History of Literature #127 – Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein (1874 – 1946) would be essential to the history of literature had she never written a word – but she did write words, lots of them, and they’ve led to her having an uneasy position in the canon of English literature. Avant-garde pioneer? Literary charlatan? Or underappreciated genius? In this episode, we look at the fascinating life and works of the incomparable (and irrepressible) Gertrude Stein.

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

Music Credits: “When You’re Down, My Dear” by Josh Hetherington and Ronny Haynes, from Show Me Where It Hurts, available at showmewhereithurts.bandcamp.com

The History of Literature #124 – James Joyce’s “The Dead” (Part 2)

In this second part of a two-part episode, we look at the resounding conclusion of James Joyce’s masterpiece “The Dead,” which contains some of the finest prose ever written in the English language. Be warned: this episode, which runs from Gabriel’s speech to the final revelatory scene, contains spoilers. But don’t let that stop you! Read the story first (if you want), then come back and listen to the episode – and hear the song that launched a thousand complex thoughts in Gabriel (and a million college theme papers for everyone else).

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature. Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

FOR A LIMITED TIME: Special holiday news! Now for a limited time, you can purchase History of Literature swag (mugs, tote bags, and “virtual coffees” for Jacke) at historyofliterature.com/shop. Get yours today!

The History of Literature #123 – James Joyce’s The Dead (part 1)

Happy holidays! In this special two-part episode, host Jacke Wilson takes a look at a story that he can’t stop thinking about: James Joyce’s masterpiece “The Dead.” How does it work? Why is it so good? And why does it resonate so deeply with Jacke? We tackle all that and more.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature. Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

FOR A LIMITED TIME: Special holiday news! Now for a limited time, you can purchase History of Literature swag (mugs, tote bags, and “virtual coffees” for Jacke) at historyofliterature.com/shop. Get yours today!

The History of Literature #122 – Young James Joyce


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We often think of James Joyce as a man in his thirties and forties, a  monkish, fanatical, eyepatch-wearing author, trapped in his hovel and his own mind, agonizing over his masterpieces, sentence by sentence, word by laborious word. But young James Joyce, the one who studied literature in college and roamed the night-time streets of Dublin with his friends, laughing and carousing and observing the characters around him, was a different person altogether – or was he? Host Jacke Wilson takes a look at the James Joyce who studied his fellow Dubliners – and then wrote a masterful collection of short stories that he named after them.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature. Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

FOR A LIMITED TIME: Special holiday news! Now for a limited time, you can purchase History of Literature swag (mugs, tote bags, and “virtual coffees” for Jacke) at historyofliterature.com/shop. Get yours today!

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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Show Notes: Continue reading

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

 

The History of Literature Episode 60 – Great Literary Endings

Everyone always talks about the greatest openings in the history of literature – I’m looking at you, Call me Ishmael – but what about endings? Aren’t those just as important? What are the different ways to end short stories and novels? Which endings work well and why? In this episode, Jacke and Mike take a look at great literary endings, with some assistance from David Lodge, Charles Baxter, Leo Tolstoy, James Joyce, Flannery O’Connor, Samuel Beckett, Iris Murdoch, Uncle Wiggily, The Third Man, Donald Barthelme, Alice Munro, Henry James, E.B. White, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mary Shelley, David Foster Wallace, O. Henry, Ian McEwan, Thomas Mann, and Joseph Conrad.

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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). Continue reading

Covering James Joyce

Yes! Our James Joyce podcast episode smashed our record for one-day downloads.  A reminder that you can get the History of Literature Podcast for free on iTunes and Stitcher.

Question for the Day: Which James Joyce cover is your favorite? (Or is your favorite not here?)  Let me know in the comments!

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James Joyce and the Picture House

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I can’t believe I had forgotten about this little Joycean tidbit until my interview with Vincent O’Neill. James Joyce started Dublin’s first cinema in 1909.

From Wikipedia:

In the early 1900s, demand for moving pictures was fierce and cinemas were springing up all over the world. After visiting Trieste, the writer James Joyce was determined to bring a cinema to Ireland, so after receiving the backing of his Italian friends, he set up the Cinematograph Volta on Mary Street. It opened its doors on 20 December 1909. The opening night featured an eclectic program, with the comedy Devilled Crab, the mystery Bewitched Castle, La Pourponièrre, The First Paris Orphanage, and The Tragedy of Beatrice Cency.

Imagine the world where Joyce spent the rest of his life in Dublin running a picture house! I’m sure he could have kept writing, at least to some extent, but I’m not sure we’d have ever gotten Ulysses or Finnegan’s Wake.

In any case, he abandoned the project after seven months:

Joyce soon became disillusioned with the venture, as the cinema mainly showed films from Europe and Italy, which were largely shunned by Dubliners at the time. [Editor’s note: Maybe they should have tried showing the movies with female action stars that Radha Vatsal described.]  After seven months, Joyce withdrew his involvement and the cinema was sold to the British Provincial Cinema Company. The cinema stayed open until 1919.

Here’s a beautiful tribute to the world of Joyce’s Volta and its successor, the Lyceum:

James Joyce Week!

James Joyce portrait Irish writer ( Irish name  Séamus Seoighe) 2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941. Famous for his novel Ulysses  (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)
James Joyce portrait Irish writer ( Irish name Séamus Seoighe) 2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941. Famous for his novel Ulysses (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)

I had such a good time during this conversation with Vincent O’Neill I decided to make this James Joyce week! I’m not sure which part is my favorite, but it’s probably where he describes efforts to bring Finnegan’s Wake to the stage. Or the story about playing a gorilla. That’s hard to beat.

Hope you enjoy!

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