Classics and the Western Canon discussion

In Memoriam: Everyman

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message 1: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4621 comments It is with great sadness that I must report to the group that Everyman passed away on Monday this week.

Everyman founded this group in 2009 and was our gentle guide through many of the Great Books. He was a proponent and champion of the Great Conversation, the intellectual tradition that is built upon those books and inspires that conversation. He was a great friend to many, and we will miss him dearly.

The moderators learned several months ago that Everyman was ill, but he wished us to keep this in confidence, because, in his words, "I don't do sympathy."

He wrote the following a few weeks ago, and I think it sums up his feelings about the group, and how he would like us to proceed.

Thank all of you for your love and concern. It's not everybody who can leave a legacy that leaves the world a bit better, but this group is such a legacy. I know that when it's time for me to leave the group and world, that legacy will go on as strongly as ever.

Meanwhile, however, there's reading to do!

I will miss him more than words can express.

ἔστι γὰρ ὁ φίλος ἄλλος αὐτός

message 2: by Lark (new)

Lark Benobi (larkbenobi) I'm so sorry to hear this news. What a loss. I hope Everyman knew how many readers connected with him here on GR, and how grateful we were to know him.

My first connection with Everyman was when he reached out and asked me to join a group read of The Magic Mountain. He was the first person I ever corresponded with on GR and he gave me the courage to leap in. RIP

message 3: by Dan (new)

Dan | 14 comments RIP

message 4: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 602 comments I am so sorry to hear it. He was such a gracious man and ever-generous with his insights.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord,
And let perpetual light shine upon him.

message 5: by Dianne (new)

Dianne | 42 comments I am terribly saddened to hear about this news. He had informed me about his illness to let me know about potentially reduced participation in another group - which was astounding to me as it underscored how important his reading communities were to him. He was much beloved not only among his groups but among his beautiful and adoring family as well. He was also just a wonderful human being, warm and kind, generous and funny, witty and clever but never condescending despite his profound and deep knowledge of so many things. He was right that he will leave a legacy - one as much about his brilliance as about his gracious humanity - Everyman he was indeed.

message 6: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 3130 comments Saddened to read this.

message 7: by Borum (last edited Jun 13, 2018 05:57PM) (new)

Borum | 542 comments I still have the awkward introvert Asian girl inside me and I haven't had a good book discussion since highschool. It's all thanks to Everyman that I plucked up the courage to join in this group (which seemed way out of my league at first). I've had such a wonderful time reading along with the group and I haven't been able to join in the books that were read before I joined in this group and as I went through Tolstoy, Ovid and Dante alone but constantly checking the past group discussions, I feel as if I've begun to know all the moderators very personally (even Laurel who I have never had the opportunity to engage in any actual discussion).

Though he's no longer with us it still feels like he's right by us and he's just about to drop in with an astute question or a great punchline. I'm so sad right now but am happy to have known him for so brief a time and I know his legacy will last go on as he foretold. I'm reading the Divine Comedy and I found out Dante is short for Durante meaning 'to last or endure'. I seem to hear Everyman's words echo in Dante's teacher Brunetto's words.

Sieti raccomandato il mio Tesoro
nel qual io vivo ancora, e più non cheggio
"Remember my Treasure, in which I shall live on:
I ask no more."

Se tu segui tua stella,
non puoi fallire a glorioso porto,
se ben m'accorsi ne la vita bella
"Follow your star, for if in all
of the sweet life I saw one truth shine clearly,
you cannot miss your glorious arrival."
(Inferno Canto XV)

Rest in peace. Amen

message 8: by Nell (new)

Nell (sackvillepanza) | 35 comments Saddened to hear this. I have so enjoyed reading all of Everyman's wise, enlightening input. When I first joined, Everyman reached out to let me know about other resources on the site that would help me engage with the canons of my favorite authors. He's continuously gone above and beyond for everyone here, even for those who don't contribute as regularly. My condolences to family and loved ones.

message 9: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1820 comments His memory will always be a blessing.

message 10: by Susan (new)

Susan | 550 comments I’m so sorry to hear this. Everyman was such a welcoming presence, and his enjoyment and interest in discussion was infectious. These words of Chaucer’s came to mind:

“For he would rather have at his bed's head
Some twenty books, all bound in black or red,
Of Aristotle and his philosophy
Than rich robes, fiddle, or gay psaltery...
He took utmost care and heed for his study.
Not one word spoke he more than was necessary;
And that was said with due formality and dignity
And short and lively, and full of high morality.
Filled with moral virtue was his speech;
And gladly would he learn and gladly teach.”

message 11: by Chris (new)

Chris | 405 comments I echo many of the sentiments here. I so appreciated Everyman's insightful and thoughtful comments. His gentle and supportive encouragement of the participation of all no matter the level of one's experience with the classics and discourse.

