238. Irony, Art, and the Art of Irony

Wayne is solo today and he talks about a concept that he and his co-host Jennia D’Lima were discussing recently—important in approaching any kind of fiction. Irony. What exactly is it? Why is it important to be aware of as you read fiction, or frankly experience any art form? And how can an appreciation of irony help you perhaps even enjoy a novel that you might otherwise despise or avoid outright?

David Cross

Ricky Gervais

 A Dictionary of Critical Theory, 2nd ed., by Ian Buchanan (Oxford, 2018)

236. Writing and Teaching and Learning about the World

My guest on today’s episode is Leigh Shulman, who writes and who teaches writing. She’s also led an interesting life, part of it instigated by 9/11, after which she left the US with her family and travelled.

Leigh's Website

Leigh's Course

235. The Professor, the Curious Podcaster, and the Best Novel Ever Written

My guest on today’s episode is Professor Stephen Blackwell, who teaches at the University of Tennessee Knoxville in the US. His scholarship focuses on the work of the great Russian-born writer, Vladimir Nabokov, who spent much of his life in the United States and died in 1977 in Switzerland. Professor Blackwell was kind enough to indulge me in a discussion of a novel that Nabokov published in 1962, called Pale Fire. I have of course read only a tiny percentage of all the books written and a tiny percentage of all the literary fiction ever written, but for me this is the best work of the art of literary fiction I have ever read. I can’t even imagine anything being better. And please especially take a look at the show notes for this episode, where I include mention of some of the modern references to Nabokov that I forgot to ask about during our conversation.

Prof. Blackwell’s Profile

Pale Fire (1st ed.)

Pale Fire and Nabokov These Days: Modern References

  • The album Lolita Nation by Game Theory, led by the late Scott Miller (“the album is a masterpiece, by the way, and the artist is on Nabokov’s level”)
  • Other bands and artists with Nabokovian titles: Picnic, Lightning; White Widowed Male; Pale Fire
  • Molly Young, “The Essential Vladimir Nabokov,” New York Times, October 15, 2023
  • Pale Fire shows up in Blade Runner 2049