The Classic Tales Podcast
Every week, join award-winning narrator B.J. Harrison as he narrates the greatest stories the world has ever known. From the jungles of South America to the Mississippi Delta, from Victorian England to the Gothic castles of Eastern Europe, join us on a fantastic journey through the words of the world's greatest authors. Critically-acclaimed and highly recommended for anyone who loves a good story with plenty of substance.

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Syndication

A screaming skull haunts the house in which it is closeted in a sealed hatbox. F. Marion Crawford, today on The Classic Tales Podcast.

Welcome to The Classic Tales Podcast. Thank you for listening.

Many, many thanks to all of our Classic Tales Podcast Financial Supporters. We couldn’t do this without you. 

The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde is now available at www.thebestaudiobooks.com. You can download the standard audiobook, an HD version, or mp3s of the chapters – whatever works for you! The Classic Tales Podcast: Season Four is available to preorder, and will be released in a few days. Financial supporters can use their monthly coupon codes and save 6 dollars off whatever they like.

Today’s story is by Francis Marion Crawford, who was an American expatriate known during his lifetime as a writer of historical romances. However, he occasionally dabbled in supernatural fiction. His horror stories drew the attention of one H.P. Lovecraft, who was an admirer of Crawford’s more effective weird fiction. Who knows? Before October is out, we may hear from Mr. Crawford again.

 

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Direct download: CT_490_TheScreamingSkull.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 10:20pm MDT

Ambrosius continues to wrestle with his emotions for the hangman’s daughter, and finally comes to a terrifying solution. Ambrose Bierce, today on The Classic Tales Podcast.

Welcome to The Classic Tales Podcast. Thank you for listening.

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Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne is now available at www.thebestaudiobooks.com. You can download the standard audiobook, an HD version, or mp3s of the chapters – whatever works for you! The Portrait of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde, is also available to preorder, and will be released in a few days. Financial supporters can use their monthly coupon codes and save 6 dollars off the sale price of $9.99 each.

Today we conclude our story of The Monk and the Hangman’s Daughter, by Ambrose Bierce. Ambrosius concludes his quest to reconcile his forbidden romantic feelings for the hangman’s daughter.

I am particularly enjoying the Alpine setting of this story, and the way that the mountains can alternate between being haunted by demons and phantoms, and at other times show traces of a gentle, divine Creator. Of course, because we see the mountains through the mind of Ambrosius, the nature of the wilderness fluctuates according to how he is feeling.

As our story comes to its tragic conclusion, let us consider where we fit in to the narrative. Do we see ourselves as Ambrosius, confused and tormented by things we don’t understand, yet driven to somehow find harmony in the chaos?

Or are we Benedicta, the hangman’s daughter? Destined to live the life of an outcast. Perpetually marginalized and shunned because of her station in life – a station she earned by simply being born.

Or are we the clergy, or governing rulers of the tale?

Or are we those who just fit in?

I feel as though the author may be saying that when anyone, but especially a governing body, holds a prejudiced conviction that some of their people are to be vilified and shunned, it is divisive and destructive.

But only to the shunned.

So I guess the real question is, why should those who are not shunned care?

And now, The Monk and the Hangman’s Daughter, Part 3 of 3, by Ambrose Bierce

Direct download: CT_489_Monk_Hangmans_Daught_Pt3of3.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 12:30am MDT

Ambrosius again stands against those who calumniate the hangman’s daughter. His reward is not what he expected. Ambrose Bierce, today on The Classic Tales Podcast.

Welcome to The Classic Tales Podcast. Thank you for listening.

Many, many thanks to all of our Classic Tales Podcast Financial Supporters. We couldn’t do this without you.

Preorder your copy now of Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne at www.thebestaudiobooks.com. This title will be released within just a few more days! You can download the standard audiobook, an HD version, or mp3s of the chapters – whatever works for you! Financial supporters can use their monthly coupon code and save 6 dollars off the sale price of $9.99.

