"We are all latecomers": Martin Puchner's "Culture" (JP, EF)


Recall This Book listeners already know the inimitable Martin Puchner (Professor of English and Theater at Harvard, editor of more than one Norton Anthology, and author of many prizewinning books) from that fabulous RTB episode about his “deep history” of literature and literacy, The Written World. And you know his feelings about Wodehouse from his Books in Dark Times confessions.

Today you get to hear his views on culture as mediation and translation, all the way down. His utterly fascinating new book, Culture: The Story of Us from Cave Art to K Pop (Norton, 2023) argues that mediators, translators and transmitters are not just essential supplements, they are the whole kit and kaboodle—it is borrowing and appropriation all the way down.

Mentioned in the episode:

Recallable Books: 

Read the episode here.

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Elizabeth Ferry and John Plotz

Free-ranging discussion of books from the past that cast a sideways light on today's world. Recall This Book is hosted by Elizabeth Ferry, Professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University and John Plotz, Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative.

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