Say something about yourself!
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!
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
When I read reviewers write, “the best book I have ever read,” I thought yeah right! ‘must not have read many books. Well, I have read a fair bit myself and this is definitely one of the best written books I have ever read. I believe it is a book that one can read and reread and enjoy over and over and find something new in each reading of it. Not to be redundant, it is also one of the most fun and funniest I have ever read. It is a scholarly and even literary work, if you will. And yet, at the same time, the book is totally enchanting, witty and charming.
The legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table arose in the early Middle Ages, when England was just beginning to come under the influence of Christianity. When anyone retells the story, the author brings his own perspective to the tale of chivalry. Here T.H. White often appears to use the education of the young king Wart by Merlyn to educate the reader. While not in so many words, or maybe it is that: Merlin is a time-traveler. Not so much in the context of some science fiction novel but in his memory. Merlin is aware of past, present and the future. Certainly the author is aware of those times and uses those temporal events to tell his story. The book is in many ways a critique of mid-twentieth-century British culture. At first, things seem somewhat anachronistic but then we see that the narrator regularly references events and people in modern times to help tell his tale even more effectively.
Both T.H. White’s The Once and Future King and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings were written in the shadow of World War II, and both reflect that context to some extent:
“No. There is one fairly good reason for fighting - and that is, if the other man starts it. You see, wars are a wickedness, perhaps the greatest wickedness of a wicked species. They are so wicked that they must not be allowed. When you can be perfectly certain that the other man started them, then is the time when you might have a sort of duty to stop him.” (Merlyn)
Not only is T.H. White’s The Once and Future King full of anachronistic references to places and events of modern times, but it also plays fast and loose with time within the framework of the novel itself. Given the references to the death of Uther Pendragon in 1216 and the appearance of Thomas Malory at the end of the story, Arthur would have lived from 1201-1485. In effect, what White does is telescope almost three hundred years of English history and social development into the backdrop of a single narrative.
The book is long. But multiple versions of the story of King Arthur are considered within its covers so how short can it be? No, this is the best of several interpretations of the legend and it is not too long. While much of the book’s ending dwells on allegory, philosophy and social commentary, it is done with and eloquence and prose that is hard to compare with.
One of the young reviewers of this book that I found tried to figure out the audience for for whom the author intended and concluded there were many. I agree:
For children and young adults-
“I have been thinking ... about Might and Right. I don’t think things ought to be done because you are able to do them. I think they should be done because you ought to do them.” (Arthur). One of the central themes of the book is War: Right and Might.
On one level, both Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and T.H.
White’s The Once and Future King are children’s stories, yet both novels contain very
serious social commentary clearly intended for adults. Who could argue though that the social satire found in these novels detracts too much from the ability of children to enjoy them. Could a child appreciate all that is contained within TOaFK? Certainly not. However, there are many stories in this legend and many that target the child in all of us. One need not read this entire book though I am sure a lust will always remain to do so.
No reviewer could possibly do justice to this book. How about some more of the author’s own words:
“The best thing for being sad ... is to learn something. That is the only thing that never
fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then - to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.” (Merlyn)
This is a story about great compassion-
“If I were made a knight ..., I should insist on doing my vigil by myself, a Hob does with
his hawks, and I should pray to God to let me encounter all the evil in the world in my own person, so that if I conquered there would be none left, and, if I were defeated, I would be the one to suffer for it.” (Wart)
The author writes a great deal about the evolution of man-
“Here, all you embryos, come here with your beaks and whatnots to look upon Our first
Man. He is the only one who has guessed Our riddle, out of all of you, and We have great pleasure in conferring upon him the Order of Dominion over the Fowls of the Air, and the Beasts of the Earth, and the Fishes of the Sea. Now let the rest of you get along, and love and multiply, for it is time to knock off for the weekend. As for you, Man, you will be a naked tool all your life, though a user of tools. You will look like an embryo till they bury you, but all the others will be embryos before your might. Eternally undeveloped, you will always remain potential in Our image, able to see some of Our sorrows and to feel some of Our joys. We are partly sorry for you, Man, but partly hopeful.” (Badger)
Much is written about human morality-
“Morals ... are a form of insanity. Give me a moral man who insists on doing the right
things all the time, and I will show you a tangle which an angel couldn’t get out of.” (Lionel)
This title actually includes Books 1-5 of T.H. White’s magnum opus. It is not so much about world-building per se though there is enough of that. The book is more about us as humans and our nature... our intellectual, psychological, social and even political nature. The book is philosophical, satirical with even a little theology thrown in. Not too much; just the right amount. If it is action that ye seek, knockdown, drag out fighting, best look elsewhere. This is one more about relationships and different kinds of heroes.
This is brilliant storytelling brilliantly read and performed. The narration by Neville Jason is as good as it gets. I could not recommend a book more highly.