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Tyler Cowen engages today’s deepest thinkers in wide-ranging explorations of their work, the world, and everything in between.

New conversations every other Wednesday. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Jan 11, 2023

Katherine Rundell is, in a word, enthusiastic. She’s enthusiastic about John Donne. She’s enthusiastic about walking along rooftops. She’s enthusiastic about words, and stories, and food. She has often started her morning with a cartwheel and is currently learning to fly a small plane. A prolific writer, her many children’s books aim to instill the sense of discovery she still remembers from her own unruly childhood adventures—and remind adults of the astonishment that still awaits them. 

She joined Tyler to discuss how she became obsessed with John Donne, the power of memorizing poetry, the political implications of suicide in the 17th century, the new evidence of Donne’s faith, the contagious intensity of thought in 17th century British life, the effect of the plague on national consciousness, the brutality of boys’ schooling, the thrills and dangers of rooftop walking, why children should be more mischievous, why she’d like to lower the voting age to 16, her favorite UK bookshop, the wonderful weirdness of Diana Wynne Jones, why she has at least one joke about Belgium in every book, what T.S. Eliot missed about John Donne, what it’s like to eat tarantula, the Kafka book she gives to toddlers, why The Book of Common Prayer is underrated, and more.

Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video.

Recorded September 2nd, 2022

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 Photo credit: Nina Subin