Saturday, 20 June 2009

On audio books: A Clockwork Orange

Since I moved to Sydney this year, I’ve found that commuting has become a regular part of my routine (about 8 hours a week). So to fill the void, I’ve been devouring all manner of radio plays, recordings, and audio books: dramatised mysteries by Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie, audio readings of dystopian novels (e.g. Brave New World and 1984: somehow, dystopia is very believable when one is commuting), Alastair Cooke’s wonderful Letters from America (I love these, and am working my way slowly through various decades).

But my greatest discovery has been the Tom Hollander reading of Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange. This is an absolutely astonishing vocal performance: in this case I think the recording actually surpasses the original text – or rather, it carries the text through to perfection.

In this performance, the formidable avalanche of Nadsat (the fictional slang dialect in which the first-person narrator speaks) becomes immediately intuitive and comprehensible – more than that, the language becomes utterly gripping, sometimes sinister, often hilariously funny, at times hauntingly poetic and deeply moving. I reckon this performance makes it clear that the whole novel is primarily about language itself: about the worlds language creates, the worlds it divides, the worlds it destroys. Believe me, O my brothers, to sloosh that chelloveck govoretting all those bolshy slovos is real horrorshow. Very, very horrorshow.

So, anyone else know of any good audio books? I just finished this one tonight, so I’ll soon be scratching around for something new.

Anyway, all this Clockwork-Oranging has also made me wonder what a Nadsat Bible version would look like – here’s my rendering of the opening verses of 1 John:

“That which was from the starry raz, which we have slooshied, which we have viddied real horrorshow with our glazzies, which we have smotted, and we’ve shvatted with our rocks, concerning the slovo of jeezny – the jeezny was manifested, and we have viddied, and we govoreet to you that eternal jeezny which was with the starry Pee and was govoreeted to us – that which we have viddied and slooshied we govoreet to thou, O brothers, that thou mayest be all droogie with us, and all that cal.”
On another note, I just noticed that F&T had its one-millionth visitor today: welcome!

12 Comments:

Anonymous said...

John Cleese reading The Screwtape Letters.

Dave Belcher said...

Any of the Harry Potter's with Jim Dale; SE Hinton's Rumble Fish (or The Outsiders...Rumble Fish is more sentimental to me, though); and I had a really good Isaac Asimov audio book, but I can't remember which one...you can find some good ones, though with Asimov himself and William Shattner!! Ha.

John Hartley said...

Dear Ben,

Thanks for this. I don't mind admitting that I've tried to read The Clockwork Orange several times, and each time have given up because of the language barrier: my eye simply takes too long to absorb the meaning of the text, and I can't see the wood for the trees. This despite others telling me what the book is all about and how I ought to read it. So thanks for providing me with a way in.

Yours - JOHN HARTLEY.

Anonymous said...

1 Million visitors! This is amazing. You should be really proud.
I wrote a book a couple of years ago and they printed 500 copies of which 400 sold (mostly to libraries) and probably about 10 have been read. If we want to reach people with our theology then blogs like this (although very few are of this quality) are an infinitely more effective way to do it.
Now, how do we convince tenure review committees of this? ;)

alterfaith said...

My wife and I enjoyed Pillars of the Earth for several hours (I think over 40). A couple of pornographic scenes were unpleasant, but there is always the fast forward.

Brad said...

Some audiobook recommendations:

-The Road by Cormac McCarthy (read by Tom Stechschulte -- really, anything read by Stech)
-The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon (read by David Colacci -- unfortunately abridged)
-Night by Elie Wiesel (read by George Guidall)

The Road, especially, makes all the difference. Enjoy!

augustinian said...

Dunno about famous readings, but I would recommend the following:
David Barnes' readings of Metaphysical poets at Librivox.org - this website is an amazing resource for commuters. I'm just about to embark on Marx's Capital, having just finished listening to Plato's Republic and Hobbes' Leviathan.
Maria Lectrix (marialectrix.wordpress.com) is also a fantastic website.
All of this is of course free.

Denny Shaw said...

Wow that's an amazing audiobook to listen to while commuting. Hope it won't make you snooze though! :)

Bill said...

I love audio books for in the car, i have actually just listened to For Whom the bell tolls by Ernest hemmingway. This is a book i have been trying to pick up for a while now, but just couldn't get into it. I would definitely recommend it. I downloaded it from http://www.audiobooks.net/lp/abnet-lp.html
Enjoy!

Denny Shaw said...

Wow that's an amazing audiobook to listen to while commuting. Hope it won't make you snooze though! :)

Bill said...

I love audio books for in the car, i have actually just listened to For Whom the bell tolls by Ernest hemmingway. This is a book i have been trying to pick up for a while now, but just couldn't get into it. I would definitely recommend it. I downloaded it from http://www.audiobooks.net/lp/abnet-lp.html
Enjoy!

augustinian said...

Dunno about famous readings, but I would recommend the following:
David Barnes' readings of Metaphysical poets at Librivox.org - this website is an amazing resource for commuters. I'm just about to embark on Marx's Capital, having just finished listening to Plato's Republic and Hobbes' Leviathan.
Maria Lectrix (marialectrix.wordpress.com) is also a fantastic website.
All of this is of course free.

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