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Proms Literary Festival: The History of Love

Novelist Howard Jacobson and classics scholar Mary Beard join presenter Rana Mitter to discuss the inspirational influence of famous love affairs.

Novelist Howard Jacobson and classics scholar Mary Beard chart the inspirational influence of famous love affairs from Tristan and Isolde to Romeo and Juliet.

One is held-up as the archetypal story of doomed young lovers. The other is a timeless tragic love-triangle. Romeo and Juliet and Tristan and Isolde have bequeathed powerful ideas about the course of true love. In fact, medieval and early modern storylines have proved remarkably robust in shaping the way we think about love. But can we trace the components of the great romances of myth and literature? Passion, ardour, youth and violence perhaps? And how do some of the other great historical figures add to our understanding, for instance, Anthony and Cleopatra or Dido and Aeneas? Howard Jacobson and Mary Beard join presenter Rana Mitter and an audience at the BBC Proms Literary Festival to discuss what they believe to be the great examples of the love affair and choose their favourite readings to illustrate how language evokes their power.

Recorded in front of an audience at the Royal College of Music before Prom 21 which features Berlioz and Wagner's classic interpretations of these two stories.

20 minutes

Broadcast

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