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Tall tales

Tall tales Giants of 18th-21st century literature

Giants of 18th-21st century literature

In the Tall tales series, Susannah Fullerton then Irina Dunn present lectures on some of the literary giants of the last few hundred years.

Susannah Fullerton: The first bestsellers

Travel back in time to an age when the novel was a ‘novel’ or new literary form and publishing was becoming cheaper and books more accessible. Novels rapidly became popular, even though some people disapproved of them. The term ‘bestseller’ is actually a 19th century one, but in 18th century Britain several books, including a non-fiction work, captured the public imagination and sold in vast numbers.

In her lectures, Susannah Fullerton looks at those first bestsellers, discusses their ground-breaking authors, examines their influence, and reveals why they sold so well.

Irina Dunn: Russian fiction writers past and present

Literature lovers will probably have read the great 19th-century Russian novels by Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, as well as Anton Chekhov’s short stories. In the 20th century, the writers known to the West from the Soviet period are undoubtedly Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Boris Pasternak and the satirist Mikhail Bulgakov, all of whom ran foul of the establishment.

The writers selected for Irina Dunn’s lectures represent some of the best in post-Soviet writing. Although they each bring their unique style and subject matter to their fiction, what unites them is an intense love of language and its power to challenge accepted ideas, to move the spirit, and to open the imagination to new possibilities of human existence.

Image: Henry Wallis Dr Johnson 1709–84 at Cave’s the Publisher 1854 (detail), private collection / Bridgeman Images

8 Tracks
01 Susannah Fullerton: 'Robinson Crusoe' by Daniel Defoe
02 Susannah Fullerton: 'Pamela' by Samuel Richardson
03 Susannah Fullerton: 'A dictionary of the English language' by Dr Samuel Johnson
04 Susannah Fullerton: 'The life and opinions of Tristram Shandy, gentleman' by Laurence Sterne
05 Susannah Fullerton: 'Evelina' by Frances Burney
06 Irina Dunn: A literary tradition - Tolstoy and his great-grandniece Tolstaya
07 Irina Dunn: The epic novel - Pasternak and Aksyonov
08 Irina Dunn: The Russian short story - Chekhov, Petrushevskaya and Ulitskaya