- Sonnets on Anglo-Saxon History by Ann Hawkshaw
- Ecclesiastical History of England by The Venerable Bede.
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LibriVox recording of Sonnets on Anglo-Saxon History, by Ann Hawkshaw.
Read by eggs4ears.
The history of Britain up to the Norman Conquest in the form 100 prose commentaries, each followed by a sonnet. The commentaries set the historical scene, quoting from Bede, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and noted historians of the times, Hawkshaws sonnets are both imaginative and reflective, often casting new light on historical figures and events. Born in Yorkshire, Ann Hawkshaw spent much of her creative life in Manchester, where her husband John Hawkshaw was elected to Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society and, as a friend of Elizabeth Gaskell, she was drawn into the intellectual and literary circle of the city. ( Phil Benson)
LibriVox recording of Ecclesiastical History of England, by The Venerable Bede, translated by A. M. Sellar. Read by volunteer readers. Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of England is a work in Latin by Bede on the history of the Christian Churches in England, and of England generally; its main focus is on the conflict between Roman and Celtic Christianity. It is considered to be one of the most important original references on Anglo-Saxon history. It is believed to have been completed in 731, when Bede was approximately 59 years old. Divided into five books, it covers the history of England, ecclesiastical and political, from the time of Julius Caesar to the date of its completion (731). The History of the English Church and People has a clear polemical and didactic purpose. Bede sets out, not just to tell the story of the English, but to advance his views on politics and religion. In political terms he is a partisan of his native Northumbria, amplifying its role in English history over and above that of Mercia, its great southern rival. While Bede is loyal to Northumbria, he shows an even greater attachment to the Irish and the Irish Celtic missionaries, whom he considers to be far more effective and dedicated than their rather complacent English counterparts. His final preoccupation is over the precise date of Easter, which he writes about at length. It is here, and only here, that he ventures some criticism of St Cuthbert and the Irish missionaries, who celebrated the event, according to Bede, at the wrong time. In the end he is pleased to note that the Irish Church was saved from error by accepting the correct date for Easter. (Summary modified from Wikipedia)
This is a LibriVox recording of the Commentaries on the Laws of England, Book 1, by William Blackstone.
The Commentaries on the Laws of England are an influential 18th century treatise on the common law of England by Sir William Blackstone, originally published by the Clarendon Press at Oxford, 1765-1769.
The Commentaries were long regarded as the leading work on the development of English law and played a role in the development of the American legal system. They were in fact the first methodical treatise on the common law suitable for a lay readership since at least the Middle Ages. The common law of England has relied on precedent more than statute and codifications and has been far less amenable than the civil law, developed from the Roman law, to the needs of a treatise. The Commentaries were influential largely because they were in fact readable, and because they met a need. The work is as much an apologia for the legal system of the time as it is an explanation; even when the law was obscure, Blackstone sought to make it seem rational, just, and inevitable that things should be how they were. (Summary from Wikipedia.)
LibriVox recording of Two Treatises of Civil Government, by John Locke.
The Two Treatises of Civil Government is a work of political philosophy published anonymously in 1689 by John Locke.
The First Treatise is an extended attack on Sir Robert Filmer’s Patriarcha, which argued for a divinely-ordained, hereditary, absolute monarchy. The more influential Second Treatise outlines a theory of civil society based on natural rights and contract theory. Locke begins by describing the “state of nature,” and goes on to explain the hypothetical rise of property and civilization, asserting that the only legitimate governments are those which have the consent of the people.
Locke’s ideas heavily influenced both the American and French Revolutions. His notions of people’s rights and the role of civil government provided strong support for the intellectual movements of both revolutions. (Summary adapted from Wikipedia)
This is a LibriVox recording of an Essay on the Trial by Jury, by Lysander Spooner. Read by Bethanne.
FOR more than six hundred years that is, since Magna Carta, in 1215 there has been no clearer principle of English or American constitutional law, than that, in criminal cases, it is not only the right and duty of juries to judge what are the facts, what is the law, and what was the moral intent of the accused; but that it is also their right, and their primary and paramount duty, to judge of the justice of the law, and to hold all laws invalid, that are, in their opinion, unjust or oppressive, and all persons guiltless in violating, or resisting the execution of, such laws.
So begins Spooner’s epic on the jury, its origins and history. Spooner examines the history and powers of a jury, from the magna carta in King John’s time, to the practices in the 18th century. A classic work on law, Spooner argues that the decision of the jury is sovereign over the king’s law. (Summary by Bethanne)
LibriVox recording of William the Conqueror, by Jacob Abbott.
There are certain names which are familiar, as names, to all mankind; and every person who seeks for any degree of mental cultivation, feels desirous of informing himself of the leading outlines of their history, that he may know, in brief, what it was in their characters or their doings which has given them so widely-extended a fame. Consequently, great historical names alone are selected; and it has been the writer’s aim to present the prominent and leading traits in their characters, and all the important events in their lives, in a bold and free manner, and yet in the plain and simple language which is so obviously required in works which aim at permanent and practical usefulness. This volume is dedicated to William the Conqueror. (Summary from the preface of the book)
LibriVox recording of “Life of Alfred the Great” by Asser, Bishop of Sherborne, translated by J. A. Giles, and read by R. S. Steinberg.
A life of King Alfred of England originally composed in Latin, possibly sometime around 888 A.D. by the Monk and Bishop Asser, although some scholars contend that the work was actually composed much later by an unknown hand. (Summary by Douglas B. Killings)
Gilbert Keith Chesterton was a prolific writer on many topics. His views of history were always from the standpoint of men and their interactions, and it may fairly be said he saw all of history as a battle between civilization and barbarism. So it has always been, and that remains true even today.
