.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

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

Monday, October 31, 2005

#33: V. Bede, "Sermon on All Saints' Day"

Contrary to what you've heard, All Saint's Day was not created to co-opt Celtic Samhain festivities for Christianity. (Though it worked that way in some Celtic countries.) The day was invented to commemmorate all the martyrs, especially when said martyrdoms didn't happen nearby; and then spread to cover all the saints in general, especially those we don't know. These celebrations date back to very early times, and you can read all about the history in the relevant Catholic Encyclopedia article.

This sermon is by Bede, who's sometimes counted as one of the late, late Fathers. He's from England. As you can tell from the 710 AD dating, he was preaching after the feast had been introduced and promoted, a few decades before it was moved from May 13 to Nov. 1, and about a hundred years before it was legislated to be a feast celebrated everywhere the Church was. (Unfortunately, my copy is abridged, and I have no way of knowing by how much. Still, it's a cool sermon.)

The reason this sermon was in Latin was not that Bede preached it in Latin to his congregation (he probably didn't), but that there was really no point collecting sermons in a book in English if you wanted an international readership. Writing in a vernacular restricted a work's usefulness and endurance, though it did demonstrate your love of your mother tongue. But if you learned to read, you probably learned it by learning to read Latin; the Vulgate psalms were the ABC's of Europe.

"Sermon on All Saints Day"
10 min.

#32: Special Halloween edition!

Three Scottish Hallowe'en ballads for you! First of all, we slip into the Border between Middle Earth and Elfland with Janet and Tam Lin. (Remember, "The night is Hallow'een, my love, The morn is Hallow's Day.") Then we attend a party and learn a little about the old Scottish year's end divination customs in Robert Burns' "Hallowe'en". Finally, Andrew Lang of fairy tale fame tells us an adult tale of "The Queen of Spain and the Bauld McLean", based on the destruction of the Spanish ship Florencia in 1588. Enjoy!

"Tam Lin"
10 min.
"Halloween" by Robert Burns
20 min.
"The Queen of Spain and the Bauld McLean" by Andrew Lang
4 min.

#31: "The Pot of Tulips" by Fitz-James O'Brien

This ghost story is pretty fun. Lost treasure! A wronged heiress! Communication from beyond the grave!

Obviously, though, it leans quite a bit on the conventions of spiritualism. That's interesting in itself, of course. We think of spiritualism as a post-Civil War or post-WWI phenomenon, but this story was written in 1855. (But the Fox sisters, of course, were famous back in 1848, and there was plenty of death of relatives both in Europe and out West during the 1840's and 1850's.) The Ghostbusters-style blend of practicality, fantasy, and state-of-the-art science fiction reminds me strongly of William Hope Hodgson's Carnacki stories and that charming device, the vacuum tube "electric pentacle". Though it is fair to warn you that when Carnacki finds himself a ghost, it's usually a really scary one; and he shies from using scary incantations and grimoires about as much as Egon and Ray, which is to say, not at all. (You can also download free (though lower quality) audiobooks of Carnacki from audiobooksforfree.com. And there was apparently a book of Carnacki pastiches by A.F. Kidd and Rick Kennett called 472 Cheyne Walk -- Carnacki: The Untold Stories published in 2002.)

For those who are keeping score, I wouldn't be a spiritualist or even a ghosthunter if you paid me. The stuff which is very cool in stories would be exactly the stuff which would be likely to do you in if you tried to do it in real life. (I think trying to be both an ardent spiritualist and scientist ruined Conan Doyle's life; though he kept his honor, he left behind a lot of his good sense. But he would have done better to quit running from his grief and guilt into junk science and self-made religion. Oh, well.) But anyway, a good story's a good story.

Btw, I'd better explain again that if you follow the link to archive.org at the top of this post, you'll be able to get different (smaller) formats and streaming. The manual download link takes you only to the 128K mp3s. I do this because some computers can't use Ogg and experience unknown difficulties with the 64K.

Also, I had a few more Halloweenish readings I wanted to sneak into this Halloween edition of Maria Lectrix, but you'll have to wait until sometime tonight or tomorrow when they get processed.

"The Pot of Tulips"
49 min.

Friday, October 28, 2005

#30: The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena, Part 5 (LAST PART!)

