History of Literature #73 – Javier Marias

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The Spanish novelist Javier Marías (b. 1951) has led a wild life, from his childhood as the son of a philosopher to his current role as the reigning sovereign of Redonda, a micronation located in the Pacific Ocean that has had a succession of writers as its king. Along the way, Marías has written and translated dozens of books, many of which have won some of Europe’s most esteemed prizes. His own philosophical novels have been translated into 42 languages – and yet, as the New York Times Book Review noted, he remains largely unknown in America. Why is that? And what are Americans missing? Host Jacke Wilson is joined by Mike Palindrome, the President of the Literature Supporters Club and an ardent devotee of Javier Marías, to discuss Marías and his novel A Heart So White.

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History of Literature #72 Best Christmas Stories in Literature

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Sure, we all know the story of Frosty and Rudolph… but what about literary Christmas stories? How have great authors treated (or mistreated) this celebrated holiday? Mike Palindrome, President of the Literature Supporters Club, joins Jacke for a look at the ten best Christmas stories in literature. Authors discussed include Dostoevsky, Dickens, Willa Cather, Mark Twain, Ntozake Shange, Roderick Thorpe, Dr. Seuss, Thomas Mann, James Joyce, Hans Christian Andersen, Chekhov, O. Henry, and more. PLUS a special holiday tribute to Gar, the worst producer in the history of podcasting.

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History of Literature #71 – Did Bob Dylan Deserve the Nobel Prize?

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In 1959, a young singer-songwriter named Bob Zimmerman changed his name. As Bob Dylan, he then went on to change the world. After being lauded for more than 50 years for his songs and lyrics, this icon of the Sixties seemingly had achieved everything possible… and then the Nobel Committee awarded him the Nobel Prize for Literature. But does a writer of song lyrics deserve to be ranked among the world’s finest poets and novelists? Host Jacke Wilson is joined by Mike Palindrome, the President of the Literature Supporters Club, for a freewheelin’ conversation about the legendary Bob Dylan.

Bob Dylan Songs:

“Tangled Up in Blue” (performed by K.T. Tunstall); “Lay Lady Lay”; “My Back Pages” (performed by the Byrds); “Every Grain of Sand” (performed by Emmylou Harris)

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History of Literature #70 – Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

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Just after World War II, the poet and critic W.H. Auden said that Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (ca. 1959) is “of great relevance to our time, though it is gloomier, because it is about a society that is doomed.  We are not doomed, but in such immense danger that the relevance is great. [Rome] was a society not doomed by the evil passions of selfish individuals…but by an intellectual and spiritual failure of nerve that made the society incapable of coping with its situation.”  Why is Julius Caesar so continually important to those living in a liberal democracy? What does it tell us about the relationship of an individual to society and the state? And as the citizens of a republic lose their faith in institutions, how do we reconcile the noble ambition of a Caesar with the high-minded (but bloody) principles of the assassin Brutus?

In this episode, host Jacke Wilson takes a look at Shakespeare’s play, the portrayals of Brutus (James Mason) and Mark Antony (Marlon Brando) in the 1953 film, the fraught morality of assassination, the surprising links between John Wilkes Booth and the play, and an essay from The Journal of Democracy describing the declining faith in liberal democracies in 2016.

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Show Notes: 

Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/historyofliterature.

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

History of Literature #69 – Virginia Woolf and Her Enemies (with Professor Andrea Zemgulys) / Children’s Books

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Early in her career, novelist Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) wrote a critical essay in which she set forth her views of what fiction can and should do. The essay was called “Modern Fiction” (1919), and it has served critics and readers as a guide to Modernism (and Woolf) ever since. But while it’s easy to follow her arguments about the authors who became giants in the world of literature such as Joyce and Chekhov, it’s less easy to understand her statements about the authors she criticized, contemporary best sellers H.G. Wells, Arnold Bennett, and John Galsworthy. What was behind her savage criticism of these three? What does her animosity tell us about Woolf’s views of fiction? Professor Andrea Zemgulys of the University of Michigan joins Jacke to help him figure this out. Then a pair of children’s book experts (Jacke Wilson Jr. and Jacke Wilson Jr. Jr.) join Jacke in the studio to discuss buying holiday books for children.

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Show Notes: 

Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/historyofliterature.

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

“Quirky Dog,” “Sweeter Vermouth, and “Monkeys Spinning Monkeys” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

 

History of Literature #68 – Listener Feedback and Thanksgiving Thoughts

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It’s the Thanksgiving episode! Jacke and Mike respond to listener feedback and discuss some literary things to thankful for. Authors discussed include Edith Wharton, John Fowles, Ernest Hemingway, Vu Tran, Lydia Davis, Gary Snyder, Walt Whitman, Elena Ferrante, Walker Percy, Madeleine Thien, James Wood, Harold Bloom, and more!

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History of Literature #67 – Pascal’s Wager and an American Election

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Jacke digs into his origins in rural Wisconsin and offers some thoughts on race, literature, and the recent election. Also featured: René Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ayn Rand, and Simone de Beauvoir.

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Show Notes: 

We have a special episode coming up – listener feedback! Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/historyofliterature.

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

“Piano Between” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0