One of the great medieval "songs of great deeds", this is a composite of several hero legends interlaced with Christian moral sentiments. A remarkable panorama of medieval life and thought, The Song of Roland truly reflects the spirit of its time. (Translation by D. D. R. Owen.)
©1996 Kathleen Kent Wason
Translation ©1990 D. D. R. Owen; (P)1998 Blackstone Audio Inc.
"No member of this cast is a household name, but all of them demonstrate high-quality dramatic skills in the presentation of the 12th-century epic French poem considered by many to be the first great piece of French literature." (AudioFile)
If you are the right sort of person this is a very good book. It reminds me somewhat of Beowulf in that they are both books that seem to hover in the twilight between "literature" and "mythology."
As a French professor, I am very familiar with this epic poem in the original old French and the modern French translation. With its additional dramatic effects, this was an excellent way to introduce my son to the story.
I am not a medieval scholar so I cannot comment on the translation of this epic poem, but its quality and style are superb. I have been dabbling and downloading medieval literature lately and found most of it to be rather dull. I do not doubt that I would have found the Song of Roland to be as equally dry if it had not been presented in such a lively dramatic manner. (In fact in the introduction they say that this song was originally chanted in such a way that it would mesmerize or hypnotize the audience).
Fortunately this audiobook is not read in monotone, or chanting verse. The poem is read, word for word, but different actors read the lines of the various characters, and sound effects are added to enliven the action. I was surprised and delighted by how much I enjoyed this audiobook, and would recommend it for anyone interested in Medieval Classics.
Additional note: As a side thought, it was interesting to see how similar Roland was to the character of Boromir in The Lord of the Rings. Both characters fell because of their pride, and both redeemed themselves with their last breathe by blowing on a horn to call for help.
The choice of voices to match the characters leaves something to be desired, but the sound effects proved to be surprisingly effective as an enhancement to the text. As this is the ONLY recording of this work that is available, then clearly, I can say it is also the best!
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