With an Interview Between Marilynne Robinson and President Obama
“Marilynne Robinson displays the same passionate concern with matters of faith that suffuses her majestic trilogy of linked novels.”—Wendy Smith, The Boston Globe
The spirit of our times can appear to be one of joyless urgency. As a culture we have become less interested in the exploration of the glorious mind, and more interested in creating and mastering technologies that will yield material well-being. In The Givenness of Things, Marilynne Robinson delivers an impassioned critique of our contemporary society while arguing that reverence must be given to who we are and what we are: creatures of singular interest and value, despite our errors and depredations. Robinson has plumbed the depths of the human spirit in her award-winning novels, Lila and Gilead, and in her new essay collection she trains her incisive mind on our modern predicament and the mysteries of faith. These seventeen essays examine the ideas that have inspired and provoked one of our finest writers throughout her life. Whether she is investigating how the work of the great thinkers of the past, Calvin, Locke, Bonhoeffer—and Shakespeare—can infuse our lives, or calling attention to the rise of the self-declared elite in American religious and political life, Robinson’s peerless prose and boundless humanity are on display. The Givenness of Things is a necessary call for us to study our cultural heritage in search of both wisdom and guidance and to offer grace to one another.
Marilynne Robinson is the author of the novels Lila, Home, Gilead (winner of the Pulitzer Prize), and Housekeeping, and four books of nonfiction: When I Was a Child I Read Books, Mother Country, The Death of Adam, and Absence of Mind. She teaches at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.