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24th Frieze Lectures to consider "Best. Book. Ever."

Since the beginning of the Frieze Lectures, a partnership between the Rock Island Public Library and the faculty of Augustana College, no one has presented more frequently than did Dr. Roald Tweet, an emeritus professor of English at Augustana who passed away in November 2020. Over the 23 years of the series to date, Tweet presented six times, most recently in 2016.
A favorite Tweet pastime, both within and beyond the Augustana faculty, was engendering debate over the greatest American novel. True to his puckish nature, he could argue eloquently and stridently both for — and against — Moby Dick, among other classics.
To honor Tweet and his spirit, which he richly shared with Frieze audiences over the past 23 years, this year’s series will represent just such a collegial discourse, while also introducing audiences to lesser-known works that deserve closer attention. Each participant has chosen a work from The Greatest Books (an amalgam of 129 “Best Books” lists), and will make the case that their selected work is the “Best. Book. Ever.” 

Lecturers also will include in their presentations a book not on the list, but one that deserves wider awareness. This is also in tribute to Tweet, who was an inveterate recommender of lesser-known books.

2021 schedule

Each presentation begins at 2 p.m. in the Community Room of the main Rock Island Public Library, 401 19th St., and is free to the public.

The lectures will be presented in-person or can viewed as video recordings later. The in-person audience is limited to 25, and registration is required. 

Oct. 19: "Ulysses" by James Joyce, presented by Dr. Joseph McDowell, professor of English. Register

Oct. 26: "The Odyssey" by Homer, presented by Dr. Kirsten Day, professor of Classics. Register

Nov. 2: "Mason & Dixon" by Thomas Pynchon, presented by Brett Biebel, teaching fellow of English. Register

Nov. 9: "Gilead" by Marilynne Robinson, presented by Lucas Street, director of the Reading/Writing Center at Augustana. Register

The Frieze Lecture Series was created by the late Ruth Evelyn Katz, a library board member, to celebrate the library's 125th anniversary. The name comes from the architectural feature around the top of the downtown library building. The authors carved into the sandstone are Homer, Longfellow, Emerson, Virgil, Hugo, Shakespeare, Goethe, Burns, Hawthorne, Tegner, and Bancroft. Though not well known today, the names of Tegner, a Swedish poet, and Bancroft, a naval historian, would have been familiar to 1903 residents.

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