Aired: May 11, 2013

Butterfly in the Typewriter

A Confederacy of Dunces, by New Orleans-born John Kennedy Toole, is one of the great stories of American literature. Published almost 12 years after his tragic suicide, the book went on to win the Pulitzer Prize and became a modern classic. Cory MacLauchlin’s (Germanna Community College) new biography of Toole, Butterfly in the Typewriter, tells two stories: one of the author himself, the other of his great novel. Also featured: Harry Crews, whose Southern Gothic novels conjured a world of hard-drinking and hard-living outsiders, died last year. David Jeffrey (James Madison University) has interviewed Crews at length and is the editor of A Grit’s Triumph: Essays on the Works of Harry Crews. And: Don Quixote, the tale of a Spanish knight driven mad by reading too many chivalric romances, was recently voted the best book of all time in a survey of 100 of the world’s best authors. Antonio Carreño-Rodríguez (George Mason University) fell in love with the book when he was 23 and admires Miguel de Cervantes, the author of the epic satire, who died on the same day as William Shakespeare. Plus: Homer’s epic poems are the first major works of western literature. David Pollio (Christopher Newport University) says the themes of family, love, and death keep the Iliad and the Odyssey relevant for modern readers.


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