Archive | Introductions

A BUMPER SPRING RELEASE

A BUMPER SPRING RELEASE

By Nicolas Soames

There are no fewer than five new releases on Ukemi this month. And the variety is such that the main categories which the label has presented since it first started six years ago are fairly represented.

David Rintoul

We continue our survey of the influential titles of the psychologist Carl Gustav Jung with one of his most challenging titles – Aion – Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self. The title refers to the age of Christianity, and it is this that Jung, bringing his immensely wide learning to bear, considers ‘the collective psychic development’ the Christian era represents. He delves into the symbolism of the fish, the concepts of the ego, the shadow, the animus/anima, and brings to bear his wide studies not only into the Christian texts, including Gnostic material, but also texts alchemical and pagan. It is expertly read by David Rintoul.

A more secular consideration of phenomenology is the nature of the works of Martin Heidegger. Ukemi presents here a very useful compilation of four concise texts, What is Metaphysics?What is Philosophy?The Question of Being and On the Essence of Truth. Martyn Swain presents the challenging recording with his customary clarity.

Two other recordings go back to earlier times. Demosthenes (384-322 BCE) is regarded as one of the greatest of Classical orators, and his speeches, warning his fellow Athenians of the threat posed by the ambitions of Philip II of Macedon, and his son Alexander the Great. In this compilation, read persuasively by David Rintoul (an actor of considerable range!) we present The Principal SpeechesThe Three Olynthiac Orations, the Three Philippics, On the Peace and The Oration on the Letter. All have been read and closely studied since their original delivery over two millenia ago!

The second ancient classic is from another world (in many ways) – the medieval environment of the Heian period in Japan. The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon is a collection of witty, sharp, sensitive observations of a lady at the court of Empress Sadako. Writing in the last decade of the 10th century, Shōnagon noted the things she saw, the people she encountered, the feelings she experienced, giving us (not least through a natural literary facility backed by acute observation) a remarkable glimpse into her time. It stands shoulder to shoulder with The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikubu, which was written at the same time. It is presented here by Georgina Sutton, reading the unabridged translation by Ivan Morris.

Michael Lunts

And finally – we are back to Jung, via Richard Wagner! In the 1960s, the British musicologist Robert Donington produced the ground-breaking analysis of Wagner’s great opera cycle, seen through a ‘post-Jungian’ prism. In Wagner’s ‘Ring’ and its Symbols, Donington takes us through the four operas showing how the Jungian aspects of the personality infuses the story we know with a great richness and depth. Apply the archetypes (the father figure, the shadow, the hero et al) underpinning the myths; and then add a close look at the famous leitmotifs of the characters and their emotional turmoil (redemption, destiny, the Spear of Wotan) etc, and we emerge more aware of the enormity of the Wagnerian vision than ever before. In his original (Faber) book, Donington noted the leitmotifs in his main narrative, adding the piano score of all the major leitmotifs (for those who can read music) at the back. BUT in this recording, read AND played by Michael Lunts, the leitmotifs are there immediately, just when Donington is discussing the character of Loge, the insistence of the giants, Fasolt and Fafner, the passion of Siegmund and Sieglinde, the Curse of Alberich. This is audiobook recording at its very best – most helpful and most engaging – bringing together words and music. It is, I can assure you, an eyeopener…for anyone wanting to get to grips with The Ring!

 

Nicolas Soames

 

THE NEUROTIC CHARACTER – ALFRED ADLER

THE NEUROTIC CHARACTER – ALFRED ADLER

By Nicolas Soames

From our 21st century standpoint, the most influential, stand-out figures of 20th century psychology were Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and C. G Jung (1875-1961). They were colleagues initially, but their interests and personalities took them increasingly on divergent paths for which they are well-known, and for which they have their faithful adherents.

Of course, there were other figures, but these two acted as magnets to followers of differing natures, and both seemed to flourish partly because they dominated the academic scene, and produced well-organised establishments around them. Also, they had longer lives.

Alfred Adler (1870-1937), though he was part of the ‘Freudian’ circle in his early days, went his own way in 1911 and in 1912 founded the Society for Individual Psychology. Adler maintained that the external – social – world of the individual was as important in psychological work as the internal world. In that sense, Adler’s own circle had a strongly socialist character – his wife was friends with Leon Trotsky.

Adler went on to develop his ‘school of psychotherapy. He considered the issue of inferiority complex as a key matter: the ‘superiority/inferiority dynamic was central to his practice (where, interestingly, he discarded the couch for two chairs). In many ways, his accessible approach to treatment has been influential in the growth of the holistic psychotherapy movement in our time.

The Neurotic Character is one of his key works, dealing with these issues of inferiority, but set in an every-day context.

Adler travelled regularly and died in Aberdeen. He wrote and presented numerous papers during his lifetime, but, unlike the writings of Freud and Jung, they were subject to indifferent translations and did not benefit from extensive, formal, academic study and acceptance.

Henry H Stein, the American Adlerian psychotherapist has prompted a resurgence of interest in Adler and his works, not least by commissioning new translations of the major works. And The Neurotic Character is a major step towards a re-evaluation of Alder’s work.

THE COMPLETION OF SUMMA THEOLOGICA

Martyn Swain

The Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas (1224-1275) – an enormous undertaking comprising over 2 million words, offering an all-encompassing review of Catholic theology – was left unfinished at his death. His overall plan was completed by a close friend and colleague, Fra Rainaldo da Piperno, who drew largely on earlier writings by Aquinas. It is called ‘Supplement’ and its 40 hours brings Ukemi’s complete recording of the Summa to a close.

In its entirety, it runs for 220 hours, and has proved a remarkable feat of sustained reading by Martyn Swain, the English-born reader who now lives in Cape Town. As I have explained before, there is an extraordinary coincidence here, for it was in South Africa that this work, in its complete form, was, for the first time, translated into English. The translator of this magnum opus was Father Laurence Shapcote, (1864-1967) a modest, English-born Dominican priest who emigrated to South Africa in the first half of the 20th century living on the Rand and in Natal. He worked alone, and in ‘very austere condition. How he managed to translate this challenging text, with innumerable (and sometimes extremely obscure) references, away from major medieval libraries is, frankly, a mystery. But he did.

