The Essay - The Book That Changed Me

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20180402

How journalist and writer Hirsch changed her view of Jean Rhys's novel.

Journalist and writer Afua Hirsch discusses "Wide Sargasso Sea" by Jean Rhys, the story of the forgotten first wife of Mr Rochester in Charlotte Bronte's novel Jane Eyre. Encountering Rhys's novel aged 14, Hirsch detested her account of a Creole girl growing up in 1830s Jamaica. Re-reading it much later in life, she came to believe that "it is one of the most perfect books ever written in the English language. The sparsity of Rhys's painfully meticulous sentences, which so alienated the teenage me, touches me now - a writer myself - as the work of a genius." The novel helped shape her thinking on Britishness. "Race is everywhere. Its legacy is real and traumatic. You can't opt out of it or - as so many people in contemporary Britain attempt to do - claim not to see it."

Producer Smita Patel
Editor Hugh Levinson.

20180406

The poet and playwright on the fantasy comedy 'Pyramids'.

20180406

The poet and playwright on the fantasy comedy 'Pyramids'.

The poet and playwright describes how he was influenced by the comic novel "Pyramids". "When I opened the first few pages...it is no exaggeration to say my whole world changed," he recalls. As a twelve-year-old Nigerian migrant to London, Ellams found that Pratchett's hilarious fantasy world helped him in his transition to his new homeland. "If I could give myself and belong so completely and entirely to his world, which mirrored Britain, then perhaps I could belong to Britain itself."
Producer: Smita Patel.