The History of Literature #246 – Giovanni Boccaccio | The Decameron

As the Black Death swept through the city of Florence, Italian poet and scholar Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) began writing his classic tale of survival and revelry. The Decameron (1349-1353) tells the story of ten individuals who have retreated to a country villa to avoid the disease. While in this state of self-quarantine, they embark upon a fortnight of storytelling: ten stories each for ten days. The resulting work was a landmark in the literature of the Italian Renaissance–and thanks to Boccaccio’s energy, inventiveness, and insight into the human condition, the work still exerts a fascinating power nearly seven hundred years later.

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 Podcast is a member of the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature.

The History of Literature #245 – Joyce Carol Oates (with Evie Lee)

Friend of the podcast Evie Lee joins Jacke to take a look at Joyce Carol Oates’s classic short story, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” (1966). NOTE TO LISTENERS: This episode contains disturbing descriptions of an attempted abduction by a serial killer. Please exercise discretion in deciding whether to listen.

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 Podcast is a member of the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature.

The History of Literature #244 – Alexandre Dumas

Jacke takes a look at the astonishing story of Alexandre Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, whose own father (who was born into slavery before becoming a four-star general in Napoleon’s army) led a life as adventurous as any fictional character.

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 #243 – Keeping Secrets! Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago, and the CIA (with Lara Prescott)

Author Lara Prescott joins Jacke to talk about her novel The Secrets We Kept, which is based on the incredible but true story of the CIA’s efforts to use a novel (Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago) as part of its Cold War battle against the Soviet Union.

LARA PRESCOTT is the author of The Secrets We Kept, an instant New York Times bestseller and a Hello Sunshine x Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick. The Secrets We Kept has been translated into 30 languages and will be adapted for film by The Ink Factory and Marc Platt Productions.

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 #242 – William Faulkner | Dry September

The fourth part of a three-part episode run! Jacke takes the advice of a listener and adds William Faulkner’s “Dry September” (1931) to the Baldwin-Faulkner consideration. NOTE FOR LISTENERS: This story (and our discussion of it) contains disturbing references to sexual violence, racial slurs, and race-based hate crimes. Please exercise discretion in listening or playing for others.

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 #241 – Literary Battle Royale 2 – The Cold war (U.S. vs. U.S.S.R.)

Sputnik! Cuba! Glasnost and perestroika! In this follow-up to the very popular England vs. France literary battle royal, Jacke and Mike choose up sides and imagine the Cold War being fought by each nation’s greatest authors. 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.

Music Credits:

“Sweeter Vermouth” and “Bad Ideas” 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 #240 – More Thoreau | Experiencing Nature (with Nina Shengold)

“We can never get enough of nature,” wrote Henry David Thoreau in 1854. “I suppose that what in other men is religion is in me love of nature.” A century and a half later, author Nina Shengold left her desk behind for her own journey into the natural world, following a plan to walk along the Ashokan Reservoir in upstate New York every day for a year. When she returned home after each outing she recorded her observations; her book Reservoir Year: A Walker’s Book of Days was the result. In this episode, she joins Jacke to talk about the differences between her book and Thoreau’s Walden, the writers who inspired her, and how the experience of writing about the outside world each day affected her, giving her a better understanding of both the person she was and the person she wanted to be.

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 “And Awaken” 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 #239 – Henry David Thoreau | On Civil Disobedience

In July of 1846, Henry David Thoreau took a break from his two-year experiment of living in the woods to return to town, where he bumped into a tax collector who promptly had him arrested. For six years, Thoreau had refused to pay his poll tax, believing that the money was being used to perpetuate a pair of unjust acts: the institution of slavery and the Mexican-American War, an imperialist venture that threatened to spread slavery to new territory. Thoreau had been an abolitionist all his life, yet slavery persisted, and he believed it was time to do more than just vote. His experience in jail, and the speech he later gave about the experience, became one of the most influential political tracts ever written, with thinkers and activists from Tolstoy to Gandhi to Martin Luther King, Jr. citing it as central to their own efforts to combat injustice.

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:

“Adding the Sun” 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 #238 – The Seven Deadly Sins

As with Santa’s reindeer or Snow White’s seven dwarves, we all know the phrase “Seven Deadly Sins” even if we struggle to remember the exact list. But who came up with this concept? And who decided that Pride, Envy, Wrath, Lust, Sloth, Greed, and Gluttony were the seven qualities deserving of this ignominious honor? In this episode, Jacke and Mike take a look at the Seven Deadly Sins and how they have been portrayed in literature – and offer some ideas for how the list might be better tailored for today’s 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:

“Sweeter Vermouth” and “Bad Ideas” 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 #237 – Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke (with Amanda Stern)

In the autumn of 1902, a young man attending a German military school wrote to the poet Rainer Maria Rilke to ask him for some advice. Rilke responded, and the two struck up a correspondence that has become one of the great moments in the history of literature. For more than a century, Rilke’s advice, conveyed in ten letters and published as Letters to a Young Poet, has helped readers find answers to questions about literature, creativity, and the nature of existence. In this episode, Jacke is joined by author and literary impresario Amanda Stern for a conversation about her literary career, the struggles she had growing up with an undiagnosed panic disorder, and the impact that Letters to a Young Poet had on her.

RAINER MARIA RILKE (1875-1926) was a German modernist poet whose innovative approach to poetry, expressed in poems like “The Panther,” “Torso of an Archaic Apollo,” and the collections Sonnets to Orpheus and The Duino Elegies, made him a leader in a style of poetry called “existential materialism” and a profound influence on subsequent generations of poets.

AMANDA STERN is a native New Yorker, a novelist, a children’s book author, and the host of the podcast Bookable. For years, she was the organizer of The Happy Ending music and literary reading series, which encouraged writers to take risks on stage. Her memoir Little Panic: Dispatches from an Anxious Life has been called “a creative feat and existential service of the highest caliber.”

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.

Credits:

“Running Fanfare” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Photo of Amanda Stern by Jon Pack