Category: BC

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Boethius Book Club, Episode 10: The Odyssey

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This month’s selection is The Odyssey. Our first discussion one year ago, you will recall, took up the books devoted to Telemachus. The discussion was quite good but limited. Although everyone probably has read the Odyssey more than once, and I know that many reread the whole thing for last August’s meeting, we shall be concentrating mainly on the opening of Book I, Books V-VIII, XI, and XIII-XXIV. In this next installment, we shall take up the character and homecoming of Odysseus and explore more deeply the Homeric view of man, the gods, and justice. We might even engage in...

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Boethius Book Club, Episode 9: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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This month’s selection is The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Often misunderstood as a horror novel, Stevenson’s strange tale is a brilliant and prophetic exploration of modern man and his lust for the primitive. The 20th century has played out Stevenson’s allegory in movement after movement—from the rage for going back to nature to the so-called paleo diet. We have become as morally repulsive and lust-obsessed as the alter-ego Dr. Jekyll called into being. Recorded: June 23, 2016 Original Air Date: September 3, 2016 Show Run Time: 1 hour 17 minutes Show Guest(s): Dr....

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Boethius Book Club, Episode 8: C.S. Lewis The Abolition of Man

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This month’s selection is The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis. Many, if not most, of you have undoubtedly read this prophetic book. Lewis realized that modern culture was saturated with a virulent form of nominalism that reduced all human knowledge to pseudo-objective social sciences and human wisdom to subjective judgment. His answer was to refamiliarize ourselves with a form of natural law teaching that reached across cultures. The Abolition of Man remains provocative to this day, particularly Lewis’s insight that the subjectivism taught by bad literature textbooks flows inexorably into the contempt for human nature that made genetic engineering...

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Boethius Book Club, Episode 7: Machiavelli’s Discourse

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This month’s selection is book I of Machiavelli’s Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius. If you think this title refers to a dry academic commentary on an ancient historian, think again. Machiavelli is one of the most brilliant and original political thinkers in human history, and this is his by far best work. I first read it at the suggestion of (or rather under orders from) my friend Sam Francis, who (like James Burnham and other political analysts) viewed it as the political equivalent of sacred writ. Machiavelli takes the first ten books of Livy’s History of Rome...

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Boethius Book Club, Episode 6: The Glass Key

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February’s book selection is a bit different from previous choices:  The Glass Key, a hardboiled mystery novel by Dashiel Hammett.  Hammet is best known for The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man, both of which were turned into popular films, but the author’s personal favorite was The Glass Key, a very readable novel that takes up themes of friendship and loyalty, deception and betrayal.  It was made into two American films.  An early version starring George Raft and a later and better film with Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake.  The great Japanese director, Akira Kurosawa, so liked this movie that...

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Boethius Book Club, Episode 5: On the Consolation of Philosophy

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The book is the classic written by our inspiration and patron, Boethius: On the Consolation of Philosophy. For well over 1000 years, this book—the reflections of a condemned man on what makes life worth living—was required reading for anyone who pretended to the smallest degree of literacy. It was translated by two English monarchs (Alfred and Elizabeth I) and represented the introduction to philosophy that people in the Medieval period received. It is that rare gift of literature—a profound book addressed not to specialists and geniuses but to everyday men and women. As luck would have it, our discussion will...

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Boethius Book Club, Episode 4: Sophocles – Oedipus at Colonus

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Our November book is comparatively short: Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus. This is Sophocles last play that we know of: He wrote it as an old man, who—according to tradition—was being sued by his own sons, who wanted to prove the old man non compos mentis. It is something like Sophocles’ King Lear, but instead of concentrating on ingratitude. the Greek poet gives us an image of filial piety in his daughters and in the aged protagonist he depicts a man transformed by suffering and filled with gratitude toward the Athenians who gave him hospitality. This is a play about loyalty,...

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Boethius Book Club, Episode 3: Shakespeare’s Measure For Measure

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One of Shakespeare’s less familiar masterpieces is Measure for Measure. This is a serious play, certainly not a comedy, and yet it ends happily without a full complement of corpses on the stage. It was written about 1605, during the same period in which he composed his greatest works. In Measure for Measure Shakespeare takes up serious moral and political questions: the nature of justice, the quality of rulers, and, perhaps most significantly, the debate over marriage that raged between, on the one hand, Catholics and Anglicans, and, on the other, Calvinists. It is not too much to say that...

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Boethius Book Club, Episode 2: Anthony Trollope, The Warden

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This early work by one of the masters of the novel is the introduction to his magnificent series of novels set in or near the mythical cathedral town of Barchester. We meet some of the enduring characters—Mr. Harding and his daughter Eleanor, and that model of “stupid” conservatism, Archdeacon Grantly . The humor is broader than it is in later books, and in his portrait of the ardent liberal John Bold, Trollope lays his cards on the table as he never will again. The Warden is a wonderfully entertaining novel, but it is only one that raises very important moral...

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Boethius Book Club, Episode 1: Telemachus

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The first four books of the Odyssey can be read as the tale of Odysseus’ troubled son, Telemachus, a young man brought up without a father and treated with contempt by his mother’s suitors. In his travels in search of information about his father, Telemachus learns how to be a man. Dr. Fleming’s introductory comments and the group discussion make an insightful and entertaining introduction to this early masterpiece of Western literature. Recorded: August 13, 2015 Original Air Date: December 7, 2015 Show Run Time: 1 hour 20 minutes Show Guest(s): Dr. Thomas Fleming Show Host(s): James Easton   Boethius...