1. MBC-012-ODYSSEY by Homer

    February 10, 2021 by Chris Motley


    Emily Austin is Assistant Professor of Classics at the University of Chicago, and author of Grief and the Hero: the Futility of Longing in the Iliad. Her area of expertise is emotion in the ancient world.


    Show Notes:

    Greek concepts of Hell [3:45]

    Repeating patterns of grief giving rise to anger [5:30]

    Digging into the character of Odysseus [14:20]

    Alice Oswald’s Memorial as powerful excavation of Homer [16:450

    Contemporary echoes of Electra [18:00]

    Jonathan Shay on Homer, PTSD, and Vietnam [20:00]

    Notes on the Aeneid and it’s connection to Homer [23:00]


    Professor Austin’s Odyssey translation recommendation:

    Robert Fitzgerald


    Don’t Forget:

    Read the Mouse Book Club Odyssey and Aeneid Blog.

  2. MBC-011-INFERNO by Dante

    February 8, 2021 by Chris Motley


    William Cook is Professor of History, SUNY Geneseo (Retired). Professor Cook earned his PhD in History from Cornell and taught Medieval History for 42 years, lecturing and writing on Dante extensively for a variety of different audiences. Bill now runs the William Cook Foundation which provides educational opportunities in low resource communities.

    Show Notes:

    Below are the topics covered in this conversation (with time stamps). 

    Profound lesson from teaching Dante to murderers [2:15]

    Overcoming the bitterness of factionalism [5:15]

    Dante’s identity and the bygone Roman Empire [12:30]

    Hearing the Italian and breaking down structure [17:45]

    Good translations and don’t get lost in the notes  [20:30]

    Free Will understanding who you are [23:00]

    The journey of conversion [26:50]

    Finding your place in the Divine Comedy [33:15]

    Plug for the great work of the Bill Cook Foundation [37:00]


    Professor Cook’s Dante Translation Recommendations:

    1. Jean and Robert Hollander. Bob Hollander is a famous Dante scholar at Princeton and his wife is a poet. Good translation, with English/Italian facing pages. It is a verse translation but does not try to imitate Dante’s rhyme scheme. There are a lot of notes, many to scholarly works of Hollander. Published in 3 volumes by Doubleday

    2. Mark Musa. I taught this translation for years. Musa was an Italian professor at Indiana U. Good intros and notes that are useful but not overwhelming. It comes in 1 and 3 volume versions. No Italian. Published by Penguin (beware because there are 3 current translation of the Commedia published by Penguin, one being the Longfellow translation.

    3. Robin Kirkpatrick. 3 volumes in paperback with English and Italian. Good notes and intros. I am not quite as fond of the actual translation than I am some of the others. Still, it has good notes and intros and the paperbacks are relatively inexpensive. Also done by Penguin.

    4. John Ciardi. Ciardi is a poet and it shows in this translation. Adequate notes and good introductions. It comes in one and three volume editions. Published by New American Library.

    5. Robert Sinclair. This is an old, standard translation in 3 volumes. At one time it was the only cheaply available version with Italian and English. Thee translation is in prose, which takes away the poetic quality but also probably leads to a more literal translation of the original. Published by Oxford UP.

    6. Durling and Martines. Rather new. It is what I used in my Dante course for my last few years of teaching. Has Italian and English, good intros, good notes. In Purgatory and Paradise points forward and backwards to the other parts of the Commedia, which we call intertextuality. Big and imposing volumes but in paperback.

    Don’t Forget:

    Read the Mouse Book Club Inferno Blog.

  3. MBC-010 PARADISE LOST by Milton

    January 15, 2021 by Chris Motley


    Stanley Fish is the Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law at Yeshiva University. Stanley established his reputation as a leading Miltonist with his 1967 book Surprised by Sin. Fish’s 2001 book, How Milton Works, reflects five decades’ worth of his scholarship on Milton.

    Show Notes:

    Below are the topics covered in this conversation (with time stamps). 

    How to accidentally becoming a world-class Milton expert. [2:00]

    A bracing description of how the character of Satan works. [4:30]

    Reading Satan after you realize you’ve been duped. [12:30]

    Milton’s techniques for describing the indescribable [16:23]

    Paradise Lost and political and cultural conflicts in Milton’s day. [20:28]

    Introducing George Herbert: champion of stringency of thought. [27:00]

    Diversity and the challenge of cultural literacy in the 21st century. [30:50]

    Seeing Milton in our society today. [37:42]

    Life’s ultimate challenge: achieving the paradise within. [41:50]


    Don’t Forget:

    Read the Mouse Book Club Paradise Lost Blog.