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Friday, October 6, 2023

New Ada Palmer interview

Ada Palmer (University of Chicago Faculty portrait) 

If you enjoyed my long Maybe Day interview with historian and novelist Ada Palmer, you might also enjoy Tyler Cowen's long interview with Palmer, which has finally been released as a video, a podcast and in a transcript.

I love the concept of clandestine bookstores, which apparently existed in 18th century France. Palmer: "Remember that the 18th century is a moment when the clandestine bookshop is a major, major thing ... the same underground bookshops sell all underground materials, which means an underground bookshop sells pornography, and it also sells Voltaire and Rousseau, and it also sells diatribes criticizing the king, and it also sells radical Jansenist theological pamphlets about whether the Holy Spirit derives from the Father and Son equally or from the Father alone."

This bit about Voltaire is fascinating: "I’ve also thought about a choose-your-own-adventure biography of Voltaire because there’s that amazing moment when he’s barely in his early 20s, and his father almost decides to arrange him to be banished to South America. Imagine the world where, instead of Voltaire being in France, Voltaire is in South America — both how different France would be and how different South America would be."

Cowen has a very popular blog, so he'll get a big audience for his interview. I'm frustrated more people haven't read mine, but I don't know what to do about that. 

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