Popular culture, poetry, music and visual arts and the roles they play in our society.
Death in Venice
48:37Death in Venice is Thomas Mann’s most famous – and infamous - novella. Published in 1912, it’s about the fall of the repressed writer Gustav von Aschenbach, when his supposedly objective appreciation of a young boy’s beauty becomes sexual obsession. It explores the link between creativity and self-destruction, and by the end Aschenbach’s humiliation is complete, dying on a deckchair in the act of ogling. Aschenbach's stalking of the boy and dreaming of pederasty can appal modern readers, even more than Mann expected. With Karolina Watroba, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Modern Languages at All Souls College, University of Oxford Erica Wickerson, a Former Research Fellow at St Johns College, University of Cambridge Sean Williams, Senior Lecturer in German and European Cultural History at the University of Sheffield Sean Williams' series of Radio 3's The Essay, Death in Trieste, can be found here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001lzd4
54:53Sophocles’ play Oedipus Rex begins with a warning: the murderer of the old king of Thebes, Laius, has never been identified or caught, and he’s still at large in the city. Oedipus is the current king of Thebes, and he sets out to solve the crime. His investigations lead to a devastating conclusion. Not only is Oedipus himself the killer, but Laius was his father, and Laius’ wife Jocasta, who Oedipus has married, is his mother. Oedipus Rex was composed during the golden age of Athens, in the 5th century BC. Sophocles probably wrote it to explore the dynamics of power in an undemocratic society. It has unsettled audiences from the very start: it is the only one of Sophocles’ plays that didn’t win first prize at Athens’ annual drama festival. But it’s had exceptionally good write-ups from the critics: Aristotle called it the greatest example of the dramatic arts. Freud believed it laid bare the deepest structures of human desire. With: Nick Lowe, Reader in Classical Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London Fiona Macintosh, Professor of Classical Reception and Fellow of St Hilda’s College at the University of Oxford Edith Hall, Professor of Classics at Durham University
Verpasse keine Episode von “In Our Time: Culture” und abonniere ihn in der kostenlosen GetPodcast App.
49:18In the year 29 BC the great Roman poet Virgil published these lines: Blessed is he who has succeeded in learning the laws of nature’s working, has cast beneath his feet all fear and fate’s implacable decree, and the howl of insatiable Death. But happy too is he who knows the rural gods… They’re from his poem the Georgics, a detailed account of farming life in the Italy of the time. ‘Georgics’ means ‘agricultural things’, and it’s often been read as a farming manual. But it was written at a moment when the Roman world was emerging from a period of civil war, and questions of land ownership and management were heavily contested. It’s also a philosophical reflection on humanity’s relationship with the natural world, the ravages of time, and the politics of Virgil’s day. It’s exerted a profound influence on European writing about agriculture and rural life, and has much to offer environmental thinking today. With Katharine Earnshaw Senior Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Exeter; Neville Morley Professor of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Exeter and Diana Spencer Professor of Classics at the University of Birmingham Producer: Luke Mulhall
A Room of One's Own
54:48Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Virginia Woolf's highly influential essay on women and literature, which considers both literary history and future opportunity. In 1928 Woolf gave two lectures at Cambridge University about women and fiction. In front of an audience at Newnham College, she delivered the following words: “All I could do was offer you an opinion upon one minor point - a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unsolved”. These lectures formed the basis of a book she published the following year, and Woolf chose A Room Of One’s Own for its title. It is a text that set the scene for the study of women’s writing for the rest of the 20th century. Arguably, it initiated the discipline of women’s history too. With Hermione Lee Emeritus Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford Michele Barrett Emeritus Professor of Modern Literary and Cultural Theory at Queen Mary, University of London and Alexandra Harris Professor of English at the University of Birmingham Producer Luke Mulhall
53:19In 1957 Stevie Smith published a poetry collection called Not Waving But Drowning – and its title poem gave us a phrase which has entered the language. Its success has overshadowed her wider work as the author of more than half a dozen collections of poetry and three novels, mostly written while she worked as a secretary. Her poems, printed with her pen and ink sketches, can seem simple and comical, but often beneath the surface lurk themes of melancholy, loneliness, love and death. With Jeremy Noel-Tod Associate Professor in the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia Noreen Masud Lecturer in Twentieth Century Literature at the University of Bristol and Will May Professor of Modern and Contemporary Literature at the University of Southampton The photograph above shows Stevie Smith recording her story Sunday at Home, a finalist in the BBC Third Programme Short Story competition in 1949.
