I’ve posted about Robert Louis Stevenson’s murderous classic, Markheim, before (the audiobook and another radio drama). But, I’ve just discovered a very good new adaptation (from 2006) available at RadioArchive.cc. The sound design is excellent, and its lengthy enough to bring out most of the nuance in the text.
Adapted from the story by Robert Louis Stevenson; Adapted by John Taylor; Performed by a full cast
MP3 via TORRENT – Approx. 45 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4
Broadcast: February 1, 2006
On Christmas Day 1886 with London shrouded in fog, a man shadows a girl across Blackfriars Bridge towards the back streets of Holborn. His name is Markheim and his intentions are unremittingly dark.
Directed by John Taylor
Tommy – Mark Straker
Markheim – Jack Klaff
Girl – Abigail Hollick
Visitor – Anton Rodgers
Crispin – Anthony Jackson
And for German listeners there’s THIS sexy sounding version produced as a part of a cool series called Gruselkabinett (which translates to “Chamber of Horrors”).
There is no finer model for the study of setting than this story affords. It is three o’clock in the afternoon of a foggy Christmas Day in London. If Markheim’s manner and the dimly lighted interior of the antique shop suggest murder, the garrulous clocks, the nodding shadows, and the reflecting mirrors seem almost to compel confession and surrender. “And still as he continued to fill his pockets, his mind accused him, with a sickening iteration, of the thousand faults of his design. He should have chosen a more quiet hour.” So he should for the murder; but for the self-confession; which is Stevenson’s ultimate design, no time or place could have been better.
There is little action in the plot. A man commits a dastardly murder and then, being alone and undetected, begins to think, think, think. It is the turning point in his life and he knows it. Instead of seizing the treasure and escaping, he submits his past career to a rigid scrutiny and review. This brooding over his past life and present outlook becomes so absorbing that what bade fair to be a soliloquy becomes a dialogue, a dialogue between the old self that committed the murder and the new self that begins to revolt at it. The old self bids him follow the line of least resistance and go on as he has begun; the newly awakened self bids him stop at once, check the momentum of other days, take this last chance, and be a man. His better nature wins. Markheim finds that though his deeds have been uniformly evil, he can still “conceive great deeds, renunciations, martyrdoms.” Though the active love of good seems too weak to be reckoned as an asset, he still has a “hatred of evil”; and on this twin foundation, ability to think great thoughts and to hate evil deeds, he builds at last his culminating resolve.
The story is powerfully and yet subtly told. It sweeps the whole gamut of the moral law. Many stories develop the same theme but none just like this. Stevenson himself is drawn again to the same problem a little later in “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Hawthorne tried it in “Howe’s Masquerade,” in which the cloaked figure is the phantom or reduplication of Howe himself. In Poe’s “William Wilson,” to which Stevenson is plainly indebted, the evil nature triumphs over the good. But “Markheim,” by touching more chords and by sounding lower depths, makes the triumph at the end seem like a permanent victory for universal human nature.
If the story is the study of a given situation, Markheim, who is another type of the developing character, is the central factor in the situation. We see and interpret the situation only through the personality of Markheim himself. Another murderer might have acted differently, even with those clamorous clocks and accusing mirrors around him, but not this murderer. There is nothing abnormal about him, however, as a criminal. He is thirty-six years old and through sheer weakness has gone steadily downward, but he has never before done a deed approaching this in horror or in the power of sudden self revelation. He sees himself now as he never saw himself before and begins to take stock of his moral assets. They are pitifully meager, though his opportunities for character building have been good. He has even had emotional revivals, which did not, however, issue in good deeds. But with it all, Markheim illustrates the nobility of human nature rather than its essential depravity. I do not doubt his complete and permanent conversion. When the terrible last question is put to him – or when he puts it to himself – whether he is better now in anyone particular than he was, and when he is forced to say, “No, in none! I have gone down in all,” the moral resources of human nature itself seem to be exhausted. But they are not. “I see clearly what remains for me,” said Markheim, “by way of duty.” This word, not used before, sounds a new challenge and marks the crisis of the story. Duty can fight without calling in reserves from the past and without the vision of victory in the future. I don’t wonder that the features of the visitant “softened with a tender triumph.” The visitant was neither “the devil” as Markheim first thought him nor “the Saviour of men” as a recent editor pronounces him. He is only Markheim’s old self, the self that entered the antique shop, that with fear and trembling committed the deed, and that now, half-conscious all the time of inherent falseness, urges the old arguments and tries to energize the old purposes. It is this visitant that every man meets and overthrows when he comes to himself, when he breaks sharply with the old life and enters resolutely upon the new.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories
By Susanna Clarke; Read by Simon Prebble and Lavina Porter
7 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Themes: / Fantasy / Magic / England /
This is a collection of eight short stories that return readers to the world of Clarke’s novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. As I enjoyed Simon Prebble’s narration of Strange & Norrell, I returned to that format to hear these stories. Prebble shares narration duty with Davina Porter whose undeniable skill I enjoyed even more than Mr. Prebble’s and that is saying quite a lot.
