Main content

Landmark: The Thirty-Nine Steps and World War I

Matthew Sweet explores representations of World War I, empire and adventure in John Buchan's novel The Thirty-Nine Steps.

The Thirty-Nine Steps first appeared in Blackwoods Magazine in August and September 1915 and depicts Europe on the edge of war in May and June 1914. It quickly became popular reading in the trenches and on the home front, and nearly a hundred years and three film adaptations later, its popularity is enduring.

In a special edition of Free Thinking, Matthew Sweet talks to Buchan's biographer Andrew Lownie and Buchan scholars Dr Michael Redley and Dr Kate Macdonald about the connections between Buchan's own war experience and The Thirty-Nine Steps, and to Professors Elleke Boehmer and Terence Ranger about how ideas about empire and adventure play out in the novel.

First broadcast 24/06/2014

You can download this programme by searching in the Arts and Ideas podcasts for the broadcast date.

Available now

45 minutes

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Matthew Sweet
Interviewed Guest Andrew Lownie
Interviewed Guest Michael Redley
Interviewed Guest Kate Macdonald
Interviewed Guest Elleke Boehmer
Interviewed Guest Terence Ranger
Producer Laura Thomas

Broadcasts

Featured in...

Part of...

Part of...

Marking the centenary of World War One across the BBC

The Arts & Ideas Podcast

The Arts & Ideas Podcast

You can download all the past episodes of Radio 3's Free Thinking

Discussions and talks from the Free Thinking Festival 2019

Discussions and talks from the Free Thinking Festival 2019

Angry politics, what we can’t say, being diplomatic, weeping, emotion in music, film & TV

Click to listen to discussions, talks and music as the Free Thinking Festival 2019 Gets Emotional

Click to listen to discussions, talks and music as the Free Thinking Festival 2019 Gets Emotional

Angry politics, what we can’t say, being diplomatic, weeping, emotion in music, film & TV

CLICK to LISTEN & SEE programmes from the Free Thinking Festival 2018: The One & the Many

CLICK to LISTEN & SEE programmes from the Free Thinking Festival 2018: The One & the Many

We examine the fast-changing relationship between the individual & the crowd

CLICK to LISTEN & SEE all programmes, images, clips & features from 2017's festival

CLICK to LISTEN & SEE all programmes, images, clips & features from 2017's festival

Free Thinking Festival 2017: The Speed of Life