The Art Of Adultery



Natalie Haynes finds out why adultery remains such a regular subject in popular culture.

For centuries, popular culture has been enthralled by infidelity, moving from the ancient tales of Helen of Troy and Medea through to the popularity of modern day dramas like 'The Affair' and 'Doctor Foster'; along the way, few artists of note seem to have been able to avoid its dramatic appeal, whether Chaucer in Miller's Tale, Shakespeare in 'Othello' or Tolstoy in 'Anna Karenina' and 'War and Peace'. In 'The Art of Adultery', Natalie Haynes sets out to find out what the nature of that appeal might be, and also considers whether the way the basic story of unfaithful partners tells us anything about the times and places from where the particular stories are born. Along the way, she meets author Julian Barnes to talk about his own novel 'Talking it Over' as well as attitudes to infidelity in 19th century France; she visits Tate Britain to find out how attitudes on this side of the Channel were changing during the same period; filmaker Jane Gillooly talks about her documentary 'Suitcase of Love and Same' featuring recordings made by a straying couple for each other in 1960s America, and hears from novelist Stella Duffy about how recent changes in attitudeshave affected how gay and lesbian literature has tackled the subject.