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