Louis MacNeice: The Classical Radio Plays

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-08-24
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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This volume presents eleven radio scripts written and produced by the poet and writer Louis MacNeice (1907-1963) over the span of his twenty-year career at the BBC, during which he wrote and produced well over a hundred radio scripts on an impressively wide variety of subjects. This volume's selection of scripts, all but one of which is published for the first time, illustrates the various ways that MacNeice re-worked one particular and recurrent source of material for radio broadcast -- ancient Greek and Roman history and literature. The volume thus seeks to explore MacNeice's literary relationship with classical antiquity, including engagements with authors such as Homer, Thucydides, Aristophanes, Xenophon, Petronius, Apuleius, and Horace, in a variety of types of programmes from wartime propaganda work, which used ancient Greek history to comment on the international situation, to lighter entertainment programmes drawing on the Roman novel. MacNeice's educational background in classics, combined with his skill as a writer and his ability in exploring radio's potential for creative work, resulted in programmes which brought the ancient world imaginatively alive for a massive, popular audience at home and abroad. Each script is prefaced by an individual introduction, written by the editors and guest contributor Gonda Van Steen, detailing the political and broadcasting contexts, the relationship of the script with classical antiquity, notes on cast and credits, and the reception of each script's radio performance amongst contemporary listeners. The volume opens with a general introduction which seeks to contextualise the scripts in MacNeice's wider life and work for radio, and it includes an appendix of extant MacNeicean scripts and recordings.

Author Biography

Dr Amanda Wrigley is a Research Associate on the three-year AHRC-funded project, Screen Plays: Theatre Plays on British Television, at the University of Westminster. She is also an Associate Lecturer for The Open University. Dr Wrigley is a cultural historian who works mostly on the interlinked histories of British theatre, radio, and television with a specific focus on the drama of ancient Greece on the one hand, and educational uses of theatre and mass media on the other. She is the author of Performing Greek Drama in Oxford and on Tour with the Balliol Players (2011), Greece on Air: Engagements with Ancient Greek Culture on BBC Radio, 1920s-1960s (OUP, 2013), and the forthcoming Greece on Screen: Greek Plays on British Television.

S.J.Harrison is Fellow and Tutor in Classics at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and Professor of Latin Literature at the University of Oxford. He is author of books on Vergil, Horace, and Apuleius, and of a range of pieces on classical reception in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
Archival Sources
Editorial Conventions
Louis MacNeice, Classical Antiquity, and BBC Radio: From Wartime Propaganda to Radio Plays, by Amanda Wrigley
Radio Scripts
The March of the 10,000 (1941)
The Glory that is Greece (1941)
Pericles (1943)
The Golden Ass (1944)
Cupid and Psyche (1944)
A Roman Holiday (1945)
Enter Caesar (1946)
Enemy of Cant (1946)
Trimalchio s Feast (1948)
Carpe Diem (1956)
Hades (1960)
Appendix: Extant Scripts and Recordings

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