398 Fernando Pessoa

Questioning the nature of the self is a standard trope in literature and one of the hallmarks of the Modernist movement. But no one pushed this to the extreme like Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935). While the use of a pseudonym or two is common enough, Pessoa wrote poems as more than a hundred “heteronyms” (as he called them), giving many of them their own richly developed biographies, writing styles, and distinct subject matter. The wild cast of characters, who sometimes argued with one another and who occasionally inserted themselves into Pessoa’s life, fooled many literary critics into thinking that they were individual poets. Although Pessoa was nearly unknown when he died, he left behind a rich body of work to pore through and analyze – and a trunkful of his papers, gathered by later editors intoThe Book of Disquiet, has rendered him essential to a consideration of twentieth-century literature. In this episode, Jacke takes a look at the poet who exploded his self into literary fragments, only to find that he had filled a galaxy with stars.

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Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature.

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397 Plath, Hughes, and the “Other Woman” – Assia Wevill and Her Writings (with Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick and Peter Steinberg)

In 1961, poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath rented their flat to a Canadian poet and his wife, the beautiful, accomplished, and slightly mysterious Assia Wevill. Soon afterward, Ted and Assia began having an affair. Within a year, Assia was pregnant with Ted’s child and Sylvia, after years of suffering from depression, had committed suicide. Six years later, Assia would do the same.

It’s a horribly tragic tale, like something out of Shakespeare, with genius and artistic ambition and love and sex and poetry entangled with themes of power dynamics, infidelity, and mental health problems. The poetic gifts of Ted and Sylvia – and the tragic ending of their marriage – has kept biographers and essay writers busy. But what about the third woman, Assia Wevill, a successful professional with ambition of her own? What did she write? How did she fit into this triangle? In this episode, Professor Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick and Peter Steinberg, editors of The Collected Writings of Assia Wevill, join Jacke for a discussion of the “Other Woman” in the Plath-Hughes marriage.

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Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature.

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396 Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes (with Heather Clark)

Ultimately, the marital relationship of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes was filled with pain and ended in tragedy. At the outset, however, things were very different. Within months of their first meeting at Cambridge, they had fallen in love, gotten married, and started having children – all while writing poetry and supporting one another’s art. What did they see in each other as people and as poets? How did they inspire and encourage one another? In this episode, Jacke talks to Plath’s biographer Heather Clark, author of Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath, about the creative partnership of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.

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(A NOTE OF CORRECTION: At one point during this episode, the host mentions the years of Plath’s birth and death and gives her age as “sixty.” That should, of course, have been “thirty.” Please accept our apologies for his singular incompetence.)

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381 C Subramania Bharati (with Mira T Sundara Rajan)

C. Subramania Bharati (1882-1923) is one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century. Known to his fellow Tamils as the “Mahakavi” (“Supreme Poet”), his works modernized and rejuvenated Tamil literature. Bharati, who knew several languages, also wrote in English, and it is in these writings that one can see and appreciate his range of interests, the depth of his thinking, and his passionate advocacy for social reform. In this episode, Jacke is joined by Bharati scholar Mira T. Sundara Rajan, editor of The Coming Age: Collected English Writings of C. Subramania Bharati, to discuss the poet’s life and legacy. Professor Rajan is also the host of the Bharati 100 Podcast, which explores the life and work of Bharati in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of his death.

Additional listening ideas:

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature.

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376 Why John Milton? (with Joe Moshenska)

Yes, John Milton was important, and yes, Paradise Lost has been part of the canon since the 17th century – but why should we read anything by John Milton today? Do we imbibe his poetry like medicine? Is it a slog through cerebral but sterile prose? Or is there something wilder, more compelling, more alive? In this episode, Jacke talks to biographer Joe Moshenska, author of Making Darkness Light: A Life of John Milton, about the poet beloved by everyone from Virginia Woolf to Jorge Luis Borges to revolutionaries all over the world.

More listening ideas:

Want more Milton? We’ve got you covered in Episode #154 John Milton.
Ready for more wild poetic visions? Try our episode on William Blake.
Poetry not your thing? Check out our interview with Samantha Silva about the life of Mary Wollstonecraft.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature.

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352 Charles Baudelaire (with Aaron Poochigian)

The American poet Dana Gioia calls Charles Baudelaire “the first modern poet,” adding “In both style and content, his provocative, alluring, and shockingly original work shaped and enlarged the imagination of later poets, not only in his native France but across Europe and the Americas.” In this episode, acclaimed translator and poet Aaron Poochigian joins Jacke to talk about his new translation of Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal, or The Flowers of Evil. ALSO: Jacke bets on himself! Happy Halloween!

 

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature.

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325 Philip Larkin

During his life, Philip Larkin (1922-1985) was a beloved national figure, a bald and bespectacled librarian by day who spent his evenings writing smart, accomplished, and hilariously self-deprecating poems. After his death, his reputation and legacy became more complicated, as revelations about his personal life threatened to darken a once-bright sky. In this episode, Jacke takes a look at a near-perfect poet and a far-from-perfect person, reflecting on what we ask from art and artists, and what we can still take from Larkin in particular.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. (We appreciate it!) Find out more at historyofliterature.comjackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

New!!! Looking for an easy to way to buy Jacke a coffee? Now you can at paypal.me/jackewilson. Your generosity is much appreciated!

The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature.

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274 Baudelaire and the Flowers of Evil

He was “the king of poets,” said Rimbaud, “a true God.” T. S. Eliot called him a deformed Dante and said, “I am an English poet of American origin who learnt his art under the aegis of Baudelaire and the Baudelairian lineage of poets.” In this episode, Jacke takes a look at Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), his masterwork Les Fleurs du Mal (Flowers of Evil), and his intense admiration for Edgar Allan Poe.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. (We appreciate it!) Find out more at historyofliterature.comjackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

New!!! Looking for an easy to way to buy Jacke a coffee? Now you can at paypal.me/jackewilson. Your generosity is much appreciated!

The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature.

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268 Forgotten Women of Literature 4 – Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648-1695) was born in Mexico or, as it was known then, New Spain. She was a poet, a philosopher, a dramatist, a scholar, a poet, and a nun, known in her time as the “Tenth Muse” and to later generations as the “Mexican Phoenix,” as her powerful body of work rose from the ashes of religious condemnation. Today, she is widely viewed as one of the earliest feminist advocates, one of Mexico’s first and greatest intellectual giants, and a poet whose talent has rarely been equalled.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. (We appreciate it!) Find out more at historyofliterature.comjackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

New!!! Looking for an easy to way to buy Jacke a coffee? Now you can at paypal.me/jackewilson. Your generosity is much appreciated!

The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature.

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262 Ovid

Ovid (43 BCE – 17 or 18 AD) was one of the most successful poets in the Roman Empire–until he was banished from Rome by Augustus himself. What led to his exile? What had he written, and how might it have offended the emperor? In this episode, Jacke takes a look at the author of The Art of Love, Metamorphoses, and many other works.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. (We appreciate it!) Find out more at historyofliterature.comjackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

New!!! Looking for an easy to way to buy Jacke a coffee? Now you can at paypal.me/jackewilson. Your generosity is much appreciated!

The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature.

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