FOR RELEASE: 5 April, 2006
Ithaca, NY - Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson gave the 2006 Rudin Lecture on American Culture at Cornell University on April 5. Sponsored by Cornell University Library, the lecture is funded by a gift from Gail Gifford Rudin '56 and Stephen Rudin.
Robinson won the 2005 Pultizer Prize and the 2004 National Book Critics Circle Award for her novel Gilead. Set in Iowa in 1956, the book is narrated by a 76-year old clergyman in the form of a long letter summing up his life for his 7-year-old son. In his New York Times book review, James Wood wrote, “Gilead is a beautiful work—demanding, grave and lucid. … Robinson’s words have a spiritual force that’s very rare in contemporary fiction.”
Robinson, who teaches at the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop, explored the process of creative writing in her talk titled “The Ghost in the Book: Writer and Reader.” Her first book, the modern classic, Housekeeping (1981), won the PEN/Ernest Hemingway Award for First Fiction and the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award from the Academy of American Arts and Letters, and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She has also published two books of nonfiction: Mother Country: Britain, the Welfare State, and Nuclear Pollution (1989) and The Death of Adam (1998), a book of essays on history, theology, and American culture.
The Rudin Lecture was created with a gift to Cornell University Library in 2003 by Gail Gifford Rudin '56 and Stephen Rudin. This year’s lecture also provides the library with an opportunity to showcase the Rudins’ most recent gift—an extensive collection of original letters by noted American and British writers.
Many of the letters in the Rudin literary collection provide insights into the authors’ and poets’ views on the craft of creative writing. The collection includes letters by Louisa May Alcott, James Baldwin, Pearl Buck, Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie, Samuel Clemens, Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, T. S. Eliot, William Faulkner, Robert Frost, Alex Haley, Ernest Hemingway, Margaret Mitchell, Vladimir Nabokov, Rod Serling, George Bernard Shaw, Kurt Vonnegut, and William Wordsworth, to name only a few.
Selections from the Rudin collection are on view in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections in Kroch Library through June 2006.