In her 2006 New York Times review of Patricia Hampl’s Blue Arabesque: A Search for the Sublime, American writer Kathryn Harrison wrote, “The enemy of the sublime, it turns out, is ‘the rush of modernity.’ There’s no time to sit and stare… Eternally dissatisfied, caught up in the relentless march of time, humankind is always becoming and never being… “
More than a decade later, we seem increasingly allergic to slowness, to reverie, to “just” being, choosing instead to embrace Voltaire’s maxim that Indolence is sweet, and its consequences bitter. From her early examination of the contemplative life in Virgin Time, to the meditative sensibility of A Romantic Education to the pondorous inquiry of Blue Arabesque, Hampl has long explored how we spend our time, either intentionally or unintentionally, in her work.
Donna Seaman characterizes Hampl’s work in this way: “Writing of both earthly pilgrimages and the inner journeys they provoke, Hampl brings a poet's love of language, fluency in patterns and modulations, and fascination with the life of the mind to unusual aesthetic, spiritual, and cultural inquiries.”
Join us May 4 when the award-winning author will give us a rare preview of her forthcoming book, The Art of the Wasted Day, in which she investigates not only leisure, daydreaming, and a slower pace, but also the essay form, and its ever-musing master, Montaigne.
Patricia Hampl, MFA, University of Iowa; BA, University of Minnesota, first won recognition for A Romantic Education, a memoir about her Czech heritage, which was awarded a Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship. This book and subsequent works have established her as one of the most influential figures in the rise of autobiographical writing in the past 30 years.
Hampl is the author of numerous books, including The Florist’s Daughter, winner of numerous “best” and “year end” awards, and the Minnesota Book Award; Blue Arabesque: A Search for the Sublime, which was chosen for The Best Spiritual Writing of 2005; and I Could Tell You Stories, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, as well as Spillville, a meditation on Antonin Dvorak’s 1893 summer in Iowa, and Virgin Time, a book about her Catholic upbringing and an inquiry into contemplative life.
In 2008, Hampl co-edited with Elaine Tyler May, Tell Me True: Memoir, History and Writing a Life.
Four of Hampl’s books have been named "Notable Books" by The New York Times, and her fiction, poems, reviews, essays and travel pieces have appeared in many publications, including The New Yorker, Paris Review, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays.
Her many awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Bush Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Ingram Merrill Foundation, and Djerassi Foundation. In 1990, she was recognized with a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, often referred to as a “Genius Award.”
Hampl is a Regents Professor and McKnight Distinguished Professor at the University of Minnesota, as well as a member of the permanent faculty of the Prague Summer Program.
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