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The History of Literature
<p>Amateur literary enthusiast Jacke Wilson journeys through the history of literature, from ancient epics to contemporary classics. Find out more at historyofliterature.com and facebook.com/historyofliterature.</p>
One-Hit Wonders! (with Mike Palindrome)
54 min
Thomas Hardy
50 min
George Saunders (with Mike Palindrome)
54 min
88 min
Alfred Hitchcock (with Mike Palindrome)
74 min
Chinua Achebe
44 min
Blood and Sympathy in the 19th Century (with Pr...
58 min
Weeping for Gogol
90 min
Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes (with Yu...
58 min
The Brontes
57 min
Robert Louis Stevenson
51 min
Marcel Proust
58 min
George Eliot
59 min
Samuel Beckett (with Nic Barilar)
76 min
182 Darkness and Light (with Jessica Harper)
45 min
181 David Foster Wallace (with Mike Palindrome)
57 min
180 Donald Barthelme
55 min
179 The Oscars by Decade (with Brian Price)
60 min
178 "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson (with Evie...
61 min
177 Sherwood Anderson (with Alyson Hagy)
56 min
176 William Carlos Williams (The Use of Force)
57 min
175 Virgin Whore - The Virgin Mary in Medieval ...
51 min
174 David Foster Wallace (A Mike Palindrome Spe...
38 min
173 The Yellow Wallpaper (with Evie Lee)
105 min
172 Holiday Movies (with Brian Price)
67 min
171 To Sleep Perchance to Dream - On Writers an...
68 min
170 Toni Morrison
63 min
169 Dostoevsky
44 min
168 Jhumpa Lahiri ("The Third and Final Contine...
90 min
167 F Scott Fitzgerald
96 min
166 Stephen King (with the Sisters of Slaughter)
70 min
165 Ezra Pound
41 min
164 Karl Marx
67 min
163 Gabriel Garcia Marquez (with Sarah Bird)
85 min
162 Ernest Hemingway
63 min
161 Voltaire
57 min
160 Ray Bradbury (with Carolyn Cohagan)
75 min
159 Herman Melville
82 min
158 "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien
121 min
157 Travel Books (with Mike Palindrome)
68 min
156 The Sonnet
53 min
155 Plato
50 min
154 John Milton
60 min
153 Charles Dickens
54 min
152 George Sand
66 min
151 Viking Poetry - The Voluspa (with Noah Tetz...
51 min
150 Chekhov's "The Lady with the Little Dog"
103 min
149 Raising Readers (aka The Power of Literatur...
78 min
148 Great Literary Hoaxes
53 min
147 Leo Tolstoy
58 min
146 Power Ranking the Nobel Prize for Literature
66 min
145 Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know - The Story...
50 min
144 Food in Literature (with Ronica Dhar)
62 min
143 A Soldier's Heart - Teaching Literature at ...
55 min
142 Comedian Joe Pera Talks with Us (with Joe P...
49 min
141 Kurt Vonnegut (with Mike Palindrome)
76 min
140 Pulp Fiction and the Hardboiled Crime Novel...
63 min
139 A Hunger Artist by Franz Kafka
81 min
138 Why Poetry (with Matthew Zapruder)
57 min
137 Haruki Murakami
61 min
136 The Kids Are Alright (Aren't They?) - Makin...
53 min
135 Aristotle Goes to the Movies (with Brian Pr...
How a 2,500-year-old treatise on Greek tragedy can unlock the secrets of storytelling.
61 min
134 The Greatest Night of Franz Kafka's Life
68 min
133 The Hidden Machinery - Discovering the Secr...
79 min
132 Top 10 Literary Villains
78 min
131 Dante in Love (with Professor Ellen Nerenbe...
75 min
130 The Poet and the Painter – The Great Love A...
Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966) began her career as a poet of love and ended it as the poet of suffering and heartbreak, thanks in no small part to the totalitarian Russian regime she suffered under. On today’s special Valentine’s Day edition of The History...
75 min
129 Great Sports Novels – Where Are They? (with...
Every year, the Super Bowl draws over 100 million viewers in the U.S. alone, and the Olympics and World Cup will be watched by billions around the world. Movies and television shows about sports are too numerous to count. But where are the novels?
58 min
128 Top 10 Animals in Literature (with Mike Pal...
Continuing our look at animals in literature, we’re joined by Mike Palindrome, President of the Literature Supporters Club, for a discussion of the Top 10 Animals in Literature. Did your favorite make the list? Did we leave it out altogether?
