William Shakespeare, Sir Walter Raleigh, Thomas Hobbes - three of the greatest Englishmen who ever lived. They, and many others, are here remembered by another great Englishman, John Aubrey, whose "Brief Lives" are some of the wittiest and most moving miniature portraits ever written. Aubrey - a scholar, antiquarian and close observer of both the foibles and the courage of his contemporaries - lived through the upheavals of the English Civil War in the 17th century. His little biographies are amusing, ribald, moving; a testament to the brevity of human existence, and one of the most precious relics of a distant age.
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Aubrey (1626-97) was an antiquarian and bon vivant who took little time out from his partying to finish any of his projects. So someone else had to publish Brief Lives after his death. A random sampling of interesting personages, Lives is filled with gossipy anecdotes about the famous and not-so-famousÐthe sort of thing that makes for juicy conversation with one's drinking partners. If you want the lowdown on Sir Walter Raleigh, Francis Bacon, Shakespeare, et al.Ðhere's the place to get it. The distinguished actor Brian Cox portrays Aubrey sitting with us before the hearth of an evening. He thus does a fine job of delivering the author's personality, but a hit-or-miss job with the content. At times he seems to cough up words without understanding them. Naxos's signature bridges of period music are, as usual, a definite plus. Y.R. (c)AudioFile, Portland, MaineReview:
"These pen portraits of contemporary and near-contemporary luminaries...are as graphic as anything you'll see on television. With Brian Cox's rich voice reading them and 17th-century incidental music for viols, this is a must for connoisseurs." -- Sue Arnold "The Guardian"
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