Monday, November 09, 2015

Feathered; Bram; Bette or Betty; no comparison


The birds are busy. Long-tailed tits bob among the coppiced chestnuts, greenfinches fly out of the top of the tulip tree, and by the farm, starlings murmur while pretending to be leaves in the now leafless poplars.

Dutch E's new dog Bram, who looks like he is wearing eye-liner, still barks at Tom when he comes in after our yoga session, but then slips round and licks his hand twice when he thinks no one's noticing, and later on a walk he lies down on the path to have him scratch his ribs. We're having him to stay later this month, so are trying to make friends, but he's easier with women than men.

Listening to Cousin Bette (or 'Cousin Betty' as it's called there) on Librivox. So far: the seedy, exploitative old perfumier, the threadbare curtains, the mention of Rastignac, and the bargain over the yellow cashmere shawl. Librivox is such a worthy idea and potentially great resource, but unfortunately many of the readers are so unskilled as to be almost impossible to listen to. Elizabeth Klett, who does all the Jane Austen canon and many more, is a professional and very good indeed, but sadly she's exceptional. Also, many of the foreign works translated have fairly dismal old versions, since the translation has to be out of copyright as well. The reading of Cousin Betty is OK.

First clementines of the winter.




5 comments:

Zhoen said...

Our versions of clementines this year are small and sad. I suppose I should try, in case they have a good taste. California's droughts show up in the fruits we get.

Roderick Robinson said...

You may remember, at the onset of brother Nick's Alzheimers, he found himself unable to concentrate on lengthy prose. I felt he might have responded in happier times to Out Of Arizona and devoted much time, some money and eventually a good deal of acrimony into devising an audio version. Apart from the cost of doing it entirely professionally (ca. £10,000) I discovered that there are major difficulties even when one reduces the project to amateur technology and a single professional actress. Two problems immediately arose (1) differentiating between characters speaking dialogue, and (2) the general pace of the recording (the reading needs to be brisk but with telling interpolations of silence slightly longer than one might expect).

Pronunciation is a further factor and some form of rehearsal is desirable. I suspect that most people are unaware of these requirements, hence your agonies. In the end I paid my actress the full whack for less than a quarter of an hour recorded. There was far, far too much to explain and it was painful to listen to the untutored stuff.

I'll have a look at Cousin Betty when I have time. Balzac I suspect should be as severe a test as any author.

I'm a satsuma man, myself. No pips.

Nimble said...

We have migrating raptors going through. And crowds of the little twittering birds.
I do like the rosy orange glow of your fruit basket pic.

Lucy said...

Thanks three.

Z - no good if they're all pith though, is it. These are very perishable we've found, go squishy rather quickly.

Robbie - I'm sorry that project foundered; sometimes it's just better to write things off, I suppose. Reading aloud really is a skill, some actors specialise in it and seem to be quite sought after. Many of the readers seem to think that reading clearly requires a slow monotone. I wondered about volunteering, but though I think I'm a fairly fluent reader aloud my recorded voice doesn't really have a nice quality, and I'm not sure how good I'd be on the dialogues. I think many of the best books have been taken already, it would involve acquiring the software and the knowledge of how to use it, (which I've done before but forgotten about) and couldn't easily be done on the hardware we have readily available, and anyway, there are other things I want to do with my time really.

Many people, including far more Francophile readers than I am, seem to baulk at Balzac. Even Joe came to him quite late I think, and with hesitation. I've not read a lot (Pere Goriot is obviously the place to start if you've not done so already), but I must say I find him a more satisfying read than many another. He's cruel all right, but to my mind not as sick and twisted as Flaubert, whom I loathe intensely, or mawkish and self-indulgent like Hugo (who I've kind of grown fond of after spending three months this year in Les Mis, all digressions included but not alas in French) and the world he takes you into is vivid and solid and involving. He's often compared to Dickens, but I think perhaps Hugo is more like Dickens (in fact the original French musical of Les Mis was inspired by 'Oliver'!), and Balzac rather more like Thackery, only much more prolific of course.

Satsumas are grown almost exclusively for the British, it seems, who are such babies that not only do they require no pips (clems don't have those either) but also easy-peasy loose skins. Continental Europeans favour clementines. I'm sure we've had this conversation before.

Nimble - lucky you with the raptors. Orange coloured and flavoured things are good against the winter blues.

polish chick said...

i never listened to an audio book until a young friend introduced me to a fantasy series. lucky for me, it was wonderfully read by steven pacey, with such great accents and characterization that it was not only clear who was speaking, but if they were speaking or merely thinking to themselves. loved it, but was told few audio books are as good as this.