BBC R4 + Markheim by Robert Louis Stevenson [RADIO DRAMA]

SFFaudio Online Audio

Gruselkabinett - Markheim by Robert Louis Stevenson

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 The sound design is excellent, and its lengthy enough to bring out most of the nuance in the text.

BBC Radio 4RadioArchives.ccMarkheim
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”).

As a bonus I offer this newly created |PDF| and a vintage anlaysisby C. Alphonso Smith from Short Stories Old And New (1916):

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

CBS Radio Mystery Theater: Wuthering Heights adapted from the novel by Emily Brontë

SFFaudio Online Audio

We’ve got the audiobook version, and here’s cool radio drama adaptation from the 1970s. I’ll be listening to this tonight as I drift off into dreamland.

CBS Radio Mystery TheaterCBS Radio Mystery Theater – #0643 – Wuthering Heights
Based on the novel by Emily Brontë; Adapted by Elizabeth Pennell; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 45 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Broadcaster: CBS
Broadcast: April 29, 1977
Heathcliff, an adpoted son, returns home to the family that mistreated him as a youth.

Lloyd Battista
Paul Hecht
Russell Horton
Roberta Maxwell
Bryna Raeburn

Bonus: The Semaphore Version of Wuthering Heights (courtesy of Month Python):

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #148 – READALONG: The Odyssey by Homer (Books I – IV)


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #148 – Scott and Jesse, in the first of a six part series, discuss the first four books of The Odyssey by Homer (books I, II, III and IV).

Talked about on today’s show:
Odysseus doesn’t appear in the first four books of The Odyssey, planting the seeds for the end of the story, The Iliad, and the missing epics, why not read The Iliad first?, novel vs. tragedy, Robert Fagles, E.V. Rieu, Ian Mckellan’s narration, The Apology Of Socrates by Plato, Telemachus’ dilemma, The Teaching Company, The Telemache (the first four books of The Odyssey), xenia, xenos (guest, host, foreigner, and friend), hospitality and the ancient world, an exploration of the concept of xenia, Pallas Athena, disguised, “he’s a suitor”, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, war orphans, embracing the stranger, xenophilia, the recurring turns of phrase, “the wine dark sea” and “bright eyed Athena”, the wise don’t lie, Basil Fawlty is not a very wise man, gearing down, Dan Simmons’s Hyperion, a story for a nation of city states, Nestor’s son was the fastest runner, wisdom comes in many flavours, Helen as a host, was Helen complicit with her kidnapping?, how should we read Helen?, dosing the household, the status of women in ancient Greece, the Entitled Opinions podcast (on Homer And Homeric Epics), The Odyssey is the story of a marriage, adventure with gods, the role of The Odyssey in ancient Greek religion, Socrates was convicted (in part) of denying the gods, miracles as an intervention, why do the gods disguise themselves?, are the gods simply external manifestations of human thought?, were the ancient Greeks more gullible than we?, the editorial introduction by E.V. Rieu, one of the greatest books ever, next time will be books V, VI, VII and VIII.

The World Of Homer - illustrated by Ernie Chan

Posted by Jesse Willis

Cathy And Heathcliff by Emily Brontë – from The Crackerjack Book For Girls

SFFaudio Online Audio

Cathy And Heathcliffe by Emily Brontë - illustration by William Stobbs

I’ve been looking for an excuse to begin reading Emily Brontë‘s Wuthering Heights!

Now I’ve got one.

This excerpt from the novel works well on it’s own, and makes up the bulk of chapters IV, V, and VI.

I found it in a great uncopyrighted (and undated) kid’s book from the mid 20th century called The Crackerjack Book For Girls!

The Crackerjack Book For Girls

I love these old collections, they combine terrific illustrations with a level of intelligence that’s hard to find in modern kid’s books.

What I’ve actually done here is taken the story’s text and images |PDF| and matched them up with the terrific solo narrated audiobook as performed by the talented Ruth Golding for LibriVox. Or to put it another way I abridged the public domain audiobook of Wuthering Heights to match the text as it appears in The Crackerjack Book For Girls. Here’s the |MP3|.

I should also point out that the complete audiobook of the novel is HERE).

Before you listen, read, or watch the video check out the introduction to Cathy And Heathcliff as it appeared in The Crackerjack Book For Girls:

Emily Brontë was one of three sisters – all if them writers – who lived in the first half of the nineteenth century. Their father was a clergyman and their home was Haworth Parsonage, a bleak, rather forbidding house with the gravestones if the churchyard on one side and the wild, desolate Yorkshire moors on the other.

Their lives were spent in this lonely little village if the West Riding, and the Yorkshire character and landscape colour all their writings. Emily, particularly, loved the windswept, moorland country which surrounded their home, and Wuthering Heights, her only novel, owes its sombre, fascinating atmosphere to the background if her life.

Of the three sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, only the work of Charlotte gained recognition in the author’s lifetime; but now, a century later, we recognise the true genius if Emily. The beauty of her poetry, and the power and dramatic quality if her novel far excel anything written by her sisters (even Charlotte’s masterpiece, Jane Eyre).

Wuthering Heights relates the histories of two neighbouring Yorkshire families, the Lintons and the Earnshaws, through three generations; and the changes if fortune brought upon both of them by the chance action if Mr. Earnshaw, which is described in the excerpt from the book which follows. The strange little foundling boy grows up to be the principal actor in the drama. This is Heathcliff, a character drawn with a power and assurance which at once mark Emily Brontë as a great English writer.
(The story is told in the first person, and is taken up in turn by minor characters in the book. Here Nellie Dean, an old family servant, is telling the story.)

