Check out this tidy collection of all known Zora Neale Hurston audio recordings from the 1930s, when the writer put her anthropology degree to work collecting Florida folklore as part of the Works Progress Administration. (We recommend “Tampa” for some good puerile fun (Tampans may be unamused)).
So, I’m on my fourth trip through Herman Melville’s masterpiece, Moby-Dick, courtesy of an excellent unabridged audio version read with aplomb, gusto, humor, and great pathos by the late character-actor William Hootkins. I’ll’ go out on a limb and suggest that Hootkins’s reading is so nuanced and attuned to Ishmael’s voice and Melville’s purpose that it would make a great starting point for anyone (unnecessarily) daunted by Melville’s big book.
I’ve been enjoying the book more than ever this time, in part because, knowing its themes, plot, and tone, I can relax a bit more and enjoy its nuance and humor, its weird little nooks and crannies. I’m also really digging Matt Kish’s mixed-media illustrations for the book. Kish is illustrating each page of his 552 page Signet Classics Edition–the same edition I used for a graduate seminar years ago. Kish’s art is fresh, fun, and invigorating; it’s also quite thoughtful in its interpretation of Melville’s text, and never fussy. You can check out an easy-to-use visual index here, or visit his blog here.
Check out these mp3s of James Joyce reading selections from his novels (that word, “novel,” it doesn’t seem right…) Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. Lovely lilting rhythm. Mostly, it’s just cool to hear his voice. From the original liner notes by Sylvia Beach to the 1924 album (courtesy The Modern World):
In 1924 I went to the office of His Master’s Voice in Paris to ask them if they would record a reading by James Joyce from ULYSSES. But they would agree only if it were done at my expense. The record would not have their label on it, nor would it be listed in their catalogue. I accepted the terms: thirty copies of the recording to be paid for on delivery.
Joyce himself was anxious to have this recording made. He had made up his mind, he told me, that this would be his only reading from ULYSSES. Recording was done in a rather primitive manner in those days. All the same, I think the ULYSSES recording is a wonderful performance. I never hear it without being deeply moved.