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Chibiabos83
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Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 9:37 am    Post subject: Mark Lawson talks to...  Reply with quote

If anyone didn't see Mark Lawson's interview with A.S. Byatt, broadcast in December, it was repeated on BBC4 last night and is available on iPlayer for the next week: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/epis...nj/Mark_Lawson_Talks_To_AS_Byatt/

It's the best interview I've seen in this occasional series, and I think I've watched most of them. What an intelligent writer (and person) Byatt is, and she and Lawson have a great rapport. I can't recommend it strongly enough. My thanks are owed to Mike Harvey, I think, for alerting me to it in the first place.


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Evie
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 9:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks so much, will catch up with that in iplayer - still can't get BBC4, I lost contact a few weeks back, and still trying to get it back - disaster!  So I no longer look at what's on, as I don't want to know what I am missing - hate watching TV on the computer, but will make an exception for this.

Wish Mark Lawson could be given a regular book programme on BBC television...


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Evie
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks again, Chibiabos - have just watched this while having my lunch, and it was fab.  I loved the bit about her writing while watching Andy Murray - watching the points, then when the point was over writing down what she had been thinking about - and Mark Lawson speculating on whether someone would dig out tapes of the match and analyse the influence of Andy Murray on Byatt's writing!  

And interesting about the reason for writing historical fiction - that it enables her to use words she loves but that are going out of fashion, and to write elaborate sentences - modern sentences are expected to be clean and clear and uncomplicated.

One to watch and listen to again, for me, as there was so much in it.  And it's made me want to go and read all my Byatt novels again!  I noted that she thinks George Eliot to be the greatest of all English novelists - perhaps that explains why Byatt is my favourite contemporary British writer, there is some subconscious link - and the influence of Eliot, albeit perhaps a vague one, might somehow be reaching me through her!

Anyway, great stuff.


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Chibiabos83
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd forgotten about Andy Murray! I intend to watch it again. I can't record TV programmes for posterity in the way I'd like - I have a digital recorder, but the programmes can't be extracted from the machine (or if they can then it will take someone more intelligent than I am to fathom out how) and so once it reaches the end of its natural life I will have to bid them farewell - but it occurs to me that I could record the soundtrack of this programme from iPlayer and save it as an audio file to be listened to again whenever. It's the words that are important, after all.


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Mikeharvey



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
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Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have tried to transfer programmes saved on my recorder's hard-drive to disc, but end up wiping them off.  Don't know what I'm doing wrong.
Evie, sorry you can't get BBC4. I suppose you must have tried re-tuning your TV?  That usually works.  At the digital changeover I got programmes in Welsh for a while. It took three of four re-tunings before I managed to correct it.


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Evie
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 4:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have tried retuning, Mike - I'm not sure what's gone wrong.  I used to get it without problems, it's been maybe a couple of months since I lost contact - and sometimes now when I rescan the channels, I lose it all together (usually it does get picked up, even though I can't actually get anything beyond a squeaky soundtrack that is trying to get through, and no pictures - that's on a good day - usually there is just a blank screen).  I seem to have lost everything on that 'mux' (I hate that word!), so the BBC radio stations are all scrambled too.  I thought it was because I attached a new DVD recorder that also has a hard drive - I read something about interference - but I disconnected that completely, and still no luck with BBC4.  It's possible someone else nearby has installed something that is affecting the signal - the BBC4 reception is known to be weak here.

It's a real nuisance, as it's such a good channel!  Things may improve when the analogue signal is switched off and the digital signal is stronger - but that's not for another 18 months here.  Frustrating - but I will keep trying to work out what's gone wrong!


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Ann



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
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Location: Worcestershire

PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, Chib, it was marvellous. She is a writer I have enjoyed so much that I kept wanting to push Mark Lawson out of the way and ask some questions myself. She is quite formidable but I love her openess to popular culture and her enjoyment of surprising things like Dallas. She mentioned Georgette Heyer and I know she admires Terry Pratchett which made the end of the interview, about Alzeimers, particularly poignant. The importance of thought in her life was fascinating (though not surprising) and inspired me to try to think difficult things through more often.


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Evie
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I saw her in Bristol a while back, in conversation with a neuroscientist, and they were talking about love.  She mentioned Georgette Heyer then, as someone whose books she clearly enjoyed.

I thought Mark Lawson was wonderful - he kept the focus on her writing, even when talking about her family and personal life, when a lesser interviewer would have been more interested in those things for their own sake.  And the fact that she taught him at Cambridge added some zest to the interview, I thought.  (Loved it when he revealed that she had given the students their exam results before they were officially supposed to get them - 'Hope they don't take your pension away now!')

I ought to read her book on Iris Murdoch.  I had an elderly friend in Bristol who had been writing a book about Murdoch, who was her favourite writer, but gave it up when Byatt's book was published, and I think never quite forgave AS Byatt for beating her to it!


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Ann



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
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Location: Worcestershire

PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Evie wrote:


I ought to read her book on Iris Murdoch.  I had an elderly friend in Bristol who had been writing a book about Murdoch, who was her favourite writer, but gave it up when Byatt's book was published, and I think never quite forgave AS Byatt for beating her to it!


That is really rather sad, Evie. All that work for nothing. I hope she enjoyed the process and appreciated Dame Antonia's work nevertheless.
The book I wanted him to ask about was The Game, which I remember us talking about a while ago now. I thought it was very revealing. I hadn't known about her son ( or if I had I'd forgotten) and it was stange how it was his death that almost caused her to write Possession. I must have a go at The Children's book although I had been concerned it might be one of hers that I found too complicated to enjoy as I did her one about the Tower of Babel. I shall look out for it at the library.


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Evie
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think The Children's Book is complicated in that sense - there are a lot of characters, but as a narrative it's relatively straightforward.  And it's utterly wonderful!

Had you read the first two Frederica books before attempting Babel Tower?  That might make a difference - or it might not!  

I loved it when she was talking about Possession, and the book she had really wanted to write - where the reader had to work out the poems and what was happening from criticism of them, rather than having them there to read for ourselves.  She admitted it would have dropped like a bomb, while what she ended up writing won the Booker prize and has become her most popular novel!

Yes, it would have been good to hear her talk about The Game.  I was surprised at how much she *did* talk about Margaret Drabble, and it was interesting to hear her say that they had agreed not to read each other's novels after the first ones, as it was too difficult seeing what each did with the same material from their lives.  And also that this was perhaps why she had written a lot of historical fiction.



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