Let’s talk about our monk, Ambrosius. Ambrosius is experiencing something called cognitive dissonance. Leon Festinger introduced this theory in 1957. He suggested that we have an inner drive to hold all our attitudes and beliefs in harmony and avoid disharmony, or dissonance.

For example, when people smoke, and they know that smoking causes cancer and disease. Their behavior (smoking) clashes with their cognition, or what they know to be true (the fact that smoking is harmful to them). The discomfort caused by the cognition, or belief, motivates behavior to be brought into greater harmony with the cognition. (I know this is bad for me- I should stop).

When Ambrosius sees how his superiors shamefully mistreat Benedicta in today’s episode, he experiences cognitive dissonance. All of his experiences as a youth and a monk have given him many evidences of the goodness of his high-demand religion. He loves it. But when he sees Benedicta suffer at the hands of his superiors, he is motivated to somehow find mental harmony.

Would this conflict occur if young Ambrosius were not in love with Benedicta? Who knows? But his feelings certainly make the dissonance stronger. He’s been trying to reconcile his feelings for her all along, considering them a divine mission, a holy sign and token to protect her, etc.. They have to be anything but romantic love, for that is forbidden, and he is very, very devout. He shouldn’t have these feelings. But he does. It is this process of his quest for harmony that leads him to eventually resolve the cognitive dissonance by going to a very dark place, indeed.

And now, The Monk and the Hangman’s Daughter, Part 2 of 3, by Ambrose Bierce

Direct download: CT_488_Monk_Hangmans_Daught_Pt2of3.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 11:41pm MDT

A knot of monks happens upon a gallows in the middle of a dark forest. Hanging from the gallows is a fresh corpse, and underneath the dangling wretch a young woman performs a haunting dance. Ambrose Bierce, today on The Classic Tales Podcast.

Welcome to The Classic Tales Podcast. Thank you for listening.

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After our long and exciting summer run of Tarzan, I wanted to do something a bit more subtle and literary before we jump into the horrors of October. Ambrose Bierce is most famous for his story An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. However, many consider The Monk and the Hangman’s Daughter to be his real masterpiece. First published serially in 1891, it has an atmospheric fairy tale feel like many popular stories of the time. The subtle transformation of the monk Ambrosius from innocent monk to violent zealot is where Bierce really shines. When an innocent monk falls in love, his efforts to suppress his natural feelings result in a gradual descent toward calamity.

From the introduction to the 1967 edition, copyright by The George Macy Companies, scholar Maurice Valency writes:

“… his spiritual discomfort is enhanced by his heroic efforts to transcend the normal appetites of a young and healthy body. The consequence is a special sort of erotic frenzy, and a series of rationalizations which end in madness. Insofar as such a story is said to have a moral, it is plain: Nature is not to be denied. If we try to shut it out, it presents itself in another guise, and it becomes terrible…. Love comes to the monk Ambrosius with terrible urgency. Because his heart is pure, his passion is transformed into zeal; his jealousy becomes sacred; his revenge a vocation, and in death he finds his priesthood…. [He is]… the victim of an excess of goodness.”

And now, The Monk and the Hangman’s Daughter, Part 1 of 3, by Ambrose Bierce

Direct download: CT_487_Monk_Hangmans_Daughter_Pt1of3.mp3
Category:Literature -- posted at: 10:01pm MDT

Two classic stories from one of America’s greatest short story writers. O. Henry, today on The Classic Tales Podcast.

Welcome to The Classic Tales Podcast. Thank you for listening.

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Today’s stories comes from O. Henry’s seminal collection of short stories about New York City: The Four Million. Both of these stories, Twenty Years Later, and Mammon and the Archer are widely anthologized. Today they are placed together, because I felt that they demonstrate the same truth: It’s great to be in the right. But the true test of greatness is in the use of prudence.

And now, Twenty Years Later, and Mammon and the Archer, by O. Henry

Direct download: CT_486_After_Twenty_Years.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am MDT