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The Noise of Time Audiobook

The Noise of Time

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Publisher's Summary

In May 1937, a man in his early 30s waits by the lift of a Leningrad apartment block. He waits all through the night, expecting to be taken away to the Big House. Any celebrity he has known in the previous decade is no use to him now, and few who are taken to the Big House ever return.

©2016 Julian Barnes (P)2016 W F Howes Ltd

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (188 )
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4.0 (169 )
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4.2 (169 )
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  •  
    Susan Whitehead 04/02/2016 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Noise of Time"

    A very interesting slant on Shostocovich and his life. It also gives an insight into the way the Soviet Union treated its artists . It is more a biography than a story but Julian Barnes writes so well that the people he describes come alive.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nick Drew 13/01/2017
    Nick Drew 13/01/2017 Member Since 2016
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    "Gripping and brilliantly researched"

    A genuinely superb fictionalised account of the inner monologue of Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich, written with deft turns of phrase (often derived from Russian sayings or folk wisdom), grim humour, a real insight into the psychology of terror in the USSR and a superb grasp of the bibliographic and historical record. I'm sure I will return to this book many times. Excellently performed in this audio book rendering too. Highly recommended.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Welsh Mafia North Cornelly 12/03/2016
    Welsh Mafia North Cornelly 12/03/2016 Member Since 2017
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    "Hey, Shosti......Nabokov and the CIA"

    Any personal consideration of this novel is driven initially by a comparison to David Pownall’s 'Master Class' which I saw in around 1983 at the Theatre Royal Newcastle. The pairing of Shostakovich and Stalin was, in that instance complemented with the appearance on stage of Zhdanov and Prokofiev. I remember thinking that the get-together was a fantastic pretense and a wonderful construct on which questions of artistic intention and integrity were played out with lots of laughs, some real reflection and great skill on the part of Trevor Cooper.

    In Julian Barnes’ novel the focus is entirely personal, built around a series of historic events rather than a single pivot. Its a more natural choice for a novel, of course, and these days its great to be able to quickly interrogate the British Pathé archive viewing the arrival of Shostakovich in New York as described and do the background checks on Nicolas Nabokov and the CIA.

    Entirely satisfying? Not really. Unlike The Sense Of An Ending there is no sense of an edge in that, where historical facts are blended into the narrative, there is no clear cut between that inventive narrative fiction and documentary. That impacted my reading of the latest effort from a great contemporary novelist - not to say that the novel represents beautiful clear writing stopping off at all of the important emotional and intellectual points along the way to enjoy the view. A struggle between 4 and 5 star stuff although I am sure that the author didn’t trouble himself with my tape-measure considerations. A victim of his own high standards in this case, perhaps and emblematic of its subject.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Cottam Devon,UK 22/08/2017
    D. Cottam Devon,UK 22/08/2017 Member Since 2010
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    "An Inscrutable Subject"

    This is a marvellous book, impeccably
    read. To imagine the inner life of such a retiring man is a great feat of imagination. I was enthralled by the tale and its performance. Strongly recommended

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Luuk 18/06/2017
    Luuk 18/06/2017
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    "Disappointing"

    Almost nothing about Shostakovich's music. The biographical parts do not go very deep and on the whole too apologetic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Miss Z Cook 15/06/2017
    Miss Z Cook 15/06/2017 Member Since 2014
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    "Just not for me."

    Very well written, obviously well researched, just not for me. Not always easy to follow as an audiobook.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chelsworth London, UK 12/05/2017
    Chelsworth London, UK 12/05/2017 Member Since 2011
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    "Good story"

    I liked the overall tone, but all Russian names, city names and brand names were really badly pronounced by the reader.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    bibliophile 27/04/2017
    bibliophile 27/04/2017
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    "Interesting and well-read"

    It seems a slight story to begin with, but develops into a detailed and interesting narrative, which is well-read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rae 09/02/2017
    Rae 09/02/2017 Member Since 2015
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    "Interesting"

    Not my favorite Julian Barnes, but interesting story for someone who's not familiar with Russian history and classical music.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Duncan Oval, United Kingdom 05/12/2016
    Duncan Oval, United Kingdom 05/12/2016 Member Since 2015

    Always up for new listens, particularly crime, thrillers, Nordic noir and historical fiction. Rom Com and chick lit need not apply...

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "No prior knowledge required!"

    Shostakovich. A name I recognised as a composer but that's about it. Yet this doesn't matter with Barnes. Just as in his wonderful Flaubert's Parrot, the man behind the artist is sketched and draws you in. I've since read Flaubert and will now listen to some Shostakovich. That's how good Julian Barnes and his stories are.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Darwin8u
    Mesa, AZ, United States
    13/06/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Art belongs to everybody and nobody."

    A soul could be destroyed in one of three ways: by what others did to you; by what others made you do to yourself; and by what you voluntarily did to yourself. Any single method was sufficient; though if all three were present, the outcome was irresistible."
    ― Julian Barnes, The Noise of Time

    The last Julian Barnes I read was 'The Sense of an Ending' which seemed to float perfectly as a short novel. The prose was as delicate, smooth and perfect as rosette frosting. I'm not sure Nabokov would want to follow that novel, but eventually Barnes was bound to write his next novel, comparisons be damned.

