Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia

Read by Martin Geeson

(4.2 stars; 61 reviews)

In this enchanting fable (subtitled The Choice of Life), Rasselas and his retinue burrow their way out of the totalitarian paradise of the Happy Valley in search of that triad of eighteenth-century aspiration - life, liberty and happiness.

According to that quirky authority, James Boswell, Johnson penned his only work of prose fiction in a handful of days to cover the cost of his mother's funeral. The stylistic elegance of the book and its wide-ranging
philosophical concerns give no hint of haste or superficiality.

Among other still burning issues Johnson's characters pursue questions of education, colonialism, the nature of the soul and even climate alteration.
Johnson's profoundest concern, however, is with the alternating attractions of solitude and social participation, seen not only as the ultimate life-choice but as the arena in which are played out the deepest fears of the individual: "Of the uncertainties of our present state, the most dreadful and alarming is the uncertain continuance of Reason.” (Summary by Martin Geeson) (5 hr 30 min)


01 - Chapters I-IV 29:55 Read by Martin Geeson
02 - Chapters V-VII 17:45 Read by Martin Geeson
03 - Chapters VIII, IX 16:51 Read by Martin Geeson
04 - Chapters X-XII 29:34 Read by Martin Geeson
05 - Chapters XIII-XVI 22:58 Read by Martin Geeson
06 - Chapters XVII-XX 18:35 Read by Martin Geeson
07 - Chapters XXI, XXII 14:39 Read by Martin Geeson
08 - Chapters XXIII-XXVI 19:14 Read by Martin Geeson
09 - Chapters XXVII, XXVIII 13:32 Read by Martin Geeson
10 - Chapters XXIX, XXX 17:25 Read by Martin Geeson
11 - Chapters XXXI-XXXIII 12:15 Read by Martin Geeson
12 - Chapters XXXIV-XXXVII 23:50 Read by Martin Geeson
13 - Chapters XXXVIII, XXXIX 24:34 Read by Martin Geeson
14 - Chapters XL-XLIII 16:46 Read by Martin Geeson
15 - Chapters XLIV, XLV 15:16 Read by Martin Geeson
16 - Chapters XLVI, XLVII 23:52 Read by Martin Geeson
17 - Chapters XLVIII, XLIX 13:42 Read by Martin Geeson


(5 stars)

Don't give up M. Gesson. You are an amazing reader and I have read many things of yours. You are one of my favourite.

Sincerely, folks: "It's difficult to criticize the work of a volunteer, but..."

(0 stars)

Many thanks, Parsnip, for your courteous comments. If you link to cmih's earlier reviews you'll find him/her an interestingly constituted character. First there's the fulsome praise for the "generosity" of the volunteers; then comes the mean-spirited denunciation of a named individual, with the evident intention to stamp out further participation by that person. I almost prefer straightforwardly destructive reviewers to someone who pretends to be struggling against their natural sense of fairness and decency. I feel tempted, on the same basis, to apologise to cmih for the nausea induced by my voice! After a very productive first year reading for Librivox, I have found my confidence failing as I try more difficult and challenging material. I record far less and have long fallow periods. When I find glib or sneering people going out of their way to advertise to others how unpleasing, affected or unsuitable they find my voice, I feel like giving up altogether.

That would be a shame... (Updated)

(4 stars)

I found M Geeson's voice excellent, as I indicated in my review of Zastrozzi. I actually hated the book, but the reader did a wonderful job. I am partial to mysteries and sci-fi so if you would read some of those... :-) I think I'll download this book even tho it's not my genre, and give it a listen. Will post updated review when I am done. Update - Yep, this book is definitely not my genre. It was an okay book as far as the story line goes, but it did not draw me in because the story wasn't light enough. It addresses some deep philosophical issues such as what is happiness, and how does logic affect grief. The reader was fine, and the quality of the recordings was excellent, so if you like philosophy wrapped in a bit of a story, you may like this one. Story = 3 Reader = 5 Overall Rating = 4

"affecting grief"??

(0 stars)

Those reviews really got me curious! mikezane mentioned, "deep philosophical issues such as what is happiness, and how does logic affect grief" -- those are questions I need answered - I recently lost my wife, the "closest of soul-mate wifes" & our 3 young & very loving children, all at the same time, no warning at all. So now trying to "affect grief" - destroy it's what I need, now force myself to stay alive is an hourly fight. A fight I really, really, just don't want to win, I curse myself & do anyway. Listening to these audiobooks has distracted my mind away from the very real very extreme pinnacle of the very razor sharpest torturous killing grief -- so many many days, these audiobooks THAT *YOU* PEOPLE HAVE READ & DONE ALL THE TIME & WORK & TAKEN CRITICISM FOR, have literally, very literally saved my life for a few more minutes at a time, often for 20 - 30 times a day, until what seems like 80 hours later, I finally make it to the end of another day. ohh... I'm sorry... I need to just shut up. But the *help* so many of you have given, without your knowing anything about it at all, is so, sooo massive...

Martin Geeson has a fine voice

(5 stars)

I listened to Mr. Geeson's solo of Dostoevsky's "The Idiot" and I loved the strange but compassionate story(although I assume the last 9 parts or chapters have not been finished yet). Dostoevsky has more insight into neurosis than Freud. And like Turgenev he, Dostoevsky is basically that proverbial good hearted, sympathetic Russian. Martin I cannot believe someone was annoyed by your voice. On the contrary, I like your voice very much and you are a fine reader. And I like Elizebeth Klett too. One of the Dostoevsky books(which will be left un named) produced by Librivox volunteers was read by an American like me. His voice was very flat with a drawal. I love your "Ups" and "Downs" in vocalizations very much Mr. Geeson. And I like your pace. Many of my fellow Americans read so fast. Perhaps it is because I am ill, but i don't think so. dahszil male usa

(4.5 stars)

This was an enjoyable book to listen to. It runs deep and is thought provoking. It's sort of like a dream in the way life is sort of like a dream. I liked also how people came into their lives to answer the questions at hand or at least to lead to the next question. Thank you for another great selection and great reading Martin.

Martin Geeson has a great voice. 100% Proper.

(5 stars)

The book is good and filled with food for thought. Here's a quote from the book: All that Virtue can afford is quietness of conscience and the prospect of a happier state. This may enable us to endure calamity with patience; but remember patience must suppose pain. -Nekaya Rasselas Prince of Abyssnia by Samuel Johnson

A matter of taste

(4 stars)

We each have our personal taste, but if you look at the many reviews of Martin Geeson's recordings, you will see that many, many people have the very highest regard for his work. I can only assume that the reviewer is American, if he cannot differentiate between a well-spoken Englishman and a "grossly exaggerated British accent".