I will miss his illuminating comments and questions for the group.

message 12: by Linda (new)

Linda | 322 comments I'm very saddened to hear of Everyman's passing as he was always welcoming and encouraged commenting no matter one's literary background. He had reached out to me here on GR to invite me to join this group over 4 years ago when I had nominated Daniel Deronda in another group and it didn't win. It just so happened that this group was about to read it and he let me know, which I did and which then led me to read books that I otherwise might not have attempted. His comments in the group reads could flow back and forth easily between serious questions and insights to light and fun banter, which made reading any book with him a delight. He will be greatly missed.

message 13: by Ignacio (new)

Ignacio | 140 comments I am also very saddened to hear this. Everyman was so welcoming when I joined this group and the few times I interacted with him he was always so generous and insightful, just as everyone has been saying. He created something very special with this group, a legacy for sure. My thoughts go out to his family and friends.

message 14: by Galicius (last edited Jun 15, 2018 12:53PM) (new)

Galicius | 47 comments This is sad news indeed about a good and learned man. Rest in Peace. I signed up to this group in 2010 and mentioned that I’ve been “lurking in” here. Everyman wrote me immediately encouraging me to participate which I did some but continued to read the comments here when time did not allow me to keep up with the voluminous and high caliber discussions.

“I pray you all gyve audyence,
And here this mater with reverence,
By figure a morall playe;
The somonynge of Everyman called it is,
That our lyves and endynge shewes
How transitory we be all daye.”

message 15: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 17 comments I only was active in this group when you were reading Faust, and guess who pointed out to me that this play was about to be dealt with in this circle? Of course, our friend Everyman!

I have known him from our moderating the Old Curiosity Club, and before that we were members of the Pickwick Club. All in all, we discussed literature and exchanged our views on other things in life for five years, but it is just now that I notice, reading your comments and messages from the Curiosities, what a good hand our friend had in bringing people together to discuss and learn about books. This made him a mediator between people from different continents even, and it shows that Everyman, indeed, did leave a legacy behind him. A legacy of the appreciation of books, and a legacy of friendship - both of which often go together.

message 16: by Dave (new)

Dave Redford | 145 comments So sorry to hear this news. I'd just like to echo some of the comments above, in saying that Everyman was very welcoming when I joined this group a few years ago, and it was his encouragement to join the group discussions that led me to read books I wouldn't have dared tackle under my own steam. He's left a wonderful legacy in creating and shaping this group.

message 17: by Jan (new)

Jan Littrell (janlittrell) | 26 comments I am deeply sad hearing this news. What a lovely man!

message 18: by Sue (last edited Jun 17, 2018 11:35AM) (new)

Sue Pit (cybee) | 329 comments This is truly sad news. Everyman was a special man. He invited me, ala Lark, to join this group in the discussion of Mann's "Magic Mountain" and I am so glad he did. I have since read books that likely I would not have otherwise and had the best discussions with you all. Everyman always had such wisdom and wonderful perspective in his comments. He was always kind to those of all ilk and levels of which I so appreciate; always so encouraging and insightful. He suggested to the group the Kierkegaard online class of which I took; my first foray into philosophy thanks to Everyman. I recall reading he had a window he would look out upon (was it by his computer?) and have such a magical sounding view from his perch on the island...of whales and such...created quite a delightful image in my mind . I also came to realize how he loved his family as well . But books...we all loved books and he was the perfect mentor. I will sorely miss him.

message 19: by Zippy (new)

Zippy | 155 comments Very sad. I enjoyed his ability to make everyone’s contribution sound valid and valued.

message 20: by Genni (new)

Genni | 837 comments I am very sad to hear this. When I first started reading the classics, I joined this group, not really expecting to participate much. But Everyman's inclusive attitude towards everyone was so encouraging...I have loved every discussion that I have been able to be a part of. He will be missed.

message 21: by Lark (new)

Lark Benobi (larkbenobi) I'm really struck by how many of us here are saying we got active on GR because Everyman invited us to. I was here for about 6 years before joining a group or making a post beyond the occasional review, and Everyman was the reason that changed. Maybe we can look for ways to carry on this tradition and make GR a welcome place for other readers.

message 22: by Lily (last edited Jun 17, 2018 11:52AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5100 comments Lark wrote: "Maybe we can look for ways to carry on this tradition and make GR a welcome place for other readers...."

Lark -- I am quite certain continuing that tradition is the intent of the Western Canon moderators. For now, perhaps simply a pause for grieving and gratitude? And encouraging each other in participating in WC reads as they unfold.

message 23: by Lark (new)

Lark Benobi (larkbenobi) Lily wrote: "For now, perhaps simply a pause for grieving and gratitude?..."

Thanks and good point Lily--certainly didn't mean to say it's time to stop grieving or feeling gratitude...sorry to leave any kind of impression at all like that and thanks for letting me know I did.

