Rupert Christiansen

Listen Up

Sound: Stories of Hearing Lost and Found


Profile Books/Wellcome Collection 210pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

As I earn most of my living as an opera critic and find the human voice as beautiful as any work of art or nature, I suppose it isn’t surprising that I cosset my hearing neurotically. I feel I would kill myself if I developed tinnitus; emergency sirens are the bane of my life; rock concert amplification terrifies me; and, with middle age, straining to catch words at noisy parties and in restaurants has become a real headache.

For such reasons, I found Bella Bathurst’s book terrifying, absorbing and ultimately uplifting. It’s a hymn to the faculty of hearing by someone who had it, lost it and then found it again, written with passion and intelligence and full of matters auricular that I knew little about. It’s a brave and important work.

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