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"Dead Souls" is a wonderful book. It has all the wit and linguistic dexterity of Dickens, and still is utterly and completely Russian. The elusive "Russian spirit" is on every page. Truly a masterpiece, presented here in a very good translation. The reader does an excellent job, too; his voices do slip here and there, but never for more than a second or two.
There is, however, one thing to note about this audiobook: Gogol intended this to be a three-volume work. In his lifetime, he only published the first volume. He apparently wrote some of the second part, but then burned it. Now, it seems that some fragments of this second part have survived, and these are included in the audiobook. Listening to that half of the audiobook isn't really enjoyable: every time you start to follow the plot, the narrator says "at this point there is a long hiatus in the original" and jumps off to a much later part of the story, complete with new and unfamiliar characters and full of references to events you have no knowledge of. I think the audiobook would have been better without this rather pointless second part, and would recommend stopping after the first.
40 of 40 people found this review helpful
Firstly, this is a serviceable translation of Gogol's masterwork, and narrator Tom Weiner does a better than average job of bringing the novel to life (though somehow his imperious tone doesn't quite suit the text). But this is NOT an Unabridged reading of Dead Souls. The edited text is missing somewhere between 8-10% of Gogol's prose, mostly big chunks of descriptive exposition and digressive ruminations on the writer's life as it relates to Russian society. These excisions allow the plot to lurch forward more briskly, but Gogol has much more to offer than plot. I am deeply annoyed at the Audible editors who didn't take the time to realize this. Given all the unemployed Ph.Ds out there, the company should consider hiring experts in specific fields of literature as editors to ensure this type of false advertisement doesn't happen again. P.S. When I initially download the book two weeks ago, the thumbnail they used was of the Vintage Classics edition, translated by the great Pevear and Volokhonsky. This has since been revised, but further adds to the unreliability of the Audible marketers when it comes to disclosing to the customer exactly what they're getting. It's only fair to close by saying I've downloaded dozens of Audible titles over the years, and this is the first time I've had grounds for complaint.
35 of 36 people found this review helpful
Dead Souls was recommended to me as a classic of Russian Literature. The story is interesting, and contains excellent characterisation as well as evoking the richness of Russian society and exploring philosopical and moral issues.
The reading is good; the male narrator has an American accent. His tone and reading help bring the story to life. Personally I would prefer a reading with a British or Russian accent. However, it is pleasing to have this classic novel available as an audiobook, so I shouldn't be too picky!
I like to follow the audiobook with the text version (downloaded from Project Gutenberg on my Ipod). The chapter numbers did not exactly correspond with the book, had they done so it would have made my task easier.
Overall, worth buying and listening too.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
What disappointed you about Dead Souls?
I persisted with this book beyond the call of duty, through tortuous prose, seeing it through to the end - or at least what passed for the end: it finishes mid sentence, followed by the reader's note: "here the manuscript of the original comes to an abrupt end". There had been some missing pages acknowledged previously and a few places where it felt as though the plotline skipped forwards, breaking up the storyline – or maybe I nodded off, having failed to maintain my level of engagement – and the only thing I can say that is positive about this Audiobook is that it saved me having to read it.
What could Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
If he'd finished it, it would have helped. Or on the basis that he had, that the translator had translated a complete copy. Having enjoyed Gogol's short stories and some interpretations of longer ones, I will stick to those in future.
What didn’t you like about Tom Weiner’s performance?
He made a decent fist of it, but his voice was too monotone and the delivery was relentless, lacking emphasis or dramatic pauses.
You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?
Other than saving me from having to read it, and confirming that I am more tenacious than is good for me, no. I should have returned it within the first hour, having failed to engage with it, and I feel robbed.
Any additional comments?
If this was a translation of the only remaining copy of the book, then I would question its validity as a competed work - let alone an unabridged one. If there are complete editions, to have translated and portrayed this as the unabridged work is a misrepresentation. None of the storylines reach any conclusion and I should have spent those 12 hours more constructively.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful