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Investigating James: an interview with Patrick J. Murphy and Fred Porcheddu

August 12, 2013 | Episodes | Comments (14)

Montague Rhodes JamesThis week we’ve got an interview for you with two splendid chaps from the U.S., who are delving into what lies behind MR James’ stories.

Patrick J. Murphy and Fred Porcheddu are also super-fun guys and we hope you enjoy hearing their take on what made Monty tick, the deeper meanings in his stories, and just what academics get up to in reading rooms all day.

Patrick and Fred’s recent articles on James’ fiction are:

  • “Renovation and Resurrection in M.R. James’s ‘Episode of Cathedral History.’” Studies in Medievalism (July 2013)
  •  “The Antiquarian Diaries of Thomas Hearne and Mr. Poynter in the Fiction of M.R. James: Duty Unfulfilled.” English Literature in Transition (July 2012)

If you aren’t sat on an academic network, then Fred has kindly offered to send interested listeners copies of these papers – follow the link for his email address.

Big thanks to Patrick and Fred for their time – we’ll be be back in a few weeks with View from a Hill.


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  1. A Rat in the Wall says:

    I was so afraid this was going to be some smug academic psychosexual Freudian analysis of James – I am so unfathomably happy it wasn’t. I will say that though it is very possible homosexuality IS a subject in the stories, sometimes a pipe is just a pipe. It is easy to read your or popular beliefs into something.

    Quite glad that these two gentlemen were so entertaining AND that ‘Rats’ was mentioned! I love Rats myself, despite the lack of any rats.

  2. Matt says:

    I was vaguely disheartened to see another episode of discussion rather than covering of a full James story for the podcast, however my fears were completely unjustified and I found the musings of these two academics to be both informative and entertaining in equal measure. Bravo for getting these chaps on board!

    When you get round to covering “A Warning to the Curious” you really must get them involved, the story deserves this kind of level of quality of input.

    My favourite episodes of HP Podcraft are around the Dunwich horror, partly as it’s a great story but also because their guest Robert M Price was so good at illuminating influences and ideas as an academic “specialist”, but also because Price is funny as hell and clearly loves Lovecraft. I really feel Prof Porcheddu and PJ Murphy would do something similar.

    • A Rat In The Wall says:

      That’s actually a really good idea. The Dunwich Horror podcasts were great and Price has a great sense of humour, I wouldn’t mind hearing Porcheddu and Murphy as guest hosts.

  3. Carol Mikolj says:

    I would vote for that too. As a fairly new fan of HP Podcraft – and these podcasts in general – I really enjoyed the Robert M Price input into the Dunwich Horror, which is one of my favourite stories anyway. And I thoroughly enjoyed this interview – especially the idea of MRJ re-enactments! But if you do get Porcheddu and Murphy back again, can you please improve the sound quality – this episode was spoilt a bit by the muffled quality of the interview.

    Still a great podcast – keep up the good work lads!

    • Mike says:

      Hi guys! Great idea, we can but ask… Agree with you about the Dunwich podcraft episodes, those and the interviews with Joshi were always amongst my faves.

      Sorry about sound – Will is the technical expert and I was winging it. Not representative of the high quality he always insists on!

  4. Matt says:

    On a side note why the heck is Will holidaying in Devon when he should clearly be in Suffolk where every true Jamesian aficionado takes the sea air!?!

  5. mark says:

    Sorry to be so technodumb but I cannot find the link to fred’s address or are you being all Abbot Thomas now?

  6. mark says:

    Thanks. You then need to look in the Contact Us section and click on view all contacts.

  7. Richard Leigh says:

    A very interesting interview. I look forward to the results of their research. I’ve always thought that the two men in “An Evening’s Entertainment” are concealing something apart from their occult activities. I wonder what you’ll make of the story, when you reach it.

  8. I’m afraid Fred and Patrick aren’t the first to re-enact the wallop at the end of W2tC. I tried something similar when I was in Aldeburgh a few years back. Sadly, my girlfriend turned out not to remember the story, so she just thought I’d had some sort of seizure and started to ring for an ambulance. This is one of the many perils of Jamesian re-enactments. I would also advise strongly against pretending to dig up a saxon long-barrow on private property.

    [By the way, if anyone is looking for a Jamesian holiday destination, the Martello Tower at Sea/Aldeburgh is available for short stays via the Landmark Trust. I wouldn’t stay there on your own, though…]

  9. Kim says:

    Belatedly, I’d like to say that while I did enjoy this episode and would definitely like to hear more from Fred & Patrick, I’d also be very disappointed to have them join in your coverage of a story (‘Warning to the Curious’ or otherwise). You two have a fantastic rapport — much better, IMO, than that between the HPPodcraft gang — and adding guests to the mix seems like diluting a good thing to me.

    Why not two episodes, one with your coverage of ‘Warning’ and one bringing in Fred & Patrick to talk about their take on it (and other/related themes, stories, etc.)?

  10. Richard Leigh says:

    Re Mr Poynter, to whom it may concern, a couple of quotes.
    1. From Richard Davenport-Hines’ book on Proust, “A Night at the Majestic” p137
    Proust’s reference…is a reminder of how conscientiously he had considered the available literature on homosexuality, including, it seems, such minor English novels as Howard Overing Sturgis’s ‘Tim, a story of Eton’ (1891) and ‘Belchamber’ (1904).
    2. From Cox: “M.R.James” page 112
    The following yea he was with Arthur (Benson) briefly at Tan-yr-allt, the house near Portmadoc once occupied by Shelley and now joint-leased by A.C.Ainger and Howard Sturgis, two close fiends of Arthur’s, as a bachelor retreat.

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