Literary Criticism and Significance
Tuesdays With Morrie is that rare piece of work which has both depth of meaning and tremendous universal appeal. Deceptively brief and easy to read, the book was on the New York Times Best Sellers list for over two hundred weeks after its initial publication in 1997. In the book, the author, Mitch Albom, recounts his weekly meetings with his mentor Morrie Schwartz over the final fourteen weeks of the old professor's life, organizing the material appealingly like a course syllabus, complete with descriptions of audiovisuals and an outline of topics to be discussed during each class period. The author intersperses brief flashbacks at regular intervals in the framework, providing background for the two main characters—himself and Morrie—so that the reader can better understand their relationship. There is no grading involved in Morrie's last class, in keeping with his philosophy of withholding judgement upon others. Instead of a graduation ceremony, there is a funeral. The tone of the book is intensely personal, and its format lends itself to reader involvement. Mitch and Morrie reveal themselves in simple dialogue and the reader quickly gets to know them as friends.
Despite its simple presentation, however, the book's content is deeply meaningful and significant. Mitch's portrayal of death is in no way sugar-coated, and Morrie's philosophy of life goes straight to the core of all that is important and true. The book has been recognized for its realistic description of the dying process and its sensitive delineation of the needs of the dying; because of its skillful and in-depth handling of pertinent issues of life and death and its treatment of death as a natural act, Tuesdays With Morrie has been recommended and used successfully as text material in university-level courses on the subject of death and dying. The book was made into a TV movie in 1999, and is available on both videotape and DVD. The initial "Nightline" interview between Ted Koppel and Morrie Schwartz which brought Mitch and Morrie back together, as well as two subsequent interviews, are also available for supplementary viewing.