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.

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The History of Literature #163 – Gabriel García Márquez (with Sarah Bird)

In this episode, Jacke welcomes author Sarah Bird to the program to talk about her background, her writing, and her readerly passion for the fiction of the great twentieth-century novelist, Gabriel García Márquez.

GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ (1927-2014) was one of the most revered and influential novelists of the twentieth century. Born in a small town in Colombia, which he later made famous as the fictionalized village “Macondo,” he drew upon the stories and storytelling styles of his grandparents and parents to formulate what came to be called “magical realism.” His books One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera have sold tens of millions of copies and stand as a testament to the power of fiction. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.

SARAH BIRD is a member of the Texas Literary Hall of Fame, the recipient of the Texas Institute of Letters’ Award for Distinguished Writers, and a six-time winner of the Austin Chronicle’s Best Fiction Writer Award. Her most recent novel, Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen, tells the story of Cathy Williams, a former slave who disguised herself as a man in order to fight alongside the Buffalo Soldiers.

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.

 

The History of Literature #160 – Ray Bradbury (with Carolyn Cohagan)

Special guest Carolyn Cohagan, author of the Time Zero trilogy and founder of the creative writing workshop Girls with Pens, joins Jacke for a discussion of her writing process, her origins in standup comedy and theater, and her early love for the fiction of Ray Bradbury (and her special appreciation for his short story “All Summer in a Day”).

For another look at a twentieth-century giant who broke down genre barriers, try Episode 141 Kurt Vonnegut (with Mike Palindrome).

Love pulp fiction? Hear about the efforts of a contemporary editor to bring back the heyday of the genre, including classic twentieth-century prose and beautiful painted covers, in Episode 140 Pulp Fiction and the Hardboiled Crime Novel (with Charles Ardai).

Writing a little yourself? Hear the interview that made Carolyn run out to buy the book that passes along the secrets of fiction in Episode 133 – The Hidden Machinery (with Margot Livesey).

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.

The History of Literature #159 – Herman Melville

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Today, Herman Melville (1819-1891) is considered one of the greatest of American writers, and a leading candidate for THE American novelist thanks to his classic work, Moby-Dick. How did this unpromising student become one of the most inventive and observant writers of his time? What obstacles did he face, and what did he do to overcome them? What other works of his are worth reading? Jacke, Mike, and special guest Cristina, aka The Classics Slacker, who recently spent 24 hours aboard the Charles W. Morgan listening to the novel being read, take a look at this fascinating man and his whale of a book.

Enjoy 19th-Century American authors? Try Episode 90, Mark Twain’s Final Request.

Wondering how Melville got his ideas? Learn more about one of his inspirations in Episode 111 – The Americanest American, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Ready for more adventure? Try Episode 82 – Robinson Crusoe.

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.

The History of Literature #153 – Charles Dickens

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Charles John Huffam Dickens (1812-1870) was the greatest novelist of the Victorian age. In his 58 years he went from a hardscrabble childhood to a world-famous author, beloved and admired for his unforgettable characters, his powers of observation and empathy, and his championing of the lower classes. He wrote 15 novels, five novellas, hundreds of articles and short stories – and also found time to edit a weekly periodical for over 20 years. But that wasn’t all: he also wrote thousands of pages of letters, ran a sizable household, was a tireless reformer, a philanthropist, an amateur theatrical performer, a lecturer, and a traveler, and at times walked 14 miles a day. And he had secrets in his personal life that are still being unearthed today.

How on earth did he get all this done? How was he viewed by his contemporaries? And what do we make of his novels – and his life – today?

For more on Dickens’ classic work A Christmas Carol, try Episode 72 – Top 10 Christmas Stories

For a look at the sentimental in fiction, try Episode 65 – Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (with Professor James Chandler)

Does Dickens make you hungry? We explore the phenomenon in Episode 144 – Food in Literature (with Ronica Dhar)

What was Dickens’s favorite book? Find out in Episode 41 – The New Testament (with Professor Kyle Keefer)

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.

The History of Literature #152 – George Sand

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George Sand wrote an astonishing number of novels and plays, and had friendships and affairs with an astonishing range of men and women. She dressed in men’s clothing, and she inspired a host of 19th century authors and artists, including Russian writers like Turgenev and Dostoevsky and British writers like Mary Ann Evans, who adopted the name George, as in George Eliot, out of tribute to her French predecessor. In this episode of the History of Literature, we travel to 19th Century France, for a look at the life and works of the inimitable and indefatigable George Sand.

Help 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.

The History of Literature #147 – Leo Tolstoy

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When asked to name the three greatest novels ever written, William Faulkner replied, “Anna Karenina, Anna Karenina, Anna Karenina.” Nabokov said, “When you are reading Turgenev, you know you are reading Turgenev. When you read Tolstoy, you are reading because you just cannot stop.”  And finally, there’s this compliment from author Isaac Babel: “If the world could write itself,” he said, “it would write like Tolstoy.”

But who was Leo Tolstoy? How did he become the person who could write War and Peace and Anna Karenina, two of the pinnacles of the novel form – and two of the greatest achievements in the history of human civilization? Why did he stop writing novels, and what did he do with the rest of his life?

In this episode, host Jacke Wilson takes a look at the life and works of Count Leo Tolstoy, one of the most fascinating and revered figures in all of literature.

Links and Other Treats:

More of a Chekhov person? You might like Episode 63, where author Charles Baxter talks about how important Chekhov has been to him.

For a look at Anna Karenina’s “French cousin,” check out Episode 79 – Music That Melts the Stars – Madame Bovary.

Love the Russians? Listen to more in Episode 130 on the great poet Anna Akhmatova and her surprising affair with sculptor Amedeo Modigliani.

Why did Tolstoy hate Shakespeare? Learn more in Episode 104 – King Lear.

Help 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.

FREE GIFTS! The gift-giving continues! This month, we’re giving away a copy of Nabokov’s Lectures on Russian Literature and an Amazon.com gift certificate for the book of your choice. Sign up at patreon.com/literature to be eligible to win. Good luck!