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Finding 'A Room of One's Own' - Episode 30

In A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf takes us through a history of women in fiction, from the unknown poets of Elizabethan times to 18th and 19th-century writers like Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë.  This little book is not only for feminists, but for anyone interested in the life and classic writings of female authors.

Apologies for the intermittent background noise, near the beginning of the episode.  It was probably me leaning on my "lectern" - i.e. a white cabinet on wheels, which may not be the most stable setup...  I'll be taking extra precautions in the future!

Sources / Further Reading:
"Virginia Woolf Was More Than Just a Women’s Writer" - Humanities magazine
Virginia Woolf's suicide note (Wikisource)
Napoleonic Code (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Reading and Podcasting: Behind the Scenes - Episode 29

How did I first get into classic literature, let alone podcast about it? This week's episode features a glimpse into my reading life and podcasting journey, as well as some tips and technology which have helped me along the way.

Opening quote is from South by Sir Ernest Shackleton.  It has no bearing on today's topic; it's just a nice quote on a topic that's been on my brain.
 
Links:
Classics Considered on Instagram - Follow to get sneak peeks of future episodes!
Noonlight Reads - My all-purpose reading blog.  Links to my stories can be found here.
RSS Owl - A free, open-source RSS / blog reader
Lithium (app) - Useful for reading Project Gutenberg ebooks on an Android tablet
OneNote Online

First Impressions - Flannery O'Connor - Episode 28

This summer, I've been getting to know Southern Gothic author Flannery O'Connor through a collection of her short stories. In this "First Impressions" episode, I chat about her life, her writing, and the themes in her stories which grabbed my attention.

Sources / Further Reading:
"This Lonesome Place: Flannery O’Connor on race and religion in the unreconstructed South." - The New Yorker article
Flannery O'Connor biography - New Georgia Encyclopedia
The Presence of Grace and Other Book Reviews by Flannery O'Connor (Google Books page)

My Sherlock Holmes Obsession - Episode 27


Today I take a nostalgia trip back to the time I first met Sherlock Holmes. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary detective has impacted my life in many ways, from violin playing to overcoming social anxiety. I also share my thoughts on a number of adaptations, including the Jeremy Brett TV series and Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock.

Links:
Opening quote read by David Clarke (LibriVox)
Opening music - "Ambush in Rattlesnake Gulch" by Brian Boyko (Public domain, FreePD.com)

Vice, Virtue, and Heroism in Eugene Onegin - Episode 26


For lovers of Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, Eugene Onegin takes us back to Imperial Russia, where young Tatyana Larina falls for her brooding, Byronic neighbor. More than a romance, Alexander Pushkin's epic poem is a classic of Russian literature and history, as well as a glimpse into the 19th-century dueling culture which proved to be so fatal for him.

Sources / Further Reading:
Why the Russian aristocrats spoke French - Reddit discussion with academic sources
Eugene Onegin - Translation by Henry Spalding (not my first recommendation, but it's free)
Pushkin's African Background - Article by the British Library
List of Alexander Pushkin's duels - By blogger Rina Tim
Russian Ark (2002) - A creative documentary surveying 200 years of Russian culture.  I was able to watch this on loan from the library, and while it's a slow film (not gripping), the visuals are interesting.
Opening quote read by MaryAnn (LibriVox)

Emily Dickinson - Life of a Poet - Episode 25

She left us with over 1,000 poems, full of vibrant imagery and even more mysteries.  Join me as I search for the real Emily Dickinson behind the legend, examining her life story and reading such gems as "I died for beauty" and "A bird came down the walk."

Sources / Further Reading:
Selected Poems & Letters of Emily Dickinson - Edited by Robert Linscott
Emily Dickinson - Biography at Poets.org
The Emily Dickinson Museum

Doctors, Murderers: Shūsaku Endō's The Sea and Poison - Episode 24



In The Sea and Poison, we find one Japanese author's perspective on the horrific human experimentation carried out by Unit 731 "doctors" in World War II.

A small addendum to my comment in this episode, that there were "no Nuremberg trials, to speak of."  The Soviets actually staged their own show trials for some of the Unit 731 personnel.  However, sources indicate that the sentences were light and may also have been exchanged for data.  To me, this is hardly the equivalent of the Nuremberg trials, where several nations (not only the USSR) took part in the trial and the sentences included 12 executions and seven imprisonments.