The Summa remains one of the most influential philosophical texts of the Middle Ages, not least because Aquinas incorporated the works of ‘pagan’ philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, as well as Arab commentators. And it is clear from the emails sent regularly to Ukemi, that Swain’s recording is widely appreciated from the start to, 220 hours later, the finish!

 

THE FOUR QUARTERS OF AUDIOBOOK TITLES – UKEMI-STYLE

THE FOUR QUARTERS OF AUDIOBOOK TITLES – UKEMI-STYLE

By Nicolas Soames

Charles Armstrong

Charles Armstrong reads Ellis

As 2021 closes and 2022 opens, there is a flurry of new releases from Ukemi Audiobooks and, even as I write, I am rather surprised by the range of the recordings. That may seem quite curious from a publisher who is holding the reins but often, in the heat of the battle, a sense of perspective slips away. Plans change, deadlines slip, things go awry – so that inevitably the focus can only be on the title in front of one. It is only when taking the luxury of stepping back – as when preparing this information for the website – that one realizes how much has been going on, and how different they are. Two volumes of Havelock Ellis’s pioneering efforts to raise the curtain on sexual activity (at least insofar as his restrictive Edwardian environs were concerned) on the one hand is balanced (though I am not sure if that is exactly the right expression) by the sanctity (essential goodness?) of St Cuthbert, portrayed by the admiring and admirable Bede. If that is a kind of North and South of human activity, then there is the West of Carlyle’s famous text On Heroes, and the East of Trotsky’s critical assessment (dateline 1937) of The Revolution Betrayed. Six sharply-written, challenging texts which (each in their own way) act as a counterweight to the ‘woke’ precious attitudes of our contemporary life. An unmistakable air of robustness permeates these texts – even in Bede’s hagiography. Make no mistake, St Cuthbert’s life and vocation were tough!

James Gillies

James Gillies reads Carlyle

So, I offer these six titles for your attention! It brings the total recorded by Ukemi in 2021 to some 25. And coming up in the slipstream (though it may not actually appear until January) is Summa Theologica Volume 5 – Supplement to the Third Part. All in all this is a momentous and sustained achievement by the Cape Town-based reader Martyn Swain.

It may be interesting to note that while the best of Ukemi best-sellers remain Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain and Karl Marx’s Capital Volume 1 (go figure!!), two 2021 titles regularly appear in those commercial rankings: Spengler’s The Decline of the West read by Peter Wickham and Josephus’ The Antiquities of the Jews read by Allan Corduner. Again, who would have guessed? Part of the unmitigating and unpredictable joy of Ukemi!

Nicolas Soames

I can only exhort you all to get listening – because I know there are some gems coming up in 2022. I can assure you there will be enough of the big’uns (in terms of length, in terms of bold content, in terms of surprise) to keep you stimulated. But there will also be a sprinkling of those smaller, less shouty, more exquisite gems – miniatures which can get lost amongst the leviathans – which, I know, bring a quiet smile, a gentle sigh of appreciation, to balance all the intellectual hullabaloo.

NOTE: If some of these titles are not up on Audible yet – they are on their way!

NICOLAS SOAMES

 

TWO CLASSIC MILITARY TEXTS

TWO CLASSIC MILITARY TEXTS

By Nicolas Soames

To tell the truth it was by happenstance rather than planning that the Ukemi recordings of The Histories by Polybius (c200BCE-c118 BCE) and On War by Claus von Clausewitz (1780-1831) have been released within days of each other on Audible. Yet it is a fine pairing – one a detailed account of the three Punic wars which led to the establishment of Rome as the dominant power in the Mediterranean; and the other a systematic analysis of military strategy. The fact that some 2,000 years separate their publication does not disguise the continuity that exists: both authors would acknowledge the other’s expertise!

The Histories by Polybius is the single most important extant source which outlines how the growing power of Rome crushed the Carthaginian Empire, and then subjugated the Greek city states. The Punic Wars lasted for over a century (264-146 BCE) and significantly Polybius was there to record the final moments as well as traveling over old battlefields to research his great project. The remarkable exploits and generalship of Hannibal dominate the Carthaginian story though there are many other fascinating aspects of Rome’s dogged path to victory in the Western Mediterranean, including how it developed a fighting navy from scratch. Rome’s ultimate domination of the Eastern Mediterranean, and the complex political Greek factions which saw some states siding with Rome and others with Macedonia, was a very different campaign. Polybius, being an enslaved Greek but gaining his freedom and acknowledging Roman suzerainty sets out to follow, where possible, the progress of both campaigns in chronological order, while at the same time setting the scene with back-stories. It is not an easy task, and it is not helped by the fact that of the 40 books, only the first 5 have survived in full, and the rest in Fragments of varying lengths. But his account is still vibrant and informative, with some highly detailed descriptions of battles, deft political manoeuvres, and individual personalities. Ukemi Audiobooks supports The Histories through a pdf with a timeline and maps to clarify the audio narrative, which is presented in lively manner by Jonathan Booth.

On War is a very different matter. It is remarkable in that, though first published posthumously (by his wife) in 1832, and written at a time when the Napoleonic Wars, muskets and cavalry were intrinsic to military awareness, it remains a reference book on military strategy even in the 21st century. It wasn’t completed by the time of Clausewitz’s sudden death (cholera) but it contains the bulk of his thoughts and his overall plan. There are six complete Books and substantial sketches for Books VII and Book VIII. The Ukemi recording opens with an authoritative Introduction by Louise Wilmot, Lecturer in History, Open University, who sets the scene.

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.

NEW FOR JUNE: Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy

NEW FOR JUNE: Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy

The very full tradition of philosophy in the West goes some way to excuse the concentration of study from Zeno through Nietzsche to Ayer – but this is less acceptable in our global times. So feels Bryan W. Van Norden who has spent a lifetime using his extensive knowledge of Chinese language, history and culture to give, for us, its rich philosophical tradition a deeper perspective, far beyond the single figure of Confucius.

