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.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Darley’s book is not a mad dash through this most compelling and complex of English counties. Nor is it another ti… ,
    • 'Moser’s book offers such a gripping account of a profoundly damaged human being, trapped in a cycle of repetition,… ,
    • 'Ideas that I’d thought were set down in full continue to smoulder ... this book is only a snapshot of some larger… ,
    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,
    • RT : One of my favourite literary magazines is celebrating 40 years this year. Here is the September edition of… ,
    • 'Now that the Thames is too fast-flowing to freeze, its spirit’s devotees ... have found other climes for their pri… ,