What more can be said or written about Mark Twain? HUCKLEBERRY FINN is a great work, and many feel it must be taken far more seriously than TOM SAWYER. Indeed, Twain offers a scathing indictment of society through the eyes of his youthful protagonist.
Elijah Wood gives a solid performance, although there are simply too many characters (and accents) to deliver effectively. I found his southern "voice" considerably more convincing than his black speech, although Jim still has his good moments. Happily, Wood is more convincing with Huck, himself, and thus the overall effect is most satisfactory.
The ending of the novel will forever leave critics scratching their heads, uncertain why Twain wants the "games" at the end, why Huck suddenly plays second-fiddle to Tom, and how the author justifies the entire attempt to help Jim "escape" when he has already been freed. These are the inevitable problems of the masterpiece. For what it may be worth, I feel Wood makes the transition (beginning with Tom's entrance) as smoothly as the author could ever have intended it, and does a fine job drawing the reader into the implausible narrative Huck shares with us.
Twain will forever delight those encountering him (through whatever medium) for the first time. This Audible product is certainly a splendid place to begin.
Kenneth Branagh truly takes us into the "Heart of Darkness" in a splendid reading. We feel the power of Conrad's prose, and the graphic descriptions enable us to sense the climate, the heat, and the darkness.
One cannot escape the inevitable questions with which we are left at the end of this tale. As much as I revere the work as a literary classic, I have long felt there was something "missing" -- or, perhaps more accurately, that I had "missed" something. I suspect that what I should really have liked (impractical as it may be) were Branagh's own insights into the character of Marlowe and the tale he told. Then again, perhaps I should also have appreciated Conrad's, too.
These subjective musings should in no way reflect negatively upon the production. The work is a classic, and this presentation is superb.
Once I became acclimated to the Irish accent, I found this presentation a delightful surprise. Joyce was far more accessible here than he would become with ULYSSES (or, ultimately FINNEGAN'S WAKE), but even still, he presented the reader with challenges.
To my amazement, Lee handled everything masterfully. Even the famous sections in which the author debates various aspects of Catholicism were delivered smoothly and cohesively.
Joyce is not for everyone, of course. For those considering the two greater works mentioned above, PORTRAIT is an excellent place to start. If one can follow the discourse on religion here, the catechism of ULYSSES should prove relatively easy, and perhaps the reader may proceed thence to "Howth Castle and Environs."
Bottom line: Though I do not revere this work as much as the other two, I must applaud the delivery and production.
Even as I plan to reread the Swift masterpiece, I shall probably listen again as well. In fairness, some of discourse makes the text rather difficult for the audio medium, and while the reader may take the liberty of rereading a challenging passage, the listener generally cannot (or does not) indulge in an analogous luxury.
Pierce handled the narrative splendidly, with good articulation and clear delivery. There were parts of the third voyage (Laputa) that certainly require a little more time to process (cf., my first paragraph, above), although this is perhaps a subjective observation. I believe Pierce hits his high point in the final voyage; the nobility of the horses and savagery of the yahoos comes through with all of the author's intent.
Bottom line: a good production, an excellent performance, and -- of course -- a classic piece of literature.
Audiobooks are invariably somewhat "hit-or-miss," as one would surely never confuse something like a Dickens novel for a "closet play." In this case, however, Martin Jarvis has delivered an absolutely stunning performance, with smooth delivery of the different voices and a marvelous sense of pacing. Naturally, I feel somewhat reluctant to rate this volume against others I have heard, but suffice it to say the Jarvis presentation is absolutely as fine as any yet known to me.
Jarvis holds the listener's interest through the long, descriptive passages (which may, in fact, sour some readers on Dickens). He is at his best toward the end, when one may truly appreciate the development of Sydney Carton. Jarvis effects the transformation of the character splendidly yet effortlessly.
While I very much enjoyed the audiobook, I maintain the prejudice of my generation -- to wit, that it is probably better to read than to listen. The question above begs the issue of story-telling vs. writing, and these are two different art forms. Let us simply conclude that both Jarvis and Dickens have much to offer!
I can readily imagine that some listeners have been (or will be) moved to tears by the noble sacrifice and last sentiments of Carton at the end.
Tremendous production! Bravo!
I read the Dumas novel more than half a century ago, and have very much enjoyed the way John Lee brought the characters back to life in this Audible version. I gave an overall rating of four stars, but this was primarily because I could not offer four and one-half, as I should have preferred.
Lee's delivery is well-paced and clear. The flow is always suitable for the text, and changes appropriately as required. The characters indeed appear "real" as he presents them, from the noble Athos to the despicable Milady.
My only criticism -- a mild reproach at that -- is the obvious one. Given the number of characters, the voice of a single narrative may perhaps have been somewhat overworked. For example, Lee tries to effect a somewhat gruff tone for the long-suffering Athos, but the result is that the character sounds older than the chronological age Dumas gave him. Similarly, he is not altogether convincing with the female voices.
This minor point aside, I heartily recommend the production, which runs more than 23 hours in duration. Dumas' tale has enthralled readers for generations, and now in can captivate listeners as well!
I am at a loss on this score, although I also read the same author's TWENTY YEARS AFTER, a somewhat inferior work.
This was my first encounter with John Lee, and I look forward to hearing his narrations of other works!
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