The book is noted for its colorful description of people and places along the Mississippi River, and its sober and often scathing look at entrenched attitudes, particularly racism. The drifting journey of Huck and his friend Jim, a runaway slave, down the Mississippi River on their raft may be one of the most enduring images of escape and freedom in all of American literature.
The book has been popular with young readers since its publication, and taken as a sequel to the comparatively innocuous The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It has also been the continued object of study by serious literary critics. Although the Southern society it satirized was already a quarter-century in the past by the time of publication, the book immediately became controversial, and has remained so to this day.
Montgomery, Lucy Maud
Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic children’s novel, Anne of Green Gables tells the story of a red headed orphan girl with a personality you can’t help but love. Despite her “tragical” past, Anne’s optimism and imagination have helped her to always see the best in things. Anne’s life changes considerably when she is accidentally adopted by the Cuthberts, a brother and sister who thought they were getting a boy to help out on the farm. The Cuthberts decide Anne will have to be sent back to the orphange but before they know it, she has begun to work her way into their hearts.
The Importance of Being Earnest is a classic comedy of manners in which two flippant young men, in order to impress their respected beloveds, pretend that their names are “Ernest,” which both young ladies believe confers magical qualities on the possessor. It was first performed for the public on February 14, 1895 at the St. James’ Theatre in London, and is regarded by many critics and scholars as being the wittiest play in the English language.
Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff discover the perils of love, assumed identities, and telling the truth in Oscar Wilde's classic play.
Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest is subtitled "A Trivial Comedy for Serious People," and has proved immensely popular since its first performance in 1895. The play certainly has its farcical and comic elements, such as the witty banter exchanged by the characters and the flippant attitude towards love and marriage that characterizes the action. However, the play also explores more serious themes through the central story of Jack Worthing's search for his identity.
Emma is a comic novel by Jane Austen, first published in 1816, about the perils of misconstrued romance. The main character, Emma Woodhouse, is described in the opening paragraph as "handsome, clever, and rich" but is also rather spoiled. Prior to starting the novel, Austen wrote, "I am going to take a heroine whom no-one but myself will much like."
Sherry reads Jane Austen’s sparkling comedy of manners with wit and vivacity, and brings the characters to life. Mr. Woodhouse worries and frets, Miss Bates chatters on, and Emma blithely manipulates and misunderstands her friends and family until she finally learns her lesson!
Jerome, Jerome K.
Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), published in 1889, is a humorous account by Jerome K. Jerome of a boating holiday on the Thames between Kingston and Oxford.The book was intended initially to be a serious travel guide, with accounts of local history of places along the route, but the humorous elements eventually took over, to the point where the serious and somewhat sentimental passages now seem like an unnecessary distraction to the essentially comic novel. One of the most praised things about Three Men in a Boat is how undated it appears to modern readers. The jokes seem fresh and witty even today.The three men were based on Jerome himself and two real-life friends, George, and Harris. The dog, Montmorency, however, was entirely fictional, but, as Jerome had remarked, "had much of me in it."
Shaw, George Bernard
Pygmalion (1913) is a play by George Bernard Shaw based on the Greek myth of the same name. It tells the story of Henry Higgins, a professor of phonetics (based on phonetician Henry Sweet), who makes a bet with his friend Colonel Pickering that he can successfully pass off a Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, as a refined society lady by teaching her how to speak with an upper class accent and training her in etiquette. In the process, Higgins and Doolittle grow close, but she ultimately rejects his domineering ways and declares she will marry Freddy Eynsford-Hill – a young, poor, gentleman. - The play was later the basis for the successful movie adaptation "My Fair Lady" with Audrey Hepburn as Eliza and Rex Harrison as Prof. Higgins.
The classic story of how Rat, Mole, and the other river-bankers saved Toad from his excesses. This book has it all: excitement, sentiment, destruction of private property (plenty of that), paganism, and a happy ending. The prose is beautiful and occasionally requires the use of a dictionary - I had to look up “asperities.” Written as a children’s story, The Wind in the Willows is enjoyed by many grown-ups who relish Grahame’s ability to evoke the long summer days of childhood.
