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In-depth literary discussion with the pretence. Just good books. Literature podcast based in Madrid, Spain. We provide in-depth literary discussion without the pretence. Consulting secondary literature and unafraid to tackle great works and their ideas, our goal is to compress in-depth discussion of literature into a digestible format that won't cost you $60,000 and soul-crushing debt.

In-depth literary discussion with the pretence. Just good books. Literature podcast based in Madrid, Spain. We provide in-depth literary discussion without the pretence. Consulting secondary literature and unafraid to tackle great works and their ideas, our goal is to compress in-depth discussion of literature into a digestible format that won't cost you $60,000 and soul-crushing debt.
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Madrid, Spain


In-depth literary discussion with the pretence. Just good books. Literature podcast based in Madrid, Spain. We provide in-depth literary discussion without the pretence. Consulting secondary literature and unafraid to tackle great works and their ideas, our goal is to compress in-depth discussion of literature into a digestible format that won't cost you $60,000 and soul-crushing debt.




Traveler, Writer, Soldier, Spy: Lit & Context in Patrick L. Fermor's "The Violins of Saint-Jacques"

After several editing and technical hiccups, we're happy to present episode 34 on beloved travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor and his only novel. A soldier who led the resistance in Crete during WWII, a spy posing as a shepherd who captured a German general, an insatiable traveler (lest we forget heartthrob), Fermor was a jack-of-all-trades whose travel writing is known the world over. His novel "The Violins of Saint-Jacques," however, presents a West Indies that both gilds and destroys a...


Epi 33 - Disembodiment, Structure & Millennial Existentialism in Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar"

Good evening from Spain! Allow us to present the 2nd episode of our "Books Casually Left on the Shelf" series on Sylvia Plath's only and much-celebrated novel. Take a listen for some talk on the relevance of existential crises of the 1950's, Plath's style, the novel's structure, and of course two white dudes talking about the feminine experience in American society. Don't forget to join the discussion on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, or email us at! Stay casual,...


The Arabesque, Orientalism & Unholy Trinities in Jan Potocki's "The Manuscript Found in Saragossa"

Episode 32 inaugurates our new episode series "Books Casually Left on the Shelf" (working title). This book was a hidden gem for us, and we hope you enjoy as much as we did diving into the arabesque and unholy trinities with Jan Potocki's "The Manuscript Found in Saragossa." If you're a patron, make sure you've read up on the novel with the email we sent containing a multitude of sources that we used in preparation for the episode. If not, get a copy and get lost in the mind of a writer of...


Aside #24 - Patreon Launch & Our Next Episode Series

We are VERY excited to announce that our Patreon page has launched about....24 minutes ago! On this quick Aside we talk about Patreon membership, why we're starting on the website and what you'll get when you become a Casual Academic! Also, listen for the announcement of our new episode series "Books Casually Left on the Shelf" starting in December. We talk about the books we'll be reading, and how Patreon members can vote for the 4th book of the series! We are very grateful to all of you...


Episode 31 - Gender Binaries, Identity & Interiority in Qiu Miaojin's "Notes of a Crocodile"

In the final episode of our Overlooked Authors Series, we discuss Qiu Miaojin's cult classic, "Notes of a Crocodile." We talk about Miaojin's rejection of gender binaries as well as just about any choice between two things. There is also some talk about the "literariness" of the novel, as well as identity and interiority in the novel. The Overlooked Authors Series was brought to you by The New York Review of Books Classics Series. A big thank you to NYRB for the collaboration!


Episode 30 - Imposters, Doppelgängers & Duplicates in Silvina Ocampo's "Thus Were Their Faces"

We're back! On this episode, we discuss the Argentine author Silvina Ocampo. Although she spent her life in the shadow of J.L. Borges, Adolfo Bioy Casares (her husband)and her sister Victoria, Ms. Ocampo deserves her own spotlight. We talk about her famous story "The Imposter" and go over some of her other important works. Ocampo's stories are unnerving and often brutal. Her background as both a poet and a painter shows itself in the language, portraits and characters of her stories. We hope...


Episode 29 - Memory, Perception & Fairytales in Tatyana Tolstaya's "White Walls"

In this episode, we marvel at Tatyana Tolstaya's collection of stories, "White Walls," and focus our discussion on topics such as memory, time, perception, art and fairytales (just to name a few). We also, shamelessly, heap relentless praise on her prose and brilliant use of language that she employs to create her woeful and comic worlds. We hope you enjoy the episode, and we want to give a special thanks to NYRB Classics for collaborating with us during our Overlooked Authors Series. As...


Episode 28 - Untouchability, Inaction and "The Seventh Seal" in U.R. Ananthamurthy's "Samskara"

Overlooked Authors on The Casual Academic has begun! We discuss our first featured book, U.R. Ananthamurthy's classic "Samskara: A Rite for a Dead Man," translated by A.K. Ramanujan. Our conversation centers on the binary Ananthamurthy sets between the arcane and the modern, religion vs. rationalism, and action vs. inaction in a very Indian context. We also dive into one of Ananthamurthy's major influences, Ingmar Bergman's classic film "The Seventh Seal," and how our featured author found...


Aside #23 - Overlooked Authors Series with NYRB Classics

On Aside #23, we discuss our upcoming series on overlooked authors! The next four episodes will feature: Samskara: A Rite for a Dead Man - U.R. Ananthamurthy White Walls - Tatyana Tolstaya Thus Were Their Faces - Silvina Ocampo Notes of a Crocodile - Qui Miaojin We talk about why we chose each author and what about them piqued our interest. Overlooked Authors Month is brought to you in part by the NYRB Classics. Check out their awesome selection of books here:...


Episode 27 (Pt. 2) - Gender, Sexuality & Race in Carson McCullers' "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter"

On Part II of our 27th episode, Alex and guest Zak Breckenridge continue their discussion on Carson McCullers' 1940 novel "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter," focusing on how gender, sexuality and race are presented in the book and through its characters. Enjoy! ***As always, you can find us on instagram, twitter and facebook, or email us at Also, check our website for a bibliography of the episode, articles, and a catalogue of all our...


Episode 27(Pt.1)- Southern Gothic Limits, Low Modernism & Politics in "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter"

On our 27th episode, Alex talks with returning guest Zak Breckenridge about Carson McCullers' 1940 novel "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter". We had to divide the episode into two parts because, well, we got so into the conversation that it ran for an hour and 40 minutes. On this first part, we talk about the problematic nature of place the novel in the genre of Southern Gothic, the differences between High & Low Modernism, and the role socialism plays in the politics of the novel. Enjoy!...


Aside #22 - Environmental Humanities & an intro to Carson McCullers' "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter"

On this Aside, returning guest Zak Breckenridge joins Alex in a conversation on the emerging academic field of Environmental Humanities, and their first reactions to our new featured book "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" by Carson McCullers. Many questions are raised for the full-length episode, including Race, Gender, and Politics. Join in on the discussion! Are you a fan of McCullers' work? Let us know at - email - facebook & instagram - @thecasualacademic twitter...


Episode 26 (Pt. 2) - Postcolonial Problems, Decay & Flux in V.S. Naipaul's "The Enigma of Arrival"

On this episode, we focus on the last three sections of Naipaul's novel, "Ivy," "Rooks," and "A Ceremony of Farewell." Within these three sections, we explore the controversy surrounding Naipaul's status as a postcolonial writer, and how such elements are woven into the latter half of "The Enigma of Arrival." As the title says, we also dive into one of our favorite topics - decadence - but also how that can morph into an understanding of flux and transition, and how all of that is...


Aside #21 - Xmas Holidays and Our Favorite Reads of 2017

Merry Christmas from The Casual Academic! Well...more like Happy New Year! We're just in time with our top reads from 2017 - eight books (four from each of us) that come highly recommended, six of which come with full-length episodes and Asides from yours truly! Do you have a favorite TCA read from this year? Let us know on all those social media platforms, or email us at We hope you all have a great NYE, and best wishes for 2018. Cheers, Jake and Alex Twitter-...


Episode 26 (Pt. 1) - 'Jack's Garden' & 'The Journey' in V.S. Naipaul's "The Enigma of Arrival"

In Part 1 of the two part extravaganza on V.S. Naipaul's "The Enigma of Arrival," Jacob and Alex compare Naipaul and W.G. Sebald in their style, substance and techniques. They then give their first impressions of parts one and two of the novel and discuss how 'The Journey' is especially poignant. Finally, Alex and Jacob talk about the complications of travel and what people are looking for when they are visiting a new place. We hope you enjoy the episode and let us know what you think. write...


Aside #20 - Separating Art from Artist and looking ahead to V.S. Naipaul & "The Enigma of Arrival"

In light of current events, on this Aside we talk about if we are capable of separating art from the artist, and which mediums allow for an easier (or more difficult) disassociation of a work of art from its creator. We also look head to our new featured author, V.S. Naipaul, and his acclaimed work "The Enigma of Arrival." Join in on the discussion! Do you still stand by Wood Allan's films? Should we boycott Hemingway from our bookshelves? Let us know at - email -


Episode 25 (Pt.2) - Critical Interpretations of Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw"

We are back for Part II of our episode on Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw," and as promised we discuss the good, the bad and the ugly of the literary criticism on James' novella. Listen for the many branches of the infamous Freudian reading, the use of fairy tale and folk motifs, the gothic romance, and how James wrote a book where we're not sure who is doing more interpreting - the readers or the characters. Also, stick around for our new segment on our internet deep dives while...


Episode 25 (Pt.1) - Some Changes, Narrative Games & Our First Impressions of "The Turn of the Screw"

On our 25th episode, we are inaugurating a structural change to The Casual Academic. Think of it as an experiment with the goal of making your listening experience the best it can be. We've decided to divide our episodes on our featured books into two parts: part 1 is a general discussion of the novel, the writer, and our initial impressions and questions. Part 2 is a more in-depth discussion in which we interact with secondary literature that critically analyzes the work. Pick your poison,...


Aside #19 - An Intro to Henry James & Our Top Creepy Tales

On our newest Aside, we introduce our new featured author Henry James, whose infamous novella "The Turn of the Screw" we'll be reading for our next episode. After that, we have a bit of a guessing game as to what are our respective top three creepy stories. Spoiler alert: Jake wins. We also posted a new article on our website talking about the stories we've picked, with links so you can read 'em (if you haven't already) and let us know what you think! Happy Listening, Jake & Alex


Episode 24 - R.L. Stevenson, Plotting & Immortality in Adolfo Bioy Casares' "The Invention of Morel"

Hello! We are very excited to present our full-length episode on Adolfo Bioy Casares' beloved novella "The Invention of Morel." Apart from our blatant enthusiasm over his writing, we talk about the influence of Robert Louis Stevenson on Casares & his buddy Borges, as well as discuss into the roles fantastic and detective plotting play in the imaginative worlds of both writers. The plot is so mind-boggling in this book that we don't want to give any spoilers here, although in the episode it...