144 Food in Literature

Food, glorious food! We all know its power for nourishment, pleasure, and comfort — and we’ve all felt the sharp pangs of its absence. How has this essential part of being alive made its way into novels, short stories, and poetry? Our guest Ronica Dhar, author of the novel Bijou Roy, joins us for a conversation about food in literature, as we select ten mouthwatering (and thought-provoking) examples. Bon appetit!

Works and authors discussed include Kevin Young, Dr. Seuss, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, William Shakespeare, Beatrix Potter, Patrick O’Brian, Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, Beowulf, Elizabeth Alexander, Big Night (the film), Charles Dickens, Arnold Lobel, Russell Hoban, Lillian Hoban, Haruki Murakami, Lewis Carroll, Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis, Paddington Bear, Pippi Longstocking, and more.

For our first discussion with Ronica, in which she chooses her favorite books, see Episode 35 – A Conversation with Ronica Dhar.

What’s food without the means to buy it? For a draft of 10 great writers at work, see Episode 101 – Writers at Work (with Mike Palindrome).

For more on Patrick O’Brian, see Episode 37 – Great Literary Duos.

For a medieval feast, see Episode 108 – Beowulf (aka Need a Hero? Get a Grip!).

EXCITING NEWS!!!!

We are giving away a FREE History of Literature Podcast mug and a FREE copy of Ronica Dhar’s book, Bijou Roy, to two lucky Patreon donors! Sign up now at patreon.com/literature to be eligible for this special bonus offer.

If you’d like to purchase a mug instead, or just donate a fiver or two to the show, you can find out how at historyofliterature.com/shop. Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com or facebook.com/historyofliterature. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or on Twitter @thejackewilson.

Advertisements

The History of Literature #143 – A Soldier’s Heart – Teaching Literature at the U.S. Military Academy (with Professor Elizabeth Samet)

LOGO-COVERS

 

Since ancient times, societies have used rousing lines of poetry to inspire soldiers to acts of heroism, courage, and sacrifice. But what about literature that expresses doubts about war? Or fear? Or that conveys its brutal nature? Should those works be a part of the curriculum as well?

And what about literature that, on its surface, has nothing to do with the battlefield? Where is the value in that for a soldier?

One thing seems clear: how a society educates its soldiers tells us something fundamental about the values of that society. And when it comes to the role of literature in a soldier’s education, we can learn two things. We see how we as a society think of the men and women fighting for us. And we see a reflection of what we think literature can and should do.

In this episode, we’re joined by author Elizabeth Samet, a professor of literature at the United States Military Academy (West Point). Professor Samet’s book, Soldier’s Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point, was a New York Times Book ReviewEditors’ Choice, A USA Today Best Book, and A Christian Science Monitor Best Book.

Works and authors discussed include the Shahnameh, Elizabeth Bishop, Great Expectations, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Shakespeare’s Henry V and Romeo and Juliet, and others.

We took a look at Homer and his famous tale of the siege of Troy way back in Episode 3 – Homer.

For Shakespearean soldiers, try Episode 70 – Julius Caesar or Episode 80 – Power Play! Shakespeare’s Henry V.

For an episode on the dialogue between the reluctant warrior Arjuna and his charioteer Krishna, who dramatically reveals himself as the incarnation of God, try Episode 33 – The Bhagavad Gita.

For more about poetry in the context of war, try a pair of episodes with Professor Bill Hogan: Episode 56 – The Poetry of Ruins and Episode 93 – Robert Frost Finds a Friend

For the story of an American writer who went off to World War II and came back a changed man, try Episode 141 – Kurt Vonnegut (with Mike Palindrome).

For a look at the politics of war and peace, try Episode 117 – Machiavelli and The Prince.

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

The History of Literature #142 – Comedian Joe Pera Talks With Us

joe-pera

Comedian Joe Pera has been hailed as one of the top “Comedians Under 30,” “20 of the Most Innovative Comedians Working Today,” and the “Cozy Sweater of Comedy.” His lovable, pleasantly awkward delivery style has made him a breakout star on the standup circuit and on late-night shows like Conan and Late Night with Seth Meyers.

In this special episode of The History of Literature, Joe joins Jacke to discuss the comedians he grew up admiring, his first attempts at standup, and his new television show Joe Pera Talks with You, which premieres on May 20 on Adult Swim, the #1 network with millennials 18-34. Special bonus: Jacke tries his hand at writing a few jokes about literature. Will they earn the admiration of a professional comedian? We’ll see!

For more information about Joe Pera and his show Joe Pera Talks with You, visit the Joe Pera website or his Twitter account @JosephPera.

To listen to the notorious Madame Bovary episode, head to Episode 79 – Music That Melts the Stars – Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert.

For more about literature and comedy (and another dose of Christopher Guest, try Episode 96 – Dracula, Lolita, and the Power of Volcanoes (with Jim Shepard).

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

 

The History of Literature #141 – Kurt Vonnegut (with Mike Palindrome)

vonnegut

 
“The year was 2081,” the story begins, “and everyone was finally equal.” In this episode of the History of Literature, Jacke and Mike take a look at Kurt Vonnegut’s classic short story, “Harrison Bergeron.” In this 1961 story, Vonnegut imagines a world of the perfectly average, where no one is allowed to be too great – until a hero named Harrison Bergeron comes along. Along the way, we discuss Vonnegut’s life and works, what we think the story means, and Mike’s own attempt to limit himself in order to better function in society. SPOILER ALERT: THERE ARE NO SPOILERS! This episode is completely self-contained. We read the short story, so there’s no need to run out and read it on your own first (unless you want to).

