The History of Literature #174 – David Foster Wallace (A Mike Palindrome Special!)

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Ask and ye shall receive! It’s an all-Mike episode devoted entirely to one of his literary heroes, David Foster Wallace. Enjoy!

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.

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The History of Literature #173 – The Yellow Wallpaper (with Evie Lee)

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Happy new year! Host Jacke Wilson is joined by special guest Evie Lee, a vice-president at the Literature Supporters Club, for a conversation about the classic short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

CHARLOTTE PERKINS GILMAN (1860-1935) wrote nine novels and novellas, several plays, and over 180 short stories in her writing career. Her most famous work, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” combines elements of a gothic supernatural horror story with an astute, ahead of its time  psychological portrayal of a woman oppressed by her surroundings. “The Yellow Wallpaper” is today one of the most widely read and studied works in American literature.

This is a self-contained episode of The History of Literature Podcast, in which the story is read aloud before being discussed. No need to read it beforehand (unless you want to!).

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 #171 – To Sleep, Perchance to Dream – On Writers and Death

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“To die, to sleep – to sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub, for in this sleep of death what dreams may come…” In these immortal lines, Shakespeare’s Hamlet gives voice to one of the greatest of all human questions. What happens when we die? Should we be excited by the mystery? Or afraid? How do we puny humans endure the knowledge that we are not immortal? In this episode, Jacke and Mike take a look at writers on the verge of death. What did they see? And what did they say?

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 #170 – Toni Morrison

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TONI MORRISON (b. 1931) is one of the most successful and admired authors in the history of American literature. Her novels include The Bluest Eye (1970), Sula (1973), Song of Solomon (1977) and Beloved (1987), which is widely considered to be her masterpiece. After successful careers in both academia and publishing during the 1960s and ’70s, Morrison’s critical and commercial success enabled her to devote more time to her writing. In 1993, the Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature to Morrison, “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.”

In this episode, host Jacke Wilson intersperses Toni Morrison’s biographical details and literary achievements with a discussion of his first encounters with Morrison’s works and what they meant to him.

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 #169 – Dostoevsky

FYODOR DOSTOEVSKY (1821-1881) was, in the estimation of James Joyce, “the man more than any other who has created modern prose.” “Outside Shakespeare,” Virginia Woolf wrote, “there is no more exciting reading.” His influence is as impossible to understand as it is to overstate: he is widely credited as the forerunner of modern psychology, existentialist philosophy, the detective novel, and the prison memoir – and is, by any measure, one of the pinnacles of Russian literature. In this episode of The History of Literature, we consider the life and works of one of the greatest novelists the world has ever known.

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 #168 – Jhumpa Lahiri (“The Third and Final Continent”)

What was it like to relocate from India to London to America in the early 1970s? And how can a daughter hope to recapture the experience of her father and convey it in fiction? In today’s episode of the History of Literature, Jacke and Mike look at a contemporary classic story, Jhumpa Lahiri’s “The Third and Final Continent.” Along the way, they discuss the tropes of immigrant fiction, the pros and cons of epiphany stories, and whether a story is a “city” or “an old friend.” (Yes, that’s another one of Mike’s special theories.)

JHUMPA LAHIRI was born in 1967 in London, England, the daughter of Bengali Indian emigrants. She moved to the United States when she was two years old and grew up in Rhode Island. A graduate of Boston University, she began writing and publishing her stories of first-generation Indian-American immigrants in the 1990s. Her first book, Interpreter of Maladies, was a huge critical and commercial success, selling over 15 million copies and earning Lahiri the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

NOTE: This is a self-contained episode of The History of Literature, in which both the story and a discussion of it are provided. No prior reading necessary (unless you’d like to)!

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 #164 – Karl Marx

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Karl Marx (1818-1883) turned his early interest in literature and philosophy into a lifelong study of the socioeconomic forces unleashed by the rise of capitalism. His works The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital, among others, influenced the course of the twentieth century like few others. But who was Karl Marx? How did his ideas become so widespread? And how did his thinking and writing impact literature? We’ll talk about Karl Marx and Marxist Literary Theory with Mike Palindrome, the President of the Literature Supporters Club, who has spent more than twenty years reading literary theory as an amateur enthusiast.

Mike’s recommendations:

  • “Ideological and Ideological State Apparatuses” by Louis Althusser
  • Mythologies by Roland Barthes
  • Debt:  The First 5,000 Years by Daniel Graeber
  • The Political Unconscious by Fredric Jameson
  • Utopia or Bust by Benjamin Kunkel
  • The Year of Dreaming Dangerously by Slavoj Zizek
  • What is to be Done? by Vladimir Lenin

Support the show at patreon.com/literature. 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.