On today’s episode of The Literary Life, Angelina and Cindy interview James Banks. James is a civil servant, veteran, teacher, former academic and writer living in Austin, Texas. Prior to moving to the Lone Star State, he studied Renaissance Literature and taught at the University of Rochester. But it was only after leaving the academy that he rediscovered his passion for Shakespeare, Spenser, Chaucer and all things literary. His essays and reviews have appeared in The Weekly Standard, the Literati Quarterly, the Intercollegiate Review and elsewhere, but he is best known for being the brother of Thomas Banks and brother-in-law of Angelina Stanford.
James talks about his childhood relationships with books and stories, and the massive leap he took from not being able to read to being a reader. He tells about his desire to be a teacher and his undergraduate experience. He also elaborates on how he came to his love of Shakespeare and Renaissance literature. James tells why he ended up leaving academia and how he rediscovered his love of literature. He also gives some examples of how he reads so much and makes the most of his time.
Listen to The Literary Life:
The Cross of Snow
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
In the long, sleepless watches of the night,
A gentle face — the face of one long dead —
Looks at me from the wall, where round its head
The night-lamp casts a halo of pale light.
Here in this room she died; and soul more white
Never through martyrdom of fire was led
To its repose; nor can in books be read
The legend of a life more benedight.
There is a mountain in the distant West
That, sun-defying, in its deep ravines
Displays a cross of snow upon its side.
Such is the cross I wear upon my breast
These eighteen years, through all the changing scenes
And seasons, changeless since the day she died.
Big Wonderful Thing by Stephen Harrigan
John Buchan by His Wife and Friends by Susan Tweedsmuir
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
The Shooting Party by Anton Chekhov
The Sword of Honour Trilogy by Evelyn Waugh
Cultural Amnesia by Clive James
The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare
The Meaning of Shakespeare, Vol. 2 by Harold Goddard
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Silas Marner by George Eliot
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Last of the Mohicans by James Fennimore Cooper
The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll
On the Edge by Edward St. Aubyn
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
The Adventures of Ibn Battuta by Ibn Battuta
The Aeneid by Virgil
Selected Non-fictions by Jorge Luis Borges
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
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