Stephen Fry - Education, Literature and Film

Stephen Fry – Education, Literature and Film



hi thanks for your time and you mentioned De Profundis is an intently poignant book what others have deeply shaped use or mentally spiritually and what are the mediums besides literature have you found of helped for growth inwardly my roots are in thrash metal but uh well I I'm I'm very fortunate as you are to be to have been at a university where you're given the one most precious thing that you need which is time before before work and serious business of earning a living get in the way you need time and it's the periods between lectures and tutorials when speaking to friends that you receive an education you certainly won't get one from attending lectures you certainly won't get one from reading or an essayist emailing an essay to a tutor getting back hastily read I mean I used to reply a poorly corrected essay badly read ill constructed criticism I expect better which of course was typical of my revolting cheek but it's true I mean they get you know they're basically not there to teach you they're there to finish their book and all graduates in the room will agree and so the education is you'll get is from your friends and they will recommend a book don't get my god I've just read this book it is astonishing they'll go what is it and I remember this acceptance have to be many times a book that to me is one of the two actually three there are three great books I think are the most underrated novels of the 20th century one is beware of pity by Stefan strike the Austrian writer which is a magnificent book it's extraordinary there isn't as well-known as you know I don't know other European novels of the period Thomas Mann and so on and another is under the volcano by Malcolm Lowry Canadian British writer which take place in one day rather like Ulysses which is of course with great influence and I would say the third one which has just slipped out of my head but of course they change every day it's a bit like top ten lists but certainly those two are very high on the list in terms of music I have to confess you know I had my period of loving you know I grew up with the Beatles so it was even my parents love because I mean they were on the news every day virtually at the time of their absolute height you know I remember you being the second news story of the day that Paul McCartney has announced that he and his wife have become vegetarian that's the news the national news is second item on the news and it was a it was a conversation opener you go into restaurant or in a bar or as I mean I was obviously too young to get him above you know what I mean being a hotel here someone Gammage on that has been really they go st. John that's better than than Paul okay well yeah because you know in the end his voice is better and so I know Paul's voice it's a bahaminy between me and you end up it's been these extraordinary conversations about the Beatles that went on forever and it didn't matter what age you were where you came from they were a phenomenon the like of which will never be seen again film I think and you can tell because I called it not films I've just got it film it shows you a really cool because it's film an enormous influence on me absolutely gigantic in fact I first encountered Oscar Wilde through through watching in black and white on the tiny television set which is the only television my parents let into the house when I grew up right in the middle of the countryside miles as Sydney Smith the great divine and the great the great wit and parson wrote when he was translated to a new living as they used to call it a new parsonage he wrote to his correspondent you asked me how things are here and I can tell you that his rather remote in fact I'm simply miles from the nearest lemon which is a wonderful thought and I grow up miles from the nearest lemon and and so all I had was my parents books and the fortnightly mobile library and one Sunday only on the television came in this film I just had to catch it as it was beginning Michael Redgrave singing in a bath and and it moved on and I was about 12 13 I had never in my life heard language used in such an extraordinary way I knew that music could move you to dance I knew that painting could move on to a kind of ecstasy of color and a symphonic whirl of form and shape and Composition but and I knew that language could make you laugh because of being a dad's army or whatever was on at the time but it never occurred to me that music could dance and sing and swirl in speech that the same the same medium that we use for asking the way to the lavatory or to order a pizza by phone can actually make someone beguiled and hypnotized in a way that is simply unique to our species I mean birds have song and even some animals create pictures but no one else has speech at the language you know the grunts and signs of an ape and nothing or we're an ape obviously have nothing absolutely nothing in common with human language and the fact that it is beautiful came as a huge shock to me the very sound of the tongue hitting the back of the teeth and the the the the rhythms and the patterns that it made and I remember one character asked another I hope you will not be offended Gwendolyn if I urge Sicily if I said that you seemed to me quite frankly the visible personification of absolute perfection I'm thinking my god what a sentence I hope I'm not offend you if I say that you seem to me quite frankly the visible personification of absolute perfection that's both the most seductive come-on line you would ever have as well as being very very funny because English language is divided into two Latin essentially as three is Greek which is reserved to technical things like the word technical or gonorrhea all the diseases or there's Latin which is used for a lot of things but for most everyday things there's what we generally call anglo-saxon which is a mixture of old German and and Frisian and Dutch and so on so when you make a proposal you use pure anglo-saxon I love you to bits I love it to pieces it's just anglo-saxon