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Naxos AudioBooks Presents Four Programmes at Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival

March 18, 2008

The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival, one of the UK’s leading literary festivals, this year features no fewer than four programmes presented by Naxos AudioBooks, highlighting different parts of our classics catalogue.

The actors and presenters from Naxos AudioBooks join a distinguished group of speakers and lecturers at the festival (31 March–6 April), including the novelists Julian Barnes, Hanif Kureishi and Philip Pullman, the playwright Tom Stoppard, as well as the controversial biologist and writer Richard Dawkins and the broadcaster Libby Purves.

‘It shows that the classics, and especially the classics on audiobook, have an important role in the spectrum of our literary life,’ says Naxos AudioBooks’ publisher Nicolas Soames. ‘We can contribute something particularly exciting to a literary festival because audiobooks are about performances!’

The first Naxos AudioBooks presentation – in the Upper Library, Christ Church – is at 6.30pm on Tuesday 1 April. Professor Roger Marsh, who has directed all the award-winning recordings of James Joyce, will talk about ‘Joyce’s Women’, with the actress Marcella Riordan reading extracts. ‘Hearing the words of Molly Bloom and Anna Livia Plurabelle spoken out loud brings a new perspective to James Joyce’s two great female characters,’ explains Professor Marsh. ‘This is particularly true in the soliloquies by both characters, because very often there are short references to music, and occasionally they break into song – which is often missed on the printed page. For example, Molly has just given a concert in which “La cì darem” has been performed, and snatches of this appear in her famous soliloquy that concludes Ulysses.’

On Thursday 3 April, also in the Upper Library at 6.30pm, David Timson will give a highly entertaining talk on the varying acting styles of Shakespeare as deduced through recordings. To illustrate his talk he will use Naxos AudioBooks’ Great Historical Shakespeare Recordings, which features key Shakespearean actors – from Henry Irving and John Barrymore though to Laurence Olivier. And he will also draw on Naxos AudioBooks’ own Shakespeare recordings, including Kenneth Branagh’s Richard III. ‘The style of Shakespeare performances changes with each generation,’ he explains. ‘But there are many surprises. For example, John Barrymore clearly knew how to use the microphone – whereas many others evidently performed in the same way as they did on stage!’

The third programme, on 4 April in the Upper Library at 6.30pm, marks the quatercentenary of John Milton. One of the leading Milton scholars, John Carey, discusses the effect of the poet and polemicist on the English language. ‘John Milton re-made the English language. If the Oxford English Dictionary is to be believed, he introduced more words to our tongue than any other writer, including Shakespeare.’ Anton Lesser, the distinguished actor who reads Paradise Lost unabridged for Naxos AudioBooks, will present passages of Milton, including sections from Samson Agonistes.

The tone changes for the final programme, at the earlier time of 4pm and in the Marquee of Christ Church, as the focus shifts from adult literature to classic childrens’ stories. Nicolette Jones, the childrens’ literature reviewer for The Sunday Times, presents ‘When The Magic Began’. ‘From Peter Pan to The Wizard of Oz and The Happy Prince, children’s literature unchained the imagination of the young well before Harry Potter,’ says Nicolette Jones, who introduces some of her favourite passages, here read by Teresa Gallagher, Anton Lesser and other readers who feature so prominently in the Junior Classics section of Naxos AudioBooks. ‘I think it is going to be a rich and varying week,’ remarks Nicolas Soames.

For further details, please visit the website of the Oxford Literary Festival.

Check out the complete Naxos AudioBooks catalogue.



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