Fri, 5 February 2021
What will become of the townsfolk when Scratchy Wilson goes on the rampage, and the sheriff is out of town? Stephen Crane, today on The Classic Tales Podcast.
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App users can hear the poem “Kubla Khan”, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in the special features for today’s episode.
And I am beginning to stream all of my podcast episodes through YouTube. If you listen to your audio through YouTube, which is apparently a thing now, you can find a link to our YouTube channel in the comments section for this week’s episode. All of the podcast episodes will be available as a kind of Videogram, with the weekly album art as the visual, while the audio plays behind it.
Now, for today’s story.
Now, as you know recently, I’ve been highlighting Russian literature. One thing that’s been brought to my attention is that it’s not until very recently that they’ve had a mystery genre. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction by Otto Penzler to a book I’m working on that includes these crime oriented Russian short stories:
“It is appropriate to the point of obviousness to recognize that the detective story cannot flourish in a non-democratic society. The chief protagonist in a detective story is a hero: the person who will right the wrongs perpetrated by a criminal. This is possible only in a society in which the rule of law matters, and it must matter to all strata of the society. If a government is corrupt, or dictatorial, its functionaries are, by definition, primarily focused on their own interests or in those of the government that employs them...
The very notion of Russian detective fiction is oxymoronic, as it is a country whose citizens seldom have enjoyed individual freedom. Sinking from the oppression of the czarist regime to the horrors of the Communist police state, Russia was in no position to offer fictional police officers as the heroes of mystery stories, as they were more likely than ordinary citizens to be the criminals and persecutors.” – Otto Penzler, from the introduction to The Greatest Russian Stories of Crime and Suspense. Published by Highbridge Audio.
So, in order to show the contrast between these stories, and to kind of showcase what those of us without such a background are perhaps more accustomed to, we’re presenting a Western from Stephen Crane this week. I figured there’s nothing more illustrative of cut and dried good guy versus bad guy than a Western.
However, while very well written, it still has some problems inherent to the genre.- particularly that of racism. Please note how the author points out the races of the African Americans, Mexicans, and Jewish people. Yet the race of all of the people who have speaking roles isn’t mentioned. This is racism. Even though there aren’t any overt racial slurs, this subtle naming of the race, and connecting the people thus named to their roles as waiter, staff, shepherds, or tailors is a definite form of racism.
So, something to think about as we head out West.
And now, The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky, by Stephen Crane.