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/

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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.

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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.

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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/

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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/

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189 Weeping for Gogol

“Gogol was a strange creature,” said Nabokov, “but genius is always strange.” Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol (1809 – 1852) rose from obscurity to a brilliant literary career that forever changed the course of Russian literature. Born in 1809, he and his contemporary Pushkin influenced the titans who followed, including Tolstoy and Doestoevsky and Chekhov. Best known for his novel Dead Souls, his play, The Government Inspector, and a handful of classic short stories like “Diary of a Madman” and “The Nose,” it is his short story “The Overcoat” that perhaps best expresses his artistry and influence. As Doestovsky famously said, “we all come out from under Gogol’s overcoat.” But who was this unusual writer? Where did he come from? What was so different about his fiction, and what made it resonate with readers? And why does his story “The Overcoat” still have the power to make Jacke weep?

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:

“Amazing Plan” 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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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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