New LibriVox recording: Underground Man

Posted February 5, 2014 by RuthieG
Categories: English fiction (solo recordings), Latest recordings, Uncategorized

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Underground Man by Gabriel Tarde (1843 – 1904), translated from the French Fragment d’histoire future, 1904, by Cloudesley Brereton (1863 – 1937).

It is the end of the 20th century; the sun suddenly starts to die and it’s… well, it’s a little chilly! In fact, earth is plunged overnight into an ice age, and life, including most of mankind, is virtually wiped out. A tiny number of the young, strong and intelligent find a way to survive – beneath the surface of the earth (or young and beautiful, in the case of women – the criteria for survival are hilarious).

In this new and strange world, where there are no countries, no nature, no sea and no sky, they must build a new civilisation. With commendable foresight, they have managed to preserve masterpieces from the major libraries, museums and galleries and transport them to their new home. Far-fetched, of course, but bear with me.

This is the story of how they build their new civilisation based on love and beauty, the fine arts and pure science. Tarde was a sociologist, criminologist and social psychologist, and this novella, his only venture into fiction, is replete with philosophical, scientific, sociological and political concepts, including a method of restricting population which has echoes of eugenics.

At one point Tarde refers to the sun being seen as blue in 1883 – this is based on fact, and happened after the eruption of Krakatoa.

Interestingly, shortly after I started recording this, I read an article on the BBC Science website about the sun’s current state of inactivity: “The drop off in activity is happening surprisingly quickly, and scientists are now watching closely to see if it will continue to plummet.” It sent rather a chill down the spine.

Nevertheless, I loved this little book – I hope you do too.

Here it is: http://librivox.org/underground-man-by-gabriel-tarde/

British readers on LibriVox

Posted January 20, 2014 by RuthieG
Categories: Uncategorized

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I realise that I am unable to add tags to pages on this blog, only to posts. Why, I know not, but WordPress does not allow it. Hence, I shall post here and add tags to this!

LibriVox is a fantastic community, with readers from all parts of the globe. It is clear however from the number of Google searches that, for one reason or another, some listeners like to listen to particular accents. This doesn’t apply solely to listeners from the United Kingdom. I have also had comments from teachers of English as a second language that they like to be able to point their students to recordings made by readers with different accents, to help them to differentiate between the different ways that English is spoken around the world.

Accordingly I made a page some time ago with a list of readers who speak English with accents from the British Isles: English, Welsh, Scottish and also Irish. Since first writing the page, many more readers have joined, and I have recently updated the page. There are now over 70 readers listed, most of whom have completed at least one entire book as a solo recording.

You will find readers who speak English in the “Received Pronunciation” (RP) style, also known as “BBC English”. Also, many of us have various flavours of Southern, Northern and West of England accents, as well as a few Welsh and Scots accents. I have yet to discover a reader with a Northern Irish accent, unfortunately.

Here’s the page: http://golding.wordpress.com/home/other-british-readers-on-librivox/

Centenary of the First World War

Posted January 18, 2014 by RuthieG
Categories: Latest recordings, Non-fiction, Recordings in progress, Recordings in progress (non-fiction), Uncategorized

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2014 is, of course, the centenary of the outbreak of World War One. I am currently co-ordinating a collection of short works at LibriVox on this theme, which will be catalogued in time for the 28th July. It is to be a multi-lingual collection, and I hope to have contributions from many parts of the world relating to all sides of the conflict. It will consist not only of poetry from the trenches but many other aspects of the war, from both military and civilian viewpoints.

Laurence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen entered the public domain in the UK on the 1st January this year, and I shall be recording it for the collection.

In my little part of the world, so close to the coast of mainland Europe, the First World War had a devastating effect in many ways. Aside from the loss of life from air raids in the latter stages of the war, Folkestone was the main port of embarkation for soldiers and a major location for the sick and wounded on their return. There were also many Canadian forces stationed in the vicinity of Hythe and Folkestone, and many refugees from Belgium found safety on our shores. I shall be recording an excerpt on some of these subjects from Folkestone During the War.

In the meantime, I should like to draw your attention to a video made by Robbie Ellis to commemorate the centenary. It is a powerful piece, and you should be warned that some of the footage is (unsurprisingly) distressing. Robbie asked me last year to narrate two poems for his video, Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen, and his own poem The Window, which I found most moving.

You can find the video, The Great War – Centenary, on Youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqzDclCZv0U

Apologies and new recordings

Posted January 17, 2014 by RuthieG
Categories: English fiction (solo recordings), Latest recordings, Recordings in progress, Uncategorized

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I have been appallingly remiss at posting on my blog during the past year. I shall now make amends and get up to date. I shall start with the audiobooks I have completed since my last post.

More short(ish) Dickens

In January 2013 I completed another of Charles Dickens’ “Christmas” books, following The Chimes and The Cricket on the Hearth in previous years. This year’s was The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain.

More longish Cleek – hurray!

This was followed in March by my eventual completion of Cleek of Scotland Yard. This is more or less a sequel to the first Cleek book Cleek: The Man of the Forty Faces, unlike The Riddle of the Purple Emperor and the Riddle of the Frozen Flame, full-length stories which were each about one case, and both of which I found frankly a bit disappointing. Both of the latter were authored by both Thomas and Mary Hanshew, and just not up to the standard of the books written by Thomas alone, in my opinion. Anyway, if you enjoy a good unlikely detective romp, I’d recommend listening to The Man of the Forty Faces first, and then Cleek of Scotland Yard.

A difficult Saki

I then made what is probably a bad decision. I chose to record The Westminster Alice by Saki, a parody of Alice in Wonderland set around 1900 in Westminster, the seat of British politics. Now, Saki is generally very, very funny… but this book relies so heavily on topical humour relating to the politics of the day that much of its charm has evaporated like the morning dew. So much so that I found myself spending hour upon hour researching turn-of-the-century politics, war, religion and public figures to find out what on earth it was all about.

I ended up by recording and uploading to the Internet Archive the notes that I’d made, but in all honesty it didn’t really rescue what was a bad choice for a LibriVox recording. The upside is that I learned a lot about politics and the South African (2nd Boer) War in the process.

An alternative history

I had never heard of Aristopia: A Romance-History of the New World, but was introduced to it as an interesting recording possibility. It is an alternative history of the United States, documenting what might have happened if one of Captain John Smith’s Jamestown colonists had discovered an immense reef of gold, and used his vast wealth to benefit the poor and disenfranchised of Europe by providing them with immigrant transport to his new ‘Commonwealth’ in the New World.

It can’t be described as great literature, certainly. The characters (of whom there are few) don’t come to life at all. It draws heavily on More’s Utopia and Captain Smith’s diary. However, as the first novel-length example of the alternative history genre, it is interesting and was worth recording.

Did I mention More’s Utopia?

As I hadn’t ever read Utopia, it occurred to me that I should record that too. There was already a recording of the 17th century Burnet translation in the LibriVox catalogue, so I thought I would go back to the original 16th century translation by Ralph Robinson, and chose the version which William Morris printed at his celebrated Kelmscott Press, with his own introduction. It wasn’t very easy to read! However I did enjoy it, and feel that I am slightly less ignorant now.

stars

I have many other things to tell you all, but those for another day. I promise it will be soon.

I note that WordPress tells me that occasionally some of my visitors may see an advertisement here. Please ignore it if you do, especially if it says DOWNLOAD in big red letters. It is nothing to do with me (except that I haven’t paid WordPress any money to prevent it happening).

The World’s Lumber Room by Selina Gaye

Posted October 2, 2012 by RuthieG
Categories: Latest recordings, Non-fiction

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As the author, Selina Gaye (1840 – 1914), writes in her preface: “The object of this volume is to give, in popular form, an account of some of the many ways in which refuse is made and disposed of, first and chiefly by Nature, and secondly by Man.” So, yes, it is nine hours of rubbish. ;)

This recording is a little out of the ordinary for me, but I found the book enthralling, and having recorded it, I do indeed look at dust and rubbish with new eyes, though it doesn’t in truth make housework any more pleasurable.

In the midst of this recording, I wasn’t very well for some time and couldn’t do much, so I spent many hours in front of the television. I discovered many interesting programmes that dealt with the natural world, in particular geologist Prof. Iain Stewart’s excellent documentaries Earth: The Power of the Planet and How Earth Made Us.

