Friday, May 09, 2008

Wealth Of Nations: audio version

Timesonline(London) has a review by Christina Hardyment of an edition of The Wealth Of Nations by Adam Smith (Naxos, 6 CDs, £19.99):

Adam Smith is now the darling of the dog-eat-dog post-Keynesian economic climate, but Hugh Griffith, the abridger and introducer of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations (Naxos, 6 CDs, £19.99, offer £17.99 inc p&p from 0870 1608080 or is frank about the difficulties of the legendary 1776 roadmap of market economics. “Like Marx's Capital, it is long, tough and of those eternal classics of human thought that hardly anyone reads”.

He is, however, persuasive about its virtues: “The hallmark of genius is not constructing things that are complex but seeing the significance of things that are simple”. As soon as the listener gets past the daunting table of contents, Smith's genius for vivid phrases and everyday examples becomes apparent. “The real price of everything is the toil and trouble of acquiring it.’

Audio books are not new; markets have been created for them but an audio version of Wealth Of Nations is something new to me – markets provide experiments in everything possible and consumers decide which work and which bomb.

The selling pitch for Hugh Griffith’s abridged and introduced edition of Wealth Of Nations begins with the ‘fear’ factor of it being ‘long, tough and dense’ (even supposed professional economists complain about that, though it is a gross exaggeration) followed by a piece about is ‘genius for vivid phrases and everyday examples’ which is the hook to draw listeners to part with ‘£19.99’ for six CDs.

I bet they will sell far more (no matter how much they sell) than purchasers will actually listen to what they’ve bought. But at £19.99 for an abridgement – that is once they get ‘past the daunting table of contents’ which must be like listening to paint drying (who does other than scan a table of contents?) – its practically expendable money and worth the risk. Better still, by it as a gift for somebody else.

Incidentally, nothing is like the first part of Karl Marx’s Capital, written, my tutor told me, when Marx was suffering from carbuncles, though years later I realised it was obscurely boring because it was nonsense dressed as science, which only got worse the deeper you read into volumes I to III, until Marx dropped his excruciating labour theory of value towards the end, making all the effort a waste of time and brain cells. Volume IV on ‘surplus value’ is an (unreliable) essay on early economic thinking.

Well a review is a review, and it The Times too. I wonder if it wil make the Times Literary Supplement?


Blogger GRITSFED said...

I wanted to leave a comment in that since I was 17 (I am now 48) I have begun to re-read Welath of Nations; I am also reading works concerning Johe Locke, too.

Interesting reading in your blog.

Might want to see mine:

5:23 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

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11:29 am  

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