For tens of thousands of years, human beings have been using fictional devices to shape their worlds and communicate with one another. Four thousand years ago they began writing down these stories, and a great flourishing of human achievement began. We know it today as literature, a term broad enough to encompass everything from ancient epic poetry to contemporary novels. How did literature develop? What forms has it taken? And what can we learn from engaging with these works today?
Hosted by Jacke Wilson, an amateur scholar with a lifelong passion for literature, The History of Literature takes a fresh look at some of the most compelling examples of creative genius the world has ever known.
Not even imprisonment could stop the Marquis de Sade from writing his insanely intense, unrelenting erotica – and not even Sade’s eventual death could stop his secret manuscript, temporarily hidden in a Bastille wall to protect it from looters and revolutionaries, from haunting its owners as though possessed by a demonic force. Now one of the most valuable manuscripts in the world and viewed as a French national treasure, Sade’s novel 120 Days of Sodom has been fascinating and repelling readers for more than two hundred years.
In this episode, Jacke talks to author Joel Warner about his new book The Curse of the Marquis de Sade: A Notorious Scoundrel, a Mythical Manuscript, and the Biggest Scandal in Literary History. Plus, Diane Rayor, expert and translator of Sappho, joins Jacke for a discussion of the last book she would like to read.