Julie Orringer and Lewis Hyde: Embracing Forgetfulness

06/18/2019 - 7:00pm
Fiction/Creative Nonfiction
Reading/Talk

Julie Orringer and Lewis Hyde will discuss history, memory, and other common themes in their new books, The Flight Portfolio (Orringer) and A Primer for Forgetting (Hyde). 

Julie Orringer's The Flight Portfolio, inspired by the World War II story you’ve never heard—the real-life quest of an unlikely hero to save the lives and work of Europe’s great minds from the impending HolocaustThe Flight Portfolio In 1940, Varian Fry traveled to Marseille carrying three thousand dollars and a list of imperiled artists and writers he hoped to help escape within a few weeks. Instead, he stayed more than a year, working to procure false documents, amass emergency funds, and arrange journeys across Spain and Portugal, where the refugees would embark for safer ports. His many clients included Hannah Arendt, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, and Marc Chagall, and the race against time to save them is a tale of forbidden love, high-stakes adventure, and unimaginable courage.

A Primer for Forgetting is a remarkable experiment in scholarship, autobiography, and social criticism by the author of the classics The Gift and Trickster Makes This World. It forges a new “history of forgetfulness” by assembling fragments of art and writing from the ancient world to the modern, weighing the potential boons forgetfulness might offer the present moment as a philosophical and political force. It also turns inward, using the author’s own life and memory as a canvas upon which to extol the virtues of a concept too long taken as an evil. Drawing material from Hesiod to Jorge Luis Borges to Elizabeth Bishop to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, from myths and legends to very real and recent traumas both personal and historical, A Primer for Forgetting is a unique and remarkable synthesis that only Lewis Hyde could have produced.

The Center for Fiction
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Brooklyn, NY 11217