Yes, yet another early posting, since I'll be busy this weekend. The fifth part of the book consists of the translator's Introduction (in three parts), and the appendix, a letter between close associates of Catherine which describes her saintly death.

I shy away from reading introductions and forewords before the rest of the book. They have a tendency to include spoilers, or try to lead me toward the introducer's ideas of the book instead of my own. Now, this is actually a rather spoiler-free introduction, though I'm still not sorry I didn't read it out first. All the foreign words and typos, not to mention the length, would have been terribly discouraging as a beginning. Still, it's a nice overview of the historical and religious situation and has some good info about Catherine's early life.

The appendix isn't short, but I found it interesting. Btw, Sexagesima Sunday is the second Sunday before Lent. It was called Sexagesima, 'sixty', because it's about sixty days till Easter (or actually, sixty days till the Wednesday after Easter). Orthodox areas used to start abstaining from meat that early, apparently.

Introduction, part 1
Introduction, part 2
Introduction, part 3

Book 1: A Treatise on Divine Providence
Book 2: A Treatise on Discretion
Book 3: A Treatise on Prayer
Book 4: A Treatise on Obedience

#29: "The Nightmare" by G.K. Chesterton

This essay is from Alarms and Discursions, a 1910 collection of short pieces written for London's Daily News. The essay winds around a bit, and talks of many things. In the end, I think it's a brilliant defense of horror, dark fantasy, and the like. More than that, though, it's fun and beautiful writing, from a time when the sort of blog columns we enjoy from Lileks were standard operating procedure for journalists. (Or at least they were for Chesterton.)

I apologize for reading the essay with a much straighter face than GKC wore when writing it. However, you are spared any of my odd voices.

"The Nightmare"
9 min.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

#28: The Red Thumb Mark by R. Austin Freeman, Part 4

The story strides on towards court, as Thorndyke gets another little present from his ingenious friend and Jervis learns some startling information. We also learn about Thorndyke's rather disturbing hobby. Further, Freeman does his best to harrow every mystery fan's soul with his blunt description of the Old Bailey at his time of writing. You begin to understand the Victorian obsession with strong soap and elbow grease.

If you can't stand the wait until next week, you can read The Red Thumb Mark on Gutenberg.

Chapter 13: Murder by Post
Chapter 14: A Startling Discovery
59 min.

Part 1: Chapters 1-4
Part 2: Chapters 5-8
Part 3: Chapters 9-12

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

#27: "The First Apologia" by St. Justin Martyr

Apologia means 'explanation'. In this case, a philosopher-turned-Christian tells Roman emperor all about Christianity. Breaking the secrecy that was common, thanks to persecution, he does his best to dispel urban rumors by openness about the true nature of Christian beliefs and rituals. He argues that individual Christians should be judged by what they do, not by what they are said to believe, and that Christian hunts are bad for the Empire's justice.

Also, with extensive quotes both from the myths and philosophers and the Greek Bible, he argues that Christianity has the full interpretation of the ancient Jewish scriptures, that the philosophers cribbed from the older Jewish material, and that many great Greek myths and new religions were set up by the demons to try to counteract Jewish prophecy. This seems odd to modern listeners. But the Roman government had as dim a view of "new religions" as the Japanese one. Part of why Judaism was tolerated and protected by the Empire was that it was old and had old records. If Christianity could be shown to be not a mere hundred and fifty years old, but the heir of a continuity of belief with Judaism, Christians would look much more respectable. (It was also a rebuke to his fellow Greeks among the Marcionites, who were so busily engaged in trying to purge Christianity of its Jewish roots that they wanted to throw out the Old Testament.)

Not everything that he reveals is good stuff. We peer into a world where Marcionites and followers of Simon Magus annoy the heck out of more mainstream Christians, and where tension is high between prophecy-saved Christians and the now temple-less Jews. And sometimes paranoia is justified. Recent research indicates that Mithras worshippers probably did copy some rituals from that popular new religion of Christianity, and may have even moved their date of celebration to coincide with Christmas (instead of the other way round). Still, the main annoyance seems to be persecution by pagan neighbors and the Empire, and it shadows this letter. "You can kill but not hurt us," says St. Justin, Doctor of the Church and martyr.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
2 hrs 25 min

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

#26: "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came" by Robert Browning

I admit that this poem is not an obvious Halloween choice. But I felt like reading it. There's not that many great Victorian poems based on Scottish fairy tales about lopping off elves' heads. But it inspired Stephen King, and that's Halloweeny, right? Also, the theme of invading the King of Elfland's place to rescue a fair maiden is highly appropriate to the Celtic year's end. Beyond that, of course, it deals with death, which as certain posters have pointed out, is one of the Four Last Things that All Saints' Day, Hallowmas, should make us think on.

