This is one of the best audiobooks I've ever downloaded here at Audible. I've read the stories before and expected to enjoy this, but I found that I absolutely adored it. Stephen Fry is delightful in everything he puts his hand toward. I've purchased all of "Fry's English Delight" series and his other audio selections available here and this is by far and away the best.
Fry doesn't just read the stories, he absorbs them into his being and then performs them with a perfect understanding of Chekhov's vision. Fry is the ideal choice for this performance because he is always at this best when dealing compassionately with the absurd contradictions of human nature, as was Chekhov.
I will keep this collection in my rainy day box and pull it out for a re-listen anytime I need cheering up. Fabulous collection, I only wish it were longer.
This isn't exactly an introduction, because much of what Johnson discusses will require prior knowledge and familiarity with Socrates and this period of Greek history. However, this work is nowhere near scholarly quality either. This can only be a review or refresher - yet it is a review of the author's highly biased ideas of what he wants Socrates to represent. The author's style is at once narcissistic, pompous, and vague.
Johnson rebukes Plato for using Socrates as a mouthpiece for his own ideas, yet does so himself ad nauseum throughout the entire book. Socrates in Johnson's hands is little more than a puppet used to validate Johnson's own ideology. Johnson's sycophantic rendering of Socrates is selective hero worship, not genuine scholarship.
The narrator is perfectly adequate to the task and the book is easy to listen to and can be absorbed in a single sitting because it lacks the kind of substance that would require rest and reflection.
Skip this drivel - check out Plato's Dialogues so that you can form your own ideas and come to your own conclusions about Socrates.
Graham Greene is a master storyteller with preternatural insight into human nature. As a previous reviewer noted Greene divided his works into categories of literature and entertainments. This story illustrates how rich and satisfying entertainment can (and could) be in the hands of true genius versus genre hacks that currently flood the market.
A former member of MI6, Green's own supervisor was eventually found to be a double agent for the Soviet Union. Greene's depth of actual experience in the espionage trade colors all of his novels that deal with political intrigue. The most important factor of which is the lack of glamor and thrills that the job actually entails. Even his most humorous spy novel, "Our Man in Havana" is full of the bureaucracy and idiosyncrasies that plague the profession.
This insight not only renders it all the more believable, it imbues it with a human element of fallibility. While we all might like to believe the propaganda of a well oiled government secret service, we're all aware that it is a leaky boat full of holes that miraculously doesn't sink.
It's the dull daily plodding of betrayal and treason in the character of Castle that makes this book so riveting. Each character is drawn with such an unforgiving and keen view. Greene has breathed imperfection, beauty, and flaws into each creature he created in this novel to give life to the human factor.
I highly recommend actually reading the novel, and all of Greene's novels. Greene's subtle and masterful use of language is a delicacy for the eyes, brain and soul to digest like a fine meal. In a sense, you'll cheat yourself by only encountering Greene through audio. However, once you've read them, audio offerings like this are an exceptional treat and a great way to re-experience the novel.
I was drawn to this because Greene is my favorite author and because I adore Tim Piggot-Smith. I've been a fan since his amazing portrayal of Ronald Merrick in "The Jewel in the Crown." He is a fine actor, and while he does play an exceptional villain, it was nice to see him stretch his acting muscle in a different direction. He does a remarkable job in this offering. He is the first male audio book performer who I've heard read a female character really well. All the different characters are so uniquely portrayed, I was flabbergasted at Piggot-Smith's vocal acting range. This was a very slow audio book. I spent over a month with it. I generally prefer to listen to audio books as a multi-tasking kind of entertainment for manual tasks that don't engage my brain. This audio book was so engaging, it demanded a lot of attention and I found I enjoyed it more on my commute, walking, and before bed than I did while doing chores or arduous exercise. Very enjoyable and highly recommended!
In this comedy of manners Forster exposes all that is absurd, small-minded and loveable by Bourgeois would-be cultural missionaries who take it upon themselves to "better" others. Forster's gift as a novelist is a keen insight into the dusty machinery of the human soul. He perceives the pedestrian and everyday factors that push people forward in their actions and he deftly applies this insight into his construction of characters.
Stephen Fry is always delightful in anything he puts his hand to. I would listen to him read the dictionary. I have long admired his convivial wit, timing, and his ability to understand and perform ridiculous characters with unflinching honesty, yet with gentle warmth. Fry's genuine love and understanding of human absurdity makes him the perfect choice for this selection by Forster.
I was worried that the abridged version might be lacking - but I found I enjoyed it very much. All of the best dialogue and essentials were painstakingly compiled for the abridged version. And while I certainly love a long audio book, it is occasionally nice to finish one in day and not be married to the damn thing for weeks on end. At 2 hrs 51 minutes, this little gem is refreshing in its brevity and was so entertaining I wouldn't hesitate to listen to it again at a latter date, especially if were I traveling and didn't want to commit to a longer selection.
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