Gordon Comstock loathes dull, middle-class respectability and worship of money. He gives up a 'good job' in advertising to work part-time in a bookshop, giving him more time to write. But he slides instead into a self-induced poverty that destroys his creativity and his spirit. Only Rosemary, ever-faithful Rosemary, has the strength to challenge his commitment to his chosen way of life. Through the character of Gordon Comstock, Orwell reveals his own disaffection with the society he once himself renounced.
©2011 CSA Word (P)2011 CSA Word
At times certain wonderful books, by towering authors and read by notable narrators often end up with a rather dull effect. For 'Keep the Aspidistra Flying', narrated by the immensely talented Richard E. Grant, this is not the case. The atmosphere of Orwell's terse satire is fully developed in this dramatic reading by Grant, who manages to deliver character after character without loosing any of the pacing allowing the social and political underscore of the book to be fully experienced by the listener.
Of the many painfully satirical moments in the performance to look out for is the exchange between Gordon Comstock and the french waiter at the country pub.- enjoy.
Gordon Comstock may just be the least appealing character in any book I have ever read. Whining, self pitying, grasping (of everything but money) he is almost completely devoid of human sympathy. At one point I nearly abandoned the book because he is such an unsympathetic persona.
But it is an Orwell. You can't give up on an Orwell. It's the law. And Gordon does finally redeem himself for the most human of all reasons. If you love Orwell you need to work your way through all of his work. If you don't love Orwell you need to work your way through all of his work so that you eventually will. This is certainly no "Animal Farm" and "Coming up for Air" is a friendlier read (next please Audible) but it certainly repays the listening time.
Richard E Grant's performance is excellent. Just the right amount of self important sneer in his voice and just the right tone of undeserved and unappreciated privilege in his delivery. All round a very good audiobook.
What a pleasure to listen to Richard Grant capture every nuance and drop of sarcasm in Orwell's great prose masterpiece, The book feels very modern in sensibility; the narrator is exceptionally brilliant and funny. It was really a delight.
On the extremely slim chance that he or his agent or someone responsible for casting audiobook narrators is reading this, please cajole Mr. Grant to record more audiobooks.
This book depicts the painful struggle of consenting to sell oneself to promote the aims of a corporation or institution. Much of the book is painful to read because our protagonist makes horrible mistakes repeatedly. Gordon needlessly hurts people who are close to him, both because he lacks money, and much more painfully, because he is constantly obsessed with his lack of money and his feelings of inadequacy that derive from his poverty. However, the book is not long, and left me feeling incredibly satisfied when I reached the end. The books ethical/moral implications are hard to pin down. Gordon finally finds stability and some peace by giving in to his hatred of money, and the reader feels very happy with his decision. Yet all this satisfaction we feel is from Gordon renouncing all he believes in, something that is epitomized by his powerful desire for an Aspidistra plant in his window so all the neighbors would see, even though Gordon spent the last 30 years of his life despising Aspidistras.
john in RI
The scene where Gordon finally sells a poem and ends up blowing the money on booze and tarts. You can feel his hangover when he wakes up in jail. Gives me a headache just thinking about it.
Gordon's tenacity, although like everyone he ends up with his own aspidistra.
If you have seen any of his movies you know what an amazing actor he is, in fact he starred in the film adaptation of the book. No one could have done a better job than Mr. Grant. Check out Withnail & I. "We've gone on holiday by mistake..."
Ravelston because he would pay.
Orwell said he wrote the book because he needed money. Quite ironic.
This is a perfect work by Orwell. The best novel I have read by him so far. The performance by Richard E Grant could not be better - he is the perfect casting for Gordon Comstock.
Be aware that this copy has a sound fault in chapter 7. There is about 40 seconds of skipping that make that tony section of the book inaudible.
As with any audio recording of a book, the choice of narrator is extremely important. I've been waiting for this particular book to come out in audio format for quite some time now (this is my favouritee Orwell novel), and it was worth the wait. The narrator does a brilliant job. This is a thoroughly enjoyable recording.
"The mistake you make, don't you see,"
is in thinking one can live in a corrupt society without being corrupt oneself. After all, what do you achieve by refusing to make money? You're trying to behave as though one could stand right outside our economic system. But one can't. One's got to change the system, or one changes nothing. One can't put things right in a hole-and-corner way, if you take my meaning.”