Struwwelpeter (Slovenly Peter) is an illustrated collection of humorous children’s poems describing ludicrous and usually violent punishments for naughty behavior. Hoffmann, a Frankfurt physician, wanted to buy a picture book for his son for Christmas in 1844. Not impressed by what the stores had to offer, he instead bought a notebook and wrote his own stories and pictures. While Struwwelpeter is somewhat notorious for its perceived brutal treatment of the erring children, it has been influential on many later children’s books, most notably Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
A sportsman who doesn't hunt; a poet who doesn't write; a lover with no one to love; all three are devoted to their cheerful and benevolent leader, Mr. Pickwick. Join him and his friends, Winkle, Snodgrass, and Tupman, as they tour the country in search of adventures, knowledge, and stories. Along the way, they have their share of mishaps, and meet plenty of interesting characters, both the good and the not so good. (Mr. Pickwick's dedicated manservant, Sam Weller, is a scene-stealer sure to delight just about everybody.)
Shaw, George Bernard
Arms and the Man is a comedy by George Bernard Shaw that takes place in 1885, during the Serbo-Bulgarian War. Raina Petkoff is engaged to the gallant Sergius Saranoff, hero of the recent Bulgarian victory over the Serbs. But she is distracted by the abrupt arrival of Captain Bluntschli, a Swiss mercenary who fought for the Serbian army. He takes refuge in her bedroom after the battle and although he is initially threatening, reveals that he carries chocolate creams instead of bullets. Will Raina marry the posturing Sergius or the chocolate cream soldier? Extra intrigue is provided by saucy servant girl Louka, her dour fiance Nicola, and Raina's hand-wringing parents.
The action takes place in London, with excursions to Devon, Yorkshire, and Portsmouth, as we follow the adventures of the eponymous hero. Nicholas is forced to unwelcome employment to help secure support for his widowed mother and his sister from their mercenary relative Ralph, on whose mercy they have been thrown. After many adventures Nicholas finally triumphs over his Uncle, although his success is also tinged with sadness.
Eve’s Diary is a humorous monologue about Eve’s experiences at the dawn of creation. She is fascinated by every aspect of the new world around her and… Adam! The following is an extract from Adam:
“She is all interest, eagerness, vivacity, the world is to her a charm, a wonder, a mystery, a joy; she can’t speak for delight when she finds a new flower, she must pet it and caress it and smell it and talk to it…. And she is color-mad: brown rocks, yellow sand, gray moss, green foliage, blue sky…none of them is of any practical value, so far as I can see, but because they have color and majesty, that is enough for her, and she loses her mind over them…. If there is anything on the planet that she is not interested in, it is not in my list.”
The American Minister and his family have bought the English stately home Canterville Chase, complete with the ghost of Sir Simon de Canterville - blood-stains, clanking chains and all. But these modern Americans will have no truck with ghostly goings-on, and set out to beat the spectre at his own game.
An outbreak of plague in London forces a gentleman, Lovewit, to flee temporarily to the country, leaving his house under the sole charge of his butler, Jeremy. Jeremy uses the opportunity given to him to use the house as the headquarters for fraudulent acts. He transforms himself into 'Captain Face', and enlists the aid of Subtle, a fellow conman and Dol Common, a prostitute. In The Alchemist, Jonson unashamedly satirizes the follies, vanities and vices of mankind, most notably greed-induced credulity. People of all social classes are subject to Jonson's ruthless, satirical wit. He mocks human weakness and gullibility to advertising and to "miracle cures" with the character of Sir Epicure Mammon, who dreams of drinking the elixir of youth and enjoying fantastic sexual conquests. The Alchemist focuses on what happens when one human being seeks advantage over another. In a big city like London, this process of advantage-seeking is rife. The trio of con-artists - Subtle, Face and Dol - are self-deluding small-timers, ultimately undone by the same human weaknesses they exploit in their victims.
An Ideal Husband is an 1895 comedy by Oscar Wilde which revolves around blackmail and political corruption, and touches on the themes of public and private honor. The action is set in London, in "the present", and takes place within a single day. "Sooner or later," Wilde notes, "we shall all have to pay for what we do." But he adds that, "No one should be entirely judged by their past."
The Proposal is a one act comic farce by Anton Chekhov. In Chekhov's Russia, marriage was a means of economic stability for most people. They married to gain wealth and possessions. In this play, the concept of marriage is being satirized to show the real purpose of marriage - materialistic gain rather than true love.
