BBC Radio 3 has announced a new episode in its series Words and Music that will include the reading of an excerpt from the writings of, inter alia, Evelyn Waugh. Each episode involves the reading by one or more actors of a text on a particular theme, interspersed with music having some relation to that theme. Some previous episodes have been limited to the written works of a single writer. For example, “Greeneland” in 2016 involved readings from Graham Greene’s books on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his death. Other single writer episodes have been produced for T S Eliot and Dylan Thomas.
The episode that will include a Waugh excerpt is on the theme of “Arcadia”. While not revealed, it can be expected that this will involve a text from Brideshead Revisited in which the first chapter is entitled “Et in Arcadia Ego“. According to Prof Paul Doyle, the Latin phrase:
…appeared in many paintings from the Renaissance onward. At first, such paintngs showed a skull in the middle of a quiet, happy pastoral landscape, indicating that the phrase meant “Even in Arcadia, I, Death, am there.” Later the skull disappeared and the phrase was read as “I [the painter or viewer] once lived in Arcadia.” The skull in Charles Ryder’s study bearing the phrase indicates that Waugh was aware of this dual significance. (A Waugh Companion, p. 50)
This programme will be broadcast on Radio 3 on Sunday, 16 July 2017 at 1800 London time and will be available thereafter for a period of time on the internet via BBC iPlayer at this link. Here’s the description of what will it will include:
Fiona Shaw and Jamie Glover with poetry, prose and music exploring the vision of Arcadia and harmony with nature across the centuries from the pastoral visions of the Ancient Greeks Virgil and Theocritus to the anxieties of the American environmentalist Rachel Carson in ‘Silent Spring’, Stephen Spender’s exploration of technology coming to an English landscape largely unchanged in centuries and Robinson Jeffers’s ‘Carmel Point’ in which he imagines a time when nature and man can live in harmony. Arcadia includes work by Vaughan Williams, Aaron Copland, Haydn, Debussy, Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, Thoreau, Evelyn Waugh, Willa Cather and John Clare.
For those who cannot wait until next week, there is a podcast relating to The Loved One available from today on Southside Broadcasting in Middlesborough. Waugh’s novel is the station’s Book of the Month. The broadcast will involve a discussion among writers Jennie Finch and Michael Blackburn and journalism undegraduate Ryan Reed.