Sunday, March 15, 2015
Well, actually not just abridged. A bit more on that later.
Back in 2008 I bought the audiobook for Demian read by a single voice actor, containing the entire book unabridged. In 2011 I then wrote out the whole book bit by bit as I listened a few seconds at a time (a method I detailed here), which took three weeks at 8+ hours a day and resulted near the end in two bleeding knuckles. It was interesting to learn that the simple motion of using a pencil will do that when done too much.
And then in 2012 I created and published the interlinear translation of the book. In short, this is a book I know better than any other.
That being said, I don't do any peripheral activities with it - no reviews, no gathering with other fans of the book online or off, so I never knew about this dramatized audiobook version that apparently was recorded in 2002. The regular audiobook I have is over six hours, and this version is around two, so it is abridged in many places.
So here's a quick review. If I were to sum it up quickly it would be: for someone who really knows the book it is thoroughly entertaining. If you don't, you'll find it chaotic and difficult to follow.
This recording doesn't just abridge the book, however, it also adds some content and changes the wording from time to time (I heard a "guck mal!" once or twice).
The first part with Franz Kromer is very well done, and up to about the twenty minute mark it follows the book faithfully, and it is very absorbing. Later on in that video (and others) there are a few minutes cut out here and there, so the version that people have uploaded and are passing around is somewhat incomplete. I may buy the full version of this as well so I can hear the missing parts.
Then Demian shows up, and much of the abridging starts. Demian is played as well as one can expect, but they have done a few things that don't sit well with me. Little of what he said was abridged but the timing has been changed. For example when he talked a bit too much in the classroom and seemed to regret it, in the book it wasn't until later that he said "wir reden zu viel", but in the audiobook here he said that right away...and then it didn't even have the later part of that scene where he goes into himself (goes into a kind of trance) in the classroom, which is one of the more important parts of the book.
After that Demian is gone, just like in the book...but then they decide they are going to jam in some content from Unterm Rad in there, a much earlier book Hesse wrote about the pressures of being a gifted student. All of a sudden they're talking about classrooms named Germania and Athens, Sinclair is brought before the headmaster and seems much more timid than he was in Demian, and these few minutes they decided to shoehorn in could have been used to unabridge some of the abridged content. If it was the full book plus some others (Kinderseele for example feels like a prologue, some parts of other books of his I've thought could be fit in to expand it one wanted to) I wouldn't mind.
Back to Demian: in the book the part between Demian leaving Sinclair's town and them meeting again is very long, and in the middle Sinclair mentions that actually there was a quick meeting in the town when he was in his smoking and drinking and carousing (okay, pretending to carouse) period. The audiobook takes this and moves it to when it actually happens, which really cuts down on Demian's absence, basically turning him into a character who never went away. That makes Sinclair's lonely search for enlightenment less poignant since throughout Demian is always around the corner, and Sinclair just finds a few fun people to learn new things from. Then poof, Demian's there again and the reader never gets a sense for how alone Sinclair was for so long.
The Pistorius part was done well. Especially the parts where Pistorius is about to get into the subject of this or that ancient religion and Sinclair cuts him off is exactly how I pictured it.
Then Frau Eva shows up and hm, they've given her an old lady voice. Not a fan. The book stresses over and over again that nothing about her gives the impression of a mother of a young adult. Oh, and it cut out the part where Sinclair goes to Demian's old house, sees her picture, tries to find her but fails, another part that would have been great to keep in to stress how alone he was. Instead Sinclair just happens across Demian and he says "come meet my mother!" and suddenly Sinclair is meeting her mother, who seems just like some regular mother.
In short: don't listen unless you've read the book. And do listen if you have, because you'll still enjoy it in spite of the parts that annoy.