Books

The Quest for Freedom

Posted on May 1, 2019 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 0

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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There’s Always Hope!

Posted on December 1, 2018 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off on There’s Always Hope!

It’s December, and at the end of the year, many people hope for things to improve in the year to come. Let’s have a look at 10 gems from our catalogue, filled to the brim with hope.

For the Feland Family, there is nothing better than a holiday in Switzerland. However, at this occasion, their younger daughter, Little Miss Grasshopper, gets unexpectedly into trouble… Read the lovely story by Johanna Spyri and find out what happens next.

Mercy’s trouble is that she is living on the streets, without class or connections. When she volunteers in the Franco-Prussian War, a fellow nurse is killed, and Mercy takes her name to become The New Magdalen. Will she get the better life she was hoping for in the novel by Wilkie Collins?

Penelope Delta was not concerned with names, she wrote Παραμύθι χωρίς όνομα (Tale Without Name). There, the kingdom of Moirolatres is doing so badly, even the heir to the throne wants to leave for good. However, something happens that gives him hope to stay and turn things in this story for kids and adults alike.

Dick Whittington and His Cat have just arrived in London, where the “streets are paved with gold”. This is not really true, but Dick is determined to make the best out of his plans. This hilarious pantomime by E.L. Blanchard is a perennial favourite of British audiences.

For a long time, African-American kids had no role models to look up to. In 1920, the inspirational book The Upward Path: A reader for Colored Children was published, counting 67 entries by Various African-American writers, educators, and activists to make a brighter future for those kids.

Helena Swanwick took it one step further to and speaks of The Future of the Women’s Movement. In her book she talks of women’s aim of a better understanding and cooperation with men – something we’re still striving for to this day.

Another place where there is room for improvement still are humanities aspirations for Perpetual Peace, even though we made progress since Immanuel Kant brought forth his views in this philosophical essay on international laws and how lasting peace has to be worked for. We also have a recording of the German original.

Around December, Santa’s workshop is extremely busy producing toys for children on Earth. But what happens to them after they are unwrapped on Christmas Day? Laura Lee Hope has investigated and tells us The Story of a Nodding Donkey.

Probably the biggest story told around this time of the year is the Christmas Story. Nowadays, the essentials may have been buried under presents and fairy lights, but George MacDonald goes back to the roots with his book The Hope of the Gospel.

No matter who you are, where you live, and what you believe, no matter what you are aspiring to, rest assured that It Can Be Done! Listen to more than 200 inspirations poems by various well-known authors from all over the world and improve the world – or just your own tomorrow – just a little bit at a time.

Enjoy – and Happy Holidays to all of you!

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WWI – Endings

Posted on November 1, 2018 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 1 Comment on WWI – Endings

The grey and foggy days of November are made for remembrance. And 100 years ago, in November 1918, World War I – the “Great War” ended. We remember the Fallen with 10 gems from our catalogue.

When the Great War started in 1914, people were enthusiastic and convinced that it would be over quickly. Soon, the outlook was not so rosy anymore, and many people began to express antiwar sentiments. One of them was Alfred Noyes. His short play Rada; a Belgian Christmas Eve was written already in 1915, and voices his views on the war without much restraint.

No restraint either showed F. Tennyson Jesse, a journalist who visited female helpers behind the lines in France. She was able to speak to many women working as nurses in numerous field hospitals, and wrote down her experiences and impressions in The Sword of Deborah.

Troy wants to help save his beloved France as well. But he’s American, and only 15, and probably sees the war as nothing more than a big adventure. Still, Edith Wharton lets him experience the war first hand in her book The Marne: A Tale of War.

Not at all romantic is the book by John Dos Passos, in fact, it is hailed as one of the most realistic depictions of war in American literature. Three Soldiers – Americans – are caught up in the trenches where all the glorious speeches give way to the brutality of sheer survival.

How better to depict the horrors of war than on celluloid? Geoffrey H. Malins, a famous cinematographer, was present at the Great Somme Battles, 75 yards away from German lines – and so was his camera. In his How I Filmed the War, he talks about his experiences on filming under fire.

WWI was truly a World War, and our Hebrew/English project Injustice & Excerpt from The Escaping Club tells about an incident on the Turkish-British line after the British had invaded Palestine. Injustice by Yosef Haim Brenner is a short story about an escaped POW being returned to his captors – and said POW, A. J. Evans, tells the true story in The Escaping Club.

Soldier E.E. Cummings was imprisoned for antiwar sentiments in France in late August 1917. However, after 5 months, Cummings was released and could return to New York on January 1st 1918. His autobiographical book The Enormous Room tells the story of these five months, including his father’s distress on receiving a (wrong) note that his son had died in the war.

As you see, Ardours and Endurances are not just required by the people on the front, but also from those at home. This is the title of a collection of war poems by Robert Nichols, who was immortalised as one of 16 Great War Poets in Westminster Abbey’s Poet’s Corner.

Captain Baldry is shell shocked and suffers from amnesia. And now, The Return of the Soldier brings a reunion with three important women of his life: his wife, his favourite cousin, and a poor innkeeper’s daughter he once was in love with. Will he regain his memory, or must he start afresh – find out in the novel by Rebecca West.

No more war is the cry of pacifists around the world. But Alfred Hermann Fried has a different view on pacifism and explains them in Kurze Aufklärungen über Wesen und Ziel des Pazifismus. Although written in 1914, and thus unable to prevent the two World Wars of the 20th century, his ideas contributed to the establishment of the United Nations.

Enjoy – and never forget, never repeat!

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