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Start the Week

BBC Radio 4

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Start the Week

Start the Week

BBC Radio 4

129
Followers
883
Plays
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Weekly discussion programme, setting the cultural agenda every Monday

Latest Episodes

Faith in the modern world

The prize-winning writer Marilynne Robinson and the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams discuss belief, community and self-knowledge with Andrew Marr. The life and family of a Presbyterian minister in small-town Iowa is the focus in Marilynne Robinson’s quartet of Gilead novels. The latest, Jack, tells the story of the minister’s prodigal son and his romance with the daughter of a black preacher. Robinson’s work interrogates the complexities and paradoxes of American life, while exploring the power of our emotions and the wonders of a sacred world. Rowan Williams was Archbishop of Canterbury from 2002 to 2012. Since stepping down he has written widely on poetry and literature, from Auden to Dostoevsky. Earlier this year he wrote about the importance and influence of the rules of monastic life. In The Way of St Benedict, Williams explores the appeal and relevance of Benedict’s sixth-century Rule to present-day Christians and non-believers. Producer: Katy Hickman

42 min3 d ago
Comments
Faith in the modern world

Claudia Rankine and Margaret Atwood

Claudia Rankine, one of America’s leading literary figures, and the double-Booker Prize winner Margaret Atwood look at the world afresh, challenging conventions – with Kirsty Wark. In her latest book, Just Us: An American Conversation, Claudia Rankine reflects on what it means to experience, and question, everyday racism. Her poems draw on a series of encounters with friends and strangers, as well as historical record. Her work moves beyond the silence, guilt and violence that often surround discussions about whiteness, and dares all of us to confront the world in which we live. Margaret Atwood recently won the Booker Prize for a second time with The Testaments, her sequel to the 1985 prize-winner The Handmaid’s Tale. Her story of the fictional Gilead’s dark misogyny has retained its relevance after more than three decades. The world of Gilead was originally sparked by an earlier poem, Spelling, and Atwood explores the importance of poetry in firing the imagination. Producer: Ka...

42 min1 w ago
Comments
Claudia Rankine and Margaret Atwood

The Radical Agenda

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour movement promised radical change but ended disastrously with the 2019 general election. Labour insider and activist Owen Jones looks back over the last decade and tells Andrew Marr why the election went so badly wrong. In his new book, This Land: The Story of a Movement, he also reflects on the future of the Left in an age of upheaval. Sylvia Pankhurst was born into one of Britain’s most famous activist families. Her biographer Rachel Holmes argues that, although less well-known than her mother and sister, Sylvia was the most revolutionary of them all. In Natural Born Rebel, Holmes celebrates the radical life of a true internationalist. But politics can often appear to be a game between the radical fringes and the centre ground. The Times columnist and former Conservative Party adviser Danny Finkelstein has long applauded moderation. In a collection of his newspaper writings, Everything in Moderation, he argues that the political centre is less about ideolog...

41 min2 w ago
Comments
The Radical Agenda

Meritocracy and inequality

As inequality continues to rise and political and social divisions become more entrenched, Amol Rajan discusses what can be done to restore social values and a sense of community - with the political philosopher Michael Sandel, the award winning novelist Elif Shafak, and commentator and author David Goodhart. Michael Sandel describes how we live in an age of winners and losers, an era in which social mobility has stalled. In the past the answer has been to attempt to increase access by rewarding the most able, regardless of wealth or class. But in The Tyranny of Merit, Sandel highlights the deep inequality this has continued to perpetuate, with hubris among those at the top and humiliation and judgement for those at the bottom. David Goodhart calls for a radical rebalancing of what we value. In Head, Hand and Heart: The Struggle for Dignity and Status in the 21st Century, Goodhart describes how success, esteem and power have become narrowly associated with cognitive abilities. This,...

42 min3 w ago
Comments
Meritocracy and inequality

Nature notes, from farming to fungi

The first episode of the new season. Andrew Marr and guests stop to consider the natural world and the changing seasons. When James Rebanks first learnt to work the land, at his grandfather's side, the family’s Lake District farm was a key part of the ancient landscape and was teeming with wildlife. By the time he inherited the farm, that landscape had profoundly changed. In English Pastoral, his follow-up to best-seller The Shepherd’s Life, Rebanks assesses the revolutionary post-war farming methods - and the unintended destruction they caused. He looks at what can be done to restore rich soil and flourishing fields. Since the start of the pandemic, novelist and nature writer Melissa Harrison has been documenting the wonder of the natural world, bringing the sights and sounds of her Suffolk countryside to homes all around the country. In her podcast The Stubborn Light of Things she plays close attention to what’s happening on her doorstep, from the arrival and departure of the s...

