Czech novelist Karel Čapek (1890-1938) might be best known as the pioneering science fiction writer who first coined the term “robot.” But readers have long appreciated the transcendent humanity of his works. “There was no writer like him,” Arthur Miller once said, “prophetic assurance mixed with surrealistic humor and hard-edged social satire: a unique combination…a joy to read.” In this episode, Jacke talks to podcast producer Ian Coss about the life of Karel Čapek, his contributions to literature, and how Čapek’s celebrated novel War with the Newts inspired Ian’s audio fiction series Newts, a farcical, yet deadly serious tale about an alternate history of the 1930s, in which the Western world discovers, exploits, educates, arms, and is ultimately overthrown by a species of highly intelligent, three-foot tall salamanders. SPECIAL BONUS CONTENT: We conclude the episode with a trailer for Newts.
Additional listening suggestions:
Subscribe to Newts at the following links:
Help support the History of Literature Podcast 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.
The English novelist Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966) was regarded by many as the most brilliant satirical novelist of his time. A self-proclaimed curmudgeon, for whom the Conservative Party was not conservative enough, Waugh converted to Catholicism in his twenties and never looked back. He resisted change in all areas of life, expressing the opinion that he wished he had been born two or three centuries earlier. At his best, he was darkly funny, using his misanthropy like a bright light to illuminate cracks and flaws in society’s foundations, and using his pointed wit to skewer anyone and everyone he encountered, including himself. At his worst, he was a crazy quilt of what George Orwell called “untenable opinions,” with all the racism and anti-semitism one might expect from a self-satisfied man of his era. In this episode, Jacke is joined by author Phil Klay to discuss Waugh’s religion, military background, and his novel A Handful of Dust in particular. The two also discuss Klay’s award-winning fiction, his writing process, what it means to be a Catholic writer in Waugh’s time and our own, and the new podcast American Veteran: Unforgettable Stories, which Klay hosts.
PHIL KLAY is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. His short story collection Redeployment won the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction and was selected as one of the 10 Best Books of 2014 by The New York Times. His debut novel, Missionaries, was released in October 2020 with Penguin Press.
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.
In 1910, the American author Mark Twain took to his bed in his Connecticut home. Weakened by disease and no longer able to write, the legendary humorist (and author of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn), made a final request. What was the request? And what does it tell us about the life and career of a great writer? Host Jacke Wilson explores the mystery.
Write a review on iTunes (or another site), then send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive your free History of Literature postcard as a thank you gift. Act now while supplies last!
Contact the host at email@example.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 @literatureSC.
“Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).
“Darxieland” and “Tenebrous Brothers Carnival – Act Two” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0.