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Archives > Best audiobook version of Thoreau's Walden?

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message 1: by Alan (new)

Alan (alanmintaka) | 186 comments Hi Everyone,
I'm new here, so please forgive my total lack of civilized behavior. I've been looking for an unabridged audiobook version of Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. The problem is that there are so many different editions with different readers, along with a full range of negative and positive reviews. Here's a sample list I cobbled up from a listing of editions available at Audible.

Walden: Life in the Woods
by Henry David Thoreau
Narrated by Alec Sand

Walden and On the Duty of Civil Disobedience
By Henry David Thoreau
Narrated by Robin Field

Walden
By Henry David Thoreau
Narrated by Adams Morgan

Walden
By Henry David Thoreau
Narrated by Mel Foster

Walden
By Henry David Thoreau
Narrated by William Hope

Walden
By Henry David Thoreau
Narrated by Jim Killavey

Is one of these an obvious standout? This in an excerpt from one of the Amazon customer reviews of the version read by Mel Foster:

"The reader's near monotone delivery does not exactly make Thoreau's inspired musings spring vividly to life, but his controlled placidity is not unsuited to the serene nature of the narrative either."

This was a 4-star review. It doesn't exactly sound like a ringing endorsement. I doubt I'd find any kind of equivalence between "monotone" and "controlled placidity". To me, "monotone" of any flavor is not good.

Does anyone have any opinions about any of these readers and/or editions of Walden?

Thanks for taking the time to read this post,
Big Al Mintaka


message 2: by John, Moderator (last edited Aug 20, 2010 07:48PM) (new)

John | 3647 comments Welcome, Al -- your question is a good one for a thread.

Although "Walden" isn't something I'd read myself, I have heard Jim Killavey, and wouldn't recommend him necessarily as a reader (he has another nom-de-narrator or two, but I forget which at the moment); from what I recall, his delivery was rather monotonous also.

I take it you listened to the samples of each @ Audible?


message 3: by Alan (new)

Alan (alanmintaka) | 186 comments
John wrote: "Welcome, Al -- your question is a good one for a thread...
...I take it you listened to the samples of each @ Audible? "


Hi John,
I didn't listen to the samples on the first pass because I just wasn't thinking. I went back to Audible and gave them all a try. The only reader I'm really partial to is Alec Sand. He has a decent voice and easygoing style.

Amazon has a two more unabridged editions, read by Rupert Degas and Dan Lazar. The latter is available only on Cassette but I don't mind transcribing cassettes to MP3 if the books are any good.

Unfortunately Amazon doesn't provide samples for these editions. The one read by Dan Lazar was published by Books on Tape in 1976 so I doubt there are any samples to be had anywhere online. The Rupert Degas edition was issued by Naxos so I went to that website and found that I could listen to "25% of the first track" if I signed up for a free subscription. So I did, and listened to Rupert Degas for a few minutes. He wasn't bad at all.

Naxos has another edition that's abridged. I didn't examine that one past the word "abridged".

Where I stand now is that I'm weighing the unabridged editions read by Alec Sand and Rupert Degas. It's kind of a tossup in terms of reading quality. The Degas edition has a slight lead in terms of content because Civil Disobedience is included. In addition Naxos has a really nice track listing I can easily cop for my cataloging database.

The price difference is huge: $5.99 for the Sand edition, $42.50 for the Degas. I don't mind paying for quality but...

Well, at least now I have information I can use. Thanks for that suggestion to sample the Audible titles.

Have a good one,
Big Al Mintaka


message 4: by John, Moderator (new)

John | 3647 comments Degas is a very good reader (I find his narration of Murakami's books terrific!) -- I suspect if you can wait a few months, that one'll likely show up at Audible.


message 5: by Alan (last edited Aug 22, 2010 02:36PM) (new)

Alan (alanmintaka) | 186 comments John wrote: "Degas is a very good reader (I find his narration of Murakami's books terrific!) -- I suspect if you can wait a few months, that one'll likely show up at Audible."

Yes, ultimately I decided that I liked him better than Sand. I hope they do get that version at Audible. I use Audible a lot to get MP3 audiobooks, via the tedium of burning the Audible files to audio CD first. Then I rip the audio CDs to MP3, add one MP3 disc to the audio CD set (for my car players) and copy the MP3 files to my cheapo walking player (Sansa Fuze).

It sounds like a lot of work but in many cases I can get obscure titles on MP3 that way. The cost is slightly less than buying MP3 discs (if they exist) depending on the shipping charges. Usually I save.

I use an old copy of Nero I keep on hand solely to burn the audio CDs. Audible's tech support claimed that I could also burn directly to MP3 if I used iTunes. I loathe iTunes and the whole concept of the iTunes store, synchronization with Windows Media Player. I tried anyway. Sure enough, there was an error message saying I couldn't use it to burn MP3 discs. Back to Nero and ripping.

I have the Fuze configured as a mass storage device. No synchronization nonsense there either. I do all the MP3 ripping and tagging myself with freeware. It's actually easier than the sync crap and it merges seamlessly with the process of transcribing old audio cassettes to MP3.

That's probably more information than you wanted. Bad habit, mine. Thanks for the input on Degas. I did search Audible to see what else he had done and was very impressed by his catalog.

Have a good one, and thanks once again for taking the time to read these long posts,
Big Al Mintaka


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