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Frankenstein's Monster learned to read from Volney's "The Ruins", and I've created the first audiobook of it ever!
Frankenstein's Monster learned to read from Volney's "The Ruins", and I've created the first audiobook of it ever!
73 backers pledged $1,373 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Ever wondered how Frankenstein's Creature learned to speak?

He listened to an impoverished professor reading aloud and explaining one of the greatest books of the Enlightenment.

Those of you who recently saw the brilliant Frankenstein/Creature role swap done by Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller will remember that De Lacey used Paradise Lost to teach the Creature to read.

Cumberbatch and Miller in Frankenstein
Cumberbatch and Miller in Frankenstein

Actually, in Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein, the Creature learned from a book called The Ruins, or Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires, by Constantin François de Chassebœuf, comte de Volney.

I love audiobooks, and I realized that no one has ever done an audiobook of The Ruins! This rich and magical book, a source for art we love and even our own political freedoms, is in danger of being forgotten.

So over the last several months, I have been recording the audiobook of Volney’s greatest work for the first time ever in human history!

I hope you want to learn about the rise and fall of empires the same way that Frankenstein’s Creature did. I need your support to finish the recording, redo some of the first chapters, and get a sound engineer and editor to turn this from digital recordings into an audiobook! Back my project and spread the word, and together we will bring a lost treasure of the Enlightenment to audiobook and to the world!

Share this project at http://bit.ly/volney!

Meditation On The Revolutions Of Empires

The Ruins is a philosophical dialogue, written to illustrate the difference between the ideals of the Enlightenment and the despair of pre-Revolutionary France in particular, and the violence of the global class system in general. The Narrator looks out over the world, talks to a Genius of the Human Spirit, and encourages humanity to cast off the shackles of preconceived status and the tyranny of hereditary aristocracy.

"The narrator meets a spirit whilst contemplating the ruins of a long lost civilization."
"The narrator meets a spirit whilst contemplating the ruins of a long lost civilization."

He condemns the callousness of a world where a few people control vast quantities of wealth and keep their subordinates, slaves, and servants ignorant and poor. Sound familiar? It influenced generations of thinkers and helped to bring about the French Revolution. It was a foundational text for the American Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson translated The Ruins into English secretly, since he was afraid that associating with Volney's rational and atheist thought would harm his chances in the 1800 presidential elections.

Volney is one of my favorite people, ever. He traveled the world, spoke a dozen languages, did field research, was friends with Thomas Jefferson, founded a secret society, and created his own name from Voltaire and Ferney.  He may have been a French Enlightenment philosopher, but he was definitely a Renaissance man. He collaborated on game theory, cryptography, and economics with the Marquis de Condorcet. The Prix Volney is awarded by the Academie Francaise to the best work of comparative philology each year. He was a politician who narrowly escaped execution in the French Revolution. Napoleon made him a count, then a senator. In his later years, he learned Sanskrit with Alexander Hamilton, the British linguist. I keep a picture of him on my wall to remind me to create every day!

Constantin François de Chassebœuf, comte de Volney
Constantin François de Chassebœuf, comte de Volney

He's one of my heroes, and I want this project to be a credit to him! Let's work together to bring one of the great foundational political and philosophical texts of the Enlightenment to the world!

As Volney says: "I will teach thy reason that knowledge thou seekest; I will reveal to thee the science of ages!"

http://thetarah.com/volney-kickstarter/

Stretch Goals!

***$1750***

I'll make a shippable CD set available for purchase at a self-publishing site so that people who want physical media can get it.

***$2500***

Holy cow, we're doing amazing! I will send the audiobook free to all these schools for the blind: • Council of Schools for the Blind (COSB) • Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind • Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind • Arkansas School for the Blind • California School for the Blind • Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind • Connecticut Institute for the Blind/Oak Hill • Florida School for the Deaf and Blind • Georgia Academy for the Blind • Governor Morehead School-North Carolina • The Hadley School for the Blind • Idaho School for the Deaf and the Blind • Illinois School for the Visually Impaired • Indiana School for the Blind • Iowa Braille School • Kansas School for the Blind • Kentucky School for the Blind • Los Angeles Blind Children's Center • Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired • Maryland School for the Blind • Michigan School for the Blind • Minnesota State Academy for the Blind • Mississippi School for the Blind • Missouri School for the Blind • Children Center for the Visually Impaired - Kansas City • Montana School for the Deaf and Blind • Nebraska Center for the Education of the Blind • New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired • New York Institute for Special Education • The New York State School for the Blind • North Dakota School for the Blind • Ohio State School for the Blind • Oklahoma School for the Blind (Parkview School) • Oregon School for the Blind • Overbrook School for the Blind • Perkins School for the Blind • South Carolina School for the Deaf/Blind • South Dakota School for the Visually Handicapped • St. Joseph's School for the Blind • St. Lucy Day School for Children with Visual Impairments • Susquehanna Association for the Blind and Vision Impaired (SABVI) • Tennessee School for the Blind • Utah School for the Deaf and Blind • Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind • Virginia School for the D/B at Hampton • Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind-Staunton • Washington State School for the Blind • Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children • West Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind • Wisconsin School for the Visually Impaired

***?????????***

I have some more ideas for stretch goals, so let's just see how this goes! I'll add the next stretch goal each time you all unlock one!

Risks and challenges

1. I've run and fulfilled a much, much bigger Kickstarter than this already. See it here! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tarahwheelervanvlack/ladycoders-get-hired-seattle-2012

2. I will be sending out the rewards as soon as we reach any stretch goal extras, such as edits or re-recording!

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    **RECEIVE PROJECT UPDATES!** Also, your name in the Thank You section on the project page!

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    **AUDIO BOOK - EARLY BACKERS!** You get the audiobook! Receive a torrent file and URL to download the book + all previous!

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    Pledge $13 or more About $13

    **AUDIO BOOK!** You get the audiobook! Receive a torrent file and URL to download the book + all previous!

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    **YOU’RE IN THE BOOK!** I’ll read your name and thank you personally in the acknowledgments + all previous!

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    **PAY IT FORWARD!** I’ll donate a copy of the audiobook in your name to your educational institution of choice + all previous! You’ll need to provide the contact info.

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    **DEDICATED TO YOU!** I’ll dedicate the entire thing to you and read a sentence of 20 words or less thanking you and your company + all previous!

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Funding period

- (30 days)