229 Baldwin v Faulkner

In the 1950s, William Faulkner (1897-1962) was one of most celebrated novelists in America, highly praised for this formal innovation, his prodigious storytelling gifts, and his sweeping, multigenerational portrait of Southern society.

James Baldwin (1924-1987) was a writer on the rise, youthful and energetic, fearless and incisive, known for essays and commentary as brilliant as his fiction.

In this episode of The History of Literature, we take a look at the public debate surrounding the civil rights movement, which Faulkner addressed in a (purportedly) drunken interview in which he said, “If I have to choose between the United States Government and Mississippi then I’ll choose Mississippi. If it came to fighting I’d fight for Mississippi against the United States, even if it meant going out into the street and shooting Negros.” At calmer points, Faulkner freely acknowledged that desegregation was the correct view “morally, legally, and ethically” but was not, in his view, “practical.”

In 1956, writing in the pages of the Partisan Review, Baldwin responded to these and other Faulkner statements with a brief, dazzling essay “Faulkner and Desegregation,” in which he analyzed Faulkner’s position on race, linked Faulkner’s publicly expressed views to the inner world of the Southerner of the 1950s, and – it became clear a few months later – set the stage for his own efforts to inhabit and portray the mindset of a white Southerner in his fiction.

How does the fiction of these two men work? What did it say about race and power and the precarious balance of a time, a place, and an era? What does understanding this mean for us today? We’ll explore those questions in our next two episodes, where we look at a pair of short stories, Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and Baldwin’s “Going to Meet the Man.”

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Music Credits:

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

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

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

78 Jane Eyre, The Good Soldier, Giovanni’s Room (with Margot Livesey)

Writing about the Scottish-born novelist Margot Livesey, the author Alice Sebold remarked, “Every novel of Margot Livesey’s is, for her readers, a joyous discovery. Her work radiates with compassion and intelligence and always, deliciously, mystery.”

How has Margot Livesey managed to create this suspense in novel after novel, including in contemporary classics such as The Flight of Gemma Hardy>, The House on Fortune Street, and her most recent work, Mercury? Host Jacke Wilson is joined by the author for a conversation about her readerly passions and writerly inspirations, including Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier, and James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room.

Show Notes: 

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

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

Check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/historyofliterature.

You can follow Jacke Wilson at his Twitter account @WriterJacke. You can also follow Mike and the Literature Supporters Club (and receive daily book recommendations) by looking for @literature SC.

Music Credits:

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

“Danse Macabre – Violin Hook” and “Lift Motif” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0.

66 James Baldwin, Wallace Stegner, GB Tran, Lois Duncan (with author Shawna Yang Ryan)

What can we do to unlock the past? How do family secrets affect us? Author Shawna Yang Ryan has spent a lot of time thinking about these issues – and in this episode, she joins Jacke for a discussion of some of her favorite books, including the novel that led her to rethink her understanding of the American West and the graphic novel about a family’s journey that can bring her to tears.

SHAWNA YANG RYAN is a former Fulbright scholar and the author of Water Ghosts (Penguin Press 2009) and Green Island (Knopf 2016). She teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Her short fiction has appeared in ZYZZYVA, The Asian American Literary ReviewKartika Review, and The Berkeley Fiction Review. She is the 2015 recipient of the Elliot Cades Emerging Writer award. Originally from California, she now lives in Honolulu.

Works Discussed:

Green Island and Water Ghosts by Shawna Yang Ryan

Another Country by James Baldwin

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

Vietnamerica: A Family’s Journey by GB Tran

Locked in Time by Lois Duncan

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Yi Yi [A One and a Two…] directed by Edward Yang

Show Notes: 

We have a special episode coming up – listener feedback! Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

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

Check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/historyofliterature.

Music Credits:

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

“Monkeys Spinning Monkeys” and “Greta Sting” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0