David Baddiel - The Great Man Theory

In the 19th century, Thomas Carlyle came up with the Great Man theory - a view that history is formed by the impact of certain charismatic and powerful men. For Artsnight, David Baddiel travels to New York to see if there are any great men left, and whether the idea, embodied by huge priapic figures like Picasso, Saul Bellow or Norman Mailer, is untenable now. David talks to writers Martin Amis, Nick Laird, Katie Roiphe and Meg Wolitzer, to ask whether anyone can be called great in a culture where so many voices and opinions exist that anyone with a claim on greatness is easily shot down. Even those who might be considered great, he argues, can't be that absurdly masculine anymore, so can only achieve greatness with an ironic nod and a wink. So what has been gained and lost by the death of the Great Man idea?

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