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One Book – One Lincoln

The Thirteenth Tale: Discussion Question #6

One Book - One LincolnthirteenthtaleDiscussion Question #6

The Thirteenth Tale is, at its core, a novel about secrets and the ways that the characters are shaped by secrets, their own and the secrets of those around them. Vida Winter is “as famous for her secrets as for her stories” (p. 11), and Margaret is forever scarred by her discovery, at the age of ten, that her mother has kept a secret. What role do secrets play in the story, and which ones did you find most surprising?

The Thirteenth Tale: Discussion Question #5

One Book - One LincolnthirteenthtaleDiscussion Question #5

Margaret tells a tale in the book of becoming so engrossed in reading a book that she falls off the wall where she is sitting. She suggests that this proves that “reading can be dangerous.”

The Thirteenth Tale shows that reading is powerful, and that the dangers of reading are far more pervasive and can be far darker than Margaret’s amusing childhood tale would allow. These dangers are not confined to the naive reader, nor can they be limited to childhood. Reading is a dangerous pastime; words have an inescapable physicality and can work for profound good or profound evil. Do you agree with Margaret about the danger of reading? Why, or why not?

New One Book One Lincoln podcast available!

One Book - One LincolnthirteenthtaleProfessor Laura Mooneyham White’s One Book One Lincoln presentation, It Was a Dark and Stormy Read, on the history of gothic literature, was recorded on September 28th for release as a podcast on the library’s web site.

That presentation has been divided up into two separate podcasts, the first of which is now up at:

It Was a Dark and Stormy Read, Part 1 | It Was a Dark and Stormy Read, Part 2

Give it a listen, and check out the other One Book-related podcasts on our main podcasts page. If you attended Professor Mooneyham White’s presentation, or listened to this podcast, what did you think about her topic?

The Thirteenth Tale: Discussion Question #4

One Book - One LincolnthirteenthtaleDiscussion Question #4

The assertion with which Vida Winter opens her first book also acts as the epigraph to The Thirteenth Tale. And indeed, every major character in the book — with the exception of Miss Winter herself, who characterizes her own birth as a “subplot” (p. 58) — mythologizes his her own birth to some extent. How do characters in the novel enact Vida Winter’s assertion that “all children mythologize their birth”?

“All children mythologize their birth. It is a universal trait. You want to know someone? Heart, mind and soul? Ask him to tell you about when he was born. What you get won’t be the truth; it will be a story. And nothing is more telling than a story.” — Vida Winter, Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation

The Thirteenth Tale: Discussion Question #3

One Book - One LincolnthirteenthtaleDiscussion Question #3

When Margaret challenges Miss Winter on the many versions of her life story she has already told, the author replies “It’s my profession. I’m a storyteller.” For Miss Winter, Margaret’s pursuit of biography, her insistence on working with facts, is “horribly dull…Don’t you think one can tell the truth much better with a story?” (p. 46). Who do you agree with more, and why? What makes someone’s life story fiction? A biography? A memoir?