And here’s the afterword:

This incident marked the close of a chapter in Heathcliff’s life. The Cathy who came back to Wuthering Heights had changed beyond his recognition; her stay with the Lintons had turned her into an elegant young lady with fine clothes and manners. In bitter disappointment and despair, Heathcliff fled. Years later he returned, a grown man. Hatred and a desire for revenge had taken complete possession of him, and his one reason for living had become vengeance upon Hindley.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Markheim by Robert Louis Stevenson

SFFaudio Online Audio

William Coon, who appeared on SFFaudio Podcast #063, has a terrific sounding UNABRIDGED recording of Markheim by Robert Louis Stevenson over on LibriVox. Here’s what one of the proofers said about Bill’s narration:

“[Markheim] is GREAT! You’ve got just the right balance of shrewdness and madness and you really bring it off well. I listened to it over and over, catching new things every time. Thanks for several wonderful days of listening!”

Myself I’ve also been enjoying this narration as well as an abridged reading I found over on (Markheim was also recorded for the first episode of a four part BBC Radio 7 Drama series entitled Short History of Gothic).

In a strange way Markheim is a kind of hardboiled/noir version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Like Scrooge, Markheim is a sinner who at Christmas, finds himself confronted by the consequences of his sin. But whereas 19th century miserliness is Scrooge’s big problem, Markheim’s issue is of a more alarming type. His petty crimes have slowly accelerated from his youth, until now, when he finds himself, in this tale, a bloody-handed murderer. But like A Christmas Carol, both characters (Scrooge and Markheim) find their hinge points only when confronted by a visit from the supernatural.

Markheim as illustrated by Michael Lark

Illustration by Michael Lark, found in The Essential Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde – The Definitive Annotated Edition.

By Robert Louis Stevenson; Read by William Coon
1 |MP3| – Approx. 44 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: 2006

BBC Radio 7 - BBC7A Short History Of Gothic – Markheim
By Robert Louis Stevenson; Read by Hugh Bonneville
1 Broadcast – Approx. 30 Minutes [ABRIDGED]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 7
Broadcast: December 12, 2009
“Hugh Bonneville reads Robert Louis Stevenson’s macabre tale charting one man’s rapid fall from grace.”

The Weird CircleWeird Circle – Markheim
Based on the short story by Robert Louis Stevenson; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 25 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: May 20, 1945
This is a radical adaptation, set in a contemporary (to 1945) setting, and providing much of the presumed back-story (stuff that isn’t actually in the text of Stevenson’s original tale).

Here are a couple more Markheim illustrations [this time by Lynd Ward – found in The Haunted Omnibus (1937)]

Robert Louis Stevenson's Markheim as illustrated by Lynd Ward - from The Haunted Omnibus (1937)

Robert Louis Stevenson's Markheim as illustrated by Lynd Ward - from The Haunted Omnibus (1937)

[also via Golden Age Comic Book Stories]

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: Mary Shelley, William Morris and Horace Walpole

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxA recent flurry of furious audiobook cataloging over the past week on has resulted in a massive new library of old SFF listens! Here are three old novels, almost ancient in fact. Now before you get too excited, they will be rather difficult listening for beginners – but, for a select few connoisseurs, these are priceless gems.

First up, from the author of the first Science Fiction novel….

LibriVox Science Fiction Audiobook - The Last Man by Mary ShelleyThe Last Man
By Mary Shelley; Read by various
32 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 18 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Published: October 9th, 2008
The Last Man is an early post-apocalyptic science fiction novel by Mary Shelley, which was first published in 1826. The book tells of a future world that has been ravaged by a plague. The plague gradually kills off all people. Lionel Verney, central character, son of a nobleman who gambled himself into poverty, finds himself immune after being attacked by an infected “negro,” and copes with a civilization that is gradually dying out around him.

Podcast feed:

Next, the first modern Fantasy novel (chosen from our 2nd Annual SFFaudio Challenge and nearly a year in the making) way to go Cori!

LibriVox Fantasy Audiobook - The Wood Beyond The World by William MorrisThe Wood Beyond the World
By William Morris; Read by Cori Samuel
12 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 5 Hours 20 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: October 9th, 2008
The Wood Beyond The World is a fantasy novel by William Morris, perhaps the first modern fantasy writer to unite an imaginary world with the element of the supernatural, and thus the precursor of much of present-day fantasy literature. His use of archaic language has been seen by some modern readers as making his fiction difficult to read, but brings a wonderful atmosphere to the telling. Morris considered his fantasies a revival of the medieval tradition of chivalrous romances. In consequence, they tend to have sprawling plots of strung-together adventures. In this story, Walter leaves his father and his own unfaithful wife and sets sail in search of adventure. This he finds aplenty, encountering love, treachery and magic in the Wood of the title and travelling through the Mountains of the Folk of the Bears. But can he find happiness and peace by means of this Quest?

Podcast feed:

And, The forerunner for both, the first gothic novel!

LibriVox Gothic Novel - The Castle Of Otranto by Horace WalpoleThe Castle of Otranto
By Horace Walpole; Read by Great Plains
6 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 4 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Published: October 6th, 2008
The Castle of Otranto is a 1764 novel by Horace Walpole. It is generally held to be the first gothic novel, initiating a literary genre which would become extremely popular in the later 18th century and early 19th century. Thus, Castle, and Walpole by extension is arguably the forerunner to such authors as Ann Radcliffe, Bram Stoker, Daphne du Maurier, and Stephen King.

Podcast feed:

Posted by Jesse Willis