MY SECRET LIFE
An audiofilm of the infamous 19th Century erotic masterpiece
Has anybody but myself faithfully made such a record?.....it would be a sin to burn all this, whatever society may say it is but a narrative of human life, perhaps the everyday life of thousands.....if the confession could be had". Walter:My Secret Life
VOLUME ONE OUT NOW Total Duration 12 Hours 18 minutes
25 Signed Limited Edition CD Box Sets are now available
Price Upon Application
THE MAKING OF THE AUDIOFILM
My Secret Life, the anonymously written erotic memoirs of a Victorian English gentleman who refers to himself simply as 'Walter' is one of the most idiosyncratic and prurient books ever written. In this vast confessional the author recounts his sexual exploits, in meticulous detail, throughout the course of a life devoted entirely to the pursuit of carnal pleasure. As the author's sexual and moral behaviour is revealed we are left with a uniquely entertaining insight into life behind the closed doors of Victorian society. My Secret Life is funny, sorrowful, suspenseful, compulsively readable, obscene, titillating, exciting and erotic...in it we are privy to the thoughts, emotions and memories of one of the most unusual, unsung and colourful characters of the Victorian era.
Now, for the first time, the complete unabridged version of this unique and important text is being narrated and scored by film composer Dominic Crawford Collins as an 'audiofilm' (an audiobook in which the emotional landscape is explored through the music score). Each chapter of My Secret Life will be released at monthly intervals over the next ten to fifteen years culminating in what is likely to become the longest audio book ever to be produced.
MUSIC HIGHLIGHTS from VOLUME 1
Walter, like many of his extraordinary contemporaries who proliferated in the Victorian era, had the assurance and attitude of an empire builder; and whilst many of them were extending the boundaries of knowledge, commerce and the geographical territories of the British Empire, so Walter was, with the same self assured determination, cunning, guile, craft and at times brute force, continually pushing the boundaries of his own empire of erotic experience and carnal knowledge. He was a hugely complex character full of contrasts that leave one oscillating between outrage and envy; on the one hand a sex obsessed and irascible rogue, on the other a shy, generous, kind hearted and tender individual. If at one moment we don't approve of his behaviour it is not long before Walter has redeemed himself with an endearing trait that appeals to the reader's humour or sympathy. He is self-deprecating and achingly human throughout his diaries.
"Walter...a quintessentially English erotic eccentric"
In both literature and film the Victorian era continues to enthrall and enchant a global audience with preconceptions largely established by writers such as Dickens, Austen, Bronte and Mayhew. Walter's detailed account of undocumented aspects of Victorian life looks beyond the margins that they established and is as a result as refreshing as it is eye opening. Fearless in candidly confronting all aspects of his character, he took a courageous and liberal stance which was in many was ahead of his time. Amongst My Secret Life's many pages (1.5 million words), there lies a relatively undiscovered treasure trove of hidden lives; lives encountered from a very different perspective to his literary contemporaries; lives illuminated by the oblique light of the author's prurient eye.
The intimate nature of his diaries and his portrayal of himself and his surroundings place 'My Secret Life' well outside the realm of Victorian pornography as established in publications like 'The Pearl'. Walter's mantra might have been adopted from Jean-Jaques Rousseau in his ‘Confessions’: “My purpose is to display to my kind a portrait in every way true to nature, and the man I shall portray will be myself.' Like Rousseau's Confessions, My Secret Life is also noted for its detailed account of the author's more humiliating and shameful moments.
Printed privately in eleven volumes in 1888 and limited to only six copies, 'My Secret Life' is a gargantuan one-hundred-and-eighty-four chapters long. It was originally sold privately to an esoteric circle of fellow erotomaniacs and due to its hardcore erotic content remained banned from mainstream publication for nearly a century, until it was finally released in the USA by Grove Press in the 1960s . However improbable it may seem in our own enlightened times, in the same decade in the UK a publisher was imprisoned under the obscenity act for releasing several of the chapters.
The historic importance of My Secret Life is elegantly summed up by Sarah Waters, author of Fingersmith & Tipping the Velvet -
‘I first came across “My Secret Life” while researching nineteenth-century sexual underworlds. I read it alongside various pieces of Victorian pornography,
but Walter’s 11-volume sexual memoir is much stranger, more endearing and more compelling than mere porn.
A brilliant storyteller who was prepared to go literally anywhere for a fuck,
he gives us a Kinsey-esque cross-section of nineteenth-century erotic life, leading us unblushingly into all those urban spaces – the bedrooms, the brothels, the privies, the darkened parks and omnibuses
– which lurk just beyond the margins in the work of more respectable London writers like Dickens and Wilkie Collins. It’s fascinating, eye-opening stuff.’
As a successful film & TV composer Dominic Crawford Collins found the challenge of scoring and narrating the entire unabridged version of 'My Secret Life' both daunting and inspiring, "I have read Walter's vast tome several times and the variety of circumstances surrounding his tireless pursuit of erotic adventure never fail to entertain and amuse me.
Set mostly in 19th London with lascivious escapades across continental Europe and America, not only are the settings inspirational but the dramatic nature of the actions and emotions described perfectly suited to the interpretation of a modern day film composer. The creation of a meaningful score for 'My Secret Life' has meant a very clear understanding of the emotional development of Walter's character. As a result each chapter has become an entity in its own right with a distinctly different and individual musical score intended to take the listener on an entertaining and emotional journey.
The music has the effect of shifting the balance between action and emotion and allowing scenes that might appear overtly licentious to take on new degrees of meaning and subtlety. In drawing musical inspiration from these distant lives I am endeavoring to bring them into the minds and hearts of a modern day audience. I have approached the scoring of it in exactly the same way that I would a film, allowing the written words to inspire visual imagery which I in turn score. Unlike any other audio book that I have come across, it's one in which the music plays as significant and almost as substantial a role as the text itself. In the music I have strived to capture the spirit of the book and its protagonist; subtly drawing the listener into 'Walter's world', exploring the author's innermost thoughts and experiences in a dramatic and lyrical musical context and providing the listener with a truly immersive erotic audio experience.
As a composer, the ability for music to interpret aspects of Walter's character and bring emotions to the fore was what attracted me to the project; that along with a longterm love of the book and the erotic exploits of this marvelously idiosyncratic character.
I like to think that in undertaking this project, Walter's erotic aspirations have become my own musical inspirations over a century later. In creating music inspired by Walter's life I am ultimately scoring a soundtrack to my own. No doubt in years hence when I listen back to earlier chapters, as with an old photograph, memories of my own past will be brought to mind..... for such a personal legacy I am indebted to Walter, whoever he was!
This production of My Secret Life is currently being archived by the British Library, Drama & Literature Recordings in London & The Kinsey Institute for research in sex, gender & reproduction, Indiana University.
Dominic Crawford Collins is a leading film and TV composer having scored over 150 hours of broadcast television, with perennial favourites such as Ballykissangel and the BBC Natural World series amongst his many credits.
His works for the concert platform include 'The Colour of Distance' symphony (the largest ever composition that combines orchestral music with natural sound) recorded in DTS 6.1 surround sound at Abbey Road Studios and narrated by actor John Hurt; and most recently 'Death & The Mermaid', a symphonic commission from the Irish National Symphony Orchestra.
A full list of Dominic's credits is available at www.dominiccrawfordcollins.com