Download The Portrait of a Lady podcast from St. Columba's College
SCC English Department, Dublin, 18 June 2009
Sometimes it's illuminating just
to sit back and listen to two aficionados discussing their favourite texts. This is precisely what this podcast offers,
as John Fanagan, former member of staff at St. Columba's College, discusses Henry James' great novel, in the hope that listeners
might be encouraged to include it as part of their "summer reading." This was the final podcast of the 2008-9 academic
year, so the intentions were clear.
The podcast offers valuable introductions to the main themes and characters of the novel: Fanagan has
the ability to use the kind of colloquial language that can be understood by any listeners, whether they have read James'
novel or not. His judgments help dispel the (often unfounded) assumptions that James' work is somehow 'difficult,' or
that his novels are both 'long' and 'daunting.' I particularly liked his emphasis on the subtleties of the text: both
the story and the title seem on the surface to be straightforward, and it is only when we probe deeper into the text that
we begin to understand its significances. If this podcast can encourage readers to make that kind of close reading,
then its usefulness cannot be underestimated.