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Shakespeare in Love

Posted on December 1, 2016 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 1 Comment

British literature has a long history, and many of the best known stories of all times originated on the British Isles. This time, however, we are after the lesser known authors for this year’s final 10 gems from our catalogue.

For almost 200 years, Thomas Kyd had fallen into obscurity, even though the playwright from the 1580s was among the most important figures of Elizabethan drama. Here, we present his most famous play The Spanish Tragedy, where a man (or rather: a ghost) takes revenge…

Winston S. Churchill also saw many people die – he was British Prime Minister during WWII. Besides that, he was a renowned writer of nonfiction and even received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953. During his long term in parliament, he had to give many public addresses, some of which are collected in Selected House of Common Speeches.

Being the British Prime Minister does not seem to hinder one’s private pursuits. Another one – Benjamin Disraeli – was a well known literary figure and is credited with the invention of the political novel. One of his best known is Sibyl, or the Two Nations, tracing the plight of the working classes in England.

Definitely not working class was Charlotte Yonge. She was homeschooled by her father, and started writing in 1848. She wrote about 160 novels in her life time, many of them with a historical theme that she painstakingly researched. Her book The Litte Duke is based on the life of Richard, Duke of Normandy.

Samuel Pepys had a number of highborn family members, but he spent his childhood in relative poverty. Only through fastidious studying, which earned him a scholarship at Cambridge, did he climb the ranks and finally became Chief Secretary to the Admiralty. He is best known for The Diary of Samuel Pepys, which he kept from 1660 – 1669.

Rita (pen name of Eliza M. Humphreys) on the other hand, received little education. Even so, she became a famous author and wrote 120 novels – one of them even sold 160,000 copies! In The Mystery of a Turkish Bath the guests of an exclusive Hampshire hotel witness the strange and dangerous display of occult powers…

Marie Corelli, an illegitimate child, started writing in 1886 and became the most widely read author of fiction of her time. She even outsold A. Conan Doyle, but was always belittled by critics. In The Secret Power, the female inventor of an airship and the male holder of destructive powers get involved romantically – but question marks remain for both of them.

No question marks are there about the new teacher at Dr. Wortle’s School: It is clear that she is a bigamist. The religious school deals with it in the style of Anthony Trollope. He was one of the most renowned authors of Victorian England, and is best known for the Chronicles of Barsetshire.

Also from the Victorian era hails Sir Henry W. Lucy, a political journalist. He taught himself shorthand and French and worked as a reporter from 1864 for a number of different newspapers. Faces and Places is a collection of articles on travels he made in various countries.

Dora Sigerson Shorter was an Irish Poet and a major figure of the Irish Literary Revival. Sadly, she died at only 51 years of age. The Sad Years is a collection of her poetry concerning WWI, from 1914 – 1918.

Enjoy discovering new British authors!

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The Man From La Mancha

Posted on November 1, 2016 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off

Spanish is the second most spoken native tongue on the planet – and this month, we will celebrate our Spanish speaking librivoxers with 10 gems from our catalog written by Spanish authors.

When discussing Spanish writers, you cannot pass over Miguel de Cervantes. Living in poverty throughout his childhood, and never able to live from his writing, he is now considered the greatest novelist in the Spanish tongue. His Exemplary Novels are a collection of his shorter writings – also available in the original Spanish.

Instant fame was bestowed upon Fernan Caballero on the publication of the first novel. However, behind the pseudonym hides Cecilia Böhl de Faber, who, widowed three times, nevertheless wrote all thorugh her life. Cuentos, Adivinanzas y Refranes Populares collects 39 of her short stories and poems.

By far not so lucky was Doña Juana of Spain, daughter of the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella. She was devastated at the loss of her husband and was thenceforth known as “the Mad”. Historia de la célebre Reina de España Doña Juana, llamada vulgarmente La Loca is a short biography of hers, written by an unknown author.

Another autobiography on our list is The Life of St. Teresa. St. Teresa of Avila (or: St. Teresa of Jesus) was a Roman Catholic mystic from Spain, and her books about contemplative life are an integral part of Spanish Renaissance literature as well as of Catholic literature. We also have a Spanish recording of this book.

An important writer of the Spanish Golden Age is Pedro Calderón de la Barca. Orphaned as a child, he wanted to take orders, but studied law instead. He finally became a playwright and wrote more than 70 plays, some of which were already translated into English in the 17th century. In the comedy La Dama Duende he pokes fun at the prevalent superstition of his age.

Another law student turned writer is Juan Ramón Jiménez, born in Andalucia. He was a very prolific writer as well: His first books were published when he was only 18, and with 74, two years before his death, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Platero y Yo is a cute little prose diary – of a donkey.

You may not know him by name, but many of his stories were made into Hollywood movies: Vicente Blasco Ibañez. Born in Valencia, he studied law, and became a politician, journalist, and best selling author. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a ripping yarn about two Argentinian families in WWI.

Of equally grave consequences was the death of general Francisco Franco of Spain. The Constitución Española de 1978 is the major document to ease the transition from dictatorship to democracy – even more so since this change was supported by both the people, and the royal court in Madrid.

Also set in Madrid is Insolación about a short lived love affair in the city’s unbearable summer heat. It was written by Emilia Pardo Bazán, who was born in Galicia. She counts among the chiefs of the naturalistic movent in Spain, as well as of feminist literature.

There are many more interesting Spanish authors, we cannot list them all here. However, 50 more and their poems are collected in Las Cien Mejores Poesías de la Lengua Castellana.

Enjoy getting to know authors from Spain!

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Temporary Server Failure

Posted on October 15, 2016 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, News, site & admin | Comments: Comments Off

We are very sorry, but a temporary server failure has reset our catalog to its status of September 15th, 2016. So, there are no books on the LibriVox homepage that were catalogued after this date.

We have now fixed the server and are very busy to recreate our catalog. However, this will take some time, so please be patient. We hope to have the catalog and the homepage fully restored within a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, all our catalogued books (even those from after September 15) are safely stored on the Internet Archive and can be accessed and downloaded from the LibriVox page on archive.

We are very sorry for the inconvenience and want to thank you already for your patience.

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Man spricht deutsh

Posted on October 1, 2016 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off

LibriVox has quite a large German speaking community who has been reading numerous works by German authors. This month, we honour both with 10 gems from our catalog.

Alexander von Humboldt
was a major figure in German science, and he is credited with founding the fields of biogeography. Homeschooled like his brother, he was always interested in nature and was finally able to travel extensively in South America where he wrote Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of America During the Years 1799 – 1804.

Kasperl in der Türkei is also a travel narrative, although it is by far not politically correct. The main character is Kasperl Larifari, a brainchild of Franz Graf von Pocci, who was a court official of Ludwig I. of Bavaria. However, he is better known as the founder of the Munich Marionette Theatre, for which he wrote numerous plays like the above.

When Gottfried Keller was young, he wanted to become a painter, but despite having talent, he turned to writing instead. In 1876 he retired early from a government job to write full time. His most famous novel is Der grüne Heinrich – dealing with the life on an impoverished young artist – which is considered autobiographical.

Carl von Ossietzky was a German pacifist who worked as an investigative journalist. He was convicted for treason in 1931, and received the 1935 Nobel Prize for Peace – a controversial decision. His collected writings Sämtliche Schriften 1911-1921 for various newspapers are as relevant today as they were 100 years ago.

Another German journalist was Jakob Wassermann; he worked as copy editor for the Simplicissimus in Munich and released his first novel in 1896. His novel Caspar Hauser oder die Trägheit des Herzens attempts to solve the mystery surrounding the famous foundling of Nuremberg.

A mystery also shrouds Die Frau mit den Karfunkelsteinen by Eugenie Marlitt, a very popular German novelist. As a young girl she was adopted by Princess of Schwarzenberg-Sondershausen and sent to Vienna to study music. However, Eugenie became deaf and eventually, at age 38, turned to writing novels.

Not quite so drastic a change of occupation was that of Martin Luther. The monk, disgusted by some practices of Catholicism, became a seminal figure in the Protestant Revolution, and was excommunicated in 1521. His book Der Kleine Kathechismus was meant to teach Bible basics to common people, and is – with small modifications – still in use today. We also have an English translation of this book.

Theology, amongst others, was one of the studies Carl Spitteler engaged in. The Swiss poet then became a teacher in Russia and started publishing in 1881. He won the Nobelprize for Literature in 1919, and his Balladen is a good collection of his poems.

Poetry stood at the beginning of Annette von Droste-Hülshoff’s literary career. A precocious but unencouraged child, she became one of the most important German poets. Her most famous novella is Die Judenbuche about a murder that is avenged only years after the deed…

Some 100 years after her, Stefan Zweig was one of the most popular writers world wide. Of Jewish descent, he left Austria after the Nazis came to power. He committed suicide together with his wife in 1942. Brennendes Geheimnis deals with a young boy who cannot understand his mother’s attraction to another man. An English version is available.

Enjoy our selection of German authors!

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