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).
Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.
This truly is a revelation. I had read the book many years before, of course, but I had never really appreciated the way the story was told in correspondence. I suspect that lack of appreciation is a testament to Bram Stocker's skills as a storyteller and to my lack of acuity. Whatever the reason, hearing the tale told through the words of the correspondents makes it so much more intimate and exciting. It puts the Twilight Saga and True Blood in their place as pieces for their time and generations, but confirms the traditional view of Dracula, van Helsing and Transalvania as everlasting pieces of literature for all time and a mature audience. In the parlance of the present cinema, it's M15+ verging on R, but not for the sensuality (although that is there) or the viloence (of which there is an abundance), but for the themes.
As for the production, it is first class. For me it was Simon Vance and Katy Kellgren who shone; more so even than the named principals. Alan Cumming was as good as ever. Tim Curry really didn't have enough of a part to make a real impression, more's the pity. Van Helsing is really seen through others' eyes. So the Harkers stole the show. In retrospect, that's not suprising, but I had (wrongly) expected more from the principals. I also missed a voice for Dracula (because he is not a correspondent, of course). I thought Vance captured his intonation beautifully when he recounted the conversations between the Count and Harker, but with Borsi Karlof, Frank Langella and others in mind, it would have been nice to hear him speak. Alas, that was a legitimate sacrifice for the lierarary device that Stoker adopted and which this production brings to life.