Share

cover art for The World's First Author

The LRB Podcast

The World's First Author

Enheduana was a Sumerian princess who lived around 2300 BCE and composed what is now regarded as the earliest poetry by a known author. Her father, Sargon of Akkad, is said to have created the world’s first empire, stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean, and as part of his imperial mission he installed his daughter as the high priestess of the temple of the moon god, Nanna, in the city of Ur. In that capacity, Enheduana composed hymns of remarkable beauty, often governed by a powerful authorial voice.

Anna Della Subin joins Tom to discuss a new translation of Enheduana’s complete poems, read some of them in the original Sumerian, and consider the ways in which they challenge our ideas of authorship and literary history.

Read more, and listen ad free, on the LRB website: https://lrb.me/enheduanapod

More episodes

View all episodes

  • Where does culture come from?

    01:08:15
    The word ‘culture’ now drags the term ‘wars’ in its wake, but this is too narrow an approach to a concept with a much more capacious history. In the closing LRB Winter Lecture for 2024, Terry Eagleton examines various aspects of that history – culture and power, culture and ethics, culture and critique, culture and ideology – in an attempt to broaden the argument and understand where we are now.Terry Eagleton delivered this lecture as part of the LRB's Winter Lecture series at St James's Church, Clerkenwell, London on 27 March 2024.Read Terry Eagleton’s lecture in the LRB: https://lrb.me/eagletonwlFind out more about Bluets here: https://royalcourttheatre.com/whats-on/bluets/
  • Remembering the Future

    38:26
    In her recent LRB Winter Lecture, Hazel V. Carby discussed ways contemporary Indigenous artists are rendering the ordinarily invisible repercussions of ecocide and genocide visible. She joins Adam Shatz to expand on the artists discussed in her lecture, and how they disrupt the ways we’re accustomed to seeing borders, landmasses, and landscapes empty – or emptied – of people.Find the lecture and further reading on the episode page: lrb.me/carbypodWatch the lecture on YouTube: lrb.me/carbyytFind out more about Bluets at the Royal Court theatre here: https://royalcourttheatre.com/whats-on/bluets/Listen to the We Society Podcast here: https://acss.org.uk/we-society-podcast/
  • Leaving Haiti

    43:56
    Since the 2010 earthquake, ordinary life in Haiti has become increasingly untenable: in January this year, armed gangs controlled around 80 per cent of the capital. Pooja Bhatia joins Tom to discuss Haitian immigration to Chile and the US, the self-defeating nature of US immigration policy and the double binds Haitian refugees find themselves in. Should you pay a bribe if it marks you out as a candidate for kidnapping? Can you be deported to a country without an operating airport? And if asylum laws protect people who are being persecuted, what happens when that covers an entire nation?Find Pooja's Haiti coverage on the episode page: lrb.me/haitipodFind out more about Bluets at the Royal Court theatre here: https://royalcourttheatre.com/whats-on/bluets/Listen to the We Society Podcast here: https://acss.org.uk/we-society-podcast/
  • Gurle Talk

    34:01
    Modern English speakers struggle to find sexual terms that aren’t either obscene or scientific, but that wasn’t always the case. In a recent review of Jenni Nuttall’s Mother Tongue, Mary Wellesley connects our linguistic squeamishness to changing ideas about women and sexuality. She joins Tom to discuss the changing language of women’s anatomy, work and lives.Find further reading on the episode page: lrb.me/gurletalkListen to Mary Wellesley and Irina Dumitrescu on medieval humour: lrb.me/millerstale
  • The Belgrano Diary: Half a Million Sheep Can't Be Wrong

    31:42
    When Argentina invades the Falkland Islands, Margaret Thatcher sends a huge flotilla on an 8000-mile rescue mission – to save a forgotten remnant of the empire, and her premiership. Onboard the nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror, Lieutenant Narendra Sethia starts to keep a diary.This is an extract from the first episode. To listen to the rest of it, and the full series, find 'The Belgrano Diary' in:Apple PodcastsSpotifyor wherever you get your podcasts.Archive:‘Good Morning Britain’/ITV/TV-Am, ‘Newsnight’/BBC/BBC News, ‘Falkands War – The Untold Story’/ITV/Yorkshire Television, ‘Leach, Henry Conyers (Oral history)’/Imperial War Museum, ‘President Regan’s Press Briefing in the Oval Office on April 5, 1982’/White House Television Office, ‘Diary’/James M. Rentschler, TV Publica/Radio y Televisión Argentina S.E, The Falklands War: Recordings from the Archive/BBC Worldwide, Parliamentary Recording Unit
  • Architecture Repopulated

    48:44
    Rosemary Hill, reviewing Steven Brindle’s Architecture in Britain and Ireland, 1530-1830, celebrates his approach to architecture as a social, collaborative endeavour, where human need (and human greed) stymies starchitectural vision. Rosemary takes Tom on a tour of British and Irish architecture, from the Reformation through industrialisation, featuring big egos, unexpected outcomes and at least one architect she thinks it’s ‘completely fair’ to call a villain. Find further reading on the episode page: lrb.me/brindlepodListen to Rosemary on the design of Bath: lrb.me/stonehengepodAnd on Salisbury Cathedral: lrb.me/salisburypod
  • Introducing: The Belgrano Diary

    03:32
    On 2 May 1982, the British submarine HMS Conqueror sank the Argentinian warship, the General Belgrano, killing 323 men. It was the bloodiest event of the Falklands War – and the most controversial.The account of the sinking given by Thatcher's government was inaccurate in every crucial detail – and the truth would only emerge from the pages of a private diary, written by an officer onboard the submarine.The Belgrano Diary is a story of war in the South Atlantic, iron leadership, cover-ups and conspiracies, crusading politicians and competing journalists, and an unlikely whistleblower.A new six-part series from the Documentary Team at the London Review of Books, hosted by Andrew O’Hagan.Episode One coming 28 March. Find it wherever you're listening to this podcast.Archive:‘Good Morning Britain’/ITV/TV-AmParliamentary Recording Unit
  • The Shoah After Gaza

    57:51
    Pankaj Mishra joins Adam Shatz to discuss his recent LRB Winter Lecture, in which he explores Israel’s instrumentalisation of the Holocaust. He expands on his readings of Jean Améry and Primo Levi, the crisis as understood by the Global South and Zionism’s appeal for Hindu nationalists.Find further reading on the episode page: lrb.me/aftergazapodWatch the lecture on YouTube: lrb.me/mishraytSubscribe to Close Readings:Directly in Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/3pJoFPqIn other podcast apps: lrb.me/closereadings
  • The Acid House Revolution

    01:00:46
    Between 1988 and 1994, the UK scrambled to make sense of acid house, with its radical new sounds, new drugs and new ways of partying. In a recent piece for the paper, Chal Ravens considers a reappraisal of the origins and political ramifications of the Second Summer of Love. She joins Tom to unpack the social currents channelled through the free party scene and the long history of countercultural ‘collective festivity’ in England.Read more, and listen ad free, on the LRB website: lrb.me/acidhousepod