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Under the Southern Cross

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

Often sadly forgotten among the English speaking countries, this month we’ll put our focus on authors from New Zealand and Australia with 10 gems from our catalog.

Unfortunately, there are not many authors of Aboriginal or Maori descent in our catalog, since their legends and history were traditionally transmitted orally. The Stone Axe of Burkamukk is only one of the legends of the Gunaikurnai people of Gippsland, collected and written down by Mary Bruce Grant.

Among the first Whites to settle in Australia were convicts from England, one of them David Dickinson Mann. After his full pardon 3 years after his arrival, he became a secretary for the colonial government. The Present Picture of New South Wales gives a detailed account of the colony and its history, as well as suggestions for improvements to save the government’s money.

Another type of improvement was on the mind of Thomas Esson, when he founded the Pioneer Players theatre company. He had come to Australia when we was 3 years old, and is considered the continent’s foremost playwright. His best known play is the political comedy The Time is Not Yet Ripe.

Not quite the right moment was it for Miles Franklin to publish her first romantic novel My Brilliant Career. Although an immediate success, she experienced some backlash from her friends and so she forbade republication in her lifetime. She founded the eponymous award for literature about “Australian life in any of its phases”.

Only a short phase in the turbulent life of Mary Ann Barker was spent in the southern hemisphere. Born in Jamaica, she followed her second husband in 1865 to experience Station Life in New Zealand. The place proved more unwelcoming than expected, and when they lost half of their sheep in the third year, they moved back to England.

Australian life was equally hard on Adam Lindsay Gordon, who moved there when he was 20. Although a renowned steeple-chase rider, his other endeavours were less fortunate, and he commited suicide at age 36. He is the only Australian poet with a bust in Westminster Abbey, and we have a collection of 56 of his Poems.

Rolf Boldrewood – a pseudonym of Thomas Alexander Browne – was 5 when he came to Sydney, and he had a varied career as squatter, writer, and police officer. His experiences as the latter were certainly the blueprint for Robbery Under Arms, a mostly true tale about bush rangers, cattle stealing, and final remorse on death row.

Even if he were caught, criminal mastermind Dr. Nikola would not regret seeking immortality and world domination. A Bid for Fortune is the first novel centered around him, written by Guy Boothby. Born in Adelaide, Boothby followed his mother back to England upon her divorce, where he lived most of his life when he wasn’t travelling.

Katherine Mansfield, born in New Zealand, also left for England at age 19, where she died already with 34 without visiting her home country again. Also an eager traveller, she used her own experiences as inspiration for her modernist short stories. In a German Pension is her first collection about German life before WWI.

ANZAC was the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps founded in 1914, and Joseph Lievesley Beeston was an officer commanding the 4th field ambulance. In Five Months at ANZAC he describes his daily life from the moment he left Australia in December 2014 until his evacuation from Gallipoli.

Enjoy discovering authors from Australia and New Zealand!

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Another LibriVox Milestone: 10,000 projects!

Posted on August 6, 2016 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, News | Comments: 3 Comments

Today, just in time as a present for our 11th anniversary, LibriVox readers completed project #10,000!

It is Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio (Volume 1) by Songling Pu, translated by Herbert A. Giles, and recorded as a group project by more than 20 LibriVox volunteers.

This number includes 5556 solos as well as 1349 projects in one of 36 non-English languages.

A big Thank you! to all of our currently 7611 readers for their contributions, whether large or small, to this milestone!

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Milestones

Posted on August 1, 2016 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 3 Comments

On August 10th, LibriVox will celebrate its 11th anniversary! Congratulations! This is the perfect occasion to look back on those years and to reminisce a little with 10 milestone gems from our catalog.

When LibriVox started in August 2005, nobody knew where this would be going, or if this was going at all. But it took a handful of people only 47 days to produce LibriVox’s very first audiobook: The Secret Agent, a yarn written by Joseph Conrad about a band of spies and agent provocateurs planning to blow up Greenwich Observatory.

Only three weeks later, the first solo recording was complete: The Road to Oz by L. Frank Baum. The full title tells you what it is about: The Road to Oz: In Which Is Related How Dorothy Gale of Kansas, The Shaggy Man, Button Bright, and Polychrome the Rainbow’s Daughter Met on an Enchanted Road and Followed it All the Way to the Marvelous Land of Oz.

Already in November 2005 the weekly poetry projects were born, and they have served as low level entrance point for newbies and as quick little go-to projects for poetry addicts ever since. The first weekly poem was In Flanders Fields by John McCrae, and we have 7 interpretations of this well-known poem there.