42 minAUG 31
Comments
Nature notes, from farming to fungi

Brit Bennett on race, identity and protest

Tom Sutcliffe discusses racism, the traps of history and the Black Lives Matter movement with the American author Brit Bennett and the British academic Gary Younge. Racial identity, bigotry and shape-shifting are at the centre of Brit Bennett’s new book, The Vanishing Half. The novel focuses on twin sisters who flee the confines of their southern small town, and the attempts by one of the sisters to escape her background completely by passing as white. The social unrest in the US in the 20th century pervades her latest work, but Bennett is hopeful that today’s protests mark the beginning of real change. Gary Younge lived in the US for 12 years working as a journalist, before he returned home and became Professor of Sociology at Manchester University. He discounts the attempts by some in Britain to claim moral superiority over America in terms of racism. He argues that Britain’s colonial past meant the most egregious racist acts often took place abroad, and so rarely became an int...

28 minJUN 29
Comments
Brit Bennett on race, identity and protest

James Joyce

James Joyce’s Ulysses is considered one of the most important works of modernist literature. It is both celebrated and commemorated annually on the 16th June – Bloomsday – the day on which the novel is set. The traditional celebrations held in Dublin since the 1950s have been curtailed this year because of COVID-19, but Andrew Marr discusses the legacy of Joyce with the writers Edna O'Brien, Colm Tóibín and Mary Costello. Edna O’Brien first encountered Joyce’s work in the 1950s, and his writings of ‘the rough and tumble of everyday life’ spurred her extraordinary writing career. She has written a biography of Joyce, and her portrait of his marriage, James and Nora, has just been reissued. Colm Tóibín encounters the spirit of Joyce and his creation, Leopold Bloom, constantly as he walks the streets of Dublin. In his collection of essays, Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know, he looks at Joyce in relation to the writer's father. Mary Costello is a self-confessed Joyce obsessive. In ...

28 minJUN 15
Comments
James Joyce

Our coercive politics

The Coronavirus pandemic and ongoing protests in America have shone a spotlight on the power of the modern State. In Britain we find ourselves locked in our homes, following government instruction; and yet the authority for that coercion comes from the consent we give. This doubleness was captured by Thomas Hobbes in his political text, Leviathan, and it is the starting point for political scientist David Runciman's popular lockdown podcast on politics: the History of Ideas. He tells Amol Rajan how Hobbes, Gandhi and Frantz Fanon could help us understand our uneasy times. Humiliation is one way in which governments and authorities can make us do their bidding. And it also something we now do to each other in the court of public opinion, argues German historian Ute Frevert. In her new book, The Politics of Humiliation, she looks at how humiliation has been used to persuade and to control, everywhere from international diplomacy to British boarding schools. And she explains why the si...

27 minJUN 8
Comments
Our coercive politics

The Future

‘The future is a foreign country; they do things differently there’ – to misquote LP Hartley. Andrew Marr talks to Riel Miller, an economist at UNESCO, about the difficulties of understanding and predicting what happens in the future. Miller argues that individuals, institutions and governments fail to grasp its profound unpredictability, where the only certainty is radical change. He’s calling for a programme of future literacy, designed to challenge present complacency and improve preparedness for what’s on the horizon. But given what we know about the world today, and what we can guess about the future, is it okay to have a child? That is the question posed by Meehan Crist, writer-in-residence in Biological Sciences at Columbia University. She tracks the resurgence of Malthus and his powerful, terrifying idea that if the global population grows too large, we are all doomed. Crist unpicks the argument that responsibility for stopping climate change and safeguarding the future...

28 minJUN 1
Comments
The Future

Classics and class

The classics have never been solely the preserve of the British intellectual elite, according to the classicist Edith Hall. In A People’s History of Classics, Hall and her co-writer Henry Stead examine the working class experience of classical culture from the Bill of Rights in 1689 to the outbreak of World War II. This history challenges assumptions about the elitism surrounding the study of ancient Greeks and Romans, and Hall hopes it will expand the debate around the future of classical education for all. An understanding of the classics could also help people reinvigorate cynicism: from the jaded negativity of today, back to its initial idea of fearless speech. In his latest book, Ansgar Allen, returns to the Greek Cynics of the 4th century BCE, a small band of eccentrics who practised an improvised philosophy that challenged all social norms and scandalised their contemporaries. In the centuries that followed this exacting philosophy was hugely watered down. Today’s cynics, w...

