Talking Classics with Spencer Klavan

The King of Stuff welcomes Spencer Klavan, host of the Young Heretics podcast and Assistant Editor for The Claremont Review of Books and The American Mind. Jon and Spencer discuss why everyone should read the classics, why Western Civilization is worth saving, and the future of the academy.

Subscribe to the King of Stuff Spotify playlist featuring picks from Jon and his guest. Spencer’s songs of the week are “exile” by Taylor Swift and Bon Iver, and “Grow As We Go” by Ben Pratt. Jon’s are “Speigel im spiegel” by Arvo Pärt and “Watch You, Watch Me” by Suuns.

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There are 9 comments.

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  1. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Where would you direct people for a list of classics? Western academia has been dominated by communists for generations now. Major corporations and publishers are similarly leftist. Conservative lists are increasingly necessary. 

    Anyone comfortable with reading from a Kindle or tablet can find dozens of classics available for free. 

    There’s nothing wrong with reading classics or popular literature to better understand references and share more conversations. But there is an unfortunate tendency in erudite conversations for people to focus too much on who said what where in preference to debating the ideas they represent. The lineage of ideas can be illuminating. But truth stands on its own. 

    • #1
  2. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    As an undergrad computer sci student, I took a survey course in philosophy and all I got out of Plato was that Socrates was a guy walking around asking questions and not knowing any answers. Then I sold an article, switched to English, and as a grad student took a seminar in Classical Rhetoric with an inspired professor who helped unlock both Plato and Aristotle. I reread the “Apology” at that time–and I was moved to tears. What a revelation!

    Decades later I edited my own public domain edition of Plato’s complete works without all the clutter for easy reading, and that was an amazing year of going deep into Plato.

    Also as an undergrad I read the Garnett translation of “War and Peace.” It was good and epic. Fifteen years later I read the Maude translation and it was mindblowing. I reread it 10 years ago and was awed by Tolstoy’s genius. Now I have the Pevear/Volokhonsy translation and I expect a grand new experience.

    The Classics are classics because of how they age with you. Especially Shakespeare.

    Great podcast! Thanks.

    The Underground Grammarian@UndergroundGra4

    • #2
  3. colleenb Member
    colleenb
    @colleenb

    Great interview. I think all men should try to mimic the “Spencer Klavan” voice! Maybe throat surgery or something?? Anything so more men sound like the manly Spencer. 

    • #3
  4. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Admin
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.
    @jon

    colleenb (View Comment):

    Great interview. I think all men should try to mimic the “Spencer Klavan” voice! Maybe throat surgery or something?? Anything so more men sound like the manly Spencer.

    I know. I need to re-edit the audio and lower the pitch of my voice.

    • #4
  5. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Admin
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.
    @jon

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Where would you direct people for a list of classics? Western academia has been dominated by communists for generations now. Major corporations and publishers are similarly leftist. Conservative lists are increasingly necessary.

    Anyone comfortable with reading from a Kindle or tablet can find dozens of classics available for free.

    There’s nothing wrong with reading classics or popular literature to better understand references and share more conversations. But there is an unfortunate tendency in erudite conversations for people to focus too much on who said what where in preference to debating the ideas they represent. The lineage of ideas can be illuminating. But truth stands on its own.

    I found this list which looks great. I just began picking out titles that looked interesting and figured out what I liked and what I didn’t. And you can find many of these for free for Kindle, and even on audiobook (VoxLibri app).

    • #5
  6. colleenb Member
    colleenb
    @colleenb

    Jon I believe you mentioned that reading the classics was one of the parts of your movement to the Orthodox faith. How important was it? Has your daughter, who also read these classics, shown any interest in converting? Thanks. 

    • #6
  7. DrewInWisconsin, Doormat Coolidge
    DrewInWisconsin, Doormat
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Spencer is probably a good guy, but he says Justin Vernon is one of his favorite artists, and as everyone in the PIT knows . . . 

    :: shakes fist in air ::

    . . . Justin Vernon is my arch enemy! 

    • #7
  8. DrewInWisconsin, Doormat Coolidge
    DrewInWisconsin, Doormat
    @DrewInWisconsin

    One of my biggest regrets is that the English course I took as a College Freshman I probably should have waited to take until I was in my 40s. The whole course was built around reading classic works of history and philosophy — such as that list you linked to, Jon — and then writing about and discussing them. And as an incoming Freshman, it was way over my head. But I would have loved it in my 40s.

    • #8
  9. colleenb Member
    colleenb
    @colleenb

    DrewInWisconsin, Doormat (View Comment):

    One of my biggest regrets is that the English course I took as a College Freshman I probably should have waited to take until I was in my 40s. The whole course was built around reading classic works of history and philosophy — such as that list you linked to, Jon — and then writing about and discussing them. And as an incoming Freshman, it was way over my head. But I would have loved it in my 40s.

    Same with that grammar class I should have taken in high school.

    • #9