Downton Abbey actor voices Noli Me Tangere audiobook

By Patrick Camara Ropeta, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Oct 22 2014 12:09 PM | Updated as of Oct 24 2014 12:25 AM

British actor Richard E Grant was tasked to narrate the Jose Rizal novel in a new audiobook, using a popular English translation from 1961 by Leon Maria Guerrero III, a former ambassador of the Philippines in the United Kingdom.

LONDON - International star of stage and screen Richard E. Grant was at the Philippine Embassy in London to launch an English language audiobook of classic Filipino novel, "Noli Me Tangere".

The British actor, who currently stars in hit television series Downton Abbey, was tasked to narrate the Jose Rizal novel in a new audiobook, using a popular English translation from 1961 by Leon Maria Guerrero III, a former ambassador of the Philippines in the United Kingdom.

"I enjoyed reading the book enormously," Grant told ABS-CBN Europe.

He explained: "I was so struck by the fact that it combined so many genres of being an absolute page turning thriller, in a sense, as well as history of the most incredible colonial social injustice. And then it’s livened by incredible humor, high comedy and satire."

It was the first time Grant read Noli Me Tangere, and by doing so discovered a part of Philippine history that many say defined the nation through the words written by Rizal.

"The happy ending is that the country has been liberated from colonialism, so that is the great triumph of history. So everything that this young man hoped for and presaged has come true," he said.

The Noli Me Tangere Audiobook

The new audiobook, also complimented by an e-book of the same title, could take Rizal’s ideas even further by introducing the text to a wider audience from a multimedia-savvy digital generation.

"It’s time for a new way of telling a story through mobile, through web, ebooks, audiobooks, so there should be no barrier to people reading the book or reading the story at least," said David Guerrero, head of Guerrero Publishing.

He added: "This is the book that sparked off the revolution against the Spanish. It’s also the book that brought the idea of the Filipino nation together, and the other thing is that the characters that he wrote about in satire, many of those people still seem to be with us today."

The audiobook was officially launched at the Philippine Embassy in London, attended by Grant and the publishers with guests including diplomats, members of the press, and British Filipinos.

"We chose London to launch the audiobook because we’re seeking an international audience. We want people everywhere in the world to get to know more about Jose Rizal, the importance of Noli, and that’s why we chose to have the event in London and use an English actor," Guerrero added.

The challenge was taken on by Grant, and with his extensive media catalogue including Gosford Park, Dracula, and The Iron Lady, his assured delivery of the story may just draw in new audiences to the material.

The launch coincides with Philippine-British Friendship Week, and to mark the occasion, Guerrero Publishing is giving away copies of Noli Me Tangere in English, available for free on iTunes only this week.

The audiobook, Noli Me Tangere read by Richard E. Grant, is out now.