28 minMAY 25
Comments
Classics and class

Latest Episodes

Faith in the modern world

The prize-winning writer Marilynne Robinson and the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams discuss belief, community and self-knowledge with Andrew Marr. The life and family of a Presbyterian minister in small-town Iowa is the focus in Marilynne Robinson’s quartet of Gilead novels. The latest, Jack, tells the story of the minister’s prodigal son and his romance with the daughter of a black preacher. Robinson’s work interrogates the complexities and paradoxes of American life, while exploring the power of our emotions and the wonders of a sacred world. Rowan Williams was Archbishop of Canterbury from 2002 to 2012. Since stepping down he has written widely on poetry and literature, from Auden to Dostoevsky. Earlier this year he wrote about the importance and influence of the rules of monastic life. In The Way of St Benedict, Williams explores the appeal and relevance of Benedict’s sixth-century Rule to present-day Christians and non-believers. Producer: Katy Hickman

42 min3 d ago
Comments
Faith in the modern world

Claudia Rankine and Margaret Atwood

Claudia Rankine, one of America’s leading literary figures, and the double-Booker Prize winner Margaret Atwood look at the world afresh, challenging conventions – with Kirsty Wark. In her latest book, Just Us: An American Conversation, Claudia Rankine reflects on what it means to experience, and question, everyday racism. Her poems draw on a series of encounters with friends and strangers, as well as historical record. Her work moves beyond the silence, guilt and violence that often surround discussions about whiteness, and dares all of us to confront the world in which we live. Margaret Atwood recently won the Booker Prize for a second time with The Testaments, her sequel to the 1985 prize-winner The Handmaid’s Tale. Her story of the fictional Gilead’s dark misogyny has retained its relevance after more than three decades. The world of Gilead was originally sparked by an earlier poem, Spelling, and Atwood explores the importance of poetry in firing the imagination. Producer: Ka...

42 min1 w ago
Comments
Claudia Rankine and Margaret Atwood

The Radical Agenda

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour movement promised radical change but ended disastrously with the 2019 general election. Labour insider and activist Owen Jones looks back over the last decade and tells Andrew Marr why the election went so badly wrong. In his new book, This Land: The Story of a Movement, he also reflects on the future of the Left in an age of upheaval. Sylvia Pankhurst was born into one of Britain’s most famous activist families. Her biographer Rachel Holmes argues that, although less well-known than her mother and sister, Sylvia was the most revolutionary of them all. In Natural Born Rebel, Holmes celebrates the radical life of a true internationalist. But politics can often appear to be a game between the radical fringes and the centre ground. The Times columnist and former Conservative Party adviser Danny Finkelstein has long applauded moderation. In a collection of his newspaper writings, Everything in Moderation, he argues that the political centre is less about ideolog...

41 min2 w ago
Comments
The Radical Agenda

Meritocracy and inequality

As inequality continues to rise and political and social divisions become more entrenched, Amol Rajan discusses what can be done to restore social values and a sense of community - with the political philosopher Michael Sandel, the award winning novelist Elif Shafak, and commentator and author David Goodhart. Michael Sandel describes how we live in an age of winners and losers, an era in which social mobility has stalled. In the past the answer has been to attempt to increase access by rewarding the most able, regardless of wealth or class. But in The Tyranny of Merit, Sandel highlights the deep inequality this has continued to perpetuate, with hubris among those at the top and humiliation and judgement for those at the bottom. David Goodhart calls for a radical rebalancing of what we value. In Head, Hand and Heart: The Struggle for Dignity and Status in the 21st Century, Goodhart describes how success, esteem and power have become narrowly associated with cognitive abilities. This,...

42 min3 w ago
Comments
Meritocracy and inequality

Nature notes, from farming to fungi

The first episode of the new season. Andrew Marr and guests stop to consider the natural world and the changing seasons. When James Rebanks first learnt to work the land, at his grandfather's side, the family’s Lake District farm was a key part of the ancient landscape and was teeming with wildlife. By the time he inherited the farm, that landscape had profoundly changed. In English Pastoral, his follow-up to best-seller The Shepherd’s Life, Rebanks assesses the revolutionary post-war farming methods - and the unintended destruction they caused. He looks at what can be done to restore rich soil and flourishing fields. Since the start of the pandemic, novelist and nature writer Melissa Harrison has been documenting the wonder of the natural world, bringing the sights and sounds of her Suffolk countryside to homes all around the country. In her podcast The Stubborn Light of Things she plays close attention to what’s happening on her doorstep, from the arrival and departure of the s...

