In this special Halloween episode, Jacke and Evie take a look at Edgar Allan Poe’s great revenge story, “The Cask of Amontillado” (1846), written when Poe was destitute and in the depths of despair. Enjoy!
George Orwell (1903-1950) was one of the twentieth century’s great literary figures. An English novelist, who also excelled at essays and journalism, he fought all his life against injustice, snobbery, hypocrisy, deception (including self-deception), and lazy prose. In this episode, Mike Palindrome, president of the Literature Supporters Club, joins Jacke to discuss Orwell’s life and works, including 1984, Animal Farm, his lesser-known novels, his journalistic works like Down and Out in Paris and London and Homage to Catalonia, and his most famous essays, including “Politics and the English Language,” “Shooting an Elephant,” and “A Hanging.”
In 1965, the critic Joseph Wood Krutch studied the available evidence and came to a surprising conclusion. “Edgar Allan Poe,” he wrote, “invented the detective story in order that he might not go mad.” Arthur Conan Doyle, a man who knew a thing or two about detective stories, was quick to credit his boyhood hero with inspiring Sherlock Holmes and all the mysteries that came after. “Poe…was the father of the detective tale,” he said, “and covered its limits so completely that I fail to see how his followers can find any fresh ground which they can confidently call their own…Where was the detective story until Poe breathed the breath of life into it?”
In this episode, Jacke takes a look at Poe’s detective M. Dupin, the structure of the Dupin stories, and considers the similarities between Dupin and Sherlock Holmes. Then Jacke reads “The Purloined Letter,” the third and final (and perhaps best) of the Dupin stories.
RICHARD BRADFORD is Research Professor in English at Ulster University and Visiting Professor at the University of Avignon. He has published over 25 acclaimed books, including biographies of Philip Larkin, Alan Sillitoe, Kingsley Amis, and Martin Amis.
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.
It’s another much-anticipated, often-requested Mike Palindrome Solo Episode! In this special installment of The History of Literature Podcast, Jacke turns the keys over to Mike Palindrome, President of the Literature Supporters Club, for a deep look at David Foster Wallace’s magnum opus, Infinite Jest. Enjoy!
In 1843, Edgar Allan Poe, desperate for money and terrified that his wife was about to die, “became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” Fueled by alcohol and despair, he fell into “fits of absolute unconsciousness”–and yet managed to write some of his greatest masterpieces, including “The Black Cat,” which has been shocking readers for more than 150 years. In this first installment of “Edgar Allan Poe Month,” Jacke explores Poe’s life leading up to “The Black Cat” before reading the hair-raising tale of uncontrollable rage, murder, and haunting remorse.
Robin Lithgow spent her life immersed in the performing arts, including a childhood in the theater and decades spent as an educator and arts administrator. But it wasn’t until she read a little-known work by Erasmus that she fully realized the importance that performance had on Shakespeare and his generation–which mirrored the experiences she had had as an English and drama teacher in inner-city schools in Los Angeles. In this special episode, Robin joins Jacke to talk about her life in the theater, her epiphanies regarding Shakespeare’s education, and the centrality of the performing arts in a child’s development.
ROBIN LITHGOW was the first Theatre Adviser, and eventually the Director, of the Arts Education Branch of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest school district in the United States. Before becoming an arts administrator, she was a teacher for twenty-one years, teaching every grade level from kindergarten through senior high school and ending her classroom tenure as an English and drama teacher. And before that, she was the daughter of Arthur Lithgow, a theater impresario who developed Shakespeare festivals all over Ohio, which meant that Robin and her younger brother John Lithgow, the acclaimed actor, grew up traveling from place to place, watching rehearsals and performances, as their father mounted productions of every play in the Shakespearean canon.