BBC Radio 4′s Neglected Classics Contest

October 21st, 2009

BBC Radio 4 logoBBC Radio 4′s program, Open Book, recently launched a contest to rediscover “forgotten treasures of the literary world – books that have been overlooked or become inexplicably out of vogue.” The winner will be dramatized on Radio 4 sometime during 2010. You can find out more at the website they’ve set up: “Neglected Classics”.

To get their audiences’ thoughts cranking, Open Book is devoting two programs to discussions with leading U. K. authors on some of their own candidates for this prize. The first, broadcast last Sunday (18 October), can be heard online now at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00n6z0d. The second will be broadcast on Sunday the 25th. The ten books proposed on the two programs can be found now at the “Neglected Classics” page.

Several U. K. papers and magazines have noted the contest and invited their own readers to propose candidates in their comments threads. The Times covered it in their 17 October book section with an article by Adam Sherwin and commentary by Erica Wagner. Wagner proposes several favorites of her own, including P. V. Glob’s The Bog People, reissued in 2004 by New York Review Classics, and a collection of essays and lectures, The Voice That Thunders, by Alan Garner, whose The Stone Book Quartet has been mentioned on this site before. The Guardian’s Alison Flood also commented on the contest (“Remembering forgotten classics”) the day after the first broadcast. And the Reader Magazine’s “Reader Online” site picked up the idea, also asking for suggestions. I look forward to a rich crop of new titles to investigate and share with fans of this site.

4 Responses to “BBC Radio 4′s Neglected Classics Contest”

  1. Robert Nedelkoff Says:

    It strikes me as remarkable that Samuel Johnson’s Rasselas made this shortlist of neglected books. 80 or 90 or a hundred years ago, it was on the required-reading list of virtually every good high school in the United States (and Britain too, I’d suppose). And Lermontov’s A Hero Of Our Time is still probably read by almost every Russian secondary-school student – although, granted, it never has been a particularly big seller in English translation.

  2. Guy Savage Says:

    Rasselas and A Hero Of Our Time make my favourite book list. That said, I’d argue that if a book is in print, it isn’t lost (yet).

  3. Simon Taylor Says:

    Just wanted to let you know that my company are actually in the process of producing an audio book version of Rasselas. Anyone interested should be able to get it from Audible – we’re hoping to get it up there before the 8th November announcement of the winner but not sure if we’ll make it.

  4. editor Says:

    Thanks for passing that along. I’m a big fan of good audio books.

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