Constructing French Cultural Soundscapes at the BBC during the Second World War
Chapter 3 - Translating Cultural Memory in Features and ‘French Night’ at the BBC 55
Chapter 3 Translating Cultural Memory in Features and ‘French Night’ at the BBC If through acts of remembrance – particularly through the transmission of texts (literary, visual and musical) – shared frames of reference are con- structed, then the job of the BBC in its invention of Frenchness was simul- taneously to acknowledge those frames and then make them understandable to a dif ferent and sometimes sceptical listenership. In this chapter I examine how the presentation of France was manipulated by the construction of a sense of Frenchness in broadcasts to the BBC’s domestic listeners with an eye, nevertheless on the eavesdropping audiences in occupied Europe.1 This is contextualised by considering the presence of French musical culture in London more generally since the presence of the Free French had brought a strong political aspect to the British capital and indeed to aspects of its music-making. Periodical publications in French such as La France libre founded by André Labarthe and the dissemination of resistance poetry – both in French and English – formed part of a complex of cultural activity in which French cultural memory was being constructed outre-Manche. It was a cultural memory that in its displaced translation became in Rigney’s terms, doubly vicarious.2 It is this mediated process of the translation, and displacement of cultural memory that is central to my analysis here. By concentrating on the BBC’s own presentation, conception and programme making associated with France I focus specifically on the creation of radio 1 BBC WAC E2/188/1 Foreign General/European Intelligence Papers/Studies...
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