Native Californian. Knit awesome socks and mittens while listening.
You major in literature and you get over 60 and find time to catch up on all the "classics" you should have read. Hey, some of them are a real crock! This is the story I've been waiting for. How I wish my French were good enough to read the original. No wonder the French have taken it to their hearts! Most of us would like to get revenge or prove something. Most of us think we would enjoy unlimited wealth. This story is about a bright and good-looking hero who has been betrayed terribly by his closest friends. He has every reason to want revenge. He comes into great wealth. He gets his revenge very slowly after a decade of preparation. The bad folks are caught mostly by their own evil, even when the hero gives them a chance to improve. This book is delicious! It is set in a period of French history but the same story can be told many ways. Everyone wants a good address, the prettiest girl, plenty of bling-bling. In the first listen you are trying to keep everyone straight. The hero's friends become nobility with fancy titles and you have to recognize all their names. The Wikipedia article on this helped me. In the first listen you're in suspense. In the second listen, you remember being in suspense and hear new details. It must be said that the narration is absolutely top drawer, so good that you don't notice it. I love the way this author describes the decor and clothing. And I love Dumas for not digressing to show off his knowledge of whales or understanding of what went wrong in a certain battle, or any sort of fancy talk to prove he's smart and in the know. He simply tells a wonderful story with many details and many twists and turns. The ending leaves one in a good space, able to imagine all the good characters sailing off into the sunset.
I paid cash for this when I had no credits. For a dollar an hour, well, I don't know how they did it so inexpensively, but thank you very much. I gather this work is important to the women's movement and also as American literature. Being a lit major, I can now say I've listened. However, it will take another listen or two and some background study to appreciate the work better. Don't choose it for a fun listen; you'll be put to sleep, hardly awakened, with details of drawing rooms and calling cards and removing the hat and so on. This story is subtle, somewhat like Henry James. I remember wanting to shake the man in "Beast in the Jungle" and holler at him, "SHE LOVES YOU, LUNKHEAD!" That said, the story is almost embroidered on silk or painted with watercolors. The narrator gets the Southern accent nicely, but I never forget he is reading. Maybe this is because of the writing. He does read clearly and the whole production is quite flawless. So if your professor has assigned this work, download and enjoy. I know you will enjoy. OTOH for a really good listen, turn to Diana Gabaldon, Bryce Courtenay, or Alexander Dumas.
First off, this narrator is marvelous! He prepared for this reading extremely well, so that there is never a dull moment, though there are relaxed and flowing passages contrasting with the sex (yes, sweet sex and friendship) and fiery political stuff. Politics has never been my forte, but I have forced myself to use the little IQ points to pay attention to matters which might prove crucial someday.
I read 1984 back when that date was so far ahead in the future that it seemed to me and my friends that the time would never come. A ouija board told me I would not get married until 1983 -- which proved true, to a man I met in the back of a Greyhound -- and I was horrified! I think young people don't realize how precious life is at any age. "Respect life" has become a stupid knee-jerk slogan, but . . . ignore it at your peril. So this book is about a nice family man who edits a small-town newspaper in Vermont. Lewis alternates family events with town, county, country and world events as a different kind of government takes over our country, the insolent handy-man (not!) becomes local mucky-muck, scholarship and learning are overlooked and even ridiculed, and machine guns decide for death over life.
I enjoyed the many clever references in the book, little descriptions that seem modern. There is even a reference to television. It will take another listen to get more of these. An annotated version would help me. And I am angry that I will have to send for a print copy to get the last four paragraphs. For shame, audible! The book is timely because more of our kids are squeaking by their classes with multiple-choice exams. More and more seniors are spending their golden years playing stupid games on FB. I was accosted last week in an electronics store by a young Nazi with striped hair and big plastic fingernails who took delight in telling me that my camera is so old, they have no parts for it and furthermore I am old and ugly and low-income, a has-been, while she is sharp and strong and one happening chick! Two apparently castrated co-workers hung back and watched. I wondered if she had been watching too many silly legal dramas on TV where would-be lawyers with big plastic fingernails and mini-skirt-suits triumph in conference rooms. She did not pull out a machine gun, but I am old enough to make far-seeing witch-like predictions, and I was plenty chilled. People are being bullied badly world-wide these days in schools, on the job, and in senior housing. Something to watch.
Lewis has as many vivid and "liberated" female characters as male. I noticed that no matter how many restrictions, no matter how bad things got, individuals still found small things to take pleasure in, people to love, happy memories. A cook named Mrs. Candy who bakes cocoanut cake! A precious dog named Foolish! Although the book was written in 1935 and takes place in 1936 and on, Lewis seems to know already about Hitler's death camps. At least we do, and so we flash on them repeatedly. I thought often of the heartless military types who assembled in New Orleans after Katrina. You bet it could happen here! We need to have our fun 100% and stand up for other kinds of fun that other kinds of people enjoy. We need to pay attention to coverage of so-called terrorist events which are then used to support gun control. We need to watch out for labels; a born-again Republican type (or a damned liberal Democrat!) might become your best friend and savior down the line. We need to study new wrinkles in our laws that various courts come up with. These are scarey times. I found this book most refreshing!
I grew up on Golden Age Radio, and while I love to read, I typically consume more books via audio thanks to a job that lets me listen while I work. As an aspiring writer, I try to read a great deal of non-fiction in addition to a variety of fictional genres. I especially love history, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and old-style gothic horror.
The Canterbury Tales has withstood the test of time because within them, Chaucer paints character portraits of the kinds of people he met in his time. I have read both modern translations and translations that are closer to Chaucer's original, keeping in mind that English was a foreign language back then compared to anything we understand now. It's the kind of thing that makes Shakespeare far easier to understand. In fact, I had the same problem with Shakespeare and Chaucer both back in school in that I felt like I was missing a vital ingredient in truly being able to understand and appreciate them.
While it took some time to get through this because I was constantly comparing the audio with the printed versions I have, I found that the extra time was well spent. I have a love for the printed word, but I tend to learn and retain information better through audio. As much as I hate to admit it, reading something like this is more akin to literary scholarship than it is reading an anthology of short stories as it might have been in Chaucer's day. I found this audio version to be of immense value in that I could hear the stories perhaps as Chaucer himself might have told them to other people that he met along the way. The character studies become people, even if they are perhaps exaggerated here and there, and that sort of thing helps to bring both this work - and the history of the time in which it was written - to vibrant life. And now that my appreciation has grown enough to catch up to my curiosity, I can truly say that I understand now that it's not simply the age of the work that makes The Canterbury Tales the classics they are. It's the character studies and the stories that make them the classics they are.
As with any translation, there is the risk of potentially losing something. Advanced scholars might be more inclined to try the original versions after hearing this. As it is, maybe it's the style, but it seemed to me pretty close. Most of what I didn't translate well for me was more a case of not understanding some of the vocabulary of the age, which is why I kept comparing the printed texts; I had to keep looking things up as some things that were common in Chaucer's time simply do not exist in ours. Again, well worth it, I think, though I understand most won't take that kind of time or effort. Audio will probably help considerably. There's something about hearing things in context that help a reader to fill in the gaps. If you love old literature, or if you have a fascination with the Middle Ages as I do, this is positively a must-read, for through the arts we better understand our histories.