Ever since train travel was introduced in the 19th century, trains have fascinated humans.
Harnessing new technologies to achieve a speed and power unrivalled at the time, trains seemed to represent a distinct break with the past. It is no surprise that artists were drawn to depict trains in their imaginative work as well as to experience them in their lives. In literary works, trains somehow came to stand for unleashed passions, from illicit liaisons to murder. At the same time, they provided opportunities for extended reflection. Trains constitute an everyday liminal space for the passenger (and reader), in which one is somehow racing forward even while remaining still, in which one is both solitary and surrounded by others, and meanwhile neither “here” nor “there.” Thus trains invite in both writers and readers an opportunity to indulge in the quiet contemplation of violent motion. All aboard!
Please note that there are two sections of this reading group, one held in person and one virtually.
The Athenæum is deeply grateful to our wonderful volunteer leaders. Please note library reading groups are not classes or courses, but rather a way for individuals to discuss readings together, guided by both expert and amateur enthusiasts. Participants should expect discussion-based, not lecture-style meetings.