Spoken Word

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A Man in Full

by Tom Wolfe

BBC,

5hrs, pounds 12.99

WITH AMBUSH at Fort Bragg, Talkie of the Year in 1998, Tom Wolfe showed us how well his writing works as spoken word. But Ambush at Fort Bragg was just a continental breakfast and Bonfire of the Vanities a half-finished lunch in comparison with the five-course dinner that is , a skilfully plotted novel of Dickensian range set in the murky and corrupt world of over-extended American capitalism. The linchpin of the essentially optimistic, very funny story is, unlikely as it may seem, the teachings of the Stoic Epictetus concerning man's essential freedom. William Hootkins reads with evident relish.

Bleak House

by Charles Dickens

BBC, 5hrs, pounds 12.99

LIKE MOST people I know, I have been meaning to read the original Dickens ever since I can remember. But until I get round to it, there could be no better substitute than the BBC's growing list of excellent full-cast dramatisations. The latest is Bleak House, one of the most tangled and confusing of tales. But producer John Dryden orchestrates his varied and vital cast compellingly as Sacha Puttnam's haunting music builds up to an awesome crescendo, the doomed Lady Dedlock confesses her sins, and avaricious lawyers claw in all that is left of the legendary process of Jarndyce versus Jarndyce.

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