188 Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes (with Yuval Taylor)

They were collaborators, literary gadflies, and champions of the common people. They were the leading lights of the Harlem Renaissance. Their names were Zora Neale Hurston (1891 – 1960), the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Langston Hughes (1902 – 1967), the author of “the Negro Speaks of Rivers” and “Let America Be America Again.” After meeting at a great gathering of black and white literati, the two writers traveled together through the rural South collecting folklore, collaborated on a play, wrote scores of loving letters to one another – and then had a bitter and passionate falling-out. On today’s episode, author Yuval Taylor joins Jacke to talk about his book, Zora and Langston: A Story of Friendship and Betrayal.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. (We appreciate it!) Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

Music Credits:

“Dixie Outlandish” and “Piano Between” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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187 The Brontes

Although their lives were filled with darkness and death, their love for stories and ideas led them into the bright realms of creative genius. They were the Brontes – Charlotte, Emily, and Anne – who lived with their brother Branwell in an unassuming 19th-century Yorkshire town called Haworth. Their house, a parsonage, sat on a hill, with the enticing but sometimes dangerous moors above and a cemetery, their father’s church, and the industrializing town below. It was a dark little home, with little more than a roof to keep out the rain, a fire to keep things warm at night, and books and periodicals arriving from Edinburgh and London to excite their imagination. And from this humble little town, these three sisters and their active, searching minds exerted an influence on English literature that can still be felt nearly two hundred years later.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. (We appreciate it!) Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

Music Credits:

“Ashton Manor” and “Piano Between” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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186 Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 – 1894) went from a childhood in the western islands of Scotland to the heights of literary popularity and success, beloved and admired for his adventure stories Treasure Island and Kidnapped and his eerie portrait of a double life The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dismissed by Virginia Woolf as a writer for children and by H.G. Wells as a demonstration of the triumph of talent over genius, Stevenson nevertheless thrilled generations of audiences and inspired countless other writers, including Joseph Conrad, Ernest Hemingway, Hillary Mantel, Vladimir Nabokov, Graham Greene, and Jorge Luis Borges, who declared that reading Stevenson was “among the greatest literary joys I have ever experienced.”

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. (We appreciate it!) Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

Music Credits:

“Wholesome,” “Magistar,” and “Symmetry” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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185 Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust (1871-1922) did little of note until he turned 38 years old – but from that point forward, he devoted the rest of his life to writing a masterpiece. The result, the novel In Search of Lost Time, published in seven volumes from 1913 to 1927, stands as one of the supreme achievements of Modernism or any other period. Written in Proust’s inimitable, discursive prose, the novel recreates the memories of a lifetime, infusing a search for the past with an almost mystical belief in the power of beauty and experience to be ever-present, alive, unified, and universally important. Drawing upon everything in Proust’s life, from his childhood bedtime kisses from his mother to his travels through high Parisian society, the towering novel stands alone for its deep artistic and psychological insights.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. (We appreciate it!) Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

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184 George Eliot

Perhaps the greatest of all the many great English novelists, George Eliot was born Mary Ann Evans in 1819 in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England. Her father Robert managed an estate for a wealthy family; her mother Christina was the daughter of a local mill-owner. Among her rather large family, Mary Ann stood apart as the only one with a taste for intellectual pursuits. Her views on philosophy and theology led her to reject religion at the age of 22, leading to a row with her father that lasted months. She spent the next fifteen years in a kind of quest for intellectual companionship, which led to some humiliating episodes before finally resulting in a successful, if socially fraught, relationship with an unhappily married journalist named George Henry Lewes.

After making a living as a freelance editor and translator, Evans turned to writing novels at the age of 37. Published under the pseudonym “George Eliot,” her first novel Adam Bede was an immediate success, praised for the depth of its psychological insights and the clarity of its moral vision. Eliot followed Adam Bede with several classics of English literature including The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, Middlemarch, and Daniel Deronda. She was, remarked Virginia Woolf, one of the few English novelists who wrote books for grown-up people.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. (We appreciate it!) Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

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183 Samuel Beckett (with Nick Barilar)

We’re back! A newly reenergized Jacke Wilson returns for a deep dive into the life, works, and politics of Samuel Beckett. Yes, we know him as one of the key figures bridging the gap between modernism and post-modernism – but was he more than just a highly refined artist generating art for art’s sake? Was he engaged with his times? And if so, how might that engagement have affected his writings? We’ll immerse ourselves in Waiting for Godot and some of Beckett’s other works for our answer, with special guest Nic Barilar, PhD Student in Theater and Performance Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. (We appreciate it!) Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

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182 Darkness and Light (with Jessica Harper)

Jessica Harper has had the kind of life it would take ten memoirs to capture. Born in 1949, she went from a childhood in Illinois to a career as a Broadway singer, a Hollywood actor and movie star, a songwriter, an author of children’s books, an author of cookbooks, and now a podcaster. Along the way, she’s worked with everyone from Woody Allen to Steve Martin to Bette Midler to Garry Shandling to Peter O’Toole to Max von Sydow to Brian di Palma to – well, it’s a who’s who of everyone Jacke admired when growing up in the 70s and 80s. She joins Jacke for a conversation about her new project, WINNETKA, a podcast-memoir in which she explores her childhood in the 50s and 60s – and the secrets that cast long shadows across even the brightest of families.

Learn more about Jessica Harper and WINNETKA at winnetkapodcast.com.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. (We appreciate it!) Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

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181 David Foster Wallace (with Mike Palindrome)

Frequent guest Mike Palindrome takes the wheel for another solo episode on David Foster Wallace, including a deep dive into Wallace’s unfinished manuscript The Pale King, published posthumously in 2011.

DAVID FOSTER WALLACE (1962-2008) was an American author best known for his novels The Broom in the System and Infinite Jest, his story collection Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, his essay collection A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, and his graduation speech to Kenyon College, published under the title This Is Water. Known for his writerly struggles to advance the novel form beyond irony and postmodernism, as well as for his personal struggles with depression, drug addiction, and suicidal tendencies, David Foster Wallace died of his own hand in 2008. In the years since his death, new biographical information has emerged, including several disturbing incidents regarding women whom Wallace treated poorly, including stalking incidents and other alarming incidents and allegations. Today, Wallace has an uneasy relationship with the literary canon: widely recognized as a brilliant if sometimes narcissistic talent, possessed of both genius-like intelligence and deep flaws both as a writer and a human being. Today, his reputation is a source of contention: Was he a prophetlike figure who surpassed his peers and superseded all who came before? Or a smart but flawed man whose worst tendencies led him to generate thickets of navel-gazing and unreadability?

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. (We appreciate it!) Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

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180 Donald Barthelme

Donald Barthelme’s “The Balloon” (1966) is one of the strangest and most enduring short stories to come out of the second half of the twentieth century. Filled with Barthelme’s gift for observation and detail, his wild imagination, and his playful wit, “The Balloon” represents for many the work of a postmodern master at his postmodern peak. But who was Donald Barthelme? Why were “The Balloon” and his other stories so popular? And are these postmodern stories interesting merely as a reflection of their era, or do they still have meaning for us today? Mike Palindrome joins us for a discussion of Donald Barthelme and “The Balloon.”

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. (We appreciate it!) Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

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179 The Oscars by Decade (with Brian Price)


Screenwriter and film scholar Brian Price (author of Classical Storytelling and Contemporary Screenwriting: Aristotle and the Modern Screenwriter) joins Jacke for a decade-by-decade look at the Oscar Winners for Best Picture. Which decade had the best movies? When did Hollywood get it right? And what does it tell us about the movies of the past – and the ones being made today?

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. (We appreciate it!) Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

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