Crude but useful demarcations can be made between sound art, poetry, fiction, and non-fiction audiobooks: the terms overlap (I always say poetry is non-fiction), but the boundaries are explicit. The other broad demarcation I’d make is between recordings made by the author and those performed/recited by someone else (actor by definition, reader the term of art). After listening to Yeats reciting “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” a student, used to audiobooks, suggested we give no more authority to Yeats’s reading of his famous poem (albeit recorded decades after he wrote it) than we might give to another reader/performer/actor or even impersonator (I do a mean Yeats impression). This is a little like saying the Pope’s prayers amount to nothing more than those of any other parishioner. Pretty to think so, perhaps, but God surely pays special attention to the Pope, and I advised the student to pay just such special attention to Yeats doing Yeats.
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