Put away your copy of Marlowe and do your best not to trade away your soul, because this episode focuses on Wolfgang von Goethe’s version of “Faust,” and Wishbone’s “Fleabitten Bargain” – featuring guest Nick Johnston!
About Our Guest
Nick Johnston is originally from upstate New York but now lives between New Jersey and Wyoming. A graduate of Loyola University Maryland, Nick is pursuing a graduate degree in philosophy at KU Leuven with a focus on Continental philosophy. He enjoys reading world literature, Dungeons & Dragons, playing music, and the outdoors.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a master of mystery novels and Sherlock Holmes is such a wonderfully iconic character it’s hard to compare these books to other mysteries out there. The series will be visited again in another Wishbone episode, but feel free to check out other Sherlock Holmes books in the meantime. Otherwise, I personally loved the Nancy Drew series as a fun and not graphic mystery series. Nancy solves many different cases, so there are a number of choices for people new to the series to choose from. She uses ingenuity and creativity to get through many different situations and these novels are interesting to sit down with.
To switch gears, I also highly recommend Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries TV series! It is a show set in the 1920s with a lead female detective, Miss Fisher, whose character is inspired by Sherlock Holmes. There are gorgeous costumes, fun characters, and plots that keep you entertained. There are murders and mysteries all set in such an interesting time period. Please watch if it appeals to you and enjoy!
I can’t decide between two modern retellings of Cyrano, because they both warm the cockles of my heart with their romanticism and excessive ridiculousness. Firstly, there is Roxanne (1987). Starring Steve Martin and Darryl Hannah, this is the rom com Cyrano was alway meant to be. More recently and on the pop culture trend, there is Cyrano Agency (2010), which is a korean drama in which very attractive people who work at a love connection agency help other very attractive people find dates. It’s blissful fluff. No substance here, really, but all the enjoyment to be had!
If you’re looking for higher intellectual quality in your entertainment, search out Cyrano de Bergerac (1950). It is a black and white film for any young ‘uns out there, but don’t shy away! It’s amazing! Cyrano is at his wittiest prime. If you truly can’t handle the old timey affectations of this film, try the 1990 film of the same name, starring Gerard Depardieu very finely – and in color.
When I was a child I remember being read a set of African animal fables and that’s what the Anansi stories and “The People Could Fly” reminded me of. The stories came from a book that may have been The Zebra’s Stripes and Other African Animal Tales by Dianne Stewart and Kathy Pienaar. If not, that book is very similar and I would recommend it if you would like to explore more stories like Anansi’s. These stories are meant to be educational and do so by “explaining” how animals became the way they are. The stories are fun and light hearted, enjoy!
I have read fairytales and fables from a number of different cultures that I think others would enjoy if they liked this episode. I really enjoy The Great Fairy Tale Tradition selected and edited by Jack Zipes. It features tales from Straparola, Basile, and the Brothers Grimm who wrote from different parts of Europe in different eras. These stories are more adult than the fable type tales of this episode, if you would like something a little more grim, pun intended.
One of my favorite Shakespeare plays is A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and I highly recommend this if R&J gave you the blues. It’s a classic comedy in which everyone goes into the woods, things turn upside down and topsy-turvy, and in the end everyone winds up with what they want (more or less). There’s even an R&J reference, albeit in the original form of Pyramus and Thisbe, by Ovid. I once saw a production which had a live rock band and Puck dressed in a red speedo. Needless to say it was a thrilling experience for a 13 year old.
I am going to throw a novel in here to match Erin’s film and suggest Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. Another really excellent “boys’ novel” published periodically in a magazine called Young Folks in 1886. It’s basically a rad YA novel full of action and hardship, much like Oliver Twist, about characters adapted from real life people and stories in the aftermath of the Jacobite rebellion in Scotland. Nothing like a good read about people’s miserable lives getting more difficult!
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. This book is a much more adult story about what Huckleberry pursues after his fun with Tom Sawyer. It is a lot more mature, but it is extremely thought provoking and represents an interesting view into the American South in the early 1800s. It is written by the same author, takes place in the same settling, and continues the story of some of the characters from Tom Sawyer. All of these reasons, plus the provocative story itself, make this book my recommendation if you want more like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.