New this month
Petronius’ rampant and vivacious Roman adventure, The Satyricon, shines in a spirited recording by Jonathan Keeble. The Satyricon is legendary for its frank and bawdy content and invites comparisons with Apuleius’ The Golden Ass. Laurel Lefkow transports us to the extremes of glamour and poverty in Theodore Dreiser’s frank and compelling portrait of the American dream, Sister Carrie, and Nicholas Boulton reveals the rules and culture of 16th-century court life in an exemplary recording of Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier.
Petronius’ Satyricon is a rampant and vivacious Roman adventure dating back to the first century, during the reign of Nero. It follows the exploits of Encolpius, an impoverished ex-gladiator, and his boy-lover Giton. Over the course of their journey we meet a host of lewd and comical rogues, and witness many strange and curious events.
Frank, evocative and compelling, Sister Carrie is a magnificent portrayal of 1890s America and the harsh realities of a dog-eat-dog world. When poor young Carrie Meeber arrives in Chicago, she never expects to become a prominent Broadway actress. Her rapid rise, in poignant counterpoint to the fall of Hurstwood, her former lover, presents a gritty and unattractive version of the American dream.
Set in the court of Urbino in 1507, Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier presents an invaluable look at court life and culture during the Renaissance. Over four nights of dialogue, the book explores the key question, ‘What should a courtier be like?’ and presents a deep and timeless discussion that is reminiscent of Plato’s Symposium, Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and Machiavelli’s The Prince.
Recently the Times newspaper ran an article with what it thought to be the best 25 first lines from all novels ever written. Notwithstanding the subjectivity of such a list (‘It was the best of times, it was the worst …