Writer Marilynne Robinson Reads at Hopkins Tonight

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Marilynne Robinson with her pal, Barack Obama. Photo by Pete Souza/White House
Marilynne Robinson with her pal, Barack Obama. Photo by Pete Souza/White House

Marilynne Robinson, author of Gilead and Housekeeping and many other wonderful books, is one of our best living writers. She will be speaking at Johns Hopkins tonight.

Robinson is this year’s invite for the President’s Reading Series, which brings a high-profile author to campus every year. Her talk is entitled “The Literature of Social Import” — a subject that’s close to Robinson’s heart. Robinson has , and her ideas about grace, forgiveness, and spirituality infuse her work. As she wrote in a 2011 essay, they also influence her choice of subjects:


Moments of the highest import pass among people who are so marginal that conventional history would not have noticed them: aliens, the enslaved, people themselves utterly unaware that their lives would have consequence. The great assumption of literary realism is that ordinary lives are invested with a kind of significance that justifies, or requires, its endless iterations of the commonplace, including, of course, crimes and passions and defeats, however minor these might seem in the world’s eyes.

Robinson’s reading takes place at 6:30 PM in Hodson Hall, Room 110. It is free and open to the public.

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  1. First, thank you for opening the doors for visitors. We were thrilled to be in Hodson Hall. We thought we would hear Marilynne Robinson speak on Literature of Social Import. However, she seemed to have the impression that we expected a reading. Robinson read from Lila and from Gilead. Many of us could barely hear what she was reading/saying; however, we were guests on campus and too polite to speak up. So many lovely details (books for sale, reception with food and drink) were well organized; hopefully, more attention will be given to the audio system so that future authors will reach all of the attendees.
    **Linda Napora ’73

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