I have a confession to make. I don’t read books. At least, not to any great length. I use them for research but never for leisure and rarely in their entirety. I am always short of time and I cannot sit still for 5 minutes. Yes I know – shame shame shame! But it is all with good reason; at least I think so.
Instead, I have discovered the audio book. I want to read Lord Byron’s poetry. But I find his work impossible under my own steam. Epics like Don Juan take up far more time than I have to spare. People had less to do back in his day. Reading was an all consuming activity. If I can manage one tweet without losing interest it’s a miracle *sad face*.
I discovered Librivox as I searched in vain for the various poems written post 1818 to help colour my film script about Tita’s life. What I found, eventually, was Peter Gallagher’s recordings of Don Juan. At present only Cantos I, V, XIII, XIV, XV and XVI are available but I have it on good authority that the rest are in progress. It is a mammoth undertaking.
Every other attempt to find audio formats of Byron’s work have resulted in what sounds like the labours of a demented serial killer doing a 30 year stretch. Or Clint Eastwood in classic cowboy guise. And why are they always so romantic? Please Youtube contributors stop with the Adagio and Austenesque style imagery. You are doing it no favours. If you read enough of LB’s work you’ll realise Byron doesn’t write about love verbatim. To quote Peter Cochran:
poetry of lament, of mourning, of regret, of farewell, of mistrust, of jealousy, of warning, of hatred, of gratitude, of reproof, of bitterness … hardly ever of love. He never writes about the moment, but is always bidding farewell.
And I’m not surprised given his chequered experiences with it.
These Librivox fragments have opened up a whole new world for me. Now I can travel about (well I’m a captive audience anyway) and work at my design business whilst ‘reading’. And Peter’s delivery is fantastic. He transfers the wit and satirical vein of Don Juan into words with tone and pace. And like the flick of a switch, now I understand it.
Sadly this is the only recording I have found which fits Byron’s style. The others to coin a Tweet ‘bleed the life out of the poetry‘. I got scarcely a couple of minutes through offerings of ‘Childe Harold’, ‘The Giaour’ and ‘Lara’ without crying stop and cringing inwardly.
Somebody, please continue Peter’s good work and do the poeshie justice. I will love you forever and promote you mercilessly.