But mostly I just like Browning. You could have an all-Browning audioblog that posted 365 days a year, and probably never get bored. (Though all that blank verse might start to wear.) It's only a shame that I'm not an actor, and can't wring every ounce of drama out of the reading.

(You know what we need? A Browning opera. The Ring and the Book's long enough, isn't it?)

You can also read "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came" with eyes alone.

"Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came"
12 min.

#25: "The Man Without a Shadow: A New Version" by Fitz-James O'Brien

A humorous short-short about a strange and alien sort of creature which apparently could be found visiting New York back in 1852 -- and which probably can still be met with today!

Sorry about the extreme shortness. I picked a story I thought I'd be able to put up on Thursday or Friday, but Murphy and my own tiredness got in the way. Still, it wasn't too hard on my tired throat, and that was a good thing.

"The Man Without a Shadow: A New Version"
4 min. 45 sec.

Playing Catch-Up

If you'll go down below, you'll see that Book 4 of The Dialogue is now up. So's the weekly O'Brien story and the Tuesday poetry, which you'll see above. Admittedly, I should have started putting up my Wednesday stuff yesterday, but I forgot; so it's going up on archive.org today and should be available tomorrow. With any luck.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Monday Blog Report

I think I have finally discovered all that needed doing at archive.org in order to make my audiobook of Book 4 of The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena available to all of you. Unfortunately, I didn't figure this out until today.

I also didn't put up my Monday story before I left, because I figured that was too paranoid even for me.

Error. (As Psmith would say.) The truth is that putting up an entire week of stories in advance probably wouldn't be too paranoid for me. I didn't get home last night at all, as I ended up sleeping at my parents' house.

So you will probably get your Clan Honor Monday story on Tuesday, along with Book 4 of The Dialogue. I devoutly hope that your Tuesday story will also be available. But at this moment I have a sore-ish throat from an allergy attack last night, so I don't want to promise rashly. (Or in this case, watery-eyed and sneezingly.)

Feel free to go listen to the now-complete Psmith in the City instead. It is bright and cheery, which this October day is not.

Friday, October 21, 2005

State of the Blog Address

This blog is now one month old. Vivat! We are only a little more than a week away from Halloween and All Hallows Day, so the spooky stuff continues.

Since I'll be out of touch this weekend, you'll notice below that I loaded up my Friday and Saturday audiobooks early. By Saturday, the file problem with the Dialogue should be fixed. The Fitz-James O'Brien short story for Clan Honor Monday may be slightly delayed, but it will go up.

We've got one more week to go on St. Catherine of Siena. Next week I'll be reading the postscript (a letter on her death appended to the book) and the translator's foreword (because I always read forewords last, to avoid spoilers). They're both interesting. Then we've got two more weeks to go on The Red Thumb Mark, unless the court scenes read faster than their page count.

If people have suggestions for what books I should read next on Mystery Thursday and Saintly Saturday, let me know. I'm inclined to go on with Freeman and read The Eye of Osiris. Murdered Egyptologists with tattoos across their chests are just what you want in late fall.

#24: The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena, Book 4: A Treatise on Obedience

With this book, the main meat of the Dialogue is concluded. Obedience isn't a popular virtue these days, and it wasn't popular in Catalina Benincasa's day, either. But in this short treatise, I found the advantages of this virtue were argued pretty persuasively. Most of all, it's hard to argue that if Adam sinned through disobedience and Christ saved us through obedience unto death -- death on a cross -- that this is clearly something Christians need to do.

