Sign In Forgot Password

Reading Jewish Books

Wednesday, January 23, 2019 • 17 Shevat 5779

12:30 PM - 2:00 PMJewish Community Center of Greater Columbus, 1125 College Ave., Bexley, OH 43209
Lunch (optional), by reservation - $10
 
Please reply to Elaine Tenenbaum, ettenenbaum@gmail.com or Cheryl Dritz, cdritz@columbusjcc.org
 

Reading and discussing the book, "A Gentleman in Moscow" by Amor Towles.

The year is 1922, a few years after the Russian Revolution, a period of violent upheaval in the tumultuous landscape of 20th century Russia. Towles forgoes descriptions of icy roads and wintry dachas and instead retreats into the warm lobby of the luxurious Hotel Metropol. If the story is an escape into a lost attitude of aristocracy - part urbane and humane - it is also, ironically, a story of imprisonment.
 
Count Alexander Rostov has been summoned before the Emergency Committee of the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs and accused of writing a counter-revolutionary poem. The trial transcript offers an indication of the count's blithe resistance to the spirit of the times. Asked to state his occupation, he replies, "It is not the business of a gentleman to have occupations." High-ranking friends keep him from being thrown against a wall and shot! Instead he is declared a "Former Person" and sentenced to life imprisonment in Moscow's Hotel Metropol. 
 
Even though the hotel is hardly a gulag, it was seized by communists to house bureaucrats and impress foreign guests. The count is consigned to a tiny storage room on the top floor. Now, his extravagant life must be adjusted to the tight confines of a servant's bedroom - but, he recognizes, the man makes the home.
 
In looking at our own classless society, we sometimes seem to have retained what is deplorable about aristocracy -- oppression, snobbery, racism -- and thrown out those qualities worth retaining -- an endearing reminder of the graciousness of real class, predicated on a kind of moral discipline that never goes out of style.
Share Print Save To My Calendar
Tue, January 22 2019 16 Shevat 5779