Wednesday, July 02, 2008

In praise of Librivox

Have just discovered Librivox, which is doing for audio recordings of classic books what Project Gutenberg is doing for text files. Making them free and universally available, that is.

You can dripfeed your ipod with them chapter by chapter (not unlike how many of them were first written, in installments) or download the whole book at once. It's amateur and it's great. What a fantastic project.

What's not to like?

Well, American accents mostly. I'm listening to Vanity Fair at the moment and in the hands of the readers it suddenly transforms into an early American novel. Chiswick Mall is pronounced Chis-wick. I know, I know. But perhaps since the whole project is likely sustained by American generosity at many levels it's churlish to complain.

It's free, you don't have to use your eyes, and in the insomniac small hours it doesn't even bear comparison with Up All Night or the perpetually miserable Farming Today.

Pilgrim's Progress
is even better, and the reader's accent smooth and soothing.