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Maria Lectrix

Public domain audiobooks, six days a week, for folks with a Catholic taste in literature. Enjoy! Clan Honor Mondays: Fitz-James O'Brien works. Lit Tuesdays: Short stories, novels, or poems. Acts of the Wednesdays: Early Christian works. Mystery Thursdays: Mystery short stories or novels. Lit Fridays: Short stories, novels, or poems. Saintly Saturdays: Later Christian works.

Mary reading to ChristA Vatican Library catalog page, 1518

Friday, September 30, 2005

#6: The Bridal of Triermain, by Sir Walter Scott

My archive.org entry probably says it all. I'm fascinated that Scott managed to combine Regency romance, Arthurian adventure, and medieval lais into one coherent storyline (and meta-storyline). It's a pretty nifty little poem ('little' meaning 'in three cantos and a bunch of prologues and epilogues'), IMHO, and I hope you'll enjoy it, too.

You can read The Bridal of Triermain at the University of Rochester's Camelot Project, a handy gatherum of all sorts of Arthurian materials.

Canto I
Canto II
Canto II (cont.)
Canto II Epilogue
Canto III Prologue
Canto III
Canto III (cont.)
1 hr. 50 min.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Criticize Me!

At this time, I'd like to point out that I do want comments. Most of all, I want some comments on how I read. Am I going too fast or too slow? Is my pitch too high or too low? Can you actually hear me read, or should I crank up the recording volume?

How about the poetry? I have been going against my natural inclination to lean on the actual rhythm and rhyme scheme, and trying this newfangled style where you read a poem like it was prose. I've decided that I don't really enjoy that much. If that was what the poet wanted, he wouldn't have worked so hard to put in the sound tricks, ne? So after the next poem, you'll be visited with my own natural style of reading poetry. If you actually like what I've been doing, now's your only chance to stop me!

Funny voices and accents are another issue. Well, I'm not an actor, and I do have previous experience reading for kids. So, no, I don't have any shame. Complain now or suffer more of the same!

I should probably also warn you that you will probably be forced to listen to occasional singing by me on this podcast, because if people quote a song they want you to sing it, right? (Just giving you warning in advance.)

#5: "The Blue Sequin" by R. Austin Freeman

Today's story, "The Blue Sequin", comes to you thanks to Flos Carmeli's E-Text Announcements.

I have always been very curious to read R. Austin Freeman and meet Dr. Thorndyke. Their names come up again and again among the pioneers of the genre, and Freeman was spoken of favorably by Dorothy L. Sayers. (If pressed, I would probably admit to being influenced by Sayers just a titch more than Lewis or Tolkien.) So I was very pleased to learn that Gutenberg had copies of his work.

I haven't yet tackled the novels for which Freeman is known (most notably, The Red Thumb-Mark), but I've really enjoyed the stories in John Thorndyke's Cases. Some of them have that definite air of a Holmes pastiche (particularly the beginnings of "The Man with the Nailed Shoes", "The Stranger's Latchkey", and "The Anthropologist at Large"). But Thorndyke clearly isn't Holmes. He strikes me as much more professorial than Holmes could ever be (except in disguise), and much more in love with technicalities and precision. But you could picture them being friendly colleagues.

Part 1
Part 2
38 minutes.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Carmeli Launch!

Steven Riddle gave this site a very flattering notice over at Flos Carmeli.


Aw, shucks, 'tweren't nothin'....

I should point out, however, that it was Mr. Riddle's e-text announcement page which pointed me in the direction of some of the things I read as audiobooks this week. So you truly do reap what you sow, sir!

Huge Fleepin' Files

I realize that my mp3 files are rather large for something that's just spoken word. The problem is that archive.org really likes 96Kbps, and doesn't really want any file that's less than 64Kbps in their Open Source Audio section.

However, I may have a solution. If you have an archive.org account, you pretty much automatically can get an ourmedia.org account. I can put smaller versions of the files up there, larger ones in the Open Source Audio section as my contribution to the public domain, and link to both for my listeners' convenience. (However few they may be.)

I will update all my current posts when I start doing this. But don't expect it Real Soon, as I have choir tonight.

