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Unmasking the Red Death: Introduction

Baker, Emily; Beasley-Murray, Tim; (2023) Unmasking the Red Death: Introduction. Modern Languages Open , 2023 (1) , Article 14. 10.3828/mlo.v0i0.424. Green open access

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During the so-called High Lockdown in the UK (March to June 2020) a group of staff and students from University College London’s School of European Languages and Cultures (SELCS) gathered weekly for a Summer Book Club (SBC) to discuss works as diverse as Thomas Mann’s epic tale of convalescence and philosophical exploration The Magic Mountain and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s captivating comparison of the experience of race in Nigeria, the UK, and the US in Americanah. Among the true “pandemic-lit” that we chose to focus on was Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death”. In discussing this tale, we could not help noticing the parallels between ourselves and Prince Prospero and his courtiers, who—in the face of devastating disease sweeping the realm—devoted themselves to aesthetic pleasures within their castellated abbey, just as we too found refuge in (closed) community and culture. Another of our book choices revealed a similar and uncanny parallel: in Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven a band of actors and musicians roam a devastated America, putting on Shakespeare for the survivors of another deadly pandemic. Their motto, “Because survival is not sufficient”, a quotation from Star Trek, chimed with our sense too that, in the face of the pandemic, culture had a central role.

Type: Article
Title: Unmasking the Red Death: Introduction
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3828/mlo.v0i0.424
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3828/mlo.v0i0.424
Language: English
Additional information: © 2023 The Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by/4.0/.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10159243
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