In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain creates an entertaining adventure of Middle America in the 1800's - afloat on a raft on the Mississippi River. Huck escapes his civilized life when he arranges his own "murder" and turns back into the backwoods, downriver yokel he started as, and in the process springing a slave, Jim, from bondage.
Huck and Jim experience life as a series of tableaus as the river sweeps them through small towns on their way South. At each stop, Huck engages his talent for mixing fact with bald-faced lies to endlessly get himself out of situations... and of course, putting him into others!
Much has been written about the statement Twain is making about slavery in this book, but it's really secondary to the story. The facts of how black people were treated in this period give Huck and Jim their license for life on the run. Modern listeners will be intrigued by the unencumbered life of the pair; they make do with coffee, fish from the river, and little else (but of course, when they do need something extra, they don't mind helping themselves to it without recourse to money!)
Huck and Jim have run-ins with desperados and family feuds and even manage to get run down by a steamboat. The adventures ratchet up when they are joined on the raft by a self-proclaimed "duke" and a "king" - shysters both, who spend their time in figuring how to fleece the public in the little river towns. And when Jim is captured and threatened with being sent back into slavery, Huck enlists his old buddy Tom Sawyer in a frenzied, desperate, and terribly funny rescue.
I had to clip a lot of laughing from this recording at Twain's sly, catch-'em-when-they're-not-looking humor, but you can feel free to enjoy some good belly laughs at this crew of lovable rapscallions!
Following the Equator (American English title) or More Tramps Abroad (English title) is a non-fiction travelogue published by American author Mark Twain in 1897.
Twain was practically bankrupt in 1894 due to a failed investment into a "revolutionary" typesetting machine. In an attempt to extricate himself from debt of $100,000 (equivalent of about $2 million in 2005) he undertook a tour of the British Empire in 1895, a route chosen to provide numerous opportunities for lectures in the English language.
In Following the Equator, an account of that travel published in 1897, the author unmasks and criticizes racism, imperialism and missionary zeal in observations woven into the narrative with classical Twain wit.
Of particular interest, historically, are Twain's references to Cecil Rhodes in Australia and South Africa, the in-depth description of "Thugs" and "Thuggee" in India and the Boer War period and diamonds in South Africa.
Xenophon the Athenian was born 431 B.C. He was a pupil of Socrates. He marched with the Spartans, and was exiled from Athens. Sparta gave him land and property in Scillus, where he lived for many years before having to move once more, to settle in Corinth. He died in 354 B.C. "Anabasis" is a Greek work which meane "journey from the coast to the center of a country." This is Xenophon's account of his march to Persia with a troop of Greek mercenaries to aid Cyrus, who enlisted Greek help to try and take the throne from his brother Artaxerxes, and the ensuing return of the Greeks, in which Xenophon played a leading role. This occurred between 401 B.C. and March 399 B.C.
H. G. Dakyns lived from (1838 - 1911). (Summary from Gutenberg version of text.)
Shackleton's most famous expedition was planned to be an attempt to cross Antarctica from the Weddell Sea south of the Atlantic, to the Ross Sea south of the Pacific, by way of the Pole. It set out from London on 1 August 1914, and reached the Weddell Sea on January 10, 1915, where the pack ice closed in on the Endurance. The ship was broken by the ice on 27 October 1915. The 28 crew members managed to flee to Elephant Island, bringing three small boats with them. Shackleton and five other men managed to reach the southern coast of South Georgia in one of the small boats (in a real epic journey). Shackleton managed to rescue all of the stranded crew from Elephant Island without loss in the Chilean's navy seagoing steam tug Yelcho, on August 30, 1916, in the middle of the Antarctic winter. (Summary from Wikipedia)
As the last section of this project we include a short original recording by Ernest Shackleton about the expedition.
Containing many realistic details based on Childers' own sailing trips along the German North Sea coast, the book is the retelling of a yachting expedition in the early 20th century combined with an adventurous spy story.
