World Tour 2020: Eastern Europe

Posted on September 1, 2020 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off on World Tour 2020: Eastern Europe

September has arrived and things are cooling down, except for Covid19, that is… So, if you’d like to get away from it all for a while, we’ll invite you onto a tour to Eastern Europe with 10 gems from our catalog.

Or maybe we need to give you a stronger motive to follow us, like the flute of the Pied Piper? You are probably familiar with the story, but in Krysař, Victor Dyk gives his own version of it. This recently completed solo is our very first stand-alone project in Czech!

Since we are already nearby, we can just pop into the Golden City of Prague. It is said that the maid Libussa founded the city and became the first queen of Czechoslovakia. Read the famous legend as written down by Johann Musäus.

From a first to a last, the last queen of Romania, Marie Alexandra Victoria. In her interesting novel The Dreamer of Dreams, the painter Eric sets out to find a woman he only ever saw in his dreams. Will he be able to meet her and complete his masterpiece?

Yuly Aykhenvald paints many little Silhouettes of Russian Writers (Силуэты русских писателей) in his 3-volume work. These focus on the respective author’s oeuvre in a very personal manner, rather than being simple biographies.

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin is the topic of many biographies, but here we showcase on of his own books: Two Tactics of Social Democracy in the Democratic Revolution contrasts the reform programs of the Bolsheviks and the Social Democratic Labor Party of early 20th century Russia.

The story of the long fight of the Bulgarians against the Ottoman Empire is told by Ivan Vazov in the Epic of the Forgotten (Епопея на Забравените). The long narrative poem is one of the classics of Bulgarian literature.

Outcast, persecuted, forgotten. This would be an apt summary of The History of the Jews in Russia and Poland, leading up to the late 19th century. Simon Dubnow, the author of this 3-volume work, himself had to flee from the Nazis before he was eventually killed by them in 1941.

Still, just as he wanted, many Eastern-European Jews took to writing, like the Ukranian Hayyim Nahman Bialik. In his short story penned in Hebrew, the rich Jew Arye Ba’al Guf (אריה בעל גוף) invites his town’s Christian dignitaries to a celebration, which does not have a happy ending…

It doesn’t look good either for the maid Hanka, who is pregnant from her mistress – Mrs. Duska’s – son. He wants to do the right thing and marry her, but first he has to overcome The Morality of Mrs. Duska (Moralnosc pani Dulskiej). This is one of many plays by prolific Polish writer Gabriela Zapolska.

The Hungarian Mór Jókai must have written hundreds of short stories in his lifetime. Nine of them are collected in Tales from Jókai, and they range from the classic Atlantis story “City of the Beast” to the lighthearted “Hostile Skulls”.

Enjoy – and we hope you can stay light hearted and take things with a smile!


Happy 15th Anniversary!

Posted on August 1, 2020 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 5 Comments on Happy 15th Anniversary!

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!


World Tour 2020: Scandinavia and the Baltics

Posted on July 1, 2020 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off on World Tour 2020: Scandinavia and the Baltics

Summer has officially begun! Cool down on the 6th leg of the LibriVox World Tour, where we move all the way to Scandinavia and beyond with 10 gems from our catalog.

Let’s start Farthest North, at 86° 14′ northern latitude, to be precise. This was the record set by Fridtjof Nansen on his expecition with the Fram. Starting out in 1893, he eventually made it home after being rescued in 1896.

In the novel by Juhani Aho, Juha also goes on a rescue mission when he finds his wife abducted by travelling merchant Shemeikka. He finally catches up with him in Russia, but the story Juha hears is unexpected…

Student Arkenholz imagines wonderful things in an apartment building in Stockholm. But when he is admitted to the society, nothing is what it seems from the outside. Listen to our dramatic production of The Ghost Sonata, one of August Strindberg’s modernist dramas.

A drama also unfolds in the novel by Johan Bojer, when Norby, who once co-signed a loan for Wangen, accuses him of forging the signature. All looks good for the moment, but The Power of a Lie threatens both of their families in the end…

We advise caution when reading Piloting Directions for the Gulf of Finland. Although the book by John W. Norie is interesting from a historic perspective, the information on ports, landmarks etc. should not be relied upon.

