Elaine Newton's Critic's Choice
Artis—Naples Lifelong Learning
A Gentleman in Moscow
by Amor Towles
Set in Russia in the fraught years from 1922 to the `50s, the novel centers on Count Alexander Rostov, a cultured aristocrat placed under lifetime house arrest in a small attic room in Moscow's Hotel Metropole Hotel, across from the Kremlin. Insulated from the outside world, yet very much influenced by it, the Count has lost his possessions, his status and his freedom. But, he makes endearing friendships with a chef, a nine-year-old girl and a famous actress. Though he sees all he loves about Russia being uprooted by the new regime, the Count retains his humor, civility and honor as a gentleman and his ingrained optimism, navigating his diminished world with elegance and an increasing sense of humanity. This is, quite simply, an irresistible novel.
Author Amor Towles will join Elaine on-stage on both Thursday and Saturday mornings.
This lecture is part of Elaine Newton's Critic’s Choice series, featuring contemporary literature’s most compelling works.
Please note: The Thursday lecture will be held in the Daniels Pavilion. The Saturday lecture will be held in Hayes Hall.
Born and raised in the Boston area, Amor Towles graduated from Yale College and received an MA in English from Stanford University. His thesis at Stanford, a short story cycle called The Temptations of Pleasure, was published in 1989 in The Paris Review 112.
Towles’s first novel, Rules of Civility, which was published in 2011, was a New York Times bestseller and was named by The Wall Street Journal as one of the best books of 2011. The book has been translated into 15 languages, its French translation receiving the 2012 Prix Fitzgerald. In the fall of 2012, the novel was optioned by Lionsgate to be made into a feature film.
Towles’s second novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, which was published in 2016, was on the New York Times bestseller list for over 20 weeks in hardcover and was named one of the best books of 2016 by the Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the San Francisco Chronicle and NPR. The book is being translated into over 20 languages, including Russian.
Having worked as an investment professional for over 20 years, Towles now devotes himself fulltime to writing in Manhattan, where he lives with his wife and two children.
Elaine Newton, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Humanities at York University, Toronto, Canada. She has taught courses in literary theory and methodology, contemporary fiction, psychology and literature and archetypal criticism. Professor Newton was one of the founders of York University’s Advising Program and its much-emulated Faculty of Education. She is a recipient of the province of Ontario’s Teaching Award in recognition of excellence in university teaching and in 1984 received a citation as Toronto’s Outstanding Professor. In 1996 she was the recipient of the university-wide Teaching Award. She has held appointments as professor of literature at Carlton University, Ottawa; University of Cape Town, South Africa; University of Sydney, Australia; Victoria University and the University of Otago, New Zealand. She has lectured throughout Canada and the US, London, Hong Kong, Zurich and Caracas. In 1992 she was a member of the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh’s Semester-at-Sea.
For over 40 years she has planned and conducted adult education courses throughout North America. This is the 26th year that she has presented our literature series Critic’s Choice and the 20th year she has presented Four O’clock at the Movies. She also initiated and taught, for 11 years, the pioneering Artis—Naples seminar discussion program The Questers. Newton has worked as a book critic for Toronto’s The Globe and Mail, been a special consultant to the Ontario Library Association, led movie and theater discussions and served as a consultant to the North York Board of Education. She continues to conduct an annual lecture series at the Toronto Public Library and leads summer tours to Stratford and Niagara-on-the-Lake Theatre Festivals. Professor Newton has served as a programming resource specialist for Chapters (Canada) and makes frequent guest appearances on TV and radio.