Parisian Literary Salon

creating community through reading and discussing literature

A Thousand Acres

- by Jane Smiley

Written in 1991, Smiley takes the King Lear story and reconsiders the events from the perspective of Lear’s daughter Goneril, placing the tale in the farmlands of the American Midwest and using the framework to consider issues of power, community, gender roles and the relationship between body and land. It is a beautiful book, a haunting book, that suits the one-day study format. For a taste, here is Smiley’s epigram:

The body repeats the landscape. They are the source of each other and create each other. We were marked by the seasonal body of earth, by the terrible migrations of people, by the swift turn of the century, verging on change never before experienced on this greening planet.

This one-day Salon includes the work of Ann Moridian, Pranastretch instructor. Ann has always been captivated by the information, knowledge, and wisdom that resides within the body, and she takes great pleasure in the journey that leads to its discovery; some of my recent work has me thinking about the ineffable nature of the body’s experiences- how hard, for example, it is to write viable physicality into prose. Ann and I have been collaborating for the last six months on exploring the conversation between the work of the body and the work of the mind. We will interweave the literary study and reflective writing with Ann’s body work (for more info, see ) and include a break for a pot-luck meal in the evening.

A Thousand Acres offers an opportunity for consideration of how the landscape of the body enacts the interior world of the mind. This will be a long day but our experience has been that the rhythm of the Reading the Body studies exhilarates – it is a wonderful marathon for the mind. You do not need to have read King Lear to participate – other Salon members have recently studied Lear and will offer their knowledge – but you will want to complete A Thousand Acres before the meeting.