Friday, October 19, 7:30-9:00 p.m

Old Filth, by Jane Gardam

Recently widowed distinguished judge Sir Edward Feathers is called to consider the costs of childhood deprivation, deliberate myopia, and habits of exactitude on his career and his marriage. ("I am trained to forget," Filth had always said.  "Otherwise how could I function?"  Facts, memories, the pain of life - of lives in chaos - have to be forgotten.  As a Silk, he reckoned that fifty percent of his cases had gone wrong.) 

The engrossing and moving account of his life, from birth in colonial Malaya, to Wales, where he is sent as a "Raj orphan," to Oxford, war service, an expatriate career, and finally retirement in comfortable seclusion in Dorset, encapsulates a large part of the 20th century.  It is elliptical, melancholy, often comic, and unexpectedly poignant.

Jane Ardent is a two-time Whitbread winner and was nominated for a Man Booker Award. Fans may also want to read Gardam's companion novel, "The Man in the Wooden Hat," a second Whitbread winner. This book recounts Sir Edward's wife's perspective on love, loyalty and fidelity.

Attendees are asked to write a few paragraphs on one or more of the following topics: 

  • Accommodation and reticence, is it worth it?  
  • Is it ever too late?  
  • Is denial such a bad thing?
  • What is a workable marriage?
  • Can we be different people as we age?
  • Can our wounds make us better lawyers?
  • How do we address the gap between our ambitions and our accomplishments?
  • How do we practice when we find ourselves in foreign territory?
  • What does Feathers' experience suggest about making a career and "a workable marriage"?

Please feel free to write a response to your reading of the book - a paragraph, a brief story, a poem, or whatever form you feel is most expressive.
Submit to Mielle Marquis ( by October 12, 2012 so we may share it with attendees in advance of the dinner/discussion.  

This event is limited to 15 people, so participation is on a first-come, first served basis. You may also e-mail your RSVP to Mielle Marquis.

Book Discussion Leaders:
Professor Steve Subrin
Margo Greenfield ’77 
The Honorable Catherine White ’72