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Under Milk Wood (BBC Radio Collection) Audio CD – Audiobook, 2 Apr 2001

4.9 out of 5 stars 110 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD: 2 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Physical Audio; Unabridged edition (2 April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0563388609
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563388609
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1 x 14 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 67,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

About the Author

Dylan Marlais Thomas was born in Swansea on 27 October 1914 and educated at Swansea Grammar School where his father was an English master. He did not learn Welsh although his language has often been described as Welsh written in English. He began writing poetry while a student and continued writing in his spare time when, after leaving school in 1931, he worked as a reporter for the South Wales Daily Post in Swansea. He moved to London in 1934, and in December of that year his first volume of verse, 18 Poems, was published to critical acclaim. He then embarked on a career as a journalist and scriptwriter. As his reputation as a poet grew, so too did his personal popularity and he became well known for his exuberant and charismatic personality. He married Caitlin Macnamara in 1937 and they settled in Laugharne, Wales which was the inspiration for the town in Under Milk Wood. He returned there after many travels in 1949. During the Second World War, he was declared unfit for service and stayed in London, working as a scriptwriter and broadcaster for Strand Films and the BBC. All the while he wrote his own material and published two volumes of short stories, The Map of Love in 1939 and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog in 1940. With the publication of New Poems in 1943 and two further volumes, Death and Entrances (1946) and In Country Sleep (1953), his reputation was established. His Collected Poems 1934-1952, published in 1952, was a critical and popular success. In the 1950s, Thomas conducted several reading tours of his work in the United States. They drew large audiences and confirmed his reputation as a charismatic and lyrical poet. In 1953, he returned for a fourth visit to America despite poor health and exhaustion. Here he revised his play for voices Under Milk Wood which he had worked on intermittently for ten years. It had its first reading on stage on 14 May 1953 in New York. The first BBC broadcast was in 1954, although several sections were omitted. In 1963, the producer revisited the project and recorded the full and complete play. Dylan Thomas died in New York on 9 November 1953 and is buried in Laugharne. He and Caitlin had three children.


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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is the second BBC full cast recording of Dylan Thomas' most famous work Under Milk Wood, made in 1964. It retains most of the cast from the first recording, and, I'm told, restores some passages cut from the earlier version.

Richard Burton puts in one of his best performances as the narrator, with every syllable nuanced to perfection. It's so easy to just relax and let his wonderful, rich voice gently pull you in to the story. It's a part he was born for; he clearly had a great respect for the work and put all his wonderful talent into the part.

The story itself is the day in the life of a Welsh village, Llaregub, starting with the dreams of the villagers before they wake up, and then following an almost bewildering succession of characters through the day until night fall. A tale of every day lives and loves, exquisitely told.

The main star of the piece is Dylan Thomas' wonderful language. Not a word is out of place; each syllable is perfect and cannot be improved on. The text flows seamlessly even when jumping form character to character. The actors came together superbly to make this work as well in audio as it does on the written page, but without the painstaking agonising of Thomas over every word it wouldn't have worked.

An excellent purchase, I can't recommend this enough. It's just right for a rainy Sunday evening by the fireside.
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Under Milk Wood is one of the finest examples of writing you will ever read, or in this case hear. Words of such depth, lilt and lyrical rhythm that they take the breath away. It is genuinely difficult to find terms that do this masterpiece of the English language justice - so I will not try, just listen and be entranced by the magic of Dylan Thomas's unique genius.

To find a recording of this work that does it justice is rare indeed - and the BBC production on these CDs is as close to perfection as I have ever heard. This is the "Under Milk Wood" by which all others are judged and found wanting. Buy it. Listen to it. Please.
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Format: Audio CD
Written as a "play for voices" for the BBC, this historic audiotape features the all-Welsh cast of the original BBC production from 1954. Richard Burton is the First Voice, which connects all the characters, played by twenty-eight men, women, and children. With perfect diction and the sense of character which only a great actor can convey, Burton rolls his R's, modulates his voice in pitch and intensity, and makes Thomas's poetry come fully alive--full of alliteration and various kinds of rhyme, with nouns and adjectives used as verbs to convey action and sense impressions simultaneously, and always a wry humor and honesty of feeling.
Depicting one full day in the life of a small town in Wales, Thomas shows its motley residents as they awaken, perform their daily tasks, socialize, gossip, and daydream about the past that might have been and the future that may yet hold hope. When night falls and the residents retire, their losses and disappointments, along with their escapes into dreams, are given voice and poignancy. Polly Garter, with her numerous children by numerous fathers, dreams of Willie, a very small man who was the love of her life. Captain Cat, the blind bell-ringer, thinks of all the sailors he knew who died at sea. Mr. Pugh dreams of poisoning his wife, and young Gwenny, who has extorted pennies from the little boys who do NOT want to kiss her, plans for the next day and more pennies.
The sound effects provide context for the drama without overpowering the narrative--a cock's crow, the clip-clop of horses, the bark of dogs, footsteps, the sea, bell buoys--and simple songs add to the realism and the sense of character and place.
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The BBC recording of the 'play for voices' with Richard Burton as the lead narrator, is a wonderful creation. The story of South-West Wales fishing village, following the life of the village as a single day passes, it is a glorious composition of finely drawn characters. The word play is poetic, the inter-twined lives of the voices are surreal, the atmosphere is tangible. There is comedy and pathos as the author and the superb cast of voices draw out the stories within the village. It's best listened to in the dark, start to finish, in one sitting. Let the pictures flood through your mind; the words and voices are so evocative. Then read it to yourself, preferably with a well-annotated version that explains all the nuances and subtleties. You will not be able to read it without hearing Richard Burton's rich voice in your mind and seeing again the village, cascading down the hills to the little harbour, and every place within where a little drama is happening. Unforgetable.
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As others have pointed out, this version was recorded by the BBC in stereo a few years after the original mono broadcast - the cast was almost the same but not quite, and some cuts were restored. But there is something magical about the original recording which is still available from Naxos, so unless mono sound puts you off, I would say that's the one to go for.
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