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Open Book

Open Book

By Michael Ullyot
A podcast about reading texts like an English professor. Season 3 is all about long-form poetry: what it sounds like, and what stories it tells. Your host is Michael Ullyot, Associate Professor of English at the University of Calgary. Episodes are designed to appeal to curious and intelligent non-specialists.
For more information, contact the host at { ullyot@ucalgary.ca }.
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Season 3 Trailer

Open Book

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Reading Keats' Endymion, Book 4
This is a recording of John Keats' "Endymion: A Poetic Romance (1818)," read by Michael Ullyot. The text is from the 21st-Century Oxford Authors series, edited in 2017 by John Barnard. 
55:29
August 27, 2021
Reading Keats' Endymion, Book 3
This is a recording of John Keats' "Endymion: A Poetic Romance (1818)," read by Michael Ullyot. The text is from the 21st-Century Oxford Authors series, edited in 2017 by John Barnard. 
01:02:15
August 23, 2021
Reading Keats' Endymion, Book 2
This is a recording of John Keats' "Endymion: A Poetic Romance (1818)," read by Michael Ullyot. The text is from the 21st-Century Oxford Authors series, edited in 2017 by John Barnard. 
58:18
August 20, 2021
Reading Keats' Endymion, Book 1
This is a recording of John Keats' Endymion: A Poetic Romance (1818), read by Michael Ullyot. The text is from the 21st-Century Oxford Authors series, edited in 2017 by John Barnard. 
01:00:39
August 16, 2021
Reading "Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift"
This is a recording of Jonathan Swift's "Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift," read by Michael Ullyot. The text is from the 6th edition of the Norton Anthology of Poetry, edited in 2018 by Margaret Ferguson, Tim Kendall, and Mary Jo Salter. 
23:57
August 13, 2021
Reading "The Scholar-Gypsy"
This is a recording of Matthew Arnold's "The Scholar-Gypsy," read by Michael Ullyot. The text is from the 6th edition of the Norton Anthology of Poetry, edited in 2018 by Margaret Ferguson, Tim Kendall, and Mary Jo Salter. 
17:43
August 10, 2021
Reading Sidney's Defence of Poesy, 3 of 3
This is a recording of Sir Philip Sidney's Defence of Poesy, or An Apology for Poetry, read by Michael Ullyot in three episodes.  The text is from R.W. Maslen's 2002 edition for Manchester University Press.
33:29
August 5, 2021
Reading Sidney's Defence of Poesy, 2 of 3
This is a recording of Sir Philip Sidney's Defence of Poesy, or An Apology for Poetry, read by Michael Ullyot in three episodes.  The text is from R.W. Maslen's 2002 edition for Manchester University Press.
42:55
August 3, 2021
Reading Sidney's Defence of Poesy, 1 of 3
This is a recording of Sir Philip Sidney's Defence of Poesy, or An Apology for Poetry, read by Michael Ullyot in three episodes.  The text is from R.W. Maslen's 2002 edition for Manchester University Press.
58:47
July 29, 2021
Reading "Four Quartets," 2 of 2
This is a recording of T. S. Eliot's "Four Quartets," read by Michael Ullyot in two episodes.  The text is from The Collected Poems, 1909-1962, published by Faber & Faber in 1974.
30:10
July 27, 2021
Reading "Four Quartets," 1 of 2
This is a recording of T. S. Eliot's "Four Quartets," read by Michael Ullyot in two episodes.  The text is from The Collected Poems, 1909-1962, published by Faber & Faber in 1974.
25:09
July 22, 2021
Reading "Upon Appleton House"
This is a recording of Andrew Marvell's "Upon Appleton House," read by Michael Ullyot.  The text is from The Complete Poems, edited by Elizabeth Story Donno, published by Penguin in 2005.
38:37
July 20, 2021
Reading "The Deserted Village"
A recording of Oliver Goldsmith's "The Deserted Village," read by Michael Ullyot.  The text is from The Norton Anthology of Poetry, 6th edition, edited by Margaret Ferguson, Tim Kendall, and Mary Jo Salter, published by W. W. Norton in 2018.
28:28
June 25, 2021
Reading "Howl"
A recording of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl," read by Michael Ullyot.  The text is from The Collected Poems: 1947-1985, published by Penguin in 1995.
25:31
June 22, 2021
Reading "Adonais"
A recording of Percy Bysshe Shelley's "Adonais," an elegy for John Keats, read by Michael Ullyot.  The text is from The Major Works, edited by Zachary Leader and Michael O'Neill, published by Oxford University Press in 2003.