I should note, though, that obedience doesn't mean going against conscience or morals. (Informed conscience, that is, not "I am now going to mistake me being stubborn for my conscience" or "everybody else is doing it, and peer pressure sounds like conscience".) Catholics aren't supposed to get hung up on dishonorable or immoral commands like samurai did. God is always the Big Boss, and obedience to His commands overrides all others. (As long as they're really His commands. You can't say, "Oh, yeah, and I'm reading the Bible here as allowing me to act like a jerk." Or rather, you can, but the Big Boss won't be amused if you do.)

Part 29
Part 30
Part 31
Part 32
Part 33
Part 34
1 hr. 40 min.

Book 1: "A Treatise of Divine Providence"
Book 2: "A Treatise of Discretion"
Book 3: "A Treatise of Prayer"

Thursday, October 20, 2005

#23: "Little Orphant Annie" by James Whitcomb Riley

This is one of those poems, by one of those poets, which have gone from ubiquitous to unheard in a couple of decades. Hmph. Well, it's Halloween, and Indiana is practically next door, and I feel like reading "Little Orphant Annie". So there.

If you don't like the way I read, you can hear a very badly restored 1912 gramophone record of Riley reading it (in Quicktime) at Indiana University's Lilly Library. You can also find the poem all over the Net, but the story behind it is also at Indiana University.

"Little Orphant Annie"
2 min.

#22: The Red Thumb Mark by R. Austin Freeman, Part 3

The mystery continues, as Thorndyke continues to be mysteeeerious about his take on the defense. Somebody keeps trying to remove him from the defense team permanently. And poor Jervis struggles to remain professional in the face of all sorts of temptation.

After this, there are only five chapters left; but the chapters set at the trial are rather lengthy ones. (All that dialogue.) So it will probably take two more weeks before I'm finished with this book. You can always read ahead, of course.

Chapter 9: The Prisoner
Chapter 10: Polton Is Mystified
Chapter 11: The Ambush
Chapter 12: It Might Have Been
1 hr. 48 min.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

#21: "The Martyrdom of St. Ignatius of Antioch"

This account by the ever-popular Anonymous is a glimpse of what it meant to be a Christian in a pagan Roman world. As you will see, the good bishop of Antioch (modern Antakya, Turkey) was not indulging in hyperbole about his fate in last week's letter to the Church's members in Rome.

You can read this account, along with St. Ignatius' other surviving letters, over at New Advent's section on the Fathers.

"The Martyrdom of St. Ignatius of Antioch"
14 min.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

#20: "The Hoard of the Gibbelins" by Lord Dunsany

"The Hoard of the Gibbelins" is a classic fantasy story from 1912. Just how clever do you have to be to win the treasure of monsters who live off all the unsuccessful burglars of their hoard?

You can read the story in The Book of Wonder.

"The Hoard of the Gibbelins"
11 min.

Monday, October 17, 2005

#19: "Jubal the Ringer" by Fitz-James O'Brien

It's Clan Honor Monday again! Continuing the march toward Halloween (or perhaps the creep and slither), we head for the belfry of the Church of St. Phantasmos to meet "Jubal the Ringer". He lives in what seems to me like some medieval version of Gotham City. (Though keep in mind that this story was written in 1856.) But unlike the Dark Knight (and like an awful lot of Arkham Asylum villains), he is consumed with stalker love. Yet another dreamlike horror story from Fitz-James O'Brien!

"Jubal the Ringer"
15 min.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

#18: The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena, Book 3: A Treatise on Prayer

This part was really long, but treated of a variety of interesting subjects, from the value of tears to a good death. Of most note for modern listeners is the discourse on bad priests. Sadly, everything old does become new again. I was also particularly interested in the closely related section on the Eucharist, with the comparison of the Son to a fire which can be infinitely distributed without losing substance, and to the Sun.

There's still one more part to go, but you can always read the whole thing over at CCEL. You can access the previous parts here: Book 1 and Book 2.

Part 15
Part 16
Part 17
Part 18
Part 19
Part 20
Part 21
Part 22
Part 23
Part 24
Part 25
Part 26
Part 27
Part 28
3 hrs. 45 min.

Apology and Thanks

Once again, I didn't manage to get a story into the archive.org queue fast enough. I will keep trying to keep up. But rest assured that the week's books and stories will sooner or later get up on archive.org, even if I miss a day here and there. Also, you can always search for my audiobooks on archive.org (try "O'Brien" under "Open Source Audio").

