The SFFaudio Podcast #311 – Ethan Brand by Nathaniel Hawthorne; read by Fred Heimbaugh. This is an unabridged recording of the story (44 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Julie, Seth, and Rose.
Talked about on today’s show:
The story as a “culminate chapter” to an unfinished novel; H.P. Lovecraft’s description of the story in his essay on supernatural fiction (see our Podcast of the Seven Gables); Ethan Brand as Byronic (anti)hero; Nyarlathotep by H.P. Lovecraft; the uncanny nature of laughter; Hawthorne’s Biblical allegory; “Puritans and sin, they go hand in hand”; Ethan Brand and Adam’s search for forbidden knowledge; the almost-total absence of women in the story; the vices of the townspeople in the story; Hawthorne’s regret of the Salem witch trials; parallels to House of the Seven Gables; Hawthorne’s sense of humor; similarities to Goethe’s Faust; the Jew and his picture box; how the Holocaust ruined our reading of literature; what exactly does Ethan Brand see in the picture box?; the biblical story of Job; the intersection of sin and evil; the sin of suicide–can it be absolved?; the ambiguity of the final laughter; morality vs. intellect; the multifaceted symbolism of the story’s final image; association with Cain and Abel; double meaning of the name Brand; the internal nature of Brand’s sin; the image of girls running off to join the circus is apparently timeless; The Heart of Ethan Brand 1944 radio drama by Weird Circle; is redemption possible?; relics, iconoclasm, and capitalism; fruitlessness of pursuing knowledge; the story’s roots in Hawthorne’s experience; staring into fire; the audio drama’s departure from evil; “Jesse does not eat babies–or even veal.”; using people as a means to an end; degrees of evil; the sin of pride; Paradise Lost; Rappaccini’s Daughter; the story’s measured tone; Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God; Dombey and Son; the dog chasing its tail; unconditional love; the alternate pronunciation of “kiln”; parallels in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray; contradictions in story’s final image; white as image of purity in Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince and other fairy tales; phantom limbs; more on The Happy Prince, The Selfish Giant, The Centerville Ghost by Oscar Wilde; the power of audiobooks; “hair-raising image of corruption”; Ethan Brand as a novel.
Posted by Jesse Willis