I love the way this guy reads it: it's probably the best-read book in my collection.
However, the publishers have seen fit -- I'm not sure why -- to add background music to the narration. But not just at the beginning or the end. FOR THE ENTIRE SIX HOURS.
And not just some dulcet lute in the distance. No: A FULL ORCHESTRA.
This definitely was distracting.
If you're going to get an unabridged recording of Moby-Dick, you certainly can't go wrong with this one, by William Hootkins. I am a big Melville nut and was VERY, VERY PLEASED with this.
Avoid at all costs the only other (as far as I know) unabridged one out there, read by Adams Morgan. Morgan's reedy, effete voice is totally unsuited to this material: his enunciation is so precious it's almost dandyish. And his mispronunciations are legion.
Hootkins, however, reads like a man, in long, strong, lingering swells. He has a deep, resonant voice, is literate, sensitive to the material, and rarely, I feel, misreads a line. The whole thing is very convincing. Neither does he read it too fast.
Another strength of Hootkin's reading is that his style really brings out how full of jokes this book is. Hootkins is very good at conveying Melville's insouciant tone, especially through many of the cetology chapters, where you intellectually understand that Melville is kidding but it just doesn't work. Well, Hootkins really brings Melville's irreverent tone to the fore.
My only possible criticism of his performance is that, in the final act of the book, Hootkins frequently continues with this leisurely, almost jovial tone, even though Melville has gotten by then dead serious. But this is nitpicking.
NOTE: It's not TOTALLY unabridged. The etymology and extracts sections have been cut. But the rest is there.
There are no sound effects or music.
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