It was one of the early invasion novels which predicted war with Germany and called for British preparedness. The plot involves the uncovering of secret German preparations for an invasion of the United Kingdom. It is often called the first modern spy novel, although others are as well, it was certainly very influential in the genre and for its time.
The book enjoyed immense popularity in the years before World War I and was extremely influential. Winston Churchill later credited it as a major reason that the Admiralty decided to establish naval bases at Invergordon, the Firth of Forth and Scapa Flow. (Summary from Wikipedia)
After the bizarre textual antics of "Tristram Shandy", this book would seem to require a literary health warning. Sure enough, it opens in mid-conversation upon a subject never explained; meanders after a fashion through a hundred pages, then fizzles out in mid-sentence - so, a plotless novel lacking a beginning, a middle or an end. Let us say: an exercise in the infinitely comic.
"There is not a secret so aiding to the progress of sociality, as to get master of this short hand, and to be quick in rendering the several turns of looks and limbs with all their inflections and delineations, into plain words."
Sterne calls his fine sensitivity to body language (as we now term it) "translation". Much of the pleasure to be had from this wonderfully engaging book comes from his unmatched ability to extract random details from the chaos of experience to create comic turns imbued with Feeling. His Parson Yorick is the Sentimental Traveller: certainly a Man of Feeling, but one in whom "Nature has so wove her web of kindness, that some threads of love and desire are entangled with the piece..." (Summary by Martin Geeson)
Written primarily for children, James Baikie's 'peep' at ancient Egypt is a really well done, historical account of the ways of that fascinating land so many years ago. It has stood well the test of time, being both well researched and well written. It's a fun book for everyone, and families especially will enjoy listening together.
In this enchanting fable (subtitled The Choice of Life), Rasselas and his retinue burrow their way out of the totalitarian paradise of the Happy Valley in search of that triad of eighteenth-century aspiration - life, liberty and happiness.
According to that quirky authority, James Boswell, Johnson penned his only work of prose fiction in a handful of days to cover the cost of his mother's funeral. The stylistic elegance of the book and its wide-ranging
philosophical concerns give no hint of haste or superficiality.
Among other still burning issues Johnson's characters pursue questions of education, colonialism, the nature of the soul and even climate alteration.
Johnson's profoundest concern, however, is with the alternating attractions of solitude and social participation, seen not only as the ultimate life-choice but as the arena in which are played out the deepest fears of the individual: "Of the uncertainties of our present state, the most dreadful and alarming is the uncertain continuance of Reason.” (Summary by Martin Geeson)
“THE FARTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE; Being the Second and Last Part OF HIS LIFE, And of the Strange Surprizing Accounts of his Travels Round three Parts of the Globe.” After the death of his wife, Robinson Crusoe is overcome by the old wanderlust, and sets out with his faithful companion Friday to see his island once again. Thus begins a journey which will last ten years and nine months, in which Crusoe travels over the world, along the way facing dangers and discoveries in Madagascar, China, and Siberia. (Summary by D. Leeson)
Prof. Hiram Bingham of Yale Makes the Greatest Archaeological Discovery of the Age by Locating and Excavating Ruins of Machu Picchu on a Peak in the Andes of Peru.
There is nothing new under the sun, they say. That is only relatively true. Just now, when we thought there was practically no portion of the earth's surface still unknown, when the discovery of a single lake or mountain, or the charting of a remote strip of coast line was enough to give a man fame as an explorer, one member of the daredevil explorers' craft has "struck it rich." Struck it so dazzlingly rich, indeed, that all his confrères may be pardoned if they gnash their teeth in chagrin and turn green with envy. The lucky man is Prof. Hiram Bingham of Yale, he whose hobby is South America. He has just announced that he has had the superb good fortune to discover an entire city, two thousand years old, a place of splendid palaces and temples and grim encircling walls, hidden away so thoroughly on the top of a well-nigh inaccessible mountain peak of the Peruvian Andes that the Spanish invaders of four hundred years ago never set eyes upon it. He calls it Machu Picchu. (From New York Times, June 15, 1913)
One hundred years ago in the summer of 1911, Bingham discovered Machu Picchu, returning in the summer of 1912 to excavate under the auspices of Yale and The National Geographic Society, and coming home to great acclaim and a spate of published articles and photos. He fully described the 1911 expedition and original find in his 1922 book INCA LANDS: Explorations in the Highlands of Peru. Help the Librivox 2012 World Tour celebrate South America in September 2012! (ToddHW)
(Summary by New York Times and ToddHW)
Chesterton, G. K.
