The Podcasters

The Podcasts


Lit Bits on Truth

In which Litbits – never afraid to tackle the big issues – dons its metaphysical (and metaphorical) wig, takes a deep breath, and plunges into TRUTH in films and books. Joined by historical whizzes Alex von Tunzelmann and Hallie Rubenhold, the pod wrestles with JFK; Margaret Thatcher; Christian Bale; Keats; The French Revolution; T.S. Eliot; Shakespeare; a couple of llamas; and dear old Mel Gibson.

Questions that are pondered. Why did no one realise America won the Trojan War? Can Leonardo di Caprio play anyone not born in the 21st century? And if history is written by winners, then little wonder no one has asked Sven Goran Erikkson to direct a movie.

Hallie Rubenhold is a novelist and historian. She is the author of The Covent Garden Ladies: Pimp General Jack and the extraordinary story of Harris’ List (2005), which was adapted for TV on BBC4; Lady Worsley’s Whim; An Eighteenth Century Tale of Sex, Scandal and Divorce (2008); and Mistress of My Fate; The Confessions of Henrietta Lightfoot (2011). For more of Hallie, point your little cursor here.

Alex von Tunzelmann is the author of Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire (2007), and Red Heat. Conspiracy, Murder, and the Cold War in the Caribbean (2011). She writes the ‘Reel History’ column for The Guardian, on popular films and historical accuracy. For Alex’s website, click here.

Duration: 44.40

Nothing but the...

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Lit Bitlette ... Pubs

Pubs! Taverns! Bars! Beginning a seemingly inexhaustible fascination with recording nonsense in boozers, our intrepid pod duo battle their way out of the The Lord John Russell to chat about Joyce and Chaucer. In the process, they struggle to describe Ulysses’ multi-vocal pub conversations, and scratch their heads about just how many whiskey’s Dylan Thomas downed before descending that great beer cellar in the basement.

Lit Bits also experiences its first brush with fame, as three not especially wise men stare us out during the pod. Pretty scary.

Duration: 5.12

Two pints of cider. Ice in the cider.

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Lit Bitlette ... Auden

In which are podders, Adam Smyth and James Kidd, putting their feet up after another exhausting 45 minutes of sitting on a chair and talking nonsense, are ambushed by Dinah Roe with a copy of W.H. Auden’s ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’. How will they fare in this on-the-spot close reading? It’s literary criticism, in the nude. Those of a sensitive literary critical disposition might want to look away…now.

Listen out for the sound of pouring wine. And possibly Wystan H turning in his grave.

Duration: 8.01

About suffering Lit Bits was often wrong. But only epistemologically.

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Lit Bitlette Live @ London Library ... Fear

Lit Bits ascends to a hidden portal in the London Library and finds not Thetans, but a creepily broken desk. Is this where recalcitrant members go to die? Is this what happens if you write in pen in the margin of page 423 of that Lord Byron biography? Is this what happens if you make stains on the red carpet of the reading room?

Adam and James gird their loins, brace their mainsail, and buckle their swashes to confront - FEAR. What books make you scream? MR James, Jeffrey Archer, and a terrifying revelation neath the undercrofting.

But what’s that noise on the stairs?

Duration: 8.15

Be ye afeared. Be ye verry afeared. Prithee.

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Lit Bitlette ... Computers 2.0

Greetings from the future, pod listeners. Admire our foil suits and chrome helmets. Our touch-screen soap dispensers. Stand well back as James Kidd plugs in, turns on and downloads a hi-tech second mini-pod on literature and computers. Think Keats. Think computer speech software. Think Radiohead. Think Nicholas Roe. Just think, listeners. Just think.

Astronaut food not included.

Duration: 6.47.

Fitter, happier and more deductive

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Lit Bits on Art

Art! In which our intrepid podsters Kidd and Smyth are joined by Dinah Roe and, freshly saddled, bound off in pursuit of enlightenment on the verbal and the visual. Are poems like paintings? Are frames like paratexts? How large was William Morris’ beard? And just who is Andrew Motion? Frank O’Hara is read the riot act, or at least just read. How do texts interact with images, and vice versa.

Dinah Roe teaches nineteenth-century literature at Oxford Brookes University. She is the author of The Rossettis In Wonderland: A Victorian Family History (2011) and Christina Rossetti’s Faithful Imagination . She has edited two Penguin Classics: Christina Rossetti: Selected Poems and The Pre-Raphaelites: From Rossetti to Ruskin. For more of Dinah, and to read her blog Pre-Raphaelites in the City, click here.

Duration: 38.41

Can you see what it is yet?

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Lit Bits on Pop Music

As heard on Resonance FM, Adam Smyth and James Kidd are joined by man of song Paul Myerscough. After an opening entanglement with Usher’s Climax, the podsters tap their feet to a merry farrago of (among others) Paul Morley—Kylie Minogue—Christopher Ricks—Ulysses—Bob Dylan—Keats—Shakespeare—and perhaps the greatest of them all, Andrew Ridgeley.

Hear the worst cover of Run DMC - ever (now that’s what I call rubbish). Thrill to the pointiillist synthesiser. And gasp as someone admits to their love for Bon Jovi and Natasha Bedingfield. The only question is: who?

Dancing shoes? We think so.

Paul Myerscough is a Senior Editor at the London Review of Books.

Duration: 43.58.

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"intelligent and irreverent ... cancel all social engagements and run a hot bath."

The Manchester Guardian

LitBits on the Wireless

Listen to Litbits on Resonance 104 FM on Tuesday evenings at 9 o'clock.