Nov 6

The Sphinx and 1840’s politics

7 comments

Great podcast. About the political situation in the 1840’s there was in 1848 an outbreak almost simultaneously of revolutionwry reform of governments all over the place. The old monarchies were changed to the forms that held until World War One.

 

A history podcast I listen to covers this year in a whole series. It is called “Revolutions” it is done by Mike Duncan. Each series he covers a different revolution and in series 7 he covers 1848. It is about 20 some episodes each from 30 to 50 mins long about this year. I’m not this far in his podcast yet, I’m on series 5 currently, but each episode is extremely well made and informative while being entertaining.

 

I’m sure Poe was current with the political tempest that was brewing at the time he wrote this story. It makes me even more interested to get to this series about the history.

I've heard a lot of great things about that podcast but have never checked it out -- I'll have to add it to my rotation. And I'd be really interested to see what the discourse about democracy was during the 1840s -- were Americans generally in favor of democratic revolutions in Europe or were they afraid of destabilizing geopolitics? If they were in favor of them, were they in favor of actively spreading democracy through direct involvement in foreign affairs? These are questions that have mattered a great deal to our contemporary politics (and my military service), but I have no idea how people felt about them in the 1840s.

 

It occurs to me, too, that because we're exclusively Anglophone, we're also exclusively democratic -- we haven't read any stories from a society without a democracy. It would be interesting to check out some stories coming out of nineteenth-century monarchies.

@Karanthir Yes, we did "The Visitors" by the Strugatsky Brothers as a Patreon episode earlier this year, and that was really quite excellent. That's a well we need to revisit. I suppose we should also read some Kafka at some point.

Right, I really need to read "The Visitors" and listen to that episode.

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  • What an odd story! As with a few before it, I didn't enjoy this one much when reading it, but the discussion in the episode really helped put a better perspective on it. In particular I really liked the framing of it as a plague story with the spectre of cholera hanging over everything (for some reason it hadn't occurred to me that the omen of death was an omen of them getting cholera), and the idea of it as a reaction to the science of the Enlightenment. Thanks also for making the weird political digression make sense! It completely boggled my mind what it had to do with anything else in the story. I'm still not completely convinced, but I guess it worked for Poe. Overall I thought this story had a lot of great set-up; the evocative description of the cholera epidemic and the tantalizing hints of the tomes in the library would make an excellent introduction to a different weird story. As it stands, though, the description of the beast and the revelation about it didn't do anything for me. Maybe that's a problem of perspective as a modern reader, which at least would fit with the theme of the story in a roundabout sort of way.
  • When I was young I didn't read much comics. In the Netherlands 'strips' (comics) were usually the well known comics from Belgium (Tintin, Spike and Suzy) or funny and/or dirty ones. I never really liked them. American comics here were and are expensive, so I didn't read them. But I had friends who did have some, and they gave me Sandman, after which I was a huge fan from this series and Neil Gaiman. I then read Alan Moore’s comics (Moore being Gaiman’s mentor) and loved his comics too, including Swamp Thing. But, as I said, comics are expensive here, and I stopped buying them (mainly Vertigo imprints) after my graduation, unfortunately (though I once got the first issues of Preacher). I liked the episode on the podcast, so I scribbled some of the titles on paper. Moore's Providence already was on my wishlist, but 'alas', they are out of sale here (and I don't have a credit card or the like, so I can't buy things from 'far away' directly). But I keep trying. I do have a copy of stories of Lovecraft, adapted into comics by the (over here well-known) artist Erik Kriek ( http://www.gutsmancomics.com/news/ ). Though I didn't read any other books by him, I think he likes weird tales (although he also likes to make parodies and to add the afore mentioned sexual dirtiness). Many of his comics are translated into several languages. His adaptation of Lovecraft ( http://www.gutsmancomics.com/works/comics/#44 ) earned a lot of praise.
  • I have to say, hearing Mr. Budda giggle his way through read some of that story is one of the best things I've ever encountered in a podcast. Hilarious. That's all!

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