Chesterton’s Voice

Back during a time when the word kindle was a verb you would use to describe starting a fire, people would read actual hard-cover or paperback books.  Today, its a device you can use for reading books.   I don’t have a kindle.  I have an iPod, and I’ve got into buying audio books that I can download to my iPod and listen to while I drive, or while I’m puttering around at home, or even if I’m on a break at work.

The first time I read Orthodoxy I actually read it.  I bought a paperback copy of the book and read it.  It was the first book I’d ever read by G.K. Chesterton.  I don’t think I fully grasped what I was reading.  I was reading it because I heard it recommended and talked about by a Priest (now a Bishop) of the Catholic Church, Robert Barron.   I assumed from the title “Orthodoxy” that it would be a little more scholarly in structure and style than what I found, but I read through it anyway, and found it at least enjoyable even if I didn’t understand everything I read.

Today I have an audio book version narrated by John Franklyn-Robbins.  I was listening to it earlier and appreciating the work much more than I did the first time I saw the words on paper.  You don’t really realize it right away, though it seems obvious once you think about it, but the voice of the narrator is quite important to the enjoyment of the book.

John Franklyn-Robbins is the voice of G.K. Chesterton.  I can’t read Chesterton without hearing his voice.  I’ve listened to audio book versions of “Heretics”, and “What’s Wrong With the World”, both weren’t narrated by Mr. Robbins.  I thought both were good, but if I read a hard copy of a Chesterton book, like his biographical sketch of St. Francis of Assisi, I hear the voice of John Franklyn-Robbins.  It has a distinctiveness and character that just seems to scream “Chesterton!”.

Its almost like listening to a baseball game on the radio that’s being called by one of the great announcers, Harry Caray, Vin Scully, Ernie Harwell, etc.  You can see and feel what’s being described through the spoken word of the narrator, even though you can’t literally see it or feel it.   You hear the voice and you just relax and nearly slip into a stupor while you imbibe the action being described as if you were there watching it yourself.

The kindle you might use to read a book today won’t start a real fire, but when you read G.K. Chesterton and you hear the voice of John Franklyn-Robbins, it could start a fire in your heart.

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