    'The Noise of Time' is a short 200 page novel about the life and times of Dmitri Shostakovich, one of the great composers of the 20th century. This is not exactly new ground. 11 years ago William T. Vollmann also used the life of Shostakovich to explore the nature of evil, power, etc. Vollmann used Shostakovich as one of several voices to tell his stories. In some ways, Europe Central explores WWII as a symphony and the life of Shostakovich happens to just be one of the major instruments. In 'The Noise of Time' Barnes explores art and music using Shostakovich as a single instrument.

    Barnes uses the relationship between Shostakovich and Stalin (later the Soviet state) to delve into how power and fear can externally affect the artist. But he goes further and looks at how man can affect his own art in relationship to the outside world. He looks at how irony is used as a defense against external forces that would control and destroy.

    One of my favorite lines from this novel is:

    “Art belongs to everybody and nobody. Art belongs to all time and no time. Art belongs to those who create it and those who savour it. Art no more belongs to the People and the Party than it once belonged to the aristocracy and the patron. Art is the whisper of history, heard above the noise of time. Art does not exist for art’s sake: it exists for people’s sake.”

    Anyway, this month I've been a bit obsessed with Shostakovich. After reading two fictionalized accounts his life, I've also been sucked down the Russian rabbit hole of his Symphonies (primarily the 5th, 7th, and 1oth). These three symphonies play a significant role in both books, so I'm glad to have been reminded several times this year that I should listen to more post-romantics than just Gustav Mahler. Thank you Julian Barnes and William T. Vollmann to push me into the small, shaking hands of Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich.

    19 of 24 people found this review helpful
  • W Perry Hall
    L.A.
    20/03/16
    Overall
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    Story
    "Art's Whisper of History"


    Julian Barnes' short novel is enriching in the aesthetics of art and music and edifying in a look at how one of history's greatest composers might have dealt with Stalin's sinister oppression and created exceptional compositions despite living in constant fear that death might be the next knock on the door.

    The re-imagining of Shostakovich's life under Stalin reverberates in the ironies of humanity. We esteem courage and justice, but we also want to live. Had Shostakovich spoken out against Stalin's purges and quashing of true art, he would most certainly have been killed immediately, and the world would have been deprived of brilliant works of music. And, would his speaking out have changed anything? Or, should Shostakovich be plagued by his failure in this regard in spite of the haunting reminders he has provided history, well beyond his natural death, of the evils of communism and of Stalin and other "leaders" like him.

    "Art is the whisper of history heard above the noise of time," notes the narrator of THE NOISE OF TIME. Anyone familiar with Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 knows that certain "whispers" roar.

    These are the ironies Barnes explores in his inspired new work.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • ELIZABETH
    29/02/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great but ..."
    Where does The Noise of Time rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the best


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Noise of Time?

    Shostakovich's encounter with Stalin


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The encounter with a beggar in a railway station


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Shostakovich's attempt to avoid joining the Communist Party


    Any additional comments?

    A fascinating book brilliantly read by Daniel Philpott. Just a slight feeling that the rant against Communism is so remorseless that one ends up by thinking it must have had some good features. The portrait of the central protagonist is totally convincing but was it Shostakovich? Who knows?

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Jeff Lacy
    Virginia
    15/12/16
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    "Exquisitely masterpiece of a novel"

    A novel about the Russian composer Shostakovich, Julian Barnes has given us a stylistic masterpiece. Barnes is one of the best contemporary literary writers we have. This is is a majestic, interesting story, intelligent and compelling. One of my favorite reads of the year 2016.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Betty B.
    23/05/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Boring"

    What happened to Barnes's story telling abilities? Huge fan of his previous works, but not this. Meandering disjointed storyline. Had to make myself finish this one.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Michael Cox
    San Diego, CA USA
    09/06/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "overwrought"

    Not an easy read, often tedious and often confusing. throughput the book I kept getting confused about Stalin's state,at one point I believed he was dead only to discover he wasn't. this happened several times! To many digressions and rambling psycho babel. there we're moments of interest to be sure but the style might be more associated by an English major or an academic

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Michael Eliastam
    Near Boston
    22/02/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "And I'm in a story for our time"

    Yes I listen to this I heard two themes:
    The terrible power of fear,
    Resonance with what is starting to happen in America now. Immigrants and Muslims feel it now, and who will be next?
    No wasted words in this short book. It is beautifully written and the performance is excellent.
    This is creative nonfiction at its best.

    The slow destruction of people is so sad.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Juliet
    06/01/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "But remember, it's fiction!"

    Tight, wonderfully crafted story of life under Stalin and Kruschev. Love the clarity of Barnes' language and his characters.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Luisa
    26/09/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Where is the story?"

    Brilliantly written, this book struggles to keep the reader motivated to read on. The irresolvable tension between the ideal of integrity and courage art should live up to and the reality of the all too human fearfulness of the protagonist cannot be elaborated on for so many pages (or hours of reading) without begging the question: where is the story? The performance of the reader is superb

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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