The LRB Podcast

Weekly conversations drawn from the pages of the LRB, with hosts Thomas Jones, Adam Shatz and Malin Hay.

Dr Comfort, Mr Sex

Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite and Thomas Jones, 22 February 2024

21 February 2024 · 53mins

Gerontologist, pacifist, novelist, medical doctor and mollusc expert – Alex Comfort was far more than just the author of the staggeringly popular Joy of Sex. Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite joins Tom to trace Comfort’s life from evangelical child prodigy to the anarchist free love advocate who became emblematic of the sexual liberation movement.

The World's First Author

Anna Della Subin and Thomas Jones, 21 February 2024

14 February 2024 · 45mins

Anna Della Subin joins Tom to discuss some new translations of poetry by Enheduana, a Sumerian princess who lived around 2300 BCE and is thought to be the first known author.

Protest, what is it good for?

James Butler and Thomas Jones, 21 February 2024

7 February 2024 · 59mins

Despite overwhelming numbers and popular support, the mass protest movements of the 2010s failed to achieve their aims. James Butler joins Tom to make sense of the ‘mass protest decade’, sharing historical examples, theoretical approaches and first-hand experiences that help explain the defeats of the 2010s.

War in Tigray

Tom Stevenson and Thomas Jones, 22 February 2024

24 January 2024 · 45mins

Ethiopia is one of the world’s most populous countries, and yet the 2020-22 Tigray War and ongoing suffering in the region has been largely ignored by the world at large. Tom Stevenson joins the podcast to break down the history of the conflict, and explore why Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel laureate, has come to preside over such a brutal civil war. He also considers Abiy’s future intentions, both within and beyond his country’s borders.

Medieval LOLs: Chaucer's 'Miller's Tale'

Irina Dumitrescu and Mary Wellesley, 21 February 2024

17 January 2024 · 30mins

Were the Middle Ages funny? Irina Dumitrescu and Mary Wellesley begin their series in quest of the medieval sense of humour with Chaucer’s 'Miller’s Tale', a story that is surely still (almost) as funny as when it was written six hundred years ago.

Proust in English

Michael Wood and Thomas Jones, 21 February 2024

10 January 2024 · 46mins

Michael Wood talks to Tom about several translations of Proust, old and new, and the ways in which they question what the novel does.

New TV/Old TV

James Meek and Thomas Jones, 21 February 2024

3 January 2024 · 51mins

James Meek joins Tom to talk about a recent book by Peter Biskind on ‘the New TV’, reviewed by James in the latest issue of the paper. They discuss the rise of cable TV in the 1990s, the emergence of the streaming giants, the power of the showrunner and whether the golden age of television drama is really coming to an end.

27 December 2023 · 40mins

Tom Crewe, Patricia Lockwood, Deborah Friedell, John Lanchester, Rosemary Hill and Colm Tóibín talk to Tom about some of their favourite LRB pieces, including Terry Castle’s 1995 essay on Jane Austen's letters, Hilary Mantel’s account of how she became a writer, and Alan Bennett’s uncompromising take on Philip Larkin.

Byron before Byron

Clare Bucknell and Thomas Jones, 21 February 2024

20 December 2023 · 39mins

Byron’s early poems – his so-called ’dark tales’ – have been dismissed by critics as the tawdry, slapdash products of an uninteresting mind. Clare Bucknell talks to Tom about her recent piece in the LRB, which looked past the poet's famous biography to reappraise the youthful Byron’s mind in poems such as The Giaour (1813), The Corsair (1814) and Lara (1814).

Manutius, the Bibliophile’s Bibliophile

Erin Maglaque and Thomas Jones, 21 February 2024

13 December 2023 · 44mins

In Renaissance Venice, Aldus Manutius turned his mid-life crisis into a publishing revolution, printing books that permanently changed the way we read. Erin Maglaque  tells Tom about Aldus’s achievements, his monumental ego and his part in the creation of one of the most bizarre books in publishing history.

Camus in the Americas

Adam Shatz and Thomas Jones, 21 February 2024

6 December 2023 · 45mins

Adam Shatz explains how Albert Camus’s travel diaries shed light on his tumultuous personal life, his conflicted stance on colonialism and where his humanism deviates from his existentialist peers.

Patricia Lockwood on Meeting the Pope

Patricia Lockwood and Thomas Jones, 21 February 2024

29 November 2023 · 51mins

In June, the pope invited dozens of artists to Rome for the 50th anniversary of the Vatican Museum’s contemporary art collection. Patricia Lockwood was one of them. She tells Tom more about the surreal experience and why irony, in the words of Pope Francis, is ‘a marvellous virtue’.

What was Orwell for?

Colin Burrow and Thomas Jones, 21 February 2024

22 November 2023 · 1hr 01min

George Orwell wasn’t afraid to speak against totalitarianism – but what was he for? Colin Burrow joins Tom to unpick the cultural conservatism and crackling violence underpinning Orwell’s writing, to reassess his vision of socialism and to figure out why teenagers love him so much.

The Infected Blood Scandal

Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite, Tom Crewe and Malin Hay, 21 February 2024

15 November 2023 · 49mins

In the 1970s and ’80s, thousands of haemophiliacs were infected with HIV and hepatitis C through blood products known to be contaminated. Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite and Tom Crewe join Malin to discuss the findings and what they mean for survivors.