May, 2019

The Quest for Freedom

Posted on May 1, 2019 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 1 Comment on The Quest for Freedom

Freedom is among the highest goods and society has made great steps forward in this respect. However, this was not always the case, as we will show with 10 gems from our catalogue.

Russian gentleman Aleksandr Petrovich is sent to a prison camp in Siberia. Given his class, he finds it much harder to adapt to life in The House of the Dead than his fellow inmates who are mostly peasants. Read this novel where Fyodor Dostoyevsky writes from his own experience, having spent 4 years in a Siberian prison himself.

George William Foote also writes about his own experiences in Prisoner for Blasphemy. The founder of the – still existing! – atheist journal “The Freethinker” was sentenced to 1 year in prison with hard labour for printing irreligious cartoons in 1882. Sound familiar?

The unfamiliar is the source of great fear and overshooting reactions. When telepaths evolve on Earth, they are sent to The Penal Cluster 50 million miles away. The “Psychodeviant Police” are charged to find telepaths, but there might be one of them in their midst complicating things, as described in the book by Randall Garrett.

Extremely complicated was the Dreyfus Affair in France about a Jew who was sentenced to life imprisonment for treason in 1894 – a crime he did not commit. When Emile Zola found out about evidence being suppressed, he wrote his famous piece J’accuse and risked being trialed for libel.

Did she or did she not? The Trial of Callista Blake is meant to find out whether the 19-year-old did indeed murder her lover’s wife. Although not conventionally beautiful, men find her very alluring. The resulting label of  a witch does not work in her favour in the book by Edgar Pangborn.

Another one who must have been very attractive to the opposite sex was L. A. Abbott. In search for “the right one” he got married numerous times. Unfortunately, he was not always careful in getting divorced… This leads to a number of rather comical situations that he describes in Seven Wives and Seven Prisons: Or, Experiences in the Life of a Matrimonial Monomaniac.

Rosa Luxemburg, founding member of the German Communist Party, was imprisoned twice, for a total of 5 years and 8 months. Her letters, collected in Briefe aus dem Gefängnis, serve as the legacy of her thoughts and views. She was murdered only 2 months after her second release.

Another legacy, this time consisting of poetry, is that of Ralph Chaplin. Being a member of the left-leaning Industrial Workers of the World, he was imprisoned as the US entered WWI. The collection of 30 poems he wrote in prison is entitled Bars and Shadows.

That’s all that Claude Gueux ever sees after his sentence to 5 years in prison for stealing bread and firewood. On top of the already harsh conditions, the prison’s director makes his life as miserable as possible because he “felt like it.” Since this is a novel by Victor Hugo, a happy ending is unlikely…

An unlikely visitor has come to Spain during the time of the Inquisition: Jesus Christ has returned and is performing miracles again. He is promptly jailed where The Grand Inquisitor explains why he will be burnt on the stake. This is a dramatic reading of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s famous story.

Enjoy – and keep fighting for freedom!


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