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Eva Brann

Eva Brann

Your humble(ish) host just made his annual Piraeus pilgrimage to St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD, this time to participate in a four-day seminar about Moby Dick  and score a great interview.

I managed to get legendary tutor Eva Brann to take a break from her crazy schedule and sit down for a 45-minute conversation about the college’s Great Books program and how she’s seen it change (and stay the same) in her fifty-seven years at the school.

We also talk about the value of a liberal arts education, the one novel she’d add to the St. John’s curriculum, the need professors have to profess (and why St. John’s has tutors instead of professors), her swoon for Odysseus, her desert island book, her one criterion for a great novel, where she sees the school going in the next fifty-seven years, the Dostoevsky-or-Tolstoy debate, and more, including a boatload of questions I solicited from alumni. It’s a fascinating conversation with one of the most learned people in the world.

Books by Eva Brann and those related to the topic of this article may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore

Eva Brann is a Senior Contributor to The Imaginative Conservative. She is a tutor at St. John’s College, Annapolis. In 2005 she was the recipient of the National Humanities Medal. Her writings include Music of the Republic: Essays on Socrates’ Conversations and Plato’s Writings  and Homage to Americans: Mile-high Meditations, Close Readings, and Time-Spanning SpeculationsThis post originally appeared on Virtual Memories and is republished here with the gracious permission of Gil Roth.

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2 replies to this post
  1. Pretty early in she gives a shout out to Seth Bernadette, who was truly a great classicist….his short book on Achilles and Hector: The Homeric Hero is just amazing…..

  2. Miss Brann was my seminar leader senior year. The world knows her correctly as
    formidable scholar. She is that, but she is more. She told us once that to her War and Peace
    is the book of books. Later she told us that to her The Brothers Karamazov was the book
    of books. A callow 21-year-old in the class ( about my height, build, and coloring) said
    But Miss Brann you said that War and Peace is the book of books. She said ” Did I ?
    Yes War and Peace is the book of books, but The Brothers K is the novel of novels.
    I may not have seen her distinction, but I knew enough not to pursue this. I loved her
    enthusiasm for life. She was also my laboratory tutor junior year. More than once
    I said something in class and she would then say ” What Mr. Dolan means is …..”
    I was fascinated because she drew out implications in what I said that were unknown
    to me, but did follow from what I had said. Who but Miss Brann listens so carefully to
    college students, or to anyone. I have taught college students on and off the past
    ten years. I would be so proud if even once in a while I listened as well as she did,
    even once in a while. But she is Miss Brann, and I am only me.

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