33:50
June 18, 2021
Reading "Hero and Leander," 2 of 2
This is the second of a two-episode recording of “Hero and Leander,” by Christopher Marlowe -- read by Michael Ullyot. It covers the second of the poem's two parts, or Sestiads. The text is from the Oxford University Press edition of *The Collected Poems* (2006), edited by Patrick Cheney and Brian J. Striar.
20:59
June 15, 2021
Reading “Hero and Leander,” 1 of 2
This is the first of a two-episode recording of “Hero and Leander,” by Christopher Marlowe -- read by Michael Ullyot. It covers the first of the poem's two parts, or Sestiads. The text is from the Oxford University Press edition of *The Collected Poems* (2006), edited by Patrick Cheney and Brian J. Striar.
31:50
June 11, 2021
Reading "Pearl," 2 of 2
This is the second of a two-episode recording of “Pearl,” by an anonymous medieval poet, translated into modern English by Simon Armitage -- and read by Michael Ullyot. It covers sections 11-20 of the poem. The text is from the Faber & Faber edition of 2016. 
35:53
June 8, 2021
Reading "Pearl," 1 of 2
This is the first of a two-episode recording of “Pearl,” by an anonymous medieval poet, translated into modern English by Simon Armitage -- and read by Michael Ullyot. It covers sections 1-10 of the poem. The text is from the Faber & Faber edition of 2016. 
35:46
June 4, 2021
Reading "Song of Myself," 4 of 4
This is the fourth of a four-part recording of “Song of Myself,” by Walt Whitman -- read by Michael Ullyot. It covers sections 38-52 of the poem. The text is from the Penguin Classics edition of The Complete Poems (1986), edited by Francis Murphy.
35:33
June 1, 2021
Reading "Song of Myself," 3 of 4
This is the third of a four-part recording of “Song of Myself,” by Walt Whitman -- read by Michael Ullyot. It covers sections 27-37 of the poem. The text is from the Penguin Classics edition of The Complete Poems (1986), edited by Francis Murphy.
29:58
May 28, 2021
Reading "Song of Myself," 2 of 4
This is the second of a four-part recording of “Song of Myself,” by Walt Whitman -- read by Michael Ullyot. It covers sections 16-26 of the poem. The text is from the Penguin Classics edition of The Complete Poems (1986), edited by Francis Murphy.
24:60
May 25, 2021
Reading "Song of Myself," 1 of 4
This is the first of a four-part recording of “Song of Myself,” by Walt Whitman -- read by Michael Ullyot. It covers sections 1-15 of the poem. The text is from the Penguin Classics edition of The Complete Poems (1986), edited by Francis Murphy. 
34:02
May 22, 2021
Season 3 Trailer
Season 3 of “Open Book” is about reading literature, specifically long-form poetry. Some are old favourites, and some are poems I’ve been meaning to read for years: Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”; Simon Armitage’s modern translation of the medieval dream-vision “Pearl”; and a host of other narrative and lyrical selections. It’s about hearing the language, and not worrying quite so much about interpreting it.  As ever I welcome comments and suggestions at ullyot@ucalgary.ca -- and I end this trailer with a reading of Christina Rossetti’s sonnet, “Remember.”
07:24
May 22, 2021
How to Read Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney
The closing episode of Season 2 is about two giants of late-20th-century poetry: the Poet Laureate Ted Hughes and the Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney. We’ll read Heaney’s “Punishment,” Hughes’s “Hawk Roosting” and “The Thought-Fox,” and Heaney’s “Digging” — in that order, to draw out shared themes of nature, violence, and the origins of poetry. This ends Season 2, and the start of the summer sabbatical: a time of pleasure reading planning and reflecting on what's to come in this series. To suggest future topics, particularly on subjects of broad interest (i.e. rather than on particular texts), or to share your thoughts on the show's format and style, please write to ullyot@ucalgary.ca. 
56:33
April 9, 2021
How to Read Philip Larkin
Analyses of four poems about time and change by the midcentury poet Philip Larkin. In “Church Going,” “An Arundel Tomb,” “The Trees,” and “This be the Verse,” there’s a sense of continuity tinged with melancholy: things survive and renew, but always in a compromised form.
