The first of this month’s releases is Henry Fielding’s superb comic novel Tom Jones. Brought to life through the vivid reading by Bill Homewood, this great English classic is full of comical mishaps, boisterous fights, ripe dialogue and enjoyably bawdy scenes. Its warts-and-all picture of the morals and manners of eighteenth-century society makes it one of the funniest, if not greatest, portraits of hypocrisy, heresy and honour.
The second classic brought to you this month is Jude the Obscure, read with delicacy and feeling by Neville Jason. Through the union of Jude Fawley and Sue Bridehead, Thomas Hardy’s final novel explores the oppressive attitudes of Victorian society. Both Jude and Sue decide to live their lives outside marriage and, as a consequence, they bring down on themselves all the force of a repressive society; this hostility is not unlike that directed at Hardy himself, who ceased writing novels altogether because of the controversy surrounding the book.
Lastly, we have Wagner – His Life and Music, whose release coincides with the 200th anniversary of the iconic composer’s birth. This excellent guide combines Stephen Johnson’s unique insights with excerpts from Wagner’s music, making it the perfect survey of the composer’s extraordinary life and works. Johnson makes no attempt to gloss over the darker side of Wagner’s character as he charts the composer’s development, from unpromising beginnings, into the creator of some of the most brilliantly innovatory and seductively beautiful music ever composed.
New Releases – May 2013