Archive for the ‘Non-fiction’ category

Centenary of the First World War

January 18, 2014

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

The World’s Lumber Room by Selina Gaye

October 2, 2012

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

September 28, 2012

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. 😀

LibriVox: East by West Vol. 2

March 28, 2012

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/

LibriVox recording: The Speaking Voice

February 16, 2012

Well, this was a challenge: take a book by an extremely successful dramatic reader in the early 1900s, and follow her training programme on the speaking voice and the vocal interpretation of various literary genres.

This is not a book designed for the professional reader’s training. It is meant for anyone who wants to get the best out of their voice in ordinary life. Watch out, though – if you are in the habit of wearing tight corsets, she has some severe words for you! 😆

The first two parts of the book deal with vocal production and techniques such as change of pitch, inflection and tone colour, then the eight chapters of the third part offer studies on various genres such as the essay, the short story, several types of poetry, ending with dramatic monologues and plays.

Actually, by the time I reached the last few chapters, she had more or less given up trying to teach me anything, because she said I was supposed to know it all by then, so those chapters comprise mostly complete poems for one’s own personal study.

I did find it interesting. I think I found it useful. I hope that others may also find it so. Never having been a devotee of the great English poets Shelley, Wordsworth, Coleridge and Tennyson – indeed, to be honest, never having been a great devotee of any poetry at all – I was surprised, and really rather pleased to be forced to study some of their poems. And even more pleased to find that I could appreciate them.

Here it is:
http://librivox.org/the-speaking-voice-by-katherine-jewell-everts/

Section 11 includes a detailed study of Shelley’s Ode to a Skylark and, in the order they appear, the complete poems:
The Lesser Children, or A Threnody at the Hunting Season by Ridgley Torrence
Hunting Song by Sir Walter Scott
It was a Lover and his Lass by William Shakespeare
Pack, Clouds, Away and Welcome Day by Thomas Heywood
Memory and Enamoured Architect of Airy Rhyme by Thomas Bailey Aldrich
Love in the Winds by Richard Hovey
Candlemas by Alice Brown
She Was a Phantom of Delight by William Wordsworth
Nonsense Lyrics Topsy-turvy World and I Saw a New World by William Brighty Rands
Hymn Before Sunrise, in the Vale of Chamouni by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Juan’s Song from The Spanish Gypsy by George Eliot
Pablo’s Song from The Spanish Gypsy by George Eliot
My Star by Robert Browning
Cavalier Tunes Marching Along by Robert Browning
Garden Fancies The Flower’s Name by Robert Browning.

Section 12 has a study of part of Rabbi Ben Ezra by Robert Browning, and the complete poems:
Each and All by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Forbearance by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Section 13 comprises mostly just the complete short story The Revolt of ‘Mother’ by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman.

Section 14 has a study of a cutting of Gareth and Lynette from Tennyson’s Idylls of the King.

Section 15 has the complete poems:

A Tale (epilogue to Two Poets of Croisic) by Robert Browning
Incident of the French Camp
My Last Duchess

New free LibriVox recording: The Feast of St. Friend

November 10, 2011

Just released: The Feast of St. Friend, a Christmas Book by the inimitable Arnold Bennett.

http://librivox.org/the-feast-of-st-friend-by-arnold-bennett/

It is hard to believe it was published 100 years ago.

Something has happened to Christmas, or to our hearts ; or to both. In order to be convinced of this it is only necessary to compare the present with the past.

Bennett himself came from a strongly Methodist family, but this is not a religious book. This is about the significance of the festival of Christmas for everyone, Christian or not.

Thought-provoking, wry and amusing as always, Arnold Bennett offers no easy solutions but has certainly given me something to think about. I hope you find the same.

Also in progress: another of Dicken’s Christmas stories and a mysterious romance. These will be available soon.

After that, I will be completing Volume 2 of Henry Lucy’s East by West, and returning to my old favourite Cleek for more adventures with Dollops and Inspector Narkom of the Yard. Lots of fun to come.

New Recordings March 2010

March 13, 2010

I have been rather remiss in keeping this blog up to date, for which I apologise.

Since I last updated properly, I have completed several solo recordings:

Fiction: The British Barbarians by Grant Allen
The Riddle of the Purple Emperor by Mary E. Hanshew and Thomas W. Hanshew (further adventures of Hamilton Cleek).
Non-fiction: How to Sing by Lilli Lehmann
Children’s fiction: Merry Clappum Junction by Arnold Kennedy

Works in progress:

Travel: East by West: a Journey in the Recess by Henry Lucy
Fiction: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Children’s fiction: The Wonderful Garden by E. Nesbit

I promise to update this blog as soon as I complete each of these. 🙂

You can also follow my new releases on Twitter @RuthGolding. Bah, now I shall have to remember to tweet regularly too. 🙄


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