History of Literature #76 – Darkness and the Power of Literature: News from North Korea (with Terry Hong)

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For 70 years, the people of North Korea have lived through a totalitarian nightmare – and those of us in the outside world have had little access to their experience. How have generations of oppression and terror affected the psychology of everyday people? How do they feel about their situation? What are their hopes? What are their dreams? How do they think, and how do they live? Like so much else about North Korea, these questions were shrouded in darkness…until now. Terry Hong, reader extraordinaire and the curator of the website Bookdragon, joins us to talk about an astonishing new development: the publication of short stories by North Korea’s first dissident writer.Play

Works Discussed:

The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea, by “Bandi” (preorder only until March 7, 2017)

Dear Leader: My Escape from North Korea, by Jang Jin-sung

Recommended Books about North Korea:

Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West by Blaine Harden

How I Became a North Korean by Krys Lee

A Kim Jong-il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress and a Young Dictator’s Rise to Power by Paul Fischer

The Boy Who Escaped Paradise by J.M. Lee

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.

On Twitter, you can follow Jacke Wilson at his handle @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).

“Dragon and Toast” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0.

 

History of Literature #75 – The Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki

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With a strong claim to be the first novel in history, the Japanese classic The Tale of Genji (ca. 1001-1012), by Murasaki Shikibu, or Lady Murasaki, is one of the world’s greatest literary masterpieces. But who was Lady Murasaki, and what compelled her to write this story of an idealized prince and his many lovers? How innovative was she? And do the intrigues of the imperial Japanese courts from a thousand years ago still have the power to fascinate, entertain, and instruct us today?

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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.

On Twitter, you can follow Jacke Wilson at his handle @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).

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

 

History of Literature #74 – Great First Chapters (with Vu Tran)

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It’s a new year! A time for fresh beginnings! And on the History of Literature Podcast, it’s a time to celebrate beginnings. Vu Tran, author of the novel Dragonfish and a professor of creative writing at the University of Chicago, joins us to discuss ten great first chapters – how they work, how they affect the reader, and how they fulfill their author’s intentions.

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Works Discussed:

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton

Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison

The Secret History, by Donna Tartt

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz

One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The Virgin Suicides, by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami

Beloved, by Toni Morrison

Disgrace, by J.M. Coetzee

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.

On Twitter, you can follow Jacke Wilson at his handle @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).

 

History of Literature #73 – Javier Marias

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The Spanish novelist Javier Marías (b. 1951) has led a wild life, from his childhood as the son of a philosopher to his current role as the reigning sovereign of Redonda, a micronation located in the Pacific Ocean that has had a succession of writers as its king. Along the way, Marías has written and translated dozens of books, many of which have won some of Europe’s most esteemed prizes. His own philosophical novels have been translated into 42 languages – and yet, as the New York Times Book Review noted, he remains largely unknown in America. Why is that? And what are Americans missing? Host Jacke Wilson is joined by Mike Palindrome, the President of the Literature Supporters Club and an ardent devotee of Javier Marías, to discuss Marías and his novel A Heart So White.

Show Notes:  Continue reading

History of Literature #72 Best Christmas Stories in Literature

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Sure, we all know the story of Frosty and Rudolph… but what about literary Christmas stories? How have great authors treated (or mistreated) this celebrated holiday? Mike Palindrome, President of the Literature Supporters Club, joins Jacke for a look at the ten best Christmas stories in literature. Authors discussed include Dostoevsky, Dickens, Willa Cather, Mark Twain, Ntozake Shange, Roderick Thorpe, Dr. Seuss, Thomas Mann, James Joyce, Hans Christian Andersen, Chekhov, O. Henry, and more. PLUS a special holiday tribute to Gar, the worst producer in the history of podcasting.

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Show Notes: Continue reading

History of Literature #71 – Did Bob Dylan Deserve the Nobel Prize?

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In 1959, a young singer-songwriter named Bob Zimmerman changed his name. As Bob Dylan, he then went on to change the world. After being lauded for more than 50 years for his songs and lyrics, this icon of the Sixties seemingly had achieved everything possible… and then the Nobel Committee awarded him the Nobel Prize for Literature. But does a writer of song lyrics deserve to be ranked among the world’s finest poets and novelists? Host Jacke Wilson is joined by Mike Palindrome, the President of the Literature Supporters Club, for a freewheelin’ conversation about the legendary Bob Dylan.

Bob Dylan Songs:

“Tangled Up in Blue” (performed by K.T. Tunstall); “Lay Lady Lay”; “My Back Pages” (performed by the Byrds); “Every Grain of Sand” (performed by Emmylou Harris)

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Show Notes:  Continue reading

History of Literature #70 – Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

brando-antony

Just after World War II, the poet and critic W.H. Auden said that Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (ca. 1959) is “of great relevance to our time, though it is gloomier, because it is about a society that is doomed.  We are not doomed, but in such immense danger that the relevance is great. [Rome] was a society not doomed by the evil passions of selfish individuals…but by an intellectual and spiritual failure of nerve that made the society incapable of coping with its situation.”  Why is Julius Caesar so continually important to those living in a liberal democracy? What does it tell us about the relationship of an individual to society and the state? And as the citizens of a republic lose their faith in institutions, how do we reconcile the noble ambition of a Caesar with the high-minded (but bloody) principles of the assassin Brutus?

In this episode, host Jacke Wilson takes a look at Shakespeare’s play, the portrayals of Brutus (James Mason) and Mark Antony (Marlon Brando) in the 1953 film, the fraught morality of assassination, the surprising links between John Wilkes Booth and the play, and an essay from The Journal of Democracy describing the declining faith in liberal democracies in 2016.

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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.

Music Credits:

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