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The History of Literature

Author: Jacke Wilson / The Podglomerate

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Amateur enthusiast Jacke Wilson journeys through the history of literature, from ancient epics to contemporary classics. Episodes are not in chronological order and you don't need to start at the beginning - feel free to jump in wherever you like! Find out more at historyofliterature.com and facebook.com/historyofliterature. Support the show by visiting patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/donate. Contact the show at historyofliteraturepodcast@gmail.com.

595 Episodes
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What a treat! First, Jacke talks to Nicholson Baker, an author he's been reading for the past three decades, about Finding a Likeness: How I Got Somewhat Better at Art, Baker's deeply personal account of his journey learning how to paint for the first time, and a meditation on the power of art in times of crisis. Then Vera Kutizinski and Anthony Reed, editors of Langston Hughes in Context, stop by to discuss their choices for the last books they will ever read. Enjoy! Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/donate. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Families can provide wonderful material for a writer, but they can also be tricky to navigate. How do you make your stories of home interesting to other people? What's too personal? What's not personal enough? In this episode, Jacke talks to author Bill Eville (Washed Ashore: Family, Fatherhood, and Finding Home on Martha's Vineyard) about his personal journey as a father, a husband, and a writer. PLUS Jacke celebrates Father's Day with three poems (by Ben Jonson, Sharon Olds, and Edgar Albert Guest) and an object lesson of his own ("The Burger Car"). Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/donate. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Books are beloved objects, earning lots of praise as amazing pieces of technology and essential contributors to a civilized society. And yet, we often take these cultural miracles for granted. Who's been making these things for the last several centuries? How have they influenced what we've been reading? In this episode, Jacke talks to author Adam Smyth, an Oxford professor of literature who opened up his own small press, about his new work The Book-Makers: A History of the Book in Eighteen Lives. Then medieval manuscript expert Christopher de Hamel (The Manuscripts Club: The People Behind a Thousand Years of Medieval Manuscripts) stops by to discuss his choice for the last book he will ever read. Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/donate. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Fearless and fiercely intelligent, the nineteenth-century American feminist Margaret Fuller was "the radiant genius and fiery heart" of the Transcendentalists, the group of New Englanders who helped launch a fledgling nation onto the world's cultural and literary stage. In this episode, bestselling historical novelist Allison Pataki, author of the new novel Finding Margaret Fuller, joins Jacke to discuss what it was like to bring this remarkable nineteenth-century woman to life. PLUS James Marcus (Glad to the Brink of Fear: A Portrait of Ralph Waldo Emerson) stops by to discuss his choice for the last book he will ever read. Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/donate. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Scottish writer John Buchan is perhaps best known for his pioneering thriller The Thirty-Nine Steps, the source material for one of Alfred Hitchcock's first great films. But as his biographer (and granddaughter) Ursula Buchan tells Jacke, Buchan was far from a one-hit wonder. John Buchan wrote more than a hundred books of fiction and non-fiction and a thousand newspaper and magazine articles - and he was just getting started. Ursula's book Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps: A Life of John Buchan depicts the remarkable life of this twentieth-century writer (and scholar, antiquarian, barrister, journal editor, war correspondent, member of parliament, director of wartime propaganda, Governor-General of Canada, and more!). PLUS Jacke reads a special letter by Ernest Hemingway, and Marsha Gordon (Becoming the Ex-Wife: The Unconventional Life and Forgotten Writings of Ursula Parrott) stops by to discuss her choice for the last book she will ever read. Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/donate. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Why do we read John Keats and not one of his well-regarded peers? Why do some authors disappear into the sands of time - while others, virtually unknown in their day, become posthumous household names? In this episode, Jacke talks to Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein (How to Become Famous: Lost Einsteins, Forgotten Superstars, and How the Beatles Came to Be) about the phenomenon of fame, with a particular emphasis on how it affects the world of literature. PLUS author and TLS managing director James MacManus (Love in a Lost Land) stops by to discuss his choice for the last book he'll ever read. Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/donate. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dear listeners: What kind of life are you living? What's your relationship between your body, mind, and soul? And what can you learn about your deepest self as you get older? In this episode, Jacke talks to award-winning French novelist Colombe Schneck about her new book, Swimming in Paris: A Life in Three Stories, in which she dives into her past to understand her present and - maybe - finds the way to a new future. Then Professor Pardis Dabashi (Losing the Plot: Film and Feeling in the Modern Novel) stops by to discuss her choice for the last book she will ever read. Colombe Schneck is documentary film director, a journalist, and the author of twelve books of fiction and nonfiction. She has received prizes from the Académie française, Madame Figaro, and the Société des gens de lettres. The recipient of a scholarship from the Villa Medici in Rome as well as a Stendhal grant from the Institut français, she was born and educated in Paris, where she still lives. Swimming in Paris: A Life in Three Stories, Schneck's twelfth book, tells the story of a woman’s personal journey through abortion, sex, friendship, love, and swimming. Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/donate. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
First published in 1980, Between Dog and Wolf by Sasha Sokolov is one of the most acclaimed Russian novels of the twentieth century. But the book, with its dazzling wordplay, shifting-sand narration, and other literary pyrotechnics, has been tough for English-speaking audiences to appreciate. In this episode, Jacke talks to Jose Vergara about his new project, The Encyclopedia of the Dog, an online bilingual digital version of Sokolov's novel, which seeks to make a literary masterwork accessible to new audiences. Then Jacke talks to Gareth Russell (The Palace: From the Tudors to the Windsors, 500 Years of British History at Hampton Court) about his choice for the last book he will ever read. Find Encyclopedia of the Dog at https://encyclopediaofthedog.com/. Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/donate. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Can novelists make a difference in the world? Of course we know they can - we've seen plenty of examples. But how does it happen? And what are the challenges a twenty-first century novelist might face when hoping to bring about social change? In this episode, Jacke looks at the example of Upton Sinclair, whose famous novel The Jungle shone a spotlight on the immigrants working in Chicago's meatpacking plants and led to key social reforms. Then Jacke talks to Adelle Waldman (The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.), whose new novel Help Wanted is set in the world of workers at a big box store. And finally, Professor Edward Chamberlin (Storylines: How Words Shape Our World) returns to discuss his choice for the last book he will ever read. Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/donate. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Why do we fall in love? Why do we fall out of love? And how can literature shape the way we travel these emotional and romantic landscapes? In this episode, Jacke talks to University of Oxford professor Sophie Ratcliffe about her work of creative criticism, Loss, A Love Story: Imagined Histories and Brief Encounters. Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/donate. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