In this highly accessible Introduction, he shows how important Kongzi (Kongzi is to Confucius as Beijing is to Peking) remains in Chinese culture, even today. But he highlights other important strands of thought from figures who emerged particularly during the Eastern Zhou dynasty (770-221 BCE). Among these were Mozi and the Mohists, and Mengzi (Mencius as he was known in the West) and Zhuangzi.

Van Norden recorded his volume of Mengzi for Ukemi Audiobooks when in the UK in 2019; but with (ironically) the intervention of the Covid Interregnum, his Introduction to Chinese Classical Philosophy has been recorded by Brian Nishii, the Los Angeles-based reader.

THE RECORDING OF SUMMA THEOLOGICA BY THOMAS AQUINAS IS FINISHED!

Martyn Swain’s reading of Thomas Aquinas’s magnum opus, Summa Theologica is now complete with the issue of Volume 4 Part III (Tertia Pars). It has been a huge undertaking both for Martyn and Ukemi Audiobooks, encompassing, as it does, some 220 hours spread over the four volumes. And all in exactly a year! Volume 1 was released in May 2020.

As has been mentioned Ukemi Audiobooks before, Martyn Swain’s background is in simultaneous translation, from French in particular but also German; he lives in Cape Town, and among his most memorable assignments has been interpreting for Nelson Mandela, as well as working for international media.

Martyn Swain

Martin’s audiobook work started with Ukemi and his recordings include Jung and Heidegger. But the huge task of Summa Theologica has proved a major achievement, not least in terms of sustained, clear reading. Clarity and accuracy has been the watchword – important because the work remains one of the most important theological and philosophical classics in Western literature.

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) set a new bar for theological discussion here because he brought into view non-Christian sources, among them Aristotle, Cicero, Avicenna, Averroes and Al-Ghazali. The pattern maintained throughout involved present important Questions which are then considered and challenged in various ways.

Part III (Tertia Pars), concentrates on the person and the work of Christ and is more determinedly theological in content. It was left unfinished at his death…but still runs for nearly 48 hours.

The English translation of Summa Theologica, itself a major task, was the work of the singular Dominican priest Father Laurence Shapcote, who, curiously, lived and worked in South Africa – not far from where Martyn Swain himself lives!

Shortly after finishing Summa Theologica (and taking a break on the beaches of Cape Town), the indefatigable Martyn returned to the studio to record a very different project, The Myth of the Framework, a collection of essays by Karl Popper! It is scheduled to be released on Audible in May.

SPANISH AUDIOBOOKS – Ukemi Audiolibros

Meanwhile, Ukemi Audiolibros, the growing Spanish wing, has been in the recording studio, working on two more titles. Así habló Zaratustra, Nietzsche’s most famous text, is read by Fernando Simón and is now available on Audible. And La interpretación de los sueños, read by Salvador Bosch should be up on the site towards the end of February.

There are five titles available at the moment:

EARLY GREEK PHILOSOPHY heads new Spring releases from Ukemi Audiobooks

EARLY GREEK PHILOSOPHY heads new Spring releases from Ukemi Audiobooks

From the first years of Ukemi, we have aimed to cover the major stepping stones of early Western philosophy. There was no single classic introductory volume on the Epicureans so we devised one of our own –Epicurus of Samos –  and thus, we hope, can now offer a useful introduction on audio.

Fortunately, when it comes to the Pre-Socratics, we have the survey by one of the greatest authorities of the period, John Burnet, who was professor of Greek at St Andrews University in Scotland. His book, Early Greek Philosophy first appeared in 1892, but was revised a number of times during the first decades of the 20th century, as it continued to provide a lucid and comprehensive overview of the subject. Remarkably, even now, a century on, it remains one of the most respected and reliable texts! We have slightly modernised it for 21st century listeners who do not have a wide command of Greek (!) – Burnet expected SOME Greek from his readers! And in Jonathan Booth’s very accessible reading, it becomes a very welcome open door to the foundation of Greek philosophy.

Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason is one of the most important philosophic texts. There exist already a couple of unabridged recordings on Audible, but such has been the appreciation for Michael Lunt’s readings of other Kant, not to mention other philosophers as varied as Nietzsche and Bergson, that we felt it only right that he should record Kant’s greatest book.

We also like to bring to the fore – and the contemporary listener! – books which have slipped into the corridors over the years, but which have nevertheless played key roles in the development of their subject. One such is The Sphere and Duties of Government by Wilhelm von Humboldt. It was written in 1791 but largely (because the content challenged government censors of the time), it was not published in full until the 1850s after the writer’s death. And it only came out then because his younger (and more famous) brother Alexander von Humboldt knew what an important document it was…setting out as it does the recommended role of government. It presaged and influenced John Stuart Mill’s better known On Liberty.

Looking ahead, I can say we have other major works nearly completion, not least the completion of Aquinas’s immense Summa Theologica – Part III), and a controversial discussion on the role of violence in pubic life. So stay tuned!

Best regards

Nicolas

ANOTHER MAJOR NON-FICTION CLASSIC FROM UKEMI AUDIOBOOKS

ANOTHER MAJOR NON-FICTION CLASSIC FROM UKEMI AUDIOBOOKS

Some books develop a reputation which continues to exist even when the book itself – in the old days – has gone out of print. Spengler’s The Decline of the West was unquestionably one of these, though it continued to appear in abridged versions. Then print on demand and digital downloads gave it another lease of life – and now at last it is appearing on audiobook!

The work was such a momentous re-thinking of the growth and decline of world civilisations when it first appeared (Volume 1 in 1918, Volume 2 in 1922, Complete 1923) that it became an immediate hit. Then, over the years, it gradually went out of fashion though a long list of intellectuals in many disciplines have acknowledged its influence on their work and thought, including Joseph Campbell, Martin Heidegger, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Camille Paglia. It certainly covers an extremely wide spectrum across philosophy, politics, economics, religion, sociology and history; and, bearing in mind the turmoil of recent years, and the changes and shifts of power in geopolitics over the past decades, it is not difficult to remark on the relevance today of Spengler’s vision. This is backed up by the prodigious amount of reading that went into the development of his views…making it a totally absorbing and fascinating read whatever one’s ultimate assessment of his conclusion.

