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The new Middlebrow podcast deals with comedy and communism, spurred by the recent movie The Death of Stalin, which Flagg Taylor (@FlaggTaylor) and I both wanted to succeed. Unfortunately, it is a failure. More on this on the podcast, as well as some talk about Milan Kundera, Ilf and Petrov, Solzhenitsyn and Leo Strauss, Vaclav Havel and Vaclav Benda, an English-translation book of whose essays Flagg has just edited, The Long Night of The Watchman. Flagg is also the co-editor, with our friend Carl Scott, of Totalitarianism on Screen, about the great movie The Lives of Others (won the Oscar for Best Foreign Picture in 2006), which dealt with the secret police in Communist East Germany, and which we discussed on the podcast last year. So now we match our conversation on tragedy and communism with one on comedy. Listen, share, and give us a rating/review!
Here’s Flagg talking about his book on Vaclav Benda, Charter 77, and the fight against Communism in Czechoslovakia on the Federalist Radio Hour with Ben Domenech!
Flagg, who teaches political science, has recently taught a course on totalitarianism in literature (using five novelists: Lewis, Orwell, Koestler, Huxley, and Ishiguro), and so we also talked about totalitarianism of the fictional variety in our Middlebrow podcast on Never Let Me Go, a movie adapted from the novel by Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro.
If you’re interested in literature on totalitarianism, Flagg has a very good essay on Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at noon, the least-discussed of the famous novels about Communism.