Author: Rainer Maria Rilke –
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing –
Genre: Literary fiction, Semiautobiography –
Overall rating: 5/5 –
Writing: 5/5 –
Duration: 7:27 (medium) –
Narrator: Simon Vance –
Narrator/performance: 5/5 –
Translator: Edward Snow ?/5 –
Performance errors: 0/5 –
Complexity/reading level: 3/5 –
This is a new translation of the now classic 1910 novel written by the renown Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke. This review refers to the narration performed by Simon Vance. I listened to the audiobook following the narrator, unfamiliar with the novel itself, despite it being a classic.
Simon Vance is certainly one of the stars among voice actors. He would not shy away from the serious challenge. Knowing that he was able to construct the smiling intellectual in the Japanese prisoner-of-war camp (in King Rat by James Clavell), I knew he could also paint anything told by a poet. This novel, however, is so full of powerful ideas that in the end it is not the narration but the writing which dominates the experience. It pays to reach the end of the audiobook. Although it starts with fearful, even depressing images, its final part is rewarding. It is a curious experience to surface from despair along with someone so gifted in describing emotions. There is a weight of voice behind the words, the voice’s responsibilities and origin unclear, as it attempts to answer some serious questions about belonging.
It is true that the novel contains some rather outdated ideas about women. It must also be said that while the style of narration is light as a feather, the subject is heavy. Despite the quality of translation and perfect performance, significantly easing the unfamiliarity of the old novel, it is not an easy read. The lengthy, academic introduction provides a little assistance.
This beautiful cover is based on the Portrait painting of Rainer Maria Rilke by Leonid Pasternak. The resulting image is nice and fitting. I like the green lettering but I am not sure about the black bold in the top part of the cover.
Cover Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash