Saturday, January 23, 2010

King Lear - Entitled Opinions

If I did not write about each and every issue of the eminent podcast Entitled Opinions it is more likely that the show went over my head and I did not feel qualified to write something about it than that I could not recommend it. This podcast is one of the most exciting, yet challenging offerings around. Each and every subject is taken on with the utmost intellectual seriousness and taken to as deep as host Robert Harrison and his guest can take it.

Similarly, the last show about Shakespeare's King Lear with guest Steven Orgel, is diving straight into the deepest water. From the quality of Shakespeare as a writer in general, using quotes from Wittgenstein, Orgel and Harrison take on the play King Lear as the specific work to discuss. On must know the play and in this respect I was helped by the fact that in the past I have heard two other podcasts about King Lear, one was a 2008 program of BBC's In Our Time, which spent much time on the history (both context and reception) of the play and the underlying folk tale. Next to that I picked out the lectures pertaining to King Lear from a Shakespeare series at Berkeley. In the Berkeley course more talk is spent on the content of the play.

Harrison and Orgel's discussion take the middle ground between these approaches. They do not dig too much in the historical context of the play, though they do refer to it, as well as to the history of its reception. Neither do they go through the play and deliver the tale and the drama - they rather take it for granted one is familiar to that. They go straight for the sheer jewels: the complex characters, their complex relations and the meaning of the tragic ending, with Cordelia's death and Lear's slide into total lunacy. With these three podcasts one can make some real study of King Lear.

More King Lear:
King Lear in Podcast.

More Entitled Opinions:
Albert Camus,
Unabomber world views,
Byzantine Culture,
Jimi Hendrix,

A Story of India - BBC television series

Michael Wood's TV documentary The Story of India was suggested as an alternative to the History of India by Vinay Lal at UCLA. Its six parts can be seen on Google video (see links below). I must say that after the fourth episode, which introduced to me the importance of Tamil Nadu, the series went a bit down-hill. One cannot compare video to podcast. The visuals are fantastic, but they are accompanied by a slim narrative. And so I remain with my conclusion: we need more History of India in podcast.

part 1: Beginnings
part 2: The Power of Ideas
part 3: Spice routes and silk roads
part 4: Ages of gold
part 5: The meeting of two oceans
part 6: Freedom

More Story of India:
Trade - A Story of India (3),
The power of ideas - A Story of India (2),
The earliest history - A Story of India (1).

More Vinay Lal's History of India:
History of British India,
History of India - the search goes on,
8 podcasts I listened to,
History of India or Europe?
History of India.