In other news, however, I was pleased to see just how many downloads some of my audiobooks had accumulated over on archive.org. At this point, "The Sword of Welleran" is the clear winner, but "The Dragon Fang...." story didn't do badly. I don't know if this was thanks to my mention on Flos Carmeli or my appearance on the links list at LibriVox, but it surely was nifty to see.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

#16: The Red Thumb Mark by R. Austin Freeman, Part 2

When is a fingerprint not proof? Thorndyke and Jervis' investigation (for the defense of Reuben Hornby against the charge of diamond theft) continues. Meanwhile, both Walter Hornby and Miss Juliet Gibson seem to be strangely interested in finding out what the investigators are finding out.

As every other American page about Freeman remarks, it is astonishing how unfair Julian Symons' remarks about him have proved to be, at least from the pre-war books on Gutenberg. I find that Freeman is a remarkably fun writer so far, and doesn't seem to have the mordant and cynical bite that today's forensic mystery writers seem obliged to adopt. Also, I really enjoy the "newness" (to me) of a lawyer/doctor.

(Although Fitz-James O'Brien's dad was apparently also called to the bar and the Hippocratic oath, so it couldn't have been totally unusual in the UK. And I gather that it also happens in the US occasionally. A lot more expensive study today than in Victorian days, though, I bet.)

If you are too torn by suspense, you can always read ahead on Gutenberg.

Chapter 5: The "Thumbograph"
Chapter 6: Committed for Trial
Chapter 7: Shoals and Quicksands
Chapter 8: A Suspicious Accident
66 min.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

#15: "Epistle to the Romans" by St. Ignatius of Antioch

Here's another work by an early Christian teacher. (These folks are called the Fathers. Well, the ones who weren't moonbats are.) St. Ignatius of Antioch, like his friend St. Polycarp, worked under the Apostle John (then an old geezer). St. Ignatius eventually became bishop of Antioch, where he was noted for steering his flock so skillfully that they didn't get persecuted under Domitian. Which was good. But almost all his contemporaries of note got martyred, and here were he and Polycarp living to a ripe old age. (St. John's longevity must've been catching.) So one day St. Ignatius decided he felt called to go talk about Christianity to the Emperor, and that was about it for him. (St. Polycarp got martyred later on, too. Happy ending.)

I'm being a bit flippant here, but I'm actually pretty awed by St. Iggy. (So was St. Inigo de Loyola. That's why he went by Ignatius in religious life.) He was a tough old bird, and some of his writing is really beautiful. Also, I found out in the process of checking my facts that his feastday as currently celebrated is actually next Wednesday, right on schedule for me to be reading another religious text out loud. The guy's still all about spreading the word, eh?

(But if you want an even more flippant portrait of St. Iggy as a younger and more foolish man -- along with other figures of the early Church -- I recommend Barbara Hambly's Roman historical mystery, Search the Seven Hills, aka The Quirinal Hill Affair. I would tell you other reasons why it's good, but they would all be spoilers.)

Anyway, here's St. Ignatius of Antioch's "Epistle to the Romans", written on his way to martyrdom, in an attempt to prevent any extraordinary efforts by the Christians in Rome to save him from being martyred. (To be honest, there was probably nothing they could have done anyway; they would just have endangered themselves. So by asking them not to try and showing that he wasn't sad about his impending death, he was probably trying to stop people from doing anything stupid.)

You can read this and other epistles by him on newadvent.org or CCEL.

"Epistle to the Romans"
13 min.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

#14: "Locksley Hall" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Today I'm reading "Locksley Hall" and "Locksley Hall Sixty Years After". I used to really like "Locksley Hall", and thought that the love story was irrelevant and that certain distasteful opinions of the protagonist disfigured it. Now I think that the fact that the love story would never work and the opinions are stupid... is maybe the point. The protagonist thinks he's a great lover (and Amy was smart to get shed of him). He thinks he's a great liberal (and really, he's an elitist who despises just about everyone). In "Locksley Hall Sixty Years Later", he's grown up to learn a little sense, but really, I think he still needs a good smacking.

And yet, both poems are well worth a listen. It's amazing how much you can like and disagree with something at the same time.

"For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;

Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
Pilots of the purple twilight dropping down with costly bales...."

If you get tired of the sound of my voice, you can read "Locksley Hall" and "Locksley Hall Sixty Years Later" online.

