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Books Unbound

Un-silencing voices of writers who embody the courage of free expression.

Books Unbound – Safe as Houses, Part Two: An Anthology

Our strange and surprising relationships with house and household objects are explored in an early story by Virginia Woolf, a modern adaptation of an unfinished story by Kafka, and a local story set in Bloomington, with poems by Pablo Neruda, James Tate and Cate Marvin. Heather Perry hosts. Featured readings: “Oda a las cosas rotas/Ode to Broken Things,” from the …

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Books Unbound – Safe as Houses, Part One: ‘The House of Cobwebs’ by George Gissing

A struggling writer finds unexpected kindness and friendship from his poor landlord in this short story by George Gissing, whom George Orwell ranked among the best English novelists. Heather Perry reads. Gissing (1857–1903) neither sought nor enjoyed popularity, and is little known today, although his novel New Grub Street ranks on the Guardian’s list of top 100 novels written in …

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Books Unbound – Not Light, But Fire: Readings from African-American Abolitionists

To close Black History Month, words that inspired hope and incited action in the struggle for the abolition of slavery and for the empowerment of people of African descent in the United States. Two hundred years of chattel slavery shaped the economic and political life of the United States. The consequences of slavery still affect the country’s economy and national …

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Books Unbound – “The Mulatto” by Victor Séjour

The first published short story by an African American, “The Mulatto” appeared in 1837 in an anti-slavery magazine in France. Its author was the 19-year-old Victor Séjour, who had come as a student to Paris from New Orleans. This Books Unbound encore episode is presented in honor of Black History Month. Séjour was a French-speaking person of color whose baptismal …

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Books Unbound – W.E.B. Du Bois’s ‘Darkwater’: Two Stories

A black man and a white woman might be the last two people on earth in the post-apocalyptic tale “The Comet,” an early example of African-American sci fi from W.E.B. Du Bois’s 1920 collection Darkwater. Lauren Robert is the reader. This Books Unbound original presentation introduces the story with dramatized newspaper articles from the New York Times, May 1910, reporting …

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Books Unbound – ‘Hospital Sketches’ by Louisa May Alcott, Conclusion

Illness cuts short Nurse Periwinkle’s service for the Union Army as Hospital Sketches concludes. In the last chapters of her thinly fictionalized memoir, during her convalescence in Washington, D.C., Louisa May Alcott offers observations of the pageantry and celebrations surrounding the New Year of 1863 and the Emancipation Proclamation. Although Alcott was a self-described “fanatic” abolitionist, the racist imagery when …

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Books Unbound – Hospital Sketches’ by Louisa May Alcott, Part Three

Both Louisa May Alcott and Walt Whitman were profoundly affected by the aftermath of the Battle of Fredericksburg during the American Civil War. In today’s episode, Alcott’s alter-ego nurse stays by the side of the mortally wounded soldier John, who embodies wartime ideals of nobility in suffering and self-sacrifice. Her account, read by Sarah Torbeck, is complemented by one of …

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Books Unbound – ‘Hospital Sketches’ by Louisa May Alcott, Part Two

The dauntless nurse of Hospital Sketches gains a deeper understanding of the effects of war from the wounded men she cares for in the second part of Louisa May Alcott’s fictionalized memoir. Beloved as the author of Little Women, Alcott drew on her own brief service as a Union nurse during the Civil War in creating an authentic voice that …

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Books Unbound – ‘Hospital Sketches’ by Louisa May Alcott, Part One

Beloved as the author of Little Women, Louisa May Alcott drew on her service as a Union nurse during the Civil War for her first major literary success. Published in 1863, Hospital Sketches is a fictionalized memoir of her experiences, cut short when she was stricken by typhoid fever. Her health was permanently damaged by the mercury compound used at …

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Books Unbound – Time, Memory, Imagination: Reflections for the Turn of the Year

Short stories and contemporary poems reflect on the passage of time and the return of deeds carried out in love or neglect. Heather Perry hosts. Joan Hawkins reads Anton Chekhov’s short-short story “The Looking Glass,” translated by Constance Garnett. A young woman glimpses her future as a wife, all compressed into a moment. One of the acknowledged masters of Russian …

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