The History of Literature #223 – Speech Sounds by Octavia Butler

Imagine a plague that ravages the world and impairs the ability of humans to communicate with one another. What kind of society would we have? Who would take power and how would they hold it? What would the world be like for the powerless? How would children adapt and survive? In “Speech Sounds,” Octavia E. Butler invites us to consider these questions – and helps us look for rays of hope in even the bleakest of landscapes.

Octavia Butler (1947-2006), the daughter of a shoeshine man and a housemaid, went from a poor but proud childhood to becoming “the grand dame of science fiction.” Known for her physically and mentally tough black heroines, her work combines the dynamism of invented worlds with astute observations of race, gender, sexuality, and power.

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:

“Backbay Lounge” and “Magistar” 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 #221 – The Distance of the Moon by Italo Calvino | The African Library Project

Another special quarantine edition! In this action-packed episode, Jacke talks to Robyn Speed and Tatiana Santos of the African Library Project (africanlibraryproject.org), an organization that has helped create or improve more than three thousand libraries in Africa. He then turns to the great Italo Calvino and his short story masterpiece, “The Distance of the Moon” (1965), which melds together a stunning vision of the cosmos with a poignant and highly original love story.

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:

“Glitter Blast,” “Bushwick Tarantella,” and “Into the Wormhole” 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 #219 – After Rain by William Trevor

William Trevor was born in Ireland in 1928. When he was 26, he moved to England, where for the next 62 years he quietly became one of the most celebrated writers in the English-speaking world. In today’s History of Literature episode, Jacke takes a look at one of his greatest short stories, “After Rain.”

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 #218 – John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck (1902-1968) was an American author known for what the Nobel Committee, who awarded Steinbeck its Prize for Literature in 1962, called “his realistic and imaginative writings, [which combine] sympathetic humor and keen social perception.” Among his 33 books include the novella Of Mice and Men and the novels The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden. In this episode, Jacke and Mike take a look at the boy from Salinas, California, who became the great chronicler of twentieth-century Americans, especially those suffering through hardship, economic depression, and injustices of all kinds.

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 #214 – Kipling, Kingsley, and Conan Doyle – When Writers Go to War

In early 1900, the paths of three British writers – Rudyard Kipling, Mary Kingsley, and Arthur Conan Doyle – crossed in South Africa, during what has become known as Britain’s last imperial war. In this episode, Sarah LeFanu, author of the new book Something of Themselves: Kipling, Kingsley, Conan Doyle and the Anglo-Boer War, joins Jacke to talk about the experiences of these three writers. What did they expect? What did they find? And how did the experience change them as writers and people?

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 #213 – Special Quarantine Edition – Gusev by Anton Chekhov

More bonus content! For those of you living in isolation (and those of you who aren’t), Jacke explores the depths of the human condition – as well as its ultimate beauty – with the help of Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) and his short story masterpiece, “Gusev.”

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 #212 – Special Quarantine Edition – Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter

As the world deals with a pandemic, we turn to one of America’s greatest (and least appreciated) writers, Katherine Anne Porter, and her masterpiece, Pale Horse, Pale Rider, a short novel that tells the story of Miranda, a newspaper woman who falls ill during the 1918 flu pandemic (also known as the “Spanish flu”), and the love of her life, Adam, a soldier who is headed off to the Great War.

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 #211 – Edith Wharton

“There are only three or four American novelists who can be thought of as ‘major’,” said Gore Vidal. “And Edith Wharton is one.” In this episode, Jacke and Mike take a look at the life and works of Edith Wharton (1862-1937), author of The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth, with a special deep dive into her short story “Roman Fever.”

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 #209 – Conflict Literature (with Matt Gallagher)

Matt Gallagher is an American writer who served in the Iraq War as a U.S. Army captain. He first became known for his blog, which was shut down by the military, and his subsequent war memoir Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War. Since then he’s received an MFA from Columbia University and published several books of fiction and essays, proving himself to be a thoughtful contributor to a subspecies of literature known as conflict literature.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian writer who – although she is only 42 – has established herself as one of the world’s greatest authors. The Times Literary Supplement has called her the most prominent of a procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors who is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature. She too, is a contributor to conflict literature, particularly in her book Half of a Yellow Sun, which tells the story of the Biafran War through the perspective of multiple characters, including a professor, a British citizen, and a Nigerian houseboy.

In this episode, Matt Gallagher joins us to discuss his experiences as a reader, writer, and soldier in Iraq; his first encounter with Adichie’s masterwork Half of a Yellow Sun; and how his experience as a soldier informed his relationship with literature.

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:

“At the Shore” 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 #208 – John Keats

“Keats is with Shakespeare,” wrote Matthew Arnold, and few would disagree. His life was short, but his poetry is deep and his legacy long enduring. Who was this man? How did he overcome his lowly origins and become one of the brightest stars in the poetic firmament? In this episode we take our first look at John Keats (1795-1821), including a deep analysis of his famous poem, “Ode on a Grecian Urn.”

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:

“Running Fanfare” and “Bluesy Vibes Sting” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/