Gerontologist, pacifist, novelist, medical doctor and mollusc expert – Alex Comfort was far more than just the author of the staggeringly popular Joy of Sex. In her review of a new biography, Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite navigates the convictions and contradictions of this bewilderingly polymathic thinker. She joins Tom to trace Comfort’s life from evangelical child prodigy to the anarchist free love advocate who became emblematic of the sexual liberation movement.Find further reading on the episode page: lrb.me/comfortpod Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Enheduana was a Sumerian princess who lived around 2300 BCE and composed what is now regarded as the earliest poetry by a known author. Her father, Sargon of Akkad, is said to have created the world’s first empire, stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean, and as part of his imperial mission he installed his daughter as the high priestess of the temple of the moon god, Nanna, in the city of Ur. In that capacity, Enheduana composed hymns of remarkable beauty, often governed by a powerful authorial voice.Anna Della Subin joins Tom to discuss a new translation of Enheduana’s complete poems, read some of them in the original Sumerian, and consider the ways in which they challenge our ideas of authorship and literary history.Read more, and listen ad free, on the LRB website: https://lrb.me/enheduanapod Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
From the Egyptian Revolution to Extinction Rebellion, the 2010s were marked by a global wave of spontaneous and largely structureless mass protests. Despite overwhelming numbers and popular support, most of these movements failed to achieve their aims, and in many cases led to worse conditions. James Butler joins Tom to make sense of the ‘mass protest decade’, sharing historical examples, theoretical approaches and first-hand experiences that help explain the defeats of the 2010s.Find further reading and listen ad free on the episode page: lrb.me/protestdecadeFind the Close Readings podcast in Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts, or just search 'Close Readings'.Sign up to the Close Readings subscription to listen to all our series in full:Directly in Apple PodcastsIn other podcast apps Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
In the first episode of their new Close Readings series on political poetry, Seamus Perry and Mark Ford look at ‘An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland’ by Andrew Marvell, described by Frank Kermode as ‘braced against folly by the power and intelligence that make it possible to think it the greatest political poem in the language’.Sign up to the Close Readings subscription to listen ad free and to all our series in full:Directly in Apple PodcastsIn other podcast appsRead the poem hereFurther reading in the LRB:Blair Worden: Double TonguedFrank Kermode: Hard LabourDavid Norbrook: Political Verse Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Ethiopia is one of the world’s most populous countries, and yet the 2020-22 Tigray War and ongoing suffering in the region has been largely ignored by the world at large. Tom Stevenson joins the podcast to break down the history of the conflict, and explore why Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel laureate, has come to preside over such a brutal civil war. He also considers Abiy’s future intentions, both within and beyond his country’s borders.Find further reading on the episode page: lrb.me/tigraypod Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Were the Middle Ages funny? Irina Dumitrescu and Mary Wellesley begin their series in quest of the medieval sense of humour with Chaucer’s 'Miller’s Tale', a story that is surely still (almost) as funny as when it was written six hundred years ago. But who is the real butt of the joke? Mary and Irina look in detail at the mechanics of the plot and its needless but pleasurable complexity, and consider the social significance of clothes and pubic hair in the tale.Find the Close Readings podcast in Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts, or just search 'Close Readings'.Sign up to the Close Readings subscription to listen to all our series in full:Directly in Apple PodcastsIn other podcast apps Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Did the foundational event of Proust’s great novel really happen? Michael Wood talks to Tom about several English translations of In Search of Lost Time, old and new, and what they reveal about different ways of reading the novel. If the dipping of the madeleine in his tea conjures an overwhelming memory of the narrator’s childhood, it is also a challenge to the conscious mind, a product of chance that Proust suggests might easily not have occurred at all.Find more by Michael on Proust here: lrb.me/woodproustpodSign up to Close Readings Plus: lrb.me/plus Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
James Meek joins Tom to talk about a recent book by Peter Biskind on ‘the New TV’, reviewed by James in the latest issue of the paper. They discuss the rise of cable TV in the 1990s, the emergence of the streaming giants, the power of the showrunner and whether the golden age of television drama is really coming to an end.Read James's piece: https://lrb.me/meektvpodSign up to Close Readings: lrb.me/closereadingspod Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Tom Crewe, Patricia Lockwood, Deborah Friedell, John Lanchester, Rosemary Hill and Colm Tóibín talk to Tom about some of their favourite LRB pieces, including Terry Castle’s 1995 essay on Jane Austen's letters, Hilary Mantel’s account of how she became a writer, and Alan Bennett’s uncompromising take on Philip Larkin.Read the pieces:Terry Castle on Jane AustenWendy Doniger: Calf and Other LovesHilary Mantel: Giving up the GhostAngela Carter: Noovs' hoovs in the troughPenelope Fitzgerald on Stevie SmithAlan Bennett on Philip LarkinSubscribe to the LRB: https://lrb.me/now Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Dec 27, 2023
Byron’s early poems – his so-called ’dark tales’ – have been dismissed by critics as the tawdry, slapdash products of an uninteresting mind, and readers ever since have found it difficult not to see them in light of the poet’s dramatic and public later life. In a recent piece for the LRB, Clare Bucknell looked past the famous biography to observe the youthful Byron’s mind at work in poems such as The Giaour (1813), The Corsair (1814) and Lara (1814), where early versions of the Byronic hero were often characterised by passivity, rumination and choicelessness.Clare discusses the piece with Tom, and talks about her new Close Readings series, On Satire, with Colin Burrow, which features Don Juan alongside works by Jane Austen, Laurence Sterne, John Donne, Muriel Spark and others.Read Clare's piece on Byron: https://lrb.me/byronpodJoin Clare and Colin Burrow for their series on satire next year, and receive all the books under discussion, access to online seminars and the rest of the Close Readings audio, with Close Readings Plus: https://lrb.me/plusytTo subscribe to the audio only, and access all our other Close Readings series:Sign up directly in Apple here: https://apple.co/3pJoFPqIn other podcast apps: https://lrb.me/byronsc Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Dec 20, 2023