And there is no doubt that this is an extraordinarily tough challenge for the reader. With massive works such as The Anatomy of Melancholy to his credit, it was clear that Peter Wickham was the man for the job…and he has, I contend, risen magnificently to the task!

Another great influence on the 20th century, especially the first half, and in France, was the philosopher Henri Bergson. Matter and Memory, which will shortly be available on Audible, is arguably his most important work after Time and Free Will. Originally, it bore the subtitle ‘An Essay on the Relationship of Body to Spirit’ and as this suggests Bergson set out to refute the prevailing ‘mechanistic’ view of the way the brain and consciousness work. It is absorbing, and has enjoyed a revival of interest in recent decades. Michael Lunts once again presents Bergson with clarity.

Best regards

Nicolas

WELCOME TO UKEMI 2021!

WELCOME TO UKEMI 2021!

Over Christmas and New Year, I am very pleased to say, I received quite a few emails from regular Ukemi listeners. There was the occasional (kindly) note pointing out a mis-pronunciation, or that a track was missing a few sentences. However much we try, this is par for the course when you are producing recordings lasting up to 50 hours or more! I welcome these comments and immediately set about the process of correction – which can be simple or complex involving studios, readers, engineers and the good offices of Audible of course.

But more often (I am glad to say!), I get requests for titles. And what a varied lot! For example, OI asked for more John Stuart Mill, for G E Moore, for Humboldt and many more, including Bertrand Russell and Iris Murdoch.  KF shared something close to his heart – the Ten Commandments of Leó Szilárd, the Hungarian/American physicist and inventor who conceived the nuclear chain reaction; he tells me is looking forward keenly to listening to Saint-Exupery’s Land of Men, (it is a gem, I can assure you!) and asked for Saint-Exupery’s The Wisdom of the Sands. Alas, like so many titles requested, that is lost in the desert of unobtainable copyright. But, as I say to so many correspondents – you never know what transpires!

But I am glad to say that we are able, this year, with the support of the publishers Routledge, to bring another C. G. Jung important text fresh from the studio – The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. In it, Jung laid out clearly and persuasively the concepts key to his whole view of mankind’s consciousness. It is a challenging text (read so clearly by Martyn Swain) which does present particular difficulties for audiobook presentation. This is largely because of the many illustrations in the original volume – pictures drawn by his subjects of their dreams which are crucial to Jung’s analysis. We have put them all on a pdf which is downloadable from Audible in the context of the audiobook…and I hope that listeners feel they can now absorb this work in our medium!!!

The decision to record Kant’s Prolegomena (otherwise not available in audiobook form) also came from a listener’s suggestion – it is curious that such accessible Kant (!!) has been overlooked. It is an aid to Critique of Reason, and has prompted us to finally ask Michael Lunts (who reads Prolegomena and other Kant) to essay Kant’s magnum opus itself…It is not an easy text, and Michael tells me he has been taking advantage of lockdown and other restrictions (which prevented him going on tour doing his one-man shows on Chopin and other composers) doing a lot of reading around Kant to ensure that there is comprehension beneath the presentation!

The third new recording is Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. It is really one of the major philosophical stepping stones of the 20th century. I have been inundated (well -quite a few!!!) with requests for this, and at last it is on sale…to the relief of many according to my inbox!

SPANISH AUDIOBOOKS – Ukemi Audiolibros

Some of you may have noticed that we have just started to venture into Spanish language audiobooks.

There are three titles available at the moment:

More are on the way!

 

Best regards

Nicolas

Ukemi Audiobooks September 2020 Copy

TWO NEW POLITICAL RECORDINGS

To be frank, this was not premeditated! Political events seem to dominate the thoughts of many countries and individuals at this moment with the imminent US election and Covid-19, both of which are having a considerable impact on world stability. And, unfortunately, they are also affecting the feelings and perception of stability and security of many individuals.

Curiously, these two historic political documents, which made such strong impressions on the thoughts and minds of people at the time of their publication, come, in a way, from opposite sides of the political spectrum, and I suppose reflect the ever-changing circumstances of political life.

Enquiry Concerning Political Justice was published in 1793 in the wake of the American War of Independent and the French Revolution. In it, Godwin questioned the established order of society, and proposed a more equal society, with its central message or theme being that of the potential for human perfectibility through the pursuit of reason and truth. Godwin (1756-1836), the husband of Mary Wollstonecraft and the father of Mary Shelley, lived very much within a liberal milieu. In this revolutionary book, he proposed a different view of society and which was later highlighted as perhaps the first book to present a form of anarchism. It was met with ‘delighted excitement’ by many, including the Romantic poets. It appeared in a moment of great optimism, when there was a sense that the major changes that had taken place could lead to sweeping reforms; furthermore, there was optimism that the traditional antagonisms and hostilities between England and France would soon come to an end. Godwin argued for change and the abolition of ancient abuses of privilege and inequality. However, despite the fact that Godwin argued for change through education and reason, not violence, attitudes hardened following the execution of Louis XVI and the excesses of the Terror. The mood darkened and his proposal for a new basis for society was rejected. Yet his book remains a pivotal document in the history of political change.

The English Constitution is a very different matter. Written in 1867 by the journalist and political commentator Walter Bagehot, it is one of the great political classics as it surveys how and why the famously unwritten English Constitution came to be, and what it represented at that moment in time. In fact, that moment in time was momentous! For it was published in the very year when the 1867 Reform Act enfranchised a far wider portion of English Society, forcing Bagehot to release a second edition with an introduction essay incorporating his view on the likely effects of the changes. These were not always forward-looking or optimistic – he sounds warnings of the effect of giving a greater proportion of the working class the vote. Nevertheless, the main essay on The English Constitution is an admirable document, written with clarity and elegance: it surveys the principal elements of the political structure existing at the time. Listening to it now shows how little, in essence, has changed. It is divided into nine chapters, including The Cabinet, The Monarchy, The House of Lords, The House of Commons, and Its Supposed Checks and Balances. But Bagehot is illuminating also in a vibrant comparison of the differences between the unwritten English Constitution and the written American Constitution. It is a fascinating listen.

