Episode 6: Writing Then and Now: Martin Puchner (The Written World)

From its origins in clay tablets to its future on digital tablets, Martin Puchner has thought about writing in all its forms. In this episode, John and Elizabeth talk to Martin, the Byron and Anita Wien Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard. They begin with a discussion of a very early writerly text–the epic of Gilgamesh, a version of which has been Englished by Elizabeth’s father. They discuss the different stages of world writing–from the time of the scribes to the time of great teachers like Confucius, Socrates and Jesus Christ, who had a very complicated relationship to writing. Are we on the cusp of a new transformation in the way in which writing occurs in the world?

M0005812 Sumerian Cuneifurm Tablet.

This transformation might have to do with coding, with the resurrection of the tablet and the scroll, or with the culture of curation that has arisen in a new era in which the ability. to write has been (significantly) democratized.

In Recallable Books, Martin recommends the fan fiction website Wattpad; Elizabeth recommends “No Reservations: Narnia,” in which Anthony Bourdain goes through the wardrobe.  John feints at recommending Dennis Tenen’s book on the writing within coding before recommending the Brautigan Library.

Come for the discussion of writing, stay for the impressions of Gollum!

puchner

Discussed in this episode:

The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History and Civilization, Martin Puchner

Gilgamesh: A New Rendering in English Verse, David Ferry

Wattpad

No Reservations: Narnia,” Edonohana

Plain Text: The Poetics of Computation, David Tenen

The Brautigan Library

Listen to the episode here:

 

(episode transcript available here: Episode 6 Puchner 3.28.19)

Author: plotznik

I teach English (mainly the novel and Victorian literature) at Brandeis University, and live in Brookline.

One thought on “Episode 6: Writing Then and Now: Martin Puchner (The Written World)”

  1. On this episode of Recall This Book, John talks to Stephen McCauley, a novelist and Professor of the Practice of English and Co-director of Creative Writing at Brandeis. Nobody knows more about the comic novel than Steve, and there is no comic novelist he loves better than Barbara Pym, a mid-century British comic genius who Continue reading

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