Winter Lyceum returns to Left Bank

Feb 08, 2013
Donald Kraus

Belfast — Left Bank Books will launch its fifth annual Winter Lyceum series of informal Sunday afternoon talks Feb. 17, from 3 to 4:30 p.m., The Book of Job: Annotated and Explained, a talk by Oxford University Press Bibles Editor Donald Kraus.

The programs are a revival of the historic lyceum tradition that was popular in Belfast and other parts of the country throughout the 1800s. According to Belfast Historical Society President Megan Pinette, the lyceum program of 19th-century Belfast had as its goal "the diffusion of useful knowledge" and featured such local and nationally-known speakers as Joshua Chamberlain talking about the Battle of Gettysburg and Frederick Douglass speaking about his "Reminiscences of Slavery."

Five different programs will be held at Left Bank Books, 109 Church St., in downtown Belfast, through April, all free and open to the public. The Feb. 17 talk will focus on the power and problems of the “Book of Job,” a classic of world literature and one of the glories of the Bible but a deeply puzzling and difficult work as well. It was written in a world very different from our own, said Kraus, "yet the questions it raises are ones we still grapple with today: Does life have a meaning beyond itself? Is it worthwhile to act for the best? Why do the righteous suffer and the guilty prosper?"

Kraus, who has had a distinguished career editing Catholic study bibles, Jewish study bibles and annotated editions of the New and Old testaments, will base his talk on his own new translation of the “Book of Job” (Skylights Paths, $16.99), published in November 2012.  The new edition has already won praise as an accessible guide to a spiritual masterpiece.  Copies will be available for sale and may be reserved in advance.

Remaining dates and speakers in the Lyceum series are: March 3, How to Feed Yourself in the Antarctic with Jason Anthony, author of "Hoosh: Roast Penguin,  Scurvy Day and Other Stories of Antarctic Cuisine;" March 17, Stories of Ireland and America with novelist Peter Behrens, author of "The O'Briens" and "The Law of Dreams;" April 7, Amazing Polyglots! with Michael Erard, author of "Babel No More: The Search for the World's Most Extraordinary Language Learners;" and April 21, My Ghana Adventure (on Bad Roads with a Very Weird Business Plan!) with Max Alexander, author of "Bright Lights, No City" and "Man Bites Log." All of the talks will be informal with ample time for questions and discussion at the end, as well as some warming refreshments. There is no charge for the series and the entire community is invited to attend all of the programs or just a few.

Also upcoming at Left Bank Books are two book launches. On Saturday, March 31, at 7 p.m., there will be a book launch party for David Loxterkamp, MD, to celebrate his new book, "What Matters in Medicine: Lessons from a Life in Primary Care." Another party will be held Saturday, April 27, at 7 p.m. for Martha White, to celebrate her new book, "E. B. White on Dogs!"

For more information on any of these events; to reserve a seat for the Feb. 17 Lyceum; or to have a book held or sent, call Left Bank Books at 338-9009. The shop is open daily.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115 or

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