Author Archive

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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A Man’s World

Posted on April 1, 2019 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 3 Comments on A Man’s World

In the true spirit of equality, we celebrate the other half of the population this month! Let’s have a look at all kinds of men with 10 gems from our catalogue.

It all begins with the most important relationship, the one between Father and Son. In this memoir, the poet Edmund Gosse describes his childhood in a fundamentalist Christian home which, unfortunately, did not have a happy ending.

Find out for yourself if there’s a happy ending for The King of Ireland’s Son. Just when he had won Fedelma, the enchanter’s daughter, she is kidnapped by the King of the Land of Mist… This is an old Irish fairytale, retold by Padraig Colum.

Deep down, orphan Eddie of Jackson’s Gang also hopes for a fairytale, and his case this means finding his parents. But he’s only 9 and just got “adopted” into a group of thieves, so it doesn’t look good for him in the book by Brother Ernest Ryan.

It doesn’t look good for the American Mr. Jones either, who find himself in London with a mere 10 $ in his pocket. But then he meets a British Earl who has it all, status, money – and Jones’ face… What happens next to The Man Who Lost Himself can be found out in the book by H. De Vere Stacpoole.

When a young and single doctor ends up in a small town in the countryside, his future is quite predictable: The ladyfolk endeavour to make him a part of their social circle and try to find him a wife in the process. But when the time comes for Mr. Harrison’s Confessions, nothing is what it was before in the novel by Elizabeth Gaskell.

There’s not much to confess, really, for Richard Barlow, who was one of the most accomplished cricketers of the late 19th century. In his autobiography Forty Seasons of First-Class Cricket he describes highlights of his career and gives hints to umpires and young cricketers alike.

Henry James describes another teacher-pupil relationship in his novel The Lesson of the Master. A young and very promising writer meets his idol, and the old man is ready to share his wisdom about women. however, things sound good in theory, but everything changes when they need to be applied in practice…

Two men with lots of practice are George and Robert Stephenson, the former being known as the Father of the Steam Locomotive. Born in abject poverty, he worked his way up to becoming one of the foremost engineers in the 19th century railway world. Read this interesting biography written by Samuel Smiles.

Another man of excellence is John Lomax, who built the core body of work for the Library of Congress Archives and is one of the big names in American Western & Country music. The collection Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads contains more than 150 song lyrics collected all over the country.

Of all the men described above, the best kind is definitely The Good-Natured Man, like Honeywood who is generous to a fault to friends and foes alike. However, his uncle tries to cure him from what he perceives as foolishness, which does not turn out the way he intended in the fun play by Oliver Goldsmith.

Enjoy – and celebrate the men in your life!

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Women’s March

Posted on March 1, 2019 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off on Women’s March

March is women’s month, and even if you’re not a dyed-in-the-wool feminist, let’s celebrate the occasion with 10 gems from our catalogue.

Throughout the ages, there have been women renowned for their achievements. In ancient Greece, poetess Sappho was one of them. Unfortunately, only a few of her poems have survived, but Bliss Carman used what was there and added a few of his own to create Sappho: One Hundred Lyrics.

An enormous achievement was the one of Mabel Annie Stobart and her Women’s Sick & Wounded Convoy Corps. The women went to the Balkans during the 1912/13 war and set up a hospital for soldiers of all colors. Read her memoir War and Women to find out how they fared.

In Defense of Women was meant to elaborate on women’s issues and discuss the relationship between the sexes, but it caused quite an outcry. Its author, H. L. Mencken, was called both “great defender of women’s rights” and “greatest misogynist since Schopenhauer. Read the book and find out where you stand!

Firmly in the middle stands Ansas, right between his soft wife Indre, and the new servant Busze. The latter wants Ansas for herself, and convinces him to kill Indre… What will happen when Indre and Ansas go on Die Reise nach Tilsit in the novella by Hermann Sudermann?

The rich heiress Regina van Berchem walks Langs en omweg in the book by A.L.G. Bosboom-Toussaint. Convinced that everyone is just after her money, she refuses the hand of Eckbert Witgensteyn, friend of her youth. He, in return, swears revenge…

Revenge might have well been the motife for the murder of Agatha Webb. However, she was well-beloved by everyone in the neighborhood, so who could it have been? Follow the twists and turns in another of the perfectly crafted murder mysteries by Anna Katharine Green.

You know when a novel is perfect, if you fell and live with the characters through the story. William Dean Howells presents his favourite Heroines of Fiction, invented by men and women alike, but who have all inspired many readers throughout the ages.

Speaking of age: Juliette is now La Femme de trente ans, and her father’s objections against marrying her first love proved to be correct. However, love comes along again in the novel by Honore de Balzac – with dire consequences for everyone involved.

Hopefully, the outcome of The Parson’s Wedding will be better, although it doesn’t look good at the outset. This fun play by Thomas Killigrew was the first one ever to be performed by an all-female cast, and so did we here on LibriVox!

Only women live in Herland, where, thanks to asexual reproduction, men are not needed at all. however, things do change in the utopia penned by Charlotte Perkins Gilbert, when, quite unexpectedly, three men show up on the scene…

Whether you’re a man or a woman, feminist or not – enjoy!

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What’s so Funny?

Posted on February 1, 2019 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off on What’s so Funny?

It’s very cold in February, so we’ll need an extra boost of humour to keep our spirits up. Laugh away the darkness of winter with 10 gems from our catalog.

To survive winter in Canada, one probably needs an extra large amount of Humour of the North. This compilation by various Canadian authors showcases a selection of short funny pieces in poetry and prose.

Careful though, because the type of humour people enjoy tends to be different across countries. Wilhelm Busch found a way to make German humour more widely appealing by using pictures. Have a look, not just a listen at his Bildergeschichten, and you won’t even need to know the language.

Even more cute pictures can be found in the book Sonnets of a Budding Bard. Nixon Waterman assumes the point of view of a schoolboy and writes little introspective poems about Mary and that pet lamb of hers, for example.

Already quite grownup and famous was a certain humourist author when he met the editor William Dean Howells. The two became friends, and eventually, Howells wrote a biography about his friendship entitled My Mark Twain.

More like frenemies are certain retired gentlemen of a particular business who settle down together at Wappin’ Wharf. Unfortunately, retirement does not suit them, really, and so we are treated to A Frightful Comedy of Pirates in the play by Charles S. Brooks.

William Blades harbours many ill thoughts and sentiments. And he lists their targets meticulously in The Enemies of Books. While the contents is serious and spans from fire and water to bookbinders and collectors, the tone is seriously tongue-in-cheek.

Learning grammar rules is usually not much fun, as many of us can attest. However, an anonymous author does his very best to teach the essence of English as She is Wrote in a lively and entertaining way.

GK Chesterton definitely knew his grammar to make fun of the English. Visit England where the current, randomly chosen king only wants one thing: to have fun. Nobody really takes him seriously, except for one: Adam Wayne, the Napoleon of Notting Hill.

Kong Ho is also all alone in England. While he may not have met the king, he is intrigued by the strange customs and dutifully reports them to his father in China. His letters were collected by Ernest Bramah and published in The Mirror of Kong Ho.

Another satirical account, this time of the customs of the 16th century, was written by Francisco de Queveda. In his book Historia de la vida del Buscon he describes the life and travels of a young man from the country who is trying to move up in society.

Enjoy – and always keep smiling!

 

 

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