Nicolas Soames

Ukemi Audiobooks September 2020

TWO NEW POLITICAL RECORDINGS

To be frank, this was not premeditated! Political events seem to dominate the thoughts of many countries and individuals at this moment with the imminent US election and Covid-19, both of which are having a considerable impact on world stability. And, unfortunately, they are also affecting the feelings and perception of stability and security of many individuals.

Curiously, these two historic political documents, which made such strong impressions on the thoughts and minds of people at the time of their publication, come, in a way, from opposite sides of the political spectrum, and I suppose reflect the ever-changing circumstances of political life.

Enquiry Concerning Political Justice was published in 1793 in the wake of the American War of Independent and the French Revolution. In it, Godwin questioned the established order of society, and proposed a more equal society, with its central message or theme being that of the potential for human perfectibility through the pursuit of reason and truth. Godwin (1756-1836), the husband of Mary Wollstonecraft and the father of Mary Shelley, lived very much within a liberal milieu. In this revolutionary book, he proposed a different view of society and which was later highlighted as perhaps the first book to present a form of anarchism. It was met with ‘delighted excitement’ by many, including the Romantic poets. It appeared in a moment of great optimism, when there was a sense that the major changes that had taken place could lead to sweeping reforms; furthermore, there was optimism that the traditional antagonisms and hostilities between England and France would soon come to an end. Godwin argued for change and the abolition of ancient abuses of privilege and inequality. However, despite the fact that Godwin argued for change through education and reason, not violence, attitudes hardened following the execution of Louis XVI and the excesses of the Terror. The mood darkened and his proposal for a new basis for society was rejected. Yet his book remains a pivotal document in the history of political change.

The English Constitution is a very different matter. Written in 1867 by the journalist and political commentator Walter Bagehot, it is one of the great political classics as it surveys how and why the famously unwritten English Constitution came to be, and what it represented at that moment in time. In fact, that moment in time was momentous! For it was published in the very year when the 1867 Reform Act enfranchised a far wider portion of English Society, forcing Bagehot to release a second edition with an introduction essay incorporating his view on the likely effects of the changes. These were not always forward-looking or optimistic – he sounds warnings of the effect of giving a greater proportion of the working class the vote. Nevertheless, the main essay on The English Constitution is an admirable document, written with clarity and elegance: it surveys the principal elements of the political structure existing at the time. Listening to it now shows how little, in essence, has changed. It is divided into nine chapters, including The Cabinet, The Monarchy, The House of Lords, The House of Commons, and Its Supposed Checks and Balances. But Bagehot is illuminating also in a vibrant comparison of the differences between the unwritten English Constitution and the written American Constitution. It is a fascinating listen.

Nicolas Soames

Ukemi Audiobooks September 2020

Ukemi Audiobooks September 2020

The four new recordings being added to the Ukemi Audiobooks list this month continue along paths set by earlier releases. Once embarked upon an author or a topic, I find it worthwhile and illuminating to answer the question: ‘What next?’

The enormous undertaking that was Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica demands, insists even, continuation. And Volume 2 (Part I of Part II, Prima Secundae) is even more fascinating because one of the most influential medieval intellects in the Catholic tradition casts his net over wider philosophical waters than in the opening Part. The topics include Treatise on Human Acts, Treatise on Habits, and Treatise on Law, in which Aquinas discusses his subjects in human as well as theological terms. Martyn Swain’s reading is as steady and as clear as always.

His distinctive reading style is prominent in the second Ukemi recording of Martin Heidegger: Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics. This controversial evaluation of Kant was published in 1929, two years after the ground-breaking Being and Time, and is widely regarded as a supplement to the work which first established Heidegger’s international reputation.

The third new recording is completely different. Ukemi began its series on the early Arthurian texts with The Mabinogion, the 12/13th century compilation of Welsh stories of the events and personalities surrounding the court of Caerlleon – drawing on ancient tales and legends. Then came Four Arthurian Romances by Chrétien de Troyes, the French trouvère who laid the foundations for the continental accounts of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

Now, after many requests, Ukemi presents Perceval – The Story of the Grail, which is arguably the single most important Arthurian romance, containing as it does the very first mention of the mysterious Grail. Nigel Bryant, translator of many Medieval French texts, has brought together not only the original Chrétien accounts, but also the four main Continuations. Chrétien died before he could complete his story, and the Continuations, most notably by Gerbert de Montreuil, present the story of Perceval and the Grail in its rich final form. Bryant presents all Chrétien’s work, and then the major key sections of the Continuations, offering précis of passages which are of narrative but less literary importance. It is engagingly read by Mike Rogers.

The fourth ‘new’ title this month isn’t completely new…Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations read by Michael Lunts was actually released on Audible in April, but for some unaccountable reason (human error!) was missed during subsequent Ukemi website updates. Acknowledged as the first book of modern political economy, there are, not surprisingly, a number of unabridged recordings now available. Those who know Michael Lunts’ very approachable and admirably clear reading style from his many Ukemi recordings will need no special persuasion!!! It is also another ‘continuation’ for it follows Lunts’ widely admired recording of Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments, (released in 2018) which is decorated by numerous 5 stars on Audible.

Nicolas Soames

20 August 2020

Ukemi Audiobooks July 2020

Ukemi Audiobooks July 2020

A year ago or so, a number of correspondents wrote to me suggesting Summa Theologica, the momentous 13th century survey of Catholic theology by Thomas Aquinas, which, down the ensuing years, became a cornerstone of Western philosophy as well. I blinked. After all, it is huge – 2 million words which, in audiospeak, amounts to over 200 hours.

BUT – it is such an important work. I had closer look. It is divided neatly into four major parts (Part 1, Part 1 of Part 2, Part 2 of 2 and Part 3). That breaks down into fairly manageable volumes. And it would clearly grace the Ukemi catalogue! I was also fascinated to see how whether the final volume would attract loyal listeners. So, we set to work!

