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1922 __ Broadcasting the World's Best Literature
Comment : “It has been for some time apparent that radio audiences are becoming dissatisfied with many of the amateur or semi-amateur performances. The novelty of music and addresses by radio is already wearing off, and thousands of enthusiasts can no longer be held spellbound with recitals by ambitious young soloists or the mediocre efforts of would-be entertainers glad of all the free advertising they can get. Only the best will satisfy, and the leading artists are now agreeing that their services can no longer be regularly given gratis. Eventually, it is evident, just compensation must be given to those whose real talent is to be broadcasted to millions. The artist is worthy of his hire, especially if the manufacturers of receiving sets are to reap profits from his services. But the problem of a satisfactory programme can be met in part if the quality of the literary features is of the highest. The purpose of the "Literary Vespers" given by the writer is to bring to busy people each week the choice passages of the world's best literature. The heart of each talk is a story that inspires, a story condensed to its essential human values, around which are grouped two or three famous poems, the whole being linked up with important current events. It will be seen, therefore, that there is something deeper than merely entertaining the public in these presentations. There is a permanent stimulation in the direction of good literature, an impetus given toward the reading of books that will build character. That the idea has been successful, there is abundant testimony, but the secret of this success is in the idea itself. Unlike the academic atmosphere associated with college and univer- sity courses in literature, these talks emphasize only the basic human values of books. Unlike the usual addresses before clubs and Chautauquas, they are not book reviews, not talks about literature; they are the literature itself. There is no attempt to cover the mere facts of an author's life, nor to trace the influences at work on his style. The virile message of the man what it is that makes his work of enduring value is always the heart and soul of the presentation. The task of selecting just the right portions of a piece of literature and of focusing upon them the light of sympathetic appreciation is a difficult one. To go a step further and select a group of poems of like theme with the short-story or drama under discussion, so that the whole shall illuminate a vexatious current problem, is perhaps the most difficult, as well as most distinctive feature of the talks. Linking up in this way the week's news items with interpretative comment on the literature shows appealingly the vital relation between literature and life. No matter how high on the roll of honor a masterpiece may stand, it is of little avail in building character to-day unless its message can be interpreted in terms of the living present. The current events, therefore, serve not only as illustrations of a contemporary literary theme, but add a timely quality to the literature of remote ages. They point to a universality of experience which binds the centuries together. [...] Frequently the literature selected bears intentionally upon a world, problem prominent in the public eye, such as the war against war, the idea of racial solidarity, efforts for industrial peace, and the objective in education. A programme of special interest to those interested in radio is one called "The Radio of Spirit," with selections from Kipling's story, "Wireless." The let-down in idealism after the strain of war is met by the talk "The Will to Live," which includes Maupassant's "The Necklace," one of the finest short stories ever written, together with Kipling's "If," Henley's "Invictus," and Clough's "Say Not the Struggle Naught Availeth." But whatever the theme, the core of every talk is a story, for the world is always hungry for stories. It may be a scene from a play, a passage from a novel, or part of a short story or fairy tale. [...] Shelley said that "poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world." [...] Under the inspiration of famous poems and stories, the solution of our personal and social difficulties becomes more simple. A mental attitude is stimulated that is in itself helpful in the adjustment of daily problems. One does not need to preach, but to show what clear vision the poets have. "The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings," sang Stevenson. But the selection of material is not limited to masterpieces of proven worth. Often a bit of contemporary verse or fiction, or even a passage from a campaign speech, will shed light oh a topic as well as a paragraph from some classic. The keynote, however, is inspiration rather than mere information; not facts alone, but high ideals. The world is our field, the living word of all times and ages our supply. And the choice of material for the talks has been widely endorsed not only for crystallizing' the ripest race experience into the most helpful form, but for directing attention to the reading of books that are worth while. From all sides have come expressions of appreciation that this type of service strikes home. People see how the inspired books really assist in the solution of the most perplexing difficulties. They testify to the balm and cheer to be found in the records of the best minds at their happiest moments, which alone constitutes great literature. They find a spiritual interpretation of current events, and, by analogy, a method of approach for their personal problems. [...]”. (Edgar White Burrill, In“RADIO BROADCAST”, Vol. 2, NOVEMBER, 1922, to APRIL, 1923, Garden City, N. Y., DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY, 1923, pp. 54-56)
Urls : http://www.archive.org/stream/radiobroadcast02gardrich/%23page/54/mode/2up (last visited )

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