This Week’s Guest: Dara Horn
Would you want to live forever? Are you sure? What would your spouse, your children, your friends mean to you if you knew you would outlive them all?
In other words, is human mortality a problem to be overcome, or is it an indispensable prerequisite to making life worth living?
These and similar questions have long been debated by philosophers and bioethicists. But another and perhaps more fruitful way of exploring them is through literature—which is exactly what the bestselling novelist (and Mosaic contributor) Dara Horn does in her latest book. Eternal Life tells the tale of Rachel, a young women living in Roman-occupied Judea who makes a deal with God: if Rachel’s sick child is allowed to survive illness, Rachel will never die. The child survives, and Rachel, over thousands of years, lives on in many countries, goes through 45 marriages, bears hundreds of children, and tries to understand what makes life worthwhile.
In this podcast, Dara Horn and Jonathan Silver explore the ways Eternal Life plays with age-old literary tropes about immortality, the various ideas that Rachel entertains about the purpose of human life, and the profound thoughts about living and dying in the real world that are sparked by this masterful tale of a woman who cannot die.
Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.
Every Thursday, the Tikvah Podcast at Mosaic will bring to your car/earbuds/home stereo/Alexa the latest in our efforts to advance Jewish thought. For more on the new podcast, check out our inaugural post here.
A final note: If you would like to share your thoughts on the podcast, ideas for future guests and topics, or any other form of feedback, just send us an email at [email protected]. We’re grateful for your support, and we look forward to a new year of great conversations on Jewish essays and ideas.