Dystopias, Utopias, and Imagined Worlds

A perfect adjunct to the Key West Literary Seminar


Key West, Florida


January 8 – 13, 2012 (5 nights)


The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood


Key West and January – an attractive pairing. So too, The Handmaid’s Tale and The Baron in the Trees. Apparently so dissimilar, and yet when set beside one another, they couple perfectly. Atwood’s tale is a dystopian fable of the near future. It is a harsh nightmare set in a totalitarian theocracy, the former United States. It is a story of subjugation. Calvino’s tale is a utopian fable of a not-too-distant past. It is a gentle dream set in the lush tree tops of
18th century Italy. It is a love story. Key West in the winter coupled with extraordinary books, lively discussions, walks and talks, and plenty of time to play – it feels utopian.

Populated in the early twentieth century by an eclectic mix of fishermen, spongers, rum runners, and cigar makers, this tiny island was more Caribbean than American. Over 100 miles from mainland Florida and the southernmost point in the US, Key West has attracted numerous artists and writers, including Ernest Hemingway, Wallace Stevens, Ralph Ellison, Elizabeth Bishop, Tennessee Williams, Robert Frost, and James Merrill, with its remote location, tropical setting, and wild spirit.

The Key West Literary Seminar, which has been drawing lovers of literature to this small island in the subtropics for 30 years, explores Yet Another World: Literature of the Future, this January 5-8. Classical Pursuits will piggyback on this venerable institution. You may wish to double your pleasure by attending the Key West Literary Seminar.

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La Concha Hotel, a historic, luxury hotel in old Key West


Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse for some.
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale


For 25 years, Gary Schoepfel has led and taught folks how to lead book discussion groups. According to Bertolt Brecht, “Nothing needs less justification than pleasure.” Gary will not deny himself the pleasures of this Key West excursion! No justification necessary. He hopes you’ll join him.

George Fontana is a long-time resident of Key West and fondly referred to by all as Uncle George. He sings, he sails, and he is deeply involved in the arts and culture of the town. He will take us to places and introduce us to people we would not normally meet.


US$2595 based on double occupancy

Fee includes readings, accommodation, two meals a day, discussions, walking tours, talks, excursions, and admissions.

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