I’ve been waiting, impatiently, for Showtime’s Penny Dreadful to air. The title itself was enough to pique my interest. I’m a literary nerd, and my specialty is children’s literature. Though I mostly work with contemporary American literature now, I studied Victorian and Edwardian fiction for years, and I have a real soft spot for Gothic literature. I’m also a big sucker for monsters, and print culture fascinates me.
Penny dreadfuls encompass a lot of these things–they were 19th century publications that were serialized over a period of weeks/months, generally gory and sensational (think Sweeney Todd, who first appeared in a penny dreadful), and they were inexpensive. The publications reflected the growing literacy of the populace and new technologies that made book production and dissemination cheaper and easier.
And penny dreadfuls inspired some of the most recognizable fictional characters; they were especially influential to the Gothic genre, inspiring characters such as Stoker’s Dracula and Shelley’s Frankenstein. So when I learned that Penny Dreadful would be a period drama–and that the setting would be Victorian London–*and* that I’d get Dorian Gray, Dracula, and Frankenstein, I was superbly happy. My nerd-heart did a happy dance.
I’m even happier after having watched the first episode. (Warning: spoilers after the break)
One of the most interesting bands I have found in recent years is the Lumineers. They are hard to describe in a few words, hard to nail down to a genre or style. iTunes describes them as “front porch Americana.” Not a bad start.
I want to consider a few of the great traits of this band, to share with you what I like about this band, and to share why I think you they deserve a listen – if you haven’t already! Their eponymous first studio album came out in 2012, so I’m at least hoping there’s more to come from them soon.
In the meantime, this is a band from Denver, and I’m from Denver, and it would be neat to see them play there sometime! But for now, my sense of the Lumineers.
One of the things that stands out about the Lumineers is their sense of history. They sing songs set solidly in the past, and seem to capture some of the feeling from the time. They tap back into the Roaring Twenties, World War II, and Vietnam.
by Philip N. Cohen
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