I am not in the least a Chaucer scholar - partly because previously I had not managed to get very far with reading the Tales for myself. So I can only write as a novice and an amateur, but I am listening intently and enjoying the book in a multiplicity of ways. The variety of the Tales themselves, the drama and humour of the work, the way in which is it all structured; and the music of the language , which is retained in this modern translation and which does gain from being read aloud. I hesitated for some time before buying this book, thinking it might be too much for me. On the contrary, I am relishing it and am grateful to such gifted readers for bringing this very special text alive for me.
I completely agree with other reviewers : you will be surprised how quickly so many hours of this book fly past. They were all tremendously enjoyable! Thank you, John Castle, for so expert a reading which never missed the sense (this in my experience is unusual), and on the contrary brought out all the humour, the drama, and in particular the wit of the book. When I read Vanity Fair many years ago, I was a little daunted by its length and density; listening to such a masterly rendition of it, I relished every chapter and will certainly listen again.
Montaigne is a seminal French Renaissance essayist, so the content of this work is both influential but also, in its totality, rather esoteric. Having wanted for years to read the essays, but been daunted by the language and the length, I made the very good choice of listening to them instead, and by that means have been able to engage with them all. It remains something of a marathon because, unlike other long audio-books, there is no "story" to help you along and I did have to rely on systematic creation of bookmarks to ensure smooth progress without inadvertently skipping backwards or forwards.
That said, this is an excellent way to come to grips with and to enjoy Montaigne. Top marks to Christopher Lane who interprets faultlessly everything from erudite translations from Latin to the most graphic physical details, not forgetting all the footnotes. Top marks too to Donald Frame for such a comprehensible translation.
Aided by these two interpreters, Montaigne's work can afford you well over 45 hours of real interest, with only a very small percentage which is now beyond the non-specialist. The immediacy and freshness of his style, the pithiness of his comments, the details we get of his life and that of his family and his famed friend La Boetie, the copious illustration of philosophical precepts with lively, concrete examples, and much more, ensure that the Essays still speak directly to the reader/listener.
Listening to this audiobook is a serious undertaking but it is one which I very much value.