53 Romeo and Juliet

In 1964, the Oxford professor John Barrington Wain wrote: “…Romeo and Juliet is as perfectly achieved as anything in Shakespeare’s work. It is a flawless little jewel of a play. It has the clear, bright colours, the blend of freshness and formality, of an illuminated manuscript.”

First produced in 1594, The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet became an immediate sensation, and the story of the star-crossed lovers has been a core part of Western civilization ever since. Why is the play so popular? What does it tell us about falling in love – and how does that differ from being in love? And what does any of this have to do with George Carlin?

Show Notes: 

Brand new! Check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/historyofliterature.

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

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52 Recommend This! The Best 101 Books for College-Bound Readers

What works of literature are essential? When we start reading literature, where do we begin? The College Board, an organization that prepares standardized tests for millions of American young people, has published list of 101 recommended books for college-bound readers. High schools and colleges across the country take their lead from this list, and students are encouraged to use it as a guide to a summer of literature. But is the list any good? Can it be improved? The President of the Literature Supporters Club joins Jacke for a discussion of the list’s most worthy selections…and its most egregious omissions.

You can find a PDF of the full list at:

http://www.uhlibrary.net/pdf/college_board_recommended_books.pdf

Show Notes: 

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

“Bass Walker” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

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51 Coleridge, Kubla Khan, and the Person from Porlock – A Literary Mystery

In 1797, the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge took two grains of opium and fell into a stupor. When he awoke, he had in his head the remnants of a marvelous dream, a vivid train of images of the Chinese emperor Kubla Khan and his summer palace, Xanadu. The vision transformed itself into lines of poetry, but as he started writing, he was interrupted by a Person from Porlock, who arrived at Coleridge’s cottage on business and stayed for an hour. when Coleridge returned to his work, the vision had been lost, and the fragmentary nature of the poem Kubla Khan has haunted its admirers ever since. The resentment has centered around the bumbling Person from Porlock, whose visit remains shrouded in mystery. The scholar Jonathan Livingston Lowes put it bluntly: “If there is any man in the history of literature who should e hanged, drawn, and quartered,” he wrote, “it is the man on business from Porlock.”

Who was this Person from Porlock, and why was he knocking on the door of Coleridge’s cottage? How did Coleridge handle the interruption, and what did it mean for him and his art? And finally, what might we take from this vivid legend today?

Show Notes: 

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

“Piano Between” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

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50 Othello

One of Shakespeare’s four great tragedies, The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice (ca. 1603) is perhaps the most difficult of them to watch. The malevolent Iago, viewed by some as evil incarnate, has been infuriating audiences for centuries – legend has it that at one performance in the Old West, a cowboy in the audience was so offended by Iago’s machinations he pulled out his pistol and shot him. And theater professionals are well accustomed to the gasps, cries, and occasional screams from the audience as they view the horrendous scene, in which the jealous lead character is finally driven to kill his wife, the innocent Desdemona. What motivates Iago? Why is Othello so susceptible? And what themes in Othello still resonate today?

Show Notes: 

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

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49 MFA Programs – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

For decades, the Master of Fine Arts degree has quietly dominated the American literary scene. There are now over 100 programs where professors and students go about the business of turning dreams into fiction through the alchemy – or as some would say, the meatgrinder – known as the writing workshop. It’s a phenomenon like no other in the history of literature. What goes on at these MFA programs? What good comes out of them? And what impact are they having on contemporary American literature? The President of the Literature Supporters Club joins Jacke for a discussion of MFA programs.

Show Notes: 

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

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48 Hamlet

Hamlet (ca 1599-1602) has been called the greatest play ever written in English – and even that might not be giving it enough credit. Many would rank it among the greatest achievements in the history of humankind. Jacke Wilson takes a deeper look at the Prince of Negative Capability and his famous soliloquy.

Show Notes: 

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

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47 Hemingway vs Fitzgerald

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) and F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) were the pole stars of the Lost Generation, the collection of young American authors who came of age in the Paris and New York of the 1920s. The Hemingway-Fitzgerald relationship has been examined for decades and continues to fascinate. Why are we so drawn to these two authors? What do they represent in American literature? Who was the better author, and why?

Jacke and Mike take a look at the great Hemingway-Fitzgerald debate – and challenge themselves to find ten new things to say about these American icons.

Show Notes: 

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

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46 Poetry of the T’ang Dynasty

China’s T’ang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.) valued poets and poetry like no other culture before or since. In this episode, Jacke Wilson takes a look at what may have been the greatest flourishing of poetry in the history of the world. Poets discussed include Ezra Pound (1885-1972), T’ao Ch’ien (365-427), Wang Wei (ca. 699-761), Li Bai (Li Po) (701-762), and Tu Fu (712-770).

Show Notes: 

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

“Tea Roots” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

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45 Augustine and The Confessions (pt 2)

Continuing the journey with a deeper look at the incredible achievements of St. Augustine (354 – 430 A.D.), a luminary of the early Catholic church, one of the most profound thinkers in Western culture, and the author of a work the likes of which the world had never seen, The Confessions.  Host Jacke Wilson identifies five key themes in The Confessions and shows how the themes build up to the autobiography’s culminating passage.

Works Discussed:

The Confessions of St. Augustine (tr. Maria Boulding)

Show Notes: 

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

“Virtutes Vocis” and “Virtutes Instrumenti” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

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44 Augustine and The Confessions (pt 1)

The journey continues! Host Jacke Wilson takes a look at one of the deepest thinkers in the Western tradition, St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.), and the literary form he pioneered and perfected. Who was Augustine? What led him to produce one of the most influential books ever written? And what can we gain from reading The Confessions today? In this first of a two-part episode, Jacke considers Augustine’s relationship to God, the impact of his studies in rhetoric on his attempts to write an autobiography, and what the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche would have made of Augustine’s description of tragedy.

Works Discussed:

The Confessions of St. Augustine (tr. Maria Boulding)

The Birth of Tragedy by Friedrich Nietzsche

Show Notes: 

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

“Virtutes Vocis” and “Virtutes Instrumenti” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

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