Thursday, May 19, 2011

"Rappaccini's Daughter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Source: LibriVox (zipped mp3s)
Length: 1 hr, 13 minutes
Readers: Brett and Theresa Downey

The story: In the Italian city of Padua, medical student Giovanni takes up residence overlooking a garden. The garden is owned by the scientist Dr. Rappaccini who has bred the plants to produce the most deadly poisons known to man. Tending this deadly garden is the doctor's beautiful daughter, Beatrice, with whom Giovanni inevitably falls in love.

The garden in this story has clear allusions to the Garden of Eden. Beatrice, then, is both Eve and tempting fruit. But the Creator of this garden is not a righteous deity, but a cunning scientist. So, in addition to being a romance about forbidden love, this is also a fable about man's desire to embrace dangerous scientific knowledge, and the consequences of that act.

Rating: 8 / 10

The readers: Although two separate readers team up for this story, the recording is an unabridged reading, not a radio-style adaptation. Brett reads the narration and most of the voices, while Theresa reads the part of Beatrice. Brett is an expressive amateur reader, but his narration is handicapped by several glaring mispronunciations. His voices for the characters are appropriate and allow for easy identification of the speakers. Unlike many male readers, he knows his limitations and allows Theresa to perform the part of Beatrice, at which she does a fine job.

(Painting Lady Lilith (1868) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. No copyright restrictions.)

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