Seamus Heaney is a wonderful poet and a wonderful reader: listening to him is like hearing the original poet holding forth. But the reading is abridged, in what seems more like a marketing decision -- trying to fit the audiobook onto a two-CD set -- than an artistic one. "Beowulf" could certainly use some abridgement here and there, and I wouldn't mind if there were only minor omissions; but among the episodes cut is the challenge that Unferth issues to Beowulf about his swimming contest with Brecca. This isn't just empty padding: it's essential to the characters of both Unferth and Beowulf. In many ways this is the best single recording of "Beowulf" available: why couldn't there be an unabridged (or at least a less-abridged) version as well? That would get six stars out of five. No other version comes close to the mastery of language shown by this one.
I don't think this is the best Aeneid on audiobook -- if you have to choose, get the Charlton Griffin one -- but it's not bad. The translation is wonderful: pithy, hard-hitting, and tough; it's worth having this one to get Fagles' take on Virgil, if nothing else. But the performance, though I liked it, is definitely not to everyone's taste. Simon Callow (or the producer?) decided to do it as if it were a one-man stage show, rather than a studio reading. If you've ever seen Callow doing Charles Dickens, you get the idea: it's a very broad performance.
On the other hand, Aeneas needs a boost. As epic heroes go, he's a pill and a half: dutiful to a fault, self-righteous and self-justifying ("well, I never actually used the word MARRIAGE, did I?"). Virgil takes received wisdom and the Grandeur that was Rome at face value, where Homer delightfully subverts everything he touches.
The pace is a little "stately," to put it politely. But of the many versions of The Divine Comedy available on Audible, the Naxos version has the clearest translation and the best music. (Short musical segments bridge each canto.) I don't know anything about Benedict Flynn as a translator - his work appears to have been done specifically for this recording and is not available anywhere in print, as far as I know - but it is a lucid narrative, and Heathcote Williams gives each line time to sink in.
Purgatory doesn't have the dramatic scenes of torture that fill Inferno, although some of the punishments are enough to make a tender-hearted listener squirm. It's a lighter place to visit than Hell: although there IS suffering to be endured, everyone who reaches its shores is assured of salvation, and Dante's relief as he encounters some of his friends there is palpable. People smile here. They sing songs and they make jokes.
There is poignancy here as well. Near the end, Dante turns to speak to Virgil, only to discover that Virgil is gone: he has returned to Limbo. He is the instrument of Dante's salvation but will never experience it himself. It's impossible for me to get through this part of the story without a sense of profound injustice; but it's Dante's world and it has to be taken as it comes, at least for the duration of the poem.
While the story is lucid and the images vivid, the problem anyone will have coming to this for the first time will be the thousands of allusions to classical mythology and medieval European politics. An audiobook is particularly difficult to get through in this respect: best to have some notes handy while listening (Guy Raffa's "The Complete Danteworlds" is a useful companion, but any annotated translation will do). My advice would be to take the notes lightly, though. Use them sparingly; focus on the words and emotions first. It's a dramatic poem with a spectacular conclusion.
An alternative to this is the Audiobook Contractors production, with Grover Gardner reading. That uses an unusual approach to the annotation problem, weaving short glosses into the text itself. If you do that, though, come back to this one later: the mood, atmosphere, and music of this version make for a great listen.
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Rumi's works are beyond time.
His books are lifetime companion.
the story of "the lion, the hare and the hunted animals"
Anton Lesser is the best narrator I've listened to so far!
He reads Rumi's works by feeling every verse deeply, and speaks with the spirit of Rumi!
Silent, pure, and peaceful.
"Accept this reading, make no argument,
Such milk and honey you too might be sent;
Interpreting throws back what you’ve received,
Due to a fault in it that you’ve perceived."
-- Mevlana Rumi