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The major novels of Dickens on Naxos AudioBooks for the 200th anniversary

January 5, 2012

All the major novels of Charles Dickens will be available on audiobook in both abridged and unabridged form from classics specialist Naxos AudioBooks in 2012, the 200th anniversary of the writer’s birth.

The last five years have seen the audiobook company commit to a regular programme of recording the great novels in unabridged form, many read by Anton Lesser, one of Britain’s leading classic actors and a favourite spoken word voice for many.

Among his fans is none other than Stephen Fry. Fry dubbed him ‘The great Anton Lesser’, for his readings ranging from Milton’s Paradise Lost to Dickens’s Great Expectations.

Of Dickens’s 16 major novels (including A Christmas Carol), Lesser has read no fewer than 10, starting with Great Expectations. He began reading abridgements, but in recent years has produced unabridged recordings, including Little Dorrit (28 CDs) and The Old Curiosity Shop (18 CDs). In November, the unabridged Hard Times will be released (9 CDs).

‘It has been one of my most enjoyable assignments—Dickens is an inexhaustible source of unforgettable stories, remarkable characters, and dialogue which is both a technical challenge and a delight to read,’ said Lesser.

Over the past five years, Naxos AudioBooks has invited other experienced readers to join Lesser in recording unabridged Dickens. Sean Barrett has read Barnaby Rudge, Bleak House and Martin Chuzzlewit. David Timson has read Our Mutual Friend, Dombey and Son and April 2012 sees his release of The Pickwick Papers (28 CDs).

The 2012 Dickens year starts off with David Horovitch’s reading of Nicholas Nickleby (29 CDs, January) and continues with David Copperfield read by Nicholas Boulton (30 CDs) and Oliver Twist read by Jonathan Keeble (13 CDs). Timson finishes the Dickens programme with Selections from Sketches by Boz (4 CDs) and The Mystery of Edwin Drood (9 CDs), in May.

In addition, Naxos AudioBooks is releasing Oliver Twist re-told for younger listeners by Roy McMillan. For the most part, he has used Dickens’s text but simplified it, made it a bit more child-friendly where required, and added explanations where necessary. Oliver Twist re-told is read by Jonathan Keeble and is released in January (2 CDs).

Nicolas Soames, publisher, Naxos AudioBooks comments: ‘This has been a major commitment for us, but one of the most rewarding we have undertaken. We have a reputation for outstanding recordings of the classics and, like unabridged Sherlock Holmes or Ulysses, unabridged Dickens was something we simply couldn’t resist.’


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