“Let me begin my American impressions with two impressions I had before I went to America. One was an incident and the other an idea; and when taken together they illustrate the attitude I mean. The first principle is that nobody should be ashamed of thinking a thing funny because it is foreign; the second is that he should be ashamed of thinking it wrong because it is funny.” (Gilbert Keith Chesterton)
The passengers in the sleeping car of the Rome Express were just woken and informed that they will reach Paris soon, and a bustle ensues. Only one passenger cannot be awoken by the porter, no matter how loudly he knocks. At last, when the door is forced open, the occupant of the compartment is found dead - stabbed to the heart. The murderer must be found among the passengers... (Summary by Carolin)
Stanley, Henry Morton, Sir
Sir Henry Morton Stanley is famously quoted for saying "Dr Livingstone, i Presume?". Born in Wales, he migrated over to the United States at the age of 18, he eventually became an overseas correspondent for the New York Herald. In 1869 Stanley was told by James Gordon Bennett Jr to find Livingstone, a scottish missionary and explorer. When Stanley commented on the cost Bennett's reply was:
"Well, I will tell you what you will do. Draw a thousand pounds now; and when you have gone through that, draw another thousand, and when that is spent, draw another thousand, and when you have finished that, draw another thousand, and so on; but, FIND LIVINGSTONE."
How I Found Livingstone is Stanley's personnel account of his trip from Zanzibar to Lake Tanganyika on this quest, including time spent exploring the area with Livingstone.
- Written by Lizzie Driver (Modified from Wikipedia)
Lucas, E. V.
A very personal and opinionated wander through the Sussex of around 1900, illustrated with anecdotes, literary and poetic quotations, gravestone epitaphs and a gentle sense of humour. The author colours the countryside with his nostalgia for times past and regret for the encroaching future, his resentment of churches with locked doors, and his love of deer parks, ruined castles and the silent hills.
(I must add my apologies for my attempts at the Sussex dialect in the chapter on that subject.)
[This book is of Reading Grade of 9.55 (i.e. equivalent to 9½ years of U.S. education. Reading Ease score of 63.72 (on a scale from 100 to 0 .. where 65 is easy, 30 a little hard, 0 difficult). These are Flesch-Kincaid readability scores.]
The Stones of Venice is a three-volume treatise on Venetian art and architecture by English art historian John Ruskin, first published from 1851 to 1853. Intending to prove how the architecture in Venice exemplified the principles he discussed in his earlier work, The Seven Lamps of Architecture, Ruskin examined the city in detail, describing for example over eighty churches. He discusses architecture of Venice's Byzantine, Gothic and Renaissance periods, and provides a general history of the city as well. The book aroused considerable interest in Victorian Britain and beyond. The chapter "The Nature of Gothic" (from volume 2) was admired by William Morris, who published it separately in an edition which is in itself an example of Gothic revival. It inspired Marcel Proust; the narrator of the Recherche visits Venice with his mother in a state of enthusiasm for Ruskin. The Stones of Venice is considered one of the most influential books of the 19th century.
The Europeans: A sketch is a short novel by Henry James, published in 1878. It is essentially a comedy contrasting the behaviour and attitudes of two visitors from Europe with those of their relatives living in the 'new' world of New England. The novel first appeared as a serial in The Atlantic Monthly for July-October, 1878. James made numerous minor revisions for the first book publication. (Summary by Wikipedia)
Watkin Tench was an officer of the British Marines in the First Fleet to settle NSW. This is an interesting and entertaining account of his experiences during that time.
