This week in class we are beginning our discussion of Mary Shelley's The Last Man. The Last Man was written eight years after Frankenstein and was published in 1826. The story is set in the future, near the end of the twenty-first century, and tells the story of the extermination of the human race by a plague. I have the Oxford World's Classics edition as shown above, but as I was a little
behind on my reading I decided to see if I could find an audio version to listen to while I'm driving. This is how I discovered Librivox, whose tagline is "acoustical liberation of books in the public domain." Basically, Librivox uses volunteers to record books in the public domain, which is currently anything in the United States written prior to 1923. The company was started in August 2005 by Hugh McGuire. The following link will take you to their catalog, where you can search by author, title, or reader. librivox.org/search?primary_key=0&search_category=author&search_page=1&search_form=get_results.
Most of the books are recorded in English, though they do have various works in over twenty languages. This may not seem like an obvious choice for a DH tool, but free digital books, especially for those who may not be able to read in the traditional manner, could be an important asset. Even with volunteers doing all the work, the site boasts an low level of error issues and all their recordings are available in the public domain, for any use. This could be helpful for certain DH projects.
The Last Man is recorded by chapters, and as I had already started reading the book, I went to the recording labeled Volume 1, Chapter 9. I discovered it didn't match with the book, so I had to backtrack to Volume 1, Chapter 8 to match Chapter 9 in my book. Other than that, the text seems to match up. I've listened to several audio books in the past, each read by a single author. The experience is quite different with Librivox, as each chapter is usually recorded by a different person. Librivox promotes this as an enjoyable aspect due to the wide variety of voices, dialects, and accents. Personally I would agree, but I can see how these recordings might be a struggle for people who may have a hard time with different accents and dialects. Overall, I've enjoyed their audio version and would recommend this site.
If anyone is interested in volunteering as a reader, please read up on it on their forum at