you don't say you're the visible personification of absolute perfection because it belies the feeling if you feel something you have to say it in anglo-saxon if you turn it into Latin you're translating deep emotion so it's a joke but such a subtle one you wouldn't really notice it you are the visible personification of absolute perfection you just say Oh get away oh shut up you can't mean it in fact articular C is a brand of infidelity in our culture how does it answer your question well films all kinds of films 85% of the best films ever made are in black and white and it's absolutely shocks me and many of my god children and young people I know we'll just go straight through a channel if they see a black and white film okay what are you doing what I'd seriously what are you doing it's like not reading a book because it's hardback I don't love your – come back and you will watch this film you will watch sergeant York you will watch you know as a blank of a good thing if you've not seen Casablanca you might as well just simply not show up to anything you don't deserve to live it is as simple as that so I have pleasures that are guilty of one's Led Zepplin just been fully released on the ice door I'm happy to say georgette Heyer the romantic novelist bizarre a thing to love but she's very witty and charming and the one that most causes people to groan the works of Ricard vogner yeah you're all here'sh but he is of course something you have to apologize for if you get to know man I fell in love lemon University and the works of Richard Strauss and Schoenberg and the post Vardhan Aryans I'm still struggling to think what the third novel is because I usually come up with them the top my head I mean obviously I adore the Great Gatsby that's a book I read every year I think again it's pretty much a must read it sounds of snobby thing to say but it's just such an intelligible pleasure that once undertaken you wouldn't come back to it again and again and again and again it's so perfectly written I set myself this task I you know like a lot of people think I can write I could put one word after another at the service of expressing an emotion or putting a thought forward I can do that you can all do that or you wouldn't have got into this University when we've got the a-levels you win you know you wouldn't have stayed here if you can't write you know whether it's in an essay form any other form even if you even if you're what used to be called very vulgar Leanne Oxford a northern chemist you can still say a dual blue color was precipitated and you know that's and I mean that in I mean that in the most caring way imaginable but but sorry I says to say we all know that we can speak and we can change that utterance into permanent speech which is writing which is a much newer technology how old is it I mean one five or six thousand years old it's not very old at all and so we what I do is I take a scene from The Great Gatsby for example or even you know that splendid might stand by for all occasions when like when you've got a cold you know Pride and Prejudice and you say well I know exactly the scene I must have gotten it how many times already so let's take take the Great Gatsby the scene where Buchanan takes takes Nick passed the ashpit to New York where they go to take a hotel room he picks up his girlfriend is the wife of garage mechanic you know I'm not gonna do any plot spoilers anyway they go into the hotel room and they get more and more drunk it's incredibly hot and he evokes the heat f scott Fitzgerald evokes the heat in a way that's almost unimaginable you've swept and reading it um and they have mint juleps and the girl who's blue Karen's mistress gets more and more drunken he's not good at handling it and because f scott Fitzgerald who was the principal himself died of it as did all American writers of the 20th century of any value whatsoever it's quite bizarre there were all alcoholics she starts saying Buchanan's wife's name Daisy this has done say her name she goes Daisie Daisie Daisie Daisie Daisie Daisie to stop it Daisy Daisy and then this is Pauling moment when he cracks her across the face such a thump you could hear it when reading it you can hear it it's absolutely horrible because Buchan has been built up very quietly as you know that he was an incredible football star at Yale or Harvard and it's you see I've claimed another book well I'm pretty sure I do yeah and so you know he's big and you sure realized it early through the novel he's been the way he moves has been carefully described by Fitzgerald to give this sense of mass and bulk he represents something so enormous the moment when he's hit and Nick's who's in kind of your consciousness through the book you just Carly so I've read that scene alone let alone the book time out of mind so sometimes I put the book down and say okay I've finished this sentence Nick crossed the room and sat down I know what happens now I'm going to write it so I write it alright how she goes up because Daisy is done say the name she goes Daisy stop saying the name Daisy Daisy Daisy Daisy Lizzy lift it back you know the bits I actually remember I kind of put in but the bits like don't remember I say this is what happens so this must happen then they must go down then someone calls for more ice now I put it in I go that's pretty good that is pretty good and then I pick up the book and I look at what Fitzgerald ripped I get off I give in I give in this is pure writing it like Mozart you just can begin and music generally is Mozart you know as well of course in bark I have a particular weakness from an called Glenn Gould who was a Canadian pianist extraordinaire brilliance but anyway that's enough I'll come back with the third book I said beware of pity under the volcano isn't it weird well we've all that we can all do this what the most underestimated work cell but mine is so underestimated I've underestimated myself and some another question I let my mind relax okay so probably only got time for a couple more questions which don't really know how long that might take that's brilliant

