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Dr. John Schifsky Reads What?
Our very special guest in this installment of "Faculty Read What?" is Dr. John Paul Schifsky, faculty emiritus at The College of St. Scholastica. Dr. Schifsky taught 19th century American literature at the College for over thirty years. In this candid shot from the College Archives, Dr. Schifsky pauses from work on his own American masterpiece as his tries to think of line more catchy than "quoth the paper crane, Nevermore!"
Here's his list of the books that have influenced him.
The Scarlet Letter by
Call Number: PS1868 .A1 1994
Each rereading leaves me more impressed with this tightly structured story of human frailty and strength, set in a believing community. Melville applauded the novel and Ismael refers to it in his cry: "Look not too long into the face of the fire, O Man."
Remains of the Day by
Call Number: PR6059.S5 R46 1990
The narrative voice is compelling, detailing a dawning, almost but not quite acknowledged awareness.
The Lord of the Rings by
Call Number: PR6039.O32 L6 1974x
The archetypal story: an unlikely hero faces the forces of evil, triumphs, survives, and returns home fundamentally changed. In a richly drawn, entirely credible second world with more than ten thousand years of carefully detailed history.
The Things They Carried by
Call Number: PS3565.B75 T48 1990
Does it make a difference whether something really happened or not? It might have been this way. A stylistic triumph.
A Sand County Almanac by
Call Number: QH81 .L56 1987
What is our relationship to the land on which we live? "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community." Wrong when it does not. Another stylistic triumph.
What are you reading now?
The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie. Magic realism, dream visions, a frame narrative, sentences that go on and on, dazzling this reader with their precocious, copious flow. I find myself lost in the prose and enjoying every moment.
North Country: The Making of Minnesota, Mary Wingerd. A Minnesota history which begins with the native populations and traces, in great and often depressing detail the many ways in which the white settlers who followed the Frenchmen refused to make any effort to understand Native American values or history. We live with the tragic consequences of that refusal.
A New History of Ireland: Prehistoric and Early Ireland, vol 1, Daithi O'Croinin, ed. A collection of essays by the renowned and knowledgeable Irish historians. It has been in the making since the 1970's and reflects the most recent developments in archeology, anthropology, and manuscript study. The series will be the new standard history of Ireland.
Desert Island Book
The Silmarillion, J. R. R. Tolkien. A narrative of the creation and history of a second world. Coherent, believable, and compelling.