Wodehouse, P. G.
Bertram Wooster is an English gentleman living in New York, who seems to get himself into all sorts of jams. It’s up to his manservant Jeeves to come up with the plan to save the day from unpleasant houseguests, stingy uncles, broken hearts, and hard-partying aunts.
Wodehouse, P. G.
Bertram Wooster's manservant, Jeeves, is renown for his ability to apply his keen intellect to solve all problems domestic, and Bertie's friends and relatives flock to him for his counsel. But Wooster, jealous of Jeeves's fame, decides to step in and take over as the fixer of his pal's engagement, his aunt's gambling debts and old school-mate's desire to propose marriage. How far will Bertie sink them all in the soup? Will Jeeves come to the rescue? "Right Ho, Jeeves" features of course Bertie and Jeeves as well as Gussie Fink-Nottle, Tuppie Glossop, Aunt Dahlia and Anatole the high-strung French chef in this P.G. Wodehouse farce of England's upper crust.
Lady Windermere's Fan: A Play About a Good Woman is a four act comedy by Oscar Wilde, published in 1893. As in some of his other comedies, Wilde satirizes the morals of Victorian society, and attitudes between the sexes.
The action centres around a fan given to Lady Windermere as a present by her husband, and the ball held that evening to celebrate her 21st birthday.
Tennyson, Alfred, Lord
The Princess is a serio-comic blank verse narrative poem, written by Alfred Tennyson, published in 1847. The poem tells the story of an heroic princess who forswears the world of men and founds a women's university where men are forbidden to enter. The prince to whom she was betrothed in infancy enters the university with two friends, disguised as women students. They are discovered and flee, but eventually they fight a battle for the princess's hand.
The Diary of a Nobody is the fictitious record of fifteen months in the life of Charles Pooter, his family, friends and small circle of acquaintances. It first appeared, serialised in Punch magazine and might be regarded as the first ‘blog’; being a record of the simplicities and humiliations in the life of this mundane, but upright, city clerk, who had an incontestable faith that a record of his daily life was worth preserving for posterity.
Set in about 1891 in Holloway, which was then a typical suburb of the impecuniously respectable kind, the authors contrive a record of the manners, customs and experiences of the late Victorian era. The bare record of facts, simply recorded, manages to be humorous rather than dull, no doubt because of the usual occupations of the authors.
George Grossmith (1847-1912) was an actor and comedian.
Weedon Grossmith (1852-1919) was an entertainer and illustrated the original work.
William is a mischievous eleven year old who is puzzled by the adult world, which is no less puzzled by him. The humor is gentle and pleasing. The series of books is better known in the United Kingdom than in the U.S.
The $30,000 Bequest and Other Stories is a 1906 collection of 30 comic short stories by American humorist and writer Mark Twain. Published just 4 years before his death, this was the last time he chose works from throughout his career, in an effort to show the diversity of his style and the breadth and depth of his interests.
Jerome, Jerome K.
Some time after "Three Men in a Boat", George, Harris and Jerome decided to go on a cycling holiday through Germany.
This relaxed and gently humorous story of the three friends wandering in and around the Black Forest is coloured by anecdotes, odd tales and Jerome's comments on the German people and their way of life.
(Published in 1914
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
This is a long short story in 6 parts from Fitzgerald's 1920 short story collection, Flappers and Philosophers. It predates the screwball movie comedies of the 1930's in that it features a determined young heiress trying to get what she wants out of life.
Also known simply as "1601", this is a humorously risque work by Mark Twain, first published anonymously in 1880, and finally acknowledged by the author in 1906.
Gilbert, W. S.
The Pirates of Penzance; or, The Slave of Duty is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. The story concerns Frederic, who, having completed his 21st year, is released from his apprenticeship to a band of tender-hearted pirates. He meets Mabel, the daughter of Major-General Stanley, and the two young people fall instantly in love. Frederic finds out, however, that he was born on 29 February, and so, technically, he only has a birthday each leap year. His apprenticeship indentures state that he remains apprenticed to the pirates until his 21st birthday, and so he must serve for another 63 years. Bound by his own sense of duty, Frederic's only solace is that Mabel agrees to wait for him faithfully.
