Zero Squared #38: Dangerous Literature (pt 2)

Tom Sperlinger is the author of Romeo and Juliet in Palestine and he returns this week for the second half of a conversation about teaching Dangerous Literature. This week we talk about Kafka’s unfinished novel The Trial, the failings of Doris Lessing, unfinished novels, and Judy Blume.

Sperlinger recently taught a course on “Dangerous Books.” Here’s an excerpt from the course description:

Can works of literature only reflect society, or might they be a catalyst for reform? If a book has an urgent political message, can it also become a lasting work of art? Why might a work of literature be considered dangerous? In what circumstances are books banned? And conversely, what does this tell us about the power of literature, including in consciousness-raising or as a form of protest or resistance?

In this episode you’ll hear the voice of Orson Welles’ reading Before the Law as lifted from his film version of the Trial, an bit of JM Bernstein lecturing on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, an excerpt from Todd Machover’s Opera version of Philip K. Dick’s Valis, and the jazz band Kafka performing Kafka’s Theme on Brownswood Bubblers Four compiled by Gilles Peterson.

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