Elizabeth Gilbert due to speak at Lyceum

March 25, 2011 at 7:03 p.m.
Updated March 25, 2011 at 10:26 p.m.

Best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert is the third speaker in the 2010-11 Victoria College Lyceum Lecture Series, scheduled for noon on Wednesday, in the VC Fine Arts Auditorium.

Gilbert's enticing memoir, "Eat Pray Love," which chronicles her recovery - emotionally, spiritually and physically - from an acrimonious divorce and its aftermath, is the focal point of her talk. In her book, Gilbert speaks as a woman, but delves into themes that any of us might relate to on a human level.

When, as chairman of the Lyceum Committee, I thought about my obligation to read this book by our next speaker, it was with a measure of trepidation that I picked it up and turned to the first page. Do I really want to spend time with the paper equivalent of the "chick flick," I asked myself? Certainly, I've experienced the emotional turmoil from a divorce, but it was long ago and was I really interested in examining this unfortunately prevalent event from a feminine perspective?

I do like to travel and, while I've been to Italy, Bali and India will most likely not happen so why should I be interested in places I'll probably never experience? While in a vacuum, the answer to these questions might be a resounding negative; reading a book can offer an opportunity to escape the vacuum. It didn't take me long to get involved in Gilbert's journey. Partly, it is her adept use of language to convey meaning and emotion, and partly it is the universality of her story.

For me, a positive take away from this reading experience was that it again brought to mind why I've been a life-long reader.

Reading offers one the opportunity to experience times and places that we would not otherwise know.

Given the limitations of the human mind, it is also a way to experience the thought processes of another individual, and take note of the challenges that person faces and how he or she deals with problems and issues similar to our own. Accordingly, we can adopt, or not, the problem solving techniques we see in action. When these vicarious experiences are true to life and are presented in vivid, captivating, and metaphorical language as they are in "Eat Pray Love," then the reading experience gives proof to the words of classical Roman poet Horace that "the purpose of art is to instruct and delight."

Gilbert is able to infuse her prose with life by adeptly appealing to the senses through metaphor and other rhetorical devices. Her love of food - its textures, smells, and colors - is palpable throughout the book. Not only does she depict the sumptuous cuisine of Italy, but also vividly describes meals in India and Bali. The author also evinces a love of her spiritual aspect, and attempts to find where she's at spiritually throughout her year-long travels, most notably in India where she spent several months in an ashram.

Through her adept use of metaphor, she allows us in to struggle with her as she attempts to find her path and reconcile the disquiet she feels from her relationship issues while getting in touch with her spirituality.

This is why we read and why books and authors have become so important to our civilization. They offer important insights and commentary into what it's like to be human and how we might best negotiate the trials and troubles we all face in life.

Please plan on attending the Lyceum lecture on March 30 to hear the words of a particularly eloquent and insightful spokesperson on the subject.

The lecture is free, but tickets are required. Tickets are still available and may be picked up at Victoria College in the Marketing Department located in the College Services and Training Building.

The Marketing Department is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Dave Ticen is the chairman of the Victoria College Lyceum Committee.



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