46:07
April 2, 2021
How to Read Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot
An introduction to Waiting for Godot (1954), by the Franco-Irish novelist, playwright, Nobel laureate, and nihilist Samuel Beckett (1906-1989). This is a play in which nothing happens, twice — as the critic Vivian Mercier memorably wrote.  In this three-part episode, you’ll learn first about Beckett’s style; and about the play’s structure, plot, and setting. Then we’ll address what it means to wait. What are we waiting for? How do we wait? What do we do as we wait? Finally, we’ll address the meaning of Godot. Who is he? What is he? What resolution does Godot offer and withhold? If you ever have, or someone you know has, suicidal thoughts — caused by existential dread or any reason whatsoever — reach out to the Distress Centre 24/7 at 403-266-HELP(4357).
39:45
March 26, 2021
How to Read Dylan Thomas
Readings and analysis of the three best-known poems by the Anglo-Welsh poet: “The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower,” “Fern Hill,” and “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.”  For my annotation and analysis of “In My Craft or Sullen Art,” see this YouTube video: https://youtu.be/JsSgPNoCQUM?t=279
42:17
March 20, 2021
How to Read W. H. Auden
Three poems about death, war, suffering, and other cheery 20th-century subjects by the Anglo-internationalist poet Wystan Hugh Auden: the elegy “Funeral Blues,”  and the ekphrastic or descriptive poems “Musée des Beaux Arts,” and “The Shield of Achilles.” 
42:48
March 13, 2021
How to Read Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse
An introduction to the twentieth century’s most beautiful novel — with a simple plot but an astonishingly complex, even disorienting style. Ten characters spend two ordinary days, ten years apart, at a summer cottage in the western isles of Scotland. But it’s their interior thoughts, impressions, and emotions, rather than exterior events, that carry the narrative forward. Woolf turns tiny details into questions as grand as the nature of love, the habit of art, and (yes) even the meaning of life.  MEA CULPA: I misquote Shakespeare's Hamlet; it's actually "the trappings [not 'habits'] and the suits of woe" (1.2.86).
40:00
March 5, 2021
How to Read W. B. Yeats
Readings and interpretations of four poems by the Irish poet and playwright William Butler Yeats: the rustic simplicity of “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”; the tender regret of “When You Are Old”; the evocative weariness of “Adam’s Curse”;  and the apocalyptic thrill of “The Second Coming.” Here is my YouTube video about Yeats’ “Leda and the Swan." Sprezzatura is the Italian term I mention, for seemingly careless artificiality or "studied carelessness" (OED); it first appeared in The Book of the Courtier (1528) by Baldassare Castiglione. CORRECTION: At the end, I mistakenly say that the next episode is on Samuel Beckett -- but it is actually on Virginia Woolf's novel To the Lighthouse (1927).
28:48
February 27, 2021
How to Read Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray
The novel of a beautiful young English aristocrat whose painted portrait ages and declines while he himself stays eternally young, exhibiting no outward signs of his inward moral decay. 
36:45
February 19, 2021
How to Read Alfred Tennyson
Readings and analysis of three poems by Alfred, Lord Tennyson — “Mariana,” “The Lady of Shalott,” and “Ulysses” — that fall into two categories: the lives of women sequestered from a hostile or indifferent world, and the longing of a man to impose his will on the world. As we learn, all three should beware what they wish for. 
29:51
February 6, 2021
How to Read John Keats
Readings and analysis of two poems, “To Autumn” and “The Eve of St. Agnes,” whose sensual richness and beauty counter the antipathies and harsh frigidity of their surrounding worlds. They underscore Keats’s claim that “I am certain of nothing but of the holiness of the Heart’s affections and the truth of Imagination.” 
27:28
January 29, 2021
How to Read William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge
This episode reads Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey” and Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” in the context of Romantic poetry. We start with Coleridge’s vision in which “images rose up before him as *things*,” before we turn to Wordsworth: “well pleased to recognize / In nature and the language of the sense / The anchor of my purest thoughts.” The poetry they wrote to capture these things and these thoughts is their legacy — for every reader who feels deeply and struggles to describe those sensations.
38:26
January 22, 2021
How to Read Alexander Pope and Anne Finch
The first episode of Season 2 is about two poets in an early-18th-century battle of wits: Alexander Pope, the first professional poet in English; and Anne Finch, an aristocratic poet who rebutted Pope’s attack on women writers.
39:57
January 16, 2021
How to Read John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Books 10-12
The grand finale of Milton’s epic: in which we learn the consequences of the fall for Adam and Eve — but also for Satan, Sin, Death, the Son of God, and every human being from the Garden of Eden to the Last Judgement.
30:36
November 30, 2020
How to Read John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Book 9
The climax of Milton’s epic poem, in which Satan — spoiler alert — convinces Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. 
