class issues

Little Women

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Happy New Year! We’re back with a classic in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, a book that many would call a quintessential American girl’s tale. Do we agree with this assessment? You’ll find out if you listen to this episode. You’ll also discover what we think about feminism in historical context, question certain self-improvements, agree with the narrator’s opinion on spinsters, and discuss the lack of passion in this story. We also talk about ladies who don’t like ladies, the creation of shipping, obnoxious children, and (perhaps oddly) lobsters.

The music bump is Chopin’s Mazurka in A minor, op. 17 due to period appropriateness. Feel free to imagine Beth playing it in heaven if that makes you feel better about it.

109 – Little Women – Marmee is the Worst

Our recommendation: Short version is that it doesn’t really hold up that well.

Ben: 5/10. Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. I liked that there were a lot of things to discuss, as there usually are with classics.

Gabs: 5/10. 6/10 for part 1, 4/10 for part 2.

Quick administrative note: We’re hoping to post more often this year, though of course we guarantee nothing. As part of this “do more stuff” plan, we would like to be a little more responsive to our listeners. Please leave some requests/recommendations/suggestions for books for future episodes either in the comments for this episode or on our suggestions page.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

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It’s been a while since we’ve read a classic, so this week, Novel Ideas brings you The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. This is a book known for featuring a portrait that ages while the man in the portrait remains young. Well, about that… it’s not exactly the most significant part of the story. Join us as we talk about that and other things, such as Victorian censorship, homoeroticism, class issues, and social satire. We also discuss the history of nuts, indirect murder, our take on State Farm ads, and professional trolls. On a side note, there are a couple minutes of this episode where the sound is a little washed out because I had to use the noise removal tool. It’s definitely noticeable, but far less distracting than the alternative.

The music bump this week is from Richard Wagner’s “Tannhauser Overture,” one of the several Wagner operas referenced in the book.

The Picture of Dorian Gray – That is Wilde!

Recommendations:

Gabs: 6/10. Read The Importance of Being Earnest if you really want the Oscar Wilde experience.

Ben: 5/10. I want to like it, but there’s a little too much boredom between bouts of wit.

Maurice

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Novel Ideas caps off LGBT Month with a book that is actually about a gay relationship, Maurice by E.M. Forster. This very interesting book was written in 1913, but not published until 1971. Forster was unable to find a publisher during his lifetime because the subject matter, a love story between men with (gasp!) a happy ending was considered too risky by most publishers. It definitely reads as something ahead of its time, as many of the attitudes and opinions are right in line with those of 2013. We discuss that, as well as the importance of love, the unimportance of orthodoxy, and what “natural” really means. We also examine excellent turns of phrase, behaviors that strike us as very gay, and the adorable future of Maurice and his lover.

The music bump is from the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, commonly referred to as the “Pathetique” symphony. Light research reveals that this is translated from a Russian word for passion, rather than something deserving pity.