Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

T.V. Donne speaks to the people

Today on Vulpes Libris, we have a special podcast by Extremely Eminent (and Personable) Historian T.V. Donne, who kindly agreed to speak to us even though he thinks this is radio and therefore beneath him.  For those who are simply too overcome at the thought of hearing the great man to cope with the spoken word, scroll down for the transcript.  I apologise for the slight sound quality issue: we had a little problem with the killer app.



Good day. My name is Professor T.V. Donne and you probably know me from, well, everywhere; but most recently my groundbreaking documentary series Behemoth: How the First World is Soaring, Propelled Ever Upwards by the Invisible Fist of the Market.

Now, you might reasonably ask yourself why, having reached the Olympic heights of television fame, I would be here messing about with such a limited and frankly backwards medium as radio. You see, I bumped into an old colleague in the street just after the first episode of Behemoth was aired and he said, my God, Donne, you just have the answer to everything, don’t you? And I thought to myself, do you know, I believe I do. And who needs my wisdom more than the poor, benighted souls who either don’t own a television or, for some perverse reason, prefer not to use it? Besides, I would be very remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that, for the more romantic and susceptible members of my audience, my particular brand of male pulchritude might be so dazzling as to tragically obscure the argument at hand. With all this in mind, I decided to put myself at the disposal of the humble listening public in order to answer any questions that may arise in their barren little lives.

You can’t see me, but you should know that I am looking very serious right now.

My first question is from Leo Smith of Humberside, who asks: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Ah. Counter-history. Excellent.

Now, in considering a question like this, we have to take into account a number of variables. Does the woodchuck operate in the context of modern liberal capitalism or another, inferior mode of production? Is this a hard-working Western woodchuck with a good Protestant work ethic—although unburdened, I would hope, by actual theology—or does he have the misfortune to be born into another, less ideal cultural context? He could even be female. The possibilities are endless.

For the purposes of our analysis, let’s posit a male woodchuck from an industrialised economy somewhere in the Western world. Assuming a steadily growing wood supply—and, despite what certain people on the Left may say, there is no reason to assume otherwise—he could theoretically chuck an infinite amount of wood. Now, the alarmists among us might claim that the woodchuck’s output would necessarily be subject to factors beyond his control: ill-health, for example, or advancing age. Outright pessimists might even expect him to die, possibly from overwork. However, I have never seen a dead woodchuck and I say that, until we do, we can safely continue to trust in the inexhaustible productive energy of the glorious Western woodchuck.

I hope that puts your mind at ease, Leo Smith of Humberside.

Dr. Kate Macdonald of Brussels asks: Why do television historians, by which I mean you, seem to wear the same outfit over and over again? Is it a question of continuity, or just a lack of imagination?

Kate, Kate, Kate. I am flattered that you pay so much attention to my wardrobe. However, the answer to your question is very simple. It is, as you say, primarily about continuity. While my television appearances may seem to flow effortlessly, there is in fact a considerable amount of shooting and re-shooting and editing involved. Not even I am perfect, Kate. And it would look pretty bloody silly if I ran boyishly up the steps of Chichen Itza wearing an immaculate white shirt and sauntered back down again attired in a soft, flattering dove grey. For that reason, when filming, I tend to favour well-cut chinos and a selection of identical shirts.

Besides, I look fantastic in chinos. Have you seen my arse?

Next up, a methodological question from Perdita in Glenrothes, who wants to know why I talk about the West so much.

Well, Perdita—and it’s important you know that I am stroking a wayward lock of hair off my forehead as I say this—there are many very sound reasons for concentrating my work on the only part of the world that actually matters. But one doesn’t have to be serious all the time, so I will admit that I also like saying the word Western. Wes-tern. Wessssterrrrrrn. Try it yourself sometime.


And, on that note, that’s all we have time for today. I hope that my dazzling erudition has shed a little light in your particular intellectual darkness. This is Professor T.V. Donne, wishing you a very pleasant day.

Photo by Kuha455405 via Wikimedia commons, released under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. 

11 comments on “T.V. Donne speaks to the people

  1. Kate
    October 9, 2012

    *snort* Was he adjusting himself as he spoke too? Creaking leather jacket twenty years too old for him? Tears welling up at photogenic moments? Rugged features lightly dusted with bronzer? What a guy.

  2. Katie
    October 9, 2012

    Excellent. Could bear more erudition of this sort. Hope this will not be his last appearance.

  3. Moira
    October 9, 2012

    Oh dear. Sniggering is SO unseemly … especially at this time in the morning

  4. Melrose
    October 9, 2012

    Loved it. really, really enjoyed it, and that was only the transcript. A good start to the day. Off to listen to the podcast now!

  5. melrose
    October 9, 2012

    I thought there was something wrong with the podcast, but I’ve since found out that the rather lacklustre speed and presentation and monotone affect is indeed how Extremely Eminent (and Personable) Historian T.V. Donne does indeed speak, it seems to me, and there’s not something wonky with the podcast (or indeed my computer). Whew!

  6. Moira
    October 9, 2012

    Melrose – you’ve reminded me that I should have said – two parodies for the price of one … the podcast is splendidly (if worryingly) on the money … Should we start a whip-round now for the legal fees?

  7. elizabethashworth
    October 9, 2012

    It’s nice to see Vulpes Libris addressing some serious issues for a change. More, please!

  8. Hilary
    October 9, 2012

    I’m off to burn my chinos – I am not worthy to wear them. My protestant work ethic isn’t big enough. Is he appearing at a fringe meeting in Birmingham this week? If so, I’m going to dust off my Woodchuck Liberation Front tee-shirt and go barrack him.

    This is brilliant, both versions, so funny, but I just wish they weren’t quite so Lehrer-esque.

    *wanders off, still chortling*

  9. rosyb
    October 9, 2012

    Love love love! I think Good Kirsty and Bad Kirsty should invite T.V. Donne and his reviewing nemesis to have a showdown on Vulpes sometime. In the meantime I’m off to use the phrase “male pulchritude” on the next poor unsuspecting person I see.

  10. Rosy T
    October 9, 2012

    I hate to level this accusation, still less to do so within the hallowed portals of the Book Foxes, but I suspect this whole post of being some kind of elaborate spoof – intended, perhaps, to cast derision at that most pedantically pedagogic of British traditions, the TV Historian. Your hoax is a damned clever one, I’ll give you that – there is little to give away the less-than-authenticity of Professor Donne’s disquisition. But I think I have spotted the ‘deliberate’ giveaway. It is the alleged geographic provenance, is it not, of questioner Mr Leo Smith? Any truly discerning reader will know that Humberside has not existed since the Local Government Boundary Commission’s 1996 reorganisation returned that much-reviled upstart county to the arms of Lincolnshire and the East Riding of Yorkshire from which it had so importunately sprung. But jolly well done, anyway – you almost had me.

  11. Kate
    October 10, 2012

    ‘from which it had so importunately sprung’: what rhythm, what rhetoric. Respect.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on October 9, 2012 by in Entries by Kirsty, Non-fiction: history, Special Features, Theme weeks and tagged , , , , , .



Editorial Policy

The views expressed in the articles and reviews on Vulpes Libris are those of the authors, and not of Vulpes Libris itself.

Quoting from Vulpes Libris

You are very welcome to quote up to 100 words from any article posted on Vulpes Libris - as long as you quote accurately, give us due credit and link back to the original post. If you would like to quote MORE than 100 words, please ask us first via the email address in the Contact details.


  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
  • %d bloggers like this: