220 A Lost Spring (with Professor Mitchell Nathanson)

Professor Mitchell Nathanson, author of Jim Bouton: The Life of a Baseball Original, joins Jacke for a discussion of athletes, heroes, and A.E. Housman. Why do we celebrate athletes? How do we view them when their athleticism fades? And what does it all mean? We’ll look at the problems of male vulnerability, the groundbreaking work Ball Four by Jim Bouton, and the criticism of that book, most notably by esteemed sportswriter Roger Kahn. Close your eyes and imagine a world where the grass is green, the leaves are lush, and kids are outside playing without a care in the world. We’re celebrating spring at the History of Literature, even as we continue to stay indoors to avoid the coronavirus.

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.

219 “After Rain” by William Trevor

William Trevor was born in Ireland in 1928. When he was 26, he moved to England, where for the next 62 years he quietly became one of the most celebrated writers in the English-speaking world. In today’s History of Literature episode, Jacke takes a look at one of his greatest short stories, “After Rain.”

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.

218 John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck (1902-1968) was an American author known for what the Nobel Committee, who awarded Steinbeck its Prize for Literature in 1962, called “his realistic and imaginative writings, [which combine] sympathetic humor and keen social perception.” Among his 33 books include the novella Of Mice and Men and the novels The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden. In this episode, Jacke and Mike take a look at the boy from Salinas, California, who became the great chronicler of twentieth-century Americans, especially those suffering through hardship, economic depression, and injustices of all kinds.

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.

217 “Extra” by Yiyun Li

Yiyun Li (1972- ) was born in Beijing, China, the daughter of a teacher and a nuclear physicist. She dreamed of studying in America, hoping to escape an oppressive political regime and an unhappy family life. But when she arrived at the University of Iowa at the age of 23, a math prodigy and burgeoning immunologist, she found herself drawn to literature, a shift that led her to drop her career as a scientist in favor of writing fiction, where she soon established herself as one of the premier writers in the world. On this episode of The History of Literature, we look at Yiyun Li’s life and fiction, with a particular focus on her short story “Extra.”

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.

216 The Trials of Phillis Wheatley

In 1773, Phillis Wheatley became the first person of African descent to publish a book of poems in the English language. It was yet another milestone in Wheatley’s extraordinary life, which began with a childhood in Africa, a passage on a slave ship, twelve years in Boston living as a slave, and then her unprecedented education and emergence as a poet. She was lauded by Voltaire and Gibbon and Ben Franklin; she exchanged admiring letters with George Washington; and she exposed some of Thomas Jefferson’s highest ideals and lowest shortcomings. Her appearance as a poet was so unlikely – and such a dangerous example for pro-slavery critics – that she eventually was put on trial to establish whether she truly wrote her poems. And yet, in spite of all these accomplishments and pioneering achievements, her legacy is a complicated one, as in the words of Henry Louis Gates, Jr., she wrote what has been the most reviled poem in African American literature.

How did this happen? And what does it tell us about Phillis Wheatley, her critics, her champions, and ourselves?

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.

215 Kate Chopin

From within the quarantine, Jacke travels to 1893 and the Louisiana bayou, where he finds Kate Chopin, pioneering feminist and author of the classic novel The Awakening, writing her short story “Desiree’s Baby,” in which a woman in love struggles against the racial prejudice of the antebellum South.

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:

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

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

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

214 Kipling, Kingsley, and Conan Doyle – When Writers Go to War

In early 1900, the paths of three British writers – Rudyard Kipling, Mary Kingsley, and Arthur Conan Doyle – crossed in South Africa, during what has become known as Britain’s last imperial war. In this episode, Sarah LeFanu, author of the new book Something of Themselves: Kipling, Kingsley, Conan Doyle and the Anglo-Boer War, joins Jacke to talk about the experiences of these three writers. What did they expect? What did they find? And how did the experience change them as writers and 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.

213 – Special Quarantine Edition – Gusev by Anton Chekhov

More bonus content! For those of you living in isolation (and those of you who aren’t), Jacke explores the depths of the human condition – as well as its ultimate beauty – with the help of Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) and his short story masterpiece, “Gusev.”

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.

212 Special Quarantine Edition – Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter

As the world deals with a pandemic, we turn to one of America’s greatest (and least appreciated) writers, Katherine Anne Porter, and her masterpiece, Pale Horse, Pale Rider, a short novel that tells the story of Miranda, a newspaper woman who falls ill during the 1918 flu pandemic (also known as the “Spanish flu”), and the love of her life, Adam, a soldier who is headed off to the Great War.

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.

211 Edith Wharton

“There are only three or four American novelists who can be thought of as ‘major’,” said Gore Vidal. “And Edith Wharton is one.” In this episode, Jacke and Mike take a look at the life and works of Edith Wharton (1862-1937), author of The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth, with a special deep dive into her short story “Roman Fever.”

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.