“But it is especially in the matter of the Middle Ages that the popular histories trample upon the popular traditions. In this respect there is an almost comic contrast between the general information provided about England in the last two or three centuries, in which its present industrial system was being built up, and the general information given about the preceding centuries, which we call broadly medieval.”
As this quotation taken from the Introduction clearly shows, he is no mere pedant reciting dry dates and locations, but a profound thinker flooding new light onto those modern “myths” that have filled our historys. He is a master of paradox, and the techique of reducing his opponents arguments to the logical absurdity they have inherent in them. He often turns them upside down. All of which makes his work both a sound subject for reflection and highly entertaining all the while it remains permanently timely.(Summary by Ray Clare)
LibriVox recording of The History of London, by Walter Besant. Read by Ruth Golding.
Walter Besant was a novelist and historian, and his topographical and historical writings, ranging from prehistoric times to the nineteenth century, were probably best known through the detailed 10-volume Survey of London published after his death.
This earlier single volume covers, in less depth, the whole period from prehistory until the 19th century. The book appears originally to have been written for boys, and, indeed, the chapters are called “Lessons”. However, it is a very readable history and provides a fascinating insight into both London’s past and the government of the City at the time the book was written (1894). (Summary by Ruth Golding)
This tripartite essay, published variously as On the Popular Judgment (J. Richardson trans.), On the Old Saw (E.B. Ashton trans.), or On the Common Saying (both M.J. Gregor and H.B. Nisbet), Kant takes up the issue of the relation of theory to practice in three distinct ways. In the first, he replies to Christian Garve’s criticism of his moral theory, in the second, he distances himself from Thomas Hobbes, and in the third, Moses Mendelssohn. The three taken together are representative of the breadth of Kant’s moral and political thought; the first section being concerned with the dividual, the second with the state, and the third with the species. Although this is, on the whole, a difficult piece to approach, the second and third sections are often read as a way into Kant’s political thought, and serve this purpose well, especially when read alongside his Perpetual Peace. (Summary by D.E. Wittkower)
LibriVox recording of Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse. Translated by Gunther Olesch, Anke Dreher, Amy Coulter, Stefan Langer and Semyon Chaichenets. Read by Adrian Praetzellis.
Siddhartha is one of the great philosophical novels. Profoundly insightful, it is also a beautifully written story that begins as Siddhartha, son of an Indian Brahman, leaves his family and begins a lifelong journey towards Enlightenment. On the way he faces the entire range of human experience and emotion: he lives with ascetics, meets Gotama the Buddha, learns the art of love from Kamala the courtesan, and is transformed by the simple philosophy of the ferryman Vasudeva whose wisdom comes not from learned teachings but from observing the River. Herman Hesse (1877-1962) was a German-Swiss novelist, poet, and painter. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1946. (Summary by Adrian Praetzellis)
Librivox recording of the The Twilight of the Idols or How to Philosophise with the Hammer by Friedrich Nietzsche. Read by D.E. Wittkower.
Of The Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche says in Ecce Homo: “If anyone should desire to obtain a rapid sketch of how everything before my time was standing on its head, he should begin reading me in this book. That which is called ‘Idols’ on the title-page is simply the old truth that has been believed in hitherto. In plain English, The Twilight of the Idols means that the old truth is on its last legs.”
Certain it is that, for a rapid survey of the whole of Nietzsche’s doctrine, no book, save perhaps the section entitled “Of Old and New Tables” in Thus Spake Zarathustra, could be of more real value than The Twilight of the Idols. Here Nietzsche is quite at his best. He is ripe for the marvellous feat of the transvaluation of all values.
Nowhere is his language – that marvellous weapon which in his hand became at once so supple and so murderous – more forcible and more condensed. Nowhere are his thoughts more profound. But all this does not by any means imply that this book is the easiest of Nietzsche’s works. On the contrary, I very much fear that unless the reader is well prepared, not only in Nietzscheism, but also in the habit of grappling with uncommon and elusive problems, a good deal of the contents of this work will tend rather to confuse than to enlighten him in regard to what Nietzsche actually wishes to make clear in these pages. (Excerpt from A. Ludovici’s Preface)
LibriVox recording of A Practical Guide to Self-Hypnosis, by Melvin Powers. Read by Andrea Fiore.
This book is written in terms that are comprehensible to the layman. The step-by-step instructions should afford the reader a means of acquiring self-hypnosis. The necessary material is here. The reader need only follow the instructions as they are given. It is the author’s hope that you will, through the selective use of self-hypnosis, arrive at a more rewarding, well-adjusted, and fuller life. (Summary from A Practical Guide to Self-Hypnosis)
LibriVox recording of ‘Complete Hypnotism, Mesmerism, Mind-Reading and Spiritualism’, by A. Alpheus.
Written in 1903, just sixty years after the word ‘hypnotism’ was coined, this book explores the contemporary understanding of the nature, uses and dangers of the technique. Hypnotism has been practiced for many centuries, but it was in the mid-to-late nineteenth century that it became a particularly fashionable way to explore the human mind. Although understanding of the subject has evolved considerably over subsequent years, this book remains a fascinating insight into a technique once thought to be at the forefront of medical science. (summary by Stuart Bell)
Librivox recording of The Mind and the Brain by Alfred Binet, F. Legge, editor. Read by LibriVox Volunteers.
“This book is a prolonged effort to establish a distinction between what is called mind and what is called matter. Nothing is more simple than to realise this distinction when you do not go deeply into it; nothing is more difficult when you analyse it a little. At first sight, it seems impossible to confuse things so far apart as a thought and a block of stone; but on reflection this great contrast vanishes, and other differences have to be sought which are less apparent and of which one has not hitherto dreamed.” (from The Mind and the Brain)