51:47Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Donne (1573-1631), known now as one of England’s finest poets of love and notable in his own time as an astonishing preacher. He was born a Catholic in a Protestant country and, when he married Anne More without her father's knowledge, Donne lost his job in the government circle and fell into a poverty that only ended once he became a priest in the Church of England. As Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, his sermons were celebrated, perhaps none more than his final one in 1631 when he was plainly in his dying days, as if preaching at his own funeral. The image above is from a miniature in the Royal Collection and was painted in 1616 by Isaac Oliver (1565-1617) With Mary Ann Lund Associate Professor in Renaissance English Literature at the University of Leicester Sue Wiseman Professor of Seventeenth Century Literature at Birkbeck, University of London And Hugh Adlington Professor of English Literature at the University of Birmingham
50:49Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Jane Austen’s last complete novel, which was published just before Christmas in 1817, five months after her death. It is the story of Anne Elliot, now 27 and (so we are told), losing her bloom, and of her feelings for Captain Wentworth who she was engaged to, 8 years before – an engagement she broke off under pressure from her father and godmother. When Wentworth, by chance, comes back into Anne Elliot's life, he is still angry with her and neither she nor Austen's readers can know whether it is now too late for their thwarted love to have a second chance. The image above is from a 1995 BBC adaptation of the novel, with Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds With Karen O’Brien Vice-Chancellor of Durham University Fiona Stafford Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford And Paddy Bullard Associate Professor of English Literature and Book History at the University of Reading Producer: Simon Tillotson
53:43Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Orson Welles' film, released in 1941, which is widely acclaimed as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, films yet made. Welles plays the lead role of Charles Foster Kane, a newspaper magnate, and Welles directed, produced and co-wrote this story of loneliness at the heart of a megalomaniac. The plot was partly inspired by the life of William Randolph Hearst, who then used the power of his own newspapers to try to suppress the film’s release. It was to take some years before Citizen Kane reached a fuller audience and, from that point, become so celebrated. The image above is of Kane addressing a public meeting while running for Governor. With Stella Bruzzi Professor of Film and Dean of Arts and Humanities at University College London Ian Christie Professor of Film and Media History at Birkbeck, University of London And John David Rhodes Professor of Film Studies and Visual Culture at the University of Cambridge Producer: Simon Tillotson
54:49Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss The Song of the Nibelungs, a twelfth century German epic, full of blood, violence, fantasy and bleakness. It is a foundational work of medieval literature, drawing on the myths of Scandinavia and central Europe. The poem tells of two couples, Siegfried and Kriemhild and Gunther and Brunhilda, whose lives are destroyed by lies and revenge. It was extremely popular in its time, sometimes rewritten with happier endings, and was rediscovered by German Romantics and has since been drawn from selectively by Wagner, Fritz Lang and, infamously, the Nazis looking to support ideas on German heritage. The image above is of Siegfried seeing Kriemhild for the first time, a miniature from the Hundeshagenschen Code manuscript dating from 15th Century. With Sarah Bowden Reader in German and Medieval Studies at King’s College London Mark Chinca Professor of Medieval German and Comparative Literature at the University of Cambridge And Bettina Bildhauer Professor of Modern Languages at the University of St Andrews Producer: Simon Tillotson
56:45Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Bauhaus which began in 1919 in Weimar, Germany, as a school for arts and crafts combined, and went on to be famous around the world. Under its first director, Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus moved to Dessau and extended its range to architecture and became associated with a series of white, angular, flat-roofed buildings reproduced from Shanghai to Chicago, aimed for modern living. The school closed after only 14 years while at a third location, Berlin, under pressure from the Nazis, yet its students and teachers continued to spread its ethos in exile, making it even more influential. The image above is of the Bauhaus Building, Dessau, designed by Gropius and built in 1925-6 With Robin Schuldenfrei Tangen Reader in 20th Century Modernism at The Courtauld Institute of Art Alan Powers History Leader at the London School of Architecture And Michael White Professor of the History of Art at the University of York Producer: Simon Tillotson