Magdalen College: From the Summit
“On Teaching and Translating Dante” (Anthony Esolen Episode 9)

“On Teaching and Translating Dante” (Anthony Esolen Episode 9)

March 24, 2020

“Dante and Shakespeare divide the world.  There is no third.”—T.S. Eliot

In this conversation, Anthony Esolen discusses his experiences reading Dante as an undergraduate, translating the great poet, and teaching the Commedia to undergraduates in turn.  What prompted him to begin translating Dante?  What was the hierarchy of values that guided him in the work of translation?  He also offers commentary on the great Princeton professor—a scholar of Dante and Boccaccio—Robert Hollander—and considers the translations of Singleton, Ciardi, and Pinsky.  Finally, he introduces and reads his own lyrics concerning art and the Catholic Church in his lifetime (lyric no. 20) and the 'insufficiency of politics' (lyric no. 35) from his poem The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord.

Links of potential interest:

Esolen’s The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord

Esolen's translation of Dante's Divine Comedy

A review of Esolen’s Dante’s Divine Comedy

Robert Hollander’s, “Dante: A Party of One

Video of Anthony Esolen's lecture "The Boethius Option"

Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts

 

“The Power of the Powerless” (Anthony Esolen Episode 8)

“The Power of the Powerless” (Anthony Esolen Episode 8)

March 14, 2020

"The human things come first."  Anthony Esolen discusses his reading and teaching of Václav Havel's "Power of the Powerless" (with asides on Hannah Arendt and C.S. Lewis) and the dangers of "political knitting clubs."  He also considers the parallels between excellent brewing and excellent teaching while also noting how the Catholic faith and liberal education be taken up for ideological reasons.  Finally, he introduces and reads his dramatic-epistolary monologue "Saint Paul to Gamaliel" from his poem The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord.

Links of potential interest:

The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord

Esolen's essay "Resisting the Totalitarian Power of Politicization"

Video of Anthony Esolen's "The Boethius Option"

C.S. Lewis, "Learning in War Time"

Pope Saint John Paul II, Centesimus Annus

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts

“He doesn’t want our contentment but our joy and salvation” (Anthony Esolen Episode 7)

“He doesn’t want our contentment but our joy and salvation” (Anthony Esolen Episode 7)

February 24, 2020

Anthony Esolen discusses an upcoming essay in First Things on hymn texts and an article for Chronicles Magazine on fascist imagery in American federal art and sculpture.  He also considers the Vipers' Tangle by Francois Mauriac, a book he is currently teaching in his Honors Colloquium, "The Literature of Spiritual Crisis."  How might such a book shape how we see marriage and the world, directing our decisions?  Finally, he introduces and reads his surprising dramatic monologue "The Demoniac from Gadara" from his poem The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord.

Links of potential interest:

The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord

Video of Anthony Esolen's "The Boethius Option"

Riccardo Bacchelli's Lo sguardo di Gesù

Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts

“Benedict, Boethius, and Bosco” (Anthony Esolen Episode 6)

“Benedict, Boethius, and Bosco” (Anthony Esolen Episode 6)

February 24, 2020

Anthony Esolen discusses his recent lecture "The Boethius Option" elaborating on Boethius as a model for cultural and political engagement as well as the examples of St. Benedict and St. John Bosco.  He also takes up the critical role that imagination, literature, and song play in the formation of our character and the character of our children.  Finally, he introduces and reads a new hymn-poem "I shall arise, and seek my Father's house" (to be sung to the tune "Old 124th") from his poem “The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord.” 

Links of potential interest:

The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord

Video of Anthony Esolen's "The Boethius Option"

Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture

Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts

Mary Mumbach:  “The Genres of Poetry: A Mapping that Takes Us Back to the Text”

Mary Mumbach: “The Genres of Poetry: A Mapping that Takes Us Back to the Text”

February 11, 2020

How can an understanding of the genres of literature and poetry--lyric, comedy, tragedy, and epic--serve as doorways into a deeper experience not only of the works that we love most but also of the movements of the human soul?  In this dialogue, Mary Mumbach, a senior member of the college's faculty, considers the classic genres in light of the profound reflections offered by Louise Cowan and in their reception by the students of Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts.  She reflects on how an understanding of these genres can function as "maps" that take readers back into the works and give them an experience of incarnation in the concrete details of literary art.  In addition to considering the three stages of each genre and their archetypes (the psalms, Dante, Greek tragedy, and Homer), Dr. Mumbach takes up the questions of how forms such as the novel exist within these genres, how Christianity changed our experience of tragedy, and whether Plato might have been a better friend of the poets than we realize.  And finally, she considers how the study of these works by the college's students transform their vision and experience of life.

