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In Our Time: Culture

In Our Time: Culture

Podcast In Our Time: Culture
Podcast In Our Time: Culture

In Our Time: Culture


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  • Thomas Hardy's Poetry
    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Thomas Hardy (1840 -1928) and his commitment to poetry, which he prized far above his novels. In the 1890s, once he had earned enough from his fiction, Hardy stopped writing novels altogether and returned to the poetry he had largely put aside since his twenties. He hoped that he might be ranked one day alongside Shelley and Byron, worthy of inclusion in a collection such as Palgrave's Golden Treasury which had inspired him. Hardy kept writing poems for the rest of his life, in different styles and metres, and he explored genres from nature, to war, to epic. Among his best known are what he called his Poems of 1912 to 13, responding to his grief at the death of his first wife, Emma (1840 -1912), who he credited as the one who had made it possible for him to leave his work as an architect's clerk and to write the novels that made him famous. With Mark Ford Poet, and Professor of English and American Literature, University College London. Jane Thomas Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Hull and Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Leeds And Tim Armstrong Professor of Modern English and American Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London Producer: Simon Tillotson
  • Fritz Lang
    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Austrian-born film director Fritz Lang (1890-1976), who was one of the most celebrated film-makers of the 20th century. He worked first in Weimar Germany, creating a range of films including the startling and subversive Mabuse the Gambler and the iconic but ruinously expensive Metropolis before arguably his masterpiece, M, with both the police and the underworld hunting for a child killer in Berlin, his first film with sound. The rise of the Nazis prompted Lang's move to Hollywood where he developed some of his Weimar themes in memorable and disturbing films such as Fury and The Big Heat. With Stella Bruzzi Professor of Film and Dean of Arts and Humanities at University College London Joe McElhaney Professor of Film Studies at Hunter College, City University of New York And Iris Luppa Senior Lecturer in Film Studies in the Division of Film and Media at London South Bank University Producer: Simon Tillotson
  • A Christmas Carol
    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Charles Dickens' novella, written in 1843 when he was 31, which has become intertwined with his reputation and with Christmas itself. Ebenezer Scrooge is the miserly everyman figure whose joyless obsession with money severs him from society and his own emotions, and he is only saved after recalling his lonely past, seeing what he is missing now and being warned of his future, all under the guidance of the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Yet To Come. Redeemed, Scrooge comes to care in particular about one of the many minor characters in the story who make a great impact, namely Tiny Tim, the disabled child of the poor and warm-hearted Cratchit family, with his cry, "God bless us, every one!" With Juliet John Professor of English Literature and Dean of Arts and Social Sciences at City, University of London Jon Mee Professor of Eighteenth-Century Studies at the University of York And Dinah Birch Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Cultural Engagement and Professor of English Literature at the University of Liverpool Producer: Simon Tillotson
  • The Decadent Movement
    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the British phase of a movement that spread across Europe in the mid-19th and early 20th centuries. Influenced by Charles Baudelaire and by Walter Pater, these Decadents rejected the mainstream Victorian view that art needed a moral purpose, and valued instead the intense sensations art provoked, celebrating art for art’s sake. Oscar Wilde was at its heart, Aubrey Beardsley adorned it with his illustrations and they, with others, provoked moral panic with their supposed degeneracy. After burning brightly, the movement soon lost its energy in Britain yet it has proved influential. The illustration above, by Beardsley, is from the cover of the first edition of The Yellow Book in April 1894. With Neil Sammells Professor of English and Irish Literature and Deputy Vice Chancellor at Bath Spa University Kate Hext Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Exeter And Alex Murray Senior Lecturer in English at Queen’s University, Belfast Producer: Simon Tillotson
  • The Song of Roland
    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss an early masterpiece of French epic poetry, from the 12th Century. It is a reimagining of Charlemagne’s wars in Spain in the 8th Century in which Roland, his most valiant knight, chooses death before dishonour, guarding the army’s rear from a pagan ambush as it heads back through the Roncesvalles Pass in the Pyrenees. If he wanted to, Roland could blow on his oliphant, his elephant tusk horn, to summon help by calling back Charlemagne's army, but according to his values that would bring shame both on him and on France, and he would rather keep killing pagans until he is the last man standing and the last to die. The image above is taken from an illustration of Charlemagne finding Roland after the Battle of Roncevaux/Roncesvalles, from 'Les Grandes Chroniques de France', c.1460 by Jean Fouquet, Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, Ms Fr 6465 f.113 With Laura Ashe Professor of English Literature and Fellow in English at Worcester College, University of Oxford Miranda Griffin Assistant Professor of Medieval French at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Murray Edwards College And Luke Sunderland Professor in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at Durham University Studio producer: John Goudie

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