240 More Thoreau | Experiencing Nature (with Nina Shengold)


“We can never get enough of nature,” wrote Henry David Thoreau in 1854. “I suppose that what in other men is religion is in me love of nature.” A century and a half later, author Nina Shengold left her desk behind for her own journey into the natural world, following a plan to walk along the Ashokan Reservoir in upstate New York every day for a year. When she returned home after each outing she recorded her observations; her book Reservoir Year: A Walker’s Book of Days was the result. In this episode, she joins Jacke to talk about the differences between her book and Thoreau’s Walden, the writers who inspired her, and how the experience of writing about the outside world each day affected her, giving her a better understanding of both the person she was and the person she wanted to be.

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 “And Awaken” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

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

239 Henry David Thoreau | On Civil Disobedience

In July of 1846, Henry David Thoreau took a break from his two-year experiment of living in the woods to return to town, where he bumped into a tax collector who promptly had him arrested. For six years, Thoreau had refused to pay his poll tax, believing that the money was being used to perpetuate a pair of unjust acts: the institution of slavery and the Mexican-American War, an imperialist venture that threatened to spread slavery to new territory. Thoreau had been an abolitionist all his life, yet slavery persisted, and he believed it was time to do more than just vote. His experience in jail, and the speech he later gave about the experience, became one of the most influential political tracts ever written, with thinkers and activists from Tolstoy to Gandhi to Martin Luther King, Jr. citing it as central to their own efforts to combat injustice.

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:

“Adding the Sun” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

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

238 The Seven Deadly Sins

As with Santa’s reindeer or Snow White’s seven dwarves, we all know the phrase “Seven Deadly Sins” even if we struggle to remember the exact list. But who came up with this concept? And who decided that Pride, Envy, Wrath, Lust, Sloth, Greed, and Gluttony were the seven qualities deserving of this ignominious honor? In this episode, Jacke and Mike take a look at the Seven Deadly Sins and how they have been portrayed in literature – and offer some ideas for how the list might be better tailored for today’s world.

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:

“Sweeter Vermouth” and “Bad Ideas” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

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

237 Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke (with Amanda Stern)

In the autumn of 1902, a young man attending a German military school wrote to the poet Rainer Maria Rilke to ask him for some advice. Rilke responded, and the two struck up a correspondence that has become one of the great moments in the history of literature. For more than a century, Rilke’s advice, conveyed in ten letters and published as Letters to a Young Poet, has helped readers find answers to questions about literature, creativity, and the nature of existence. In this episode, Jacke is joined by author and literary impresario Amanda Stern for a conversation about her literary career, the struggles she had growing up with an undiagnosed panic disorder, and the impact that Letters to a Young Poet had on her.

RAINER MARIA RILKE (1875-1926) was a German modernist poet whose innovative approach to poetry, expressed in poems like “The Panther,” “Torso of an Archaic Apollo,” and the collections Sonnets to Orpheus and The Duino Elegies, made him a leader in a style of poetry called “existential materialism” and a profound influence on subsequent generations of poets.

AMANDA STERN is a native New Yorker, a novelist, a children’s book author, and the host of the podcast Bookable. For years, she was the organizer of The Happy Ending music and literary reading series, which encouraged writers to take risks on stage. Her memoir Little Panic: Dispatches from an Anxious Life has been called “a creative feat and existential service of the highest caliber.”

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.

Credits:

“Running Fanfare” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

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

Photo of Amanda Stern by Jon Pack

236 Alice Munro | The Love of a Good Woman 3

What does it mean to be good? What does it mean to love and be loved? What sacrifices do we make in order to bring about happiness? And how can we do any of this if we’re uncertain about the nature of reality? In this episode, we conclude our look at Alice Munro’s classic novella, “The Love of a Good Woman.”

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/

235 Alice Munro | The Love of a Good Woman 2

Think about your life: Have you always gotten what you wanted? Have you LET yourself be happy? Have you kept secrets – from others, or even yourself? In this episode, Jacke returns to the great Canadian writer Alice Munro for Part Two of her novella-length masterpiece, “The Love of a Good Woman.”

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:

“Running Fanfare” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

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

234 Alice Munro | The Love of a Good Woman

“She is our Chekhov,” said Cynthia Ozick, “and she is going to outlast most of her contemporaries.” Ozick was talking about the great Alice Munro, the Canadian writer whose short stories about ordinary women and men have garnered every literary prize imaginable. In this episode, the first of three Alice Munro Week special episodes, Jacke introduces Part One of Munro’s masterpiece of a novella, “The Love of a Good Woman.”

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:

“Et Voila” and “Long Stroll” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

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

233 CS Lewis

Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was an Irish-born writer who spent most of his adult life in Oxford and Cambridge, studying, teaching, enjoying the company of friends (including J.R.R. Tolkien) – and also writing some of the most widely read and influential books of his era. He wrote some works of scholarship, as might be expected of an Oxbridge professor, but it was as a Christian apologist and a writer of fiction – in particular as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia – that he became most widely known. In this episode, Jacke takes a look at Lewis’s life and works, which included (among many others) The Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity, A Grief Observed, and of course, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and its sequels.

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:

“Monkeys Spinning Monkeys” and “Piano Between” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

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

 

232 The Diary of Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) was a successful administrator and general man-about-town in Restoration London. As a devoted theatergoer, a capable bureaucrat, and a privileged witness of the King and his court, he saw firsthand many of the most important developments of the 1660s, including events like the Great Plague of London (1665) and the Great Fire of London (1666). And he was one of the world’s great diarists, carefully recording his daily life and general observations in a work he kept secret from all eyes but his own. For over a hundred years his name was little known, until the publication of the diary shocked a nineteenth-century audience. Here was a previous London brought to life – a city rich with intrigue and packed with sexual escapades and scandals – and here too was an unassuming narrator, whose descriptions of food and fashion and activity and his own marriage and many infidelities, proved a perfect guide to transport readers to another era. Pepys’s diary became a perfect bedside book, readable even today for its fascinating detail, wry good humor, joy and heartbreak, and insight into the human condition.

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.

231 James Baldwin | Going To Meet The Man

James Baldwin (1924-1987) was a fearless artist, an uncompromising critic, a brilliant essayist, and an American who lived within his time and yet was decades ahead of it. In this episode, Jacke takes a look at Going To Meet the Man,” Baldwin’s provocative story of the power dynamics at play within a white Southern man who attends a lynching. (Warning: This story of racism, violence, and sexual activity is graphic and brutal. Listeners may want to exercise caution.)

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.