She's been called Scandinavia's best loved author - but "author" only begins to describe Tove Jansson's genius. Famous worldwide as the creator of the Moomin stories, she balanced her talents as a painter, cartoonist, illustrator, and writer with an unusual lifestyle and an insistence on personal freedom. In this episode, Jacke talks to biographer Boel Westin (Tove Jansson: Life, Art, Words) about the joyful and uncompromising approach that Tove Jansson brought to life, love, and her many creative pursuits. Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/donate. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov... the familiar Russian names are at the pinnacle of world literature. How did this happen? Was it merely a happy accident? Did events conspire to bring it about? In this episode, Jacke talks to Rolf Hellebust, author of How Russian Literature Became Great, about a golden age of historiography and nation-building - and the consequences for the history of literature. Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/donate. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Born more than two centuries ago, Ralph Waldo Emerson has long been recognized as a giant of nineteenth-century American letters. But what can he offer readers today? In this episode, Jacke talks to author James Marcus, author of the new book Glad to the Brink of Fear: A Portrait of Ralph Waldo Emerson, which reconsiders Emerson's reputation as a "starry-eyed prophet of self-reliance" in favor of a more complicated figure who spent a lifetime wrestling with injustice, philosophy, art, desire, and suffering. Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/donate. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
We humans imprint ourselves on our surroundings - and they, in turn, have the power to affect us. In this episode, Jacke talks to Gareth Russell (The Palace: From the Tudors to the Windsors, 500 Years of History at Hampton Court) about the building that Thomas Hardy famously called a "Spellbound Palace" in one of his finest poems. We'll hear about the building's history and why it holds a special place in literary history, including the planning of the King James Bible and as a site for early Shakespeare performances. PLUS Jess Cotton (John Ashbery: A Critical Life) selects her choice for the last book she will ever read. Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/donate. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
It's the start of a new hundred episodes! Fresh off her tour for her new novel The Road from Belhaven, superguest Margot Livesey joins Jacke for a discussion of mistakes in the novels of Thomas Hardy. Then Jacke tells Margot the heartrending story of Hardy's fraught relationship with his first wife Emma - and how Emma's death unlocked some of his greatest poetry. Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/donate. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
It's another milestone for the History of Literature Podcast! Jacke celebrates the six hundredth episode of the podcast with a return to one of his old favorites, the "harmless drudge" himself, Dr. Johnson, with the help of Johnsonian expert Phil Jones (Reading Samuel Johnson: Reception and Representation, 1750-1970). PLUS Rupert Holmes (Murder Your Employer: The McMasters Guide to Homicide) shares his choice for the last book he will ever read. Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/donate. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
While avant-garde filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky might be most famous for the wildly ambitious version of Dune that never got made - in spite of having actors and artists like Orson Welles, Salvador Dalí, Mick Jagger, Pink Floyd, H.R. Giger, and Mœbius attached to the project - he was also the creative force behind several dynamic and influential films. In this episode, William Egginton (The Rigor of Angels: Borges, Kant, Heisenberg, and the Ultimate Nature of Reality) returns to discuss his new book, Alejandro Jodorowsky: Filmmaker and Philosopher. PLUS David Sterling Brown (Shakespeare's White Others) stops by to discuss his choice for the last book he will ever read. Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/donate. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Charmian Kittredge London (1871-1955) may be best known as the wife of the famous American writer Jack London, but she was herself a literary trailblazer - and the epitome of a modern woman. In this episode, Jacke talks to biographer Iris Jamahl Dunkle (Charmian Kittredge London: Trailblazer, Author, Adventurer) about the intriguing life and inspirational career of an underappreciated literary figure. PLUS Mike Palindrome, President of the Literature Supporters Club, makes the case for the greatness of Christopher Isherwood, and Duncan Yoon (China in Twentieth- and Twenty-First Century African Literature) stops by to discuss his choice for the last book he will ever read. Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/donate. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard (b. 1968) became known in his home country - or at least its literary circles - when he put out two well-received novels in the late 1990s. But it was the publication of his six-volume autobiographical series Min Kamp, or My Struggle, that turned him into a household name - and when the books were translated into English in 2012, he became a worldwide publishing phenomenon. In this episode, Jacke talks to editor Bob Blaisdell about his own reading of Knausgaard, the experience of interviewing him, and the editing of the new book Conversations with Karl Ove Knausgaard, which collects twenty-two interviews with Knausgaard, all conducted as this curious and controversial writer was gaining worldwide attention. PLUS author Nicholas Dames (The Chapter: A Segmented History from Antiquity to the Twenty-First Century) stops by to discuss his choice for the last book he will ever read. Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/donate. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
It's a literary smorgasbord! First, Jacke dives into the recent news of the surprising connection between Taylor Swift and Emily Dickinson. Next, he welcomes Mike Palindrome, President of the Literature Supporters Club, for a discussion of why Mike has been reading Flannery O'Connor for so many years. Then storytelling expert J. Edward Chamberlin stops by to discuss his new book, Storylines: How Words Shape Our Worlds, which explores the power of stories to transform despair and disillusionment into hope and possibility. And finally, poet and podcaster Shin Yu Pai (Ten Thousand Things) selects the last book she will ever read. Smaklig måltid! Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/donate. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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Comments (56)