37:09
November 21, 2020
How to Read David Treuer’s The Translation of Dr Apelles, Part 2
The second of two episodes on a 2006 novel by the Ojibwe writer David Treuer, about a translator retelling the story of two lovers, and writing his own story in the process. NB: At 2:55 I wrongly say Eta is 16 and Bimaadiz 12, but in fact she's 12 and he 16.
17:15
November 17, 2020
How to Read David Treuer’s The Translation of Dr Apelles, Part 1
The first of two episodes on a 2006 novel by the Ojibwe writer David Treuer, about a translator retelling the story of two lovers, and writing his own story in the process. 
32:24
November 17, 2020
How to Read Metaphysical Love-Poems
Four poems of love and friendship that happen to be written by women, including Anne Bradstreet, the first woman to publish a book of original poems in English; Katherine Philips, “the matchless Orinda” and poet laureate of friendship; and the unknown ‘Eliza,’ author of devotional lyrics.
38:28
November 15, 2020
How to Read Andrew Marvell’s Poems
Readings of five poems by the metaphysical poet Andrew Marvell, including his best-known carpe diem poem “To his Coy Mistress,” but also a beautiful extended simile of the soul as a dew-drop; a tense argument between a body and a soul who loathe each other; a meditation on the temptations of worldly pleasures; and a lament of the cruelty of fate.  
49:50
November 1, 2020
How to Read William Shakespeare’s Richard II
Shakespeare’s 1595 history play tells the story of one king’s abdication, and provokes questions about the difference between legitimate authority and illegitimate power. Richard II isn’t Shakespeare’s best-known play, but it may claim to be his best-written: the only one entirely in verse, it initiates a long series of plays that deal with its fallout.
31:28
October 31, 2020
How to Read John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Books 7-8
Adam and Raphael exchange stories — of the creation of the universe, and of human beings — and Adam learns what subjects and questions God wants us to stop thinking about. 
43:42
October 25, 2020
How to Read Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, Volume 2
Catherine Morland — described as “open, candid, artless, guileless, with affections strong but simple, forming no pretensions, and knowing no disguise” — completes her journey from impressionable provincial ingenue to contentedly married wife in this followup to Episode 15. 
33:18
October 25, 2020
How to Read Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, Volume 1
The first of two episodes on Austen’s 1818 novel about heroine Catherine Morland’s character, reading, romantic misadventures, and engagement. References are to David M. Shapard’s annotated edition (New York: Anchor, 2013).
33:13
October 19, 2020
How to Read John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Books 5-6
This, the fourth of seven episodes on Milton's epic, covers events preceding the start of the poem's story: the War in Heaven, in which Satan leads a rebellion against God, before the Son defeats him and drives the rebels down to Hell.  
45:00
October 18, 2020
How to Read John Donne’s Poems
Readings and interpretations of seven poems by the 17th-century metaphysical poet John Donne, namely "Elegy: To his Mistress Going to Bed"; "The Good Morrow"; "The Sun Rising"; "Valediction to his Book"; "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning"; "The Canonization"; and "The Relic". Readings are from Colin Burrow’s 2006 Penguin anthology Metaphysical Poetry. Supplemental glosses are from A. J. Smith’s erudite and wonderful Complete English Poems (Penguin, 1971); and from Donald R. Dickson’s John Donne’s Poetry (Norton, 2007).
55:30
October 13, 2020
How to Read Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Part 2
Continuing from Episode 8 in this series, today’s topic is Part 2 of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote (1615).  A Spanish aristocrat, imitating the wandering knights of medieval romance, undertakes his continuing adventures. Along the way, he meets those who have read an unauthorized continuation of Part 1 recounting false adventures, and takes pains to refute them. Finally Quixote returns to his village, repudiates his beliefs in chivalric romances, and dies -- prompting us to recognize that novels, unlike romances, end in any way that the novelist determines. 
36:32
October 13, 2020
How to Read Shakespeare's Villains: Othello
A study of the rise and fall of Iago, from Shakespeare's Othello: focusing on his motives, his rhetoric, and the role of a villain in a tragedy. This episode, the last in a three-part series on Shakespeare's villains, includes readings of Iago's key speeches and conversations.
28:19
October 9, 2020
How to Read Shakespeare's Villains: Titus Andronicus
A study of the rise and fall of Aaron, from Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus: focusing on his motives, his rhetoric, and the role of a villain in a tragedy. This episode, the second in a three-part series on Shakespeare's villains, includes readings of Aaron's key speeches.
