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Mark

40
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 11 reviews
  • 11 ratings
  • 97 titles in library
  • 8 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
5

  • The Metamorphoses

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Ovid
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
    Overall
    (232)
    Performance
    (112)
    Story
    (114)

    An undeniable masterpiece of Western Civilization, The Metamorphoses is a continuous narrative that covers all the Olympian legends, seamlessly moving from one story to another in a splendid panorama of savage beauty, charm, and wit. All of the gods and heroes familiar to us are represented. Such familiar legends as Hercules, Perseus and Medusa, Daedelus and Icarus, Diana and Actaeon, and many others, are breathtakingly recreated.

    J. J. Kuzma says: "Desert Island Download"
    "Caviar to the general?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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!

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Ulysses

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By James Joyce
    • Narrated By Jim Norton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (751)
    Performance
    (469)
    Story
    (456)

    Ulysses is regarded by many as the single most important novel of the 20th century. It tells the story of one day in Dublin, June 16th 1904, largely through the eyes of Stephen Dedalus (Joyce's alter ego from Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man) and Leopold Bloom, an advertising salesman. Both begin a normal day, and both set off on a journey around the streets of Dublin, which eventually brings them into contact with one another.

    A User says: "Ulysses (Unabridged)"
    "This recording stands alone as timeless art"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 2

    • UNABRIDGED (40 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Edward Gibbon
    • Narrated By Bernard Mayes
    Overall
    (114)
    Performance
    (69)
    Story
    (68)

    Famous for its unflagging narrative power, fine organization, and irresistibly persuasive arguments, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire has earned a permanent place of honor in historical literature. Gibbon's elegantly detached erudition is seasoned with an ironic wit, and remarkably little of his work is outdated.

    Darwin8u says: "Brilliant in parts, excellent in Most."
    "Despite mediocre sound quality ..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Anna Karenina

    • UNABRIDGED (38 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Leo Tolstoy
    • Narrated By David Horovitch
    Overall
    (578)
    Performance
    (370)
    Story
    (365)

    Anna Karenina seems to have everything - beauty, wealth, popularity and an adored son. But she feels that her life is empty until the moment she encounters the impetuous officer Count Vronsky.

    Marcus Vorwaller says: "Beautiful story, amazing narration"
    "Outstanding reading of an excellent translation"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Conquests and Cultures: An International History

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Thomas Sowell
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (231)
    Performance
    (151)
    Story
    (150)

    This book is the culmination of fifteen years of research and travels that have taken the author completely around the world twice. Its purpose has been to try to understand the role of cultural differences within nations and between nations, today and over the centuries of history, in shaping the economic and social fates of peoples and of whole civilizations.

    Mark says: "Time very well spent"
    "Time very well spent"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Works and Days

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Hesiod, Richmond Lattimore (translator)
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
    Overall
    (51)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (24)

    Among the finest poets of ancient Greece was Hesiod, a contemporary of Homer, who lived in the eighth century B.C. It is still a matter of dispute whether Homer or Hesiod was the earlier poet, and sometimes whether they were one and the same person! At any rate, Hesiod's incredible poetry serves as a major source for our understanding of Greek mythology, farming practices, time keeping and astronomy. In and of itself, the "Works and Days" is unparalleled in its richness and beauty, easily rivaling Homer.

    Matthew says: "Excellent"
    "Hesiod, you are no Homer"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Odes of Horace

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Horace
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
    Overall
    (21)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (10)

    Along with Virgil, Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus) was the greatest poet produced by Rome, and in many ways his work has had arguably an even greater impact. His brilliant expression and astonishing acumen continue to amaze readers today, either in their original Latin or in innumerable worldwide translations. Shakespeare's debt to Horace is incalculable, and it is difficult to read his Sonnets today without immediately being reminded of the famous Odes.

    Thomas says: "The Odes of Horace"
    "Perfection nearly perfected"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Aeneid

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Virgil
    • Narrated By Simon Callow
    Overall
    (220)
    Performance
    (98)
    Story
    (95)

    The publication of a new translation by Fagles is a literary event. His translations of both the Iliad and Odyssey have sold hundreds of thousands of copies and have become the standard translations of our era. Now, with this stunning modern verse translation, Fagles has reintroduced Virgil's Aeneid to a whole new generation, and completed the classical triptych at the heart of Western civilization.

    Rob says: "Fagles is best"
    "Perfect in every way"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Iliad

    • ABRIDGED (8 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Robert Fagles (translator), Homer
    • Narrated By Derek Jacobi, Maria Tucci
    Overall
    (203)
    Performance
    (140)
    Story
    (141)

    Combining the skills of a poet and scholar, Robert Fagles, winner of the PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation and a 1996 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, brings the energy of contemporary language to this enduring heroic epic. He maintains the drive and metric music of Homer’s poetry, and evokes the impact and nuance of the Iliad’s mesmerizing repeated phrases in what Peter Levi calls “an astonishing performance."

    Amazon Customer says: "Outstanding in every way"
    "Wish McKellen had read it"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Oresteia

    • ORIGINAL (3 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Aeschylus
    • Narrated By Full Cast
    Overall
    (101)
    Performance
    (51)
    Story
    (50)

    In The Oresteia, Aeschylus dramatizes the myth of the curse on the royal house of Argos. The action begins when King Agamemnon returns victorious from the Trojan War, only to be treacherously slain by his own wife. It ends with the trial of their son, Orestes, who slew his mother to avenge her treachery - a trial with the goddess Athena as judge, the god Apollo as defense attorney, and, as prosecutors, relentless avenging demons called The Furies.

    Tad Davis says: "Great production, Ian Johnston translation"
    "Wish the Brits had done it"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    3 of 8 people found this review helpful

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