Dr. Durant’s design was “to tell as much as I can, in as little space as I can, of the contribution that genius and labor have made to the cultural heritage of mankind.” — from Will Durant’s New York Times obituary
Two years ago, we wrote a post about Stefan and his work narrating THE STORY OF CIVILIZATION, the iconic, eleven-volume award-winning set of Western history penned by husband and wife writing team Will and Ariel Durant. Durant aimed to create “an ‘integral history’ in which all the phases of human activity would be presented in one complex narrative, in one developing, moving, picture.”
Stefan’s first hurdle was Book 2: THE LIFE OF GREECE, originally published in 1939 and currently available at Downpour (via Blackstone Audio) at a whopping 32.6 hours (and worth every second). Whew. Catch a glimpse of Stefan at work in the studio on this incredible project here.
And don’t think Stefan stopped there. Oh no. He and fellow award-winning narrator Grover Gardner (who has won over 20 AudioFile Earphone Awards and an Audie) alternated the rest of the series, both earning accolades for their top-notch performances:
“[Grover Gardner’s] is a self-effacing art that hides art; his reading is a demonstration of how to narrate intelligent nonfiction without effort or obtrusive mannerism, allowing the text to shine…” – AudioFile review of Book 3: CAESAR AND CHRIST
“Durant’s monumental history of Europe from 1300 to 1564 presents a narrator with great challenges, but Stefan Rudnicki lives up to them. His strong, endlessly listenable voice helps keep one’s interest over the long haul…His pacing, energy, and expression of sense and feeling help bring the book alive.” –AudioFile review of Book 6: THE REFORMATION
And after completing his narration of Book 10: ROUSSEAU AND REVOLUTION, which won the 1968 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, Stefan was pleasantly surprised to find himself voicing the eleventh volume as well. It seemed especially fitting (history repeating?) as Book 10 was meant to be the final volume (Will was then 81 and wife Ariel 69). But, in the week of Will’s 90th birthday in 1975, they released Book 11: THE AGE OF NAPOLEON.
We know, 110 centuries of history in 11 volumes, written between 1927-1975, is a lot to keep track of. So, we got you covered:
Book 1: OUR ORIENTAL HERITAGE by Will Durant – read by Robin Field
Book 2: THE LIFE OF GREECE by Will Durant – read by Stefan Rudnicki
Book 3: CAESAR AND CHRIST by Will Durant – read by Grover Gardner
Book 4: THE AGE OF FAITH by Will Durant – read by Stefan Rudnicki
Book 5: THE RENAISSANCE by Will Durant – read by Grover Gardner
Book 6: THE REFORMATION by Will Durant – read by Stefan Rudnicki
Book 7: THE AGE OF REASON BEGINS by Will and Ariel Durant – read by Grover Gardner
Book 8: THE AGE OF LOUIS XIV by Will and Ariel Durant – read by Stefan Rudnicki
Book 9: THE AGE OF VOLTAIRE by Will and Ariel Durant – read by Grover Gardner
Book 10: ROUSSEAU AND REVOLUTION by Will and Ariel Durant – read by Stefan Rudnicki
Book 11: THE AGE OF NAPOLEON by Will and Ariel Durant – read by Stefan Rudnicki
The Durants prepared each volume by scanning 500 books, making notes, and writing their prose in a notebook (to be typed later). “Most of the time they put in seven days a week, from 8 in the morning to 10 at night, and it took about four years to produce a book.” (You can read more details in Will Durant’s obituary in The New York Times.)
As quoted from Ariel Durant’s obituary in The New York Times, in their “A Dual Biography,” Mrs. Durant noted: “We have been allowed to earn our bread while celebrating the creative men and women who made history by enriching our heritage and our lives. Once again, probably for the last time, we bid our readers a grateful goodbye. But we are not really leaving them. They can always find us between the covers of our books.”
And now, with the help of pros Robin Field, Grover Gardner, and Stefan Rudnicki, the Durants and their informative, optimistic, witty and wise STORY OF CIVILIZATION will live on in a whole new way. Visit downpour.com today.