(P) and ©1996 Penguin Books USA Inc.
"To re-create a world where everything is living...is very nearly as difficult as to create it. Fagles does this with triumphant assurance; every arrowhead flashes lightning, every bush burns; Homer is with us." (James Dickey)
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"A masterpiece marred by technical glitches"
Both Robert Fagles translation and Ian McKellen's reading are superb. However, at about five hours in, the recording began to exhibit technical glitches related to speed. I re-downloaded the audiobook, but to no avail. No matter how good McKellen is, listening to someone's voice slowed down or sped up is too annoying, especially for a work that already demands so much attention.
"Beautiful recording marred by audio problems!"
First of all, this is a beautiful recording and translation of the Odyssey. For those, wishing to attempt Homer's epics, I highly suggest you start with the excellent Fagles rendering of the Iliad, also available here on audible and free of the quality problems that plague this file.
What mars this book has nothing to do with the narration or translation, but with the quality of the audio file itself. There is an earlier review here that states that the speed of the recording has been slowed down in one of the chapters. It even sounds like a different narrator. Some files sound pristine and clear, every OTHER file sounds like they recorded it through a closet wall. I found myself adjusting the treble on my speakers constantly.
I contacted Audible, and although they did respond; they wanted specific. All they have to do is to have an actual listener sit down and listen to these files on bigger sound system than that of a laptop or e-reader. I have yet to see a resolution.
His voice is like honey and thunder and velvet all rolled into one.....studied Homer at school....would have been so much better with Sir Ian reading it to me
The translation is not overly wordy but still very eloquent. The narrarator is an absolutely perfect fit! This is the only book I've listen to the literraly had me yelling out with glee on more then one occasion!
WARNING - YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO STOP LISTENING TO THIS!
"Some chapter starts/audio issues"
The 4 star rating in this case is only for the 2005 Penguin Audio audiobook edition of Robert Fagles' 1996 translation of Homer's The Odyssey. This is not a reflection on Fagles' translation or Ian McKellen's narration which are both 5 stars. The lower rating is only due to a few chapter/verse timing issues and the occasional distraction due to the ambience of different recording sessions combined into one audiobook. The recording is from the pre-digital download era and the audio chapters are based on approximate 30 minute timings (1 side of a cassette tape?), regardless of the actual Homeric verses. So the 24 Chapter starts are only occasionally equal to the beginnings of the 24 Verses of the Odyssey. This may or may not be a distraction for some. It is probably not a major issue if you are following along with a print edition.
One segment, Chapters 9 to 12 in the audiobook, middle of Verse 10 to the end of Verse 12 in Homer, has a significant audio issue. The speed of McKellen's reading drops to a deep bass voice at a seemingly slowed down audiospeed, as if the tape slowed down or McKellen was suffering from a serious cold on the day of the recording. This is enormously distracting when compared to the sound of the voice before and after this segment. Again, this is not a deal breaker but listeners should at least be forewarned of this fault.
The audiobook also excludes Bernard Knox's introduction that is available in the Penguin print edition.
Fagles' is an excellent translation, and the reader is outstanding. One of the best contemporary translations. However, despite the "unabridged" label, this version appears to be subtly edited or cut down.
"An Ancient Classic"
As you can expect, especially if you have taken some time to read other reviews of this book, the narration of Sir Ian McKellen is absolutely top notch. He flows through the text as though he were born to it, with no pauses at places where the order, and choice of words, show how very long ago this was written. His inflection help make the story become larger than life, and showcases why this is considered to be such a grand, sweeping, epic.
I have read an account of this book as a child, but wanted to experience the epic in its full timeless glory. I have to admit, I was a little surprised at how many tears were shed by practically everyone included in the story. They do not detract much from the deeds of the most unlucky of heroes, Odysseus; but there were times in which they did not seem to enhance the story much either.
There were a couple of places where there seemed to be minor technical issues. A word clipped, resulting in missing perhaps a second or two of reading. Later, a section of narration lasting several minutes, where it seemed the speed of the recording was reduced by a small percentage. Just enough to lower the pitch of Ian's voice and make him sound a bit tired. Based on the rest of the narration, I am confident that this was not the case, but rather an unfortunate effect of the audio editing.
I highly recommend this audio book, and can see it as a wonderful supplement to a high school or college course in which the Odyssey is required reading. I am glad that I finally made the choice to experience this ancient classic.
"Audible made my reading assignment easy"
I am a college student and not used to this type of literature. when our teacher assigned this reading, I was overwhelmed because the reading seemed hard to understand and lots of work, but when I read the book with audible, it was fun experience and made my reading easy to read and understand; in fact, I ended up enjoying my book and looking forward for more.
"Ian McKellen is incredible!"
This audiobook is absolutely fantastic, and Ian McKellen's narration is first rate (for those of you who don't know who is is, he played Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings movies). It is by far the best audio adaption of a classical text that I have ever heard. Buy it. Seriously
No-one can beat Sir Ian at this kind of thing. He's probably one of the greatest performers of classical text. He doesn't just recite the verse, he speaks it. He speaks every sentence with immaculately chosen intonations that communicate meaning and emotion perfectly. I can't imagine a better reader to bring out the depth and magic of Homer.
This book is an excellent reading of the Odyssey. The only qualm I have with it is that the chapters do not correlate to the book numbers; as an example, book 5 starts in the middle of chapter 4, which can be somewhat confusing when trying to gauge where in the story you are. Other than that it was great!
"Beautifully translated & read; poor sound quality"
This is a recent, wonderful and acclaimed translation and it is beautifully read to boot. These outstanding qualities count for little as the sound quality is so poor that at times one gives up listening out of sheer frustration. The narrative is so muffled that at times it is indistinct and the narrative flow is lost. A real disappointment, not because of a poor text or bad reader, but because of a careless or indifferent presentation. I have tried listening to both the normal and the enhanced downloads and both suffer equally. Someone at Audible needs to look at this as I cannot believe the original would have been released with these obvious faults.
"Telling a little too dramatic"
This is a classic and great story that I've always wanted to read but I'm very happy that I've listened to it finally!
The only real drawback for me was that I found Ian mckellen a little too dramatic with his reading at times. I think he's great but sometimes I would have preferred less pausing but it didn't deter me from listening to the whole thing.
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