Listening to an episode of Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time radio programme recently, I learned that the first person to postulate the existence of black holes was not, as I’d always assumed, some twentieth-century genius like Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking, but an eighteenth-century scientist called John Michell.
I re-read Jorge Luis Borges’ short story ‘Emma Zunz’ last week. It’s a tale of revenge and I went back to it because I was writing my own tale of revenge.
There is a Radio 4 programme called Great Lives— I was going to call it long-running but by BBC radio standards, nineteen years is positively toddling along — in which a celebrity guest chooses a dead person whom they admire and/or consider significant as the subject.
Anybody interested in the history of space exploration will be familiar with the name of Wernher Von Braun and with the main points of his biography. They will know that Von Braun was a German aristocrat, SS officer, and scientist, who led the Nazi’s rocket development programme.
In his history of France in the 1930s, The Hollow Years, Eugen Weber mentions, almost in passing, ‘Of two thousand French films shot between 1930 and 1950 only a quarter survive, and most of those that we still view are more or less glum.’