For another self-contained episode on a classic twentieth-century short story, try Episode 139 – “A Hunger Artist” by Franz Kafka.

For more about short stories in general, try Episode 57 – Borges, Munro, Davis, Barthelme – All About Short Stories (and Long Ones Too).

Kurt Vonnegut makes a cameo appearance in Episode 101 Writers at Work (you’ll never guess his surprising avocation).

And for another high school favorite, try Episode 119 – The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literatureor historyofliterature.com/shop. Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com or facebook.com/historyofliterature. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or via our new Twitter handle, @thejackewilson.

The History of Literature #140 – Pulp Fiction and the Hardboiled Crime Novel (with Charles Ardai)

hardcasecrimeimage

 

In 1896, an enterprising man named Frank Munsey published the first copy of Argosy, a magazine that combined cheap printing, cheap paper, and cheap authors to bring affordable, high-entertainment fiction to working-class folks. Within six years, Argosy was selling a half a million copies a month, and the American fiction market would never be the same. In this special episode of The History of Literature, we’re joined by Charles Ardai, a man who helped to resurrect one of twentieth-century pulp fiction’s brightest stars: the hardboiled crime novel, with its brooding heroes, high-energy prose, fast-paced plots, and seductive painted covers. His publishing line, Hard Case Crime, brings back forgotten and never-published manuscripts of old masters as well as new novels by contemporary authors like Stephen King and Christa Faust– and returns readers to the days when a dangling cigarette and a tumbler of whiskey was almost enough to make you forget the dame who nearly got you killed. Almost.

Authors discussed include Stephen King, Paul Auster, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, E. Howard Hunt, Charles Ardai, Christa Faust, Arthur Conan Doyle, William Blake, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Robert Browning, Mickey Spillane, Robert Bloch, Donald Westlake/Richard Stark, Michael Crichton/John Lange, J.K. Rowling, Lawrence Block, Erle Stanley Gardner, Madison Smartt Bell, Robert Parker, Ed McBain, David Dodge, Edgar Rice Burroughs, James Joyce, and Charles Dickens.

For more on writing contemporary thrillers, try Episode 109 – Women of Mystery (with Christina Kovac)

For historical mysteries, try Episode 40 – “A Front-Page Affair” (with Radha Vatsal) or her encore appearance in Episode 99 – History and Mystery (with Radha Vatsal)

For more on the connection between the Romantics and modern-day crime fiction, try Episode 65 – Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (with Professor James Chandler)

For another dose of Humphrey Bogart, try Episode 135 – Aristotle Goes to the Movies (with Brian Price)

Help support the show at patreon.com/literatureor historyofliterature.com/shop. Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com or facebook.com/historyofliterature. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or via our new Twitter handle, @thejackewilson.

History of Literature #139 – “A Hunger Artist” by Franz Kafka

In 1922, the miserable genius Franz Kafka wrote a short story, Ein Hungerkünstler (A Hunger Artist), about another miserable genius: a man whose “art” is to live in a cage and display his fasting ability to crowds that don’t always appreciate what he is trying to do. Inspired by actual historical figures, though suffused with nostalgia and Kafka’s penetrating insight, the story asks us to reconsider our conceptions of art and spectacle, life and death, hunger and humanity. Host Jacke Wilson is joined by superguest Mike Palindrome, President of the Literature Supporters Club, to feast on one of the greatest short stories ever written.

For more on Franz Kafka, try Episode 134 – The Greatest Night of Franz Kafka’s Life

For more on short stories, try Episode 57 – Borges, Munro, Davis, Barthelme – All About Short Stories (And Long Ones Too)

For a deep dive into Alice Munro’s “A Bear Came Over the Mountain,” try Episode 115 – The Genius of Alice Munro

For a deep dive into Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” try Episode 110 – Heart of Darkness – Then and Now

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com or facebook.com/historyofliterature. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or via our new Twitter handle, @thejackewilson.

History of Literature Episode #138 – Why Poetry (with Matthew Zapruder)

LOGO-COVERS

In his new book Why Poetry, the poet Matthew Zapruder has issued “an impassioned call for a return to reading poetry and an incisive argument for its accessibility to all readers.” The poet Robert Hass says, “Zapruder on poetry is pure pleasure. His prose is so direct that you have the impression, sentence by sentence, that you are being told simple things about a simple subject and by the end of each essay you come to understand that you’ve been on a very rich, very subtle tour of what’s aesthetically and psychologically amazing about the art of poetry.”

In this episode, Matthew Zapruder joins Jacke for a discussion on why poetry is often misunderstood, and how readers can clear away the misconceptions and return to an appreciation for the charms and power of poetry. Along the way, they discuss poems by W.H. Auden, Brenda Hillman, and John Keats, and the views of critics like Harold Bloom, Giambattista Vico, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Paul Valery.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com or facebook.com/historyofliterature. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or via our new Twitter handle, @thejackewilson.