I finished listening to a terribly long audio book: The Pillars Of The Earth written by Ken Follett. The book’s running hour is 40 hours and 10 minutes. After I did search online about its Chinese translation version, it seems that its Chinese translation version is out of print. The information about the author, introduction about its protagonists, the story’s background, and the plot are available here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pillars_of_the_Earth (Wikipedia), so I will spare my poorly written English paragraphs and give no more details about the book. However, I would like to share some experience and inspiration I gained after listening to this book.
我通常是在搭公車或捷運的時候，聽有聲書，一方面不會浪費這每天兩小時的通勤時間，另一方面可以隔絕車廂內喧囂的噪音。最近，騎摩托車的時間變多，搭乘公車或捷運的機會變少，所以，通常要花費約兩個星期的時間，聽完一本15到20小時左右的有聲書。但是我在兩個星期之內，就聽完這本書。Ken Follett有條不紊地敘說在聖殿春秋裡出現的各樣人物的故事，說書人John Lee適切而不誇張的表演，鮮明地展現12世紀的英國社會。我只要一有時間，就會打開電腦或MP3 Player，急切地聽著故事的發展，希望能趕快知道接續又有哪些事件發生。我對英國歷史並沒有很深的涉略，但是也大略知道發生在Queen Maud和King Steven，King Steven和Henry二世以及Henry二世和Thomas Becket之間的衝突的結果。然而，預知結果，並不會減損故事的吸引力，反之，故事的轉折，往往是出乎我的意料之外。雖然，我被作者對暴力的露骨描述所震撼，但是，以另一個角度來看，如果當時社會的女人是如此弱勢，又何必遮遮掩掩地不敢揭露。
I usually listen to audio books when I take MRT or bus, so that I don’t waste my daily 2-to-2.5- hour commute time, and I can shield myself from the noise around me as well. Recently, I have had more chances to ride my scooter to my office and school, I have had fewer chances taking MRT or buses, so it usually takes two weeks to finish listening an 15-to-20-hour audio book. But I finished listening to The Pillars Of The Earth within two weeks. Ken Follett well organizes his story and smoothly navigates among different storylines. He gives his readers vivid portrayals of his protagonists and ties those protagonists’ critical life-events to historical events happened in the 12th century England. John Lee, the narrator of this book, has marvelous performance that brings out those protagonists’ emotional turmoil. The people and the town are splendidly presented in front of me. The story is a cliffhanger, I was eager to know what happened to the people or the town, I listened to it as long as my laptop or MP3 player were available
The story’s development of The Pillars Of The Earth is tied to the conflicts happened between Queen Maud and King Steven, King Steven and Henry II, and Henry II and Thomas Becket, and the consequences of those conflicts. I am no History major and have little knowledge about British history. I have learned a little about the conflicts and their consequences. Even though I had learned the background information, the pleasure of story listening wasn’t diminished. On the contrary, I was often surprised by the twists and wanted to learn more about what happened next.
I was overwhelmed by some parts in the story because the author gives his readers very graphic description of violence happened to female characters. I was pretty upset and had some nightmares for few days. To be honest, I was shocked and afraid that the same situation would happen to me. I thought about if it’s necessary to go into the details of violent events, and now I think if it really reflects women’s poor situations in that historical and social context, it’s what really happened to them, there is no need to avoid revealing the truth of them.
P.S. Peter O’Toole分別在Becket (1964) 和冬之獅 (1968) 飾演King Henry二世，有興趣的人，可以找DVD來看看。
P.S. Peter O’Toole plays King Henry II in the movies Becket (1964) and (The Lion in Winter, 1968). You can get DVDs and watch his excellent performance if you have interests in this kind of historical drama.