Saturday, January 13, 2007

A modern twist on an ages-old tradition

E. has been studying the Middle Ages this year, and as part of her studies she has read some medieval literature and writings, such as excerpts from (the venerable) Bede and adaptations of Canterbury Tales. After my recent fun with Librivox (free audiobooks), I decided to have her listen to Beowulf.

Long ago, few people could read or write. Even those privileged to know how to read could rarely afford to own books, as they were painstakingly transcribed by hand and incredibly expensive. It was the age of the oral story, and traditional stories were past down through generations, told and retold around the fire. I believe Beowulf comes out of that tradition, and so I thought listening to it orally might enhance the medieval experience of the tale.

Of course, she downloads the audio to her computer and listens to a recording, but so far it's working well. She said that sometimes she doesn't understand a word that is used, but it doesn't affect her understanding of the story. It appears to be one of the highlights of her week. Too bad she listens upstairs and I don't get to hear it, too!

I really like audiobooks for long car trips, for the treadmill or long walks, and definitely for something to occupy my mind while I'm doing crafts or handwork. I think the folks at Librivox have come up with an uncommonly generous idea, so kudos to them, and thanks to all the readers who read for the stories we've enjoyed.


At 5:53 PM , Blogger Dominion Family said...

Seamus Heaney has a recording of excerpts of his own rendering of Beowulf. His Irish voice is so lovely. It is 2.5 hours, I think , but you have to buy it.


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