Episode 12: "A Defence of Penny Dreadfuls" by G. K. Chesterton


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On The Literary Life podcast today, Angelina Stanford and Cindy Rollins discuss G. K. Chesterton’s essay “A Defence of Penny Dreadfuls.” Before diving in to today’s episode, don’t forget to register for the amazing Back to School online conference coming up on August 26-29, 2019!

Angelina opens with a brief history of the Victorian era and the more prevalent availability of the novel to the masses. She also gives several examples of the “penny dreadful.” Cindy and Angelina discuss why they agree with Chesterton that people need these simple, even formulaic stories. They remind us that childhood is a time for good books, not a time to worry about reading all the “Great Books.”

Another topic that Cindy and Angelina chat about is the importance of developing imagination. They talk about the truth that fiction and story-telling are necessary parts of human culture. Cindy highlights the importance of the heroic adventure stories for boys. Angelina brings out the point that the elite critic is out of touch with the masses who long for stories of good winning over evil. The penny dreadful should not be judged as art, since that was never what it was intended to be.

Summer of the Short Story:

Ep 13: “The Garden Party” by Katherine Mansfield

Ep 14: “Adventures of a Shilling” by Joseph Addison

Ep 15: “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant

Ep 16: “Why I Write” by George Orwell

Ep 17: “The Celestial Omnibus” by E. M. Forster

Ep 18: “Vulture on War” by Samuel Johnson

Bavarian Gentians

by D. H. Lawrence

Not every man has gentians in his house in Soft September, at slow, Sad Michaelmas.

Bavarian gentians, big and dark, only dark darkening the daytime torchlike with the smoking blueness of Pluto’s gloom, ribbed and torchlike, with their blaze of darkness spread blue down flattening into points, flattened under the sweep of white day torch-flower of the blue-smoking darkness, Pluto’s dark-blue daze, black lamps from the halls of Dis, burning dark blue, giving off darkness, blue darkness, as Demeter’s pale lamps give off light, lead me then, lead me the way.

Reach me a gentian, give me a torch let me guide myself with the blue, forked torch of this flower down the darker and darker stairs, where blue is darkened on blueness. even where Persephone goes, just now, from the frosted September to the sightless realm where darkness was awake upon the dark and Persephone herself is but a voice or a darkness invisible enfolded in the deeper dark of the arms Plutonic, and pierced with the passion of dense gloom, among the splendor of torches of darkness, shedding darkness on the lost bride and groom.

Book List:

Towards a Philosophy of Education by Charlotte Mason

War and Peace by Leo Tolsto

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

An Experiment in Criticism by C. S. Lewis

G. A. Henty books

Dave Dawson War Adventure Series

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Connect with Us:

Find Angelina at https://angelinastanford.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ANGStanford/

Find Cindy at https://cindyrollins.net and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/cindyrollins.net/

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27 episodes