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Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

Title: ENGL 205: World Literature I

Author: Dr. Rick Albright

This in another recommendation based on my obsessive review routine for the exams. This is a comprehensive, clear and absolutely wonderful podcast about, as the title states, world literature. However, I only listened to the 4 episodes about “Sir Gawain and The Green Knight” and this is the part I’d like to recommend. I can honestly say it contains everything I might need to know about the work and I love it. Perhaps it is not the most exciting podcast I have ever listened to, but it is full of information and this is precisely what I’ve been looking for. Everything is clearly outlined and analyzed.

I know this post is shorter than usual but there is nothing more to add – the podcast is perfect the way it is and I’m not going to spoil it by trying to write about “Sir Gawain” in my own words. So, go listen and especially to my university friends: enjoy!

P.S. – I’m sorry, but I’ve only been able to find the link to iTunes.

 

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Title: BC: Andrew Motion

Series: Bookclub

Provider: BBC 4

I am very sorry about the huge break in writing. As an apology I am going to recommend a truly remarkable podcast this time – an episode of what is, without a doubt, a great series by BBC Radio 4. I truly adore poetry, but only the right kind (what exactly is the right kind you have to decide for yourself – I’m talking about my tastes). I came upon the poetry of Andrew Motion is high school and was instantly enthralled. He held the position of poet laureate, but I find that I prefer his personal poems. They are deeply emotional, personal and yet touch upon universal truths and touch my heart, as corny as that sounds.

His first selling point for me was his voice – I found some of his poems at the poetry archive (which is, as I later found out, his brilliant creation) and there were recordings accompanying them. By the author himself in his deep, soothing voice. I love listening (as I’ve said many times before) and so when someone has a nice voice I must admit I can listen to them (ok, mostly him – I prefer male voices) for a very long time, no matter what they are talking about. Fortunately this particular podcast is full of meaning.

The poet talks about his art, about laureateship, and shares his passion for poetry. As I’ve said before I like listening to people who are passionate about their subject and he definitely is. I rarely listen to a podcast more than once, but here I made an exception. A poet that I greatly admire, talking about his art and passion in a deep voice, slowly as if contemplating each and every word… It does not get much better than that.

Even if you have not listened to any of the podcasts I recommended so far (and I know that from the stats telling me that there were only a couple of clicks on the links I provided) please, please listen to this one.

If this cannot convince you to start listening, I don’t know what can (unless you are a very exuberant person expecting excitement and action – then go listen to Stuff You Should Know). But really, this is THE podcast for me.

So go listen to the podcast, or visit the poetry archive and listen to a poem of his first.

by Izabela

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Title: I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere
Speakers: Scott Monty and Burt Wolder

This time, I would like to recommend to you the series of podcasts which are provided on the blog “I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere”. The site is hosted by the true admirers of the most famous detective in the world. As I am very interested in the stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in general and as Izabela and I are preparing a presentation about Holmes at the moment, I was looking for some useful materials on the Internet. I came across that blog and I am simply overwhelmed by the amount of work which was done by the authors to provide us with the opportunity to learn more about our favourite literary character. 😉
The blog has started in 2007 and it is still being continued. There are 50 different episodes published – each of them consists of one podcast. And I have to underline that these are not short extracts which last only 15 minutes – every podcast from “I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere” is at least 30 minutes long; what is more, some of them last even an hour or consist of two parts.

So far, I have listened to three of them – “Sherlockian 101” (episodes 4 and 5) and “On Conan Doyle” (episode 38). These podcasts are obviously very pleasant to listen to. To me, they really sound like a casual conversation between close friends who are fascinated by Sherlock Holmes. For those of you who have not been aquainted with Sherlock yet (are there any such people?), I strongly recommend listening to episodes 4 and 5, mentioned above. The authors explain there the phenomenon of Sherlock Holmes, advise where we should start our adventure with him and show how popular he is throughout the world. For me, it was very interesting to find out how many different societies and organisations devoted to Sherlock Holmes are there in the world and how do they function or how can we get into them.

In the episode 4 there is also one extremely wonderful thing – the authors provide us with the list of the Conan Doyle’s favourite Holmes stories. Maybe it would be nice to start our journey with Sherlock or refresh our acquaintance with him from those stories, wouldn’t it?

by Alicja

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Title: James Joyce. From Ulysses, Lestrygonians.

Speaker: Professor John Bishop

Provider: UC Berkeley

On my final exam from a course on “Ulysses” my first question was whether I would recommend this book to someone else. Well, I would. With caution. It is truly a masterpiece, but one difficult to understand. I must admit that once I grew so frustrated with the book that I hurled it across the room (and this is not a norm for me, far from it). After finishing the novel I can honestly say that everyone should read it. It is very complex – there are many references within the book, recurring themes. Sometimes a veiled reference comes before the explanation itself. Joyce did not particularly bother with the reader’s comfort. However, having said all that, “Ulysses” is a masterpiece. The many narration techniques show the story from different angles. The first time reading you will be frustrated beyond belief and sometimes lost. I was lucky enough to be reading it under the guidance of prof. Oramus, who made the process easier on our class, telling us what to look for in the text and explaining references. So, the second, (and third, and fourth – you won’t resist) time you read the book you will come to appreciate it more and more.

The podcast is a little like this. It focuses on a part from the middle of the book – “Lestrygonians”. It is a good representation of what you might expect from “Ulysses”. It is seemingly chaotic, branching into many digressions. And yet it has an inner structure, making it a pleasant listening material. I have just one warning – the episode selected is focused on food – so don’t listen on an empty stomach. There is not much more I can say – I’m afraid nothing can prepare you for Joyce.

As always, listen, enjoy and please comment. Pretty please?

by Izabela

P.S. I’m sorry that the link provided is on iTunes – I know not everyone uses this program, but I can’t find anything else.

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Title: Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Faulkner

Speaker: Professor Wai Chee Dimock

Provider: Yale University

A little something for American majors in our Institute and for everyone who likes American literature. I admit, that I mostly read books by British authors (and Russian curiously – if you have not read “Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov yet, go and read) but it does not stop me from being in love with Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”. It was this novel that drew me to the podcast – I enjoyed the book, I enjoyed the movie (who doesn’t like Robert Redford), but I wanted to know more – to understand more. I guess this curiosity is one of the main reasons why I decided to study English Philology.

Hence this podcast. To be honest I did not listen to many tracks – only those that interest me – about “The Great Gatsby”, and Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying”. Both were enjoyable and informative – I wouldn’t be recommending it otherwise. However there are certain drawbacks. The content of the lectures is brilliant but there is no performance in them – they are pure knowledge. With some podcasts you can allow your mind to drift but this is not the case. I couldn’t listen  while cooking or tidying – it was just to distracting. I had to sit down and focus. With that said there is plenty of interesting information – for example I’ve never thought about technology as being a big part of “The Great Gatsby”. In the lecture I found out, that it in fact is – an enormous part of the story. The huge advantage of this course is that you can download the materials – and as I wrote in one of my previous posts – it is sometimes difficult to follow the lecture when the professor says something like “and now please look at your handouts”. In this case this is not an issue – you have all the materials.

All in all, I did enjoy the podcast – and I did listen to the lectures about the books I’ve read. I plan to listen to other tracks, once I manage to find time to read the books. So, as always, go listen and then tell me your thoughts. I’d be especially interested if someone listened to the parts i did not – for instance about Hemingway. And… Anyone?

by Izabela

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Title: Shakespeare’s Restless World

Provider: BBC Radio 4

Have you ever read a book and thought that, somehow, not everything is clear to you? I’ve felt that way whenever reading Shakespeare – and I’m not talking about the language itself, mind you. I mean I did not understand all the implications of the text that would have been obvious in Elizabethan England. This podcasts helps you with that. It is made around objects relevant to the period – things of everyday use. Through them many interesting questions about the Shakespearean world are answered: Do the same things shocked people back then that shock us now, like for example torture? How was the question of Queen Elisabeth’s heir raised in the plays? What kind of people went to the theatre and how did that affect the writing of the plays?, and many, many others. It really is splendid (I use superlatives so much that I finally have the opportunity to use the exercise from my high school – the persistent questions of my English teacher – name as many superlatives as you can). It is useful for me in my studies as well – I’m currently taking a course in Shakespeare and it is much easier to read the plays now – especially “The Taming of The Shrew”. As I wrote in a previous post, I’m a feminist so seeing a women being subdued is difficult for me (If you don’t know what I’m talking about – go read the play). Now it is a bit easier – I found out from the podcasts that there were other plays about ‘training’ women that were much more cruel – to the point of physical abuse. In that sense Shakespeare’s version can be seen as kind.

The podcast is truly delightful (see – another superlative) – and I’m going to listen to the broader version – “A History of The World in 100 Objects”, so wait for my review of that too. And, by the way, I found this podcast thanks to a recommendation – the broader one, I mean. I felt like listening to something about Shakespeare this week, but fear not I shall write about the other one – see? I do listen to recommendations, so keep them coming :-).

by Izabela

P.S. Best wishes and many thanks to YETI

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Time to meet Bill Bryson

Title: Anglofile

Author: Bill Bryson

Something a little different this time – not a series of podcasts, but articles. A treat for everyone with an appreciation for subtle humour. Bill Bryson is an author every self-respecting fan of Anglo-Saxon culture should know. And imagine my delight to find his 10 essays in the Internet. Each and everyone is witty and extremely entertaining, not to mention interesting.

My particular favourite is “In Praise of English Food”. In the article Bill Bryson explains the wonders of English cuisine and his love for it. He explains that most of it requires getting used to, and some can never appeal to foreigners and even some Britons. But having said that he continues on to explain reason for its unpopularity like the strange names or the aversion to it by Britons themselves. Then he refers to his personal experience with British cooking and his first contact with it a buffet in Victoria Station, London which he has nightmares about to this day. He ends with numbers from his 1991 “Michelin Guide”, which featured only 7 restaurants with English cuisine in London of the total 224 listed. This illustrates the extreme unpopularity of British cuisine, which as the author claims, apart from few examples, is superb.

All in all, a great series of articles, which have only one drawback – they pose a serious threat of making you spend a lot of money. The articles themselves are free, but once you read them you’re going to crave more – and Bill Bryson wrote quite a few books. I’ve read several and I’m itching to get my hands on more. So when you read the articles you will probably want to buy his books. And no, I’m not paid for doing this promotion – because it can sound like one. I just genuinely love Bryson’s writing style.

So go read and then please come back and let me know if you enjoyed the articles. Or perhaps you could send me some suggestions on what I should write about next. And I know I’m repeating myself here, but… Anyone?

by Izabela

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