Books for the News

Rocking out with Literary Scholars

glass wave.jpg Who says the classics can’t rock? Dante, meet the Doors. Homer, meet Hendrix. Two Stanford professors—and rocking University of Chicago Press authors—have set the western canon to modern music.
A few years back, Robert Pogue Harrison—author of Dominion of the Dead, Forests: The Shadow of Civilization, and Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition—was teaching an introduction to humanities course with Dan Edelstein—author of The Terror of Natural Right: Republicanism, the Cult of Nature, and the French Revolution and the forthcoming The Enlightenment:A Genealogy—and, at the end of the semester, the two scholars stunned their students by busting out electric guitars and performing the music of Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, and the Doors—with new lyrics inspired by the course readings.
Bolstered by the cheers (and perhaps a Zippo or two), Harrison and Edelstein, both musicians before becoming academics, decided to make the project a little more formal. They recruited a few more members and formed Glass Wave. In the process, they created their own genre: cerebral rock. The music takes well known characters from western literature and turns the narrative on its head: in the band’s songs, Lolita tells her own story, Ophelia has her say, Moby Dick contributes whale songs, and Frankenstein’s creature resuscitates his image.
Their debut album is now available (you can listen to snippets from the tracks here). And check out their video for Helen of Troy below.