72 min
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.
68 min
126 Animals in Literature (Part One)
Inspired by a listener’s heartfelt request, we take a look at an often overlooked subject: animals in literature. In this episode, a precursor to a forthcoming Draft with President Mike (i.e., “The 10 Best Animals in Literature”),
57 min
125 Raymond Carver
Raymond Carver (1938-1988) packed a lot of pain of suffering into his relatively brief life. He also experienced relief and even joy – and along the way, he became one of the most influential short story writers of the American twentieth century.
78 min
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,
83 min
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?
59 min
122 Young James Joyce
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.
62 min
121 A Portrait of the Poet as a Young Man – Joh...
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...
65 min
120 The Astonishing Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) might be the most enigmatic poet who ever lived. Her innovative use of meter and punctuation – and above all the liveliness of her ideas, as she crashes together abstract thoughts and concrete images – astonished her ninetee...
70 min
119 The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
Very few works of art have had the cultural and literary impact of J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye. An immediate success upon its publication in 1951, and popular with teenagers (and adults) ever since,
78 min
118 Oscar’s Ghost – The Battle for Oscar Wilde’...
In Episode 87, we looked at the trials of Oscar Wilde and how they led to his eventual imprisonment and tragically early death. This episode picks up where that one left off, as the incarcerated Wilde writes a manuscript, De Profundis,
56 min
117 Machiavelli and The Prince
Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) went from being a little-known functionary to one of the most famous and controversial political theorists of all time. His masterpiece Il Principe (or in English, The Prince) has been read, studied,
64 min
116 Ghost Stories!
It’s the Halloween Episode! After some false starts (thanks, Gar!), Jacke settles in to discuss some ghost stories, including a few old chestnuts, a little Toni Morrison, a little Henry James, and a LOT of real-life phenomena. Along the way,
72 min
115 The Genius of Alice Munro
She was born Alice Ann Laidlaw on July 10, 1931, in a small town called Wingham Ontario, the daughter of a mink farmer and a schoolteacher. Eighty years later, Alice Munro was the first Canadian to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
92 min
114 Christopher Marlowe – What Happened and Wha...
In 1921, T.S. Eliot wrote, “When Shakespeare borrowed from him, which was pretty often at the beginning, Shakespeare either made something inferior or something different.” He was talking about Shakespeare’s near-contemporary Christopher Marlowe (1564-...
50 min
113 Special Episode – Introducing the Smart Awe...
Are you frustrated by the news? Looking for inspiration? you’re not alone! On this special episode of the History of Literature, host Jacke Wilson introduces The Smart Awesome Show, a brand new podcast in which he talks to a series of guests about the ...
63 min
112 The Novelist and the Witch-Doctor – Unpacki...
“I admire Freud greatly,” the novelist Vladimir Nabokov once said, “as a comic writer.” For Nabokov, Sigmund Freud was “the Viennese witch-doctor,” objectionable for “the vulgar, shabby, fundamentally medieval world” of his ideas.
50 min
111 The Americanest American – Ralph Waldo Emerson
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,
61 min
110 Heart of Darkness – Then and Now
Jacke and Mike discuss Joseph Conrad’s short novel Heart of Darkness, Francis Ford Coppola’s film Apocalypse Now, and Eleanor Coppola’s documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse. Then Jacke offers some thoughts on the recent events in Ch...
96 min
109 Women of Mystery (with Christina Kovac)
Author Christina Kovac (The Cutaway: A Thriller) joins Jacke for a discussion of crime fiction, writing a strong female protagonist, working in the local news business, and her “holy trinity” of female crime writers: Laura Lippmann, Tana French,
64 min
108 Beowulf (aka Need a Hero? Get a Grip…)
The poem called Beowulf (ca. 850 AD) was composed in Old English during what is known as the Middle Ages. Telling the tale of a hero who fights two monsters and a dragon, the three-thousand-line poem is traditionally viewed as one of the few bits of br...
56 min
107 The Man and the Myth – Arthur Conan Doyle a...
Continuing our series on literary myths, we’re joined by Mattias Bostrom, author of From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon, for a conversation about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his astonishing creation,
61 min
106 Literature Goes to the Movies, Part Two – F...
Ah, the sweet smell of success… and the burning stench of failure. Continuing their two part conversation on literary adaptations, Jacke and Mike choose ten of the worst book-to-movie projects of all time. How could so many people,
67 min
105 Funny Women, Crimes Against Book Clubs, Geo...
Kathy Cooperman, author of the new novel Crimes Against a Book Club, joins the show to discuss everything from the secret lives of book clubs to her own journey from improv to lawyering to becoming an author.
