Modernism explored in BBC radio series marking movement's centenary

Matthew Sweet will present 1922: The Birth Of Now on Radio 4 from January 24.

The BBC will explore modernism in a series on Radio 3 and Radio 4 to mark 100 years of the movement.

The centenary of modernism will be celebrated with programmes exploring the ideas, achievements and legacy of modernist pioneers.

Matthew Sweet will present 1922: The Birth Of Now on Radio 4, a 10-part series tracing ten momentous events from the Soviet Shabolovka Tower to the development of the first aircraft carrier.

Matthew Sweet
Matthew Sweet will present 1922: The Birth Of Now on Radio 4 (Matthew Sweet/PA)

Sweet, who will also present Free Thinking’s Futurism And Manifestos on Radio 3, said: “The writers and artists of 1922 made a powerful claim on the idea of the Now. And it still holds.

“It’s why we’re so deferent towards modernism, with its big monolithic texts and pure clean lines.

“It’s why, a century on, we still think of ourselves as postmodern. We’re still dazzled by it.

“So this series is going to put modernism back into its context. And if we’re not so dazzled, perhaps we’ll see it more clearly.”

The publication of Ulysses, James Joyce’s foundational text of the modernist movement, marks its 100th anniversary in February.

Other highlights on Radio 3 include writers Anne Enright, Colm Toibin, Mary Costello and Nuala O’Connor exploring the personal and cultural impact of Ulysses in The Essay.

Also on Radio 4, Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf will be read by Sian Thomas.

Matthew Dodd, editor of BBC Radio 3, said: “From Ulysses and Mrs Dalloway through to pioneering modernist music and the innovative art and architecture beyond Europe, the cultural impact of modernism cannot be understated.

“We’re delighted that this season will allow us to explore the intense artistic creativity of the early years of modernism while also investigating the difficulties of the movement and how its legacy still touches our lives today.”

BBC History also recently launched three online collections to mark its 100th birthday and tell the story of a “century of broadcasting”.

Dan Clarke, commissioning editor for factual at BBC Radio 4, said: “The 1920s was a period of swirling ideas and ideologies not unlike our own, and 1922 was a year of extraordinary modernist innovation in the arts and beyond.

“This season is going to take us under the skin of what was created in those years and why so much of it still resonates now.”

Radio 4’s 1922: The Birth Of Now will begin on January 24.

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