Hear Classic Readings of Poe’s “The Raven” by Vincent Price, James Earl Jones, Christopher Walken, Neil Gaiman & More

It can seem that the writ­ing of lit­er­a­ture and the the­o­ry of lit­er­a­ture occu­py sep­a­rate great hous­es, Game of Thrones-style, or even sep­a­rate coun­tries held apart by a great sea. Per­haps they war with each oth­er, per­haps they stu­dious­ly ignore each oth­er or oblique­ly inter­act at tour­na­ments with acronymic names like MLA and AWP. Like Thomas Pynchon’s char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of the polit­i­cal right and left, schol­ars and writ­ers rep­re­sent oppos­ing poles, the hot­house and the street. That rare beast, the aca­d­e­m­ic poet, can seem like some­thing of a uni­corn, or drag­on.

…Or like the omi­nous talk­ing raven in Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous of poems.

The divide between the­o­ry and prac­tice is a recent devel­op­ment, a prod­uct of state bud­get­ing, polit­i­cal brinks­man­ship, the relent­less pub­lish­ing mills of acad­e­mia that force schol­ars to find a pigeon­hole and stay there.… In days past, poets and scholar/theorists fre­quent­ly occu­pied the same place at the same time—Wallace Stevens, T.S. Eliot, Samuel Tay­lor Coleridge, Per­cy Shel­ley, and, of course, Poe, whose peren­ni­al­ly pop­u­lar “The Raven” serves as a point-by-point illus­tra­tion for his the­o­ry of com­po­si­tion just as thor­ough­ly as Eliot’s great works bear out his notion of the “objec­tive cor­rel­a­tive.”

Poe’s object, the tit­u­lar crea­ture, is an “arche­typ­al sym­bol,” writes Dana Gioia, in a poem that aims for what its author calls a “uni­ty of effect.” In his 1846 essay “The Phi­los­o­phy of Com­po­si­tion,” Poe the poet/theorist tells us in great detail how “The Raven” sat­is­fies all of his oth­er cri­te­ria for lit­er­a­ture as well, such as achiev­ing its intent in a sin­gle sit­ting, using a repeat­ed refrain, and so on.

Should we have any doubt about how much Poe want­ed us to see the poem as the delib­er­ate out­come of a con­cep­tu­al scheme, we find him three years lat­er, in 1849, the year of his death, deliv­er­ing a lec­ture on the “Poet­ic Prin­ci­ple,” and con­clud­ing with a read­ing of “The Raven.”

John Mon­cure Daniel of the Rich­mond Semi-Week­ly Exam­in­er remarked after attend­ing one of these talks that “the atten­tion of many in this city is now direct­ed to this sin­gu­lar per­for­mance.” At that point, Poe, who hard­ly made a dime from “The Raven,” had to suf­fer the indig­ni­ty of hav­ing all of his work go out of print dur­ing his brief, unhap­py life­time. Mon­cure and the Exam­in­er there­by fur­nished read­ers “with the only cor­rect copy ever pub­lished,” pre­vi­ous appear­ances, it seems, hav­ing con­tained punc­tu­a­tion errors.

Nonethe­less, for all of Poe’s pedantry and penury, “The Raven“ ‘s first appear­ances made him semi-famous. His read­ings were a sen­sa­tion, and it’s a sure bet that his audi­ences came to hear him read the poem, not deliv­er a lec­ture on its prin­ci­ples. Oh, for some pro­to-Edi­son in the room with an ear­ly record­ing device. What would it be like to hear the mourn­ful, grief-strick­en, alco­holic genius—master of the macabre and inven­tor of the detec­tive story—intone the raven’s enig­mat­ic “Nev­er­more”?

While Poe’s speak­ing voice has reced­ed irre­triev­ably into his­to­ry, his poet­ic voice may live close to for­ev­er. So mes­mer­iz­ing are his meter and dic­tion that many great actors known espe­cial­ly for their voic­es have become pos­sessed by “The Raven.”

Like­ly when we think of the poem, what first comes to the mind’s ear is the voice of Vin­cent Price, or James Earl Jones, Christo­pher Lee, or Christo­pher Walken, all of whom have giv­en “The Raven” its due.

And so have many oth­er nota­bles, such as the great Stan Lee, Poe suc­ces­sor Neil Gaiman, orig­i­nal Gomez Addams actor John Astin, and ven­er­a­ble Beat poet/scholar Anne Wald­man (lis­ten here). You will find those recita­tions here at this round-up of notable “Raven” read­ings, and if this some­how doesn’t sati­ate you, then check out Lou Reed’s take on the poem, the Grate­ful Dead’s musi­cal trib­ute, “Raven Space,” or a read­ing in 100 dif­fer­ent celebri­ty impres­sions.

Final­ly, we would be remiss not to men­tion The Simp­sons’ James Earl Jones-nar­rat­ed par­o­dy, a wor­thy teach­ing tool for dis­tract­ed young visu­al learn­ers. Is it a shame that we now think of “The Raven” as a Hal­loween yarn fit for the Tree­house of Hor­ror or any num­ber of enjoy­able exer­cis­es in spooky oratory—rather than the the­o­ret­i­cal thought exper­i­ment its author seemed to intend? Does Poe rotis­serie in his grave as Homer snores in a wing­back chair? Prob­a­bly. But as the author told us him­self at length, the poem works! It still nev­er fails to excite our mor­bid curios­i­ty, enchant our goth­ic sen­si­bil­i­ty, and maybe send a chill or two down the spine. Maybe we nev­er real­ly need­ed Poe to explain it to us.

Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in 2017. We’re bring­ing it back for Hal­loween.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Gus­tave Doré’s Splen­did Illus­tra­tions of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” (1884)

The Raven: a Pop-up Book Brings Edgar Allan Poe’s Clas­sic Super­nat­ur­al Poem to 3D Paper Life

A Read­ing of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” in 100 Celebri­ty Voic­es

Edgar Allan Poe’s the Raven: Watch an Award-Win­ning Short Film That Mod­ern­izes Poe’s Clas­sic Tale

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Hear Neil Gaiman Read A Christmas Carol Just Like Charles Dickens Read It

In Christ­mases past, we fea­tured Charles Dick­ens’ hand-edit­ed copy of his beloved 1843 novel­la A Christ­mas Car­ol. He did that hand edit­ing for the pur­pos­es of giv­ing pub­lic read­ings, a prac­tice that, in his time, “was con­sid­ered a des­e­cra­tion of one’s art and a low­er­ing of one’s dig­ni­ty.” That time, how­ev­er, has gone, and many of the most pres­ti­gious writ­ers alive today take the read­ing aloud of their own work to the lev­el of art, or at least high enter­tain­ment, that Dick­ens must have sus­pect­ed one could. Some writ­ers even do a bang-up job of read­ing oth­er writ­ers’ work: mod­ern mas­ter sto­ry­teller Neil Gaiman gave us a dose of that when we fea­tured his recita­tion of Lewis Car­rol­l’s “Jab­ber­wocky” from mem­o­ry. Today, how­ev­er, comes the full meal: Gaiman’s telling of A Christ­mas Car­ol straight from that very Dick­ens-edit­ed read­ing copy.

Gaiman read to a full house at the New York Pub­lic Library, an insti­tu­tion known for its stim­u­lat­ing events, hol­i­day-themed or oth­er­wise. But he did­n’t have to hold up the after­noon him­self; tak­ing the stage before him, BBC researcher and The Secret Muse­um author Mol­ly Old­field talked about her two years spent seek­ing out fas­ci­nat­ing cul­tur­al arti­facts the world over, includ­ing but not lim­it­ed to the NYPL’s own col­lec­tion of things Dick­en­sian. You can hear both Old­field and Gaiman in the record­ing below. But per­haps the great­est gift of all came in the form of the lat­ter’s attire for his read­ing: not only did he go ful­ly Vic­to­ri­an, he even went to the length of repli­cat­ing the 19th-cen­tu­ry lit­er­ary super­star’s own severe hair part and long goa­tee. And School Library Jour­nal has pic­tures. The sto­ry real­ly gets start­ed around the 11:00 mark. Gaiman’s read­ing will be added to our list of Free Audio Books. You can find the text of Dick­ens’ clas­sic here.

Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in Decem­ber 2014.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

An Oscar-Win­ning Ani­ma­tion of Charles Dick­ens’ Clas­sic Tale, A Christ­mas Car­ol (1971)

Charles Dick­ens’ Hand-Edit­ed Copy of His Clas­sic Hol­i­day Tale, A Christ­mas Car­ol

Hear Charles Dick­ens’ A Christ­mas Car­ol Read by His Great-Grand­daugh­ter, Mon­i­ca

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Hear Moby Dick Read in Its Entirety by Tilda Swinton, Stephen Fry, John Waters & Many Others

Moby-Dick is the great Amer­i­can nov­el. But it is also the great unread Amer­i­can nov­el. Sprawl­ing, mag­nif­i­cent, deliri­ous­ly digres­sive, it stands over and above all oth­er works of fic­tion, since it is bare­ly a work of fic­tion itself. Rather, it is an explo­sive expo­si­tion of one man’s inves­ti­ga­tion into the world of the whale, and the way humans have relat­ed to it. Yet it is so much more than that.”

That’s how Ply­mouth Uni­ver­si­ty intro­duces Her­man Melville’s clas­sic tale from 1851. And it’s what set the stage for their web project launched back in 2012. Called The Moby-Dick Big Read, the project fea­tured celebri­ties and less­er known fig­ures read­ing all 135 chap­ters from Moby-Dick — chap­ters that you can start down­load­ing (as free audio files) on iTunesSound­cloud, RSS Feed, or the Big Read web site itself.

The project start­ed with the first chap­ters being read by Til­da Swin­ton (Chap­ter 1), Cap­tain R.N. Hone (Chap­ter 2), Nigel Williams (Chap­ter 3), Caleb Crain (Chap­ter 4), Musa Okwon­ga (Chap­ter 5), and Mary Nor­ris (Chap­ter 6). John WatersStephen Fry, Simon Cal­low, Mary Oliv­er and even Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron read lat­er ones.

If you want to read the nov­el as you go along, find the text over at Project Guten­berg.

Til­da Swin­ton’s nar­ra­tion of Chap­ter 1 appears right below:

An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in 2012.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

An Illus­tra­tion of Every Page of Her­man Melville’s Moby Dick

How Ray Brad­bury Wrote the Script for John Huston’s Moby Dick (1956)

Hear a Com­plete 24-Hour Read­ing of Moby-Dick, Record­ed at the South­bank Cen­tre in Lon­don (2015)

What’s the Best Audio Book You’ve Ever “Read”?

Image by Knop­per

We were look­ing for a good audio­book. So we asked our friends on Twit­ter for their audio­book rec­om­men­da­tions, and recom­men­da­tions we got. Good ones, and more than a few.  So we thought we would share the twit­ter thread/recommendations with you.

I, Claudius nar­rat­ed by Nel­son Runger; Loli­ta read by Jere­my Irons; Last Chance Tex­a­co by Rick­ie Lee Jones; The Ili­ad as read by Alfred Moli­na; The Odyssey read by Ian McK­ellen; Anna Karen­i­na nar­rat­ed by Mag­gie Gyl­len­haal, and the list goes on.

If you find any titles you like, you can always sign up for a free tri­al with Audible.com.

Please feel free to add any of your own favorites to the com­ments sec­tion below. Enjoy…

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent 

1,000 Free Audio Books: Down­load Great Books for Free

Hear Neil Gaiman Read Aloud 15 of His Own Works, and Works by 6 Oth­er Great Writ­ers: From The Grave­yard Book & Cora­line, to Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven & Dick­ens’ A Christ­mas Car­ol

Hear Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch Read­ing Let­ters by Kurt Von­negut, Alan Tur­ing, Sol LeWitt, and Oth­ers https://www.openculture.com/2022/01/hear-benedict-cumberbatch-reading-letters-by-kurt-vonnegut-alan-turing-sol-lewitt-and-others.html

Hear Aldous Huxley Narrate His Dystopian Masterpiece, Brave New World

The CBS Radio Work­shop was an “exper­i­men­tal dra­mat­ic radio anthol­o­gy series” that aired between 1956 and 1957. And it start­ed with style–with a dra­ma­tized adap­ta­tion of Brave New World, nar­rat­ed by Aldous Hux­ley him­self. The broad­cast aired on Jan­u­ary 27 and Feb­ru­ary 3 1956.  The remain­ing 84 pro­grams in the CBS Radio Work­shop series drew on the work of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, James Thurber, H.L. Menck­en, Mark Twain, Robert Hein­lein, Eugene O’Neil, Balzac, Carl Sand­burg, and so many more. You can hear many of those episodes online here.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent

