The Spouter-Inn; or, A Conversation with Great Books

The Spouter-Inn; or, A Conversation with Great Books
Suzanne and Chris talk about great books—but what does “great” even mean?

21. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Nov 27 • 57 min
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a classic work of children’s literature by Roald Dahl. It tells the story of Charlie Bucket and his visit to the fantabulous chocolate factory run by the reclusive Willy Wonka.
20b. Bonus: Irina Dumitrescu on Food Writing.
Nov 18 • 46 min
Irina Dumitrescu is a professor of medieval literature at the University of Bonn, but she also has a secret life as a food essayist.
20. How to Cook a Wolf.
Nov 15 • 54 min
M.F.K. Fisher’s How to Cook a Wolf is a book about food written during World War 2. It’s full of meditations on hunger—the wolf clawing at the door—and recipes for dishes that you might eat to survive if supplies, fuel, and morale are limited. Chris and…
19b. Bonus: Simone de Rochefort on Ernest Hemingway.
Nov 4 • 51 min
Simone de Rochefort is a Senior Video Producer at Polygon, where she co-hosts the podcast The Polygon Show. She’s also one of the hosts of the tech podcast Rocket on Relay FM, which recently celebrated its 250th episode. And, luckily for us, she is a…
19. A Moveable Feast.
Nov 1 • 57 min
A Moveable Feast is Ernest Hemingway’s memoir of being a young and often hungry writer surrounded by the writers, artists, and waiters of 1920s Paris.
18b. Bonus: Liza Blake on Margaret Cavendish.
Oct 21 • 47 min
Liza Blake, Margaret Cavendish scholar, joins us to give a bit more context to The Blazing World and its glittering glories.
18. The Blazing World.
Oct 18 • 53 min
The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing-World, more commonly known simply as The Blazing World, is a philosophical flight of fancy by Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle.
17. Hayy ibn Yaqzan.
Oct 1 • 59 min
Abu Bakr ibn Tufayl’s Hayy ibn Yaqzan (sometimes translated as “Alive, son of Awake”—though the title is the main character’s name) is a curious philosophical thought experiment from twelfth-century al-Andalus (which is today southern Spain).
16b. Bonus: Michael Collins on Middlemarch.
Sep 16 • 46 min
Writer, podcaster, and personal trainer Michael Collins joins us to talk about his favourite book, George Eliot’s Middlemarch.
16. Middlemarch.
Sep 13 • 55 min
We begin our cluster on Philosophical novels with Middlemarch, George Eliot’s massive and masterful “study of provincial life”.
15b. Bonus: Emily Wilson on the Odyssey.
Aug 26 • 43 min
Emily Wilson, professor and translator of the Odyssey, joins us to discuss the art of translation.
15. The Odyssey.
Aug 23 • 59 min
We finish our water/ocean cluster with Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey.
14b. Bonus: Steve Mentz on The Tempest.
Aug 12 • 42 min
Professor Steve Mentz emerges from the Atlantic to discuss The Tempest, blue humanities, and what happens when you consider the ocean’s perspective.
14. The Tempest.
Aug 9 • 54 min
The Tempest is one of William Shakespeare’s last plays—and one of his most curious.
13. To the Lighthouse.
Jul 18 • 53 min
Our Water/Ocean cluster begins with Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse.
12b. Bonus: Damian Fleming on Moby-Dick.
Jul 8 • 45 min
Medievalist and Moby-Dick fan Damian Fleming joins us to keep the conversation going about this great book.
12. Moby-Dick.
Jul 4 • 59 min
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is a massive book. It’s a story about obsession, an encyclopedia of whale facts, and an unexpected love story. It’s also the source of the name of our podcast!
11. The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
Jun 19 • 54 min
The Autobiography of Malcolm X (as told to Alex Haley) emerges from a specific time and place and yet, despite feeling very much of that moment, still resonates with issues that American culture is dealing with today—and is still a powerfully written book.
10b. Bonus: Peter Coviello on Leaves of Grass.
Jun 3 • 49 min
Peter Coviello, author of Tomorrow’s Parties: Sex and the Untimely in Nineteenth-Century America, joins us to talk about Walt Whitman and Leaves of Grass.
10. Leaves of Grass.
May 31 • 57 min
It’s Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday today! Suzanne and Chris are celebrating by rereading Leaves of Grass, the book of poetry that Whitman kept writing, revising, and expanding throughout his life. With its ecstatic rhythms, its vigorous celebration of the…
9b. Bonus: Sarah Chamberlain on Frankenstein.
May 27 • 46 min
Sarah Chamberlain, host of the Canadian horror movie podcast A Part Of Our Scare-itage, joins us to talk about the many movie adaptations of Frankenstein.
9. Frankenstein.
May 23 • 58 min
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a story that seems familiar to everyone—even people who haven’t read the novel (or seen any of the movie adaptations). But the novel fleshes out the story that everyone is familiar with (a scientist creates a creature out of…
8b. Bonus: Anthony Oliveira on Paradise Lost.
May 6 • 48 min
Anthony Oliveira, host of The Devil’s Party, a podcast that has been slowly and lovingly working its way through Paradise Lost, joins us to talk about Milton’s epic poem.
8. Paradise Lost.
May 3 • 57 min
John Milton’s Paradise Lost offers fantastic poetry, and a deeply realized retelling of the Biblical tale of Adam and Eve’s fall from the Garden of Eden. But Chris and Suzanne still struggle with Milton’s personality and theology.
7. Inferno.
Apr 18 • 59 min
Dante’s Inferno, the first section of his Divine Comedy, is a medieval poem in which our author is given a guided tour of Hell.
6. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.
Apr 4 • 58 min
The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (written by her partner Gertrude Stein) recounts the couple’s lives in early twentieth-century Paris among painters, writers, and composers—and, during the First World War, soldiers.
5. Little Women.
Mar 19 • 59 min
Suzanne and Chris look at Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women.
4b. Bonus: Timothy Perry on The Book of Peace.
Mar 6 • 36 min
Timothy Perry, medieval manuscript and early book librarian at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto, shows us a newly acquired medieval manuscript of Christine de Pizan’s Book of Peace.
4. The Book of the City of Ladies.
Mar 5 • 57 min
The Book of the City of Ladies, by Christine de Pizan, is a medieval feminist classic.
3. The Metamorphoses.
Feb 19 • 55 min
Suzanne and Chris discuss Ovid’s Metamorphoses—and translation, lost language, the natural world, gender and sexuality, and medieval interpretations of these tales of transformations.
2. The Symposium.
Feb 4 • 55 min
Suzanne and Chris discuss love and Plato’s Symposium (and catty drinking parties).
1. The Iliad.
Jan 18 • 59 min
Suzanne and Chris begin their conversations about great books with a very big and very old one: Homer’s Iliad. This Ancient Greek poem about the Trojan War is, of course, widely known, but if you haven’t read it (or if you haven’t read it in a while), you…
0. Coming Soon.
Jan 6 • 1 min
Suzanne and Chris talk about great books—but what does “great” even mean?
The Spouter-Inn Episode Guide.
Jan 1