Stephen Crane (1871-1900) lived fast, died young, and impressed everyone with his prose style and insight into the human condition. While he’s best known today for his novels The Red Badge of Courage and Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (along with some classic short stories like “The Open Boat,” “the Blue Hotel,” and “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky”), his literary fame during his life was supplemented by his notorious exploits. Shipwrecks, romance, scandal, and high-profile court cases – and he somehow also found time to befriend literary lions like H.G. Wells, Ford Madox Ford, Henry James, and Joseph Conrad. In this episode, Jacke talks to Crane’s biographer Linda H. Davis, whose new book Badge of Courage: The Life of Stephen Crane goes deep into the life and mind of the man whose own powers of empathy made him a staple of twentieth-century bookshelves and syllabi.
Mark Twain was an enormously successful writer and a horrendous businessperson, with a weakness for gadgets and inventions that cost him a fortune. In this episode, Jacke takes a look at his efforts to start his own publishing company, which started off strong but quickly descended into bankruptcy and ruin. What was he trying to accomplish? And what were the books that brought him down?
After that, Mike Palindrome, the President of the Literature Supporters Club, joins Jacke for part two of a discussion on great literary terms and devices. The two old friends recount the first ten they chose and – tongues firmly in cheek – select THE GREATEST LITERARY TERMS OF ALL TIME, numbers 11-20.
Jacke takes a look at Nikolai Gogol’s early stories about his native Ukraine, including two famous descriptions of Ukrainian nights. Then Jacke turns things over to Eve and Julie from the Book Dreams Podcast, as they interview a scholar about a surprising find: in 2019, a librarian in Bristol discovered four scraps of parchment bearing the names “Merlin” and “Arthur.” Their guest, Dr. Laura Chuhan Campbell, was part of an interdisciplinary team working to determine the origins and significance of these medieval manuscripts.
The American poet Dana Gioia calls Charles Baudelaire “the first modern poet,” adding “In both style and content, his provocative, alluring, and shockingly original work shaped and enlarged the imagination of later poets, not only in his native France but across Europe and the Americas.” In this episode, acclaimed translator and poet Aaron Poochigian joins Jacke to talk about his new translation of Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal, or The Flowers of Evil. ALSO: Jacke bets on himself! Happy Halloween!
As a child growing up in Newark, New Jersey in the 1930s and 40s, Philip Milton Roth (1933-2018) never thought about being a writer. By the time he died, he had become one of the most famous and celebrated figures in the literary world – though his writing and personal flaws attracted criticism as well as admiration. In this episode, Jacke and Mike discuss the life and potential legacy of Philip Roth, author of Goodbye Columbus, Portnoy’s Complaint, Sabbath’s Theater, American Pastoral, The Plot Against America, and many other works.
In the immediate aftermath of her death at the age of 53, Constance Fenimore Woolson (1840-1894) was considered one of the greatest writers of her day, but her reputation soon faded. A hundred years later, she was little more than a footnote in her friend Henry James’s biography, until scholars began to rediscover her life and works. In this episode, Jacke takes a look at one of her most famous short stories, “Miss Grief,” in which an aspiring writer of artistic ambition seeks out the opinion and assistance of a more established author. The story, written after Woolson had tried unsuccessfully to meet James for the first time, is often viewed as anticipatory of the relationship that she and James went on to have.
When she died tragically at the age of 53, Constance Fenimore Woolson was ranked with the greatest female writers of all time, including Jane Austen, George Eliot, and the Brontes. What happened to her reputation after that? Did her friend Henry James sink her reputation as an author and a person? In this episode, Jacke takes a look at the hugely successful (and now often overlooked) nineteenth-century American author Constance Fenimore Woolson.
Finally! At long last, Jacke responds to years of requests from his Brazilian listeners to take a closer look at Machado de Assis, the novelist whom critic Harold Bloom called simply “a miracle.” In this episode, author and Brazilian friend Claudia Laitano joins Jacke to discuss Machado’s life, works, and legacy. Enjoy!
The History of Literature presents some content from another Podglomerate podcast, Storybound. In this episode from Storybound’s first season, author Mitchell S. Jackson reads from his memoir, Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family, with sound design and original music composed by Zane featuring Stephanie Strange.
STORYBOUND is a radio theater program designed for the podcast age. In each episode, listeners will be treated to their favorite authors and writers reading some of their most impactful stories, designed with powerful and immersive sound environments. Brought to you by Lit Hub Radio and The Podglomerate.