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Reading literature aloud versions
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2007 4:32 pm Reply with quote
doodah
 
Joined: 27 Apr 2007
Posts: 28
Location: Spain


(from Your favorite audiobooks?)

ptillen wrote:
I especially wonder why authors are allowed to do their own readings.


Why shouldn't writers be allowed (?) to do their own readings? I mean, what is the reason sustaining that?

It's funny... That's also a statement you hear in academic circles in Spain... And it makes me wonder. Why is it said - as if everybody agreed - that writers' readings of their own work should be left to... somebody else? (Who? Actors and actresses? Other writers? Scholars?)

Question

It's an empirical question!


Last edited by doodah on Sat May 12, 2007 4:33 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Part 1
PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2007 2:40 pm Reply with quote
doodah
 
Joined: 27 Apr 2007
Posts: 28
Location: Spain


Well, perhaps this is not a public forum, or a discussion forum, because I've been here for a few days and it seems people communicate among themselves but not with "aliens"... ? Smile
I'll stay for a little while anyway, in case that's not the case, because we run forums too and I know some have a slower rhythm, which is always actually really nice! considering how little free time we have!


Back to the VERY mysterious issue...

I bet my life Cervantes and Shakespeare read really well what they wrote. And Quevedo! I bet he was great reading his sonnets. I know all our Generación del 27 Poets read really well what they wrote. Cernuda, Aleixandre, Machado. Alberti, too. Lorca did!

I bet Salinger reads really well what he writes. What about Isabel Allende, García Márquez, Sandra Cisneros? Audre Lorde, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath? Margaret Atwood, Adrienne Rich and Alice Walker do. Ray Bradbury perhaps. Is he a lousy reader of his stories? Do you imagine Anaïs Nin, the Dadaists, Mina Loy, Gertrude Stein being lousy readers of their works? And Steinbeck?! Or Hemingway, DosPassos, Scott Fitzgerald, Sherwood Anderson? Or even Nietzche? (considering his work kind of literary) What about Leonora Carrignton or Jean Rhys? William Faulkner, Jane Bowles, Carson McCullers? Mark Twain, Saki? What about Doris Lessing, Bessie Head, Chinua Achebe, Nadie Gordimer? Gee, the more I brainstorm, the more that statement makes me wonder! Would they be examples of "Writers are lousy readers of their work"?


Would you be able to affirm without a shadow of doubt that it'd be better for everybody if they didn't read their own works out loud?


Last edited by doodah on Sat May 12, 2007 2:55 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Part 2
PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2007 4:32 pm Reply with quote
doodah
 
Joined: 27 Apr 2007
Posts: 28
Location: Spain


I wonder why that idea is considered by the people who use it such a good idea when, in any case, there'd be nothing offensive or wrong in authors reading their own stuff, would there?

Going back to Cervantes and Shakespeare. I bet Cervantes read as a writer and Shakespeare read as an actor his plays and as a writer his sonnets.

There are various general approaches to reading literature aloud (not to mention the infinite personal approaches!).

* One connected to a focus on the power of words, its images/ideas, rhythm, sound... (the writers') - reading a poem... this is it: the bread - you don't need to add music or the expressiveness of your emotional interpretation because you love the words themselves, the music they create by themselves, etc (all those reasons the criticism I mentioned despises).

* Another connected to connecting words to music (songwriters, composers') - singing a poem... the bread and the wine! The music in the words themselves, the images or ideas in the poem, inspire the musician to create her/his own interpretation of that poem...

* And the popular one, dramatization, that connected to what actresses and actors do when they read literature - they add their own interpretation: the texture of their voice, their feelings in intonation, etc. - declamating a poem... the bread with butter and jam!

The three approaches offer good and bad things. It's like when you get a movie version of a book. Sometimes it's worse than the book, sometimes it's better, sometimes it's just different...

But, surprinsingly enough, in academic-like circles (men's poetry meetings, mixed university gatherings...) in Spain, and apparently, elsewhere, the idea that authors are pathetic when they read their work is popular.

I feel unable to state something like that quite as categorically. How can we feel so sure that it's OK to say writers read their work really bad? Wouldn't that be a bit arrogant?

That's why I was asking. I really want to know what sustains that affirmation. If there's something sustaining it, I'll learn something. If there's nothing sustaining it, maybe people contributing to spread that idea feel like giving it a second thought, in case perhaps it's not such a good statement after all.
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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 11:06 pm Reply with quote
ptillen
 
Joined: 14 Apr 2007
Posts: 22


I'm sure there are many examples of authors throughout history who may have read (or performed) their stuff very well. I refer more specifically to audiobooks in which I (for one) expect a little bit more of a performance than a very dry reading.
Calvin Trillin is an excellent example. His essays and novels are laugh-out-loud funny and I've been a big fan of his writing for decades. I was amazed to hear his reading of his own stuff is dry and expressionless, succeeding in sapping the considerable amount of brightness and wit from his writing. A real actor would have performed the pieces and made them truly enjoyable to listen to.
I guess what I really meant is that authorship is no guarantee of an enjoyable audio performance.
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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 9:32 am Reply with quote
doodah
 
Joined: 27 Apr 2007
Posts: 28
Location: Spain


Hello!

Thanks for replying.

Well, the cliché that writers should not read their works aloud operates in my society and I was just surprised to hear you mention it because you might be from the USA, another country! I wonder if there are more countries where this cliché works in!

