February 21, 2008 Book Critic Michael Dirda To Discuss "Classics for Pleasure" at the Library on March 6

Press Contact: Erin Allen (202) 707-7302
Public Contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221

“Classics are classics not because they are educational, but because people have found them worth reading, generation after generation, century after century. More than anything else, great books speak to us of our own all-too-real feelings, confusions and daydreams.” Thus Pulitzer prize-winning critic Michael Dirda introduces his new book, “Classics for Pleasure,” a volume of short essays that “point readers to new authors and less obvious classics.” Dirda will discuss and sign his book at noon on Thursday, March 6, in the Mary Pickford Theater on the third floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave., S.E., Washington, D.C. The event, part of the Books & Beyond author series hosted by the Center for the Book, is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are needed. The author was a featured presenter at the 2003 National Book Festival and has participated in several Center for the Book programs in recent years. “Classics for Pleasure” is divided into 11 sections, each with seven to eight essays. The sections, with two examples cited from each, are: Playful Imaginations, S. J. Perelman and Edward Gorey; Heroes of Their Time, “Beowulf” and James Agee; Love’s Mysteries, Arthurian romances and C. P. Cavafy; Words from the Wise, Lao-tse and Samuel Johnson; Everyday Magic, the classic fairy tales and Walter de le Mare; Lives of Consequence, Plutarch and Frederick Douglass; The Dark Side, Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker; Traveler’s Tales, Jules Verne and Isak Dinesen; The Way We Live Now, Anton Chekhov and Zora Neale Hurston; Realms of Adventure, H. Rider Haggard and Agatha Christie; and Encyclopedic Visions, Robert Burton and Philip K. Dick. Dirda, who holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University in comparative literature, started writing for the The Washington Post in 1978; in 1993, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his literary criticism. He is the author of the memoir “An Open Book,” as well as several collections of essays, most recently “Bound to Please” and “Book by Book: Notes on Reading and Life.” The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, is the world’s preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled collections and integrated resources to Congress and the American people. The Center for the Book was created in 1977 to use these resources to stimulate public interest in books and reading. For information about its program, publications and reading promotion networks, visit www.loc.gov/cfbook/.


PR 08-036
ISSN 0731-3527