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Bookclub

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Bookclub

Bookclub

BBC Radio 4

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About Us

Led by James Naughtie, a group of readers talk to acclaimed authors about their best-known novels

Latest Episodes

Richard Holmes - The Age of Wonder

Richard Holmes talks about The Age of Wonder, his non-fiction account of the Romantic age, as scientific and artistic thinking began to diverge. In the book he describes the scientific ferment that swept through Britain in the late-18th century and tells the stories of the celebrated innovators and their great scientific discoveries: from telescopic sight and the discovery of Uranus to Humphrey Davy's invention of the miner's safety lamp, and from the first balloon flight to African exploration. Holmes has also written biographies of the poets Coleridge and Shelley and he explains how The Romantics didn't believe in the modern idea that the arts and sciences are two cultures dividing us. The chemist Humphrey Davy wrote poetry and was good friends with Coleridge and they inhaled nitrous oxide gas together as part of Davy's experiments on its properties. Presented by James Naughtie and including questions from an audience of readers. Presenter : James Naughtie Producer : Dymphna Flynn...

34 MIN2 weeks ago
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Richard Holmes - The Age of Wonder

Simon Mawer - Tightrope

Simon Mawer talks about Tightrope, an espionage story featuring the enigmatic agent Marian Sutro which is set during World War II and the years into the Cold War. Tightrope opens as Marian returns to England having survived Ravensbruck concentration camp. She had been parachuted into France by the Special Operations Executive and captured by the Germans in Paris. As peace comes Marian finds it impossible to adjust and find a role for herself. Then, enemies become friends, friends become enemies as an iron curtain is drawn across Europe. Spies are in demand. It is in the clandestine and secret world of the new espionage that Marian finds purpose and is recruited by the Soviet Union. Mawer's evocation of poor, battered post-war London, still a drab city of thick and clammy fogs won praise from critics, who also likened Marian to James Bond – both in terms of bravery and promiscuity. Marian walks the tightrope between the people in her life who have sent her into danger, those whom sh...

27 MINMAR 8
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Simon Mawer - Tightrope

Alice Oswald - Falling Awake

Alice Oswald, Radio 4's Poet in Residence, discusses her collection Falling Awake which won the Costa Poetry Prize 2016. Falling Awake explores two of Alice Oswald’s recurring preoccupations - with the natural world, and with the myths of more ancient civilizations. Alice studied Classics at university and on graduation became a gardener. Homer, she says, made her a gardener because in the ancient world, the archaic poets create continuity between human beings and our surroundings. The poems in Falling Awake move easily from the observation of the falling rain, or the stealthy tread of a fox through a darkened garden, to the sight of the head of Orpheus floating away on the River Hebron after he's been killed, with his voice still singing as it goes. And, then finally, to Tithonus, a forty-six minute poem written for performance which is a gripping evocation of dawn - again from an idea bequeathed by classical mythology. The poem takes us, as it did one summer as Alice observed the...

29 MINFEB 4
Comments
Alice Oswald - Falling Awake

Latest Episodes

Richard Holmes - The Age of Wonder

Richard Holmes talks about The Age of Wonder, his non-fiction account of the Romantic age, as scientific and artistic thinking began to diverge. In the book he describes the scientific ferment that swept through Britain in the late-18th century and tells the stories of the celebrated innovators and their great scientific discoveries: from telescopic sight and the discovery of Uranus to Humphrey Davy's invention of the miner's safety lamp, and from the first balloon flight to African exploration. Holmes has also written biographies of the poets Coleridge and Shelley and he explains how The Romantics didn't believe in the modern idea that the arts and sciences are two cultures dividing us. The chemist Humphrey Davy wrote poetry and was good friends with Coleridge and they inhaled nitrous oxide gas together as part of Davy's experiments on its properties. Presented by James Naughtie and including questions from an audience of readers. Presenter : James Naughtie Producer : Dymphna Flynn...

34 MIN2 weeks ago
Comments
Richard Holmes - The Age of Wonder

Simon Mawer - Tightrope

Simon Mawer talks about Tightrope, an espionage story featuring the enigmatic agent Marian Sutro which is set during World War II and the years into the Cold War. Tightrope opens as Marian returns to England having survived Ravensbruck concentration camp. She had been parachuted into France by the Special Operations Executive and captured by the Germans in Paris. As peace comes Marian finds it impossible to adjust and find a role for herself. Then, enemies become friends, friends become enemies as an iron curtain is drawn across Europe. Spies are in demand. It is in the clandestine and secret world of the new espionage that Marian finds purpose and is recruited by the Soviet Union. Mawer's evocation of poor, battered post-war London, still a drab city of thick and clammy fogs won praise from critics, who also likened Marian to James Bond – both in terms of bravery and promiscuity. Marian walks the tightrope between the people in her life who have sent her into danger, those whom sh...

27 MINMAR 8
Comments
Simon Mawer - Tightrope

Alice Oswald - Falling Awake

Alice Oswald, Radio 4's Poet in Residence, discusses her collection Falling Awake which won the Costa Poetry Prize 2016. Falling Awake explores two of Alice Oswald’s recurring preoccupations - with the natural world, and with the myths of more ancient civilizations. Alice studied Classics at university and on graduation became a gardener. Homer, she says, made her a gardener because in the ancient world, the archaic poets create continuity between human beings and our surroundings. The poems in Falling Awake move easily from the observation of the falling rain, or the stealthy tread of a fox through a darkened garden, to the sight of the head of Orpheus floating away on the River Hebron after he's been killed, with his voice still singing as it goes. And, then finally, to Tithonus, a forty-six minute poem written for performance which is a gripping evocation of dawn - again from an idea bequeathed by classical mythology. The poem takes us, as it did one summer as Alice observed the...

29 MINFEB 4
Comments
Alice Oswald - Falling Awake
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