Posts tagged ‘Metamorphosis’

A Lovely Day for a ‘Metamorphosis’

DSC_0009

Walking up the mall toward Pattee Library a little before noon on Thursday, you could hear the beat of a semi-recent pop hit coming from speakers set up under a crowded white canopy. The song was “Crazy,” followed in short order by the Prince classic “Let’s Go Crazy.” If you were paying attention, you knew the titles weren’t coincidence, but part of a theme.

Madness was the theme of the fourth annual Penn State Marathon Reading, which kicked off Thursday at noon. I hung out at the tent for the first hour or so Thursday, both to catch the headliners, and to make my own five-minute contribution to chipping away at Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, the opening book.

As she has since the event began in 2012, Sue Paterno ’62 opened the reading. Before she started, she talked about reading Kafka as an English major “fifty-some years ago,” and, if I heard her correctly, seeing the author’s childhood home on a trip to Czechoslovakia some years later with Joe.

Sue handed things off to women’s volleyball coach Russ Rose (above), who was followed by Susan Welch (below), long time dean of the College of the Liberal Arts, and then State College mayor Elizabeth Goreham. After that came the non-celebrity readers, me included—although I didn’t realize quite was I was getting myself into.

Liberal Arts dean Susan Welch takes her turn with "Metamorphosis"

Susan Welch takes her turn with “Metamorphosis”

I knew in advance that the organizers planned to have readers in multiple languages, including The Metamorphosis in its original German. What I didn’t know was that I had signed up for a time slot in the midst of the grad-student readers who were going to be handling the Deutsche translations. Among them was Katherine Anderson (below), a graduate student in German literature; like all the readers who tackled the book in its original tongue, they added an emotional punch the rest of us couldn’t quite match.

Grad student Katherine Anderson & English department head Mark Morrisson

Grad student Katherine Anderson & English department head Mark Morrisson

Of course, they also made things a bit tricky for those of us (ahem) who had to pick up (in English) where they left off (in German). But it wasn’t so bad. If I want to be able to really immerse myself in Kafka (and one of these days I suppose I should), I can do that on my own time. On this day, the communal vibe of sharing in a good book trumped anything that might get lost in translation.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

 

September 25, 2015 at 8:13 am Leave a comment

Getting a Read on “Madness,” One Book at a Time

Kicking off Thursday at noon, this year’s Penn State Marathon Reading will feature 10 books united by “madness and psychological themes.” For 24 (or so) hours straight, the normally tranquil lawn in front of Pattee and Paterno Libraries figures to get pretty intense.MARATHON

This year marks the fourth annual Marathon Reading, and after taking part in the first two—we read Catch-22 in 2012 and One Hundred Years of Solitude in 2013—I can vouch for this being a really cool event. I’m still kicking myself for missing last year’s marathon read, which introduced the theme concept with readings of famously banned books Brave New World, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Fahrenheit 451. Sarah Denes of the School of Languages and Literatures, which co-hosts the reading, says a theme event gives readers and curious listeners alike the chance to “come and sit for maybe an hour and hear an entire reading.”

Whether you’re reading, listening, or (ideally) both, the marathon reading is a group effort. Denes says 328 people read at last year’s event, most for just five or 10 minutes at a time. Exceptions include the classes that drop in as a group—meaning each student might only read for two minutes—and the hearty bibliophiles who stick around for the overnight stretch. Denes says that last year, “there was one person who read for 25 minutes at 4:30 in the morning.”

I’m not quite that enthusiastic—or, well, crazy—but I’m excited to read during daylight hours on Thursday, hopefully while the opening book, Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, is still underway. The marathon is set to end early Friday afternoon with Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, and like nearly all of the titles, you can expect to hear it both in English and at least one other language. Depending on when you show up, you might hear Kafka in German, Lu Xun in Chinese, or Camus in French.

Oh, and if you’re there Thursday afternoon, you might also recognize some of the readers: President Eric Barron and women’s volleyball coach Russ Rose are both set to read in the opening few hours, not long after we kick things off with the event’s now-traditional opening reader, Sue Paterno.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

September 23, 2015 at 9:02 am 1 comment


Follow The Penn Stater on Twitter

Enter your email address to follow us and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 508 other followers


%d bloggers like this: