The Contemporary Leonard Cohen: Exploring Nietzsche and Gossip

Sponsored by Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Recorded on 12/13/2023
Posted in The Authority File

Episode 364

The Contemporary Leonard Cohen: Response, Reappraisal, and Rediscovery book cover

In the second episode of this four-part series, coeditors of The Contemporary Leonard Cohen: Response, Reappraisal, and Rediscovery Kait Pinder and Joel Deshaye dig into their respective chapters. First, Kait provides an overview of Cohen’s controversial book of poetry Flowers for Hitler, published in 1964. She explains why the book is less well-known than his novel Beautiful Losers (1966), and how, in her chapter, she connects philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s ideas on critical history to Cohen’s criticism of Canada’s appropriation of the world wars for nationalistic purposes.

Next, Joel explains the use of gossip and rumor in Cohen’s songwriting, highlighting the famous opening lines from “Hallelujah”: “Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord / That David played and it pleased the Lord / But you don’t really care for music, do ya?” Further, Joel links the discourse of gossip to the relationship between Cohen and renowned singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, exploring each artist’s use of gossip in their writing, and how rumor challenges the prevailing perception of Cohen as a singular genius—gossip, interdisciplinarity, and collaboration all play a role in the creative process.

Kait Pinder headshot

About the guests:

Kait Pinder
Associate Professor, Department of English and Theatre
Acadia University

Kait Pinder is an Associate Professor in the Department of English and Theatre at Acadia University. Her recent work has appeared in Canadian Literature, Studies in Canadian Literature, and The University of Toronto Quarterly.

Joel Deshaye headshot

Joel Deshaye
Memorial University

Joel Deshaye is a professor at Memorial University. His move to the East Coast stimulated his writing of The American Western in Canadian Literature (2022). His first book was The Metaphor of Celebrity: Canadian Poetry and the Public, 1955-1980 (2013), which focused partly on Cohen.

Enjoy the conversation? Listen to the rest of the series:

Check out our previous series with Wilfrid Laurier University Press:
– Creative Disruption in Scholarship
– Performing Female Blackness
– Canadian Poetry Today
– Animal Studies, Postcolonial Literature, and Multispecies Modernity
– Unpacking the Personal Library

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