Aquinas set out to look at and comment on the theological teachings of the Catholic Church as he knew it. It had accrued a massive literature through the centuries – not just the Old and New Testaments, but the voluminous writings of Augustine of Hippo, Boethius, Dionysius the Areopagite, Anselm of Canterbury, and many more Christian writers. He extended his purview to Hebrew thinkers, including Maimonides, the 12th century Jewish philosopher. Most boldly and controversially, he drew on other traditions – crucially the philosophy of Ancient Greece and Rome (he calls Aristotle ‘The Philosopher’), as well as Plato and Cicero; and Arab writers and translators including Avicenna, Averroes and Al-Ghazali.

Furthermore, he developed a simple framework which he applied consistently throughout the work:

  • A question is proposed;
  • This is then considered under a variety of headings called Articles;
  • Objections are raised;
  • Aquinas then replies to those objections.

Throughout he refers to many authorities but makes his stance and view very clear.

Wide-ranging throughout, each Part does have a general emphasis: Part 1 emphasises theology, Part 2 emphasises ethics, Part 3 Christ.

Summa Theologica is, of course a major undertaking for a reader…and Martyn Swain – English born but resident in Cape Town – has risen to the challenge. A veteran simultaneous translator (French and German) for many international organisations, (he translated for Nelson Mandela during interviews for French radio), Swain has proved a natural audiobook reader with many recordings for Ukemi Audiobooks.

There is also the remarkable coincidence in the siting of this recording in Swain’s private studio in Cape Town. Father Laurence Shapcote of the Dominican order (Aquinas was a Dominican) who undertook the translation of the complete work in the first half of the 20th century, was born in South Africa (the son of a missionary) and lived there for much of his lifeHe translated this immense work on his own in Boksburg, Newcastle and Stellenbossch, undaunted by the immense learning involved in the project. A modest man, he requested that this translation was attributed to ‘the Fathers of the English Dominican Province.

Summa Theological Volume 2 (Prima Secundae) is scheduled for release in August.

Two other new titles have been released this month. Though best known for his ‘Parallel Lives’ Plutarch’s Moralia, his collection of essays, have always been enjoyed for their variety, their quiet wisdom and their wit. Now, Matthew Lloyd Davies presents, with his inimitable informal tone, a second volume, with essays ranging from ‘Were Athenians  more famous in War or in Wisdom’ to ‘Sayings of Kings and Commanders’ and ‘Bravery of Women.’

And Michael Lunts, after Nietzsche and Adam Smith, turns to 20th century philosophy, to read Time and Free Will by Henri Bergson, who takes a very different view from the existential stance of Heidegger. In effect Bergson asserts that free will is a fact. For Bergson intuition is experience in action and entering into the thing or state, empathy, is the way to absolute, rather than relative knowledge.

The Ukemi recording made by Mike Rogers, of William Langland’s sparking medieval poem Piers Plowman in the modern verse rendering by Charles Arthur Burrell has been very favourable reviewed in The Times by Christina Hardyment. Click here for the review.

Nicolas Soames

23 July 2020

Ukemi Audiobooks May 2020

Ukemi Audiobooks May 2020

The world premiere audiobook recording of Thomas Mann’s masterpiece, The Magic Mountain.

David Rintoul

Ever since the release of Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks read for Ukemi Audiobooks by David Rintoul and released in October 2016 I have received a steady stream of emails and exhortations for Mann’s unquestionable masterpiece, The Magic Mountain. It is the story of a sanatorium in the Alps for sufferers of tuberculosis ­– the Covid-19 of its day. And therefore there can scarcely be a more apposite time to present this world premiere unabridged recording in a master-reading by the aforesaid David Rintoul. It is now available on Audible.

However, TB and the sanatorium in Davos (!!) is only the backdrop to the book. It is essentially, a bildungsroman, a story about the maturation of a young man over a period of years. Hans Castorp, in his early twenties, goes to visit a friend in the sanatorium for a few weeks, but his residency extends far further than that. He arrives a naïve, would-be shipbuilder, but his encounters with the various long-term and short-term patients, residents and medical staff, and his immersion in the sanatorium’s regular routine, affect and influence him in unexpected ways. His view of life (and death) broadens.

Mann started writing The Magic Mountain shortly before WW1, but didn’t finish it until 1924…and it propelled his career to the inevitable Nobel Prize in 1929.

David and I wanted to go into the recording studio very soon after Buddenbrooks to follow it up with The Magic Mountain but issues with audio rights and copyright required patience. Finally, with the support of the publishers Knopf in the US, the audio rights to the latest and much-admired translation by John E. Woods were agreed and signed at the start of this year.

Of course, David is a busy actor and audiobook reader, and couldn’t go straight into the studio…not least because he wanted time to study and prepare. The Magic Mountain is one of the greatest works of 20th century literature, along with Ulysses and Proust, and was not a book to sight-read. It is complex, multi-layered and subtle. David had scheduled a holiday in Sri Lanka in February after an intensive period of work. He said it would give him the perfect opportunity to prepare, concentrating soley on the book. He would prepare on the beach, by the pool, in the balmy evenings…which is exactly what he did. But first, he wanted to deal with all the pronunciations – names and places and whatnot in various European languages. When he returned, he showed me him prep pages…there were 887 lines, dealing not only with the languages, but technical words, notes on characters and situations and so on…Diligent is not the word for it.

So, one Monday early in March, we went for the first day to the Camden studios of the Royal National Institute for the Blind in London…top-class studios used by many commercial audiobook labels, as well as for the charity itself. We did the first day…and then Covid-19 descended like a thunderbolt. It was quite clear, with me taking daily trains and tubes from Hertfordshire, and David on public transport from Chelsea, that unless we were VERY lucky, we could end up in a medical establishment. But not in the Alps. And, er, sorry to reveal this David, but we both know all about three score years and ten – though David is extremely fit.

So, with great regret, I postponed…and then came up with another solution. ID Audio, a group of audiobook studios where we have both worked in the past, is in a gated office complex in West London. I lived in somewhat isolated circumstances in Herts. I could drive. David could drive. The studios were closed, but they kindly agreed to let us go in on the weekends, when no-one else was around – and the two of us could be separated – for most of the time – by the studio glass.

