INVITATION TO WORLD LITERATURE brings together a tantalizing mix of writers, literary scholars, artists and performers to explore timeless tales from a variety of eras and cultures. Writers and scholars discuss key scenes while artists and performers deliver modern interpretations of an eclectic collection stretching from ancient Greece (Euripides) to the French Enlightenment (Voltaire) to the modern day (Gabriel Garcia Marquez). Guests include: actor Alan Cummings, theater director Mary Zimmerman, actor-director Tim Blake-Nelson, acclaimed composer Philip Glass, playwright David Henry Huang, film director Harold Ramis, actress Kristen Chenoweth and humorist Mo Rocca.
Candide Episode # 109
A satirical novel following the travails of Candide, a hopeless optimist whose faith in his tutor's mantra that his is "the best of all possible worlds" is tested beyond all limits. Volaire's challenge to the aristocracy of his day proves refreshingly amusing and biting today. Original illustrations, songs, and comic book figures plumb the depths of this satire. Featured speakers include director Harold Ramis, actress Kristen Chenoweth, and cartoonist Chris Ware.
Sunday, May 26, 2013 Length : 26 min MPT2
Things Fall Apart Episode # 110
In this foundational modern African novel, Chinua Achebe's story follows the lives of people trying to understand which belief systems deserve their loyalty. The protagonist, Okonkwo is a tribal leader who battles neighboring villages, the English, and his own demons in early colonial Nigeria. The perspectives of readers from around the world reveal the novel's universal themes. Cast members include playwright and professor Tess Onwueme and theater director Chuck Mike.
Sunday, June 02, 2013 Length : 26 min MPT2
One Hundred Years of Solitude Episode # 111
Gabriel Garcia Marquez's multigenerational saga of the Buendia family in the isolated town of Macondo inaugurated the boom in Latin American literature in the 1970s and marked the beginning of magical realism. Writer Sandra Cisneros and scholar of Latin American literature, Ilan Stavans lend their thoughts and voices to the discussion of this epic novel.
Sunday, June 09, 2013 Length : 26 min MPT2
The God of Small Things Episode # 112
Fraternal twins Rahel and Estha struggle to reclaim their lives after their childhood is destroyed by tragic circumstances. As past and present merge in this narrative of Indian society and politics, the many layers of the caste system are mirrored in the poetic and inventive language of the author. Featured speakers include Simon Gikandi of Princeton University, author Evelyn Ch'ien.
Sunday, June 16, 2013 Length : 26 min MPT2
The Thousand and One Nights Episode # 113
Shahrazad must hold the interest of her despotic husband the sultan with nightly tales, lest she lose her life in the morning. This wellspring of storytelling, circulating from medieval Persia to Egypt to Iraq, like its wily raconteur lives on in many modern adaptations. Art, performance, and film images are employed to show the collection's broad span of influence. Featured speakers include Marin Alsop, musical director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Aly Jetha and Shabnam Rezai, co-producers of the 1001 Nights animated series.
Sunday, June 23, 2013 Length : 26 min MPT2
The Epic of Gilgamesh Episode # 101
The first known human story is that of Gilgamesh, king of Uruk. Images of artifacts from ancient Iraq mix with beautiful illustrations, dance, and costume to tell of the relations between gods and mortals, the search for friendship, love, and immortality. Featured cast members include Assyriologist Ben Foster, comic book illustrator Jim Starlin, and poet and playwright Yusef Komunyakaa.
Sunday, June 30, 2013 Length : 26 min MPT2
Episode # 108
The Mayan book of creation, the dawn of life, and the glories of gods and kings. This magnificent epic was saved from destruction at the hands of the Spanish by Quiche chroniclers. Once repressed, the story is now interwoven with the history of today's Mayan people. Featured speakers include archaeologist Richard Hanson, humorist Mo Rocca, and Guatemalan artist Shuni Giron. Rebroadcast
Sunday, May 19, 2013 Length : 26 min MPT2
Journey to the West
Episode # 107
The powerful and mischievous Stone Monkey King brings chaos to heaven and earth. Freed from a mountain prison in order to guard a Chinese monk on his journey to retrieve the Buddhist scriptures from India, Monkey seeks his own spiritual transformation. Modern performance, contemporary art, and Buddhist philosophers provide a rich context to the ancient tale. Featured cast members include playwright David Henry Huang, storyteller Dianne Wolkstein, and translator Professor Anthony Yu. Rebroadcast
Sunday, May 12, 2013 Length : 26 min MPT2
The Tale of Genji
Episode # 106
This portrait of court life in medieval Japan follows the life and exploits of the great Genji. Written by Murasaki Shikibu, a lady of the Japanese court, it provides an insider's view of Japanese court life, the official and behind the screen. Art, clothing, music from the time of the novel illustrate the obserations of authors Jane Smiley and Chiori Miyagawa, among others. Rebroadcast
Sunday, May 05, 2013 Length : 26 min MPT2
The Bhagavad Gita
Episode # 105
This epic tale of the warrior-prince Arjuna confronting a life-or-death dilemma during civil war presents a unique and powerful philosophy of duty, discipline, and serving a higher purpose. Beautiful illustrations connect the story with its rich history and culture. Featured speakers include Sheldon Pollack, Professor of Sanskrit Studies and acclaimed composer Philip Glass. Rebroadcast
Sunday, April 28, 2013 Length : 26 min MPT2
Episode # 104
The city of Thebes is torn apart by the conflicting demands of reason and religion, as the disguised god Dionysus returns to his home town demanding to be worshipped. Opposing him is the young king Pentheus, who is doomed to suffer the ultimate punishment for his disbelief. Featured speakers include world-renowned playwright/author Wole Soyinka, actor Alan Cummings, and Daniel Mendelsohn of Bard College. Rebroadcast
Sunday, April 21, 2013 Length : 26 min MPT2
Episode # 103
Odysseus must travel the known and unknown world before he can return home to his beloved island kingdom of Ithaca. What does this ancient story say to readers today? In this program, Odysseus's story is given ancient and modern historical and philosophical context, and illustrated with centuries of art. Featured are theater director Mary Zimmerman, actor-director Tim Blake-Nelson, and psychologist/author Jonathan Shay. Rebroadcast
Sunday, April 14, 2013 Length : 26 min MPT2
My Name Is Red
Episode # 102
Both an historical novel and a graphic murder mystery set among the miniaturists of the Ottaman court. With its focus on Istambul, a major crossroads of the world, it tells of the artistic/cultural contest between Europe and the East. Cast members include the book's Nobel-prize winning author, Orhan Pamuk, and its English translator, Erdag Goknar. Rebroadcast