Saturday, October 31, 2009

Listen to "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving

"In the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad expansion of the river denominated by the ancient Dutch navigators the Tappan Zee, and where they always prudently shortened sail and implored the protection of St. Nicholas when they crossed, there lies a small market town or rural port, which by some is called Greensburgh, but which is more generally and properly known by the name of Tarry Town. This name was given, we are told, in former days, by the good housewives of the adjacent country, from the inveterate propensity of their husbands to linger about the village tavern on market days. Be that as it may, I do not vouch for the fact, but merely advert to it, for the sake of being precise and authentic...."
Click the little horn and listen to Washington Irving's famous ghost story, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," at PublicLiterature.org Many of the classics on this site have linked to audio books from Libravox.org. You can even volunteer to be a reader.
First published in 1820, Washington Irvings's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and the companion tale "Rip Van Winkle" (1819) are still enjoyed today. You can also listen to the actor Walter Huston read adaptations of both stories at Kiddie Records Weekly.
I think that Washington Irving's "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" bears a suspicious resemblance to Robert Burns's 1790 narrative poem "Tam O'Shanter." I think that's called "artistic license." Read the poem and then listen to David Daiches of Edinburgh University read "Tam O'Shanter" (#4) and see what you think!
For a stroll down memory lane, check out other offerings at Kiddie Records Weekly. The site notes:
Many of these recordings were extravagant Hollywood productions on major record labels and featured big time celebrities and composers.
For example, check out Sidney Greenstreet's portrayal of the madman Montresor in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" (week 21), or "The Sorcerer's Apprentice for Children." Kiddie Records observes:
Although French composer Paul Dukas' 1897 symphonic poem was already quite well known and popular, it was made particularly famous by it's inclusion in the 1940 Walt Disney animated film, Fantasia. Today, few can hear the piece without picturing Mickey Mouse dressed in a red robe and his master's magical hat.
Public Literature.org includes an audio version of H.G. Wells's Halloween sci-fi favorite "War of the Worlds" (1898) and Mary Shelly's Gothic novella Frankenstein (1818). The Wikipedia entry notes that Shelly's novel "is often considered the first fully realised science fiction novel due to its pointed, if gruesome, focus on playing God by creating life from dead flesh."
You may also enjoy listening to Jane Austen's parody of the Gothic, Northanger Abbey. Wikipedia notes:
The most famous parody of the Gothic is Jane Austen's novel Northanger Abbey (1818) in which the naive protagonist, after reading too much Gothic fiction, conceives herself a heroine of a Radcliffian romance and imagines murder and villainy on every side, though the truth turns out to be much more prosaic. Jane Austen's novel is valuable for including a list of early Gothic works since known as the Northanger Horrid Novels.
One of my favorite stories is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Final Problem," which is included in the audio version of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. Wikipedia has an interesting entry about this story and a link to "The Final Problem." You can listen Basil Rathbone read the story here. You can listen to Basil Rathbone read other Sherlock Holmes stories at the Internet Archive.

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