Reading, Short And Deep #055
Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Désirée’s Baby by Kate Chopin
Here’s a link to a PDF of the poem.
Désirée’s Baby was first published in Vogue, January 14, 1893.
Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss
Posted by Scott D. Danielson
The SFFaudio Podcast #374 – Jesse and Bryan Alexander talk about Moby Dick by Herman Melville.
Talked about on today’s show:
reading Moby Dick to the air, Moby Dick inspiring heavy metal, terror or dismissal, when Bryan was a student, Madness, Meaninglessness, and Deviant Sexuality, drop this class now, paragraph long themes, being driven insane by writing about Moby Dick, when Bryan was a young professor, if you can teach that you’re one of us, how to proceed, becoming a Moby Dick fanatic, going to sea, revisiting the sea, a book about everything, a most excellent LibriVox narration, re-reads, one of the things really good writers do, The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick, “this object” -> “book”, a message about how this book is, besmoked and deface, shades and shadows, delineating chaos bewitched, a long and limber black mass, unimaginable sublimity, a blasted heath, a hyperborean winter scene, that one portentous something, a cape-horner in a great hurricane, every sentence is beautiful, a reader’s guide, a stack of copies, this is a comedy book, the etymology, the extracts supplied by a sub-sub librarian, the extracts are freaking random, something unpublished, he did a google search for “whale”, a complete flop, what the hell is it?, Typee, a giant whaling story, reading Nathaniel Hawthorne lit his brain on fire, SYMBOLISM!, Pierre Or the Ambiguities, The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade, “Herman Melville, Insane?”, everything you hear about it gives you no hint, this novel cannot be adapted, Ray Bradbury’s adaptations, Gregory Peck, a lot like Joseph Conrad, Melville is more terrifying than Conrad, hilarious like Edgar Allan Poe, a tragedy, a disaster, the first line of the book is a lie, gut churning fear, the sharks devouring everything, a terrifying book, the science fiction aspect, the fantasy aspect, when Pip is drowned he goes to the bottom of the sea, the infinite of his soul, the unwarped primal world, the miser merman: wisdom, god’s foot on the treadle of the loom, man’s insanity is heaven’s sense, in different as is god, like a Clark Ashton Smith passage, “anyone seen pip?”, coral insects that made the stars and the planets, every chapter veers sideways, visionary and inspired, mastheads, very strange, the last chapter, what does he mean by that?, our hero disappears, the yawning gulf, the great shroud of the sea, why 5,000 years ago, the sounds of the words, interweaving the whole coffin theme, my keeled soul, one tiny metaphor, a missing Shakespeare play, theatrical, musical, through recorded history, a vast inhuman nature swirling all-round, The Narrative Of A. Gordon Pym of Nantucket, it’s death, meet it fighting, are we gonna bring each other down in the attempt to fight death, yes, we are, the Pequod is like the Enterprise on the original Star Trek, C.L.R. James, Marxist theory, Mariners And Castaways, an anti-racist book, massively cosmopolitan, a slave ship that revolts, Benito Cereno by Herman Melville, slavers as props, the exhumed skeleton of Christopher Columbus, “Follow Your Leader”, a great novel of friendship, the sperm squeezing scene, the gayest and queerest book ever written, burly men squeezing sperm with each other, thumping each other, the universal thump, the barking insane chapter, Loomings, sharing a bed with a harpooner, he’s off selling his head, I’m not going to be the wife, a head in one hand and an axe in the other, hilarious, as if I was Queequeg’s wife, his bridegroom clasp, a hatchet-faced baby, so shockingly obvious, a giant block of time in which homosexuality was taboo, suicide, I quietly take to the ship, astonishing, if this book came out this year, shelved in the gay fiction section, where Ahab the queer old guy, white bone leg, rallying the troops, the three harpooners with their harpoons out, sharp and heavily polished, this is super-gay, like Gothic knight of old, a fresh lance, the three boats, Tashtego is from Gay Head (Martha’s Vineyard), Antarctic in their glittering expressions, his lithe snaky limbs, the son of the prince of the powers of the air, now hes taking to sea, the Science Fiction part, global economy, forward looking, the new global enterprise, Daggoo with his lion-like tread, masculine men, a powerful image, this is the 19th century power industry, you never need to read another book about whales, powering every home, anointing an new king with sperm oil, it’s called sperm-oil because it looks like sperm, touching each other lovingly under the sperm, there’s a library to keep up with Moby Dick, homo-social, Starbuck’s skepticism, going back to the whale, the whale as female or male, a fool’s errand, [recording broken] so much trouble with a book, The Tempest is just too big, what kind of fool was I think I could do a Moby Dick show?, we being repeating ourselves, Thomas Mann, necrophilia, imagine writing a review, contemporary reviews, people were smarter back then, attacking a book from the outside in, Garth Ennis’ Preacher, a big epic story, Alan Moore’s Watchmen, foreigners coming in and telling the American story, Breaking Bad, the noir journey, a lot darker than Moby Dick, Ahab going to his grave, The Oblong Box by Edgar Allan Poe, the American Renaissance, one of the ships at the Spouter Inn is from The Narrative Of A. Gordon Pym Of Nantucket, the 19th century anxiety about being buried alive, a grave with a window, part of the American Gothic heritage, like the Nostromo in Alien, abandoned military fortresses, haunted