#4. "Of the Song of Angels" by Walter Hilton

I've been promising spiritual audiobooks but not providing them. So here's a medieval English mystical treatise for you -- "Of the Song of Angels" by Master Walter Hilton, monk. I found it on CCEL as part of a republished Elizabethan collection of medieval religious treatises, called The Cell of Self-Knowledge.

As usual with treatises on mystical experiences (well, good ones, anyway), there is much to say about false mystical experiences: "inputting" from the Devil appears to be less common in Master Walter's experience than overeager folks doing their best to turn their brains into mush or make their experiences into something bigger than they are. Sounds like he and Fr. Groeschel would deal well together. :)

"Of the Song of Angels".
16 minutes.

Monday, September 26, 2005

#3: "The Sword of Welleran" by Lord Dunsany

If you've never read "The Sword of Welleran", I think you're in for a treat. If you already have, you know what you're in for. :) Dunsany is beautiful and strange and original and even funny. Many great and many bad writers have copied him, but nobody can write like him, or in as many strange and original styles as he did.

Here's the scoop. An undefended city. Citizens who have forgotten war. Enemies on the march. Seven dead heroes of old.

"We have loved many women, Merimna, but only one city."

Here's a very nice potted biography of Dunsany, which acknowledges the literary infighting and politics which led to the relative obscurity he enjoys today. You can also read his 1909 collection The Sword of Welleran and Other Stories at Gutenberg.

Download here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

#2: "Speech on Reconciliation With America" by Edmund Burke

The bonus book for the week asks this question: Did the American Revolution have to happen? Couldn't England and the Thirteen Colonies have kissed and made up?

In Edmund Burke's "Speech on Conciliation with America", one of history's greats proposes one of history's great might-have-beens to Parliament and the hostile British government in 1775. None of them knew what was going on in America, six weeks' ship travel away. His speech is quixotic, sensible, insightful, and bizarre by turns, but always worth listening to. Boy, could they talk back then.

You can read the unabridged version of his speech either in Volume II of his complete works or in this textbook version with extensive introduction and notes. There are also a wide variety of other annotated Burke sources available on the net, most notably at the Library of Economics and Liberty, which helped me add to the notes in Burke's Complete Works. I didn't go to Eton, so I'd like to know where the Latin tags come from and what they mean, thank you.

Don't take this book's presence here as arguing that conservatism = Catholicism, or anything of the sort. In fact, although Burke is definitely a father of conservative thought, he doesn't fit comfortably into any sort of political division, either of his time or our own. This was deplored as a fault by some, but not by me. Burke stood always for what he saw as right and just; it was politics that shifted around him. But he was a child of his time; and some of what he saw as right, we're bound to recognize as wrong.

Btw, Edmund Burke was the product of a mixed marriage. He was raised Anglican, like his father, because only thus could he go to university and pursue a public career under the Irish Penal Laws. His sister was raised Catholic, like his mother.


Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Notes on the speech

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

#1: "Annus Mirabilis" by John Dryden

For England, 1666 was a year of war, plague, and fire. John Dryden was there.

I had never read "Annus Mirabilis" before I helped proofread it last year for Project Gutenberg. I'm not overly excited about England vs. Holland (not that it's bad), but the second part of the poem -- the Great Fire of London -- hit me hard, as you can no doubt tell from my reading.

(I apologize for the quietness of the recording and its overly large size. Next time, I'll do better.)

If you'd like to read the poem for yourself, it's in The Poetical Works of John Dryden, Volume 1 over at Project Gutenberg.

John Dryden died Catholic, btw.

Manual Download Links:
Part 1
Part 2

First Post!

This blog will link to audiobooks I'm creating from books in the public domain and putting up in the Spoken Word category of Open Source Audio at archive.org.

Some books will be secular, some sacred. (In other words, I'll read what I feel like.) Hopefully all of the books will be enjoyable and food for thought.

If you'd like to make public domain audiobooks, too, feel free to tell me where to link to them, and I will.

Please feel free to comment on stories, books or segments of books in the comment boxes. Thank you!