65 Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (with Professor James Chandler)

By any measure, Mary Shelley (1797-1851) lived a radical life. As the daughter of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, two philosophers devoted to principles of freedom and equality, she grew up in a tumultuous world of exciting new ideas and strong advocacy for social change. After she and the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley eloped at a young age, they spent a rainy summer with Lord Byron and two other friends in a cottage in Geneva, Switzerland, where they passed the time by inventing ghost stories. And it was in that cottage that what is probably the most famous Halloween story of all time, Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818), was brought to life.

What ideas shaped this famous story of a scientist who successfully animates a corpse before ruing the consequences? What does the novel have to say about the importance of human relationships in our society? And how does the novel connect to Frank Capra’s Christmas film, It’s a Wonderful Life?  In this special Halloween episode, we’ll talk to Professor James Chandler of the University of Chicago, author of An Archaeology of Sympathy: The Sentimental Mode in Literature and Cinema, about the fascinating world of Mary Shelley, her novel Frankenstein, and the films they inspired.

Works Discussed:

An Archaeology of Sympathy: The Sentimental Mode in Literature and Cinema, by James Chandler 

Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens 

Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley 

Show Notes: 

We have a special episode coming up – listener feedback! Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/historyofliterature.

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

“Supernatural Radio A” and “Greta Sting” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

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32 The Best Debut Novels of All Time (A Conversation with the President of the Literature Supporters’ Club)

What makes a great first novel? Which do we prefer: the freshness of a new style (even if it contains mistakes), or the demonstration of competence (even if it breaks no new ground)? Does it matter if the book is the best (or only) novel by that author? Or do we prefer the debuts that initiated a long, distinguished career? Join host Jacke Wilson for a conversation with his friend, the President of the Literature Supporters’ Club, on the best debut novels in the history of literature.

Books Discussed:

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Broom of the System: A Novel by David Foster Wallace

Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

The Trial by Franz Kafka

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Wise Blood: A Novel by Flannery O’Connor

Don Quixote by Cervantes

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Dangling Man by Saul Bellow

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Soldiers’ Pay by William Faulkner

White Teeth: A Novel by Zadie Smith

Brick Lane: A Novel by Monica Ali

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Speedboat by Renata Adler

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Roderick Hudson by Henry James

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

Adam Bede by George Eliot

Childhood by Leo Tolstoy

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

“Sweeter Vermouth” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

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