"The Foolish Dictionary" was written by "Gideon Wurdz" and was published in 1904. According to the beginning of the book, it is "An exhausting work of reference to un-certain English words, their origin, meaning, legitimate and illegitimate use..."
This a a short but amusing dictionary which "redefines" words in some interesting ways. Funny and sometimes bizarre observations are sprinkled throughout. In keeping with LibriVox policy to read, rather than attempt to rewrite, books - even those with offensive content - nothing has been omitted. While many of the definitions may just seem confusing or "corny" to modern readers, there are a couple that also might be considered "objectionable," particularly in section 10, which contains offensive content of a racial nature.
Wodehouse, P. G.
Jeremy Garnet, a second-rate novelist, gets talked into joining his old pal Stanley Featheringstonehaugh Ukridge in an insane plan to start a chicken ranch. Garnet should bail out on his crazy friend, but he falls in love with one of Ukridge's neighbors, Phyllis. Soon he is up to his neck in sick chickens, bad debts, a hostile future father-in-law, a sinister plot, and dirty golf. It all gets a bit thick, what?
Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town is a sequence of stories by Stephen Leacock, first published in 1912. It is generally considered to be one of the most enduring classics of Canadian humorous literature.
The fictional setting for these stories is Mariposa, a small town on the shore of Lake Wissanotti. Although drawn from his experiences in Orillia, Ontario, Leacock writes in the introduction:
“Mariposa is not a real town. On the contrary, it is about seventy or eighty of them. You may find them all the way from Lake Superior to the sea, with the same square streets and the same maple trees and the same churches and hotels.”
This work has remained popular for its universal appeal. Many of the characters, though modelled on townspeople of Orillia, are small town archetypes. Their shortcomings and weaknesses are presented in a humorous but affectionate way.
Often, the narrator greatly exaggerates the importance of the events in Mariposa compared to the rest of the world. For example, when there is a country-wide election, “the town of Mariposa, was, of course, the storm centre and focus point of the whole turmoil.”
Shaw, George Bernard
The Doctor's Dilemma is about Dr. Colenso Ridgeon, who has recently been knighted because of a miraculous new treatment he developed for tuberculosis. As his friends arrive to congratulate him on his success, he is visited by two figures who present him with a difficult decision. He has room for one more patient in his clinic; should he give it to Louis Dubedat, a brilliant but absolutely immoral artist, or Dr. Blenkinsop, a poor and rather ordinary physician who is a truly good person? Dr. Ridgeon's dilemma is heightened when he falls for Jennifer Dubedat, the artist's wife, who is innocent of her husband's profligacy.
Barrie, J. M.
From the author of Peter Pan:
Lord Loam, a British peer, considers class divisions to be artificial. He promotes his views during tea-parties where servants mingle with his aristocratic guests, to the embarrassment of all. Crichton, his butler, particularly disapproves of this.
Loam, his family, a maid, and Crichton are shipwrecked on a deserted tropical island. The resourceful Crichton is the only one of the party with any practical knowledge. Eventually, social roles are reversed, and Crichton becomes the governor. (Intro from Wikipedia and TriciaG)
Volunteers bring you 16 recordings of Chorus of Women by Aristophanes. This was the Weekly Poetry project for October 21, 2012.
Aristophanes was a comic playwright of ancient Athens. This poem is from the Thesmophoriazusae; meaning Women Celebrating the Festival of the Thesmophoria, sometimes also called The Poet and the Women)
"The Stolen White Elephant" was written by Mark Twain and published in 1882. In it, an Indian elephant, en route from India to Britain as a gift to the Queen, disappears in New Jersey. The local police department goes into high gear to solve the mystery but it all comes to a tragic end. (PLUS more TBD)
The American Claimant is an 1892 novel by American humorist and writer Mark Twain. The story focuses on the class differences and expectations of monarchic, hierarchical Britain and the upstart, "all men are created equal" America. Twain wrote the novel with the help of phonographic dictation, the first author (according to Twain himself) to do so. This was also (according to Twain) an attempt to write a book without mention of the weather, the first of its kind in fictitious literature. Indeed, all the weather is contained in an appendix, at the back of the book, which the reader is encouraged to turn to from time to time.
