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Episodes

Jan. 30, 2023

482 Moby Dick - 10 Essential Questions (Part Two)

Is Moby-Dick truly the Great American Novel? How did contemporary critics miss it? When (and how) was the book rediscovered? Jacke goes through all this and more, as he continues the countdown of Top 10 Essential Questions ab...

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Jan. 26, 2023

481 Moby Dick - 10 Essential Questions (Part One)

Here we go! Moby-Dick; or, the Whale (1851) by Herman Melville is one of the greatest - and strangest - novels you will ever read. Call it what you will - a literary leviathan, an intellectual chowder, an early entry …

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Jan. 23, 2023

480 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (with Ritchie Robertson)

In 1878, critic Matthew Arnold wrote, "Goethe is the greatest poet of modern times... because having a very considerable gift for poetry, he was at the same time, in the width, depth, and richness of his criticism of life, by...

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Jan. 19, 2023

479 Auden and the Muse of History (with Susannah Young-ah Gottlieb)

W.H. Auden (1907-1973) was one of the twentieth-century's greatest poets - and also one of the most engaged. As he struggled to make sense of the rise of fascism, two world wars, and industrialized murder, his focus turned to...

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Jan. 16, 2023

478 The Diaries of Franz Kafka (with Ross Benjamin)

Kafka! The avatar of anxiety! He's long been one of our favorites here at the History of Literature Podcast. In this episode, Jacke talks to translator Ross Benjamin about the new edition of The Diaries of Franz Kafka , publi...

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Jan. 12, 2023

477 Does Edith Wharton Hate You? (Part 2 - "The Vice of Reading")

Does Edith Wharton hate us? That's a provocative question - but perhaps one that Wharton herself provoked, with her essay on the readers who damaged literature and her fiction satirizing the same. In this two-part series, Jac...

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Jan. 12, 2023

476 Does Edith Wharton Hate You? (Part 1 - "Xingu")

Does Edith Wharton hate us? That's a provocative question - but perhaps one that Wharton herself provoked, with her essay on the readers who damaged literature and her fiction satirizing the same. In this two-part series, Jac...

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Jan. 9, 2023

475 Portable Magic - A History of Books and Their Readers (with Emma …

As we all know, the text of a book can possess incredible powers, transporting readers across time and space. But what about the books themselves? In this episode, Jacke talks to author Emma Smith ( This Is Shakespeare ) abou...

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Jan. 5, 2023

474 Herman Melville

In this episode, Jacke takes a look at the life of Herman Melville, author of Moby-Dick and many other works. Melville experienced ups and downs, from a fancy Manhattan childhood to financial ruin and back again. Once a liter...

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Jan. 2, 2023

473 A Hemingway Short Story (with Mark Cirino)

Jacke is joined by Professor Mark Cirino, host of the One True Podcast and editor of One True Sentence: Writers & Readers on Hemingway's Art , for a discussion of Hemingway's classic short story about World War I and recovery...

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Dec. 29, 2022

472 The Art of Not Knowing

In this special episode, Jacke pays tribute to a friend, including a consideration of endings and beginnings, mystery and grace, and two powerful works: John Berger's The Shape of a Pocket and James Joyce's masterpiece "The D...

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Dec. 26, 2022

471 Angels of War (with Ariel Lawhon, Kristina McMorris, and Susan Me…

In this episode, Jacke talks to three bestselling authors - Susan Meissner, Kristina McMorris, and Ariel Lawhon - who came together to write When We Had Wings , a historical novel about a trio of World War II nurses who …

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Dec. 22, 2022

470 Two Christmas Days - A Holiday Story by Ida B. Wells

Legendary anti-lynching crusader and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells (1862-1931) is best known for her diligent research and brave and compelling journalism. But she was also a feature writer for both black-owned and white...

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Dec. 19, 2022

469 A Room with a View by E.M. Forster (with Gina Buonaguro)

Since its publication in 1908, E.M. Forster's classic novel A Room with a View , which tells the story of a young Englishwoman who finds a romantic adventure during a trip to Florence, has inspired countless travelers to expa...

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Dec. 15, 2022

468 Chekhov Becomes Chekhov (with Bob Blaisdell)

In 1886, the twenty-six-year-old Anton Chekhov was practicing medicine, supporting his family, falling in and out love, writing pieces for newspapers at a furious pace - and gradually becoming one of the greatest short story ...

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Dec. 12, 2022

467 TS Eliot and The Waste Land (with Jed Rasula)

In 2022, T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land turned 100 years old - and it's hard to imagine a poem with a more explosive impact or a more enduring influence. In this episode, Jacke talks to Professor Jed Rasula about his …

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Dec. 8, 2022

466 Kurt Vonnegut, Planetary Citizen (with Christina Jarvis)

When novelist Kurt Vonnegut died in 2007, the planet lost one of its most creative and compelling voices. In this episode, Jacke talks to Vonnegut scholar Christina Jarvis ( Lucky Mud & Other Foma: A Field Guide to Kurt Vonne...

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Dec. 5, 2022

465 Greek Lit and Game Theory (with Professor Josiah Ober)

Game theory as a mathematical discipline has been around since the Cold War, but as Professor Josiah Ober ( The Greeks and the Rational: The Discovery of Practical Reason ) points out, its roots stretch back to Socrates, if n...

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Dec. 1, 2022

464 Percy Bysshe Shelley - The Mature Years

Following up on Episode 446 Percy Bysshe Shelley - The Early Years , Jacke takes a look at the final five years of Percy Bysshe Shelley's life, from 1817-1822, as the poet turned away from hands-on political action in favor …

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Nov. 28, 2022

463 Friedrich Nietzsche (with Ritchie Robertson)

Sigmund Freud once said of the philosopher and cultural critic Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) that "he had a more penetrating knowledge of himself than any man who ever lived or was likely to live.” Well known for his iconoc...

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Nov. 23, 2022

462 My Last Book (with Laurie Frankel)

The question stopped Jacke in his tracks. "Dear Jacke," said the emailer. "What do you want your "last book" to be? This will be the last book you will ever read..." And so, he set about determining what his "last …

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Nov. 21, 2022

461 The Peabody Sisters (with Megan Marshall)

Pulitzer-Prize-winning literary biographer Megan Marshall joins Jacke to discuss the book that was twenty years in the making: The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited the American Renaissance . This "stunning work of bio...

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Nov. 14, 2022

459 Eve Bites Back! An Alternative History of English Literature (wit…

Jacke talks to author Anna Beer about her new book Eve Bites Back! An Alternative History of English Literature , which tells the stories of eight women (Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe, Aemilia Lanyer, Anne Bradstreet, Aphr...

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Nov. 14, 2022

460 Rabindranath Tagore

In this episode, Jacke takes a look at the life and works of the legendary Bengali writer Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). Central to what became known as the Bengali Renaissance, Tagore's poetry, short stories, songs, essays...

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