Aldous Hux­ley Pre­dicts in 1950 What the World Will Look Like in the Year 2000

When Aldous Hux­ley, Dying of Can­cer, Left This World Trip­ping on LSD, Expe­ri­enc­ing “the Most Serene, the Most Beau­ti­ful Death” (1963)

Aldous Hux­ley Tells Mike Wal­lace What Will Destroy Democ­ra­cy: Over­pop­u­la­tion, Drugs & Insid­i­ous Tech­nol­o­gy (1958)

Aldous Hux­ley to George Orwell: My Hell­ish Vision of the Future is Bet­ter Than Yours (1949)


Hear Sherlock Holmes Stories Read by The Great Christopher Lee

The extend­ed Sher­lock Holmes Uni­verse, as we might call it, has grown so vast in the last cen­tu­ry (as with oth­er fran­chis­es that have uni­vers­es) that it’s pos­si­ble to call one­self a fan with­out ever hav­ing read the source mate­r­i­al. Depend­ing on one’s per­sua­sion, this is either heresy or the inevitable out­come of so much medi­a­tion by Holme­sian high priests, none of whom can resist writ­ing Holmes fan fic­tion of their own. But Sher­lock­ians agree: the true Holmes Canon (yes, it’s cap­i­tal­ized) con­sists of only 60 works — 56 short sto­ries and four nov­els, exclud­ing apoc­rypha. No more, no less. (And they’re in the pub­lic domain!)

The Canon safe­guards Arthur Conan Doyle’s work against the extra-volu­mi­nous flood of pas­tichists, par­o­dists, and imposters appear­ing on the scene since Holmes’ first appear­ance in 1892. (Doyle per­son­al­ly liked Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie’s Holmes par­o­dy, “The Adven­ture of the Two Col­lab­o­ra­tors,” so much he includ­ed it in his auto­bi­og­ra­phy.) The Holmes Canon remains untouch­able for its wit, inge­nu­ity, and the true strange­ness of its detec­tive — a por­trait of per­haps the most emo­tion­al­ly avoidant pro­tag­o­nist in Eng­lish lit­er­a­ture when we first meet him:

All emo­tions, and [love] par­tic­u­lar­ly, were abhor­rent to his cold, pre­cise but admirably bal­anced mind. He was, I take it, the most per­fect rea­son­ing and observ­ing machine that the world has seen, but as a lover he would have placed him­self in a false posi­tion. He nev­er spoke of the soft­er pas­sions, save with a gibe and a sneer. They were admirable things for the observer—excellent for draw­ing the veil from men’s motives and actions. But for the trained rea­son­er to admit such intru­sions into his own del­i­cate and fine­ly adjust­ed tem­pera­ment was to intro­duce a dis­tract­ing fac­tor which might throw a doubt upon all his men­tal results. Grit in a sen­si­tive instru­ment, or a crack in one of his own high-pow­er lens­es, would not be more dis­turb­ing than a strong emo­tion in a nature such as his.

How to make such a cold fish com­pelling? With a host of quirks, an inge­nious mind, a “Bohemi­an soul,” some unsa­vory qual­i­ties, and at least one or two human attach­ments, if you can call them that. Sherlock’s cold, log­i­cal exte­ri­or masks con­sid­er­able pas­sion, inspir­ing fan the­o­ries about an ances­tral rela­tion­ship to Star Trek’s Spock.

But of course, we see Holmes almost entire­ly through the eyes of his side­kick and amanu­en­sis, James Wat­son, who has his bias­es. When Holmes stepped out of the sto­ries and into radio and screen adap­ta­tions, he became his own man, so to speak — or a series of lead­ing men: Basil Rath­bone, John Giel­gud, Ian McK­ellen, Michael Caine, Robert Downey, Jr., Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch, and the late Christo­pher Lee, who played not one of Doyle’s char­ac­ters, but four, begin­ning with his role as Sir Hen­ry Baskerville, with Peter Cush­ing as Holmes, in a 1959 adap­ta­tion.

In 1962, Lee took on the role of Holmes him­self in a Ger­man-Ital­ian pro­duc­tion, Sher­lock Holmes and the Dead­ly Neck­lace, an orig­i­nal sto­ry based on Doyle’s work. He played Holmes’ smarter but unmo­ti­vat­ed old­er broth­er, Mycroft, in 1970, then played a much old­er Holmes twice more in the 90s, paus­ing along the way for the role of Arnaud, a char­ac­ter in anoth­er Doyle adap­ta­tion, The Leather Fun­nel, in 1973 and the nar­ra­tor of a 1985 Holmes doc­u­men­tary, The Many Faces of Sher­lock Holmes. In an extra­or­di­nary career, Lee became an icon in the worlds of hor­ror, sci­ence fic­tion, fan­ta­sy, and Sher­lock Holmes, a genre all its own, into which he fit per­fect­ly.

