199 Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was a man who loved ciphers and a cipher of a man, an Anglo-Irishman who claimed not to like Ireland but became one of its greatest champions. He was viewed as an oddity even by the friends who knew him well and admired him most. And yet, in spite of his obscure origins and curious personal hangups, he became famous for works like Gulliver’s Travels, A Tale of a Tub, and A Modest Proposal, in which his clear and incisive prose skewered institutions, authority figures, and conventional wisdom. A master of sustained irony and deft political satire, he’s been read and admired by high-minded critics and general audiences for three centuries.

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:

“Quirky Dog” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

198 Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) was born in Boston in 1932, the daughter of a German-born professor, Otto Plath, and his student, Aurelia Schober. After her father died in 1940, Plath’s family moved to Wellesley, Massachusetts, where her mother taught secretarial studies at Boston University and Plath embarked on a path that she would follow the rest of her life: she was a gifted student, she wrote poetry and stories, she won awards and prizes and scholarships – and she began to suffer from the severe depression that would ultimately lead to her death.

Plath’s life, including her incendiary marriage to British poet Ted Hughes, will be discussed in a separate episode. In this episode, we focus on Plath’s poetry, as superfan Mike Palindrome, President of the Literature Supporters Club, selects five poems to introduce Plath: The Applicant, Lady Lazarus, Morning Song, The Colossus, and The Stones.

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:

“Allemande Sting” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

197 Margaret Atwood

A week ago, Margaret Atwood (b. 1939) turned 80. A month ago, she was awarded the Booker Prize for her eighteenth novel, The Testaments. But how did the little girl who grew up in the forests of Canada turn into one of the most successful and celebrated authors of her day? And what do we make of someone whose fierce independence is matched only by her commitment to defying all stereotypes and categorizations? In this episode, Jacke takes a look at the life and career of the incredible Margaret Atwood.

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:

“Fuzzball Parade,” “Glitter Blast,” “Magistar,” and “Funkorama” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

196 One-Hit Wonders

We all know how difficult it is to scale the mountain of success, whether you’re a musician or a novelist. But why do some artists reach the summit again and again, while others spend the rest of their careers stuck in the valley, gazing up and thinking about what might have been? In this episode, Jacke and Mike take a look at some classic “one-hit wonders” in the world of literature and popular music.

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.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

195 Thomas Hardy

He was born to a lower class family of tradesmen in 1840. Eighty eight years later, he died as one of the most celebrated writers in England. His name was Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), and he was at the same time the product of the Victorian era and one of its greatest critics. But how did this man go from being a builder and architect to writing poetry and eventually the novels that made him famous? What made this budding young priest turn away from the church? And why, after becoming a successful and highly accomplished novelist did he quit writing novels altogether, turning back to poetry for the remainder of his years?

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:

“Piano Between” and “Allemande Sting” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

194 George Saunders

Jacke and Mike take a look at contemporary author George Saunders, author of Pastoralia, Tenth of December, and Lincoln at the Bardo, In spite of some inauspicious beginnings, Saunders somehow managed to ascend to literary greatness, setting aside a career in mining to become, in the words of poet Mary Karr, “the best short-story writer in English–not ‘one of,’ not ‘arguably,’ but the best.”

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:

“Quirky Dog” and “Amazing Plan” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

193 Macbeth

It’s been called “the great Shakespearean play of stage superstition and uncanniness.” It’s also one of Shakespeare’s four major tragedies, and for more than four hundred years it’s proved horrifying to audiences and captivating to scholars. And it’s a perfect play for October, with witches and prophesies, murder and mayhem, and a madly ambitious would-be king and his fiendish paramour. In this special Halloween episode, host Jacke Wilson takes a look at Shakespeare’s Macbeth: its origins, its inspirations, and the moments of what Dr. Johnson called Shakespeare’s “touches of judgment and genius.”

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.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

192 Alfred Hitchcock

Jacke’s joined by the Hall of Fame Guest Mike Palindrome (President of the Literature Supporters Club) for a look at the ten greatest films by the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock directed dozens of films, including masterpieces of the suspense genre like Strangers on a Train, Shadow of a Doubt, Saboteur, Notorious, Vertigo, North by Northwest, The Birds, Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, The Trouble with Harry, Lifeboat, Spellbound, The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes, and many more. Which ten will make the official History of Literature Podcast list?

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.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

191 Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe’s first novel Things Fall Apart (1959) ushered in a new era where African countries, which had recently achieved post-colonial independence, now achieved an independence of a different kind – the freedom of imagination and artistry, as African authors told the stories of their geography, their culture, and their experience from the point of view of Africans, and not from the point of view of those who perceived them from only from the outside. “It sparked my love affair with African literature,” Toni Morrison said. Maya Angelou said it was a book where “all readers meet theirr brothers, sisters, parents, and friends – and themselves – along Nigerian roads.” Margaret Atwood called Achebe “a magical writer…One of the greatest of the twentieth century.” And Nelson Mandela, who read Achebe’s works while in captivity, said he was a writer “in whose company the prison walls fell down.”

In this episode of The History of Literature, we look at the life and legacy of Chinua Achebe, the impact of Things Fall Apart, and Achebe’s critique of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

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:

“Unnamed Africa Rhythm” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

190 Blood and Sympathy in the 19th Century (with Professor Ann Kibbie)

“England may with justice claim to be the native land of transfusion,” wrote one European physician in 1877, acknowledging Great Britain’s role in developing and promoting human-to-human transfusion as treatment for life-threatening blood loss. But what did this scientific practice mean for literature? How did it excite the imagination of authors and readers? And how does our understanding of transfusion help us to understand our own reading of historical and contemporary scientific advancements?

In today’s episode, Jacke talks to Professor Ann Kibbie of Bowdoin College about her new book, Transfusion: Blood and Sympathy in the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination, which examines the scientific and literary treatment of the nineteenth-century practice of transfusion, including the way transfusion seeped into the works of authors like George Eliot, Adam Smith, and Bram Stoker, whose Dracula stands as a culmination of the practice of transfusion and the elemental feelings it arouses.

Music Credits:

“Midnight Tale” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail