Ian McMillan's guests include historian Damien Kempf, who discusses his book Medieval Monsters, a celebration of the strange creatures that decorate and illuminate ancient texts.
Ian MacMillan's guests on the 'cabaret of the word' include the historian Damien Kempf, whose latest book, Medieval Monsters, celebrates the strange creatures that were used to illustrate medieval manuscripts. He explains why they aroused fear, curiosity and wonder at the time they were drawn, and argues that they have much in common with the monsters we find in contemporary culture.
Jane Stabler discusses the art of the literary footnote. Jane’s editing a landmark edition of Lord Byron’s Don Juan ( for ‘The Longman Annotated English Poets’ series funded by the Leverhulme Trust ) and shares her discoveries about his references to Maccassar hair oil, to Milton’s ‘Lycidas’, and explains why she’s restoring the word ‘bidet’ to the text. We find out why Byron was asked to supply his own footnotes to Childe Harold, and whether his ironic tone has influenced those who are asked to annotate his work. Jane Stabler is Reader in Romanticism at the University of St Andrews.
David Harsent’s collection ‘Fire Songs’ (Faber) won the T.S. Eliot poetry prize earlier this year. David explains that his ‘fire’ poems began as one long poem ‘written in a kind of fever’, and explores the idea that he has captured the ‘music’ of fire in their language. He also tells Ian why he abandoned punctuation in certain poems in the collection. David has written the libretto for ‘The Cure’, an opera by Harrison Birtwistle based on the Medea myth which premieres this June at Aldeburgh.
Alongside Tanuja Amarasuriya, Tim Atak runs Sleepdogs, a company working in theatre, film and audio. Their latest production is ‘The Bullet and the Bass Trombone’, an innovative one-man show about an orchestra escaping a coup, which features fractured sound and a fragmentary narrative. Tim explains why it is important that the audience never gets the whole story, but must instead make their own.
Medieval monsters were not always that monstrous, as Damien Kempf explains. He is the co-author, along with Maria L. Gilbert of ‘Medieval Monsters’ (British Library) a book which reveals the creatures which haunted the human imagination 700 years ago. ‘Medieval Monsters’ shows the diversity of these beasts, who bear a remarkable resemblance to characters we find in contemporary comics and films.