Justin Tai Sen Choy

this is an absolutely brilliant podcast. I'm hooked and intend on spending many more hours listening in. Thank you and please keep on podcasting.

Jan 3rd
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maryam kamali pour ravari

Do not cry for Israel. Do not. You know history. unlikely from you.

Dec 31st
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Granny InSanDiego

Why bring on a guest who read one of the most rewarding books in human history and could not appreciate it? If you wish to learn something about this masterpiece, skip this one. There are many better discussions available.

Apr 10th
Reply

amirhosein rezaei

Thank u sir. The way that u explain and play with words, takes me away from my mundane life. U r my favourite.

Jan 15th
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Jim McCaskill

Jesus. 40 minutes in and we haven't even started in on The Upanishads.

Aug 2nd
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Parsa Jeihoun

Although you may have planned your words before, you seem very natural and sponteneous. I also appreciate that you've started with the Epic of Gilgamesh.😊

Jun 24th
Reply

Eric Kingsepp

Love the content of this episode, but not getting to it until after a full 13 minutes of ads and sponsorships is really ridiculous. Please find a way to move some of these to intermissions.

Feb 28th
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Lesley

Enjoyed O Henry discussion

Jan 18th
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Ebrahim Hassanpour

I'm exited two of three comments are Iranian apparently!👌 I also expected the story of Beowulf... we are about to translate and product a podcast like this in Persian...you would be welcome...🦋🌺

Nov 6th
Reply

Tina Nazemzade

Thanks for your lecture about Tolstoy

Oct 24th
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mahta Sh

I'm so glad....this is exactly what I was looking after that....thank you for your fascinating podcast

Oct 9th
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Melody Sk

This episode oddly reminds me of my uni days 🥱

Sep 3rd
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Melody Sk

This episode is the best so far, I can't wait to listen to the rest 😆

Sep 2nd
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Luke McKillop

I came to listen to de Cervantes not an inane ramble on whiteboards

Aug 22nd
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Marita Rohlf

oh my god. stop talking about yourself! get to the subject!!!!

Aug 4th
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Hannah Morgan

Brilliant guest

Jul 12th
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Malcolm Gambill

I only have one complaint. I have a stack of books unread because of your podcast. Love your voice and stories. Best podcast ever!!

May 28th
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Mark Saltiel

Do you ever think you will do an episode about Thomas Pynchon? And Jennifer Egan?

May 4th
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Sachio Hideki

please talk about James Joyce.

Apr 29th
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Mean_A

I think you're amazing, simply amazing.

Mar 19th
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