After the death of her father, Edith Sternfeld came to rely on her mother. She wants Edith to marry a count, but the headstrong girl loves somebody else… Find out what happens to this Nykfull Kvinna in the 4-book Swedish saga by Emilie Flygare-Carlén.

No compilation of books from northern Europe would be complete without one of the old sagas. Here are two-in-one: Elder Eddas of Saemund Sigfusson and the Younger Eddas of Snorre Sturleson, great stories of the Norse myths. We even have this epic in a Spanish translation.

Speaking of complation, Eva March Tappan has outdone herself with The World’s Story. Volume VIII contains history, plays, fiction, and even descriptions of famous paitings related to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Greenland and the search for the Poles.

Eight-year old Pelle the Conquerer comes to Denmark with his father. Together, they work under harsh conditions on a farm. However, the boy never loses his faith in things getting better in the book by Martin Andersen Nexø.

Lisbeth Longfrock is also eight, but she lives in one of the steep Norwegian valleys. Spend the summer with her on the quiet mountain pastures amidst cows and goats in this lovely children’s book by Hans Aanrud.

Enjoy your summer (or winter) and take care when travelling!


World Tour 2020: Central Europe & British Isles

Posted on June 5, 2020 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 1 Comment on World Tour 2020: Central Europe & British Isles

It’s already June, and while we didn’t beat the Corona Pandemic yet, at least the warmer weather should lift your mood. If not, join us on our world tour through Central Europe and Great Britain and Ireland with 10 gems from our catalog.

Nothing lies deeper in Central Europe than St. Peter, a little village high in the Swiss Alps. Its people depend on an ancient water pipeline, and when it needs repairing this time, Blatter Seppi is chosen for the dangerous task. Read An Heiligen Wassern by Jakob Heer to find out if Seppi succeeds.

Just like the Alps, England is filled with superstitions and ghost stories. Elliot O’Donnell has collected the best stories set in Some Haunted Houses of England and Wales and at the same time explores the history of these hotels, abbeys, farms, and mansions of nobility.

When Henry visits Catherine, the woman he loves, early on Valentine’s Day, he is just in time to witness her kidnapping. Apparently even the local gentry is interested in The Fair Maid of Perth… Find out if the two can resist the higher forces in the novel by Sir Walter Scott.

The attraction between George Dandin and Angelique was irresistable, so they got married. However, Angelique’s higher social status doesn’t make it easy, especially since their acquaintances don’t let them forget it in the comedy by Moliere. We also have an English version of this play.

Resistance is futile for a young Dutch clerk of average smarts when it comes to the ambitions of his wife. She is ready to pull all registers, legal and not-quite-so, to make him climb the ladder in the East-India Company. Paul Adriaan Daum tells the intriguiging story of Hoe hij raad van Indie werd.

The Dutch built their wealth on the back of their colonies, founded by countless explorers. But not every expedition was successful, and Hendrik van Loon describes some of the worst failures – often by experienced captains – in his Golden Book of the Dutch Navigators.

Undoubtedly one of the most successful politicians of the 19th century was Otto von Bismarck. He united the small German states under the rule of Kaiser Wilhelm and was known for his power diplomacy in- and outside of Germany. The biography by Georges Lacour-Gayet containes many quotes by the man himself.

A more subtle influence on his surroundings had Viennese Boheme-poet Otfried Krzyzanowski. Although well-kown in literary circles of his time, he starved to death in 1918. Unser täglich Gift, a collection of 41 of his poems, was published posthumously by his friends.

French novelist and writer George Sand on the other hand was already famous during her life time. 16 of her short stories and novellas, united by a rural setting or feeling, are collected in Legendes rustiques.

The Fate of Fenella is maybe best described as sensational Victorian novel. It was written by 24 authors from Great Britain and Ireland. The story moves from England to France and other countries and provides plenty of comic relief for hard times like these.

Enjoy our stories from the heart of Europe and stay healthy and safe!


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