So, I’ve recorded one book for Iambik Audio (the lengthy and wonderful Oh Pure and Radiant Heart, by Lydia Millet) and I have a second lined up, which I am genuinely very excited about. It’s a huge change from OPRH, different genre, totally different narration style, and likely a different audience. I’ve been doing practice reads and working out how I want it to sound, because it’s very distinctive (in my imagination, at least.)
But the problem is, Frankenstein has GOT me. I’ve been thinking about making a free public domain recording of it for more than a year now, and the other day, I thought I’d just try out a sample recording, as a warm-up, you know. Two weeks and nine sections later, I am still largely in denial about this activity. The deadline for $newBook is April and that’s a while away still. And in the meantime, Frankenstein, which is NOT officially being read, I haven’t started a thread for it at LibriVox or anything … is somehow sneaking into files on my computer.
I’m not reading from the 1818 edition, which is rather less flowery than the 1831 “gosh, people like my book, I’d better revise it to make it more suitable for a wider audience” version. I’m not agonising over whether the Preface should be file 00, or considered an integral part of the book and numbered 01. I’m not wondering at all whether I might sound anything like Mary Shelley, and I definitely haven’t looked around online to see if any other women have ever recorded it (couldn’t find any.) I’ve not listened to Simon Vance’s widely available and very excellent version nor subsequently thought about how I myself would have approached those accents and voices.
Really, I’m only trying to fool myself, and I’m not even doing a good job of that. This book has completely gripped me, and I am enjoying recording it hugely. Last time I read the paper version, it was the 1831 one, and that seemed to drag … I’m not even sure I finished it. 1818 is (relatively!) punchy, and different in many ways (according to various comparisons and discussion online) that I approve of. (See also this listing of the 1823 edition’s changes.) A key aspect is the importance of free will in this version, vs. fatalism in the later edition. It’s less conventional — by the standards of the Nineteenth Century, at least. It’s a great book.