In the videos here, you can hear Lee read four of the last twelve Holmes sto­ries Doyle wrote in the final decade of his life. These were col­lect­ed in 1927 in The Case-Book of Sher­lock Holmes. We begin, at the top, with the very last of the 56 canon­i­cal sto­ries, “The Adven­ture of Shoscombe Old Place.”  Lee may nev­er have played Dr. Wat­son, but we can imag­ine him bring­ing his famil­iar grav­i­tas to that role, too, as he nar­rates in his deep mel­liflu­ous voice. Find links to 7 more sto­ries from Doyle’s last col­lec­tion, read by Lee, on Metafil­ter, and hear him nar­rate The Many Faces of Sher­lock Holmes, just below.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Arthur Conan Doyle Names His 19 Favorite Sher­lock Holmes Sto­ries

Hor­ror Leg­end Christo­pher Lee Reads Bram Stoker’s Drac­u­la

Sher­lock Holmes Is Now in the Pub­lic Domain, Declares US Judge

Read the Lost Sher­lock Holmes Sto­ry That Was Just Dis­cov­ered in an Attic in Scot­land

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Hear an Excerpt from the Newly-Released, First Unabridged Audiobook of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake

Need one go so far in dig­ging out stra­ta of mean­ing? Only if one wish­es to; Finnegans Wake is a puz­zle, just as a dream is a puz­zle, but the puz­zle ele­ment is less impor­tant than the thrust of the nar­ra­tive and the shad­owy majesty of the char­ac­ters… and when our eyes grow bewil­dered with strange roots and incred­i­ble com­pounds, why, then we can switch on our ears. It is aston­ish­ing how much of the mean­ing is con­veyed through music: the art of dim-sight­ed Joyce is, like that of Mil­ton, main­ly audi­to­ry. — Antho­ny Burgess

Finnegans Wake is not typ­i­cal­ly one of those books peo­ple pre­tend they have read, and even when they have read James Joyce’s last nov­el, no one’s like­ly to bring it up at din­ner. It seems like mak­ing sense of Joyce’s poly­glot prose — full of pecu­liar coinages and port­man­teaus — takes spe­cial train­ing and the kind of ded­i­ca­tion and nat­ur­al poly­math­ic tal­ents few read­ers pos­sess. Crit­ic, com­pos­er, lin­guist, poet, screen­writer, play­wright, and nov­el­ist Antho­ny Burgess was one such read­er, spend­ing decades study­ing Joyce and pub­lish­ing his first book on the Irish writer, Here Comes Every­body, in 1965.

Burgess pub­lished two more Joyce books, edit­ed a short­er Finnegans Wake with his own crit­i­cal com­men­tary, and released doc­u­men­tary films about the nov­el, a book he made more approach­able with his plain-spo­ken sum­maries. From the start, in the intro­duc­tion to his first Joyce book — and against the evi­dence of most everyone’s expe­ri­ence with Finnegans Wake — Burgess insist­ed read­ing Joyce was not a rar­i­fied pur­suit. “If ever there was a writer for the peo­ple,” Burgess argued, “Joyce was that writer.”

What’s impor­tant to keep in mind, Burgess empha­sizes, even over and above con­sid­er­a­tions of mean­ing, is the music of Joyce’s lan­guage. One might go so far as to say, the book is noth­ing but lan­guage that must be read aloud, and, crit­i­cal­ly, sung. “[Joyce’s] writ­ing is not about some­thing,” wrote Samuel Beck­ett. “It is that some­thing itself… . When the sense is sleep, the words go to sleep… When the sense is danc­ing the words dance.”

