Listening In: Broadcasts, Speeches, and Interviews by Elizabeth Bowen

Listening In: Broadcasts, Speeches, and Interviews by Elizabeth Bowen

Listening In: Broadcasts, Speeches, and Interviews by Elizabeth Bowen

Listening In: Broadcasts, Speeches, and Interviews by Elizabeth Bowen

Synopsis

From the 1940s to the 1960s, Elizabeth Bowen took an active role in spoken media and radio in particular by writing essays for broadcast, improvising interviews on the air and giving public lectures. During her lifetime, she published few of her broadcasts. Listening In brings together a substantial number of her ungathered and unknown works for the first time.

Bowen was known as a public intellectual capable of talking on numerous subjects with wit and general insight. Invited to university campuses in the UK and US, she delivered important lectures on language, the 'fear of pleasure', character in fiction, the idea of American homes and other topics. Her first efforts for radio were adaptations of her own short stories and dramatizations of literary subjects. She quickly turned to commentary on culture, such as the beginning of the BBC Third Programme and the atmosphere in postwar Czechoslovakia. She documented her love of cinema in the 1930s and the making of Lawrence of Arabia in the 1960s, and broadcast on Queen Elizabeth II, Katherine Mansfield, Frances Burney and Jane Austen.

Excerpt

As an essayist and novelist, Elizabeth Bowen wrote for the human voice. a painstaking writer, she was also, by a quirk of fate, a lifelong stammerer. Her voice sounded strange and estranging, even to her own ear. By writing for the radio and by speaking in public, Bowen honed her sense of the acoustic range of the voice in all its accents and intonations. Between 1941 and 1973, she was a regular contributor on the bbc, either reading her own scripts or participating in discussions on a set topic. in the 1940s, she dramatised the life and fiction of three literary figures – Anthony Trollope, Jane Austen, Frances Burney – and tried her hand at writing original plays for radio. Bowen thought enough of her broadcasts to include some of them in the collections of critical prose that she published in her lifetime. the playlet about Anthony Trollope appeared in Collected Impressions (1950). Two essayistic pieces, one about Rider Haggard’s She and another called “Truth and Fiction,” were included in Afterthought (1962). Many of her radio essays touched on the mechanics of novel-writing or her success as an . . .

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