Sources / Further Reading:
"Unmasking Horror -- A special report.; Japan Confronting Gruesome War Atrocity" - NYT article, 1995
"Unit 731: Japan's biological force" - BBC article, 2002
"Japanese veteran admits vivisection tests on PoWs" - Guardian article, (2006)
"Department of Justice Official Releases Letter Admitting U.S. Amnesty of Japan’s Unit 731 War Criminals" - Jeffrey Kaye blog post, 2017
Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932-45 and the American Cover-Up - Sheldon H. Harris, 2002

Picnic at Hanging Rock, and Other Classics for Summer - Episode 23


From the Arctic Circle to the South Pole and both sides of the globe, here's six classics which will take you on an adventure this summer (and a little time travel, too!).

Links / Further Reading:
The Green Ray, by Jules Verne (Wikisource)
Picnic at Hanging Rock - Book review by O of On Bookes
The Endurance - Adam Young Scores
Shackleton - A&E series starring Kenneth Branagh
Opening quote read by David Barnes, read for the LibriVox audiobook South

An Update

Just wanted to drop in and apologize for the dearth of episodes the last few weeks.  I had quite a bit going on this month - from a family member's graduation to vacation - and it turned out to be too much to juggle with the podcast. 

The good news is, this week everything is fairly back to normal, so there will be an episode this coming Monday, all about classics for summer reading.  The following week, I'll discuss one of the best books I've read this year, The Sea and Poison by Shusaku Endo.

If either of those interest you, stay tuned. I have a ton of ideas for the remainder of Season 2 and am excited to share them with you!

Empire and Extravagance - Reading Émile Zola - Episode 22

Today, we venture back to 19th-century Imperial France, in two vivid novels of Émile Zola: The Ladies' Paradise (Au Bonheur des Dames) and The Kill (La Curée).

Links / Further Reading:
Zoladdiction 2018 - FandaClassiclit blog

"Humanzees" and The Island of Doctor Moreau - Episode 21

A magazine article provoked me to re-read H. G. Well's sci-fi horror classic, The Island of Doctor Moreau. Join my trip back in time as I talk about a Soviet scientist, a British author, and human-chimpanzee people.

Sources / Further Reading:
"It’s Time to Make Human-Chimp Hybrids" by David Barash
Articles referencing Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov:
H. G. Wells's The New World Order
H. G. Wells vs. George Orwell (The Conversation)
"The Comprachicos" by John Kaiser (JSTOR)
"Wanting Babies Like Themselves, Some Parents Choose Genetic Defects" (New York Times)

Favorite Authors: Franz Kafka - Episode 20

In this episode, I reminisce over the time I met Franz Kafka and my own "metamorphosis" as I discovered his Kafkaesque world.

Getting Older with Peter Pan - Episode 19

We start off Season 2 with a journey to the Never Land - the dangerous yet dazzling world of Peter Pan, where even grownups can learn a thing or two.

Links / Further Reading:
J. M. Barrie's "Atrocious" Cricket Club
"The Adventure of the Two Collaborators"
"Perceptions of Childhood" - Reynolds, The British Library
"Wendy" song - Peter Pan Live!
Opening quote read by Will Ching (LibriVox)

End of Season 1 - Taking a Short Break

Hi all!  This is just a note to announce I am wrapping up Season 1 of Classics Considered and taking a little break.

Over three months, our auditory "voyage" has spanned a variety of topics, from dystopia to historical fiction and from reviews to not-so-rhetorical questions.  Thanks to all who have been listening along the way!  I've enjoyed sharing books I like and some I didn't, and it's been lots of good fun, technical difficulties included.

In April, I plan to release one or two special episodes, so please stay tuned for that.  Otherwise, watch for Season 2 the first Monday in May, which will hopefully - like every good TV series - exceed Season 1 in quality and entertainment educational value.

Рыбаки на берегу моря Айвазовский

What Is a Classic? - Kazuo Ishiguro's A Pale View of Hills - Episode 18

"Classic" - this word holds so much weight, yet what does it really mean?  Today we discover Kazuo Ishiguro's novel A Pale View of Hills and examine the different facets of what makes a classic book.

Sources / Further Reading:
"The Definition of a Classic in Literature" by Esther Lombardi
"In Literature, What Makes a Classic?" (NPR)
Kazuo Ishiguro and Malcolm Bradbury, in conversation (Interview, plus discussion of A Pale View of Hills)
"Kazuo Ishiguro becomes Nagasaki honorary resident" (NHK)
The Buried Giant - My thoughts

Reading Classics on a Budget - Episode 16

My goodness, I repeated myself quite a bit in this one...  Well, I got very excited about this week's topic - buying books (and saving money)!

