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

Books Unbound – Elizabeth Stoddard and the 1860s, Part Ten: ‘Two Men,’ Chapters 22–26

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Set in antebellum New England but published in the immediate aftermath of the American Civil War, the novel Two Men begins to draw together the narrative strands of the Parke family saga with a death, a scandal, and a surprise visitor. Combining a Romantic’s headstrong individuality with a strikingly modern Realist psychology, Elizabeth Stoddard (1823–1902) rejected the prevailing mode of sentimentality in the American women’s fiction of her time. Critics praised her talent while finding her novels misguidedly “original,” and she failed to achieve the widespread popularity she craved. Her three novels were republished in the 1880s as literary tastes turned toward Realism, but it was a century before she was given serious consideration as a classic writer of American literature, and she remains relatively unknown.

Two Men is read by Shayne Laughter. Sarah Torbeck reads the letters of Elizabeth Stoddard throughout the series. Heather Perry hosts, with announcer Jack Hanek. This episode was produced, written, and edited by Cynthia Wolfe, with assistance from Heather Perry, Sarah Torbeck, and Jack Hanek.

Special music for Two Men comes from the album MacDowell: Second Modern Suite / Étude de Concert / Twelve Études (Naxos, 1999), performed by James Barbagallo (1952–1996). The American composer Edward MacDowell, born in 1860, wrote these works for piano in the 1880s, around the time Two Men was reissued.

The series “Elizabeth Stoddard and the 1860s” will continue September 12th, after a Books Unbound special for Labor Day weekend.

Executive producer: Joe Crawford
Theme music: The Impossible Shapes

Books Unbound – Elizabeth Stoddard and the 1860s, Part Nine: ‘Two Men’ Chapters 18-22

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The novel Two Men continues as rumor spreads of a Parke family heir’s affair with a biracial woman. The compressed, elliptical and sometimes satiric style of American contrarian Elizabeth Stoddard (1823–1902) expresses the tensions and anxieties of the Civil War era in its themes of race, family bloodlines, class, sectarian religion, gender roles, and regional and national identity. This complex of issues underlies the romantic saga of a family who are seen as “originals” in their quirky individuality while subjected to Stoddard’s unsentimental portrayal.

Two Men is read by Shayne Laughter. Sarah Torbeck reads the letters of Elizabeth Stoddard throughout the series. Heather Perry hosts, with announcer Jack Hanek. This episode was produced, written, and edited by Cynthia Wolfe, with assistance from Heather Perry, Sarah Torbeck, and Jack Hanek.

Special music for Two Men comes from the album MacDowell: Second Modern Suite / Étude de Concert / Twelve Études (Naxos, 1999), performed by James Barbagallo (1952–1996). The American composer Edward MacDowell, born in 1860, wrote these works for piano in the 1880s, around the time Two Men was reissued. Gull sound effects from Freesound.org created by users soundmary and m.newlove.

Executive producer: Joe Crawford
Theme music: The Impossible Shapes

Books Unbound – Elizabeth Stoddard and the 1860s, Part Eight: ‘Two Men’ Chapters 14-18

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Two Men, the second novel by Elizabeth Stoddard (1823–1902), is a family saga published in 1865, in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. In this week’s episode, the arrival of the three women of the Lang family brings the theme of race to the forefront. Mrs. Lang is the former mistress of a white slaveholder who has sent her and her two daughters North. Both daughters are attractive, the younger exceptionally so—an allure that does not escape the notice of the Parke family heir.

Two Men is read by Shayne Laughter. Heather Perry hosts, with announcer Jack Hanek. This episode was produced, written, and edited by Cynthia Wolfe, with assistance from Heather Perry, Sarah Torbeck, and Jack Hanek. The podcast adds a reading of Stoddard’s poem “Mercedes” and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s supernatural lesbian ballad “Christabel,” to which the character Philippa alludes in Chapter 14 of Two Men.

Special music for Two Men comes from the album MacDowell: Second Modern Suite / Étude de Concert / Twelve Études (Naxos, 1999), performed by James Barbagallo (1952–1996). The American composer Edward MacDowell, born in 1860, wrote these works for piano in the 1880s, around the time Two Men was reissued.

Executive producer: Joe Crawford
Theme music: The Impossible Shapes

Books Unbound – Elizabeth Stoddard and the 1860s, Part Seven: ‘Two Men’ Chapters 10–14

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Two Men, the second novel by Elizabeth Stoddard (1823–1902), is a family saga published in 1865, in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, but is set before the war. In this episode, a visit from Philippa’s attractive college friend reveals Parke as a ladies’ man, and prompts other family members to recognize their own desires. The theme of race relations gets an emphatic introduction, and listeners are advised of offensive racial characterizations and language.