In any case, I see your point now. Your wording was great, and I can agree with it as a general statement (ptillen: "what I really meant is that authorship is no guarantee of an enjoyable audio performance"). In terms of audiobooks, I suppose it's a matter of preferences. I prefer to listen to austere readings, even if they put you to sleep (because just listening is hard work)! I get somewhat nervous when I find the person reading kind of performing, interpreting the feelings and tone, and all that. Because I often find I wouldn't interpret that tone or whatever from those written words... And then I wish there were greater chances to find audiobooks without dramatization, because the truth is that most of them are dramatized

I don't know the author you mention, but I'll try to see if I get a copy or something. Thanks.

Saludos!
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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 9:55 am Reply with quote
ptillen
 
Joined: 14 Apr 2007
Posts: 22


Quote:
Well, the cliché that writers should not read their works aloud operates in my society and I was just surprised to hear you mention it because you might be from the USA, another country! I wonder if there are more countries where this cliché works in!


I don't think that cliche operates here in the US- I live in a medium-size city and the newspaper is full of listings of authors on "book tours"- which I presume would include reading from their work. I don't travel in literary circles, but I've never heard complaints about this. Very interesting!



Quote:
I don't know the author you mention, but I'll try to see if I get a copy or something.


Please do! His body of work includes several books of essays about food and restaurants, as well as political commentary, and novels. Great stuff, highly entertaining. His latest book, "About Alice" is a memoir of his wife who died a few years ago. Not as humorous, but very sweet and moving. A wonderful writer.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 5:23 pm Reply with quote
doodah
 
Joined: 27 Apr 2007
Posts: 28
Location: Spain


Can you believe this, ptillen? I checked out Amazon UK, which is the website I use to buy from Spain, and I can only find the books, not the audios.

I have a little question: it seems the latest book is part of a series, or something. Can I buy it, or do I need to read other books before that?

Thanks and Saludos! Very Happy
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 10:18 pm Reply with quote
ptillen
 
Joined: 14 Apr 2007
Posts: 22


Hola-
I assume you're asking about "About Alice"? It was originally printed as an essay in (I believe) New Yorker magazine; Trillin subsequently expanded it a little and published it in book form at the request of his editor. So I don't think it's part of a series, although it is a very small, brief book, it stands alone as a "love letter', as it's been called, to his late wife.
Hope that's helpful.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2007 7:11 pm Reply with quote
MrPedantic
 
Joined: 16 Nov 2007
Posts: 9


Actors often put too much "expression" into their readings of poetry: they try to edge you towards a certain sentimental interpretation.

Ezra Pound read his poems in a curious dry half-chant; T.S. Eliot, rather like a treasury official announcing some minor adjustment to income tax allowances. I would much prefer to listen to their versions than the usual blowsy Judi-Dench-style mouthings.

MrP
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2007 8:09 pm Reply with quote
doodah
 
Joined: 27 Apr 2007
Posts: 28
Location: Spain


Oh, wow, I didn't know. I'm glad someone agrees, hahahahah... And I'm surprised to know it's someone who considers himself pedantic!???? (burning curious here!)

Did those writers get the chance to get recordings of their own readings? I bought some by Joyce, and Hemingway and the Dadaists, and then by Stephen King, and I've hear Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath doing their readings, too.

Saludos!
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 9:15 am Reply with quote
Mister Micawber
 
Joined: 17 Nov 2007
Posts: 7
Location: Yokohama


.
You can hear Ezra Pound read briefly from his Cantos on an MP3 HERE.
.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 9:43 am Reply with quote
doodah
 
Joined: 27 Apr 2007
Posts: 28
Location: Spain


Thanks! Wow, he reads a bit like Rafael Alberti, a Spanish poet, or better said, the other way round.

(Turn your loudspeakers on! Though because of the music, he's not reading there as he does when he's voice is the only music) http://www.rafaelalberti.es/

By the way, I read "All About Alice". A beautiful letter, yes!
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 11:51 am Reply with quote
Dave
 
Joined: 08 Jun 2006
Posts: 357
Location: Washington, DC


MrPedantic wrote:
Actors often put too much "expression" into their readings of poetry: they try to edge you towards a certain sentimental interpretation.

I must say, as a performer and former stage actor who tends to put "expression" into my public speaking, that I agree with you completely.

It is one thing for a read to have a good strong sense of what the words mean. But I agree with you: when a reader emotes, it is as if he/she were adding special typography or colorful print or illustrations in the margins. It adds something to poetry that was not there before.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 7:08 am Reply with quote
Eileen Ann
 
Joined: 27 Jun 2008
Posts: 42


What an interesting discussion here. Do you recall who made the LP version of Under Milk Wood...? Not the author but the actor was known for his amazing voice, Richard Burton that was.

I haven't heard any personal readings of writers save for the odd literary circle. I tend not to bother with audio-books at all although they must be wonderful for many people. On the other hand, I used to love the Letter from America on BBC radio four by Alistaire Cooke because he had such a lovely, deep, slow and deliberate voice and it wouldn't have been the same had he not read his own work.

Bill Bryson, however, made a video of his book Notes from a small Island and it was so bad that I switched it off when I awoke! Certainly, Bryson's medium is the pen not the podium!

Bob Dylan's voice (I know that this is a slightly different subject) is fantastic also in speaking mode and I cannot imagine enjoying his songs as much as his own productions, than with anybody else.

So it all depends really, don't you think?
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