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Episodes

Aug. 18, 2022

435 The Story of the Hogarth Press Part 2 - The Virginia Woolf Story …

In our last episode, we looked at the decision by Virginia Woolf and her husband Leonard to purchase a printing press and run it out of their home. What began as a hobby - a relief from the strains of …

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Aug. 15, 2022

434 The Story of the Hogarth Press Part 1 - Virginia Woolf's First Se…

Virginia Woolf has long been celebrated as a supremely gifted novelist and essayist. Less well known, but important to understanding her life and contributions to literature, are her efforts as a publisher. In the decades tha...

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Aug. 11, 2022

433 Emma's Pick - "To Build a Fire" by Jack London

Is this the greatest man vs. nature story ever? Hard to say. But it just might be the purest . Kicking off a new HOL feature, producer Emma chooses a short story for Jacke to read and discuss - Jack …

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Aug. 8, 2022

432 Hemingway's One True Sentence (with Mark Cirino)

"All you have to do is write one true sentence," Ernest Hemingway said in A Moveable Feast . "Write the truest sentence that you know." And so he did: the man wrote thousands of sentences, all in search of "truth" …

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Aug. 4, 2022

431 Langston Hughes

Very few writers have had the influence or importance of Langston Hughes (1902?-1967). Best known for poems like "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," "I, Too," and "The Weary Blues," Hughes was also a widely read novelist, short sto...

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Aug. 1, 2022

430 In Shakespeare's Shadow (with Michael Blanding)

It's a paradox that has bothered Shakespeare's fans for centuries: the man was as insightful into human beings as anyone whoever lived, and yet his own life is barely documented. This combination of literary genius plus biogr...

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July 28, 2022

429 Books I Have Loved (with Charles Baxter, Margot Livesey, and Jim …

For years, we've enjoyed talking to writers about the books they love best. In this "best of" episode, we go deep into the archive for three of our favorites: Jim Shepard and his youthful discovery of Bram Stoker's Dracula ; …

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July 25, 2022

428 Edward Gibbon (with Zachary Karabell)

Since the first publication of his six-volume magnum opus, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire , Edward Gibbon (1734-1797) has been ranked among the greatest historians who ever lived. What made his work d...

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July 21, 2022

427 Bashō's Best - Haiku and the Essence of Life

In our last episode, Jacke looked at the life of celebrated Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694), the widely acknowledged master of haiku. In this episode, Jacke looks deeper into the nature of Bashō's best works, organizin...

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July 18, 2022

426 Matsuo Bashō - Haiku's Greatest Master

In addition to being what is probably the most widely used poetic form, haiku is almost certainly the most often misunderstood. In this episode, Jacke examines the life and works of Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694), haiku's greatest ...

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July 14, 2022

425 Tom Stoppard (with Scott Carter)

Born Tomáš Sträussler, in what was then Czechoslovakia, celebrated playwright Tom Stoppard (1937- ) became one of the best known British playwrights in the world. Known for his with and humor, his facility with language, and ...

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July 11, 2022

424 Karel Čapek (with Ian Coss)

Czech novelist Karel Čapek (1890-1938) might be best known as the pioneering science fiction writer who first coined the term "robot." But readers have long appreciated the transcendent humanity of his works. "There was no wr...

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July 7, 2022

423 Roger Ebert

Jacke spends his birthday reflecting on Chicago film critic Roger Ebert (1942-2013), the Judd Apatow show Freaks and Geeks , and other literature-and-life topics. Enjoy! Additional listening suggestions: 421 HOL Goes to the M...

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July 4, 2022

422 Wallace Stegner (with Melodie Edwards)

During his lifetime, Wallace Stegner (1909-1993) became famous for his prizewinning fiction and autobiographical works; his dedication to environmental causes; and his initiation of the creative writing program at Stanford Un...

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June 30, 2022

421 HOL Goes to the Movies (A Best-of Episode with Brian Price, Meg T…

Summertime! The season for watching blockbuster movies in arctic conditions, heart-pounding suspense flicks that heat the blood, and cool-breeze dramas that stir the soul. In this best-of episode, Jacke celebrates the summer ...

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June 27, 2022

420 Honoré de Balzac

Very few novelists can match the ambition or output of French novelist Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850). A pioneer of the great nineteenth-century "realism" tradition, his novel sequence La Comédie Humaine presents a panoramic vi...

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June 23, 2022

419 Christina Rossetti

It's the Christina Rossetti episode! Jacke finally musters up the energy to finish what he started, and takes a look at one of the great poets of the Victorian era (and the creator of "Goblin Market," one of the strangest …

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June 20, 2022

418 "Because I could not stop for Death" by Emily Dickinson

Because Jacke could not stop for the scheduled episode topics, a certain poem kindly stopped for him. Luckily it's one of the greatest poems of all time! It's by the 19th-century American genius Emily Dickinson, and it packs ...

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June 16, 2022

417 What Happened on Roanoke Island? (with Kimberly Brock)

It's one of the great mysteries in American history. The "lost colony" of Roanoke Island, where 120 or so men, women, and children living in the first permanent English settlement in North America simply disappeared, leaving ...

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June 13, 2022

416 William Blake vs the World (with John Higgs)

In his lifetime, the Romantic poet and engraver William Blake (1757-1827) was barely known and frequently misunderstood. Today, his genius is widely celebrated and his poems are some of the most famous in the English language...

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June 9, 2022

415 "Goblin Market" by Christina Rossetti

As a devout and passionate religious observer, Victorian poet Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) lived a life that might seem, at first glance, as proper and tame. Even some of her greatest works, devotional poems and verses for ...

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June 6, 2022

414 Henry James's Golden Bowl (with Dinitia Smith) | William Blake Pr…

Money. Sex. Power. Family. Those are the conceits at the heart of Henry James's late-period masterpiece, The Golden Bowl . In this episode, Jacke talks to author Dinitia Smith, whose new novel The Prince reinvigorates this cl...

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June 2, 2022

413 Walt Whitman - "Song of Myself"

In this episode, we resume our look at Walt Whitman's life and body of work, focusing in particular on the years 1840-1855. Did Whitman's teaching career end with him being tarred and feathered by an angry mob, as has long …

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May 30, 2022

412 HOL Goes to War (with Elizabeth Samet, Matt Gallagher, and Tom Ro…

In this best-of History of Literature episode, Jacke revisits the topic of war and literature with three guests: Professor Elizabeth Samet ( Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point ), who teach...

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