42 minAUG 31
Comments
Nature notes, from farming to fungi

Brit Bennett on race, identity and protest

Tom Sutcliffe discusses racism, the traps of history and the Black Lives Matter movement with the American author Brit Bennett and the British academic Gary Younge. Racial identity, bigotry and shape-shifting are at the centre of Brit Bennett’s new book, The Vanishing Half. The novel focuses on twin sisters who flee the confines of their southern small town, and the attempts by one of the sisters to escape her background completely by passing as white. The social unrest in the US in the 20th century pervades her latest work, but Bennett is hopeful that today’s protests mark the beginning of real change. Gary Younge lived in the US for 12 years working as a journalist, before he returned home and became Professor of Sociology at Manchester University. He discounts the attempts by some in Britain to claim moral superiority over America in terms of racism. He argues that Britain’s colonial past meant the most egregious racist acts often took place abroad, and so rarely became an int...

28 minJUN 29
Comments
Brit Bennett on race, identity and protest

James Joyce

James Joyce’s Ulysses is considered one of the most important works of modernist literature. It is both celebrated and commemorated annually on the 16th June – Bloomsday – the day on which the novel is set. The traditional celebrations held in Dublin since the 1950s have been curtailed this year because of COVID-19, but Andrew Marr discusses the legacy of Joyce with the writers Edna O'Brien, Colm Tóibín and Mary Costello. Edna O’Brien first encountered Joyce’s work in the 1950s, and his writings of ‘the rough and tumble of everyday life’ spurred her extraordinary writing career. She has written a biography of Joyce, and her portrait of his marriage, James and Nora, has just been reissued. Colm Tóibín encounters the spirit of Joyce and his creation, Leopold Bloom, constantly as he walks the streets of Dublin. In his collection of essays, Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know, he looks at Joyce in relation to the writer's father. Mary Costello is a self-confessed Joyce obsessive. In ...

28 minJUN 15
Comments
James Joyce

Our coercive politics

The Coronavirus pandemic and ongoing protests in America have shone a spotlight on the power of the modern State. In Britain we find ourselves locked in our homes, following government instruction; and yet the authority for that coercion comes from the consent we give. This doubleness was captured by Thomas Hobbes in his political text, Leviathan, and it is the starting point for political scientist David Runciman's popular lockdown podcast on politics: the History of Ideas. He tells Amol Rajan how Hobbes, Gandhi and Frantz Fanon could help us understand our uneasy times. Humiliation is one way in which governments and authorities can make us do their bidding. And it also something we now do to each other in the court of public opinion, argues German historian Ute Frevert. In her new book, The Politics of Humiliation, she looks at how humiliation has been used to persuade and to control, everywhere from international diplomacy to British boarding schools. And she explains why the si...

27 minJUN 8
Comments
Our coercive politics

The Future

‘The future is a foreign country; they do things differently there’ – to misquote LP Hartley. Andrew Marr talks to Riel Miller, an economist at UNESCO, about the difficulties of understanding and predicting what happens in the future. Miller argues that individuals, institutions and governments fail to grasp its profound unpredictability, where the only certainty is radical change. He’s calling for a programme of future literacy, designed to challenge present complacency and improve preparedness for what’s on the horizon. But given what we know about the world today, and what we can guess about the future, is it okay to have a child? That is the question posed by Meehan Crist, writer-in-residence in Biological Sciences at Columbia University. She tracks the resurgence of Malthus and his powerful, terrifying idea that if the global population grows too large, we are all doomed. Crist unpicks the argument that responsibility for stopping climate change and safeguarding the future...

28 minJUN 1
Comments
The Future

Classics and class

The classics have never been solely the preserve of the British intellectual elite, according to the classicist Edith Hall. In A People’s History of Classics, Hall and her co-writer Henry Stead examine the working class experience of classical culture from the Bill of Rights in 1689 to the outbreak of World War II. This history challenges assumptions about the elitism surrounding the study of ancient Greeks and Romans, and Hall hopes it will expand the debate around the future of classical education for all. An understanding of the classics could also help people reinvigorate cynicism: from the jaded negativity of today, back to its initial idea of fearless speech. In his latest book, Ansgar Allen, returns to the Greek Cynics of the 4th century BCE, a small band of eccentrics who practised an improvised philosophy that challenged all social norms and scandalised their contemporaries. In the centuries that followed this exacting philosophy was hugely watered down. Today’s cynics, w...

28 minMAY 25
Comments
Classics and class
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