Two Menis read by Shayne Laughter. Stoddard’s letters are read throughout the series by Sarah Torbeck. A review that came out in Boston soon after the publication of Two Men is read in an abridged version by Frank Buczolich.

Heather Perry hosts, with announcer Jack Hanek. The episode was produced, written, and edited by Cynthia Wolfe, with assistance from Heather Perry, Sarah Torbeck, and Jack Hanek.

Special music for Two Mencomes from the album MacDowell: Second Modern Suite / Étude de Concert / Twelve Études(Naxos, 1999), performed by James Barbagallo (1952–1996). The American composer Edward MacDowell, born in 1860, wrote these works for piano in the 1880s, around the time Two Men was reissued.

Executive producer: Joe Crawford
Theme music: The Impossible Shapes

Books Unbound – Elizabeth Stoddard and the 1860s, Part Six: ‘Two Men’ Chapters 6-9

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Two Men, the second novel by Elizabeth Stoddard (1823–1902), was published in 1865, in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, but is set before the war. Reviews were either mixed, recognizing the originality of her talent but faulting her preoccupations and technique, or hostile to the point of irrationality: Stoddard’s worst critics—all male—found it difficult to accept her undermining of illusions about the home as a tranquil haven, and her harshly realistic depiction of family tensions.

In this episode, the two Parke family heirs of the younger generation have come home from college, and family dynamics are further complicated by their emerging adulthood.

Two Men is read by Shayne Laughter. Stoddard’s letters are read throughout the series by Sarah Torbeck.

Heather Perry hosts, with announcer Jack Hanek. The episode was produced, written, and edited by Cynthia Wolfe, with assistance from Heather Perry, Sarah Torbeck, and Jack Hanek.

Special music for Two Men comes from the album MacDowell: Second Modern Suite / Étude de Concert / Twelve Études (Naxos, 1999), performed by James Barbagallo (1952–1996). The American composer Edward MacDowell, born in 1860, wrote these works for piano in the 1880s, around the time Two Men was reissued.

Executive producer: Joe Crawford
Theme music: The Impossible Shapes

Books Unbound – Elizabeth Stoddard and the 1860s, Part Five: ‘Two Men’ Chapters 3-5

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The New England family saga Two Men continues as the patriarch dies and a long-lost heir visits briefly—leaving his 10-year-old daughter, Philippa, to be reared among the Parkes. Appointed as her guardian, the honest carpenter Jason Auster, who has married the female heir to the estate, finds his socialist ideals compromised by his new responsibilities for maintaining the family wealth, earned through solid capitalist industry and the misappropriation of Native American land.

Two Men, the second novel by Elizabeth Stoddard (1823–1902), was published in 1865, in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, but is set before the war. The character Philippa introduces uncomfortable questions of what makes a family: her late mother is identified vaguely at this point as South American, and Philippa is repeatedly described as “yellow,” a racially loaded term at the time referring to people of color with a white parent or ancestry. Philippa has also been reared a Roman Catholic—to the horror of the upright though not devout Congregationalist Protestant family.

Two Men is read by Shayne Laughter. Stoddard’s letters, journalism, and diary entries are read throughout the series by Sarah Torbeck.

Heather Perry hosts, with announcer Jack Hanek. The episode was produced, written, and edited by Cynthia Wolfe, with assistance from Heather Perry, Sarah Torbeck, and Jack Hanek.

Special music for Two Men comes from the album MacDowell: Second Modern Suite / Étude de Concert / Twelve Études (Naxos, 1999), performed by James Barbagallo (1952–1996). The American composer Edward MacDowell, born in 1860, wrote these works for piano in the 1880s, around the time Two Men was reissued.

Executive producer: Joe Crawford
Theme music: The Impossible Shapes

Books Unbound – Elizabeth Stoddard and the 1860s, Part Four: ‘Two Men’ Begins

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Two Men, the second novel by Elizabeth Stoddard (1823–1902), was published in 1865, a mere two months after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. Women were prolific writers of fiction during the 1860s, and have also left abundant letters and diaries, but masculinist notions of what constitutes “war writing” have given an incomplete picture of American literature in the crucial decade of the Civil War.

Stoddard’s novel is a tightly compressed, multigenerational family saga that deals with issues of identity—race, class, religion, region, nation—that spoke to general anxieties about reunification in American society. While her short stories focus on female protagonists and typically end in marriage or a reconciliation, Stoddard begins Two Men with a marriage, and in a letter stated her desire to write “the history of a man”. Shayne Laughter reads. Stoddard’s letters, journalism, and diary entries are read throughout the series by Sarah Torbeck, who also reads the author’s dedication of the book to her brother. Doug Storm reads the book’s epigraph from Emerson’s essay “Experience,” and Martin O’Neill reads an excerpt from the preface to the revised 1888 edition written by Stoddard’s friend Edmund Clarence Stedman.

