The History of Literature #199 – Jonathan Swift

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Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was a man who loved ciphers and a cipher of a man, an Anglo-Irishman who claimed not to like Ireland but became one of its greatest champions. He was viewed as an oddity even by the friends who knew him well and admired him most. And yet, in spite of his obscure origins and curious personal hangups, he became famous for works like Gulliver’s TravelsA Tale of a Tub, and A Modest Proposal, in which his clear and incisive prose skewered institutions, authority figures, and conventional wisdom. A master of sustained irony and deft political satire, he’s been read and admired by high-minded critics and general audiences for three centuries.

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

Music Credits:

“Quirky Dog” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

The History of Literature #198 – Sylvia Plath

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Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) was born in Boston in 1932, the daughter of a German-born professor, Otto Plath, and his student, Aurelia Schober. After her father died in 1940, Plath’s family moved to Wellesley, Massachusetts, where her mother taught secretarial studies at Boston University and Plath embarked on a path that she would follow the rest of her life: she was a gifted student, she wrote poetry and stories, she won awards and prizes and scholarships – and she began to suffer from the severe depression that would ultimately lead to her death.

Plath’s life, including her incendiary marriage to British poet Ted Hughes, will be discussed in a separate episode. In this episode, we focus on Plath’s poetry, as superfan Mike Palindrome, President of the Literature Supporters Club, selects five poems to introduce Plath: The Applicant, Lady Lazarus, Morning Song, The Colossus, and The Stones.

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

Music Credits:

“Allemande Sting” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

The History of Literature #197 – Margaret Atwood

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A week ago, Margaret Atwood (b. 1939) turned 80. A month ago, she was awarded the Booker Prize for her eighteenth novel, The Testaments. But how did the little girl who grew up in the forests of Canada turn into one of the most successful and celebrated authors of her day? And what do we make of someone whose fierce independence is matched only by her commitment to defying all stereotypes and categorizations? In this episode, Jacke takes a look at the life and career of the incredible Margaret Atwood.

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

Music Credits:

“Fuzzball Parade,” “Glitter Blast,” “Magistar,” and “Funkorama” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

The History of Literature #196 – One-Hit Wonders

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We all know how difficult it is to scale the mountain of success, whether you’re a musician or a novelist. But why do some artists reach the summit again and again, while others spend the rest of their careers stuck in the valley, gazing up and thinking about what might have been? In this episode, Jacke and Mike take a look at some classic “one-hit wonders” in the world of literature and popular music.

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

The History of Literature #195 – Thomas Hardy

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He was born to a lower class family of tradesmen in 1840. Eighty eight years later, he died as one of the most celebrated writers in England. His name was Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), and he was at the same time the product of the Victorian era and one of its greatest critics. But how did this man go from being a builder and architect to writing poetry and eventually the novels that made him famous? What made this budding young priest turn away from the church? And why, after becoming a successful and highly accomplished novelist did he quit writing novels altogether, turning back to poetry for the remainder of his years?

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

Music Credits:

“Piano Between” and “Allemande Sting” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

The History of Literature #194 – George Saunders

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Jacke and Mike take a look at contemporary author George Saunders, author of Pastoralia, Tenth of December, and Lincoln at the Bardo, In spite of some inauspicious beginnings, Saunders somehow managed to ascend to literary greatness, setting aside a career in mining to become, in the words of poet Mary Karr, “the best short-story writer in English–not ‘one of,’ not ‘arguably,’ but the best.”

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

Music Credits:

“Quirky Dog” and “Amazing Plan” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

The History of Literature #191 – Chinua Achebe

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Chinua Achebe’s first novel Things Fall Apart (1959) ushered in a new era where African countries, which had recently achieved post-colonial independence, now achieved an independence of a different kind – the freedom of imagination and artistry, as African authors told the stories of their geography, their culture, and their experience from the point of view of Africans, and not from the point of view of those who perceived them from only from the outside. “It sparked my love affair with African literature,” Toni Morrison said. Maya Angelou said it was a book where “all readers meet theirr brothers, sisters, parents, and friends – and themselves – along Nigerian roads.” Margaret Atwood called Achebe “a magical writer…One of the greatest of the twentieth century.” And Nelson Mandela, who read Achebe’s works while in captivity, said he was a writer “in whose company the prison walls fell down.”

In this episode of The History of Literature, we look at the life and legacy of Chinua Achebe, the impact of Things Fall Apart, and Achebe’s critique of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

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

Music Credits:

“Unnamed Africa Rhythm” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/