Since all but one of these stories were previously published elsewhere, they vary from mere fragments (The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse) to retold fairy tales (Lickerish Hill). These are almost like some of the longer footnotes from Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which often meander away to tell fully imagined stories before returning to the main narrative.
The one constant is Clarke’s skill at conveying readers to a magical England in the style of well known 19th-century writers such as Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. Clarke has a dry wit which enlivens many of the tales and a good imagination for weaving attention holding yarns. I enjoyed all these stories quite a lot. If you are wondering whether to take the plunge into Strange & Norrell, these stories might be a good test of the waters.
Posted by Julie D.
This is the third time I’ve posted about this wonderful podcast episode. The last time was just last year. But I’ve just come across another wonderful illustration, this time from a reprinting in an issue of Avon Science Fiction And Fantasy Reader, so I’ve just had top post about it again. It’s highly recommended listening.
A Bite of Stars, a Slug of Time, and Thou – The Forgotten Enemy
By Arthur C. Clarke; Read by Elisha Sessions
1 |MP3| – Approx. 1 Hour [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: A Bite Of Stars A slug Of Time And Thou
In a bleak snow and ice covered London, a lone survivor faces isolation, polar bears and loneliness. But even his one hope, the idea that a rescue team is crossing the Atlantic ice sheet isn’t enough to stave off The Forgotten Enemy. First published in December 1948, in an issue of King’s College Review.
First broadcast in 2008 on Resonance FM 104.4 FM in London, U.K, The Forgotten Enemy is an excellent Arthur C. Clarke tale. Set in London, it tells of solitary man waiting for rescue. He can almost hear the helicopters. Yes, the helicopters. The slow, loud, helicopters coming inevitably from the north. But what of the terrible white menace that threatens his lonely existence? Can he survive?
One aspect of the tale may remind you of 28 Weeks Later, another may remind you of The Day After Tomorrow. But fear not, this story pays far greater dividends than either of those.
In the discussion that follows the story is described as a “cozy calamity” and it’s compared to Who Goes There? and A Pail Of Air. It is a wonderful podcast – all around!
Here’s the accompanying art, by Clothier, from the New Worlds printing:
Posted by Jesse Willis
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
By Susanna Clarke; Read by Simon Prebble
32 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Themes: / Fantasy / Magic / England /
Mr. Norrell is a fusty but ambitious scholar from the Yorkshire countryside. He is also the first practical magician in hundreds of years. What better way to demonstrate his revival of British magic than to change the course of the Napoleonic wars? Jonathan Strange discovers, to his dismay, that he is a natural magician. Because he “feels” his magic rather than depending on books as Mr. Norrell does, they wind up representing two distinctly different ways of doing British magic. Clarke deliberately used a style that calls to mind Jane Austen or Charles Dickens and thus transports the reader to a time gone by when spelling varied, footnotes could be long and involved, manners were paramount, and when it is possible to believe in such a thing as British magic.
I tried this book several times but either wasn’t in the right mood or was expecting something different. Hannah read it, loved it, shoved it on my nightstand, and nagged me about it (with that hopeful, wistful, little puppy look that a mom can’t say no to…). Once I began reading I couldn’t understand why I didn’t warm to it before … the writing is charmingly understated and amusing. Set in England during the Napoleonic war, it is about magic, English practitioners of magic, books about magic, and the Raven King.
However, once I was well into the book I got bogged down with the many wayside visits and long footnotes that added atmosphere but didn’t seem to advance the story. That is when I picked up the audio book from the library. Once I was listening, I began enjoying it immensely more than before. I think I do better with meandering books when on audio for some reason. Eventually I almost became addicted and couldn’t stop listening.
