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.