Powell, John Wesley
John Wesley Powell was a pioneer American explorer, ethnologist, and geologist in the 19th Century. In 1869 he set out to explore the Colorado and the Grand Canyon. He gathered nine men, four boats and food for ten months and set out from Green River, Wyoming, on May 24. Passing through dangerous rapids, the group passed down the Green River to its confluence with the Colorado River (then also known as the Grand River upriver from the junction), near present-day Moab, Utah. The expedition's route traveled through the Utah canyons of the Colorado River, which Powell described in his published diary as having …wonderful features—carved walls, royal arches, glens, alcove gulches, mounds and monuments. From which of these features shall we select a name? We decide to call it Glen Canyon. (Ironically, now almost completely submerged by Lake Powell, behind the Glen Canyon Dam.) One man (Goodman) quit after the first month and another three (Dunn and the Howland brothers) left at Separation Rapid in the third, only two days before the group reached the mouth of the Virgin River on August 30 after traversing almost 1,500 km. The three who left the group late in the trip were later killed—probably by Indians.
Powell retraced the route in 1871-1872 with another expedition, producing photographs, an accurate map, and various papers, including ethnographic reports of the area's Native Americans and a monograph on their languages. --adapted from Wikipedia
A clear and delightful peek into the world of Japanese girls and women of the late 1800s: their childhood, education, marriage and intimate family life. And it is done by someone who admires the immense resources, abilities and strength shown by all of these girls and women. The intricate customs that bind the society together and must be learned by every girl, such as the annual Doll ceremony are explained as well as the difficult life of a Japanese wife of this period. Life among the nobles and upper class in the courts and castles, something long hidden away, is explored. Did you know there were Samauri Women? The entire spectrum of Japanese life in the late 1800s is explored from the feminine point of view. The writer is a Christian but respects the cultural and religious differences of Japan society and presents what she has observed from many years in the country and what was shared with her by her Japanese women friends. (Summary by Phil Chenevert)
Bird, Isabella L.
Isabella Bird began travelling while in her early twenties to help alleviate illness that had plagued her since childhood. She was a single woman in her early forties when she made her treck through the Rocky Mountains. A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains details this fascinating account of her travels through a series of letters written to her sister, Henrietta. These letters are filled with beautiful, vivid descriptions of the scenery, the people she encountered, the way of life, and a mountain man named Jim Nugent, that was as rough as they come, but a complete gentleman with Ms. Bird. She has the distinction of being the first woman to become a member of the Royal Geographical Society in 1892. (Summary by Laura Caldwell)
Duff-Gordon, Lucie, Lady
As a girl, Lady Duff-Gordon was noted both for her beauty and intelligence. As an author, she is most famous for this collection of letters from Egypt. Lady Duff-Gordon had tuberculosis, and went to Egypt for her health. This collection of her personal letters to her mother and her husband. By all accounts everyone loved her, and the letters are very personal in style and content. The letters are as much an introduction to her person as a record of her life on the Upper Nile.
Kingsley, Mary H.
Mary Henrietta Kingsley (13 October 1862 – 3 June 1900) was an British explorer and writer who greatly influenced European ideas about Africa and its people. Kingsley was an outspoken critic of European colonialism, a champion for indigenous customs, and a dedicated campaigner for a revised British policy which supported traders and merchants over the needs of settlers and missionaries.
Her adventures were extraordinary and fascinating. Among other things she fought with crocodiles, fell into native spear traps and was caught in a tornado on the slopes of Mount Cameroon. She traveled in West Africa wearing the same clothes she always wore in England: long, black, trailing skirts, tight waists, high collars and a small fur cap. These same clothes saved her life when she fell into a game pit, the many petticoats protecting her from being impaled on the stakes below.
This is her story in her own words of her adventures and the people and culture of West Africa. (Summary by Kehinde)
This book tells of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures.