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Paradise lost is a poem that gains greatly by being read aloud. Passages which on the printed page may seem convoluted and obscure can be made clear by a good reader, and Anton Lesser is, as always not merely a good but an outstanding reader. His voice at first may seem slight and lacking resonance but he follows the argument and pace of the narrative with great intelligence and is able to differentiate and characterise convincingly all the different voices that speak in the poem. This skill is essential, since unlike the abridged version published by Naxos some years ago, he is the sole narrator. As such he does a superb job throughout the long and varied length of this poem.
The old Argo recording of substantial portions of the epic still seems to me unmatched -with Tony Church as a superb narrator, Michael Redgrave as a splendidly theatrical Satan, Michael Hordern as a plausible God the father, Prunella scales as a movingly characterised Eve. The use of different voices is undoubtably better and more in keeping with the strong dramatic element in this epic. It is a pity that this and other Argo recordings are no longer available. But Anton Lesser as a single narrator does the job perhaps as well as it can be done (and is certainly preferable to the pedestrian version by Frederic Davidson). If you know Paradise Lost, you will find Anton Lessor's reading always clear and often illuminating.If you are approaching this marvellous poem for the first time, this reading is an ideal way to gain an overview of the whole epic.
74 of 77 people found this review helpful
Paradise Lost was always something I wanted to read but never got round to. This is an excellent performance; Anton Lesser brings the text to life, imbuing the characters with power and emotion. Because of this, I would recommend this audiobook over the print version any day of the week.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
This edition of Paradise Lost seems superior to the one narrated by Fredrick Davidson, which is also available on Audible. Davidson'a intonations are more emphatic, but he misses the stately regality and austerity which are more appropriate for this epic.
Short music precedes each of the books of the poem, the baroque nature of which helps to prime the reader for a magnificent theme. Paradise Lost itself has been compared to organ music, and the analogy is an apt one.
Of course, listening to this audiobook with full perception requires wholehearted attention; it is not the one to mitigate the boredom of jogging or divert the mind while doing laundry.
65 of 68 people found this review helpful
Have you ever read the Book of Job?
In the Book of Job, Lucifer approaches God and tells him that he has been to and fro across the entire world, and basically states that everyone in the world is a sinner and deserves to go to hell (paraphrase).
God replies by asking Lucifer if he has seen his servant Job. Satan responds that Job is only good, because of all the good things God has blessed him with. "take away all those good things, and Job will curse God". And thus begins the memorable story of Job's testing by Satan, God's protection, and the ultimate blessing on Job for his faith in God.
In Job, the reader is given a rare glimpse into some Heavenly workings, such as: what the armies of Heaven can be like, the Throne Room of God, Temptation from spiritual forces, and how God responds to rebel angels, and etc...
Milton, in his book Paradise Lost, has taken the same approach in story-telling to show how Satan led one-third of the angels of Heaven in an attempt to usurp the throne of God for their own glory, God's reprisal, and later how the Fallen sought to disrupt God's creation(s).
Although published in 1667, 'Paradise Lost' carries the power of religious truth that is still relevant today. The language, however, can present problems for modern ears. Milton seems to especially love to use words like: adamantine, obdurate, importune, and etc... Milton was obviously creating high-poetry on par with his subject, though sometimes it can feel almost too lofty to be attainable. The imagery, if patient, can be striking and profound, when Milton's voice is not so present.
Anton Lesser does a fine job of speaking life into the words without seeming artificial (though occasionally it can take on the tone of a Shakesperian play).
I would recommend this as an important listen, if you are in the right state of mind for such epic imagery (and sometimes tiring vocabulary).
7 of 7 people found this review helpful