The Playwright and the Preacher

8 week seminar, starting October 10th, 2017

Moderator:                Gerald Goldman
Day and Time:         Tuesday 1:30-3:30 PM
Format:                      Seminar
Location:                   National Yiddish Book Center, Amherst
                                        (free parking on site)

To read aloud a play by Samuel Beckett and compare its themes with those in the Book of Ecclesiastes. If human existence is rationally absurd and no more substantial than the passing wind then what can we expect of life and what should be our goals?

We will read aloud Samuel Beckett’s most important play “Waiting for Godot” and chapters from the book of the notorious biblical skeptic, the preacher Ecclesiastes. Though separated by 2500 years both writers share the view that life is repetitive and purposeless, the past unknowable, the future inscrutable, and the assumption of a moral purpose in the human or natural universe a dangerous illusion. One writer concludes that the human condition is rationally absurd; the other that human existence is no more substantial than a passing breath, a “vanity of vanities.” The brilliance of the writing, the originality of language, the deep sympathy for the human situation, and the opposing remedies they propose make these two authors worthy of reflection and discussion.

Role of participants:
Participants will take roles in the Beckett play and lead an hour long discussion on a chapter which they will choose from the biblical book.

1. Samuel Becket: The Complete Dramatic Works, Faber and Faber, paperback.
2. TANAKH a New Translation of the Holy Scriptures According to the Traditional Hebrew Text, Jewish Publication Society, hardcover.

About the Moderator:
A retired rabbi and leader of numerous seminars in modern literature.

Maximum number of participants: 15

Emeritus/a accepted: no