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Asilomar Readings

The Great Books Council of San Francisco has held an annual weekend at Asilomar since the 1950s. The following is a nearly-complete record of the fiction, nonfiction and theatre readings that have been discussed each year.

2024 Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas

         C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

         Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House

2023 Ayn Rand, Short essays

         Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

         Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Nathan the Wise

2022 Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran

         Mark Twain, Letters From the Earth

         Aristophanes, Lysistrata

2021 Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

         Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go

         Margaret Edson, Wit

2020 Canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic

2019 C.P. Snow, The Two Cultures

         V.S. Naipaul, Miguel Street

         Albert Camus, The Possessed

2018 W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

         Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

         Eugene O'Neill, The Iceman Cometh

2017 John Steinbeck, The Log from the Sea of Cortez

         John Steinbeck, Cannery Row

         John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

2016 Alexander Hamilton et al., The Federalist Papers (selections)

         Saul Bellow, Seize the Day

         August Wilson, The Piano Lesson

2015 Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory

         Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

         Peter Weiss, Marat/Sade

2014 Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

         Joseph Conrad, The Secret Sharer

         Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

2013 Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural Address

         Jane Smiley, A Thousand Acres

         William Shakespeare, King Lear

2012 Eugen Herrigel, Zen in the Art of Archery

         James Joyce, The Dead

         Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit

2011 Plato, Phaedrus

         Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

         George Bernard Shaw, Caesar and Cleopatra

2010 Francis Bacon, The Four Idols of the Mind

         Toni Morrison, Beloved

         Michael Frayn, Copenhagen

2009 Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi

         J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace

         Sophocles, Antigone

2008 Niccolo Macchiavelli, Discourses

         Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

         Tina Howe, Painting Churches

2007 Stephen Jay Gould, Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion

         Iris Murdoch, The Bell

         Nilo Cruz, Anna of the Tropics

2006 Anthony de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

         Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

         Arthur Miller, The Price

2005 E.O. Wilson, Consilience

         Cynthia Ozick, The Shawl and Rosa

         August Wilson, Fences

2004 Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self Reliance and American Scholar

         Franz Kafka, The Trial

         William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I

2003 Eric Hoffer, The True Believer

         F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

         Anton Chekhov, The Sea Gull

2002 Lewis, Amini, Lannon, A General Theory of Love

         James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

         Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman

2001 Matt Riley, The Origins of Virtue

         Albert Camus, The Stranger

         Henrik Ibsen, Hedda Gabler

2000 Aristotle, Ethics (selections)

         Jose Saramago, Blindness

         George Bernard Shaw, Saint Joan

1999 Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln's Great Speeches

         Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon

         William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

1998 Carl Jung, The Undiscovered Self

         Andre Gide, The Immoralist

         David Henry Hwang, M Butterfly

1997 Jean-Jacques Rousseau, On the Origins of Inequality

         Herman Melville, Benito Cereno

         August Strindberg, Miss Julie

1996 Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

         Kobo Abe, Woman in the Dunes

         William Shakespeare, The Tempest

1995 Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris

         Jane Austen, Persuasion

         Euripides, The Trojan Women

1994 Sir Thomas More, Utopia

         George Eliot, Silas Marner

         Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

1993 Plato, Protagoras

         Honore de Balzac, Eugenie Grandet

         Arthur Miller, The Crucible

1991 Brian Swimme, The Universe is a Green Dragon

         Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

         William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

1990 Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defence of Poetry

         William Faulkner, The Bear

         T.S. Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral

1989 Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self Reliance

         Eugene O'Neill, A Moon for the Misbegotten

1988 Plato, Meno

         Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn

         Bertolt Brecht, Galileo

1987 Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism

         J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians

         Euripides, The Bacchae

1986 Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning

         Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

         Archibald MacLeish, J. B.

1985 George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier

         Anne Tyler, Celestial Navigation

         William Shakespeare, Coriolanus

1984 Hannah Arendt, On Violence

         Ford Madox Ford, The Good Solider

         Luigi Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author

1983 John Dewey, Freedom and Culture

         Tillie Olsen, Tell Me a Riddle

         J. Robinson Jeffers, Dear Judas

1982 Carl Jung, Answer to Job

         Albert Camus, The Fall

         William Shakespeare, King Lear

1981 John Milton, Areopagitica

         Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons

         Andre Gide, Two Legends: Oedipus and Theseus 

1980 Aristotle, Ethics

         Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome

         Friedrich Durrenmatt, The Visit

1979 Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

         John Gardner, Grendel

         Honore de Balzac, Le Pere Goriot

         William Butler Yeats, On Baile's Strand

1978 Rene Descartes, Meditations

         Doris Lessing, Memoirs of a Survivor

         George Bernard Shaw, Heartbreak House

1977 Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

         Saul Bellow, Dangling Man

         Peter Shaffer, Equus

1976 Anthony de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

         William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying

         Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound

1975 Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

         Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

         William Shakespeare, Richard II

1974 Pico della Mirandola, Oration on the Dignity of Man

         James Madison, James Monroe, etc., The Federalist Papers

         Robert Browning, The Pied Piper of Hamelin

         Hans Christian Anderson, The Emperor's New Clothes

         William Shakespeare, Othello

1973 Immanuel Kant, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals

         Zen Flesh, Zen Bones

         Alexsander Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

         Albert Camus, Caligula

1972 Epictetus, Enchiridion (The Handbook)

         Eugen Herrigel, Zen in the Art of Archery

         D.H. Lawrence, The Man Who Died

         William Shakespeare, The Seven Ages of Man (from As You Like It) 

1971 Nikos Kazantzakis, The Saviors of God: Spiritual Exercises

         Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground and The Grand Inquisitor

         Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle

1970 David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

         Plato, Theaetetus

         Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

         Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis 

1969 King James Bible, The Book of Job

         Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

         Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon

         Leroi Jones, Dutchman

1968 Plato, The Republic (Chapters 4 & 5)

         B.F. Skinner, Walden II

         Sir Thomas More, Utopia 

1967 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy

         Martin Buber, I and Thou 

         Joseph Conrad, The Nigger of the Narcissus

         William Shakespeare, Richard III

1966 Soren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling

         Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

         Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

1965 Jose Ortega y Gasset, What is Philosophy?

         Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey

         Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound

1964 Edmund Sinnott, Biology of the Spirit

         Plato, Symposium

         Edward Albee, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 

1962 Plato, The Republic (The Cave) 

         Jacob Bronowski, Science and Human Values 

         Jean Racine, Phaedra

         Henrik Ibsen, The Wild Duck

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