In Part 2 of our look at great literary genres, Jacke probes the development of science fiction, from ancient Greek travels to the moon to the amazing stories of the twentieth century. Along the way, he chooses four candidates for the Mount Rushmore of Science Fiction, reads a passage from science fiction’s O.G., and sees if there is a secret to science fiction that he can discover. Enjoy!
In this special Halloween episode, Jacke and Evie take a look at Edgar Allan Poe’s great revenge story, “The Cask of Amontillado” (1846), written when Poe was destitute and in the depths of despair. Enjoy!
In 1965, the critic Joseph Wood Krutch studied the available evidence and came to a surprising conclusion. “Edgar Allan Poe,” he wrote, “invented the detective story in order that he might not go mad.” Arthur Conan Doyle, a man who knew a thing or two about detective stories, was quick to credit his boyhood hero with inspiring Sherlock Holmes and all the mysteries that came after. “Poe…was the father of the detective tale,” he said, “and covered its limits so completely that I fail to see how his followers can find any fresh ground which they can confidently call their own…Where was the detective story until Poe breathed the breath of life into it?”
In this episode, Jacke takes a look at Poe’s detective M. Dupin, the structure of the Dupin stories, and considers the similarities between Dupin and Sherlock Holmes. Then Jacke reads “The Purloined Letter,” the third and final (and perhaps best) of the Dupin stories.
He was “the king of poets,” said Rimbaud, “a true God.” T. S. Eliot called him a deformed Dante and said, “I am an English poet of American origin who learnt his art under the aegis of Baudelaire and the Baudelairian lineage of poets.” In this episode, Jacke takes a look at Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), his masterwork Les Fleurs du Mal (Flowers of Evil), and his intense admiration for Edgar Allan Poe.
In 1843, Edgar Allan Poe, desperate for money and terrified that his wife was about to die, “became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” Fueled by alcohol and despair, he fell into “fits of absolute unconsciousness”–and yet managed to write some of his greatest masterpieces, including “The Black Cat,” which has been shocking readers for more than 150 years. In this first installment of “Edgar Allan Poe Month,” Jacke explores Poe’s life leading up to “The Black Cat” before reading the hair-raising tale of uncontrollable rage, murder, and haunting remorse.
In 1984, the literary scholar Harold Bloom had this to say about Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Emerson is the mind of our climate, the principal source of the American difference in poetry, criticism and pragmatic post-philosophy…. Emerson, by no means the greatest American writer… is the inescapable theorist of all subsequent American writing. From his moment to ours, American authors either are in his tradition, or else in a counter-tradition originating in opposition to him.” Who was Emerson? How did he become so influential? What did he unlock in American literature? And what can we take from his works today?
What makes a short story a short story? What can a short story do that a novel can’t? Can a story ever be TOO short? The President of the Literature Supporters Club stops by to discuss the length of fiction, with some help from Lydia Davis, Donald Barthelme, Edgar Allan Poe, Alice Munro, Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, Ernest Hemingway, Roberto Bolano, Georges Simenon, Alberto Moravia, Augusto Monterroso, Jonathan Franzen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Saul Bellow, and Franz Kafka.
What do Edgar Allan Poe, J.K. Rowling, William Shakespeare, Stephen King, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Justice Antonin Scalia have in common? Jacke Wilson connects the dots with another look at conspiracy literature, literary conspiracies, and the people who love them. (Part 2 of 2.) Continue reading →