The History of Literature #156 – The Sonnet

“A sonnet,” said the poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “is a moment’s monument.” But who invented the sonnet? Who brought it to prominence? How has it changed over the years? And why does this form continue to be so compelling? In this episode of the History of Literature, we take a brief look at one of literature’s most enduring forms, from its invention in a Sicilian court to the wordless sonnet and other innovative uses.

Professor Bill walked us through a sonnet by Robert Hayden in Episode 97 – Dad Poetry (with Professor Bill).

One of the world’s great sonneteers, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, had her moment in Episode 95 – The Runaway Poets – The Triumphant Love Story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning.

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the lovers whose first words to one another magically form a perfect sonnet, found one another in Episode 53 – Romeo and Juliet.

Support the show at patreon.com/literature. Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

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The History of Literature #154 – John Milton

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.

For more on Satan as a runaway character in Milton’s masterpiece Paradise Lost, try Episode 132 – Top 10 Literary Villains.

We covered the OG blind bard Homer all the way back in Episode 3 – Homer.

For another seventeenth-century writer (who isn’t Shakespeare), try Episode 91 In Which John Donne Decides to Write About a Flea.

Support the show at patreon.com/literature. Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

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

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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.

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 #121 – A Portrait of the Poet as a Young Man – John Ashbery’s Early Life (with Karin Roffman)

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.

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 #102 – Pablo Neruda

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.

Love literature and the arts?  Looking for a way to express your support for the History of Literature Podcast? Please visit patreon.com/literature and consider making a modest monthly donation, which will help to keep the show up and running. All your support is greatly appreciated!

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.

You can follow Jacke Wilson at his Twitter account @WriterJacke. You can also follow Mike and the Literature Supporters Club (and receive daily book recommendations) by looking for @literatureSC.

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

The History of Literature #100 – The Greatest Books with Numbers in the Title

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.

Show Notes:  Continue reading

The History of Literature #97 – Dad Poetry

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!

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Show Notes:  Continue reading