house, nature Gothic, prairies Gothic, the psycho-geographical features, a castle in the middle of the South Pacific, a secret crew, like Rochester’s secret wife, The Fall Of The House Of Usher, Usher II by Ray Bradbury, our sacred horrors, the mighty walls rushing asunder, a tarn at my feet, reading quotes, Ahab’s soliloquies, reading quotes, he’s dying, more palmy than the palms, the Pequod is him, The Haunted Palace, Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, Khan’s obsession with Kirk, if Kirk was out there for revenge it would have been a very different show, The Balance Of Terror, a giant Berserker in space, The Doomsday Machine, Jesse Cuter is on a mission to kill God, Norman Spinrad, the whale lives on buried together in the sea, the greatest adventure writing of all time, action dialogue, the last soliloquy, he’s not afraid to make this book go all these places, so post-post modern, in uncharted territory, like Satan, Tashtego is the primordial American, claiming the doubloon, the head becomes his coffin, the ship, the hearse, the second hearse!, its wood could only be American, From The Earth To The Moon by Jules Verne, eternal malice, on their bull-like necks, sudden realization, slowly suddenly realizing, the hidden crew, The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad, Parsees, Persians, the foreign and the domestic, The Prophet, did you see those shadows going on to the ship?, a raucous ride from one kind of book to another kind of book, like a Gothic horror novel, with one survivor to tell the tale, burn it down, The Castle Of Otranto, so many things get brought into play, the sharks like are vultures following a battle, tiger yellow, words best omitted here, a little censorship, you live in a blessed evangelical land, anti-racist book, The Gold Bug, H.P. Lovecraft, death of beautiful women, Melville is in love with every colour of man, Saint Elmo’s fire turns the ship into candles, Ahab’s razors, the blue in Queequeg’s head, Tashtego’s shark white teeth which strangely gleamed, he’s powerful, holding the chain, blood against fire!, supernaturally tapped into the whale, he can smell the whale, in partial telepathic connection, forehead to forehead, changing from chapter to chapter, Thomas Pynchon, as Shakespearean as anybody has been, extreme states of being, we repeat ourselves, a bottle episode, Ozymandias, that is the devastation, a land epic, he’s in Lima (Peru), the strangest city, the white veil, a rigid pallor, two things that make Jesse sad, despair for humanity, when “net worth” is the autocomplete, despair despair!, ticket sales, desperate search answers for the pop-quiz, destroyed destroyed!, Bone is impossible to stop reading, running gags, trying to get people to read Moby Dick (and they fall asleep), petrified by his aspect, all your oaths are as binding as mine, the mark for thunderbolts, lightning power, the epithet for Captain Ahab is “old thunder”, this is not a book about the plot, we should never see Ishmael, seeing the world under the arm of Queequeg in his bed, it should never be adapted, cinematic to begin with, the storyteller is the frame, illustrated quotes, Fred Heimbaugh, Ahab is the Captain of the Black Freighter from Watchmen, an Alan Moore style book, the ebook for Jerusalem by Alan Moore, Jesse doesn’t read ebooks, traveling, a completely global book, a little map of the whaling ports of New England, the terrible old man in H.P. Lovecraft’s The Terrible Old man in Ishmael, the doubloons in The Dunwich Horror, did I review the book using the text of the book, no [actually, yes], accidentally on purpose, the same effect can be wrought, my illustration of the painting in the Spouter Inn, all the religion in the book, a member of the First Congregationalist Church, you are a preacher yourself, worshiping Wojo, all works turn to comment on themselves, when movies show up in the movies, Hitchcock movies, Tristram Shandy, the novel is doing this, sounding to bottom, Scarface, the American story, the American dream, The Sopranos, The Hunt, dark water is mystery, Gothic 101, the birds, the birds!, he profoundly saw, the undiscoveredable bottom, an open door marbled tomb, a tomb hunting for you, we never see it from the whale’s point of view, the whale as a force of nature, the honours heaped upon warriors (and those not heaped upon whalers), we fight battles no lesser men could ever fight, man against nature, man against himself, the candles, oh thou omnipotent, oh thou foundling fire, leap up and lick the sky, I worship thee, I glory in my genealogy, he’s killing his father, he despairs at his life at sea, 40 years at sea, best go out in a blaze, repeating the description of the Spouter Inn’s be-smoked oil painting, a church that is also a ship, unaccountable masses of shades and shadows, a nameless yeast, what does the marvelous novel mean?, you’re being harpooned, Macbeth, Bryan Alexander (for example), an exasperated whale, the ship is the bread, the sea is the wine, the white whale as the lamb of god, Orson Welles, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, Eric S. Rabkin’s idea of Fantasy, was it bitten off below the knee or above?, maybe it’s only his own ivory there, nobody has written a prequel, Peter Watts’ The Things, a funny thing about The Thing From Another World, John W. Campbell ripping off H.P. Lovecraft, the prequel sequel remake of The Thing was pretty damn good, watching cartoons, In The Walls Of Eryx, At The Mountains Of Madness, condensed Olaf Stapledon, The Shadow Out Of Time, astronomy, tone and effect, psychological science, The Pit And The Pendulum, Arthur Machen, World War I, the Angels of Mons
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #298 – Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, read by Elizabeth Klett.
This UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK (6 hours 55 minutes) comes to us courtesy of LibriVox.org. Jane Austen was first published in 1817.
The next SFFaudio Podcast will feature our discussion of it!
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
1901, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s knighthood, fairies, the Boer War, war, Sir Henry Baskerville is a Baronet, the importance of being present in the community, stone age poverty, Goodreads, The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, the mysterious silhouetted man on the moor, Agatha Christie, a locked moor mystery, the English country house mystery, The Adventure Of The Devil’s Foot, whist, the Joker did it, Cornwall, Devon, Professor Moriarty, a mystery series vs. a character series, detective fiction, “he’s Mr. Spock, essentially”, Watson is a good detective, Laura Lyons, Watson’s suspicions, the Clive Merrison/Basil Rathbone version, the bumblers ruin it, the walking stick deductions, Sherlock Holmes is making jokes, the Derek Jacobi narration, “I can feel the foil”, Dr. Mortimer (mort), Barrymore (buries more bodies), Franklin the telescopist is very frank, Lafter House, Mrs. Laura Lyons is always lying, Merripit House, Professor Challenger books, The Lost World, The Poison Belt, The White Company, LibriVox, the Crusades, inventing the mystery genre, Watson’s humour, scientific pre-occupations, astronomy, entomology, phrenology, atavism, atavistic guilt, the theme of the book, the stone age people, Seldon the Notting Hill murderer, nature vs. nurture, super-awesome writing, the Gothic tropes, ancestral curses, The Rats In The Walls by H.P. Lovecraft, The Sussex Vampire, it’s a Scooby Doo plot, Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe, Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, why is this the best Sherlock Holmes story?, the most adapted movie, Tom Baker’s Hound Of The Baskervilles (1982), the Hammer movie (1959), Jeremy Brett, Peter Cushing, the new Sherlock adaptation (?), the title a hound from hell, The White Wolf (aka The Wolf) by Guy de Maupassant, “he throws it over his salad”, “gently”, the Wild Hunt, Deities & Demigods, Odin or Wotan, the origins of Santa Claus, Herne the Hunter, Wayland, the yeth hounds and the wish hounds, “hell-hound chowder”, The Woodcutter by Kate Danley, La Chasse-Galerie (aka “The Bewitched Canoe” aka “The Flying Canoe”) by Honoré Beaugrand, the document, a warning story, what season is the story set?, Charles Baskerville died in the Spring, those cheap Canadian imports were ruining England, the butterfly, cyclopides, the booming of the bittern, Leslie S. Klinger, The Baker Street Irregulars, learning the Klingon, the love story, Beryl (Garcia) Stapleton, a true love, the convict, a rich text, “ah my dear, you’re so beautiful in the moorlight”, American Hustle, Julie needs the romance to be true, did Stapleton actually die?, Baskerville nearly dies, the poor curly haired spaniel!, the two moor ponies, Stapleton’s ego, the London adventure, “there’s something very tropical about her”, the red herrings, they’re all weridos on the moor, the convict’s clothing, Holmes’ remorse, phosphorous would burn the dog to death, radium condoms, radium toothpaste, the Stapleton’s school, a consumptive tutor, “The Case Of The Vatican Cameos“, the Father Brown stories, The Aluminum Crutch, The Case Of The Cardboard Box?, Bee-keeping.
Posted by Jesse Willis
This audiobook, 7 hours 15 minutes, is complete and unabridged.
Victor Frankenstein, born into a wealthy Genevese family, is a student of science at the University Ingolstadt. There, studying the decay of once living beings, he gains an insight into the creation of life and conceives to fashion his own creation.
