Patrick Whitmarsh on Fiction’s Response to Existential Crises
From The History of Literature Podcast with Jacke Wilson
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.
Jacke continues his Emily Dickinson series with a reading of Poem #32. Then Professor Patrick Whitmarsh stops by for a discussion of his new book Writing Our Extinction, which examines works by Don DeLillo, Karen Tei Yamashita, Reza Negarestani, and Colson Whitehead (among others) to see how post-Oppenheimer authors have responded to the existential crises of climate change and the nuclear age. And finally, Kurt Vonnegut’s biographer Christina Jarvis selects two books to be the last ones she will ever read.