December 23rd of the same year saw the completion of the very first non-English book. The language was German, the book the Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei by Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx. Our English version of the book had been published just 4 days prior.

From now on, things started to run smoothly and with many more volunteers getting to know LibriVox and trying their hands at recording, production sped up. On March 16th 2006 the 100th book was published; a collective recording of Walt Whitman’s collected poetry, written over his entire lifetime: Leaves Of Grass.

It took only 2 more days for the completion of the first volume of the Märchen der Gebrüder Grimm. This German book marked the 10th foreign language book on LibriVox. Seven of them were German, but there were already books in Finnish, Latin, and Japanese as well.

August 9th 2006, exactly 365 days after LibriVox was born, saw a number of projects completed. Among them was the first full-cast recording of an English drama, The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, reputed as being the wittiest play in the English language.

Also published on the very same day was the first full-cast recording of a non-English drama: Leonce und Lena by Georg Büchner. It is about a prince and a princess who were betrothed by their families and run away – only to find each other by chance in Italy where they fall in love with each other despite everything…

After that, LibriVoxers buckled down and kept recording more and more books. And already in October 2007 we could announce 1000 completed audiobooks. The one in question was The Murders in the Rue Morgue, probably one of the most famous stories by Edgar Allan Poe.

It took four years and two weeks more to reach the next milestone of 5000 published audiobooks. This time Roderick Hudson by Henry James took the honorable spot. It’s about an American sculptor in Europe and his growth there – a favourite theme of James’.

Enjoy – and raise your glass in celebration on the 10th of August!

 

Oh, you want to know about our next milestone – 10,000 projects? Well, it will happen, in fact, it is just about to happen: We are approaching this milestone with sonic speed, and with a bit of luck we can announce LibriVox audiobook  #10,000 just before our anniversary – as the perfect gift for LibriVox and from LibriVox to you.

 

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Tiger and Dragon

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

It’s the time of the year when people start thinking about vacation, and many turn to the Far East in search of exotic adventures. Let’s have a look at 10 gems from our catalog by Asian authors.

Tigers were probably present at the 금수회의록 (Assembly of Animals) that was called in to criticise and judge mankind. Author Ahn Guk-seon, born in 1878, served in the Korean military for about 20 years, and one cannot help wondering whether he got his inspiration there…

His childhood in India at the turn of the 20th century certainly served as inspiration for Dhan Gopal Mukerji. Born in a small village near Calcutta, he eventually left for the US where he became a writer to sustain himself. Kari the Elephant was one of the children’s books for which he received the Newbery Medal.

Another Indian prize winner – the 1913 Nobelprize – is poet and writer Rabindranath Tagore. The Bard of Bengal was virtually unknown outside his country for a long time, and he wrote his first work in English when he was 50 years old: My Reminiscences.

Cao Xueqin had a long heritage to look back upon. His ancestors had been high officials at court, but had fallen from grace so he had to live in poverty himself. A similar chain of events involving the Chia family is described in The Dream of the Red Chamber, one of China’s Four Great Classical Novels.

More classic than this are only The Nō Plays of Japan, a collection of plays from various authors. They date back to the 14th century and are still performed today in the exact same manner and the exact same language as then, making them almost impossible to understand even for a Japanese audience.

Equally hard to comprehend must have been the concept of Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule. The book by Gandhi is a dialogue between him and the reader to convince the typical countryman of the idea. It was written in Gujarati (and immediately banned) and then translated into English by Gandhi himself, probably the only author on this list who does not need an introduction.

No introduction can be given for Pura L. Medrano, since we do not know anything about this author. However, Nang Bata Pa Kami was written by her (or him?), the story of the secret courtship of two lovers, told from the viewpoints of both. Who knows, there may even be a happy ending in this story from the Philippines.

坊っちゃん (Botchan) does have a happy ending of some sorts. It tells the story of a young teacher on his first assignment at a middle school and is still widely read today. Written by Sōseki Natsume, considered the foremost writer of the Meiji period, if not of Japanese history, it is one of his three best known novels. We also have it in English.

Another teacher, who later became a government employee, was Xun Lu. Born in 1881, he is considered the leading figure of modern Chinese literature. Here, we present 热风 (Hot Wind), a collection of essays and commentaries on China and the Chinese, which redefined the definition of “essay” in Chinese literature.

As we started, so will we end: with animals. Renowned as the Nightingale of Shiraz, Saadi was a major poet of medieval Persia. He was very famous at his time already and has even been quoted in western sources. “Gulistan” is considered among his greatest works, and it is contained in our recording of The Poetry of Sadi.

Enjoy finding new Asian authors in our catalog!

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