"Locksley Hall" (1842)
"Locksley Hall Sixty Years Later" (1886)

49 min. ("Locksley Hall" is a lot shorter than the sequel.)

Monday, October 10, 2005

#13: "What Was It? - A Mystery" by Fitz-James O'Brien

I've decided to run Fitz-James O'Brien stories for the next few Mondays, as this saves me the weekend stress of deciding what to run first thing. So here's a bizarre and spooky 1859 story which probably influenced both Bierce's "The Damned Thing" and Maupassant's "The Horla". Oddly enough, the "happy" ending is even more horrible than It was -- which is probably something of a comment.

Also, note the subtle plug for O'Brien's previous story, "The Pot of Tulips". Heh. Also, if the references to other horror books inspired you, Zanoni by Bulwer-Lytton (he of The Last Days of Pompeii and "It was a dark and stormy night" fame), and Brockden Brown's Wieland, or The Transformation: An American Tale. (This guy sounds interesting.)

"What Was It? - A Mystery"
33 min.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

#12: The Red Thumb Mark by R. Austin Freeman (Part 1)

Here are the first four chapters of The Red Thumb Mark (1907), an Edwardian excursion into the mysteries of forensic science and one of the earliest hard forensic science mysteries. I think you'll like it. If you get impatient, you can read ahead on Gutenberg.

Actually, this is not the first Dr. Thorndyke mystery. Freeman came up with the character in his novella "31, New Inn". Then he wrote this novel, establishing much more of Dr. Thorndyke's character and introducing us to his friend, Dr. Christopher Jervis. Finally, he rewrote the first story as the third novel (The Mystery of 31 New Inn or The Mystery of 31, New Inn in its original UK appearance), and made it the chronologically second Thorndyke and Jervis story. This made his short story book John Thorndyke's Cases (1909) come chronologically third.

The second novel (chronologically fourth!) is on Gutenberg as The Vanishing Man, but I have to say I think that's a pretty generic title. I'd list it under its original English title of The Eye of Osiris (1911), myself.

Thorndyke wrote a good many books after the Great War (most of them after the sacred public domain deadline, and some of them apparently not all that great), but for some reason, his 1912 short story collection The Singing Bone (aka The Adventures of Dr. Thorndyke) doesn't seem to be on Gutenberg or anywhere else. This is a pity, since it's apparently rather momentous as the first "inverted mystery". You know who the criminal is and watch him assembling his evil deed; then you get suspense from watching Thorndyke try to figure things out. (I'm not really clear on the difference between this and a "thriller", except perhaps the greater emphasis on "arts and crafts" scenes where we watch the criminal or detective making and doing things. But it's also interesting as a visible version of how writers often work out mysteries in the first place: I want to kill someone. Why? How? When? What precautions will I take, so as not to get caught?)

Preface. Chapter 1: My Learned Brother
Chapter 2: The Suspect
Chapter 3: A Lady in the Case
Chapter 4: Confidences
1 hr. 40 min.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

#11: The Dialog of St. Catherine of Siena, Book 2: A Book of Discretion

I'm sick of waiting on archive.org, so here's your regularly scheduled Saturday book. Book 2: A Book of Discretion is full of interesting images and ideas, including the aforesaid analogy of Christ as a Renaissance covered bridge over a raging river of sin and death. Enjoy!

Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12
Part 13
Part 14
2 hrs 50 min.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Keep Watching....

Ack! Archive.org is still dragging its feet on posting my stuff, so the new material will be posted when it's posted.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Watch This Space

Okay, so I was slow getting my Thursday mystery done yesterday. In fact, I didn't get it all done and uploaded until after midnight. This was a gross tactical error, as archive.org likes to have at least twelve hours lead time before entries show up.

So the Thursday mystery will be up sometime this afternoon or evening. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

#10: The Didache

The Didache (Teachings), aka The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles, dates from somewhere back in AD 60 - AD 100. It's a sort of Reader's Digest version of the early Christian faith. Enjoy.

The Didache
21 min.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

#9: Folk-Tales of Napoleon

Here's a weird one for you! Folk Tales of Napoleon includes two lengthy folk tale versions of the life of Napoleon: "Napoleonder", collected by Alexander Amphiteatrov in Russia, and the other, "The Napoleon of the People", being a chapter from The Country Doctor by Balzac which apparently reflects real French folk beliefs of the time.

