Aubrey (1626-97) was an antiquarian and bon vivant who took little time out from his partying to finish any of his projects. So someone else had to publish Brief Lives after his death. A random sampling of interesting personages, Lives is filled with gossipy anecdotes about the famous and not-so-famous. If you want the lowdown on Sir Walter Raleigh, Francis Bacon, Shakespeare, et al. - here's the place to get it. The distinguished actor Brian Cox portrays Aubrey sitting with us before the hearth of an evening. He thus does a fine job of delivering the author's personality, though his treatment of content is a bit inconsistent. Naxos's signature bridges of period music are, as usual, a definite plus.
William Shakespeare, Sir Walter Raleigh, Thomas Hobbes - three of the greatest Englishmen who ever lived. They, and many others, are here remembered by another great Englishman, John Aubrey, whose Brief Lives are some of the wittiest and most moving miniature portraits ever written. Aubrey - a scholar, antiquarian and close observer of both the foibles and courage of this contemporaries - lived through the upheavals of the English Civil War in the 17th century. His little biographies are amusing, ribald, moving; a testament to the brevity of human existence and one of the most precious relics of a distant age.
(P)1995 NAXOS AudioBooks Ltd.; ©1995 NAXOS AudioBooks Ltd.
I heartily recommend it. The writing is very original and Brian Cox is superb, as always: I think John Aubrey himself could not have narrated it better. He captures the spirit of the writing. For me it's an all-time classic, and phrases and whole passages from this recording (which I first had as a CD from Naxos years ago) are my constant companions. But again, as I believe one reviewer has said, don't expect autobiographies: these are vignettes. But in terms of vignettes, I have never seen anything to compare with them.
Regrettably, when I purchased this I did not realize that John Aubrey lived and wrote in the 1600's. This might be a fascinating piece of 'period' language, but it is woefully uninformative by the current standards of biography.
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