John Milton (1608 – 1674) was a revolutionary, a republican, an iconoclast, a reformer, and a brilliant polemicist, who fearlessly took on both church and king. And he ranks among the greatest poets of all time, a peer of Shakespeare and Homer. Philip Pullman, the author who named his trilogy (His Dark Materials) after a Miltonic phrase, said, “No one, not even Shakespeare, surpasses him in his command of the sound, the music, the weight and taste and texture of English words.” In this episode of the History of Literature, we look at the life and works of one of the seventeenth-century’s greatest individuals.
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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.
In this episode, author Karin Roffman joins Jacke for a conversation about her literary biography of John Ashbery, one of America’s greatest twentieth-century poets. In naming Songs We Know Best: John Ashbery’s Early Life as one of its Notable Books of the Year, The New York Times noted “this first full-fledged biography of the poet is full of rich and fascinating detail.” Mike Palindrome, President of the Literature Supporters Club, also makes a cameo appearance to explain why Ashbery is one of his favorite poets.
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Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) lived an eventful life: from his youth in Chile, to the sensational reception of his book Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair (1923), to the career in poetry that led to his winning the Nobel Prize for Literature (1971), to the political activities that made him internationally famous – but which also led to his exile and (possibly) his death. He was an icon of the twentieth century, giving readings of his poetry to stadiums with as many as 100,000 devoted fans, and his poetry – especially his love poems – are still among the most widely read and admired poems in Spanish or any other language. What made his poetry so special? Why did it resonate with the people of Chile (and the world)? And could we see another poet like him? Jacke Wilson takes a look at the life and works of Pablo Neruda.
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It’s here! Episode 100! Special guest Mike Palindrome, President of the Literature Supporters Club, returns for a numbers-based theme: what are the greatest works of literature with numbers in the title? Authors discussed include Thomas Pynchon, Dr. Seuss, Alexandre Dumas, Haruki Murakami, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Agatha Christie, Joseph Heller, Charles Dickens, V.S. Naipaul, Arthur Conan Doyle, Graham Greene, Kurt Vonnegut, John Dos Passos, Jules Verne, Arthur C. Clarke, John Buchan, Roberto Bolano, William Shakespeare, J.D. Salinger, Pablo Neruda, John Berryman, George Orwell, and Ray Bradbury.
It’s Father’s Day weekend here in the U.S., and that means thinking about golf, grilling, and…poetry? On the History of Literature Podcast it does! Professor Bill Hogan of Providence College stops by the show to discuss some classic poems about fathers and fatherhood, “Digging” by Seamus Heaney and “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden. Jacke asks the good professor whether his devotion to poetry has affected his relationship with his father or his kids, and the two discuss the two poems that Jacke’s dad loves: “The Passing of the Backhouse” by James Whitcomb Riley and “Little Willie Took a Chance” by Unknown. Jacke also delivers some thoughts about his father’s Eagle Scout rituals, and how a surprising revelation brought his father his son closer together (at Jacke’s expense). It’s a special edition devoted to Dad Poetry on the History of Literature!
Elizabeth Barrett (1806-1861) was one of the most prolific and accomplished poets of the Victorian age, an inspiration to Emily Dickensen, Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allan Poe, and countless others. And yet, her life was full of cloistered misery, as her father insisted that she should never marry. And then, the clouds lifted, and a letter arrived. It was from the poet Robert Browning (1812-1889), admiring her from afar, declaring his love. How did these two poets find each other? What kind of life did they share afterwards? And what dark secrets had led to her father’s restrictions…and how might that have affected his daughter’s poetry? Host Jacke Wilson takes a look at the story of the Brownings.