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[BKARTS] SFPL event The True Believer: Reflections on Eric Hoffer

For Immediate Release
Contact: Marcia Schneider

July 12, 2005
415 557-4252



Video Presentation & Panel Discussion

The True Believer: Reflections on Eric Hoffer, San Francisco's


Saturday, July 23, 2005


San Francisco-San Francisco Public Library is pleased to present "The
True Believer: Reflections on Eric Hoffer, San Francisco's
Longshoreman-Philosopher," a panel discussion and video presentation
celebrating the life and legacy of the self-educated writer and thinker.
A television interview with James Day, part of the Kaleidoscope series
produced by KQED in 1964, and the 1967 CBS interview with Eric Sevareid
will be followed by a panel discussion with former students of Eric
Hoffer (from his years as Resource Professor of Political Science, at
the University of California, Berkeley) and moderated by San Francisco
Chronicle Editorial Page Editor John Diaz. The program takes place in
the Main Library Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin Street, Saturday, July 23,
1:00-3:30 p.m.


The Library's Eric Hoffer Collection contains twenty-four manuscript
notebooks, first editions, and filmed interviews and documentaries,
located in the Marjorie G. & Carl W. Stern Book Arts & Special
Collections Center, on the Sixth Floor of the Main Library. Selected
materials from the Eric Hoffer Collection will be on display in the Book
Arts & Special Collections Center through August 2005.


Eric Hoffer wrote "It is the crowded life that is most easily
remembered. A life full of turns, achievements, disappointments,
surprises, and crises is a life full of landmarks." And indeed, Eric
Hoffer's life was crowded: he was born in New York on July 26, 1902. At
the age of seven his mother died and Hoffer was mysteriously blinded.
After regaining his sight at fifteen, he became a voracious reader,
beginning his long journey as a student of humanity. From New York he
headed to California, riding the rails, and taking a series of manual
jobs up and down the coast. His great literary influences were the
French writers Montaigne and Pascal (whose writing he discovered in a
California library). Hoffer's thirst for knowledge meant an education in
public libraries; he held a library card wherever he lived. 


By 1942 Hoffer had finally settled down in San Francisco, where he spent
the remainder of his life working, writing and thinking on the
waterfront. He lived alone in a sparsely furnished apartment that
contained the minimum requirements: a bed that folded up into a closet,
a worktable and a hard wooden chair for his writing, a hot plate for
making tea.


Hoffer's first and best known book, The True Believer, was published to
critical acclaim in 1951. He published ten more books, including The
Ordeal of Change, The Passionate State of Mind, The Temper of Our Time,
and Working and Thinking on the Waterfront. A series of interviews with
James Day appeared on KQED in 1964; then in 1967 and 1969 Eric Sevareid
interviewed Hoffer for CBS News. Hoffer's unique brand of sharp
observation and social commentary came at a time of extraordinary change
and crisis in America. Hoffer was invited to teach at the University of
California, Berkeley, where from 1964 to 1972 he gave public lectures
and held open seminars for any student who wanted to see him. In 1982
Hoffer was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's
highest civilian award for exceptional meritorious service. He died the
following year.


Readers will find another valuable resource on Eric Hoffer at the Hoover
Institution Archives. The Eric Hoffer Papers were acquired by the
archives in 1994, and represent the "largest single fund of primary
sources documenting the unusual life and influential writings of a
celebrated and controversial individual who came to be known as
America's 'longshoreman philosopher.'" The Hoover Institution Archives
is located on the Courtyard Level of the Herbert Hoover Memorial
Building at the intersection of Serra and Galvez Streets on the campus
of Stanford University. For more information call 650 723-3563 or visit
their web site at http://www-hoover.stanford.edu/hila/visit.htm.


The Book Arts & Special Collections Center is home to the Robert
Grabhorn Collection on the History of Printing & the Development of the
Book, the Harrison Collection of Calligraphy & Lettering, the
Schmulowitz Collection of Wit & Humor, and the Little Maga/Zine
Collection. The hours for the center are: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday,
Saturday: 10-6; Friday: 12 Noon-5. Closed Monday.


All programs at the San Francisco Public Library are free and open to
the public. For more information, call 415 557-4277.


# # #


Asa Peavy, Program Manager

Marjorie G. & Carl W. Stern Book

Arts & Special Collections Center

San Francisco Public Library

100 Larkin St.

San Francisco, CA 94102

T: 415.557.4560

F: 415.437.4849

 <mailto:asap@xxxxxxxx> apeavy@xxxxxxxx 




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