Summer – a time for catching up, relaxing, exploring, starting new projects, or perhaps completing work in progress.  With this in mind, we have asked some faculty members at St. John’s what they are reading this summer.

 Dr. Stephen Sicari, Professor and Chair of the English Department, writes:

I’m finishing Thomas Mann’s Joseph stories, which I have been reading for the past year or so.  Mann wrote these over a period of a dozen years or so, from the early 1930s through to the end of WWII – he began while still in Germany, and finished them in LA.  There is nothing in the novels – there are five of them comprising these stories – that seem to reflect these times; in fact, they are a modern re-telling of the Genesis stories about Joseph, son of Jacob and Rachel.  But Mann’s choice – a story about the beginnings of the people of Israel and their development of monotheism – indicates a sensitivity to the plight of the Jews under Nazism and a reckoning of their role in the greatness of western civilization.  So I’m reading it because this is the time period of my area of specialty and it should help me understand better the way great modern writers deal with the historical pressures of the age.

But it’s great summer reading because Mann is a great story-teller, and to watch him give so much life in five long books to what in Genesis takes up fifteen chapters total: that’s just a great delight to me.