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 #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 #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 #195 – Thomas Hardy

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He was born to a lower class family of tradesmen in 1840. Eighty eight years later, he died as one of the most celebrated writers in England. His name was Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), and he was at the same time the product of the Victorian era and one of its greatest critics. But how did this man go from being a builder and architect to writing poetry and eventually the novels that made him famous? What made this budding young priest turn away from the church? And why, after becoming a successful and highly accomplished novelist did he quit writing novels altogether, turning back to poetry for the remainder of his years?

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:

“Piano Between” and “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 #194 – George Saunders

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Jacke and Mike take a look at contemporary author George Saunders, author of Pastoralia, Tenth of December, and Lincoln at the Bardo, In spite of some inauspicious beginnings, Saunders somehow managed to ascend to literary greatness, setting aside a career in mining to become, in the words of poet Mary Karr, “the best short-story writer in English–not ‘one of,’ not ‘arguably,’ but the best.”

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” and “Amazing Plan” 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 #191 – Chinua Achebe

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Chinua Achebe’s first novel Things Fall Apart (1959) ushered in a new era where African countries, which had recently achieved post-colonial independence, now achieved an independence of a different kind – the freedom of imagination and artistry, as African authors told the stories of their geography, their culture, and their experience from the point of view of Africans, and not from the point of view of those who perceived them from only from the outside. “It sparked my love affair with African literature,” Toni Morrison said. Maya Angelou said it was a book where “all readers meet theirr brothers, sisters, parents, and friends – and themselves – along Nigerian roads.” Margaret Atwood called Achebe “a magical writer…One of the greatest of the twentieth century.” And Nelson Mandela, who read Achebe’s works while in captivity, said he was a writer “in whose company the prison walls fell down.”

In this episode of The History of Literature, we look at the life and legacy of Chinua Achebe, the impact of Things Fall Apart, and Achebe’s critique of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

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:

“Unnamed Africa Rhythm” 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 #190 – Blood and Sympathy in the 19th Century (with Professor Ann Kibbie)

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“England may with justice claim to be the native land of transfusion,” wrote one European physician in 1877, acknowledging Great Britain’s role in developing and promoting human-to-human transfusion as treatment for life-threatening blood loss. But what did this scientific practice mean for literature? How did it excite the imagination of authors and readers? And how does our understanding of transfusion help us to understand our own reading of historical and contemporary scientific advancements?

In today’s episode, Jacke talks to Professor Ann Kibbie of Bowdoin College about her new book, Transfusion: Blood and Sympathy in the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination, which examines the scientific and literary treatment of the nineteenth-century practice of transfusion, including the way transfusion seeped into the works of authors like George Eliot, Adam Smith, and Bram Stoker, whose Dracula stands as a culmination of the practice of transfusion and the elemental feelings it arouses.

Music Credits:

“Midnight Tale” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/