Maybe if Hemingway had written it when he was younger, before booze and adulation had addled his brain. Or perhaps if he had time to edit and rewrite it himself.
I would never presume to 'change' Hemingway.
Mellow, precise, deep voice. As you would imagine Hemingway to speak.
Poor old Papa's reputation would have done better without the publication of this book. When you take yourself this seriously, it is really hard to be humerous. Hem's 'kitten talk' with Miss Mary (also full of herself) is pathetic. His 'snappy repartie' with GC is devoid of wit. The hunting scenes are good but he has done them many times before and they have a recycled feel. The best of the book comes when he reads a critical letter and a newspaper clipping from one of his readers and shortly afterwards reflects on an old flame who became rich. The critic hit the nail on the head better than I can: Hemingway's subsequent tirade, I suspect, comes from the heart and therefore has at least some validity.
For those grieving that Ernest's death robbed us of some great unwritten literature, do not (don't?) worry: his best had long passed, and he knew it. Hemingway is better read than listened to, but Dennehy does the best possible job with the material. I like him as an actor and I shall now search him out as a narrator.
This story highlights ethics in Medicine and is as true and valid now as it was in 1937. Many reviewers have criticised the recording and it is certainly dated both from a technical as well as a linguistics viewpoint. The narrator can be heard to cough, shuffel papers and make mistakes, which he corrects openly. However, in his defence, I would say that Mr. Engleman speaks the Standard English spoken widely (especially on the BBC) in the mid twentieth century and at the time the book came out. He masters the accents of the Welsh miners, the Scottish hero, Andrew, his Yorkshire wife, an American scientist and his West End coleagues. The only accent that grates somewhat is his own. Modern UK English has changed considerably and his would seem archaic to most British listeners not to mention those on this side of the pond.
However, these considerations should not prevent anyone from listening to one of the best novels on health care delivery for the past 100 years.
Reading or listening to this book is a massive undertaking, but well worth it. The translation is brilliant, the chapters sounding like they were written primarily in English by a master wordsmith such as Gibbon or Thackeray. It is indeed fortunate that the English language has more words than any other: nothing is lost, and the translator, if good, can actually amplify meaning - as he does here.
The authenticity of Solzhenitsyn's experience is clearly beyond question. It is even acknowledged by the present Putin regime, and the work is obligatory reading in Russian schools today. Listening to this detailed chronical of suffering, torture, starvation, depersonalization and arbitary murder - on a mind-boggling scale - there can be no doubt of the moral, social, economic and intellectual bankruptcy of the communist system.
But wait! When was the book first published in the West? It was as long ago as 1973. Did those left wing sympathizers of the seventies and eighties, those 'useful idiots,' those protesters, those hippies, those Bertrand Russels not read this book? If they did, their understanding must have been clouded by the fumes of a forbidden substance.
Yet, within this massive work of oppression and slavery, we occasionally glimpse the human spirit flaring up in a few brave, doomed souls striking out for justice, and dignity. Those short bright flares inspire us to cheer and shout 'Freedom!' from the rooftops. Long may communism be relagated to its rightful place in the dustbin of history!
This is an astonising novel in which the modern English idiom is used with extreme hyperbole at once to amuse, to titilate, to shock to sadden and to horrify. It is a sweeping, lyrical and philosophical story with its characters persisting in one's memory like long absent dear friends. It is laugh-out-loud funny, highly literate and, at the end, a tear-jerker. If there is a Hell down there, I'm sure old Kingsley Amis' suffererings are compounded by the degree his considerable literary talent is surpassed by his own son (DNA check?).
Steven Pacey is the best narrator I have so far heard on Audible. I assume he is English, but he recites in a faultless and lively Mid-Western drawl, and masters several other voices and accents perfectly. He is such a pleasure to listen to that I would advise people NOT to read the book but to listen to it on Audible. It is a far richer experience.
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