UKEMI AUDIOBOOKS is a new digital label for the spoken word founded by Nicolas Soames. It presents fiction and non-fiction titles which are either unavailable as downloads or which need fresh, clear and authoritative recordings. They range from C J Jung’s important autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections and Seneca’s The Moral Epistles, to Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks and Samuel Beckett’s Murphy. For details of all releases click on the CATALOGUE tab. All titles can be downloaded from Audible.
A QUINTET OF IMPORTANT TITLES
As Autumn 2021 beckons, Ukemi presents five new titles which, in their reach and variety, demonstrate a major purpose of the label – to bring important non-fiction unabridged classics to audiobook for the first time.
The Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus (37-c 100 CE) is a fascinating but also an idiosyncratic historical document. Born Yosef ben Maitityahu, Josephus went from militant Jewish fighter opposed to the Roman Empire, to slave, then becoming a respected scholar before finally, as his adopted name suggests, espousing Roman ways. In his ‘Antiquities’ he set out to tell the history of the Jews by retelling the early Bible stories and segueing into more carefully documented history – right up to the First Jewish Revolt (66-73 CE). It is interesting to note that it is through this huge work that particular knowledge of the rule of emperors such as Caesar, Pompey, August, as well as other figures such as Herod, have come down to us; and it is here that a teacher called Jesus Christ is mentioned for the first time in a Classical text. Admirably read by Allan Corduner, it is his first recording for Ukemi Audiobooks.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau regarded Emile or On Education as his most important work, behind The Social Contract – and it certainly caused considerable controversy on its publication in 1762. Essentially, Rousseau set out to present an ideal educational path for a boy from infancy to adulthood. He emphasised the role of nature and the development of a craft above book learning in the early years; and he also proposed more open religious education rather than unquestioning indoctrination. It had an immediate impact on European society and changed views on nurture and upbringing. It certainly retains some relevance to education today – though his views on girls and women (rooted in attitudes of the time) prompted a vigorous response from Mary Wollstonecraft among others.
Duc de la Rochefoucauld’s collection of The Maxims was another French best-seller of its time, though it dates from a century earlier (1665). Here are some 600 aphorisms and cool observations on human attitudes and behaviour, many of which have become embedded in Western culture: ‘There’s no fool like an old fool’…’The world is full of pots calling kettles black’… ‘We can no more set a term to our passions than to our life’.
Continuing the French theme, the spotlight now falls on Pierre-Simon Laplace, often regarded as the ‘French Newton’ though he lived a century later (1749-1827). He was certainly a remarkable polymath, producing innovative works on engineering, mathematics, statistics, physics, astronomy and philosophy. A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities (1825) looks at the wide range of probability, and applies it to demographics, games of chance and even to the reliability of witnesses in a trial. It was a groundbreaking work on the subject and is still studied today.
Finally, over to Germany for another sensationally controversial book published in 1841 – The Essence of Christianity by Ludwig Feuerbach, which is nothing less than an anthropological dissection of Christianity in particular and a critique of religion in general. This received its first English translation ten years later from the pen of Marian Evans – George Eliot! – for the work had a profound effect on her views as they emerged in her life and her novels. It is a remarkable – and brave – document for its time in its honest commitment to questioning long-held attitudes.
So – quite a quintet of releases for Autumn 2021. And there are more on the way.