66 min
104 King Lear
We all know that Shakespeare’s King Lear is one of the greatest tragedies ever written. But was it too tragic? Dr. Johnson thought it might be. Leo Tolstoy thought it was just a bad play – causing George Orwell to come valiantly to Shakespeare’s defens...
58 min
103 Literature Goes to the Movies Part 1 – Grea...
The lights dim, the audience hushes in expectation, and the light and magic begin. In some ways (the crowd, the sound) the experience of watching a movie could not be more different from reading a novel – and yet the two have some very important featur...
90 min
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),
66 min
101 Writers at Work
We’re back! Recovered, rested, and ready to go with a brand new set of 100 episodes. In episode #101, we kick things off with superguest Mike Palindrome of the Literature Supporters Club who joins Jacke for a discussion of writers and their day jobs.
61 min
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.
60 min
99 History and Mystery (with Radha Vatsal)
Radha Vatsal, author of Murder Between the Lines: A Kitty Weeks Mystery, joins Jacke for a discussion of intrepid “girl” reporters in 1910s New York City and the books that likely influenced them. Authors discussed include Henry James, Edith Wharton,
59 min
98 Great Literary Feuds
What happens when writers try to get along with other writers? Sometimes it goes well – and sometimes it ends in a fistfight, a drink in the face, or a spitting. Mike Palindrome, President of the Literature Supporters Club,
70 min
97 Dad Poetry (with Professor Bill)
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...
52 min
96 Dracula, Lolita, and the Power of Volcanoes ...
Author Jim Shepard joins the podcast to discuss everything from the humor of Christopher Guest and S.J. Perelman to the poetic philosophy of Robert Frost and F.W. Murnau’s classic film, Nosferatu. He and host Jacke Wilson flutter around Nabokov’s Lolit...
60 min
95 The Runaway Poets – The Triumphant Love Stor...
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,
58 min
94 Smoke, Dusk, and Fire – The Jean Toomer Story
Jean Toomer (1894-1967) was born into a prominent black family in Washington, D.C., but it wasn’t until he returned to the land of agrarian Georgia that he was inspired to write his masterpiece Cane (1923),
46 min
93 Robert Frost Finds a Friend
It’s a curious but compelling story: it starts in the years just before World War I, when struggling poet Robert Frost (1874-1963) hastily packed up his family and moved to London in search of a friend. Although Frost’s efforts to ingratiate himself wi...
52 min
92 The Books of Our Lives
“In the middle of life’s journey,” wrote Dante Alighieri, “I found myself in a selva oscura.” Host Jacke Wilson and frequent guest Mike Palindrome take stock of their own selva oscura in a particularly literary way: What books have they read?
64 min
91 In Which John Donne Decides to Write a Poem ...
John Donne (1572-1631) may have been the most wildly inventive poet who ever lived. But that doesn’t mean he was the most successful. Dr. Johnson, writing a hundred years later, objected to Donne and the other Metaphysical Poets for the way in which th...
48 min
90 Mark Twain’s Final Request
In 1910, the American author Mark Twain took to his bed in his Connecticut home. Weakened by disease and no longer able to write, the legendary humorist (and author of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn), made a final request. What was the request?
50 min
89 Primo Levi
Primo Levi (1919-1987) lived quietly and wrote with restraint. An Italian Jewish writer, professional chemist, and Holocaust survivor, he was, said Italo Calvino, “one of the most important and gifted writers of our time.
60 min
88 The Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance, the great flowering of African American arts and culture in the early twentieth century, is hard to define and easy to admire. Coupled with the Great Migration, in which hundreds of thousands of Southern black workers moved to t...
51 min
87 Man in Love: The Passions of D.H. Lawrence
The Edwardian novelist D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930) lived and wrote with the fury of a thousand suns. His novels Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Sons and Lovers, Women in Love, and The Rainbow are commonly regarded as some of the greatest novels in literature – ...
54 min
86 Don Juan in Literature (aka The Case of the ...
From his earliest days as a popular legend, through many appearances in drama and poetry and fiction and film, the sexual conquistador Don Juan has been the vehicle for authors and artists to wrestle with themes like sexual desire, guilt, honor,
53 min
85 Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
In 1813, a young author named Jane Austen built on the success of her popular novel Sense and Sensibility with a new novel about the emotional life of an appealing protagonist named Elizabeth Bennet, who overcomes her mistaken first impressions and fin...
66 min
84 The Trials of Oscar Wilde
In February of 1895, the playwright Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) continued an astonishing run of theatrical success with the opening of his artistic masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest.  Three months later,
70 min
83 Overrated! Top 10 Books You Don’t Need to Read
Life is short, and books are many. How many great books have you read? How many more have you NOT read? How to choose? Mike Palindrome, President of the Literature Supporters Club, joins Jacke for a discussion of overrated classics and the pleasures of...
58 min
82 Robinson Crusoe
In 1719, a prolific author and political agitator named Daniel Defoe published a long-form narrative about a shipwrecked sailor stranded on a desert island, who lives in solitude for 27 years before famously seeing a human footprint on the sand.
57 min
81 Faust (aka The Devil Went Down to Germany)
Have you ever wanted something so badly you’d sell your soul to get it? Youth? Wealth? Sex? Power? Knowledge? We call it making a deal with the devil, or in more literary terms, a Faustian bargain. But who was Faust? How did his tale first get told?
50 min
80 Power Play! Shakespeare’s Henry V
Who rules us and why? What does Shakespeare’s Henry V (c. 1599) tell us about the character of a leader? What does it tell us about the character of the people governed by such a man? Host Jacke Wilson jumps from kings to presidents,
65 min
79 Music That Melts the Stars – Madame Bovary b...
In 1851, a 30-year-old Frenchman named Gustave Flaubert set out to write a novel about a discontented housewife in a style that would melt the stars. After five years of agonizing labor, his book Madame Bovary (1856) changed the world of literature for...
46 min
78 Jane Eyre, The Good Soldier, Giovanni’s Room...
Writing about the Scottish-born novelist Margot Livesey, the author Alice Sebold remarked, “Every novel of Margot Livesey’s is, for her readers, a joyous discovery. Her work radiates with compassion and intelligence and always, deliciously, mystery.
66 min
77 Top 10 Literary Cities
What makes a city a great literary city? Having a tradition of famous authors? A culture of bookstores and cafes and publishing houses and universities? Inspiring great books? Host Jacke Wilson is joined by Mike Palindrome,
55 min
76 Darkness and the Power of Literature – The F...
For 70 years, the people of North Korea have lived through a totalitarian nightmare – and those of us in the outside world have had little access to their experience. How have generations of oppression and terror affected the psychology of everyday peo...
41 min
75 The Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki
With a strong claim to be the first novel in history, the Japanese classic The Tale of Genji (ca. 1001-1012), by Murasaki Shikibu, or Lady Murasaki, is one of the world’s greatest literary masterpieces. But who was Lady Murasaki,
46 min
74 Great First Chapters (with Vu Tran)
It’s a new year! A time for fresh beginnings! And on the History of Literature Podcast, it’s a time to celebrate beginnings. Vu Tran, author of the novel Dragonfish and a professor of creative writing at the University of Chicago,
68 min
73 Javier Marias and the Philosophical Novel
The Spanish novelist Javier Marías (b. 1951) has led a fascinating life, from his childhood as the son of a philosopher to his role as the king of a Caribbean island that has been ruled by a succession of writers.
49 min
72 The Best Christmas Stories in Literature
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,
78 min
71 Did Bob Dylan Deserve the Nobel Prize?
In 1959, a young singer-songwriter named Bob Zimmerman changed his name. As Bob Dylan, he then went on to change the world. After being lauded for more than 50 years for his songs and lyrics, this icon of the Sixties seemingly had achieved everything p...
65 min
70 Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar
Just after World War II, the poet and critic W.H. Auden said that Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (ca. 1959) is “of great relevance to our time, though it is gloomier, because it is about a society that is doomed.  We are not doomed,
67 min
69 Virginia Woolf and Her Enemies (with Profess...
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 Modern...
54 min
68 Listener Feedback and Thanksgiving Thoughts
It’s the Thanksgiving episode! Jacke and Mike respond to listener feedback and discuss some literary things to thankful for. Authors discussed include Edith Wharton, John Fowles, Ernest Hemingway, Vu Tran, Lydia Davis, Gary Snyder, Walt Whitman,
42 min
67 Pascal’s Wager and an American Election
Jacke digs into his origins in rural Wisconsin and offers some thoughts on race, literature, and the recent election. Also featured: René Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ayn Rand, and Simone de Beauvoir.
83 min
66 James Baldwin, Wallace Stegner, GB Tran, Loi...
What can we do to unlock the past? How do family secrets affect us? Author Shawna Yang Ryan has spent a lot of time thinking about these issues – and in this episode, she joins Jacke for a discussion of some of her favorite books,
58 min
65 Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (with Professor ...
By any measure, Mary Shelley (1797-1851) lived a radical life. As the daughter of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, two philosophers devoted to principles of freedom and equality, she grew up in a tumultuous world of exciting new ideas and strong...
69 min
64 Dorothy Parker
“She was a combination of Little Nell and Lady Macbeth,” said Alexander Woolcott. Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) wrote short stories, poems, reviews, screenplays, and more. Perhaps most famously, she was part of the group of New Yorkers known as the Algonq...
45 min
63 Chekhov, Bellow, Wright, and Fox (with Charl...
In this special episode, the revered American author Charles Baxter joins Jacke to discuss some of his favorite books, including works by Anton Chekhov, Saul Bellow, James Wright, and Paula Fox. “Charles Baxter’s stories have reminded me of how broad a...
67 min
62 Bad Poetry
Everyone loves and admires a good poem…but what about the bad ones? After discussing his own experience writing terrible poetry, Jacke analyzes the 10 things that make a poem go wrong, assesses the curious role of Scotland and Michigan in developing ba...
83 min
61 In the Mood for a Good Book – Wharton, Murak...
What do Edith Wharton, Haruki Murakami, Raymond Chandler, John Fowles, Alfred Hitchcock, and Wong Kar-wai have in common? All are known for their ability to generate a particular mood and atmosphere – and all were selected by our guest,
69 min
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?
58 min
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 ...
64 min
58 Wyndham Lewis and the Vorticists (with Profe...
Embattled and arrogant, the novelist and painter Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957) was deeply immersed in Modernism even as he sought to blast it apart. He was the type of person who would rather hate a club than join it – and while his taste for the attack le...
56 min
57 Borges, Munro, Davis, Barthelme – All About ...
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,
48 min
56 Shelley, HD, Yeats, Frost, Stevens – The Poe...
In 1818, the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley published his classic poem “Ozymandias,” depicting the fallen statue of a once-powerful king whose inscription “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!” has long since crumbled into the desert.
62 min
55 James Joyce (with Vincent O’Neill)
Vincent O’Neill hails from Sandycove, Dublin, where he grew up in the shadow of the tower made famous by the opening chapter of James Joyce’s Ulysses. After a childhood spent tracing the steps of Joyce’s characters,
57 min
54 The Greatest Books Ever (Part 2)
What books are essential? Who has the authority to choose them, and what is their selection process? First, Jacke and Mike continue their look at the College Board’s 101 Books Recommended for College-Bound Readers.
57 min
53 Romeo and Juliet
In 1964, the Oxford professor John Barrington Wain wrote: “…Romeo and Juliet is as perfectly achieved as anything in Shakespeare’s work. It is a flawless little jewel of a play. It has the clear, bright colours, the blend of freshness and formality,
42 min
52 Recommend This! The Best 101 Books for Colle...
What works of literature are essential? When we start reading literature, where do we begin? The College Board, an organization that prepares standardized tests for millions of American young people, has published list of 101 recommended books for coll...
57 min
51 Coleridge, Kubla Khan, and the Person from P...
In 1797, the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge took two grains of opium and fell into a stupor. When he awoke, he had in his head the remnants of a marvelous dream, a vivid train of images of the Chinese emperor Kubla Khan and his summer palace, Xanadu.
65 min
50 Othello
One of Shakespeare’s four great tragedies, The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice (ca. 1603) is perhaps the most difficult of them to watch. The malevolent Iago, viewed by some as evil incarnate, has been infuriating audiences for centuries – legen...
31 min
49 MFA Programs – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
For decades, the Master of Fine Arts degree has quietly dominated the American literary scene. There are now over 100 programs where professors and students go about the business of turning dreams into fiction through the alchemy – or as some would say...
51 min
48 Hamlet
Hamlet (ca 1599-1602) has been called the greatest play ever written in English – and even that might not be giving it enough credit. Many would rank it among the greatest achievements in the history of humankind.
32 min
47 Hemingway vs Fitzgerald
Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) and F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) were the pole stars of the Lost Generation, the collection of young American authors who came of age in the Paris and New York of the 1920s. The Hemingway-Fitzgerald relationship has been...