(Broadcast listeners: Stoddard’s story “Lemorne versus Huell,” which concluded in the July 18 broadcast, may be found in its entirety in part three of the series.)

Heather Perry hosts, with announcer Jack Hanek. The episode was produced, written, and edited by Cynthia Wolfe, with assistance from Heather Perry, Sarah Torbeck, and Jack Hanek.

Special music for Two Men comes from the album MacDowell: Second Modern Suite / Étude de Concert / Twelve Études (Naxos, 1999), performed by James Barbagallo (1952–1996). The American composer Edward MacDowell, born in 1860, wrote these works for piano in the 1880s, around the time Two Men was reissued.

Executive producer: Joe Crawford
Theme music: The Impossible Shapes

Books Unbound – Elizabeth Stoddard and the 1860s, Part Three: Absence

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Books Unbound resumes the summer series “Elizabeth Stoddard and the 1860s” after an Independence Day break, with two short stories by this lesser-known innovator in American women’s fiction. Julianna Dailey reads “One of the Days of My Life” (1865), a first-person story that seems like thinly veiled autobiography about the death of a sister and the bond to place. Stoddard lost her own sister and mother within six months of each other when she was twenty-five.

One of Stoddard’s most anthologized stories, “Lemorne versus Huell” (1863) is another first-person story, about a naive young woman who is courted for reasons she grasps only too late. Mary Pat Lynch reads. (The extended podcast contains the complete story; in the broadcast series, the story will continue next week.)

This episode was written, produced, and edited by Cynthia Wolfe, with recording assistance from Heather Perry, who hosts. The announcer is Jack Hanek.

Special music comes from Johannes Brahms, Piano Quintet in F Minor (1865), performed by Jorja Fleezanis, Wu Han, Ian Swensen, Ralph Kirshbaum, and Cynthia Phelps, and recorded live at the Music@Menlo chamber music festival in 2005, and from the Adagio movement of Brahms’ Piano Trio in B Major, performed by the Beaux Arts Trio.

“Elizabeth Stoddard and the 1860s” continues next week with her novel Two Men.

Executive producer: Joe Crawford
Books Unbound theme music: The Impossible Shapes

Books Unbound – The American Crisis: Readings for the Fourth of July

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A special two-hour program broadcast on the Fourth of July, “The American Crisis” features readings from the Revolutionary era, contemporary poetry on national identity, and an impassioned profile of Phillis Wheatley, the first African American poet—and arguably the first truly American poet. The episode is narrated by Heather Perry.

Frank Buczolich reads selections throughout from the title work “The American Crisis,” a series of articles by the political pamphleteer Thomas Paine. Sarah Torbeck reads Abigail Adams’ famous “Remember the ladies” letter, an early American example of feminist writing, and Phil Kasper reads her husband John Adams’ retort.

Tony Brewer reads two poems from the Beat Generation, “I Am Waiting” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and “America” by Allen Ginsberg.

The centerpiece of the episode is “The Difficult Miracle of Black Poetry: Something Like a Sonnet for Phillis Wheatley,” a slightly abridged version of the essay-profile by June Jordan. Renee Reed gives voice to a stunning evocation of what it meant for Wheatley, brought to the Colonies as a seven-year-old African and sold as a slave, to create herself as a poet within the tradition of white English literature.

“The American Crisis” includes a segment on the African American astronomer and surveyor Benjamin Banneker (1731–1806). Doug Storm reads a letter to Thomas Jefferson written by Banneker on racial justice, elegantly rebuking the author of the Declaration of Independence for perpetuating the institution of slavery while articulating the cause of freedom. The companion piece to the letter is the poem “Benjamin Banneker Helps to Build a City” by Jay Wright, read by Cynthia Wolfe, from his epic volume of verse Transfigurations. The segment in introduced with “Enlightenment,” by the multiracial poet Natasha Trethewey, which finds parallels between Jefferson’s contradictory attitudes toward slavery and the relationship of a white father and his black daughter.

The first Native American to publish in English, the Mohegan Christian convert Samson Occom (1723–1792), is represented by the opening of his memoir, in which he recalls the life of his people before the coming of Christianity. Martin O’Neill reads. Abenaki and French-Canadian poet Cheryl Savageau’s pointedly humorous “graduate school first semester: so here I am writing about Indians again” is read by Erin Livingston, who also reads examples of Phillis Wheatley’s poetry.

