Imagine hearing Will Shakespeare read one of his sonnets to you. How about Dickens regaling listeners with a reading from Oliver Twist? Proust, reciting in French about those madeleines? That would require a time-traveler willing to schlep around a whole lot of not-yet-invented recording equipment. But for some authors of the more recent past, it is possible to listen to them speak their own words thanks to the an idea dreamed up by Lynne and Harry Schwartz in 1962.
As Susan Stamberg reports in this Morning Edition feature from today’s show, the Schwartz’s, both avid readers, were taken with the recordings of very established authors–Dylan Thomas and T. S. Eliot for instance–and realized that there were younger, less established authors who might want to cut recordings. And, so in 1962, the project was launched. Among the first writers they record were James Baldwin, Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud and John Updike. Lynne and Harry’s original recordings were released in 1963. Now, they’re being re-issued on CDs and audio files as Calliope Author Readings.
Listen to the whole story here.
Picture above: James Baldwin was the first in a series of authors Harry and Lynne Sharon Schwartz recorded.