The Essay

The Essay

United Kingdom

Leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond, themed across a week - insight, opinion and intellectual surprise

Episodes

Exhibitions and Exhibitionism  

Writer Polly Coles reads Exhibitions and Exhibitionism, continuing in her search of what it might mean to be a true Venetian. Beginning each essay with an object or a place, she traces a cultural and historical thread through to living individuals who are contributing to a rich and diverse contemporary Venetian culture. She argues the true Venetian does not have to be born in the city or a permanent resident to be part of a viable, creative future for this beleaguered community. Polly starts at the alternative beachcombers' Biennale on the Lido and ends with the work of some of the many Venetian artists revitalising the city today. Written and performed by Polly Coles Producer: Melanie Harris Sparklab Productions.

The Essay 0

Import/Export  

Writer Polly Coles reads Import/Export, the third of her essays in search of what makes a true Venetian. Beginning each essay with an object or a place, she traces a cultural and historical thread through to living individuals who are contributing to a rich and diverse contemporary Venetian culture. She argues the true Venetian does not have to be born in the city or a permanent resident to be part of a viable, creative future for this beleaguered community. Polly starts with Francis Bacon's 'Study for Chimpanzee' in the Guggenheim collection and discusses flight, exile, discrimination and art. Written and performed by Polly Coles Producer: Melanie Harris Sparklab Productions.

The Essay 0

True Venetian Islanders  

Writer Polly Coles reads Islanders, the second of her essays in search of what makes a true Venetian. Beginning each essay with an object or a place, she traces a cultural and historical thread through to living individuals who are contributing to a rich and diverse contemporary Venetian culture. She argues the true Venetian does not have to be born in the city or a permanent resident to be part of a viable, creative future for this beleaguered community. Polly begins in the medieval Jewish cemetery on the Lido and discusses how the island geography of Venice has allowed segregated and separate communities to evolve. Written and performed by Polly Coles Producer: Melanie Harris Sparklab Productions.

The Essay 0

Making up the City  

Writer Polly Coles reads Making Up the City, the first of her essays in search of what makes a true Venetian. Beginning each essay with an object or a place, she traces a cultural and historical thread through to living individuals who are contributing to a rich and diverse contemporary Venetian culture. She argues the true Venetian does not have to be born in the city or a permanent resident to be part of a viable, creative future for this beleaguered community. Beginning with Mariano Fortuny, painter, innovator and textile artist, Polly looks at Venetian artists who have engaged with their ancient home in a modern spirit and asks is it possible to make something new in this museum city? Written and performed by Polly Coles Producer: Melanie Harris Sparklab Productions.

The Essay 0

Philip Melanchthon  

Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon are the odd couple of the Reformation, inseparable in the religious revolution they inaugurated, and yet in personality chalk and cheese - and there's no doubt that it's Luther who is the cheese: volatile, colourful, impassioned; ripening majestically but also suddenly going off, like one of those goats' cheeses in the middle of France that could easily double up as an explosive device. Luther has priority in terms of being older, and by force of personality. Melanchthon seems monochrome by comparison. It has been easy for history, outside of specialists, to forget him. But if Margaret Thatcher once said of her right-hand man William Whitelaw that "every Prime Minister needs a Willie", this is all the more the case with true revolutionaries. Revolutions seem to need an odd couple: Robespierre and Danton, or Marx and Engels. Melanchthon is hardly a household name these days but he is (if you like) a revolutionary's revolutionary. Intellectual, serious, endlessly patient, he kept clearing up the mess that Luther left around him. Professor Brian Cummings, from the University of York, tells his story. Producer: Rosie Dawson Part of Radio 3's Breaking Free series of programmes exploring Martin Luther's Revolution.

The Essay 0

Johann Walther  

Johann Walther was adopted out of poverty as a boy and could sing like a canary. Initially taking a series of courtly composer and cantor roles, he jumped at the chance to edit the people's first Protestant hymn book. It's a great untold story - the hymns of Luther and Walther began a rich musical tradition in Protestant Germany which changed the musical world. Without Luther and Walther we would not have the oratorios, cantatas and passions of Bach and the word-centred, 'Protestant' tradition of high-quality and complex music and hymnody we know today. Dr Stephen Rose from Royal Holloway University of London tells the story of Johann Walther, the man behind Luther's musical Reformation. Producer: Rosie Dawson Part of Radio 3's Breaking Free series of programmes exploring Martin Luther's Revolution.

