The richness of the narration by Jeremy Irons makes this story mesmerizing - he has the incredible ability to speak as though he were multiple actors - each with their own unique personality and "voice" - it's hard to believe that anyone could do this. Because the story is so rich with wisdom, I have now listened to this many times - and each time I hear new things and discover nuances that I missed previously. I suppose the print version would be good if I were to just study the wisdom in the book, but listening to the narration puts the book on steroids.
There is a tremendous amount of wisdom in this book - it is presented as a series of distinct themes ranging from the meaning of victory and defeat, what love means, what success is, the importance of gratitude and mindfulness is daily living, the spiritual meaning of sex, and exploration of the 4 cardinal virtues, the meaning of "beauty", and many, many more. If I were to stop the narration after every chapter, I could write an essay on the application of the ideas to my own life.
The prayer of the "Copt" that echoes the Lord's prayer in the Bible. It uses the same sentence construction and flow, yet expands the ideas with such poetic elegance and symmetry of phrasing when narrated by Jeremy Irons that you feel compelled to stop the narration and just let the richness of the words reverberate in your mind. I've lived 58 years and I can honestly say that I've never heard anything narrated quite so well, ever.
The description of one of the cardinal virtues of "elegance". I've never really studied this concept before and was not aware of the deeper meaning. In this sense it was an epiphany that opened my perception to why some things in the world just seem "right", are attractive or compelling, and why when I am in a certain headspace, things just seem to click. In this sense, "elegance" is the passion of Mandela to change the destiny of S. Africa, the symmetry and grace of a cheetah chasing its prey, how a sound wave can be converted to an electrical impulse and processed chemically to produce a thought.
You can listen to this book many times and it is so well done that it feels as though you have done a meditation - especially if you stop it and reflect on the application of the wisdom. This is a deep book that encourages introspection, yet it is light enough and so compelling a listen that I gain much from it by plugging my smartphone in my car (with the Audible app) and listening to it on the way to work. I live in northern Canada and it is now 30 below and there is black ice on all the city roads and deep snow - normally very stressful to drive. I can listen to this book and get so wrapped up in it that I scarcely notice the commute - I can just picture in my mind's eye the Copt addressing the crowd on a hot, dusty summer day on the eve of an invasion - providing insights, encouragement and wisdom on the meaning of things that are truly important in life.
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