08 February 2009

"The Classic Tales" by B.J. Harrison

There is a certain attitude that many of us have toward classic literature.  We know we're supposed to respect it, that it has artistic value, blah, blah, blah.  Because we generally encounter it only in a classroom setting--and involuntarily, to boot--the chasm between us and classic lit. widens.  Enter B.J. Harrison and The Classic Tales.

Harrison is an avid, if not devout, worshipper at the altar of classic literature.  He has taken it upon himself to record audio narrations of some of the finest works of fiction in the Western world.  Each Friday, he posts a new episode in his series.  Sometimes they are short stories, sometimes a larger work broken into weekly parts; always, they are professionally produced.  A year ago, all episodes were available for download free of charge; now, Harrison moves them to Audible.com and charges a modest fee after the episodes have been available for roughly a month.  Podcast subscribers can keep up with current (and subsequent) episodes free ad infinitum.  Visit The Classic Tales website, where you can download current episodes, as well as a handful of site exclusives.

Occasionally, Harrison posts to the "Poetry Corner" (previous recordings include Walt Whitman's "The Road Not Taken"), the "Short Story Spotlight" (Heather Zundel's "The Cry of the Immortals") and the "Special Podcast" section (Clement C. Moore's "T'was the Night Before Christmas").  Recently, Harrison also made available the first in a planned series of screensavers, wherein a photograph of select authors appears, and you have a moment or so to identify him or her before the identity is revealed in the next slide.  The podcast series is a fixture of bedtime for my wife and myself, and we have become great fans of P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves stories (the character upon whom Ask.com's logo was based).

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