Skip to main content

Hemingway Literary Center and Literature for Lunch Series

The Hemingway Literary Center fosters an appreciation for scholarly research and creative activities associated with the literary arts (fiction, poetry, drama, and other textual media). The HLC brings scholars, artists and authors to Boise State University to give talks and readings, and work one-on-one with students through master classes, panel presentations, and classroom visits. The Center operates thematically and each year it has a new theme.

Literature for Lunch will be hosted in 2022/23 by Professor Ann Campbell

All discussions are held at the Boise Public Library at noon. The descriptions of the books below are taken from Amazon.com.

Please e-mail me at anncampbell@boisestate.edu for the zoom link to attend Fridays at noon.

Friday Nov 4: Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility (1811):

I selected this novel because I’m attending the national Jane Austen conference focused on Sense and Sensibility at the end of September, so everything about the novel will be fresh in my mind for our first meeting.

Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility is the classic coming of age story of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, who have contrasting temperaments. On the surface Elinor, the older sister represents sense, or reason, while Marianne represents sensibility, or emotion; however upon closer examination we find that they both exhibit varying aspects of each characteristic. Set in southwest England, in the towns of London and Kent, the novel follows the lives of the two sisters as they struggle to find love, romance, and ultimately deal with the heartbreaks along the way. The novel ponders the question of which is the best characteristic, sense or sensibility. It is unclear ultimately what Austen intended as the answer to this question, whether or not she left the novel purposefully ambiguous or if her suggestion is that a proper temperament requires some measure of both qualities. Sense and Sensibility is a compelling study of character and one of the great achievements of the romantic genre.

Friday, Jan 6: Nancy Mitford, Love in a Cold Climate (1949)

I selected this novel because it’s a wonderful, hilarious comedy of manners, but pitch dark in its own way so it’s exactly suited for the chill of a Boise winter.

Polly Hampton has long been groomed for the perfect marriage by her mother, the fearsome and ambitious Lady Montdore. But Polly, with her stunning good looks and impeccable connections, is bored by the monotony of her glittering debut season in London. Having just come from India, where her father served as Viceroy, she claims to have hoped that society in a colder climate would be less obsessed with love affairs.

The apparently aloof and indifferent Polly has a long-held secret, however, one that leads to the shattering of her mother’s dreams and her own disinheritance. When an elderly duke begins pursuing the disgraced Polly and a callow potential heir curries favor with her parents, nothing goes as expected, but in the end all find happiness in their own unconventional ways.

Friday Feb 3: Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm (1932)

I selected this novel because, much like Love in a Cold Climate, it is a comedy of manners from the 1930s with a strong female protagonist who is as capable of running everyone else’s lives (or at least thinks she is) as Austen’s Emma Woodhouse.

In Gibbons’s classic tale, first published in 1932, a resourceful young heroine finds herself in the gloomy, overwrought world of a Hardy or Bronte novel and proceeds to organize everyone out of their romantic tragedies into the pleasures of normal life. Flora Poste, orphaned at 19, chooses to live with relatives at Cold Comfort Farm in Sussex, where cows are named Feckless, Aimless, Pointless, and Graceless, and the proprietors, the dour Starkadder family, are tyrannized by Flora’s mysterious aunt, who controls the household from a locked room. Flora’s confident and clever management of an alarming cast of eccentrics is only half the pleasure of this novel. The other half is Gibbons’s wicked sendup of romantic cliches, from the mad woman in the attic to the druidical peasants with their West Country accents and mystical herbs. Anne Massey’s skillful rendering of a variety of accents will make this story more accessible to American audiences. Recommended for both literary and popular collections.
– Sharon Cumberland, Graduate Ctr., CUNY

Friday April 7: Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being (2013)

I selected this novel because Ozeki is lecturing at the Egyptian Theater on April 14 as part of the Cabin’s Readings and Conversations series. Since I’ve got tickets (as do many of you, I’m sure), this will be a great opportunity to read her work.

In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine. Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.

Full of Ozeki’s signature humor and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.

Friday May 5: Tove Jansson, The Summer Book (1972), Ruth Salter co hosts

I chose this book because it was recently rereleased in a new edition, and it was given rave reviews by several national publications. Plus, what a perfect way to transition into the summer.

In The Summer Book Tove Jansson distills the essence of the summer—its sunlight and storms—into twenty-two crystalline vignettes. This brief novel tells the story of Sophia, a six-year-old girl awakening to existence, and Sophia’s grandmother, nearing the end of hers, as they spend the summer on a tiny unspoiled island in the Gulf of Finland. The grandmother is unsentimental and wise, if a little cranky; Sophia is impetuous and volatile, but she tends to her grandmother with the care of a new parent. Together they amble over coastline and forest in easy companionship, build boats from bark, create a miniature Venice, write a fanciful study of local bugs. They discuss things that matter to young and old alike: life, death, the nature of God and of love. “On an island,” thinks the grandmother, “everything is complete.” In The Summer Book, Jansson creates her own complete world, full of the varied joys and sorrows of life.

Tove Jansson, whose Moomintroll comic strip and books brought her international acclaim, lived for much of her life on an island like the one described in The Summer Book, and the work can be enjoyed as her closely observed journal of the sounds, sights, and feel of a summer spent in intimate contact with the natural world.

If you need to contact me about anything related to the Lit for Lunch discussions, please email me at anncampbell@boisestate.edu