44 thoughts on “Stephen Fry – Education, Literature and Film

  1. I have to express that as an Indian chartered accountancy student I feel his views about "freedom of thoughts" are absolutely genius yet required and the way he addressed Oscar Wilde as King of Bohemia and Prince of all students was so poignant but here in India especially in CA course we are left with everything from misery to straight grown existential crisis and not with quality time for us to grow as an individual and experience that freedom of thinking hence acting like or rather being a bohemian is seen as we are flirting with our own future in horrific way. There isn't enough time for students to develop their own morals, values, and even thinking process. Everything is being told by anybody else; and it is not about 'how we should develop our brains, thinking process, values so that we could live with ourselves knowing what we are and accepting it' but it is about 'what we should do to live happy' and I don't know how this homogeneous living principles going to lead individual's life towards the contentment he so dearly hopes to achieve considering his individual differences. I'm not saying it is all fucked up; I am saying there is scope for betterment and for that matters wheel should be given in the hands of student or person who cares for them with his heart. Anyway I am sincerely thankful to this channel for these amazing videos and blessed that I'm in position to enjoy them.

  2. .
    “ …and I digress…”
    Stephen Fry you are so fun to listen to…You put me on such a roller coaster of ideas…you silver tongued savant.

  3. The Master and Margarita , I believe he said one time was another one of the novels he goes back to and reads over and over again. Perhaps that's the third novel he's forgetting.

  4. He's right about the interests of academics. In America, it's meant that students wanting a real education are abandoning elite institutions to those who see them as entrees to the elite.

  5. Nah Stephen I used to watch a channel that just played black and white movies because it didn't have commercials. Most of them were stiff lifeless bores.

  6. Stephen Fry taking a shit on his educators is really a pretty low blow. You don't learn everything from your friends, a tremendous amount comes from your teachers and the structure of the academic environment as a whole. He is also assuming that one will have a dynamic circle of friends, all of whom are engaged and interested in areas that overlap with their studies. I haven't found that to be the way at all. Not anymore. People aren't interested in being academically or intellectually stimulated. They want to take the fastest, most direct and least interesting way through, which means making no waves and having no convictions, get their paper, make their money, and spend the rest of their time making themselves look impressive on social media. He is so badly out of step with the times and he doesn't even seem to know it.

  7. The speaker's verbose commentary seems to bring on what some have conspiratorially called the "homophobic yawn" in some peevish Oxford boys @ 03:45

  8. Despite the broadside nature of his assessment – I have to say that I’ve seen Casablanca multiple times and have enjoyed it each time (including the four times when I was on board a trans-Atlantic flight between England and the U. S. I have enjoyed black-and-white film most of my life, my favorites being Some Like It Hot and (drumroll) A Hard Day’s Night, and I agree with Mr. Fry about its value.

  9. I'm very skeptical that most of the best movies ever made are black and white. I have been systematically watching the most critically acclaimed movies and only a few of them are in black and white.

  10. only time i have ever disagreed with stephen fry, 85% of the best films ever made are NOT in black and white, that may be your opinion, but it is clearly WRONG, the acting in the majority of black and white movies was terrible, they were theater actors no screen actors and it comes across very evidently

  11. he talks so much sense and yet no one told the muppet with the cough to get out!! or at least a fucking sweet!! dam right distracting

  12. Apparently when you are listening to someone who is probably more knowledgeable than you and is discussing subjects that you may never have considered in such depth it is more important to look like you're concentrating than it is to ignore outside distractions and meditate on what he's teaching you.

  13. I watched a sifi movie or something(dont remember) where at the end what was thought as highest power a few people possessed turned out to be merely a 'ticket' to watch(otherwise they wouldn't even notice what they're doing) another level of battle. I guess the reason those old literature including films are being forgotten is because people, with shame include me, are not striving for the ticket itself. We have too much cheap entertainment established.

  14. I wish I could be the pricks sitting beyond stage left and right yawning and sleeping through this. It must be so hard not maintaining their Geordie Shore hair cuts for a few hours.

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