The Essay 0

Katharina von Bora  

Dr Charlotte Woodford, fellow in German at Cambridge University, tells the story of the woman who won Martin Luther's heart. If ever there were a power behind the throne, none was stronger than Katharina von Bora. Known as 'The Lutherine', this former nun found her true vocation as Luther's 'Power-Frau,' arguing the finer points of Theology with him as well as raising their six children and providing hospitality for Luther's fellow-reformers in Wittenberg. Luther had told friends he didn't intend to take a wife, and when he eventually decided to marry Katharina he wrote to a friend that he did not feel 'passionate love' for her. But later he described her in the most glowing terms possible for a biblically-minded theologian, comparing his devotion to her with that which he felt for one of St Paul's epistles. 'The epistle to the Galatians is my dear epistle. I have put my confidence in it. It is my Katy von Bora'. Producer: Rosie Dawson Part of Radio 3's Breaking Free series of programmes exploring Martin Luther's Revolution.

The Essay 0

Thomas Muntzer  

Thomas Muntzer was a fire and brimstone apocalyptic preacher and reformer who was more popular than Martin Luther in his day. As leader of 'The Peasants' War' in 1525 he is hailed as the forerunner of Communist revolutionaries. Though not a communist himself, he had no respect for the social hierarchy - neither princes, dukes, bishops nor civic dignitaries and this was based on his belief that every man was equal before God. It was the task of princes to wield the sword on the side of God - but with the people and not against the people. He initially saw Luther as a comrade-in-arms but he went on to write two major pamphlets against Luther in 1524 describing him as 'soft-living flesh', 'Dr Liar', 'the Wittenberg Pope' and worse. Luther denounced him as a devil and Thomas Muntzer ended up losing his head. Edinburgh writer Andy Drummond profiles the man that Luther later admitted had been his most dangerous opponent. Producer: Rosie Dawson Part of Radio 3's Breaking Free series of programmes exploring Martin Luther's Revolution.

The Essay 0

Philip Melanchthon  

Brian Cummings on the story of Philip Melanchthon, who was Luther's right-hand man.

The Essay 0

Johann Walther  

Dr Stephen Rose discusses Johann Walther, the man behind Luther's musical Reformation.

The Essay 0

Katharina von Bora  

Charlotte Woodford on the contribution of Katharina von Bora to Luther's Reformation.

The Essay 0

Thomas Muntzer  

Andy Drummond on Thomas Muntzer, the failed revolutionary of the Reformation.

The Essay 0

Martin Luther  

Lyndal Roper profiles the brilliant and flawed father of the Reformation, Martin Luther.

The Essay 0

Martin Luther  

Martin Luther is a larger than life figure, a difficult hero who escapes any pigeon-holes you might try to stuff him into. Over the last five hundred years he has been made into a nationalist hero, the founder of the German language, the original pater familias of the pious parsonage, the man who ushered in the modern era. He was a complex character, an angry anti-Semite who made enemies easily; he was also brilliant, courageous, and revolutionary. In the first of five essays this week which look at the most influential figures who brought about the Reformation, Lyndal Roper, Regius Professor of History at Oxford University, profiles the man who has caused her so much fascination and delight and frustration. Producer: Rosie Dawson Part of Radio 3's Breaking Free series of programmes exploring Martin Luther's Revolution.

The Essay 0

Late Style: Penelope Lively  

Thoughts on writing fiction as you get older from the novelist Penelope Lively.

The Essay 0

Late Style: Douglas Dunn  

Writing back the years: thoughts on poetry after retirement by Douglas Dunn.

The Essay 0

Late Style: Diana Hendry  

Writing age: thoughts on keeping going by Diana Hendry.

The Essay 0

Late Style: Paul Bailey  

The novelist Paul Bailey discusses writing in his ninth decade.

The Essay 0

Late Style: Vicki Feaver  

Writing as you get older: thoughts from Vicki Feaver.

The Essay 0

Vicki Feaver  

Writing as you get older: thoughts from Vicki Feaver inspired by a commission from the Scottish Poetry Library. What does it mean to be creatively active for long enough to have a late style? Do not tell me of the wisdom of old men, the elderly and near-mad King Lear says, but rather of their folly. Late Beethoven stared human extinction in the face and composed music of stark clarified beauty; late Rubens painted with a looser more sensuous brush stroke - was he remembering the flesh of his younger life or was his arthritis affecting his grip? Late style for writer might include a maturation of style, a relaxing into the wisdom of age and experience, but it might also mean struggling to hold onto your gifts, and writing through illness and through grief. A week of essays from three poets and two novelists. Producer: Tim Dee.

The Essay 0

0:00/0:00
Video player is in betaClose