I love literary fiction and I occasionally delve into non-fiction. I love books that are suspenseful and am really into well-told stories.
The Book: Is a wonderful, funny and well-told story. Yes, it's a bit predictable but I forgave it that because this book is supposedly the first "English novel ever written". I'm not entirely sure what that means, but I had to read it just for that fact alone. I loved the little "coming attractions" before each chapter, and quickly learned that I did not need to put my full attention on the first chapter of a new book. It's mostly the author's musings about life in general and has little to do with the actual story. 5/5 stars for the actual book.
The narration: The men's voices were very well done, especially the drunkard Squire Western. He had me laughing out loud quite a bit and also relieved to not be his daughter. My only issue with the narration is that Sophia's voice was so quiet (maybe Mr. Danzinger couldn't think of another way to do her) that I literally had to rewind and turn it all the way up, which was a problem when her father is yelling at her. 4/5 stars for narration.
I saw another version of this book cut up into three volumes (so 3 credits or three times the price, whichever way you want to look at it) and if I had known I was going to enjoy it so much, I might have gone for the more expensive option. So... listeners: be warned.
Lolita is a truly special book..perhaps too special in it's use of language for an Audible format. While it is stunningly performed, I needed to purchase a print copy because the language is so complex, such a high standard of excellence that it simply goes by too fast in spoken format. While Jeremy Irons is the perfect narrator for this (and I have not seen his version of the film) too much gets lost. So: if you just want to be entertained and listen to a beautiful voice, do get the recorded version. But for me, I needed to buy it in print (and I ended up being about 50 pages behind in print) because I need to be able to coherently discuss the book for book club. This is a book that is poetry, even though it is about a pedophile, the language is so beautifully structured that it merits a print read. It is a 5 star production of a 5 star book, but for the serious reader (or student) this is a book that needs to be cherished in print. Also, the afterward is not included in the Audible format, and the reader for the forward was jarring to listen to. These are mild complaints, so it still gets 5 stars for the material and 5 stars for the performance. Oh, and unless you speak (or understand) French, you will need to either not worry about the French that is liberally spoken or you will need a print copy to translate. Nabokov does insane perhaps better than anyone else. It is a marvel to me that English is not his first language.
However you choose to enjoy this book, just do yourself a favor and read it. It is glorious and it's amazing that the author is able to take such a raunchy subject and turn it into poetry. I saw the 1962 movie when I was about 20 years old, so I did have to shake those images...but in Jeremy Irons capable hands, that was pretty easy.
Thanks for reading this.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
The Story of the Volsungs is a classic Icelandic saga, written in the 13th century from much older oral fragments of songs. Eirikr Magnusson and William Morris??? 1888 translation of the saga is fast-paced, coherent, heroic, tragic, and darkly beautiful. It is mostly prose, but includes many passages of poetry or songs. It influenced H. Rider Haggard???s The Saga of Eric Brighteyes, J. R. R. Tolkien???s oeuvre (especially the Silmarillion), and Poul Anderson???s The Broken Sword. If you like such tragic fantastic adventure fiction, if you are interested in Norsemen (Vikings!), or if you enjoy reading epics for their insights into human nature and their windows into different cultures, you should listen to this audiobook.
It begins with a useful 48-minute introduction by H. Halliday Sparling about the historical, religious, political, and cultural context of the Norsemen and of their sagas, which is followed by an 8-minute preface by Magnusson and Morris about their translation.
The saga depicts the interrelated fates of two great Norse families, the Volsungs and the Guikings. From the opening sequence, in which Sigi, grandfather of Volsung, kills a thrall who outperforms him in hunting and then hides his body in a snowdrift, the people in the saga are prey to overwhelming ambition, pride, envy, love, and hate. So there are plenty of battles, with kings killing kings and heroes dealing death till their arms are ???red with blood, even to the shoulders,??? and murders, brothers killing brothers, sons fathers, and mothers children, with poison, sword, or fire. The Norns have already decided the people???s dooms.
There are also fantastic elements aplenty: men change into wolves, nightmares reveal disastrous futures, magic potions make men forget, magical swords are re-forged, Odin interferes with advice, boon, or doom, and so on. There are many great scenes, like Sigurd talking with a dragon about its cursed treasure or finding the sleep-spelled shield-maiden, Brynhild, ???clad in a byrny as closely set on her as though it had grown to her flesh.??? The characters are compelling because they???re so heroic and flawed. Any character might be loathsome one moment and admirable the next, or vice versa.
The saga is not an easy listen, because many characters??? names sound similar and because of the archaic Malory-esque language used by Morris to evoke a timeless and heroic age (so the free online text might be helpful). But there is a dark, spare, grand, and beautiful poetry in his translation, and reader Antony Ferguson treats the text with restraint and fluency, subtly highlighting its terse turns and beautiful flights and rich alliteration, as in the following excerpt:
"So Regin makes a sword, and gives it into Sigurd???s hands. He took the sword, and said???'Behold thy smithying, Regin!' and therewith smote it into the anvil, and the sword brake; so he cast down the brand, and bade him forge a better."
I am very glad to have listened to this saga.