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Sky To Sponsor Hay Book Festival

Monday, February 12th, 2007 at 10:51 by Sue Stewart

There’s finally been some good news on the book front this week. At least, I hope it’s good news. The Guardian Hay Festival, favourite of the literati, is getting an unlikely sponsor for the next 3 years: British Sky Broadcasting.  BSkyB’s Artsworld is to be rebranded SkyArts from 1 March and will offer daily coverage of the festival. How many people will actually tune in is anyone’s guess but at least it’s there. For now.

The festival’s founder, Peter Florence, told The Bookseller “The Sky Arts project will massively extend our reach, and enable us to bring the festival to audiences around the world. It’ll give our writers new platforms, and will be a really exciting development for cultural programming in the UK.”

So I’m getting a bit confused about Rupert Murdoch. He’s been on my “power-crazed, profit-motivated megalomaniac” list for such a long time and this doesn’t fit the profile. I could understand his cancelling of O.J.’s book; Murdoch’s never been averse to controversy when it’s likely to bump up sales, but it seemed likely to have the opposite effect this time so naturally he’d go in for some judicious plug-pulling. But sponsoring a literary festival?

My world view has taken another knock recently, too - but this time in the opposite direction. The Times, no less, talked about Professor Pierre Bayard’s book “Comment Parler des Livres que l’on n’a pas Lus” (”How to Talk about Books that You Haven’t Read”). As Professor Bayard lectures on the connection between literature and psychoanalysis at the Paris University, finding that he’s not really bothered about the literature bit is not entirely welcome.

It’s not that I’m surprised, exactly - I always suspected it wasn’t physically possible to read as much as some academics claim to and still remember them all - it’s his apparent cheerfulness about the admission that was a bit of a shock. Terribly unacademic. His even more cheerful publishing of “A Blaggers Guide To Lit” (my translation) is less of a shock as it’s said to be making him a lot of money.

I know what might put my world view back to normal - an amalgamation on Sky: Rupierre Murdard’s Blagster. They can give potted histories of every book in the Hay Festival. Then they could do a 3 Minute Shakespeare (after all, the Beeb did 60 Second Shakespeare, so why not?) And in the wake of calls to slim down classics to make them more accessible, we might also get 3 Minute Dickens, 3 Minute Zola, even 3 Minute Dostoevsky. 

Scarily enough, I think I’d quite like to see them. The 3 Minute James Joyce might prove a book too far, though.

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2 Comments on “Sky To Sponsor Hay Book Festival”

  1. Eliza E. Lanyard Says:

    Do you think we’ll ever have a 3 minute Danielle Steele or Jackie Collins? *grin*

  2. Sue Stewart Says:

    Nah. Maybe a 30 second one, though ;-)

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