I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
I???d only ever read Joyce???s short story ???Araby,??? having been intimidated by the difficult reputation of his work (especially Ulysses and Finnegan???s Wake), so I was unprepared for how wonderful A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is???and how accessible.
It must partly be due to Jim Norton???s marvelous reading, so sensitive to and enhancing of the novel???s poetic rhythms and sounds, beautiful images, savory characters, and mix of comedy and tragedy. Norton, reading the base narration in an appealing and neutral English accent (to my American ear) and the dialogue in an impressively and appropriately varied range of Irish accents and personalities, helps to bring alive the cultural, personal, dramatic, and thematic meanings of every word in the novel. Many scenes have been imprinted on my mind: Stephen unfairly having his hands flogged in class and then screwing up his courage to visit the Rector about it; Stephen listening to a priest giving intense sermons on the physical and mental horrors of hell (Norton-priest had atheist me shaking my head and chuckling at the sadistic-masochistic Catholic imagination one moment and tremblingly thinking that I???d better go to confession the next); Stephen raptly watching a girl wading with her dress hiked up; Stephen talking with his friend Cranly about mothers and Catholicism???. And many more.
After finishing the audiobook, I didn???t want it to end, so started listening to it again??? I also visited a website with the text of the novel and read parts of that, realizing that Jim Norton had me understanding it just as well if not better than I would have had I read it myself.
This audiobook version of Joyce???s novel is filled with beauty, humor, sadness, love, lust, guilt, transcendence, and life. Next up: Dubliners and Ulysses read by Jim Norton!
In The Children???s Homer Padraig Colum weaves The Iliad into The Odyssey to make a single narrative in two parts. He begins the first part with the scene from the Odyssey where Athene recommends Telemachus to embark on a voyage to search for news of his father, and then has a minstrel, Nestor, Menelaus, and Helen narrate to Odysseus??? son the major causes and events of the Trojan war. In the second part Colum closely follows the sections of The Odyssey from Odysseus??? leave-taking from Calypso to his arrival back home at Ithaca. As the subtitle of Colum???s book reveals (The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy), Odysseus here becomes the focal point of both The Odyssey and The Iliad.
Colum keeps many of the humorous insults, terrible battles, moving conversations, cultural textures, vivid similes, fantastic elements, and epic flavors of Homer???s epics in his 4.5 hour book. Perhaps due to his young audience or limited space, he also leaves out many impressive things, like Achilles repeatedly dragging the body of Hector around the walls of Troy, Odysseus visiting Hades, and Odysseus executing his serving women after having them clean up the gory remains of his slaughter of the suitors. The English translation seems faithful and strong, though it does favor thee, thy, and thine, as well as ???archaic??? forms like hast and spake.
I believe that although any reader (from child to adult) should really listen to the unabridged Homerian epics (of which there are many excellent translations and readings available on audible), if kids would be daunted by their length or more graphic gore, this would be a good choice, for although much shorter than the originals, it is not dumbed down and retains their grim view of mortality and vibrant view of life. And Robert Whitfield (Simon Vance) gives his usual elegant and assured reading.
Ralph Cosham does a fine job of reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, using a clear and engaging voice and avoiding trying to do too much. That is, he does not strain to alter his voice too much for the different bizarre characters, sticking close to his appealing natural speaking voice, while at the same time expressing plenty of emotion and color, depending on the situation. I like his approach, because it allows me to savor Carroll's text more fully than do the readers of some other versions available through audible.com, readers who change their voices for the different characters to an almost grotesque and distracting degree.
And the text, of course, is wonderful: full of Carroll's unique blend of nonsensical logic and logical nonsense and philosophical conundrums and questioning of identity and reality and language and humorous parodies and dreamy and nightmarish fantasy and melancholy love and sweet nostalgia, all revealed through the many funny and colorful, severe or rude or mad or childish adult-figures through whom Carroll fascinatingly interacts with Alice.
There are three minor problems with this audio book, however, that prevent me from giving it five stars. First, the sound is a little muffled. Second, no sooner does Cosham read the last word of one chapter than, without enough of a blank space, or pause, his voice startles the listener by saying the chapter number and title of the next chapter. Finally, the moving and beautiful closing poem that Carroll wrote for the end of Through the Looking Glass is missing from the audio book. Nevertheless, I recommend this audio book for being perhaps the best one (in price and quality) among the unabridged versions available through audible.com.