Celebrated fiction writer and essayist William H. Gass will present the John and Penelope Biggs Residency in the Classics Lecture for the Assembly Series at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 30 in Graham Chapel. The lecture, titled “Metaphor,” will explore the true essence of metaphors and their connection to language and creativity.
A writer and philosopher, Gass is well-known for his experimentation with fiction’s many forms during his expansive 40-year career. He often writes metafiction — stories that address the devices of fiction within their structure. He uses original stylistic innovations in each of his books, to add a new perspective within each tale. A novelist, an essayist and an award-winning critic, Gass has perfected the craft of using words as a tool to explore the meaning and essence of literature.
His most recent book, A Temple of Texts, is a collection of 25 essays that takes the reader on a literary journey, exploring the resounding themes of his favorite works. He uses his characteristic ornate style throughout the collection to convey his excitement of reading and the power of language.
As he writes in A Temple, “The true alchemists do not change lead into gold, they change the world into words.”
A Temple of Texts is Gass’s sixth collection of essays. Two of his previous collections, Habitations of the Word and Finding A Form, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism. His many novels include Omensetter’s Luck and his thirty-year magnum opus, The Tunnel.
Gass’s other literary awards include a Lannan Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award; a PEN/American Nabokov Award; the Award for Fiction, and the Medal of Merit for Fiction, from the Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters; and fellowships from the Rockefeller and Guggenheim foundations.
Gass taught philosophy at Washington University for 30 years, and was named the David May Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities in 1979. In 1990, he founded the International Writers Center at the University, and directed the Center until his retirement in 1999. He received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Kenyon College in 1947, and a doctorate in philosophy from Cornell University in 1954.
Graham Chapel is located north of Mallinckrodt Center on the Washington University Hilltop campus. For more information, call (314) 935-4620 or visit the Assembly Series Web page (http://assemblyseries.wustl.edu).