The History of Literature #206 – Karl Ove Knausgaard

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Since the publication of the first volume of his massive novel Mein Kampf (or My Struggle) in 2009, Karl Ove Knausgaard (1968- ) has become a household name in his native Norway – and a loved and hated literary figure around the world. Thanks to that six-volume book, plus another four-volume work titled after the four seasons, Knausgaard has drawn comparisons ranging from Marcel Proust to a blogger on steroids. For some, he is the avatar of a new kind of writing, or a new kind of novel, a pioneer who has advanced the novel into territory perfectly suited for the twenty-first century. For others, he is a hack, a charlatan, a navel-gazing fraud who barely deserves the title of novelist, let alone the acclaim or esteem that many have accorded him.

What do we make of Karl Ove Knausgaard? Why should we give his books our time? What’s the best way to read him? And can we strip away the sturm und drang surrounding his books and see them with any kind of clarity? In this episode, Mike Palindrome, President of the Literature Supporter Club, joins Jacke to help sort through one of the most polarizing figures in contemporary world 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

The History of Literature #205 – Saul Bellow

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Saul Bellow (1915-2005) was born in Quebec, immigrated to Chicago, and became one of the greatest of the great American novelists. In 1976 he won the Nobel Prize for writing that displayed “the mixture of rich picaresque novel and subtle analysis of our culture, of entertaining adventure, drastic and tragic episodes in quick succession interspersed with philosophic conversation, all developed by a commentator with a witty tongue and penetrating insight into the outer and inner complications that drive us to act, or prevent us from acting, and that can be called the dilemma of our age.”

In this episode, Jacke and Mike take a look at one of their favorite authors, discussing the highs and lows of the “first-class noticer” and his larger-than-life presence in the literary world.

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:

“Frog Legs Rag” 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 #204 – Living Poetry (with Bob Holman

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Fellow poet Naomi Shihab Nye says that Bob Holman’s “life gusto and poetry voice keep the world turning.” In this episode of The History of Literature, we tap into that voice, as Bob Holman joins us for a rollicking conversation about the poetic life he’s led, from his birth in a small town in Kentucky to his decades living in New York City, where – in the words of Henry Louis Gates Jr. – he’s “done more to bring poetry to cafes and bars than anyone since Ferlinghetti.” Holman’s latest works (Life Poem and The Unspoken, published recently by Bowery Books, were written fifty years apart. We’ll ask Bob how he’s changed as a poet and person in those years, and to give us his sense of where poetry has been, where it is now, and where it’s headed.

Poets and writers discussed or mentioned include ee cummings, William Blake, Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Mayakovsky, the Russian futurists, Kenneth Koch, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Philip Roth, Donald Lev, Jackie Sheeler, Alan Ginsberg, Amiri Baraka, Jayne Cortez, Papa Susso, Pablo Neruda, Homer, Sappho, and Sekou Sundiata.

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:

“Bass Walker” 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/

The History of Literature #202 – Chekhov

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Jacke welcomes in the new year by taking a deep dive into the melancholy (and beautiful) short story “Gooseberries” (1898), by the Russian genius Anton Chekhov.

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 #201 – Virginia Woolf (with Gillian Gill)

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Through novels like To the Lighthouse and Mrs Dalloway, and essays such as “A Room of One’s Own,” Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) has inspired generations of followers, particularly young women. But who were the women who inspired Virginia Woolf? In this episode, Jacke talks to author Gillian Gill, whose works include biographies of Mary Baker Eddy, Florence Nightingale, and Agatha Christie, about her new book, Virginia Woolf and the Women Who Shaped Her World.

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:

Ethel Smyth: Concerto for Violin, Horn, and Orchestra
“Nouvelle Noel” 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 #200 – The Magic Mountain

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In this special 200th episode of the History of Literature, Jacke and Mike discuss one of Mike’s all-time favorite novels, Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain. What does Mann do well? What makes this novel so great? And what do the experiences of Hans Castorp teach us about straddling the line between reality and the life of the mind?

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:

“Nouvelle Noel” 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 #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.