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The Belletrist Podcast w/ Dave Stephens
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The Belletrist Podcast w/ Dave Stephens

Author: Dave Stephens

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The Belletrist podcast features classic poetry and short fiction read with commentary from a former English prof. who hates the way contemporary universities have abandoned the reading of Literature in favor of grievance studies. Pieces range from ancient literature to mid-20th century. Belletrist: A term for one who loves Literature for its intrinsic and aesthetic properties. It is often used as a derogatory term within English studies.
8 Episodes
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In this episode we walk through one of the most heavily cited and plundered poems of all time. "The Second Coming" is an apocalyptic vision that vividly describes the chaos which accompanies the breakdown of human civilization. The poem is most often cited during times of war, or civil unrest. Countless novels and news articles have been titled after lines from this poem.Enjoy!Original Theme Music by Van Clifton
In this episode I read the unusual and haunting poem, "The Haystack in the Floods," by William Morris. This poem is a 19th Century work by a member of what was called "the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood." We discuss some of the interesting and culturally important elements of this movement, and how it translates in modern values such as the craftsmanship movement and Quentin Tarantino movies.Enjoy!Original Theme Music by Van Clifton
In this episode of the podcast I read the classic short story, "A Clean Well-Lighted Place" by Earnest Hemingway. We talk a bit about Hemingway's intensely interesting life, his mother's penchant for dressing him up as a little girl as a toddler, his suicide, and his life long obsession with exploring the concept of courage. I also read a poem of Philip Larkin's, "Aubade," in the way of contrast to Heminway's stance toward death. Enjoy.Original Theme Music by: Van Clifton
In this episode I read AE Housman's poem, "Terence This is Stupid Stuff," which explores the role of dark-themed poetry and literature. I do a selected close reading to explain a few of the lines that may be obscure to the modern ear. I also provide you with interesting and tragic details of Housman's life and unrequited love. Finally, I discuss the ways in which poetry and literature can help armor your soul for tragedy, and obtain "Asch-Milgram Negative" resilience. I hope you enjoy it.Original theme music by Van CliftonEdit: Do you know the real problem with reading? It is this: One can read an author for decades. One can read analysis of their work from others. One can write papers on the author's work. You can do all of this. Yet one can still learn, to one's shrinking and cringing horror,  that you have been mis-pronouncing their silly, lacking-an-E-where-it-should-be, name in your brain for all this time! HOUSE-MAN. Not HOOS-MAN. Sigh. Every time you think you're Yoda, you fall face-first into the swamp and realize you're still Luke with a sunken X-Wing fighter that someday needs to be lifted. This will happen again. I'm sure of it. 
In this episode I read Wilfred Owen's gut-wrenching poem, "Dolce Et Decorum Est," which he wrote to describe his experiences in the trenches of World War One. We discuss the way in which war poetry contrasted with official government propaganda and began to kindle public awareness of the horror of modern warfare. This is not the easiest poem to get through, but it's worth having in your brain.Original Music by Van Clifton
In this episode I read Steinbeck's very short story, "Breakfast," from his collection The Long Valley. We discuss the importance of imagery, or sensory descriptions, in vividly imagined fiction and how the subconscious brain cannot distinguish between vividly imagined events and reality. I also read an example of 20th century Marxist literary theory to demonstrate the anemia of such "analysis" when it comes to elucidating the actual worth of Literature (with an unapologetic capital 'L'). I hope you enjoy it.Original Music by Van Clifton
In this episode I read Larkin's most beloved poem, "Church Going." We talk a bit about how Larkin's rather pathetic, pervy character shouldn't diminish the importance or relevance of his work. We then work through this multi-layered piece to explore, at least partially, the theme, which is how the sacred, or numinous, is still a vital need for even those who have no belief in religion.Enjoy.Original Theme Music by: Van Clifton
In the first episode I introduce the format of the podcast, and read a wonderful poem by WB Yeats entitled: "An Irish Airman Forsees His Death," which explores the theme of how the totality of a moment can coalesce into a total vastly greater than the sum of its parts and make the irrational the only sane path one can take.I hope you enjoy it.Original Theme Music by: Van Clifton
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