On feeling at home
"In Our Time" is one of the most improbable glorious media successes imaginable. Melvyn Bragg discusses one unashamedly intellectual topic with three academics for three-quarters of an hour. Yet more evidence that Radio 4 is the Enlightenment.
Just look at the topics for this series, in reverse order;
- The Fisher King - the wound that does not heal
- The Charge of the Light Brigade - "All in the valley of Death rode the six hundred"
- Albert Camus - Rebel with a Cause
- The Nicene Creed - when Christ became God
- The Four Humours - yellow bile, blood, choler and phlegm in the original theory of everything
- The Sassanian Empire - in the shadow of Ancient Persia
- Genetic Mutation - the error-strewn secrets of life
- The Fibonacci Sequence - the numbers in nature
But today's programme topped the lot! As an undergraduate at Sussex in the 60s, I effectively took a term out from the formal course requirements (I went through the motions, as most undergraduates do nowadays [sorry!], but my heart and most of my head was elsewhere) to pursue the grail myth; Eliot was my starting point, through Weston to Frazer and R S Loomis to Malory and de Troyes via .... It was an exhilarating quest; I pestered librarians in the basement of Falmer House before the proper library was completed, to drag obscure stuff out of the stacks for me, and went back day after day in the hope that they might have arrived...
The story has fascinated me ever since but even so, today's discussion--if it did not actually tell me anything new--put a lot of material into perspective. The notion of the grail as an object to be possessed even after the loss of the holy land in the crusades... How the first world war provided a lens to view the Waste Land... Wow!
Next week plate tectonics...