Sweet Briar's Common Read is a Conversation Between Two Books, "Across Thousands of Years"

Courtesy of Sweet Briar College
Posted Aug 12, 2019

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Sweet Briar College’s Common Read selection for the 2019-2020 academic year features not one book, but a pair of books “in dynamic and rich conversation with one another across thousands of years,” says Director of the Center for Creativity, Design and the Arts Carrie Brown. They are Madeline Miller’s No. 1 New York Times best-selling novel Circe — about the legendary sorceress and goddess who (among other things) turns men into pigs in “The Odyssey” — and Emily Wilson’s celebrated translation of The Odyssey, the first English translation by a woman.

The writers will visit campus and bookend the year: Madeline Miller on Thursday, Nov. 7, and Emily Wilson on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Their presentations are free and open to the public.

“Both books are full of magic and mystery and monsters and morality,” Brown says. “They delve into the classical story of Odysseus’s return from the Trojan War with fresh insights about the experiences of women once seen only in the shadows of the famous epic.” Both have been praised for their language, she notes, as well their “visionary perspective and imaginative reach,” which makes them not just great works of literature, but also fun to read. And in both, Brown adds, “women emerge as modern, sympathetic and formidable figures in a literary and cultural landscape once dominated by a focus on the male experience.”