― George Orwell,
Orwell is still surprising me with, with his language and commentary on our society, in this book he gives us a semi satirical look at money or the things we do for money, the implications of living in a society and the cultural responsibilities that bind us to it; is devastating and revealing look at what hides in what we accept as the norm.
Social class and requirements of class are discussed in detail and to many it will seem as something of the period, but in reality it still stands in our present just with different shades I see it when middle class people protest about environmental issues while drinking a latte on a disposable cup and driving to the gathering. We are blind to the requirements of our social life, worst jet we do not want to see what is done for us without us having to ask and how complicit we are in the game, even the ridiculous anarchist that organize in Facebook to fight the MAN drop all their principle with that single action.
Gordon the main character wants to reject the money god, to live on this principle and not play the game of getting a good job, he wants to be a poet, he wants a woman, he rejects even the symbols of class like the Aspidistra that to him signifies the conformity of middle class, but even this minor desires are not granted. You need money to write poems, and you need money to have a woman or to have the woman he wants in his life. And so he tries to live by his principles while spiraling into disaster and squalor.
The descriptions of life in this period of british life are revealing and harsh no one comes out well from armchair socialist to the poor as those of a lower classes are referred to in this pages; but at the same time there are many passages that are truly funny and had my laughing out loud, Gordon is a brutal critic of all and everything and takes thing to the most illogical conclusions like all ideologist and fundamentalist believers.
This book deserves to be read more just to open questions about expectation and culture and for the simple joy of reading something that is so much more than the sum of its parts.
"Withnail fans - this is a must listen"
I picked this up in an audible sale and I am so glad I did. Firstly this has outstripped 1984 as my favorite Orwell novel. The writing is sharp, gives a great flavour for the period but as is always the case with a true classic - the themes and characters transcend the original era.But great books do not always make great audio books. Richard E Grant's performance is one of the best I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. The talk of booze soaked poverty and frustrated creativity is pure Withnail and I (or Withnail is pure Orwell, you choose). As a long time fan of that film I was delighted by his reading.
Gordon Comstock, the money obsessed creative snob whose every decision seems to bring him closure to the edge of self destruction. Thoroughly hateful and utterly sympathetic.
Grant brings every ounce of the drunken narcissistic creative kamikaze passion that made Withnail and I unforgettable to a generation of cinema goers.
Gordon's idiotic series of bad judgement calls when he finally gets paid for a writing assignment. Hearing him plunge into a self destructive frenzy as his loved ones look on and suffer is incredibly sad.
This is really good, you should give it a try!
"Unfairly neglected gem of a master novella!"
What a finely sarcastic language and thought, what a fight human vs material world vision
"Richard E. Is Excellent G. Orwell is similarly so."
Captivating with an exceptional turn of phrase. Humorous, challenging, very good. Very entertaining. Harks back to an interesting epoch in time.
Comstock is every writer and what every writer hates and fears to be...Orwell's book has never been recognised for the comic Classic it is.
"Loved it. Gordon, what a character!"
Great stuff. Hard story to stomach at times, though! Orwell really does a fine job in portraying the subtleties of ideas battling with reality.
"Excellent narration - week storyline"
Would listen to anything that Richard e grant narrates. This was the only reason I finished this book
"A world away but relevant"
The account of genteel poverty in 1930s London in one sense seems a world away, yet in another feels strangely relevant. Gordon, high-minded, infuriating but also somehow admirable, rejects the 'money world' and pays the consequences. The ending is part redemptive and part depressing, as the money god gets his way by working on Gordon's better nature.
"Classic Orwell, Classic Grant, Classic Cock-Up"
A fairly simple story one man's deliberate self-destruction told in typical Orwell fashion. Not his best by a long shot but utterly believable and human nonetheless. What really brings it to life is the performance of Richard E. Grant. With hints of Withnail he subtly draws you into the dingy world of Gordon Comstock.
This recording could have been one of the best I've listened to.
Could have been.
If it were not for the fact that crass and sloppy production has let it down. It sounds as though someone has recorded this audiobook from a CD set, which they have, in fact, done so. How do we know this? Because Mr Grant frequently says, "End of CD x", "Start of CD x". Somewhere around the end of chapter 2 there is a fault with the CD and it skips in several places. There are no gaps between chapters; Richard finishes the final sentence of a chapter and then, without seemingly pausing for breath, blurts out "Chapter x" and forges on. It is all most disconcerting and spoils what should be a wonderful listening experience.
I have contacted Audible about the shockingly poor production quality but have yet to receive a reply. Disappointing.
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