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´╗┐Title: Audio Reading of Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire
Author: Gibbon, Edward
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Audio Reading of Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire" ***

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Reading Of Edward Gibbon's Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire.


A First Venue of Excuses, Denials, and Disclaimers.

Let me say at the outset that those who expect this complete audio
rendering of Gibbon's historical and literary masterpiece to be
an epitome of perfect, pear-shaped, dropped -"r" Oxbridge English
may be disappointed.  I believe there is such an "audiobook"
edition available commercially, but it isn't free.  Experimenting
some years ago with the text-to-speech software then available, I
thought it would be very funny, the private joke of a modern American
barbarian, to have the "little stuffed voices" rendering, in their
innocent and patient way, the imposing yet effervescent bulk of
Gibbon's magnificent and immortal marble-pillared prose.  To my
amazement, if not to the credit of my taste, I've found this shotgun
wedding of sound and sense quite harmonious, vital, and durable
through many years of repeated listening.  I find that the voices,
unembodied and wooden at first audit, but softer, incarnate,
personalized by acclimatization, pack more expression and clarity
of diction into a few megabytes of software than is exhibited by
most humans I hear these days, except for trained entertainment
professionals and seasoned barroom raconteurs.  I propose that the
relentless yet measured deadpan delivery, the ironic contrast of
unwitting voice and worldly wise content, is a plausible fit to the
objective, slightly distant facade of Gibbon's dense and rational,
waste-no-word, 18th century style; a foil to his balanced tone,
restrained despite dudgeon, covering a tale that is, face it, in its
majority, a mordant chronicle, incarnadined--my favorite period
bon mot--by battle, gore, and treachery. Of itself Gibbon's voluminous
tragedy--the framework imposed by historians of his time--allows
us only the occasional adrenal or comic relief by means of an essay
on the basics of Roman jurisprudence, the topography of Arabia, or
the absurdities and impossibilities of early Christian theology,
not to mention the priceless vituperation against the "Greeks" at
the end of Chapter 53.

Perhaps the jest went too far.  I wound up producing the entirety
of the work, consuming much more time and energy than if I, or some
other carbon-based unit, had simply armed ourselves with microphone
and recorder, then intrepidly hacked our way toward throat cancer,
through all 120-odd hours of the reading.  But that's water under
the bridge.  I took the (immense) trouble to teach the well-meaning
but naive programs improved pronunciations of over 4.000 words,
mostly proper names, British spellings, and 18th century archaisms.
Having some background in Catholic Church Latin, and two years of
(forced) Latin in high school, but no classical scholar, I can only
vouch that I did the best I could within my hobbyist limitations.
In cases of extremely obscure items such as "Goisvintha"--a Gothic
queen; or "Geougen"--a collective noun, like "herd" or "squad", to
describe a certain group of Tartaric barbarians, I've settled for
what sounded, to my part-time poet's ear, euphonious and consistent
with the flow of the line.  I've heard tapes of classical scholars
rendering academically correct Latin, but, to venture arrogance,
neither they nor the Church ever convinced me that anyone except
prelates, scholars, and perhaps an affected upper crust ever
actually spoke that way.  How else explain French?  I'd give a lot
to bounce through Latium once per century from 600 B.C through the
first millennium of our era in order to hear authentic village or
"street" Latin.

One notices that at Chapter 39 a different voice takes over through
to the end of the work.  For this there are two major reasons.
Firstly, the product of the original voice required some extensive,
and excruciatingly time-consuming digital audio processing to remove
crudities of the speech engine, such as a harsh rasp, which even
yet breaks through on occasion.  Secondly, the production of all
six volumes occupied the occasional parts of three or four years,
during which time a much improved speech engine became available.
Back then I did not envision a public audience for the work, and
so was not hobbled by considerations of consistency.  The new voice
was smoother, endowed with a much more "intelligent" engine, AND
DID NOT CRASH EVERY TWENTY MINUTES!  For those interested, the
softwares are the two final versions of Monologue, created by First
Byte Software.  I do not believe it is any more available to the

There are various types of flaws in this rendering, some correctible,
some not--at least not very easily or conveniently.  Certain errors
persist because I recall they exist, but not where.  Now, I don't
have the time or inclination to reaudit all 120 hours of the reading
in order to flush them out. You are welcome to try, or even to
email me, at the address below, their nature and whereabouts.  I
will collect such reports and maybe someday repair the faults.
Better yet, do it yourself (See below)!  There are a very, very few
errors of garbled audio that arose during the conversion to .mp3.
I do not believe they inhibit understanding of the contextual
passage.  But once again, you tell me.  Other errors arise because
the programs were not smart enough to recognize and discriminate
among some of the tricky ambiguities and homonymic mimeses of
English. Sometimes "lives" is pronounced incorrectly relative to
context, noun versus verb.  Other examples in this category are
"minute", "rebel(s)", "lead", "read", and "present".  There are
occasional renderings of "...part i" -(roman numeral one) as "...part
eye".  I tried to eliminate that by reformatting the source text,
but obviously missed in some cases.  The historian Procopius' name
is occasionally rendered "Procompanyius" because of an obstinacy
about expanding abbreviations I could not completely--Gibbon's
favorite term--extirpate.  In some few other cases there are
obviously erroneous or awkward pronunciations of words, especially
of French proper and place names.  Frankly, I'm proud the little
beasts do as well as they do in the continental tongue.  Let me
say that although I tried assiduously, and even systematically to
eliminate errors (having written a program that scanned the source
text for words "new" to the speech software), the product of
Gibbon's twenty year labor is in itself an empire of English, in
which I have yet to travel every byway.  Each successive chapter
contained literally many hundreds of new words that had not appeared
even in his own previous chapters!  Finally, some deep errors
arise because the source text itself, Doctrine Publishing Corporation's Gibbon,
contains some flaws.

In sum, what began in levity, then developed into a protracted,
private, and informal labor of love, is now offered to the public as
a first draft, a Gutenberg "xxxxx10.mp3", mostly correct, of that
rare entertainment, dramatic scholarship, rendered into the charismatic
medium of the spoken word.  The justification of its unredeemed
state is that for now, granting the superiority of perfection,
if available, there is yet much value in any reasonably integral
creation especially if the alternative is nothing.  To anyone who
reads this, listens to the material, finds blemishes, and cares, I
will be happy to send you, in your thousands, the software, gratis
save cost of materials and shipping, enabling you to make your own
corrections, which you can then share with us all.

David Ceponis
Berkeley, California
September 05, 2002

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Audio Reading of Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire" ***

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