Links Mentioned / Resources:

Budget Paperbacks:
Wordsworth Classics - also on Amazon
Dover Thrift Editions
Barnes and Noble Classics - also on Amazon

Free Ebooks:
The Literature Network
Project Gutenberg
Lithium - EPUB reader - Forgot to mention this in the episode, but I've just recently started using this app for Gutenberg .epub books on my Android tablet.  It has note-taking, highlighting, and bookmarking features like a dedicated e-reader, which really brings Gutenberg .epubs to a whole new level!
OverDrive
Internet Archive
Wikisource

Free Audiobooks:
Basil Rathbone reads "The City in the Sea" by Edgar Allan Poe 
LibriVox 

Liberty: Ayn Rand vs. Truman Capote - Episode 15

Two runaways, two worlds, and the pursuit of freedom.  This week's episode covers Anthem and Breakfast at Tiffany's, two American classics with surprising similarities.

Sources / Further Reading:
Biography of Ayn Rand (Gale)
Biography of Ayn Rand (Encyclopedia Britannica)
Biography of Truman Capote (Encyclopedia Britannica)
"The Legendary Friendship of Harper Lee and Truman Capote"
About Truman Capote (PBS)

Embers - A Hungarian Classic - Episode 14

Our journey leads us to a castle in Hungary and Sándor Márai's short but stirring novel, Embers. History takes center stage in the life of the old General, who wakes up one day to take revenge on the man that haunted him for forty-one years.

Sources / Further Reading:
Biography of Sándor Márai (San Diego House of Hungary)
Biography of Sándor Márai (Random House)
Biography of Sándor Márai (Wikipedia)

Classic Literature at the Movies - Episode 13

Great books can make great movies (and, in some cases, better ones).  This week's topic features some of my favorite costume dramas inspired by classics.

Editor's note: In my excitement and haste, it seems I mispronounced Wodehouse's name and called videos VCRs... whoops!  (Oh, and The Young Victoria was 2009, not 2012.  Time does fly.)

The Questions:
  1. First literary drama miniseries you ever watched?
  2. Last literary drama you watched?
  3. What media forms do you prefer to use when watching period dramas (i.e. purchased DVDs, rented/borrowed DVDs, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu)?
  4. Favorite literary drama soundtrack(s)?
  5. Favorite literary musical?
  6. Literary drama you'd recommend to anyone?
  7. If you could have a new adaptation of your favorite classic book, what would it be and who would star?
  8. A favorite pair of literary drama friends?
  9. A favorite pair of literary drama enemies?
  10. Movies or miniseries with the best costumes?
Where I found the questions:
Old-Fashioned Charm (1, 2, 3)
The Madd Rose (questions also from Old-Fashioned Charm's Period Drama Challenge)
Formidable Courage

Six Classics That Deserve More Love - Episode 12

Looking for your next great read?  This episode features six little-known classics and why I feel they should be famous.

She...Who Must Be Obeyed! - Episode 11

An ancient family heirloom - and a mother's call for vengeance - sends young Leo Vincey and his adoptive father on a quest to find a mysterious sorceress, Ayesha, or She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed.  In this episode, I review H. Rider Haggard's She, a novel which influenced the fantasy of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.

Sources / Further Reading:
How to Pronounce Ayesha? (Sci-Fi StackExchange discussion)
Biography of H. Rider Haggard
"The Annexation of the Transvaal" (The Spectator archives) - Haggard directly participated in this political event.
"Fawcett's Deadly Idol"
Article on Percy Fawcett's disappearance (The History Channel)
The Lost City of Z, by David Grann - My parents read and were fascinated by this nonfictional story of Percy Fawcett and his obsession with lost cities.  We also watched the movie by the same name, but it wasn't very well done... skip it and go straight to the book!

The Reviewer's Dilemma - How I Rate Books - Episode 9

Our voyage takes a detour through that hardest of decisions: how to rate a novel.  I share my four personal guidelines for rating classics and show some examples of how this works in practice.

C. S. Lewis in Outer Space, Part 2 - Episode 8

We wrap up the Space Trilogy with That Hideous Strength, Lewis's dystopian thriller which takes place on our very own planet Earth.