139 “A Hunger Artist” by Franz Kafka

In 1922, the miserable genius Franz Kafka wrote a short story, Ein Hungerkünstler (A Hunger Artist), about another miserable genius: a man whose “art” is to live in a cage and display his fasting ability to crowds that don’t always appreciate what he is trying to do. Inspired by actual historical figures, though suffused with nostalgia and Kafka’s penetrating insight, the story asks us to reconsider our conceptions of art and spectacle, life and death, hunger and humanity. Host Jacke Wilson is joined by superguest Mike Palindrome, President of the Literature Supporters Club, to feast on one of the greatest short stories ever written.

For more on Franz Kafka, try Episode 134 – The Greatest Night of Franz Kafka’s Life

For more on short stories, try Episode 57 – Borges, Munro, Davis, Barthelme – All About Short Stories (And Long Ones Too)

For a deep dive into Alice Munro’s “A Bear Came Over the Mountain,” try Episode 115 – The Genius of Alice Munro

For a deep dive into Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” try Episode 110 – Heart of Darkness – Then and Now

Help support the show at patreon.com/literatureor historyofliterature.com/shop. Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com or facebook.com/historyofliterature. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or via our new Twitter handle, @thejackewilson.

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134 Franz Kafka – The Greatest Night of His Life

We use the term Kafkaesque to describe bureaucracies and other social institutions with nightmarishly complex, illogical, or bizarre qualities – and in most biographies of Franz Kafka (1883-1924) we find that his life often mirrored the strangeness in his fiction. In this episode, host Jacke Wilson examines the origins of Kafka’s particular sensibility, suggests how those characteristics played out in Kafka’s life and art, and finally uncovers what may have been the greatest night of Kafka’s life.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com or facebook.com/historyofliterature. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or @WriterJacke.

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126 Animals in Literature (Part One)

Inspired by a listener’s heartfelt request, we take a look at an often overlooked subject: animals in literature. In this episode, a precursor to a forthcoming Draft with President Mike (i.e., “The 10 Best Animals in Literature”), Jacke considers the earliest mentions of animals in literature and how the literary appearances of animals have changed over time, before concluding with a modest offering of his own.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

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54 The Greatest Books Ever (Part 2)

What books are essential? Who has the authority to choose them, and what is their selection process? First, Jacke and Mike continue their look at the College Board’s 101 Books Recommended for College-Bound Readers. Then Jacke proposes a different method for determining which books are relevant in today’s world – and tests the results against the College Board’s efforts.

You can find a PDF of the College Board’s list at:

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

Shane Sherman’s List of Lists can be found at:

http://thegreatestbooks.org/

His methodology is described at:

http://thegreatestbooks.org/lists/details

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).

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

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32 The Best Debut Novels of All Time (A Conversation with the President of the Literature Supporters’ Club)

What makes a great first novel? Which do we prefer: the freshness of a new style (even if it contains mistakes), or the demonstration of competence (even if it breaks no new ground)? Does it matter if the book is the best (or only) novel by that author? Or do we prefer the debuts that initiated a long, distinguished career? Join host Jacke Wilson for a conversation with his friend, the President of the Literature Supporters’ Club, on the best debut novels in the history of literature.

Books Discussed:

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Broom of the System: A Novel by David Foster Wallace

Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

The Trial by Franz Kafka

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Wise Blood: A Novel by Flannery O’Connor

Don Quixote by Cervantes

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Dangling Man by Saul Bellow

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Soldiers’ Pay by William Faulkner

White Teeth: A Novel by Zadie Smith

Brick Lane: A Novel by Monica Ali

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Speedboat by Renata Adler

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Roderick Hudson by Henry James

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

Adam Bede by George Eliot

Childhood by Leo Tolstoy

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

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).

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

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RM1 Comedy and Authority

The Restless Mind Show! Jacke and Gar take a break from the history of literature to examine the nature of comedy and what makes us laugh.

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