LibriVox recording of First Love, by Ivan Turgenev, translated by Constance Garnett. Read by Martin Geeson.
The title of the novella is almost an adequate summary in itself. The "boy-meets-girl-then-loses-her" story is universal but not, I think, banal - despite a surprise ending which notoriously turns out to be very little of a surprise. First Love is given its originality and poignancy by Turgenev's mastery of the piercing turning-point (akin to Joyce's "epiphanies") that transforms the character's whole being, making a tragic outcome inevitable. Even the nature symbolism is rescued from triteness by lovely poetic similes - e.g. "but at that point my attention was arrested by the appearance of a speckled woodpecker who busily climbed up the slender stem of a birch-tree and peeped out uneasily from behind it, first to the right, then to the left, like a musician behind the bass-viol." (Summary by Martin Geeson)
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February 10, 2021 Subject:
Martin Geeson shows how a very fine reader can inhabit a classic and take you with him to where the writing becomes reality shared by reader and author and you together, so seamlessly that all become one.
November 6, 2009 Subject:
This story was really very different. It left me feeling rather sad and empty at the end. The narrator is absolutely fantastic. I cannot say that I liked or disliked the story but it was worth a listen. High recommend this narrator
July 13, 2009 Subject:
An exceptional recording
Love can be surprising. Love can be heartbreaking. Love can be an art. But love is the singular emotion that all humans rely on most and crave endlessly, no matter what the cost. United by this theme of love, the nine titles in the Penguin Great Loves collection include tales of blissful and all-encompassing, doomed and tragic, erotic and absurd, seductive and adulterous, innocent and murderous love.
A thunderous applause to Martin Geeson for this fantastic recording! It's really breathtaking, and this no exaggeration. Listen for yourself.