LibriVox turns 15 this month! In all these years, we have achieved many goals. Here are some gems from our catalog that seemed very ambitious when LibriVox first started out. But today, with more than 14,200 completed projects, they are just a small part of a much bigger whole.
Speaking about “whole”, let’s start with a complete set. Already back in 2012, we completed all plays by William Shakespeare. Add to this selections of favourite monologues and scenes from his plays and his sonnets, and you will find most of the great bard’s output here.
We are not quite there yet with Mark Twain, who wrote a tremendous number of books, short stories and newspaper articles. Our reader John Greenman is dedicated to record everything Twain has ever written, so of course he did one of the seven versions of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as well.
Wait – seven versions of the same book? Yes! We call this “choice of voice” and it’s unique to LibriVox. Many of our books have 2, 3, … 7 versions, but the most popular one amongs our readers is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, with 11 completed versions to date.
Thinking about this a bit more though, if you count single pieces in our many collections, there is even more “choice of voice”. Probably the most recorded poem on LibriVox is by Edgar Allen Poe. The Raven has 25 versions in a number of English collections and an additional 22 in this multilingual one.
Yes of course, LibriVox loves languages too! So far, our catalog contains projects in 100 languages. Not every one of these is a completed stand-alone project though, but more than 50 different languages can be found in our collection of Multilingual Recordings of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
This leads us to the book with the most translations in our catalog. It is a classic adventure story by Jules Verne, who is just as popular among our readers as Charles Dickens. His fantastic story 20,000 Miles under the Sea is available in the original French and as translations into English, German, Spanish, and Dutch.
Speaking of classics, LibriVox has a wide selection from many different countries. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra is a wonderful book from Spain, and we have it in the original Spanish, and in translations into English, Dutch (adaptation) and German (first book only).
Or are you a Francophone? Then you must know Les Miserables, the tragic story in five volumes by Victor Hugo. You can listen to it in the original French, as well as in translations into English, Dutch, and (almost completed) Spanish.
One book that was published in many versions and translations over the centuries is the Bible. While LibriVox has many versions of various books of the Bible, we have three completed versions: The Spanish Reina Valera Version, the King James Version, and the World English Bible, a solo recording that is 100 hours long!
Not even Leo Tolstoy’s epic War and Peace is that long! Listening to every one of the 17 volumes takes a mere 3 days, 22 hours, and 40 minutes, which, to be fair, is also very ambitious, if you’d want to do it in one go.
Not every ambitious project is necessarily very long. Sometimes, it’s the difficulty of the text that makes recording it a challenge. One of these texts is Der Abenteuerliche Simplicissimus Teutsch, a picaresque novel written in the 17th century by Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen.
Although the language is significantly more modern, James Joyce’s Ulysses is also considered notoriously complicated. Our first version (of two) dates back to the early days of LibriVox and was completed in 2007. It is rather experimental and some chapters were recorded in live meetings of LibriVox volunteers.
Since these live group recordings need quite a bit of planning, there are only very few in our catalog. However, in 2010, our Dutch members pulled it off and met in person for a special recording for our 5th anniversary. The result is Natuurlijke Historie voor de Jeugd by De Schoolmeester.
Italian author and winner of the Nobel Prize Luigi Pirandello also had a big plan: He wanted to write 365 novellas and publish them in 24 volumes. However, he died too early to see his goal completed, but still, 15 volumes of the Novelle per un anno were published, and 13 of them can be found here.
So many ambitions fulfilled – and so many still in progress! Among our ongoing multi-volume projects that are yet only partially completed are The National Geographic Magazine (first 10 years completed), Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Most Eminent Painters Sculptors and Architects (4 to go), and Library of the World’s Best Literature, Ancient and Modern (45 volumes in total).
For 15 years, we at LibriVox have been following our goal
To make all books in the public domain available, narrated by real people and distributed for free, in audio format on the internet.
And we will keep on doing just that! Together, we will make it happen! Thank you to all our volunteers who helped out over the years and whose smallest contribution brought us one step closer to reach our goal. If you want to be a part of this great project, you are certainly welcome to Volunteer for LibriVox.
On to the next 15 years!