The episode closes with “lady liberty” by the Nuyorican poet Tato Laviera, who was born in Puerto Rico and died in New York in 2013, after a period of ill health and marginalization that included time spent in a homeless shelter. Cynthia Wolfe reads Laviera’s hopeful “lady liberty,” as well as the episode’s opening poem, “Of History and Hope” by Miller Williams, and “The History of America” by the Jewish feminist poet Alicia Ostriker.

The soundtrack for this episode features various works by the American composer Charles Ives (1874–1954), who has been described as “optimistic, idealistic, fiercely democratic … a Yankee maverick … among the most representative of American artists,” including:
selections from the album Ives: A Set of Pieces by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra (Deutsche Grammophon, 1999)
“They Are There! (Fighting for the People’s New Free World),” performed by Kronos Quartet, from their album Black Angels (Nonesuch, 1990)
the Presto movement of Ives’ Trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano, performed by the Beaux Arts Trio on their album Beaux Arts Trio: Fifty Year Celebration in Music (Phillips, 2004)

Additional music in the episode:
Stanley Friedman, Sonata for Trumpet and Piano: Variations on “The Morning Trumpet,” performed by Eric Berlin and Nadine Shank on the album Calls and Echoes: American Sonatas for Trumpet and Piano (MSR Classics, 2013)
Larry Hoffman, Blues Suite for Violoncello, Movements I and II, performed by Kristin Ostling on the album Works of Larry Hoffman: Contemporary American Music (After Click, 2011)
John Adams, “American Berserk”, performed by Nicolas Hodges, from the album Road Movies (Nonesuch, 2004)
“Trumpet, Flute, and Little Drum,” from Tzotziles: Psalms, Stories and Music (Sub Rosa/Le Coeur du Monde: 1999), a documentary field recording of a people descended from the Maya culture

Fireworks sound effects from Freesound.org were created by HerbertBoland, atomwrath, bmlake, and others.

“The American Crisis” was produced, written and edited by Cynthia Wolfe, with assistance from Heather Perry, Sarah Torbeck, and Doug Storm.

Executive producer: Joe Crawford
Theme music: The Impossible Shapes

Books Unbound – Elizabeth Stoddard and the 1860s, Part Two: Relations

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The second part of Books Unbound’s summer series on Elizabeth Stoddard (1823–1902) features “Lucy Tavish’s Journey “ (1867), a romantic tale read by Renee Reed that throws a few satiric elbows. Young Lucy Tavish sets out in new clothes bought by hay and cheese to have her first independent adventure, exposing herself to an unpredictable, sordid world. But before she even gets off the train, she’s found a safe destination. Like most of Stoddard’s stories, “Lucy Tavish’s Journey” centers on male-female relationships, but her ostensibly happy endings are often perplexing. A self-declared “difficult” woman, Stoddard herself had a lasting marriage but was blamed for estranging her husband from his friends.

The Stoddards lost two of their three sons, one as an infant and the other at age six. Elizabeth published several poems of mourning for her sons, including “Unreturning” (1868), read by Antonia Matthew. “Unreturning” is accompanied at the end of the episode with the poem “Testament” by Carolyn M. Rodgers, which is dedicated to the congregation of Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston, South Carolina, in memory of their loved ones killed in the June 17 shooting at the church. Rodgers is a poet from the South Side of Chicago who was an early member of the Black Arts Movement. Her poem is read by Renee Reed.

Sarah Torbeck reads two of Stoddard’s letters from 1865 that mention Lincoln’s assassination, and the couple’s friendship with the actor Edwin Booth, the pro-Lincoln brother of John Wilkes Booth. Stoddard abruptly juxtaposes this event with personal, even narcissistic concerns, and with adoration for her surviving son—suggesting unresolved themes of family, blood, race and politics in the Civil War era that underlie her superficially conventional fiction.

Special music comes from the Piano Quintet in F Minor of Johannes Brahms, published in 1865. The quintet was performed by Jorja Fleezanis, Wu Han, Ian Swensen, Ralph Kirshbaum, and Cynthia Phelps, and was recorded live at the Music@Menlo chamber music festival in 2005. Music for the poetry segment comes from Brahms, the Adagio movement of his Piano Trio in B Major, performed by the Beaux Arts Trio.

“Elizabeth Stoddard and the 1860s, Part One: Mrs. Stoddard” was produced, written and edited by Cynthia Wolfe, with production assistance from Heather Perry, Sarah Torbeck, and Jack Hanek. The series will continue after a break for a special episode on July 4.

Executive producer: Joe Crawford

Books Unbound theme music: The Impossible Shapes

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