There are a lot of very good, very long books out there: Middlemarch, War and Peace, Don Quixote, the Neapolitan Novels. And then there are the very long books you probably won’t ever want to read, like Leonid Brezhnev’s memoirs, Saddam Hussein’s hackneyed romance novels, or the Kim family’s film theory. This show is about that kind of very long book, and the man who decided to read all of them: Daniel Kalder, who joins us on the show to talk about his journey through The Infernal Library and what these books tell us about the dictatorial soul, assuming there is one.
Go beyond the episode:
- Daniel Kalder’s The Infernal Library: On Dictators, the Books They Wrote, and Other Catastrophes of Literacy
- Dive into Turkmenbashi’s Ruhnama, if you dare.
- Daniel Kalder reviews Saddam Hussein’s prose—he “tortured metaphors, too”—or you can read it yourself
- Or check out Kalder’s dispatches from The Guardian’s “Dictator-lit” archives
- While we couldn’t find a video of Fidel Castro’s four-hour-and-29-minute address to the United Nations in 1960, you can read it here
Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
Download the audio here (right click to “save link as …”)
Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes!
Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.