This new Blackstone recording of "Canterbury Tales" is wonderful and at times enthralling -- and also at times laugh-out-loud funny. Like the Charlton Griffin recording (also available here), it's the whole ball of wax: every tale, including the often-omitted Tale of Melibee and the Parson's Tale (which is really a three-hour sermon rather than a tale. Listen to it. It's good for the digestion, and quite a bit more interesting than it sounds). This translation, by J.U. Nicholson, uses a more old-fashioned vocabulary in places than the Coghill translation used by Griffin; but at the same time, it's also saltier. There are few crude names for parts or functions of the human body that Chaucer fails to use at one point or another, and most of them find their way into this recording. (For me, that's a GOOD thing!) One notable feature is that this is a multi-voice recording. Martin Jarvis is Chaucer, Ralph Cosham the Lawyer, Simon Vance the Squire; and that's only a few examples. Both this version and Griffin's version are five-star recordings in my book. Griffin's has occasional music, which this one lacks; on the other hand, this one has greater variety of tone and voice.
I've always loved W.H.D. Rouse's prose translations of Homer. They've been available on Audible for years in an older recording by Nadia May. Blackstone has just reissued them in new readings by Anthony Heald, and they're wonderful. Heald is fast becoming one of my favorite readers. His fast-paced, emotionally-charged style is perfectly suited to the breezy rhythms of Rouse's prose. There are other more poetic translations and readings of The Iliad and The Odyssey, but to my mind these are by far the best prose versions -- especially appropriate if your goal is to be immersed in the story rather than the language.
There are some things about Rouse's style you should be aware of, though. Mostly these are reflections of Homer's style, but some translators smooth it over; Rouse does not. Zeus is sometimes referred to Cronides, Cronion, or just plain God. Other characters are referred to sometimes by their names, sometimes by their patronymics (Agamemnon is Atreides, the son of Atreus; Achilles is Peleides, the son of Peleus). Sometimes, as in Cronides/Cronion, those patronymics have more than one form. In addition, Rouse often uses the word "good" to indicate an in-law relationship: a "good-sister" is actually a sister-in-law; a "good-father" is a father-in-law. To me this is part of the charm of the translation, but if you're not prepared for it, it can be confusing.
This is yet another excellent reading of "Frankenstein." There are actually several really good performances of this book on Audible. Simon Vance tends to emphasize the lyrical Romanticism of the prose. Others have other strengths: George Guidall emphasizes the brooding tragedy; the three-reader version from Blackstone highlights the unusual structure of the narrative; and Flo Gibson gives what I think is the only available recording of the shorter 1818 version of the text. (Most use the 1831 revision.) I seem to be collecting versions of this book without realizing it. Vance's reading is lively and clearly differentiates the three major voices in the book (Walton, Frankenstein, and the Creature).
I love literary fiction and I occasionally delve into non-fiction. I love books that are suspenseful and am really into well-told stories.
I got this download from Audible.com and it is brilliantly read by James Lee. I was completely captivated and transported to the world of Edmund Dantes and 17th century France. I did consult spark notes every 5 or 10 chapters, because when listening to a book of this magnitude where aristocrats are changing their names (and sometimes needing aliases) and getting titles, it could be easy to get lost and hard to keep track of who is who. But I never felt lost or dragged down by this story that must be the blueprint for every romantic, adventure or character study novel that came afterwards. The novel is rich with sumptuous prose and unforgettable characters and is on par with other masterpieces like Lord of the Rings. It has everything and feels surprisingly contemporary. The language is not stilted at all and I found it to be extremely witty at some points. With Monte Cristo the first superhero is created by Dumas as he seems (to characters in the book) to posses superhuman strength, wealth beyond imagination and can always see 10 moves ahead in this very intriguing game of revenge chess he is playing with the people who falsely imprisoned him. James Lee is an amazing reader, so if audible books is your thing, go for it. I was never bored and was sad when it all, finally ended. It could have even been longer for me. I can't imagine being satisfied with an abridgment of this novel...it is too rich, and why let someone edit it for you when you can have the whole, glorious tale. And if you prefer print books, then I really don't see how you could go wrong. The Count of Monte Cristo is a hell of a good ride and deserves every single recommendation it gets. This is one of those once-in-a-decade books that deserves a whole constellation of stars instead of just five. Fantastic! Bravo!