First published in 1818.
Posted by Seth Wilson
I’ve posted about Robert Louis Stevenson’s murderous classic, Markheim, before (the audiobook and another radio drama). But, I’ve just discovered a very good new adaptation (from 2006) available at RadioArchive.cc. The sound design is excellent, and its lengthy enough to bring out most of the nuance in the text.
Adapted from the story by Robert Louis Stevenson; Adapted by John Taylor; Performed by a full cast
MP3 via TORRENT – Approx. 45 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4
Broadcast: February 1, 2006
On Christmas Day 1886 with London shrouded in fog, a man shadows a girl across Blackfriars Bridge towards the back streets of Holborn. His name is Markheim and his intentions are unremittingly dark.
Directed by John Taylor
Tommy – Mark Straker
Markheim – Jack Klaff
Girl – Abigail Hollick
Visitor – Anton Rodgers
Crispin – Anthony Jackson
And for German listeners there’s THIS sexy sounding version produced as a part of a cool series called Gruselkabinett (which translates to “Chamber of Horrors”).
There is no finer model for the study of setting than this story affords. It is three o’clock in the afternoon of a foggy Christmas Day in London. If Markheim’s manner and the dimly lighted interior of the antique shop suggest murder, the garrulous clocks, the nodding shadows, and the reflecting mirrors seem almost to compel confession and surrender. “And still as he continued to fill his pockets, his mind accused him, with a sickening iteration, of the thousand faults of his design. He should have chosen a more quiet hour.” So he should for the murder; but for the self-confession; which is Stevenson’s ultimate design, no time or place could have been better.
There is little action in the plot. A man commits a dastardly murder and then, being alone and undetected, begins to think, think, think. It is the turning point in his life and he knows it. Instead of seizing the treasure and escaping, he submits his past career to a rigid scrutiny and review. This brooding over his past life and present outlook becomes so absorbing that what bade fair to be a soliloquy becomes a dialogue, a dialogue between the old self that committed the murder and the new self that begins to revolt at it. The old self bids him follow the line of least resistance and go on as he has begun; the newly awakened self bids him stop at once, check the momentum of other days, take this last chance, and be a man. His better nature wins. Markheim finds that though his deeds have been uniformly evil, he can still “conceive great deeds, renunciations, martyrdoms.” Though the active love of good seems too weak to be reckoned as an asset, he still has a “hatred of evil”; and on this twin foundation, ability to think great thoughts and to hate evil deeds, he builds at last his culminating resolve.
The story is powerfully and yet subtly told. It sweeps the whole gamut of the moral law. Many stories develop the same theme but none just like this. Stevenson himself is drawn again to the same problem a little later in “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Hawthorne tried it in “Howe’s Masquerade,” in which the cloaked figure is the phantom or reduplication of Howe himself. In Poe’s “William Wilson,” to which Stevenson is plainly indebted, the evil nature triumphs over the good. But “Markheim,” by touching more chords and by sounding lower depths, makes the triumph at the end seem like a permanent victory for universal human nature.
If the story is the study of a given situation, Markheim, who is another type of the developing character, is the central factor in the situation. We see and interpret the situation only through the personality of Markheim himself. Another murderer might have acted differently, even with those clamorous clocks and accusing mirrors around him, but not this murderer. There is nothing abnormal about him, however, as a criminal. He is thirty-six years old and through sheer weakness has gone steadily downward, but he has never before done a deed approaching this in horror or in the power of sudden self revelation. He sees himself now as he never saw himself before and begins to take stock of his moral assets. They are pitifully meager, though his opportunities for character building have been good. He has even had emotional revivals, which did not, however, issue in good deeds. But with it all, Markheim illustrates the nobility of human nature rather than its essential depravity. I do not doubt his complete and permanent conversion. When the terrible last question is put to him – or when he puts it to himself – whether he is better now in anyone particular than he was, and when he is forced to say, “No, in none! I have gone down in all,” the moral resources of human nature itself seem to be exhausted. But they are not. “I see clearly what remains for me,” said Markheim, “by way of duty.” This word, not used before, sounds a new challenge and marks the crisis of the story. Duty can fight without calling in reserves from the past and without the vision of victory in the future. I don’t wonder that the features of the visitant “softened with a tender triumph.” The visitant was neither “the devil” as Markheim first thought him nor “the Saviour of men” as a recent editor pronounces him. He is only Markheim’s old self, the self that entered the antique shop, that with fear and trembling committed the deed, and that now, half-conscious all the time of inherent falseness, urges the old arguments and tries to energize the old purposes. It is this visitant that every man meets and overthrows when he comes to himself, when he breaks sharply with the old life and enters resolutely upon the new.
Posted by Jesse Willis