We’ve just wrapped the research phase of our hermit show, and we thought you might be interested in some of the inspiration behind playwright Liz Neerland’s concept. We’ve been exploring a variety of individuals who removed themselves, or were removed from society, both real and fictional. Here’s a look at our reading list for this show. Feel free to read along with us!
We start out with Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller, a fictional account of a survivalist father who takes his young daughter to live in the woods with him, convincing her that the rest of the world has come to an end. When she discovers a pair of boots in the world, that lie is suddenly overturned.
Next up is The Point of Vanishing which chronicles author Roy Axelrod’s two year retreat from the world into nature after suffering a basketball injury that left him blind in one eye. It’s a fascinating look at a young man re-examining the way that he views the entire world.
In Siberia is Colin Thuberon’s excellent description of one of the world’s vastest untamed spaces. Home to the Lykov family, Siberia stretches across almost all of Asia from east to west, and is known for it’s sparse populations, rugged terrain, and bitter winters. It’s Minnesota for extreme introverts, basically.
The Stranger in the Woods is Micheal FInkel’s fascinating account of Christopher Knight, a man who lived alone without human contact for twenty-seven years in Maine. He survived by breaking into cabins to get food, reading materials, and supplies until he was caught and imprisoned.
Isabel Colegate’s A Pelican in the Woods tells the stories of hermits and recluses of all sorts through the ages. From Buddha to modern recluses, the book examines what it means to live in solitude and why people choose it in the first place.
Then there is A Whole Life, the award winning novel by Robert Seethaler about Andreas Egger, a man who overcomes a difficult childhood to build a life of wisdom in his mountain home. It’s a tale of one man’s relationship with the modern world, with solitude, and the arrival of the modern world.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Last American Man is the story of Eustace Conway, a modern advocate of primitive living. Conway is an advocate for living simply off the land, and lives a subsistence lifestyle while he teaches others the craft of pre-industrial living.
Solitude is Robert Kull’s story of the year he spent alone in solitude and contemplation after losing a leg in a motorcycle accident. Looking to reexamine his place in the world, he traveled to the Patagonia with his cat as his only companion.
Old Believers in Modern Russia by Roy Robson is about a sect of Russian Orthodox Christians who split from the church in 1667 after a set of reforms by the patriarch Nikon. They have persisted ever since, enduring persecution at various points in the following centuries.
Last but not least, and not pictured (it’s out of print so we’re working off a PDF) is Lost in the Taiga by Vasily Peskov. This book, and an accompanying article in Smithsonian Magazine, were the original inspiration for the show. Peskov tells the story of the Lykov family, from their flight into the taiga, their years of solitude, their discovery, and what has happened to the family since.
Feel free to read along. Or, just show up in November and see where all this reading brought us. Either way, we hope we see you at the show!