At the end the book suddenly picked up the pace with one thing happening after another. It ended in an unexpected way with some story lines being firmly concluded while others were left to drift off. Usually this would bother me but, in a sense, it was very true to real life, which makes me reflect upon the fact that the way the story was told was very like having someone tell it to you in person. They take little byways of explanation that may not have too much to do with the story and then come back to the point. In listening to the book this made for a delightful and somehow restful story.
This was wonderfully narrated by Simon Prebble whose dulcet tones and perfect pacing helped make the long sentences easily understood and who emphasized the humorous bits without overdoing it. There is no doubt that his narration is the key element that not only got me to the end of the book, but actually left me sad when it ended. Recommended but only for those who do not object to long, meandering stories with a lot of footnotes.
Posted by Julie D.
One of (if not the most) adapted novels in the history of cinema is The Hound Of The Baskervilles. I myself love the novel and have seen at least a half dozen screen adaptations. But the latest adaptation I’ve witnessed is my new favourite.
Bert Coules’ 1988 BBC Radio adaptation is absolutely fantastic. It keeps nearly every scene I like from the novel. Better yet, it’s use of sound, to both cut from scene to scene and to drive the action forward, is absolutely masterful. Audio drama of this quality is just that step above. It’s truly wondrous listening!
According to the notes on RadioArchive.cc (where I got it) this version has never been rebroadcast on the radio. That’s a big shame, it’s an absolute treasure!
Even more strangely this adaptation is actually the first of two separate Bert Coules adaptations of Hound done for BBC Radio.
The torrent is HERE.
The Hound of the Baskervilles
Adapted from the novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Performed by a full cast
2 MP3 Files via Torrent – Approx. 110 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Sherlock Holmes … Roger Rees
Dr John H Watson … Crawford Logan
Sir Henry Baskerville … Matt Zimmerman
Dr James Mortimer … Peter Craze
Jonathan Stapleton … Jonathan Tafler
Beryl Stapleton … Caroline Gruber
Barrymore … Richard Tate
Mrs Barrymore … Barbara Atkinson
Mrs Hudson … Barbara Atkinson
Arthur Frankland … Norman Bird
Laura Lyons … Moir Leslie
Postmaster … John Baddeley
Violinist: Katherine Adams
Script by: Bert Coules
Produced and directed by: David Johnston
Posted by Jesse Willis
Submitted for your approval…
The Outlaw Of Torn
By Edgar Rice Burroughs; Read by Richard Kilmer and Susan Umpleby
19 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 7 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Published: March 31, 2010
The story is set in 13th century England and concerns the fictitious outlaw Norman of Torn, who purportedly harried the country during the power struggle between King Henry III and Simon de Montfort. Norman is the supposed son of the Frenchman de Vac, once the king’s fencing master, who has a grudge against his former employer and raises the boy to be a simple, brutal killing machine with a hatred of all things English. His intentions are partially subverted by a priest who befriends Norman and teaches him his letters and chivalry towards women.
Otherwise, all goes according to plan. By 17, Norman is the best swordsman in all of England; by the age of 18, he has a large bounty on his head, and by the age of 19, he leads the largest band of thieves in all of England. None can catch or best him. In his hatred for the king he even becomes involved in the civil war, which turns the tide in favor of de Montfort. In another guise, that of Roger de Conde, he becomes involved with de Montfort’s daughter Bertrade, defending her against her and her father’s enemies. She notes in him a curious resemblance to the king’s son and heir Prince Edward.
Finally brought to bay in a confrontation with both King Henry and de Montfort, Norman is brought down by the treachery of de Vac, who appears to kill him, though at the cost of his own life. As de Vac dies, he reveals that Norman is in fact Richard, long-lost son of King Henry and Queen Eleanor and brother to Prince Edward. The fencing master had kidnapped the prince as a child to serve as the vehicle of his vengeance against the king. Luckily, Norman/Richard turns out not to be truly dead, surviving to be reconciled to his true father and attain the hand of Bertrade
Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/rss/3632
iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|
[thanks also to Richard Kilmer, Laura Caldwell, mim@can and Annise]
Posted by Jesse Willis