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ヘレン・ケラー "The Story of My Life"をLibriVoxに掲載



LibriVox (http://librivox.org)は、パブリックドメインの好きな本を音読してネットでアクセスできるようにしちゃおう、というプロジェクト。音読を趣味とする人たちがこんなコミュニティを作って活動していることは心強い。ボランティアたちが集まってこういう巨大システムを構築・運営してしまうエネルギーには驚かされる。日本とはやっぱ違うな、このへんは。長い本だろうが複数の読み手やプルーフ・リスナーを募ってプロジェクト形式でオーディオブック化してしまう、というのはなかなか面白い発想だ。でも僕はソロ形式で読み通すのが好きなので、今回はその形でプロジェクトを提案して参加させてもらった。(テストとして、以前ここでも掲載したH.G. WellsのThe Country of the BlindをSF短編集プロジェクト032(Short Science Fiction Collection 032、http://librivox.org/short-science-fiction-collection-032/に投稿してみたが、その時もフレンドリーな感触だった。)


ついでに、第12章のオーディオを掲載しておく。エンディングは前に紹介したThe Diving Bell and the Butterflyの一節を思わせる。

Chapter XII

After my first visit to Boston, I spent almost every winter in
the North. Once I went on a visit to a New England village with
its frozen lakes and vast snow fields. It was then that I had
opportunities such as had never been mine to enter into the
treasures of the snow.

I recall my surprise on discovering that a mysterious hand had
stripped the trees and bushes, leaving only here and there a
wrinkled leaf. The birds had flown, and their empty nests in the
bare trees were filled with snow. Winter was on hill and field.
The earth seemed benumbed by his icy touch, and the very spirits
of the trees had withdrawn to their roots, and there, curled up
in the dark, lay fast asleep. All life seemed to have ebbed away,
and even when the sun shone the day was

Shrunk and cold,
As if her veins were sapless and old,
And she rose up decrepitly
For a last dim look at earth and sea.

The withered grass and the bushes were transformed into a forest
of icicles.

Then came a day when the chill air portended a snowstorm. We
rushed out-of-doors to feel the first few tiny flakes descending.
Hour by hour the flakes dropped silently, softly from their airy
height to the earth, and the country became more and more level.
A snowy night closed upon the world, and in the morning one could
scarcely recognize a feature of the landscape. All the roads were
hidden, not a single landmark was visible, only a waste of snow
with trees rising out of it.

In the evening a wind from the northeast sprang up, and the
flakes rushed hither and thither in furious melee. Around the
great fire we sat and told merry tales, and frolicked, and quite
forgot that we were in the midst of a desolate solitude, shut in
from all communication with the outside world. But during the
night the fury of the wind increased to such a degree that it
thrilled us with a vague terror. The rafters creaked and
strained, and the branches of the trees surrounding the house
rattled and beat against the windows, as the winds rioted up and
down the country.

On the third day after the beginning of the storm the snow
ceased. The sun broke through the clouds and shone upon a vast,
undulating white plain. High mounds, pyramids heaped in fantastic
shapes, and impenetrable drifts lay scattered in every direction.

Narrow paths were shoveled through the drifts. I put on my cloak
and hood and went out. The air stung my cheeks like fire. Half
walking in the paths, half working our way through the lesser
drifts, we succeeded in reaching a pine grove just outside a
broad pasture. The trees stood motionless and white like figures
in a marble frieze. There was no odour of pine-needles. The rays
of the sun fell upon the trees, so that the twigs sparkled like
diamonds and dropped in showers when we touched them. So dazzling
was the light, it penetrated even the darkness that veils my

As the days wore on, the drifts gradually shrunk, but before they
were wholly gone another storm came, so that I scarcely felt the
earth under my feet once all winter. At intervals the trees lost
their icy covering, and the bulrushes and underbrush were bare;
but the lake lay frozen and hard beneath the sun.

Our favourite amusement during that winter was tobogganing. In
places the shore of the lake rises abruptly from the water's
edge. Down these steep slopes we used to coast. We would get on
our toboggan, a boy would give us a shove, and off we went!
Plunging through drifts, leaping hollows, swooping down upon the
lake, we would shoot across its gleaming surface to the opposite
bank. What joy! What exhilarating madness! For one wild, glad
moment we snapped the chain that binds us to earth, and joining
hands with the winds we felt ourselves divine!

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