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Literary Festival 2011 - Through the Soviet Looking-Glass


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Speaker(s): Francis Spufford
Chair: Professor Janet Hartley

Recorded on 19 February 2011 in Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building.

At first sight, the USSR of the 1950s and 1960s is a formidably remote and strange place for an early 21st-century western observer to try to inhabit: ideological, materially alien, suffused with obsolete expectations, and operating in its daily life and economic life according to rules that eerily reverse our own. But the reward for crossing this particular imaginative border, argues Francis Spufford, is the discovery, in the mirrorworld of the Soviet Union, of deeply recognisable human behaviour, and deeply familiar human hopes. Francis Spufford, a former Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year (1997), has edited two acclaimed literary anthologies and a collection of essays about the history of technology. His books include I May Be Some Time, which won the Writers' Guild Award for Best Non-Fiction Book of 1996, the Banff Mountain Book Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award, The Child That Books Built, Backroom Boys, and most recently Red Plenty. In 2007 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He teaches writing at Goldsmiths College.

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