457 people registered for our first-ever Zoom event, featuring James’s 1888 classic. Not everyone could make it, but we sure were glad to see so many of you join us! Altogether, you would have made for a very, very crowded room at Encina Hall’s Bechtel Conference Room, our usual venue – and we were grateful that the virtual world had room for you all.

You meant to come but didn’t? You attended, but you want a chance to see it again? Here’s your chance: go here. That’s right, we’re live. Said translator Diana Seneschal, writing from Hungary: “I watched it this afternoon. It was wonderful. I loved the discussion of privacy, hero-worship, letter-writing, telegraphs, archives, Venice vs. Florence, the narrator’s hypocrisy, his failure at the end, the ‘fourth wall,’ the question of why James didn’t include Aspern’s poems, and more.” Continue reading

Join us on August 24 for a virtual discussion of Henry James’s “The Aspern Papers”!

The setting of “The Aspern Papers” is Venice. Francesco Guardi’s “The Grand Canal,” circa 1760

The future of Another Look is still uncertain, but we nevertheless have a late summer surprise for you: a special Zoom event!

Our August 24 event

Thanks to a first-ever collaboration with the Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute (DCI), we will be hosting a special Zoom discussion of Henry James’s short 1888 classic, The Aspern Papers. The event will take place at 3-4:30 p.m. on Monday, August 24. (The earlier-than-usual hour is planned to welcome Another Look fans in other time zones.) The discussion will also be recorded and posted afterwards. Like all our events, it’s free and open to the public.

The panelists

Henry James in 1905

Tobias Wolff and Robert Harrison will lead the discussion. Acclaimed author Robert Harrison, professor of French and Italian, writes regularly for The New York Review of Books and hosts the popular talk show, Entitled Opinions. Novelist Tobias Wolff, a Stanford professor emeritus of English, is the recipient of the National Medal of Arts.

On The Aspern Papers

The Aspern Papers was inspired Percy Bysshe Shelley’s correspondence with Claire Clairmont, the stepsister of his wife Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, author of Frankenstein. (Shelley’s novel was featured in our January 2017 event.) Clairmont cherished the letters until her death.

In James’s The Aspern Papers, an elderly invalid who once was the beloved of a renowned American poet Jeffrey Aspern lives in seclusion with her spinster niece in a Venetian palazzo. The unnamed narrator goes through elaborate machinations to gain access to her private papers and literary relics from the long-ago romance.
There are many editions of The Aspern Papers available online and in print.

Your Zoom invitation

The event is free, as all our events are. However, we ask that you click here to reserve a spot at the event

CANCELLED: William Kennedy’s “Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game” on April 7!

This event has been CANCELLED for April 7, due to concerns about COVID-19 . Please check this website for further updates.

Please join us at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7, at Encina Hall’s Bechtel Conference Center for the “Another Look” book club discussion of William Kennedy‘s Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game, the Pulitzer prizewinning novelist’s 1978 novel about a pool hustler and poker player during the 1930s. Kennedy has been called the “Bard of Albany,” and this book belongs to Kennedy’s celebrated Albany sequence of novels.

The discussion will be lead by National Medal of Arts winner Tobias Wolff, with panelists Carol Edgarian, novelist and founding editor of Narrative Magazine; Alex Woloch, Stanford’s Richard W. Lyman Professor of the Humanities; and Vendela Vida, a novelist and an editor at The Believer magazine.

Many of you are aware that Stanford Environmental Health & Safety has cancelled or postponed some events because of the COVID-19 conditions. We’ll let you know should there be any changes to our plans.