So was Napoleon just a sad example of what happens when Satan starts playing with advanced silicon technologies? Or was Napoleon destined from the womb to save religion and glorify France? They report; you decide!

Read Folk-Tales of Napoleon at Gutenberg.

Introduction (listen to last)
"The Napoleon of the People", part 1
"The Napoleon of the People", part 2
1 hr. 34 min. (even shorter without the intro!)

Monday, October 03, 2005

#8: "The Dragon-Fang Possessed by the Conjuror Piou-Lu" by Fitz-James O'Brien

For rather obvious reasons, I love Fitz-James O'Brien! But it used to be very hard to find anything by him or about him. This has apparently changed drastically over the last fifteen years or so. Hence today's dark fantasy set in China, which I found on a site called Horrormasters.

Fitz-James O'Brien (if he wasn't making this up) was born Michael O'Brien in County Limerick on December 31, 1828. He claimed to have run through his inheritance in a year or two after his majority and then immigrated to America, changing his name to Fitz-James somewhere along the way. But nobody really cares about the lack of documentation of his European life, other than the amusing air of mystery it lends him. The important thing was that O'Brien moved to New York in 1852 and became a leader of both Bohemian life and a gifted journalist. He was the Lileks or Terry Teachout of his day, caring deeply about both his own writing and that of others, and guiding readers to interesting new writers they would enjoy. At the same time, he was writing all sorts of interesting stories without regard to genre, much like his predecessor Poe. He also spoke out against slavery, the unsafeness of the tenements, and other social issues; but when Stowe wrote a novel called Dred that was nothing but ranting, he reviewed it that way, even though he happened to agree with the rant. He believed in his adopted country and loved the United States with intense patriotism and a sense of ownership. Finally, he not only recruited and volunteered for the Civil War, he went in the place of his friend and fellow writer Aldrich. He died of tetanus resulting from a bad shoulder wound, in Cumberland, Maryland, on April 6, 1862.

For those of us keeping score... I have no idea whether he was Catholic or Anglican or what. If he wasn't lying about it, he went to the University of Dublin (ie, Trinity College) in the days when Catholics weren't allowed to go; so that's some kind of evidence. Personally, I suspect his religion was "sleeping in Sunday morning", as he did his best to sleep in every day until one PM or so, and then stayed up late. (As one person on the Web pointed out, this is probably because he used his dreams as part of the writing process.) Either way, I think the abominable medical care of his last wound and months of suffering must have been purgatory enough for most purposes, and I fervently pray he is living the good life with God.

Books I need to look for:
Fitz-James O'Brien: Selected Literary Journalism 1852-1860, edited by Wayne R. Kime. A dive through ancient periodicals. Be sure to read the informative Q & A with Kime.

Part 1: "The Chapter of the Miraculous Dragon Fang"
Part 2: "The Chapter of the Shadow of the Duck" and "The Chapter of 'All Is Over'"
48 minutes.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

#7: The Dialog of St. Catherine of Siena, Book 1: A Book of Divine Providence

This is from an abridged but public domain version of the Dialog of St. Catherine of Siena which I found over at CCEL. (There's a modern unabridged translation by Suzanne Noffke available from Paulist Press' Classics of Western Spirituality series, under the name Catherine of Siena: The Dialogue. I found it interesting to read in the Amazon reviews that all sorts of people were so enthused about this book.)

Book 1: A Book of Divine Providence, is pretty short -- only 45 minutes. Since the Dialog is pretty dense and chunky with thoughts, I've kept each track down to about fifteen minutes each. With a story, you don't want a break. With this, I think you might want to stop often and think about what you've heard. Also, thanks to the serious lack of paragraphing and sentence division in this translation, you might actually find it easier to hear than read! (And hey, it was dictated in the first place.)

The other thing to know is that the Dialog is continually circling back on itself. So whatever you hear about early on, you'll be hearing about later, too -- but with more depth and more applications.

Next book is when you get into all the famous stuff about Christ as a covered Bridge over a raging Italian-type mountain river of sin and death! (Sorta like you might find near Siena, I'm thinking....)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
44 min.