12/16/16 Freebie Friday: Classic Lit & Lincoln Audiobooks

Welcome to LME’s 12/16/16 Freebie Friday! Today I’ve got an Abraham Lincoln collection and an entire audio library of classic literature that are available for free to anyone with internet access, plus an Audible drama title that’s currently available for free to Amazon’s UK customers only.

 

 

The first two titles are online downloads from Librivox. If you want Alexa to play them for you, you’ll need to upload the tracks to your Amazon Music Library. Every Amazon customer can upload up to 250 tracks for free. If space is a concern—and it may be, given the number of tracks in today’s second freebie—you can always download everything to your computer, then upload only the volumes you intend to listen to in the near future to Amazon Music. To access / upload to Amazon Music, go to the Amazon site, login, then navigate to Your Account > Your Music Library. Scroll to the bottom of the left-hand menu bar and click the “Upload your music to your cloud library” link.

First, specially selected for those of us here in the U.S. who may be suddenly much more interested in acclaimed Presidents of the past, it’s Abraham Lincoln: A Commemoration.

April 14-15th, 2015, is the 150th year anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. This is a collection of pieces to mark that occasion. Whitman’s poems, written shortly after the death, express his intense grief. Here are prose pieces that Whitman composed in the years following. Included too are three other eulogies regarded by Lincoln scholars as among the best, as well as a narrative from one of the doctors who attended the dying president and two speeches in the British Parliament. And finally, three of the President’s own finest compositions: The Emancipation Proclamation, The Gettysburg Address and The Second Inaugural Address.

 

Next, it’s the Library of the World’s Best Literature, Ancient and Modern, Volumes 1-7.

The Library of the World’s Best Literature, Ancient and Modern, is a work of enormous proportions. Setting out with the simple goal of offering “American households a mass of good reading”, the editors drew from literature of all times and all kinds what they considered the best pieces of human writing, and compiled an ambitious collection of 45 volumes (with a 46th being an index-guide). Besides the selection and translation of a huge number of poems, letters, short stories and sections of books, the collection offers, before each chapter, a short essay about the author or subject in question. In many cases, chapters contemplate not one author, but certain groups of works, organized by nationality, subject or period; there is, thus, a chapter on Accadian-Babylonian literature, one on the Holy Grail, and one on Chansons, for example.

The result is a collection that holds the interest, for the variety of subjects and forms, but also as a means of first contact with such famous and important authors that many people have heard of, but never read, such as Abelard, Dante or Lord Byron. According to the editor Charles Dudley Warner, this collection “is not a library of reference only, but a library to be read.”

 

Finally, an Audible title that’s currently free for Amazon UK customers only: The Oedipus Plays: An Audible Original Drama (available to Amazon US customers here, but not for free).

The three Theban plays by Sophocles – Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone – are one of the great landmarks of Western theatre. They tell the story of Oedipus, King of Thebes, who was destined to suffer a terrible fate – to kill his father, marry his mother, and beget children of the incestuous union. He does this unknowingly but still has to suffer terrible consequences, which also tragically affect the next generation.

These three plays were written around 450 BC, with the playwright following the established convention of presenting the story through main characters but using a chorus – sometimes one voice, sometimes more – as an independent commentator that also occasionally participates in the drama. When the audiences of ancient Athens went to the amphitheatres to see the plays, they would have known the basic story of poor Oedipus.

Nevertheless, the power of Sophocles’ retelling made the Theban plays deeply horrifying and affecting – and this is still true now, some 2,500 years later. There is also a strong contemporary resonance for us, for in the 20th century the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud famously adopted the story to illustrate his Oedipus complex, which, he argued, was a condition of the unconscious mind in boys – that they want to sleep with their mothers. It is interesting that through the character of the queen, Jocasta, in Oedipus the King, Sophocles states this unequivocally.

Oedipus the King is well known. The other two are less so: Oedipus at Colonus, which deals with his last days, and Antigone, which casts the spotlight on his daughter, who, as part of the accursed blood line, chooses to act in a way she believes is right, whatever the consequences. Yet they are equally powerful and moving.

This audio production, with Jamie Glover as Oedipus and Hayley Atwell as his daughter, Antigone, is a world premiere audio recording of all three plays.

With the authoritative but modern translation by Ian Johnston, specially commissioned new music from the English composer Roger Marsh, and a cast of outstanding actors, this Audible Original presentation of Sophocles’ Theban plays will be listened to not once but over and over again.

 

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