Links of potential interest:

Mumbach's "The courage of reason and the scandal of education" in Gained Horizons: Regensburg and the Enlargement of Reason

Additional interviews with Mary Mumbach and other members of Magdalen's faculty

The Terrain of Comedy

The Epic Cosmos

The Prospect of Lyric

The Tragic Abyss

Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts

Peter Sampo: “On the Renewal of Catholic Education”

Peter Sampo: “On the Renewal of Catholic Education”

February 8, 2020

In this dialogue, Dr. Peter Sampo, the college’s founding president, takes up the principles that should guide any renewal of Catholic education.  Foremost is the spirit of joy: "Pursuing the life of the mind is the most joyful thing there is and everything that comes with that should be joyful as well ... The spirit of the whole place should be a celebration."   

He also considers how we can emulate the intellectual excellence of the great Catholic universities of the Middle Ages, the role that the curriculum should play in guiding the institution's every dimension, and considers the place of Catholic ritual within the institution:  "we must be surrounded by Catholic ritual because that points to transcendence ... the life of the mind includes pursuing the transcendent as well as the immanent." 

And he considers the friendship that should exist between teacher and student, the tradition of paideia, the role of beauty in the cultivation of the intellect, and more.

Links of potential interest:

Peter Sampo on "Paideia"

Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts

Mary Mumbach:  “The Poetic Imagination”

Mary Mumbach: “The Poetic Imagination”

February 5, 2020

Can literature (poetry) enable us to return to reality and to the self-evident? In this dialogue, Mary Mumbach, a senior member of the college's faculty, considers the nature of the poetic imagination and how the movements and gestures of the soul manifest themselves in the great literary genres and forms.  Woven within this consideration are Aristotle's Poetics, Melville's Moby Dick, Jacques Maritain's Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry, Fr. William Lynch's Images of Imaginationand the work of Francis Fergusson.  She also takes up the four genres--lyric, tragedy, comedy, and epic--briefly considering each as different movements of the soul "writ large in the poem" and how this theory of genre can lead us back into the poetic works with greater insight.  

Links of potential interest:

Mumbach's "The courage of reason and the scandal of education" in Gained Horizons: Regensburg and the Enlargement of Reason

Additional interviews with Mary Mumbach and other members of Magdalen's faculty

Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts

“The eyes, the eyes!” (Anthony Esolen Episode 5)

“The eyes, the eyes!” (Anthony Esolen Episode 5)

December 16, 2019

Anthony Esolen discusses a forthcoming book—Unreal City—and the stirrings of what might become a commentary on the Gospel of John.  He also takes up four great novels that have been overlooked too often by too many:  The Betrothed, Vipers’ Tangle, The Clown, and Barrabas.  Finally, he introduces and reads the dramatic monologue “Pontius Pilate to Claudius” from his poem “The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord.” 

 

 

Links of potential interest:

The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord

Manzonoi's novel The Betrothed

Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts

Mary Mumbach:  “An Education for Heroism”

Mary Mumbach: “An Education for Heroism”

December 16, 2019

In this dialogue, Mary Mumbach, a senior member of the college's faculty, considers what it means to experience "an education for heroism."  Ranging widely to include Shakespeare, and Benedict XVI, she takes up the question of how we educate students to live heroically, seeking a wisdom born of imagination and paradox.  While reflecting on the wisdom of her teachers, she offers thoughts on the place of the poetic imagination in the arts and in her life of teaching and learning.

Links of potential interest:

Mumbach's "The courage of reason and the scandal of education" in Gained Horizons: Regensburg and the Enlargement of Reason

Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts

 

“Smelling Salts in the Thurible” (Anthony Esolen Episode 4)

“Smelling Salts in the Thurible” (Anthony Esolen Episode 4)

December 16, 2019

In this conversation, Anthony Esolen takes up that unique Biblical language known as “NAB-ish” and considers what vandals have wrought upon our classic hymns.  He takes us through his teaching of “The Literature of Spiritual Crisis”—Cicero, Boethius, and Shakespeare—and renders his judgement on what he considers to be the greatest play ever written.  Dr. Esolen also gives us an unforgettable reading of his dramatic monologue, “Saint Peter,” from his poem "The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord" (XIV).

 

 

Links of potential interest:

The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord by Anthony Esolen

Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts

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