Thomas Mann

And so the recording of Mann’s masterpiece progressed. We extended the weekend by a day here, and a day there. We became increasingly engrossed in the enclosed community in Davos a century ago. Did the air and atmosphere in ID Audio feel alpine? The tumultuous intellectual battles of Lodovico Settembrini and Leo Naphta as they sought to influence the young Castorp – politically, ethically, artistically and even spiritually – spun their webs around us. The seductive allure of Clavdia Chauchat was evident. What a novel!

Outside, the world seemed in turmoil with coronavirus. We could not record this at home – we had to go to the studio – and the book itself demanded to be finished. March went into April and we lived in a kind of hermetic bubble (hoping anyway!!!!). People died of tuberculosis. Disappointment, tragedy, humour, love and seduction…We watched (or rather David recorded) the changes to Hans Castorp as the years passed.

The studio remained largely empty, so we had the space and time and quiet to try and do justice to the book. And then it was finished. It was a wrap! Onwards to a fine restaurant to celebrate? NO! not possible! We bowed, or did we clink elbows. Can’t remember. Then we went our solitary ways…

The editing and proofing process followed down in Bristol, handled by the immensely experienced Ken Barton and his proofer Tess. In a way Tess was our first audience – and her response was unequivocal.

An amazing, powerful, multi-layered novel – so many huge themes, but also engaging and hilarious, with fantastic characters. I was with David Rintoul for every second of the journey – he brings out every nuance of the text…one of the greatest books of early twentieth century…

As soon as it went live on Audible, I emailed many of the correspondents who had asked for it, from all over the world…and quite a few came back by return of mail, all welcoming it, saying how much they hoped it would come one day.

So that is the Ukemi story of The Magic Mountain. Ukemi is now in its fifth year, and has approaching 130 recordings…with another 26 on Dharma Audiobooks, its sister label dedicated to Buddhist audiobooks. On Ukemi, The Magic Mountain was preceded by Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship  read by the accomplished Leighton Pugh – It is arguably the first bildungsroman, so it was appropriate it should be followed by Mann’s masterpiece.

And I see that another massive Ukemi project, the first part of Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica has just gone on sale on Audible…

But more of that anon.

Nicolas Soames

17 May 2020

Ukemi Audiobooks May 2020

Ukemi Audiobooks May 2020

May is becoming quite a bumper month for Ukemi Audiobooks, with a plethora of very different releases with one thing in common: each title is on this list as a direct response to requests from regular Ukemi listeners. Just to be clear, of course, the Ukemi publishing list is not the audiobook version of Listeners Requests! However, I am very pleased to say that I receive, very regularly, emails asking for such and such a classic; or ‘Have you ever thought of recording XYZ?’ Or – ‘There is only a terrible version of A-B-C: I tried it and couldn’t go on after 20 mins…but there really should be a good recording of this great work.’

And always, I am fascinated – by the sheer variety of interest out there, by the elevated nature of your requests: Fiction, non-fiction, obscure, ancient and from all corners of the world. I find it stimulating, so keep the ideas coming!

Now, a little revelation. You will have noticed that there is a central corps of Ukemi readers, names and voices that appear again and again because I know I can give them the toughest concepts of existentialism, the texts containing names and places from 25 or 30 different countries, the scripts with totally outlandish syntax or in-depth economics or mathematical formulae. I know they settle down with pen and paper (actually, no, with their iPad) and research, unpick, delve and build – and out comes a performance that enables us to understand, sometime for the first time, the challenges of that particular classic.

BUT virtually every one of these readers (when recovering after some impossible and impossibly long script has been overcome) has come to me at some point and quietly (if that is possible on an email or in a studio) asked for an Agatha Christie, or some sub-genre SAS or Jack Reacherish thriller. SHORT SENTENCES! NO LONG WORDS. Characters that grunt. ‘The AK7 shot out of his hands, rolled down the cliff and he was left facing the gargantuan snarling gorilla – with just his bare hands.’

I’m sorry, I have to say every time. ‘It’s not what we do.’ And I really mean it.

‘Why not??’ they ask despairingly.

I know I can’t hold out forever. One day I may have to launch a sub-label featuring pulp fiction of the lowest kind – Trigger MortisLady, That’s My SkullThe Case of the Dancing Sandwiches – so that I can later entice them back to the Ukemi fold with more Heidegger, or Spinoza, or Montesquieu.

HOWEVER, the in the meantime…in May 2020, Ukemi continues as normal.

Sagar Arya continues his survey of the major Indian Sanskrit classics with The Rig Veda. This was a challenge from the start. The late 19th century translation by T H Griffith remains the only acceptable verse version, but like so many of his time he felt he should honour the antiquity of the original by using antiquated English. An uphill business for most  21st century listeners (though apologies to supportive Morris, my inveterate correspondent in the West country, who, with friends, gather together once a month to read Sanskrit texts in the original, and enjoys original Griffith!)  The Ukemi team revised the innumerable ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ and words which needed an 1890s dictionary; and with additional help from Sanskritist Anwesha Arya in translating those (risqué) sections omitted by Griffith, gave Sagar Arya a text to read which, we hope, will prove more accessible for 21st century listeners.

Something similar was done with Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship, the founding work of the bildungsroman genre. Though with extra respect. For the translator was none other than Thomas Carlyle, the distinguished historian and essayist. He admired Goethe and Wilhelm Meister hugely, and that is reflected in this translation. It just needed small adjustments here and there – for example reverting the Anglicised Mariana to the original Mariane: small but important differences especially when read by German scholar Leighton Pugh.

After the release of Heidegger’s Being and Time, it was clear that we should go to one of Heidegger’s initial inspirations – Ideas, by the founder of phenomology, Edmund Husserl. Leighton Pugh again takes on the challenge of presenting it clearly; and we all benefit, certainly, from the Introduction by Taylor Carman, who performed the same service on Being and Time. Both were commissioned by Ukemi Audiobooks.

These three titles are available on Audible as I write. However, there are more in the pipeline. Epicurus of Samos, His Philosophy and Life contains not only all the principal source texts (from Diogenes Laertius etc) but very pertinent and stimulating introductions to the man himself, his views, effect on succeeding centuries, including his influence on  Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things). The final chapter, The Legacy is fascinating – incorporating comments from Cicero to Thomas Jefferson who declared, ‘I am an Epicurean’! By the way, this title is an Ukemi commission…I noted that while Plato, the Stoics and so on were well-served on audio, there was very little on Epicurus…Hiram Crespo, founder of the Society of Epicurus, who compiled the representative texts and introduced, is a persuasive guide.

