The History of Literature #167 – F Scott Fitzgerald (“Babylon Revisited”)

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What happens when the party is over? Can you ever truly escape your past? Jacke and Mike take a look at F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic 1931 story of guilt and melancholy, “Babylon Revisited.”

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD (1896-1940) was the quintessential Jazz Age writer. While he’s known today primarily as the author of the near-perfect novel The Great Gatsby, in his lifetime he was far more famous for his short stories, which millions of readers encountered through big-circulation magazines like The Saturday Evening Post. Fitzgerald published 65 stories in The Saturday Evening Post, including “Babylon Revisited,” which tells the story of an American father living in post-Crash Paris, hoping for a reunion with his nine-year-old daughter–but fearing the reminders from his past that might make that impossible.

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 reading necessary (unless you’d prefer it that way)!

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 #166 – Stephen King (with the Sisters of Slaughter)

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STEPHEN KING (1947- ) was born in the northern state of Maine, where he has lived most of his life. For more than forty years, he has been the world’s leading practitioner of scary fiction. He’s also won numerous awards, including the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters and the National Medal of Arts from the U.S. National Medal of Arts. His books have sold more than 350 million copies.

MICHELLE GARZA and MELISSA LASON (aka the SISTERS OF SLAUGHTER) have been writing horror fiction since they were young girls growing up in rural Arizona. The twin sisters have been widely praised for their demented fairytales and historical hellscapes, including Mayan Blue and Kingdom of Teeth. Their most recent work is a collaborative project, Silverwood: The Door, which delivers serialized fiction in a throwback to the era of Dickens and Little Nell. They are lifelong fans of Stephen King, The X-Files, and werewolves.

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.

History of Literature #127 – Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein (1874 – 1946) would be essential to the history of literature had she never written a word – but she did write words, lots of them, and they’ve led to her having an uneasy position in the canon of English literature. Avant-garde pioneer? Literary charlatan? Or underappreciated genius? In this episode, we look at the fascinating life and works of the incomparable (and irrepressible) Gertrude Stein.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

Music Credits: “When You’re Down, My Dear” by Josh Hetherington and Ronny Haynes, from Show Me Where It Hurts, available at showmewhereithurts.bandcamp.com

History of Literature #114 – Christopher Marlowe – What Happened and What If?

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In 1921, T.S. Eliot wrote, “When Shakespeare borrowed from him, which was pretty often at the beginning, Shakespeare either made something inferior or something different.” He was talking about Shakespeare’s near-contemporary Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593), whose literary career was cut short by his murder at the age of 29, though not before he established himself as one of the most accomplished and innovative poets who ever lived. A scholar, a spy, a poet, a tragedian, a counterfeiter, an influencer of Shakespeare – wrestling with Marlowe’s interests and ambiguities could fill a hundred novels. Theories have long abounded: was his death ordered by the Crown? Or perhaps it was staged – paving the way for Marlowe, in hiding, to continue to write plays under the name William Shakespeare. But assuming that he did die in that tavern brawl, the questions are no less appealing: what would he have done, had he lived? How might he have continued to influence Shakespeare – and how might Shakespeare have influenced him? Host Jacke Wilson takes a look at the life and works of the extraordinary Christopher Marlowe.

Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com. Support the show at patreon.com/literature. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

History of Literature #109 – Women of Mystery (with Christina Kovac)

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Author Christina Kovac (The Cutaway: A Thriller) joins Jacke for a discussion of crime fiction, writing a strong female protagonist, working in the local news business, and her “holy trinity” of female crime writers: Laura Lippmann, Tana French, and Megan Abbott.

Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com. Support the show at patreon.com/literature.

History of Literature #108 – Beowulf (aka Need a Hero? Get a Grip…)

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The poem called Beowulf (ca. 850 AD) was composed in Old English during what is known as the Middle Ages. Telling the tale of a hero who fights two monsters and a dragon, the three-thousand-line poem is traditionally viewed as one of the few bits of brightness in an otherwise dark age. Set in Scandinavia, the poem offers a tantalizing window into a culture undergoing a transition, as the Anglo-Saxon speaker embraces the newly adopted religion Christianity while nevertheless expressing nostalgia for the heroic days of yore. Jacke Wilson takes a look at the classic poem Beowulf and the questions it raises today.

Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com. Support the show at patreon.com/literature.