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How to Fall in Love with Classics: Catherine Lim’s “Or Else, The Lightning God”

National Library Board


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When :

07:00 PM - 08:30 PM


Central Public Library
100 Victoria Street, National Library Board, Singapore



Literary classics are classics because they have stood the test of time. They have dazzled generations of readers with their compelling writing as well as their approaches to universal themes. Each new age discovers in them not just fascinating layers of meaning but also fresh relevance. A reader is often profoundly satisfied and feels his or her life changed for the better.


How to Fall in Love with Classics is an exciting National Library Board lecture series that celebrates the classics. This series looks lovingly and thoughtfully at a few texts to understand the special pleasure we get from them. The study should help to ignite or rekindle your own passion for literature. You may grasp more firmly the importance of particular works and learn to appreciate them more.


Every lecture will explore one classic for its various forms of meaning. The text will be dissected to reveal connections it makes to ideas in history, culture, and society. We will also observe how this can enhance our reflections on ourselves and the world.


Series 4 will involve four short stories: Arthur Conan Coyle’s “The Adventure of the Final Problem”, Katherine Mansfield’s “The Garden Party”, Jorge Luis Borges’s “The Garden of Forking Paths”, and Catherine Lim’s “Or Else, The Lightning God”.






Catherine Lim’s “Or Else, The Lightning God”
Thursday, 25 April, 7.00-8.30pm 
Programme Zone, Central Public Library


Catherine Lim, the matriarch of Singaporean fiction, published “Or Else, The Lightning God” in 1980. This early story of hers has its protagonist Margaret engaged in a dangerous and eventually debilitating psychological battle with her mother-in-law. The two’s personality differences frustrate the exercise of filial piety, creating a power struggle that destroys all. Join Dr Gwee Li Sui as he discusses the history and concerns of this memorable story and its relevance to us today.




Gwee Li Sui is a poet, a graphic artist, and a literary critic. His works of verse include Who Wants to Buy a Book of Poems? (1998), One Thousand and One Nights (2014), Who Wants to Buy an Expanded Edition of a Book of Poems? (2015), The Other Merlion and Friends (2015), Haikuku (2017), and Death Wish (2017). A familiar name in Singapore’s cultural scene, Gwee wrote our first long-form graphic novel in English Myth of the Stone back in 1993. He has edited several acclaimed literary anthologies, taught at several universities, and lectured on a vast range of subjects. He has also written FEAR NO POETRY!: An Essential Guide to Close Reading (2014) and Spiaking Singlish: A Companion to How Singaporeans Communicate (2017).




Central Public Library

100 Victoria Street, National Library Board, Singapore