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Happy 20th to Distributed Proofreaders!

Posted on October 1, 2020 by | Posted in Blog, News | Comments: 1 Comment on Happy 20th to Distributed Proofreaders!

Today we mark the 20th Anniversary of Distributed Proofreaders. Over the last 20 years, nearly 55,000 DP volunteers from around the globe have contributed to creating nearly 40,000 e-books for release into the public domain through Project Gutenberg. Friends of LibriVox will recognize Project Gutenberg as a major source of material for our volunteers, so LibriVox readers and listeners are among the many who have benefited from the work of DP over the years.

To mark this milestone, LibriVox volunteers have created two special audiobooks from the DP collection.

In The Shores of the Polar Sea by Edward Lawton Moss, we join the crew of the HMS Alert as they leave England in 1875 with orders to “attain the highest northern latitude, and, if possible, reach the Pole.” This was DP’s 35,000th title and they celebrated with this blog post.

The Living Animals of the Natural World, subtitled “a popular Natural History”, proposed to present the most updated version of the wonders of the Animal World in a new and clearer form. It used photography instead of the traditional illustrations and eminent specialists from the world of science and practical discovery contributed to the descriptions. The result is a very thorough picture of human knowledge of the animal world at the time it was published in 1902. When the book was completed by DP in 2019, it became Project Gutenberg’s 60,000th title and DP celebrated with this blog post.

You can read more about DP’s history and current activities here.

Congratulations DP on 20 years of great books!

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World Tour 2020: Asia

Posted on October 1, 2020 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 0

In times like these it is almost natural to dream of far away lands and exotic encounters. Asia promises all of that. Make your dreams come true (well, almost) with 10 gems from our catalog.

Get in the mood for dreaming with 10 poems in Tagalog, the native language of the Philippine islands. This collection, entitled Mga Piling Tula mula sa Buntong Hininga was written by Pascual de Leon.

Tagalog plays an important role in José Rizal’s novel El Filibusterismo. Manila students fight – so far with words – against the friars and the government. But in the background, the jeweller Simoun weaves a dangerous web, for he wants nothing less than a revolution…

Revolutions and civil wars weaken a country from the inside. The leaders of the Mahratta Empire were so busy fighting amongst themselves that they were an easy target for the British Empire. G. A. Henty tells the story how India became British in At the Point of the Bayonet.

Many, many years before that, the subcontinent faced another empire – that of Alexander the Great. In the play by Jean Racine, the great Macedonian needs all his wit to overcome two kings and one queen of India.

From a great king to a great poet: Rabindranath Tagore was one of India’s greatest storytellers, who even received the 1913 Nobel Prize for literature. Let him guide you through his country with some of his letters containing Glimpses of Bengal.

Separated by the heavenly river (the Milky Way), Cowherd and Weaver Girl (牛郎織女傳) can only glimpse at each other from afar. But when the Celestial Emperor hears about their love, he allows them to meet – for a single night each year. This old Chinese legend is retold by Mingshi Zhu.

Sadly very real was the opium crisis in 18th century China, which had practically the whole population addicted, and eventually led to the collapse of the Chinese Empire. As explained by Samuel Merwin in Drugging a Nation, once again, the British were responsible …

… just as they were for The Afghan Wars 1839-42 and 1878-80. At that time, they fought with Russia for dominance over central Asia in the mountains of Afghanistan. Read Archibald Forbes’ book on a topic that has left Afghanistan a war-torn country to this very day.

In contrast, Japan was at peace with its neighbors and itself for all of the 250 years of the Edo period. Tales of Old Japan contains stories of true incidences, folk lore, Buddhist sermons, and a few observations on everyday life in Edo, collected by Lord Redesdale.

Indonesia is a collection of more than 17,000 islands (picture that!), where a multitude of local languages are spoken. Sekar Karya contains 21 pieces in poetry and prose by various authors, all tied together by their language: Javanese.

Enjoy – and keep dreaming!

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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!

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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!

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