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Episodes

Nov. 10, 2022

458 Alexander Pushkin (with Robert Chandler)

For many Russian writers and readers, Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) holds a special place: his position in Russian literature is often compared to Shakespeare's in English, Dante's in Italian, and Goethe's in German. In this ...

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Nov. 7, 2022

457 The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson's Editor (The Thomas Wentworth…

Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1823-1911) has become famous as the man who in 1862 encouraged young contributors to submit to his magazine - and who received in reply four poems from an unknown woman in Amherst, who asked whethe...

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Nov. 3, 2022

456 Maya Angelou

Best known for her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), Maya Angelou (1928-2014) was a woman of many talents and accomplishments. In this episode, Jacke takes a look at the life and works of this incredible s...

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Oct. 31, 2022

455 Gustave Flaubert

Perhaps contemporary critic James Wood put it best: "Novelists," he wrote, "should thank Flaubert the way poets thank spring." In this episode, Jacke takes a look at the life and major works of Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880), t...

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Oct. 27, 2022

454 Emma's Pick - A Victorian Ghost Story

Happy Halloween! In this episode, producer Emma selects a classic Victorian ghost story for Jacke to read: "Eveline's Visitant" by the publishing powerhouse Mary Elizabeth Braddon. Additional listening suggestions: 270 "The B...

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Oct. 24, 2022

453 The Autobiography of Malcolm X (with Dr Rae Wynn-Grant)

Jacke talks to Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant about her journey to becoming a wildlife ecologist and two classic works from the 1960s that helped inspire her: The Autobiography of Malcolm X (as told to Alex Haley) and Rachel Carson's Sil...

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Oct. 20, 2022

452 Charles and Mary Lamb | A Letter To My Transgender Daughter (with…

In this episode, Jacke takes a look at two topics. First, the story of Charles and Mary Lamb, whose children's book Tales from Shakespeare (1807) was published more than two hundred years ago and has never been out of print. …

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Oct. 17, 2022

451 Mary Shelley

For more than two centuries, the author Mary Shelley (1797-1851) has been eclipsed by others: her famous parents William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, her even more famous husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, and even her own crea...

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Oct. 13, 2022

450 The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

It's October! Time for dead leaves, spooky twilight, and little goblins running around in search of candy. And of course, the OG Mr. October, Edgar Allan Poe. In this episode, Jacke (finally!) accommodates the voluminous requ...

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Oct. 10, 2022

449 Method Acting and "Bad Hamlet" (with Isaac Butler)

We all talk about actors who use the Method, but do we really understand what that means? And how exactly has the Method changed the way we take in drama? In this episode, Jacke talks to theater expert Isaac Butler …

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Oct. 6, 2022

448 Lewis Carroll (with Charlie Lovett)

Although best known for his classic children's books involving Alice and her Wonderland adventures, Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) was a man of many talents and interests. In this episode, Jacke talks to Carrollinian scholar and b...

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Oct. 3, 2022

447 Lady Chatterley's Lover (with Saikat Majumdar)

D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930) started a firestorm with his 1928 novel Lady Chatterley's Lover , which was quickly banned around the world. But the novel eventually found its way into print, after winning numerous obscenity trials...

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Sept. 29, 2022

446 Percy Bysshe Shelley - The Early Years

Jacke takes a look at the early years of Percy Bysshe Shelley, from his idyllic childhood, to his rebellious student years, to his experiments in free love, radical politics, and Wordsworthian poetry. Works discussed include ...

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Sept. 26, 2022

445 What Would Cervantes Do? (with David Castillo and William Egginto…

As the author of what is generally considered the first and perhaps greatest novel of the modern era, Miguel de Cervantes and his masterpiece Don Quixote belongs on every shelf. But as two scholars point out in their new book...

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Sept. 22, 2022

444 Thrillers on the Eve of War - Spy Novels in the 1930s (with Julie…

The British spy novel was well established long before Ian Fleming's creation of James Bond in the 1950s. And while it came to be identified with the Cold War, thanks to Fleming and subsequent writers like John le Carré, thri...

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Sept. 19, 2022

443 Updating Bloom's Canon (with Bethanne Patrick)

In 1994, Harold Bloom's magnum opus The Western Canon took up the critical cudgels on behalf of 26 writers declared by Bloom to be essential. In this episode, Bethanne Patrick (aka the Book Maven), literary critic and host of...

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Sept. 15, 2022

442 Prince, Emperor, Sage - Bābur and the Bāburnāma (with Anuradha)

The warrior and leader known as Bābur (1483-1530) had the kind of life one might expect from the descendant of Timur (Tamburlaine) on his father's side and Genghis Khan on his mother's. Elevated to the throne at age 12, and …

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Sept. 12, 2022

441 When Novels Were Novel (with Jason Feifer)

It's hard to imagine now, but there was a time when reading novels was not a common activity - and then, suddenly, it was. In this episode, Jacke talks to Jason Feifer, an expert on transformative changes in society, to …

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Sept. 8, 2022

440 Emma's Pick - "A Pair of Silk Stockings" by Kate Chopin

Today, Kate Chopin (1851-1904) might be best known for her groundbreaking feminist novel The Awakening (1899). But she was also an accomplished short story writer, publishing in national magazines like Atlantic Monthly and Vo...

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Sept. 5, 2022

439 Poets' Guide to Economics (with John Ramsden)

Sure, we know poets are experts in subjects like love, death, nightingales, and moonlight. But what about money? Isn't that a little...beneath them? (Or at least out of their area of expertise?) In this episode, Jacke talks t...

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Sept. 1, 2022

438 How Was Your Ulysses? (with Mike Palindrome)

In 1922, a writer for the Observer commented: "No book has been more eagerly and curiously awaited by the strange little inner circle of book-lovers and littérateurs than James Joyce's Ulysses." After declaring Joyce to be a ...

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Aug. 29, 2022

437 A Million Miracles Now - "A Bird, came down the Walk" by Emily Di…

Responding to a listener email, a heartbroken Jacke takes a close look at Emily Dickinson's astonishing poem "A Bird, came down the Walk." Additional listening suggestions: 120 The Astonishing Emily Dickinson 418 "Because I c...

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Aug. 25, 2022

The History of Literature Presents: Missing Pages

The History of Literature Presents: Missing Pages

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Aug. 22, 2022

436 The Lorax by Dr Seuss (with Mesh Lakhani)

He was born Theodor Seuss Geisel in 1904, but in the next 87 years, the world came to know and love him by his pen name, Dr. Seuss. Best known for his more than 60 books for children, including The …

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