Version Française Les Livreurs' Facebook Page Les Livreurs' Twitter Page Les Livreurs' YouTube Page Les Livreurs' SoundCloud Page  Les Livreurs on Instagram

Les Livreurs Lecteurs sonores

Lessons In Speaking Literature

An interactive seminar series giving an insight into the secrets of vocal reading. Listening to a text provides you with another way to delve into books, and reading out loud can also make you want to read in silence!

For that to happen, a live reading must faithfully respect the feelings of the author – and showcase the text, not the reader. One must thus master the art of performance reading, as the text becomes a book transmitted by sound.
The Lessons In Speaking Literature course allows you to listen to and dissect the reading performances of a range of French authors and their various literary styles. A particular focus is placed on the emotional dimension of the texts, alongside the links between the meaning and sound of words. It is through this that literary performance takes on its full meaning, and the performance reader disappears so as to let the work in question take centre stage.

The seminars can be broken down into three distinct sound issues: “How to perform a text”, “The music in books”, “Critical listening: analysing various performers”. Each issue deals with a particular point, and can be listened to individually or as part of the whole series.

Sound issue 1: How to listen to and perform a text

This seminar introduces most of the technical know-how that budding vocal readers wishing to perform various authors or speak about literature in public must master.

It explains how readers must proceed technically when approaching a lyrical text, a text made up of dialogue, an inner monologue, a fight scene or an explanatory text; and equally reveals the most common errors people make, such as by reading in a neutral, unimaginative or repetitive manner, or by miming their performances. Learning how to read out loud really works on your diction and ability to read to an audience of listeners.

Sound issue 2: The music in books

This seminar reveals how performance readers go about presenting their audiences with the most sensitive performance possible of a given text, and how they take a back seat so as to advantage the author and allow listeners to construct their own imagery as the text unfolds before their ears.

Through the vocal analysis of a typical passage, this seminar-show demonstrates how the meaning and sound of an author’s work are linked together; as well as drawing attention to the sensual and emotional dimensions of a text. Like when analysing a particular detail contained within a painting, studying the sound of a passage allows you to focus on those parts of a text that sometimes go unnoticed when it is first read in silence.

The explanations given are illustrated by performance readings of texts by some of the French literary greats (Artaud, Diderot, Queneau, Proust).

Sound issue 3: Listening to a book read by various performers in a critical manner

This seminar analyses, comments on and compares various literary readings taken from commercial recordings.

It allows you to listen to others in a critical manner and use your ears to study the slant taken in the making of a recorded work for a booming audiobook market. The analysis is based on listening to extracts read by lesser or well-known actors, or of texts being read by their authors. The seminar also reveals the different ways of “conducting” literature. Are musical accompaniments and sound effects necessary to successfully showcase a text?

Musical and vocal reading special: Bach and Proust

with a reader (Bernhard Engel) and a violoncellist (Xavier Phillips)

In this unique session, as part of our seminar series entitled “Lessons In Speaking Literature”, we offer you the chance to compare the differences or similarities that one comes across when trying to perform a piece of literature (In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust), or music (Sarabande by Jean-Sébastien Bach).
A reader (Bernhard Engel) and a violoncellist (Xavier Phillips) reveal how they go about presenting their audiences with the most accurate performances possible of Proust and Bach, as well as the links uniting the meaning and sound of the works to be studied. Akin to an analysis focusing on a single detail contained within a painting, this study placing an emphasis on sound allows you to consider the full richness of the works in question, which you do not always gain when listening to a piece for the first time.
The explanations provided are illustrated by readings and violoncello pieces.

Selection of 12 seminars: How to read and perform a particular author

Preparatory work is needed to achieve any reading performance. Reading out a certain author’s work as opposed to others’ raises particular issues that Les Livreurs can make you aware of. In this seminar series, each reading is preceded by an explanation given by the reader to justify the way in which they have developed their final performance (focusing on dramaturgy, character psychology, rhythm etc.). Like guests watching the preparation of a dish they will go onto taste, you the listener will come to understand how the reader-performer goes about stimulating your sound buds.

  1. Little Red Riding Hood by Charles Perrault
  2. Fables by Jean de La Fontaine
  3. Dangerous Liaisons by Choderlos de Laclos
  4. Jacques the Fatalist by Denis Diderot
  5. Father Goriot by Honoré de Balzac
  6. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  7. The Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
  8. A Country Outing by Guy de Maupassant
  9. In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower by Marcel Proust
  10. First Love by Samuel Beckett
  11. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
  12. Story of My Life by Casanova


Other outlets for reading aloud include Félix Libris’ lively performances, as well as those on offer in our Ready-To-Read Section and during our various literary events, such as the Bal à la Page (Ball On The Books).