46 min
46 Poetry of the T’ang Dynasty
China’s T’ang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.) valued poets and poetry like no other culture before or since. In this episode, Jacke Wilson takes a look at what may have been the greatest flourishing of poetry in the history of the world.
71 min
45 Augustine and The Confessions (pt 2)
Continuing the journey with a deeper look at the incredible achievements of St. Augustine (354 – 430 A.D.), a luminary of the early Catholic church, one of the most profound thinkers in Western culture, and the author of a work the likes of which the w...
59 min
44 Augustine and The Confessions (pt 1)
The journey continues! Host Jacke Wilson takes a look at one of the deepest thinkers in the Western tradition, St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.), and the literary form he pioneered and perfected. Who was Augustine?
47 min
43 Seeing Evil (with Professor Rebecca Messbarger)
What is evil? Is it a force that lives outside us? Or something that dwells within? And how do we recognize it? Professor Rebecca Messbarger joins Jacke to discuss the problems of seeing evil and the particular ways that post-Fascist Italian writers de...
69 min
42 Was Prince a Poet?
He was a supremely talented musician and composer  – but was he the voice of his generation? Jacke and Mike take a look at the life and lyrics of Prince. Show Notes: You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.
45 min
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...
73 min
40 Radha Vatsal, Author of “A Front Page Affair”
Host Jacke Wilson is joined by special guest Radha Vatsal, author of the historical mystery A Front Page Affair. Radha starts by talking about her own adventure leaving India to study in America at the age of 16,
56 min
39 Graham Greene
Jacke and Mike reconsider the life and works of the great twentieth-century British novelist Graham Greene.  Works discussed include The End of the Affair, The Power and the Glory, The Quiet American, Babbling April, and The Third Man.
51 min
38 Literary Duos (Part Two)
When are two artists or characters more than the sum of their parts? How is that magic created? And what does it mean for the rest of us? Part two of a conversation with host Jacke Wilson and his guest, the President of the Literature Supporters Club,
49 min
37 Literary Duos (Part One)
What makes a great literary duo? Two authors inspiring one another? Two characters who fall in love? Best friends? Rivals? Host Jacke Wilson is joined by the President of the Literature of the Supporters Club to discuss.
64 min
36 Poetry and Empire (Virgil, Ovid, Horace, Pet...
What happens when a republic morphs into empire? What did it mean for the writers of Ancient Rome – and what would it mean for us today? Jacke Wilson takes a look at the current state of affairs in America and the Roman examples of Virgil, Ovid,
72 min
35 A Conversation with Ronica Dhar
In this episode, Jacke welcomes special guest Ronica Dhar, who presents Five Books (or actually Four Books and a Movie) To Lower Your Blood Pressure. Highlights include a poem by Ronica’s former teacher and mentor,
43 min
34 Borges and the Search for Meaning
When times are tough, what does literature have for us? Jacke takes a break from the history of literature to reflect on a death in his family, the loss of Sir George Martin, and some thoughts on the meaning of life from Umberto Eco and Jorge Luis Borg...
40 min
33 – The Bhagavad Gita
Written over the span of 800 years from ca. 400 B.C. to ca. 400 A.D, the Mahabharata tells a riveting tale of disputed kingship and warring families. But just as the action-packed narrative reaches its climax,
41 min
32 The Best Debut Novels of All Time (A Convers...
What makes a great first novel? Which do we prefer: the freshness of a new style (even if it contains mistakes), or the demonstration of competence (even if it breaks no new ground)? Does it matter if the book is the best (or only) novel by that author...
56 min
28 The Ramayana
62 min
27 The Upanishads (Part Two)
38 min
11 The Upanishads (Part One)
57 min
10 Indian Literature: A Cosmic Feast
22 min
9 Confucius
28 min
8 The Shi Jing (Chinese Classical Poetry)
51 min
7A Proust, Pound, and Chinese Poetry
50 min
7 Greek Comedy – Aristophanes
45 min
6 Greek Tragedy – Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides
55 min
5 Greek Tragedy (Part One)
48 min
4 Sappho
25 min
3A Odysseus Leaves Calypso
18 min
3 Homer
34 min
2A The Book of Job
15 min
2 The Hebrew Bible
32 min
1A – The Discovery of Gilgamesh
13 min
1 The Epic of Gilgamesh
33 min
Episode 0 – Battling the Beast
15 min