That quote comes from the lin­er notes of the very first unabridged com­mer­cial audio­book record­ing of Finnegans Wake, read by Irish actor Bar­ry McGov­ern (hand­picked by the Joyce estate), with Mar­cel­la Rior­dan. You can hear an excerpt fur­ther up, the first five para­graphs of the book, open­ing with the famous sen­tence frag­ment, “river­run, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a com­mod­ius vicus of recir­cu­la­tion back to Howth Cas­tle and Envi­rons.” Rolling Stone writes:

As it pro­gress­es, McGov­ern expert­ly nav­i­gates seem­ing­ly unpro­nounce­able words like “bababadal­gharagh­takam­mi­nar­ronnkonnbron­nton­nerronntuon­nthun­ntrovar­rhounawn­skawn­toohooho­or­de­nen­thur­nuk” (which con­tains 100 char­ac­ters) and he enun­ci­ates every con­so­nant in Joyce’s unusu­al word inven­tions like “duskt.”

Yes, in print, it’s daunt­ing stuff, but we should remem­ber that for all Finnegans Wake’s lin­guis­tic com­plex­i­ty, its attempts to cap­ture all of human his­to­ry, its illus­tra­tions of the obscure the­o­ries of Giambat­tista Vico and Gior­dano Bruno and so forth, at its heart, wrote Burgess, is song, which gave the book its title.

“Finnegan’s Wake” is a New York Irish bal­lad which tells of the death of Tim Finnegan, a builder’s labour­er who, fond of the bot­tle, falls drunk from his lad­der… This bal­lad may be tak­en as demot­ic res­ur­rec­tion myth and one can see why, with its core of pro­fun­di­ty wrapped round with the lan­guage of ordi­nary peo­ple, it appealed so much to Joyce. 

Joyce, the singer and lover of song, heard it every­where he went, and it’s in every bewil­der­ing sen­tence and para­graph of Finnegans Wake. Hear the entire book, read unabridged for the first time, in the new record­ing, released on June 16th, Blooms­day, by Nax­os Audio­books. Free alter­na­tive ver­sions can be found below…

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake Gets Turned into an Inter­ac­tive Web Film, the Medi­um It Was Des­tined For

Hear a Read­ing of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake Set to Music: Fea­tures 100+ Musi­cians and Read­ers from Across the World

Hear James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake Read Unabridged & Set to Music By 17 Dif­fer­ent Artists

Hear All of Finnegans Wake Read Aloud: A 35 Hour Read­ing

1,000 Free Audio Books: Down­load Great Books for Free

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451: A Free Reading by Featuring Neil Gaiman, William Shatner, Susan Orlean & More

Today, the world cel­e­brates the 100th anniver­sary of Ray Brad­bury’s birth­day. And, to mark the occa­sion, Neil Gaiman, William Shat­ner, Susan Orlean & many oth­ers will host a read­ing of Brad­bury’s clas­sic book, Fahren­heit 451.

The online spe­cial, like the book, is sep­a­rat­ed into three parts, each intro­duced by Librar­i­an of Con­gress Car­la Hay­den. The voic­es of librar­i­ans, notable authors, actors, schol­ars, and stu­dents are book­end­ed by the open­ing and clos­ing read­ings from Neil Gaiman and William Shat­ner. The spe­cial includes com­men­tary by Ann Druyan, direc­tor and co-author of Cos­mos, an after­word by Susan Orlean, author of The Library Book, and a spe­cial appear­ance and read­ing by for­mer NASA astro­naut and admin­is­tra­tor Charles F. Bold­en Jr.

You can watch the videos the read­ing  the videos above and below. The videos should be avail­able until Sep­tem­ber 5th.

Part 2

Part 3

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Why Should We Read Ray Bradbury’s Fahren­heit 451? A New TED-Ed Ani­ma­tion Explains

Ray Brad­bury Reveals the True Mean­ing of Fahren­heit 451: It’s Not About Cen­sor­ship, But Peo­ple “Being Turned Into Morons by TV”

Father Writes a Great Let­ter About Cen­sor­ship When Son Brings Home Per­mis­sion Slip to Read Ray Bradbury’s Cen­sored Book, Fahren­heit 451

An Asbestos-Bound, Fire­proof Edi­tion of Ray Bradbury’s Fahren­heit 451 (1953)

New Edi­tion of Ray Bradbury’s Fahren­heit 451 That’s Only Read­able When You Apply Heat to Its Pages: Pre-Order It Today

A Teas­er Trail­er for Fahren­heit 451: A New Film Adap­ta­tion of Ray Bradbury’s Ever-Rel­e­vant Nov­el

Hear Ray Bradbury’s Clas­sic Sci-Fi Sto­ry Fahren­heit 451 as a Radio Dra­ma

More in this category... »
Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.