I have always loved Jacobi as an actor, but he cannot (or does not) top McKellen's reading of the Odyssey -- an impossible act to follow.
As for this Iliad, Fagles' translation is just as good as everyone says. True poetry. Jacobi's reading is adequate, but not as thoughtful or subtle as I'd expect of him. I'm guessing this was done in one take with very little or no research. Probably rushed. He lays on his unique brand of drama thick in places it does not really belong at all, and seemed to be faking his way through this reading in other ways too. I can make no sense at all of the random snippets read by Maria Tucci. Was there any thought behind that? I don't think so. Probably those were passages Jacobi had mangled the first go-round; and, having no way to get him back to the studio, they brought Tucci to the rescue. She does a good enough job, but I found it distracting listening to her -- mainly b/c I spent too much time wondering why the hell we needed a new narrator all of a sudden.
Harsh review, I know, but really: when dealing with a text as great as this one the publishers should have taken more care to rise to the occasion. They fell short, so this "only" warrants four stars. Could have, and should have, been a slam-dunk five.
Joyce's language is singularly musical, and so Ulysses might be compared to a great symphony. Following that line, the producer of this particular recording is an absolute maestro and his two readers sublimely gifted instrumentalists. What an interpretation! This recording should, along with Glenn Gould's 1955 Goldberg Variations, be locked away so that future civilizations can see what this one attained.
I enjoyed this tremendously. Some reviewers have been pretty hard on Mayes, but I'm really not sure why. I thought he did very well. He's not my favorite reader, nor even one of my favorites, but I'd give him a B+ at least and would certainly not hesitate to buy another of his recordings. As mentioned in the headline, the technical quality of the recording is mediocre (at best) which I would find a serious concern if I were listening to, say, the Berlin Philharmonic; but the quality here is more than adequate for this purpose and before long I did not notice it at all.
I (very thankfully) bought this after giving up on Lorna Raver's impossibly bad reading. Horovitch is masterful in every way, and even has enough linguistic ability to pull off the French passages quite well. (He is less successful in German but thankfully very little of that in the book so nothing lost there.)
Most impressive is his ability to invent, and maintain, distinct voices and accents for an incredibly wide variety of characters.
I cannot imagine finding a better reading than this one, and I will never be looking for one. Unequivocally recommended.
Though I have minor issues with Sowell's writing style and organization, which prevent me from giving this five stars, I nonetheless would put this on anyone's "must listen" list.
This book is loaded with facts and figures, often coming rapid-fire, but it never becomes boring in the least. Overall the experience is revelatory -- I'd even go so far as to say life-changing. My world-view will never be quite the same.
Very minor irritation: not infrequently Dean mis-reads the text -- e.g. giving dates that are exactly one century off, confusing WW1 with WW2, etc. It's possible these are typos in the original text but I doubt it. He also over-enunciates almost everything. He's a perfectly adequate reader, but not one of my favorites.
But forget I ever said these things and listen: you won't regret it.
Hesiod is one of those ancient names that has been in my "wish list" for a long time, but he was nothing but a name since I had no familiarity at all with his works. So I was very glad to download this recording read by a reader I respect always enjoy tremendously. "Finally, here I go: Hesiod!"
So as you can see, I really wanted to love this recording ... but found that I could only like it.
I really TRIED to love it, even giving it a second go-round as soon as I finished it, but I could not help thinking very often as I listened that Hesiod is a second-tier poet who falls VERY far short of Homer, Ovid, and Virgil (among others). Of course it's not fair to compare him to these greats (esp. considering the fact that two of them had the benefit of a luxurious Roman education plus several additional centuries' worth of culture); but so be it: call me unfair.
Though I have no other translations to compare this one to, I thought it was fine. As was Griffin's reading. The problem, for me, is with the original text. It certainly has many points of interest, and I am glad I now have Hesiod under my belt, but I will not be revisiting this recording any time soon.
All that said, I do recommend that you listen to it eventually: once you've run out of better stuff.
This is the most perfect translation of Horace imaginable (so good W.H. Auden did not dare try to top it) and it is read beautifully -- NEARLY perfectly. I am a new, raving fan of Charlton Griffin (having just finished his reading of Ovid) and adore his reading here too. One tiny flaw: Griffin seems to miss some of the incredibly subtle rhythms and rhymes that Michie miraculously creates. But absolute perfection is far too much to expect of any reader and Griffin is awfully darn close to achieving miracles himself. A solid 5-star performance well worth listening to again and again.
A few negative (almost scathing) reviews of this recording gave me pause before I clicked to purchase, but I am so glad I ultimately ignored this (very bad) advice. This recording is a true gem. It is a GORGEOUS translation wonderfully read. I listened to the whole thing through twice in a row, and will surely revisit it soon. But first, onto Mr. Griffin's reading of Horace ... can't wait!
I really have very little to say on this one. Fagles' natural gifts (and of course Virgil's too) come shining through thanks to Simon Callow's sophisticated and energetic reading. Unlike some other "actors" reading the classics, Callow clearly understands everything he is saying, and says it beautifully.
This is a fine idiomatic translation that is almost poetic. (Could have been better, but no complaints.)
The production and audio quality are both excellent, and I agree wholeheartedly with another reviewer who commended its handling of the choruses.
Sadly, however, all of the above are grievously marred by typically vain and unsophisticated American actors. (This, coming from an American.)
There is very little subtlety here, and at least two of the actors (male) were in way over their head and had neither the attention span nor the spiritual refinement to succeed here.
All-in-all though, recommended. Just grin and bear it.
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