Talking About Books . . .

Orson Welles – often called “the boy wonder” – was, without a doubt, a genius   He was also undisciplined and mercurial.  He left quite a legacy of radio programs, and movies behind, but could have done so much more if he could have shown a little self-control.

You’ve probably heard about Welles’ October 30, 1938 radio adaptation of H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds that panicked thousands of people in America.  That was only one of the literary classics featured on his Mercury Theater on the Air – a group that he and the great actor John Houseman started in the 1930s.  Other broadcasts of the group – which didn’t get nearly as much publicity as The War of the Worlds – included Dracula, A Tale of Two Cities, The Count of Monte Cristo, and The Pickwick Papers.  Campbell’s Soup Company became the show’s sponsor after a while, and under its new name, The Campbell Playhouse, the series continued with such classics as Rebecca, Showboat, and The Magnificent Ambersons.

All of the broadcasts mentioned above and lots more are available free at the Mercury Theater website.  There is also an interesting program about Welles which is narrated by Leonard Maltin at the same site.  And be sure to read the history of the series as well at the same site.

Maltin also wrote a book entitled The Great American Broadcast: A Celebration of Radio’s Golden Age which I highly recommend.  It is filled with anecdotes, photos, and information about the actors, programs, writers, directors, and even the orchestra conductors (Bernard Hermann and Meredith Willson are two of the best known) who made the golden age of radio so golden.

Most of you are probably too young to remember the great dramas on radio, so choose one of the broadcasts, close your eyes, and enter the fantasy world that was old time radio where one’s imagination played such a large part.  It will be a wonderful, new experience.

Mercury Theater broadcasts of classical works.

Leonard Maltin program on Welles’ Mercury Playhouse

History of the program

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Jane Austen’s masterpiece, Pride and Prejudice, was published on January 28, 1813, just over 200 years ago, and it’s still one of the most popular novels ever written – written by a woman no less!  I have come across many articles about it.  Here are a few of them.

The Daily Beast – Jane Austen’s Pride and Joy: Pride and Prejudice Turns 200

CNNPride and Prejudice, Story That Launched a Thousand Spinoffs, Turns 200

BBC NewsPride and Prejudice: Jane Austen Fans Celebrate Novel’s 200th Anniversary

The GuardianPride and Prejudice at 200: the best Jane Austen small-screen adaptations

NPR BooksPride and Prejudice Turns 200: A Cartoon Celebration

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James Lasdun is a professor and a writer.  In a chilling new book, he tells how it feels to be stalked over the internet by a woman who has decided to destroy you.  This is not only a true story, it’s his story.

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Justin Knapp has a lot of time on his hands.  How do I know?  He has done more than a million edits to Wikipedia, that’s how I know.

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Philip Roth may have retired, but there are still a lot of writers who are going strong at 80 – and beyond.

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What’s so special about Fifty Shades of Gray?  That’s more than a rhetorical question since the blockbuster trilogy has sold 65 million copies, and it’s the topic of an article in Psychology Today magazine.

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