Saturday, March 26, 2011

Today's Top Tip

The Spoken Word: British Writers, 3-CD Set, The British Library

I know to a lot of people, including some of my near relations, including my offspring, listening to old recordings of famous writers is an activity with all the appeal of, say, sitting bare-bottomed or a block of ice, or having a series of inoculations. Of course, those people are just flat wrong, but what are you going to do? Just play the CDs loud and never mind about the people screeching from the back seat as though they were being stabbed.

I took this British Writers set out of the library last week and have not quite worked my way through the first of the three CDs. I had a chance to listen in peace this afternoon to Somerset Maugham, in his old age, summing up his career, his plans for the future, some general thoughts about his times and times to come and it was so beautifully wrought - and spoken with equal grace -that I wanted to weep. (You know me). I came to the internet tonight to see if the speech had been transcribed, but I couldn't find it for you so all I can do is steer you to the CD. You know you can trust me.

This set includes the only known recording of Virginia Woolf, and I am looking forward to that. Rudyard Kipling, poor, despised and left behind Rudyard Kipling, gives speech of perfect eloquence to the Canadian Royal Society for literature, albeit with references to the great racial history of Canada, "the English and the French who refuse to be de-civilized no matter the cost." (I heard a dramatic reading "The Ballad of East and West" on my satellite radio recently and I thought it was great).

I am so glad I have two CDs left to hear. It's like having money in the bank. If only I had a little more alone-time in the van... I thought you all might like it too.