And now for something completely different. Rosa Luxemburg, the Polish/Russian post Marxist economist was a strong and original voice in her field. She was murdered by right-wing thugs when at the height of her powers, and her bold survey of economics, The Accumulation of Capital, written in 1913, remains a testing document. It is confidently read by Louise Barrett.

AND – there is more…Thomas Mann fans, watch this space….

Nicolas Soames 5 May 2020

Ukemi Audiobooks March 2020

Ukemi Audiobooks March 2020

The world premiere recording of Virginia Woolf’s Between The Acts on Ukemi Audiobooks

It came as quite a surprise, when preparing Virginia Woolf’s two collections of essays – The Common Reader Volume 1 (out already) and Volume 2 (coming in May) – that her last novel, Between The Acts, had never been recorded. What! The final work of one of England’s greatest literary figures! Yes – so it seemed. To be honest ­– though I have recorded most of her works, not only had I not read it, I didn’t even know about it.

Well, it turns out to be quite a gem – rich and vintage Woolf in some parts, actually very funny in others, and, er, rather odd also. She finished it in 1941, sent it off to her publishers, Hogarth, and then had second thoughts and sent a note asking for a delay on publication so that she could revise it. But shortly afterwards, she took her own life.

The lively and responsive Georgina Sutton, a familiar voice on Ukemi Audiobooks, came into the studio and we were not quite sure how it would turn out. But now we can say without hesitation – don’t hesitate. The story concerns an amateur dramatic performance in the gardens of an English country house in 1939, during the ‘phoney war’. The local village, with all its varied characters, turn out for their annual thespian event hosted by the presiding Oliver family. Visitors from London appear to add a bit of social spice. Woolf’s eyes ranges over the interplay between drama and reality, between social classes, between needs and desires of individuals; and then there is the play itself: three separate scenes dipping into the age of Shakespeare, the Restoration (a romp!) and the Victorian times. I can assure you, this is a real find, with some vintage Woolf gems.

There can be no greater contrast in English literature than Robert Burton’s 17th century marvel, The Anatomy of Melancholy (which Woolf knew well, lamentably). In his huge (56 + hours) survey of melancholia in all its forms, the immensely learned Burton drew on the classics, on science, on contemporary drama to explore every angle of the state of mind that afflicts so many. Human beings in the 21st century are no different. All the numerous Latin, Greek etc quotations he peppers his text with are translated. Peter Wickham has done a stupendous job in bringing this on to audio.

Copyright issues prevent the release of two important early texts by Carl Gustav Jung in the UK and Commonwealth (the standard publishing territorial division). But Modern Man in Search of a Soul and Collected Papers on Analytical Psychology are available on audible in the US and Canada…read so clearly by Martyn Swain.

Nicolas Soames

March 2019

Welcome to Ukemi Audiobooks 2020

Welcome to Ukemi Audiobooks 2020

We have started with three very different titles which, by happenstance, rather reflects the Ukemi character: one 20th century philosophical classic, one great but often neglected 19th Russian novel, and perhaps the first anthropological study ever published.

There are few more challenging texts than Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time – one of the pillars of existentialism. However, listeners are given a helping hand with a very clear introduction to the work by one of the leading Heidegger experts. Professor Taylor Carman of Barnard College, Columbia University explains in his concise opening remarks how Heidegger sits in between Kierkegaard and Sartre; and proceeds to present an overview and guide to the clear, steady recording by the indefatigable Martyn Swain.

Ivan Goncharov’s Oblomov may exist slightly in the shadows of the big Tolstoys and Dostoyevskys, but for those coming to it for the first time I can assure you it will be an endearing discovery. Oblomov is most comfortable living a life of ease – in his bed even – made possible by the luxury of living off the fruits of his family estate. But is such a life really beneficial? His friends demur.

The Golden Bough, Sir James George Frazer’s enormous 19th century study in magic and religion was the first work to look in observational, non-judgemental mode at habits of societies, ancient and existing, from across the globe. Originally published in in 1890, and regularly revised in succeeding years, It opened the way to the scientific study of anthropology. It covered many volumes, containing a vast amount of knowledge. In 1922, Frazer made his own reduction, covering most of the major points – though at 44 hours it is still not a quick survey!!!

Finally (on its way as I write – due to be released on Audible on 10 February) is The Common Reader Volume 1 by Virginia Woolf. Her great novels – To the LighthouseMrs Dalloway and others – can obscure the fact that she was a fascinating essayist, with acute observations to make on literature and other topics. Volume 1 contains 26 essays varying from her remarks on Chaucer, Jane Eyre, the modern novel and Elizabethan drama to Montaigne and the Greek classics.

Nicolas Soames

January 2020

AS 2019 COMES TO A CLOSE

AS 2019 COMES TO A CLOSE

As 2019 ends six new titles appear on the Ukemi website…and again, what a rich range! Freud’s ‘Autobiographical Study’ sits with the Jacobean essays of Sir Francis Bacon – ‘Counsels, Civil and Moral’; and the great ancient Indian epic ‘The Rāmāyana’ is there, with Friedrich Engels’ remarkable (for a 24 year old) account of ‘The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844’, which virtually served as his calling card when he met Karl Marx in Paris shortly after its publication. The breadth of human enterprise and human learning never fails to stimulate me, frankly, as I cast my eye over what to record next. Continue Reading →

AND YET ANOTHER FOUR!!!

AND YET ANOTHER FOUR!!!

The Lay of the Nibelungs

It is challenging to define Ukemi recordings – even for me, and I choose them. There is the overarching terminology of ‘Classics, non-fiction and fiction’ but as these four new releases show, the spread is so wide as to be almost unhelpful! So, I will take them one by one, and hope that you are intrigued and even delighted with them – as I have been over the past three or four months of the preparation and recording behind the scenes. Continue Reading →