The History of Literature Episode #59 – Flannery O’Connor


Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964) lived a life that, in retrospect, looks almost like one of her short stories: sudden, impactful, and lastingly powerful. Deeply Catholic, O’Connor portrayed the American South as a place full of complex characters seeking redemption in unusual and often violent ways. She once said that she had found that violence was “strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moment of grace,” and it is this confrontation – restless faith crashing into pain and evil – that energizes O’Connor’s best works. Possessed of almost supernatural writerly gifts, O’Connor’s insight and artistry place her in the uppermost echelon of American authors. Host Jacke Wilson tells the story of O’Connor’s life, her most famous works, and his own near-connection to the author…before concluding with some troubling recent discoveries and a preview of a deeper examination of O’Connor and her place in American letters.


Show Notes:  Continue reading

The History of Literature Episode 41 – The New Testament (with Professor Kyle Keefer)


Charles Dickens called the New Testament “the very best book that ever was or ever will be known in the world.” Thomas Paine complained that it was a story “most wretchedly told,” and argued that anyone who could tell a story about a ghost or even just a man walking around could have written it better. What are the New Testament’s literary qualities? What can we gain from studying the New Testament as a literary work? Professor Kyle Keefer, author of The New Testament as Literature – A Very Short Introduction, joins host Jacke Wilson to discuss what it means to read the New Testament as literature.


Show Notes:

You can find more literary discussion at and more episodes of the series at

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

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 (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Writers Laughing: A Jacke Wilson Gallery

Peace on earth, good will to all…and a photo gallery of great writers caught in the act of laughing.  Happy holidays!

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Join us on the History of Literature podcast or at the Jacke Wilson blog for more literary delights.

All image credits available on


Writers Laughing: Samuel Beckett

Could anyone be bleaker than Flannery O’Connor? Well, okay, maybe Samuel Beckett. But take a look at this…




Maybe he’s thinking about the Amana Colonies.

Or maybe he’s just trying to quell the pain…

Writers Laughing: Flannery O’Connor

Oh, I know, I know. I should be promoting my latest book (price drop! we broke the buck!). I have another Object almost ready to go. I should be working on that. But how can I resist this one? Robie Macauley and Arthur Koestler – themselves two titans of the mid-century literary scene. And…



…and that’s Flannery O’Connor! Laughing! Here’s a close-up:


Love this! And guess where they were? The Amana Colonies. Of all places. The Amana Colonies. This is such a spectacular piece of the story I hardly know what to do with myself.

Happy Friday everyone! Continue reading

Flannery Speaks!

Have you ever been disappointed by hearing recordings of famous authors? No? Then maybe you haven’t heard enough of them. The sound of Hemingway bloviatiang about the time he “banged” Marlene Dietrich (“that Kraut”) is not something you can ever unhear. Fear not, reader! I’m not going to link to that.

Instead, here’s an illuminating, uplifting experience: listening to the voice of Ms. Flannery O’Connor, the Queen of the Southern Grotesque and absolutely the finest author ever to inevitably surprise me with the shocking perfect word – well, of course, that’s not true. But she was the first and only one to do it with the word  Nome(!) Nome! That is an author with a genius ear, and a genius feel for her region. A genius putting her special empathic genius to work.

And here’s the genius’s voice, courtesy of Maria Popova:

I could listen to that for hours!

Here’s one more.

In this one she says Nome! Not the Nome I was referring to, but close enough. O’Connor is the best. And Popova delivers the goods, once again.

No, I’m definitely not linking to the Hemingway clip. You can check out my efforts to forge a new Grotesque genre – Midwest Grotesque? Big Law Grotesque? – by taking a look at The Race or The Promotion.