This varied, well-chosen selection brings onto one audiobook the best of Dylan Thomas. Here is the legendary recording of "Under Milk Wood", with Richard Burton and Richard Bebb as narrators; but here also are two radio productions he wrote before that great classic, and though interesting in their own right, they show how "Under Milk Wood" grew gradually in his imagination.
"As the swirling of water over pebbles in a stream"
Three tales from The Canterbury Tales, read in the original Middle English by Richard Bebb under the direction of Britain's foremost Chaucer scholar, Derek Brewer.
The Canterbury Tales, written near the end of Chaucer's life and hence towards the close of the 14th century, is perhaps the greatest English literary work of the Middle Ages: yet it speaks to us today with almost undimmed clarity and relevance.
"Workmanlike reading in clear Middle English"
The Knight's Tale of medieval wars and chivalry is the first tale told to the pilgrims as they set out to Canterbury. It concerns Theseus, returning from fighting at Thebes, and two brother knights Palamon and Arcite, imprisoned but yearning for their loves. But the real hero of this recording is Richard Bebb who, with the help of Professor Derek Brewer, the leading expert on Chaucerian pronunciation, make the original Middle English not only comprehensible to the modern ear, but exciting.
Under Milk Wood is Dylan Thomas's undisputed and unforgettable masterpiece - an affectionate, but hilarious portrait of a small Welsh town. The classic 1954 recording, featuring a perfect cast led by Richard Burton as "First Voice", is rightly considered to be definitive. This collection also includes two earlier radio programs: Return Journey to Swansea and Quite Early One Morning, read by Dylan Thomas and others.
"A great work and its predecessors, unidentified"
The horrific third battle of Ypres finally ended at Passchendale on November 10, 1917. Ten days later, at Cambrai, the British launched the first massed tank assault in history. But they faced determined German resistance and within three days only 92 tanks out of the original 378 remained operational. After facing a savage counter-attack by the Germans using aircraft, gas, and storm troops, the British fell back to form a defensive line.
In 1960, the Imperial War Museum began a momentous task. A team of academics, archivists and volunteers set about tracing ordinary men and women who had lived through one of the most harrowing periods of modern history, the First World War. Veterans were interviewed in details about their day-to-day experiences, on and off the front. The project has since grown to be the most important archive of its kind in the world, and provides a unique account of life during the Great War.
During the dreadful Battle at Verdun, the French command urged the British to ease the pressure and launch their planned offensive on the Somme. The battle started on July 1st 1916, and in September the British used tanks for the first time.
Following the second battle of Ypres, furious fighting continued on all fronts. Casualties were high, conditions dreadful, and life expectancy short. The only break the men had was a brief home leave, or a few days away from the trenches.
During the warm mid-summer of 1914 few people suspected that, by August, Europe would be plunged into the bloodiest conflict known to mankind. Patriotic fervour, often misplaced, swept through the participating countries, but the troops dispatched to the battle fronts soon realised that the popular view: "it will all be over by Christmas", was just an optimistic dream.