(I wasn't really thinking of this group in particular when I posted last, because most of my interaction with Everyman was in another group...just that the tributes here make me want to become more welcoming and open toward all I come across on GR, because of Everyman's example.)

message 24: by Lily (last edited Jun 17, 2018 03:38PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5100 comments Lark wrote: "..."

Lark, my response was more a protective one towards the work I perceive Tamara, David, and Thomas have been doing during Everyman's illness and I am so certain will continue to do. I quite agree that the challenge Everyman has left us is one of extending each other support, encouragement, caring, and even love. Kudos to you, and anyone, for carrying those values broadly into the world.

message 25: by Dan (last edited Jun 21, 2018 06:22AM) (new)

Dan | 14 comments Yes. This group is terrific for a lot of reasons and a lot of people. This is one of if not the best group I am a member of.

I had relatively few interactions with Everyman, as he was not involved in the Trollope project much. He will be missed. Probably for a while. But as my Celtics said all this year, as stars were injured and unable to finish the season - its next man up... same plays with the players we have left. That’s all we can do.

message 26: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4621 comments At David's suggestion, I asked Everyman's family if there were any charities that we could contribute to in his name. His daughters replied:

We think Dad would appreciate donations to St. John's because his experiences there really shaped the rest of his life, and he often talked about how important his time there was to him. Another idea we think he would appreciate would be a donation to a Library in his name to purchase classics and books he loved. Our grandma loved poetry-- teaching it, reading it, and even writing her own poems-- so when she passed away, one of her lifelong friends made a donation to the Library to purchase more poetry books. We loved that idea for her, so we thought that might be a fitting idea for Dad, tailored to the books he loved reading and discussing.

Ways to contribute to St. John's College may be found here:

message 27: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (klzeepsbcglobalnet) | 509 comments I am so sorry to hear this news. I have dropped in and out of reading with this group over the years, and Everyman always welcomed me back. This is the only group I read with, online or otherwise, because it challenges me in ways no other group has. My heart goes out to Everyman's family. Thank you, Thomas and David, for giving us a concrete way to respond to this loss.

message 28: by Rosemary (last edited Jun 23, 2018 02:44PM) (new)

Rosemary I'm sorry to hear about this. I valued his wonderful comments, too. I'm glad so far they are still here and haven't been erased as Goodreads sometimes does.

message 29: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4621 comments Rosemary wrote: "I'm sorry to hear about this. I valued his wonderful comments, too. I'm glad so far they are still here and haven't been erased as Goodreads sometimes does when members pass away. If anyone wants t..."

To my knowledge, no one in Everyman's family has any intention of deleting his account, and Goodreads does not do this unless requested. So we should be able to read his comments for the foreseeable future. It will be interesting when we re-read a book to go back and see what he had to say. In that way he'll always be with us!

message 30: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary That's good! :)

message 31: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 856 comments Oh no. I was just thinking about him and this group this week. He made everyone feel welcome here. I think I recall him posting something about fighting cancer late last year. Sad to read this on my first visit back to goodreads in many months.

Hope everyone else is well.

message 32: by Clarissa (new)

Clarissa (clariann) | 215 comments I am so sad and shocked to read this news, I have not been involved with online reading groups this year because of real life commitments but was looking forward to coming back and specifically catching up with Everyman. Like others have mentioned, he invited me to join this group and I have tried to tackle as many titles as possible although sometimes I have just read the comments as I had nothing interesting to add to the intelligent discussions. I admired his commitment and openness to such a broad range of literature.

message 33: by Lily (last edited Jul 10, 2018 07:13AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5100 comments Clari wrote: "...sometimes I have just read the comments as I had nothing interesting to add to the intelligent discussions...."

Hope you will be able to rejoin the conversations here, Clari. I think you know that Everyman would encourage you to share your thoughts and reactions to whatever the group may be reading. As he frequently reminded us, so often a seemingly simple insight can add so much richness to the conversation.

message 34: by Shelley (new)

Shelley (omegaxx) | 55 comments The reason I am here is because Everyman reached out to me personally and encouraged me to join.

I sincerely hope that his family is doing well and know how much we appreciate the ways in which he bettered all our lives.

message 35: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 3130 comments Shelley wrote: "The reason I am here is because Everyman reached out to me personally and encouraged me to join.

I sincerely hope that his family is doing well and know how much we appreciate the ways in which he..."

Yesterday I went to the Moby Dick discussion from a few years hear his voice on MD. To remember him again.

I'm glad he invited you in, Shelley. He made such an effort to make people feel comfortable and accepted.

message 36: by D (new)

D | 1 comments Though I did not have the honor of knowing him, I am still touched by his legacy.

message 37: by Cass (new)

Cass | 533 comments Oh that is really sad. I haven't read with the group for a year or so, but I pop in an read the conversations occasionally. I enjoyed reading with him.

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