To my surprise, there seems to be little in Selina Gaye’s book that has actually been disproved more than a century later. She admits herself that the science of the day did not yet provide the answers to some questions (the cause of earthquakes, for instance), but this is unsurprising as plate tectonics had not even been thought of when the book was written in 1885.

Miss Gaye clearly consulted many scientific authorities of the day, using as her sources works such as Elements of Chemical and Physical Geology by Gustav Bischof, Darwin’s Journal of Researches, Coral Reefs and Vegetable Mould and Earthworms, Dana’s Coral Reefs and Islands, Maury’s The Physical Geography of the Sea, and the Earl of Dunraven’s The Great Divide among many other books and scientific journals.

I really enjoyed recording this. I learned a lot, and it made me much more curious about the natural world than I had ever been before. I do hope you find the same.

Here it is: http://librivox.org/the-worlds-lumber-room-by-selina-gaye/

New LibriVox recording: The Human Machine

Posted September 28, 2012 by RuthieG
Categories: Latest recordings, Non-fiction, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , ,

After a long hiatus owing to poor health I am back, and have at last released my latest LibriVox recording. This time it is The Human Machine, another shortish work by Arnold Bennett (1867-1931).

In this Olympic year in particular, much has been made about the benefits of physical excellence. Nobody has mentioned the importance of mental excellence, and indeed the ability even to use one’s brain seems to be sadly neglected in this brave new world of ours.

Those of us whose bodies are not capable of athletic prowess (and in my current state, I certainly include myself in that), can still improve our lives by training and controlling our own ‘human machine’. However frustrating we find aspects of our lives, all is not lost. ;)

Bennett speaks to me. I hope that he speaks to you, and that the listener too, as Bennett wrote, “will be surprised at the miracles which lie between his collar and his hat, in that queer box that he calls his head.”

And, as always, Bennett writes so beautifully, so mellifluously.

Here it is:
http://librivox.org/the-human-machine-by-arnold-bennett/

You may also be interested in my earlier Arnold Bennett recordings:

Mental Efficiency
The Feast of St. Friend
Self and Self-management: Essays about Existing

Soon to come: 310 pages, or nearly 10 hours, of… rubbish. You will be enthralled. :D

LibriVox: East by West Vol. 2

Posted March 28, 2012 by RuthieG
Categories: Latest recordings, Non-fiction, Uncategorized

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I have finally, after many delays, completed Volume 2 of East by West, A Journey in the Recess, by Henry W. Lucy.

http://librivox.org/east-by-west-a-journey-in-the-recess-vol-ii-by-henry-w-lucy/

This account, in two volumes, of Henry Lucy’s round-the-world journey on a break from his usual occupation of parliamentary correspondent, is an extraordinary picture of an Englishman’s travels abroad.

Within two to three decades of the American Civil War, the Indian Mutiny and the end of Japan’s isolation from the western world, the sheer logistics of the trip must have been a triumph of organisation. Starting at Liverpool with the crossing of the Atlantic by steamer, Lucy traversed the entire United States, then took a steamer across the Pacific to Japan, and thence to Hong Kong, Malaya, Ceylon and India, finally returning home via the Middle East and the Suez Canal, itself less than 15 years old.

He had entrees into many high circles (presumably through his contacts with the British diplomatic network), to which most people would not have had access. But he was not only interested in the great and the powerful, but was fascinated too by the ordinary people of the countries he visited, as well as their work, their customs, their religion, their history, the architecture, art, landscape and wildlife… and all with Lucy’s customary eye for detail, and sense of humour.

What an intriguing account this is. Of course, it is written from the point of view of an Englishman accustomed to British dominance throughout the Empire, but, though he may have had little sympathy for the workshy or greedy, Lucy was no arrogant xenophobe, and his sympathy for the old or needy, of whatever race, shines through the narrative.

Note: In Chapter 6, Lucy understandably, to a readership wholly unfamiliar with Japan, includes lengthy statistics about Japan’s systems and economy. While the reader of the book can glance at such tables and move swiftly on, this is not possible in an audiobook. Accordingly, I have made two versions of Chapter 6. The first version is completely unabridged. In the alternative file, 6a, I have excised the longest statistical tables.

Volume 1 is also available at:

http://librivox.org/east-by-west-vol-i-by-henry-w-lucy/


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