Mad with jealousy, King Leontes of Sicilia orders his best friend Polixenes killed, his child abandoned, and his wife put on trial for adultery. Sixteen years later, Perdita, raised as a shepherd's daughter, falls in love with Polixenes's royal son and returns to her father's kingdom. (Temporary summary by wildemoose)
The Europeans: A sketch is a short novel by Henry James, published in 1878. It is essentially a comedy contrasting the behaviour and attitudes of two visitors from Europe with those of their relatives living in the 'new' world of New England. The novel first appeared as a serial in The Atlantic Monthly for July-October, 1878. James made numerous minor revisions for the first book publication.
Robert Benchley, 1889-1945, was a writer, humorist and actor of note during the 1920s through the early 1940s. Born in Massachusetts, he spent his early literary career in New York City as an editor, critic and columnist for many of the major magazines of the day.
Along with George Kaufman, Dorothy Parker and Harpo Marx, he was an original "member" of the Algonquin Round Table. His popularity led him to a side career in radio and film, which took him to California in his later years. Writers as diverse as James Thurber, Woody Allen and Dave Barry have credited Benchley as an influence.
Love Conquers All, originally published in 1922 is the second collection (of fifteen) gathering together Benchley's humorous essays and reviews. Some references are dated, of course, but the surreal and mundane targets of Benchley's wit will be familiar to everyone. This volume collects 63 excellent gems from his early professional work, when Benchley's enthusiasm and style were approaching their peak.
Saki (December 18, 1870 - November 14, 1916) was the pen name of the British author Hector Hugh Munro. His witty, biting and occasionally odd short stories satirised Edwardian culture. Saki is considered a master of the short story and has been compared to O. Henry and Dorothy Parker as well as Noel Coward and Oscar Wilde (who clearly influenced Saki.) His first collection of short stories, Reginald, was published by Methuen Press in 1904 though these stories first appeared in the 'Westminster Gazette'. The stories in this collection are a foil for allowing the jaded and insider/outsider figure of Reginald to comment on some ridiculous or provincial attitude prevelant in upperclass Edwardian society, although one can easily recoginize these same attitudes in our society today. Long popular and well known, Saki's brilliant humour is as enjoyable now as it was almost a century ago.
This road trip novel is set in the early twentieth century and follows the experiences of an aristocratic New Englander and her father as they travel by automobile from Minneapolis to Seattle. She is wooed and won by a noble but simple commoner she meets along the way. Lewis is at his usual wryly humorous self, poking fun at the upper class and treating the common people only slightly better.
The Wit and Humor of America is a 10 volume series. In this, the second volume, 44 short stories and poems have been gathered from 31 authors. This volume is sure to delight listeners.
Davis, Richard Harding
Miss Civilization, a one act comedy, tells the story of a young woman who matches wits with three burglars attempting to rob her house. This recording was made in Chicago at the LibriVox World Gathering in May 2007.
The Wit and Humor of America is a 10 volume series. In this, the third volume, 45 short stories and poems have been gathered from 33 authors. This volume is sure to delight listeners.
Moore, Clement Clarke
Volunteers bring you 24 recordings of A Visit From Saint Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore. More commonly known today as 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. This was the Fortnightly Poetry project for December 13th, 2009.
While a columnist for The Chicago Record humorist George Ade penned numerous “fables” which were subsequently collected into books. Fables in Slang is the first of these collections. It contains 26 satirical stories that lampoon phrenologists, idealists, snobs, fanatics and other ignorant fools of the day, most of which still wander through our modern lives. Jean Shepherd considered Ade a predecessor who made writers like James Thurber, Mike Royko, and himself possible. Fables in Slang was first published in 1899 by Herbert S. Stone and Company.
The Slant Book is literally the shape of a parallelogram, with the spine of the book running down one side. When opened, facing pages form a "V" shape. All the pictures on the slanted recto pages show a way-too-precocious infant in a carriage [the "go-cart" of yesteryear] racing downhill who has somehow gotten away from his nanny, gleefully creating havoc all along the way! The facing verso pages contain two stanzas of commentary on the charming --if alarming!-- illustrations.
This book pioneered the "special format" children's literature of today, such as pop-up books or cutout books like Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Newell books from 80 years ago have been reprinted, since Newell has undergone a resurgence in popularity much as Dr. Seuss's books did during the 1980s.
A collection of comedic short stories from the perspective of an old country man.
This book tells of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures.