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!