Monthly Picks

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 on The Man From La Mancha

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!


Man spricht deutsh

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

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!


Under the Southern Cross

Posted on September 1, 2016 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off on Under the Southern Cross

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!


Another LibriVox Milestone: 10,000 projects!

Posted on August 6, 2016 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 3 Comments on Another LibriVox Milestone: 10,000 projects!

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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