30:58
October 7, 2020
How to Read Shakespeare's Villains: Richard III
A study of the rise and fall of Richard of Gloucester, from Shakespeare's 3 Henry VI and Richard III: focusing on his motives, his rhetoric, and the role of a villain in a history-play. This episode, the first in a three-part series on Shakespeare's villains, includes readings of Richard's key speeches.  
47:34
October 5, 2020
How to Read Metaphysical Nature-Poems
An introduction to four metaphysical nature-poems: George Herbert’s “Life”; Henry King’s “A Contemplation upon Flowers”; and Andrew Marvell’s “Bermudas” and “The Garden.”  These poems share natural subjects, yet each uses flowers and plants and fruits to raise various spiritual themes: including death (most prominently); divine providence; and the contentment that derives from solitude.
32:40
October 4, 2020
How to Read Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Part 1
Today’s topic is the first part of the first novel ever written, Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote (1605): in which a mild-mannered Spanish aristocrat, bored with his life, decides to imitate the wandering knights of medieval romance. 
46:19
October 4, 2020
How to Read John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Book 4
This is the 3rd episode on Milton’s epic poem, covering Book 4: in which Satan arrives at the Garden of Eden; Milton describes the garden and its human and animal inhabitants; and the good angels discover Satan trying to influence Eve, whispering in her ear while she dreams.
32:37
September 27, 2020
How to Read to Cure Yourself
Today’s topic is bibliotherapy, or “literary remedies for the mind and body,” as Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin write. They’re the authors of The Novel Cure (published 2013), a clever reference book of mental and physical ailments that readers can treat by reading novels, which offer either cure or consolation. 
12:53
September 25, 2020
How to Read John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Books 2-3
There are three parts of this episode, which follows Episode 3 of this season: First, we’ll consider how Milton, the blind poet, deals with the difficulty of describing indescribable things;  then we’ll resume the story with the debate in Hell, and discover how the Oxford English Dictionary can illuminate its terms;  and finally we’ll eavesdrop on a conversation between God and his Son, to consider how God can know what will happen without causing it to happen, and how God and Milton endow characters with traits to respond to their circumstances.  As ever, the source of my quotations from Paradise Lost is Gordon Teskey’s 2005 Norton edition.
32:46
September 22, 2020
How to Read Dante’s Inferno, Canto 5
The three parts of today’s episode surround each other like the concentric rings of hell. (Maybe not the best metaphor?) First I’ll briefly describe the story of Dante’s Inferno;  and then I’ll guide you toward the second circle of Hell, where our narrator meets those spirits punished for lust;  and finally I’ll introduce you to Paulo and Francesca, the adulterous lovers who were seduced by a book to seduce each other. My source of all quotations from Dante in this episode are from the translation of Robert and Jean Hollander, published by Doubleday in 2000. 
17:14
September 22, 2020
How to Read John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Book 1
The first in a projected 7-episode series on Milton's epic poem, Paradise Lost (1667, 1674).  Covering how to read Milton's language; his Christian subject and epic genre; and what happens in Book 1 of 12.
36:03
September 10, 2020
How to Read Plato’s Phaedrus
This episode is about written language, as the Greek philosopher Plato describes it in his dialogue Phaedrus. The Latin proverb I cite is Verba volant, scripta manent; and the Greek word that means both 'cure' and 'poison' is pharmakon. The quotation from John Milton is from Areopagitica (1644). Selections from Plato’s Phaedrus are from Benjamin Jowett’s 1892 translation, as cited in the anthology Critical Theory Since Plato, 3rd edition of 2005, edited by Hazard Adams and Leroy Searle.
13:52
September 10, 2020
The What and the How
In this inaugural episode, I describe the podcast's coverage and format, and then introduce myself and my motives for hosting the series. I conclude: "Think of the episodes in this series as a set of exploratory essays, of varying lengths, gathering evidence from sources on some central topic. The topics will vary, but each episode of Open Book will (I hope) do just what it says on the tin: open a book to your mind." Here are the five book titles I'll cover this season: Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote (Part 1, 1605; Part 2, 1615; we’re reading selections from the 2003 Edith Grossman translation); Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey (1803; we’re using the 2013 David M. Shapard edition); David Treuer’s The Translation of Dr Apelles (2006); John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667; in the 2005 Norton edition of Gordon Teskey; the more recent 2020 edition appeared too late for this series); and selections from Metaphysical Poetry (Colin Burrow’s 2006 Penguin anthology).
16:31
September 10, 2020
Trailer
Introducing a new podcast series on how to read like an English Professor -- with Michael Ullyot of the University of Calgary. 
04:07
September 10, 2020