Can you trust your ears? Can you trust your eyes? How often do you tell lies? Watch out for fraudsters here, for cheats, charlatans and spies. Nothing is what it seems.
Can you trust your ears? Can you trust your eyes? How often do you tell lies? Watch out for fraudsters here, for cheats, charlatans and spies. Nothing is what it seems. William Wordsworth sees an island that he knows isn’t there. Musical mirages are conjured by Shulamit Ran and Kaija Saariaho. Saariaho’s mirage contains a Mexican shaman bursting free from the deception of ‘reality’ to a greater truth beyond.
There are lovers too. Many lovers. Vernon Scannell’s furtive adulterers. Tony and Maria from West Side Story sharing a delusion that there’s a place for them (there’s not). Meanwhile in the shadowy world of espionage, John Hollander’s undercover operative has a crisis of confidence, Joseph Conrad’s secret agent not only misleads his associates but betrays his wife in a terrible way and, as the Rhinemaidens sing in a performance of Wagner’s Gotterdammerung at the Bayreuth festival in 1942, none of the Nazi officials watching suspects that one of them – contralto Margery Booth – is a British spy.
What of the tricksters? The west African spider god Anansi fools stronger, fiercer animals into parting with gold and even their lives, while the ‘sandy-whiskered gentleman’ lulls Jemima Puddle-Duck into a false sense of security. Sometimes we can’t help being deceived and there are examples here – in the opening poem by Walter Savage Landor and the closing sonnet by Shakespeare – where deception in love is positively welcomed.
But make no mistake: deceiving other people is rarely a good thing, so heed the words in Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s Lies and extract the appropriate moral lesson from Pete Seeger singing Oh How He Lied.
The readers are Sheila Atim and Guy Masterson
Producer: Torquil MacLeod
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
Walter Savage Landor
You Smiled, You Spoke and I Believed, read by Guy Masterson
Lies, read by Sheila Atim
Taken in Adultery, read by Guy Masterson
The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, read by Sheila Atim
Of the Terrible Doubt of Appearances, read by Sheila Atim
Lays and Legends of the English Lake Country, read by Guy Masterson
Virgil, translated by C. Day Lewis
Aeneid, read by Sheila Atim
Reflections on Espionage, read by Guy Masterson
The Secret Agent, read by Sheila Atim
Mr Sludge, The Medium, read by Guy Masterson
Kwame A. Insaidoo
How Anansi Survived the Great Famine, read by Sheila Atim
Sonnet 138 - When my love swears that she is made of truth, read by Guy Masterson