Anna Karenina revisited

Anna Karenina Bartlett OUP“The text of Anna Karenina is like a Persian carpet of intricate symmetrical design, whose workmanship can only be appreciated by seeing the reverse side.”
Rosamund Bartlett

I had the pleasure of chairing Rosamund Bartlett‘s event at the Oxford Literary Festival yesterday afternoon in which she talked about Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, and the experience of producing the first new translation of the novel for Oxford World’s Classics in almost a century.

For people who didn’t make it to the event, I thought I would repost this interview I did with Rosamund last summer in my (fledgling) Conversations with Translators series.

Continue Reading · 28 March, 2015 · literature, podcasts

Craig Stanford on Planet without Apes


Chimpanzee

“Evolutionary success is not a birthright nor is it a guarantor of survival in perpetuity. Natural selection wrought the living ape species, and like all animals their time on Earth is limited by changing environments, the emergence of competing species, predators, and the like. Some species cope well in a variety of environments. Such generalists are often abundant and hang around for many millions of years. Other species lack such evolved-in versatility. Nearly all of the billions of creatures that have ever lived are now extinct, and the vast majority of ape species are just a few more members of the club. We may some day join them. But until that distant day comes, this Earth is all we have, and the four great apes will be our only extended family. Along with their very distant relatives, dolphins and elephants, they are the most socially complex creatures with whom we share our world.”
Craig Standford, Planet without Apes

Craig Stanford, Uganda, 2010Professor Craig Stanford’s recent book, Planet without Apes (Harvard University Press), looks at the plight of our four closest relatives – the chimpanzee, bonobo, gorilla, and orang utan – all of which have been driven to the brink of extinction through the destruction of their habitat, poaching, and disease. (2011 estimates put their combined numbers in the wild at between 300 and 400,000.) Craig’s message in the book is not despairing, but it is stark – urgent, coordinated action is needed if we are to avoid eradicating within decades these highly social animals whose intelligence and culture we have only recently begun to understand.

[Picture credits: chimpanzee – Craig Stanford; author in Uganda – Erin Moore. Reproduced with thanks.]

(This is the first in a projected new series of “five-minute podcasts”: I’m aware that I overshot that limit in this instance but the magic five minutes is probably a goal to work towards rather than a target to expect to hit first time… I could easily have asked Craig questions for an hour – I’ve long been interested in primatology – but I’m hoping to expand the podcast audience by giving listeners just enough to whet their appetite and also reason to go and explore the books discussed.)

Continue Reading · 18 March, 2015 · podcasts, science and philosophy

The Philosopher in the Kitchen: 2. Stewardship & einkorn bread

Here’s the second of the series of short films I made with Julian Baggini one hot afternoon last summer. In this one he tackles the vexed question of food and stewardship:

 

Julian Baggini: The Philosopher in the Kitchen – 2. Stewardship: Einkorn bread from George Miller on Vimeo.

Continue Reading · 16 March, 2015 · food and drink, video

Julian Baggini: The Philosopher in the Kitchen – 1. Practical Wisdom and hummus

Here is the first of four short films I made with Julian Baggini last summer and released last month to coincide with the paperback edition of his book, The Virtues of the Table. In this first film he asks: Do we really need to follow recipes?   Julian Baggini: The Philosopher in the Kitchen – […]

Continue Reading · 16 February, 2015 · food and drink, science and philosophy, video
Graham Farmelo Churchill’s Bomb

Graham Farmelo on Churchill’s Bomb

I thought this might be an appropriate time to re-post my interview with Graham Farmelo from December 2013 about Winston Churchill’s interest in science and in particular nuclear weapons. Click on the player above to listen to the interview. Here’s what I said about the book in my introduction: I first became aware of Graham’s […]

Continue Reading · 31 January, 2015 · history and politics, podcasts, science and philosophy

David Harsent on his T.S. Eliot Prize-winning collection, Fire Songs

One of the most enjoyable interviews I recorded last year was with poet David Harsent. I’ve long been an admirer of David’s work; since I first encountered in the early 1990s, in fact, when David was on the long-departed Oxford Poets list and I was the junior editor, whose duties were mainly putting things in […]

Continue Reading · 28 January, 2015 · podcasts, poetry

In tribute to P.D. James

Here, in tribute to P.D. James, who died last week, is my interview with her from 2011 in which she looks back over her career.

Continue Reading · 4 December, 2014 · crime fiction, podcasts

Atul Gawande on The Checklist Manifesto

To coincide with his giving this year’s Reith Lectures, I thought I would re-release this interview with Atul Gawande from 2011, in which I spoke to him about The Checklist Manifesto and how something as simple as a checklist could have dramatic, positive benefits in healthcare. “We have people at the frontline who have great […]

Continue Reading · 30 November, 2014 · history and politics, medicine, podcasts

Rafael Barajas on Mexico in crisis

In the December edition of Le Monde diplomatique, Rafael Barajas and fellow journalist Pedro Miguel have written about Mexico’s current state of crisis after the disappearance of 43 students from a rural teacher training college in September. It appears that they were handed over by the police to organized criminals who subsequently killed them. If […]

Continue Reading · 30 November, 2014 · history and politics, podcasts

Mary Bosworth: Inside Immigration Detention

“Following 9/11, the US and then the UK decided to introduce new pieces of legislation which were ostensibly aimed – at least to start with – against terrorism and concerned security. But they rapidly bled into other fields, in particular into the area of immigration. So we saw throughout the first decade of the 21st […]

Continue Reading · 4 November, 2014 · history and politics, law, podcasts

Graham Johnson on Schubert (I)

“Schubert had a response to words that is quite extraordinary. It’s the way that the interaction between words and music – which in a sense gives the song its own life – takes place that interests me. Josef von Spaun once wrote very perspicaciously that Schubert writes a poem on the poem, [by which he […]

Continue Reading · 30 October, 2014 · art and music, podcasts, poetry

Peter Carey: Amnesia on the fire escape

I’ve long yearned to conduct an author interview on the fire escape at Faber, and recently my wish came true, with Peter Carey no less. Here he is talking about his new novel, Amnesia: Peter Carey introduces his new novel, Amnesia from George Miller on Vimeo.

Continue Reading · 24 October, 2014 · history and politics, literature, video