Turning Tables

I belong to a literary group, comprised – including retired profs of literature, history and philosophy – mainly of very educated priest friends and a pair of physicians. Over years we have read through all the Divine Comedy, some Milton. we are now focused on T.S Eliot.

We read aloud, discuss, and then enjoy a nice meal. We in the penultimate sessiuncula we drilled into The Cocktail Party.

And so I delved into interlibrary loan and obtained LPs of the original cast recording! At first the library said they would not request it if I did not have a record player but I said I had access.

The disks came from a small remote college library – what an amazing service. Then I forgot them at home as I hit the road.

I was going to play and record them digitally. Returning home I found my disks on the chair where I left them.

With two days left on my loan I wondered what to do. Then I remembered years ago clearing out old stuff from the house… among them an old LP cassette deck system.

Digging, I found it fired it up and am now happily listening and recording so that I can review it again.

It is a work of extraordinary depth and wit, as one would expected from the greatest English language poet of the 20th century.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. supertradmom says:

    You might be interested in an old movie in black and white of “Murder in the Cathedral”, which I showed students many years ago at Notre Dame. It is 16mm, I think, but it was shown in cinemas, which may mean that it is another size of film.

  2. Mary says:

    Would you take Yeats for second greatest, Father?

  3. Thomas says:

    Poor Gilbert Chesterton ignored again!

    Father Z, have you read Thomas Howard’s DOVE DESCENDING? It’s his book on Eliot’s Four Quartets.

    Supertradmom, any info on if/where that movie of MURDER IN THE CATHEDRAL is available? It’d be a great bookend to BECKET.

  4. Many years ago, I was privileged to hear a recording of Eliot reading “The Wasteland.” Many of my fellow undergrads thought that listening to the reading was a pointless waste of time. Yet there was something mysterious and beautiful in Eliot’s rendering of the poem.

    I usually hate it when poets read their own work because some of them are not that great as readers. But listening to Eliot reading forced me to reassess the poem itself.

  5. supertradmom, here is what Netflix has:

    Pizzetti and Raimondi: Murder in the Cathedral
    (2007) NR
    The grisly assassination of archbishop Thomas Becket plays out surrounded by the splendor of Bari’s Basilica di San Nicola in this first-ever film recording of Ildebrando Pizzetti’s “Murder in the Cathedral,” based on the play by T.S. Eliot. Italian bass-baritone Ruggero Raimondi stars as Becket, with support from Saverio Fiore, Filippo Bettoschi, Elia Fabbian and Massimo Polverari as the king of England.

    Available onDVD

  6. Br Juniper: Many of my fellow undergrads thought that listening to the reading was a pointless waste of time.

    Then they would be silly prats, and the prof sillier for not helping them to hear what is really going on.

  7. supertradmom says:

    The version I saw was British, with British actors…Interesting.

    I have tapes of JRR Tolkien reading from his book to some friends before the publication of TLOR; also, Eliot reading some of his poetry; Auden reading some of his; and David Jones reading from his works. I also have a tape of Dylan Thomas at a reading in America somewhere. These all came either from old BBC recordings, private recordings, or old records which have disappeared. I should put these on CDs but do not know how. Any help?

  8. Cathguy says:

    Not to be a stickler or anything, but did father say he got these from the library and made digital copies of them?

    Umm… that would be theft…. see Bishop Lori’s examination of conscience put out by the Knights of Columbus and various copyright laws.


    You can’t make digital copies and enjoy things to which you do not own the rights. If I were to rent a CD or a LP of great music, rip it to MP3, and then return the original, my right to enjoy that original left with the copy of the original I had access to.

    Likewise, you cannot buy a CD, rip it to MP3, sell the CD, and keep the music.

    Even if you argue that such activity isn’t theft from a moral perspective, the laws governing this sort of behavior are just laws, and therefore as Catholics we are bound to obey them.

    One can’t do this.

    Now… I am not striving to be judgmental or mean here. I’ve been there. I used to have a HUGE and VOLUMINOUS jazz and classical collection. I started to make MP3 copies and unload my originals. Then, a friend explained the law, and I checked the examination of consciences I had at had. End result? I deleted each and every MP3 file I had if I did not own the original on CD or LP. I lost 100s of recordings, and was out well over a thousand dollars, but I slept good that night knowing that I had put my faith into action despite the fact it hurt, and was now in line with the law (both natural and civil).

    Thou shalt not steal.

  9. supertradmom says:

    I agree and try to teach the young persons in my little circle that they cannot do this. We must be good examples.

  10. Christa says:

    Not to quibble, but I think Father has the right to copy for his own use, as long as he doesn’t distribute it to others.

    It’s the same thing as copying a movie onto DVD. If you are only using it yourself, then any fee you paid covers it. If you are going to show it to others, particularly for profit, it is THEN that you violate the law.

    Or I could be wrong, which wouldn’t be the first time!

  11. W. Schrift says:


    Are you sure? For purely private enjoyment, I thought that it wasn’t illegal. It’s tantamount to making a back-up of a DVD for if the original is damaged. As far as I’m aware, the FBI only prohibits the copying of these media for personal gain, or if security measures are circumvented in the copying of the media.

    In any case, the idea that making a copy of something to listen to later is an infringement of natural law seems too ridiculous to accept. Civic law might make undue demands of us in the name of upholding a natural law, but I can’t seem to equate the two in this situation. That is, if that’s the law, I just can’t see how it’s a just one.

    If you buy a book, photocopy some of it, and then sell the book, do you have to burn the photocopies? Talk about scruples.

  12. Cathguy says:

    No Christa, that is incorrect. But it is a common misconception, so you shouldn’t feel bad about being incorrect. I held that misconception too at one point.

    I am not a lawyer, and this shouldn’t be taken as legal advise. However, Catholic principles apply here.

    You can make a tape for yourself of a CD, LP, or video original (or a CD if you are using one of those CD burners that only takes CDRMusics and is a part of the stereo component system) as these fall under a special exemption to the copyright laws. The same exemption DOES NOT apply to computers. By all means Fr. could keep the tapes, just not the MP3s made from them. The only reason that he can keep the tapes is that it is not prosecutable under copyright law due to the exemption.

    But even with this exception, would it be moral to do so? The principle you argue falls apart when you apply it to something other than music: you can’t steal goods so long as you decide not to pass them on to someone else.

    It is a sin if (with full knowledge of course) you use a file sharing service, rent from the library, borrow from a friend, and retain a digital copy for yourself to enjoy. You are stealing from the artists, the record company, and any relevant copy-right holders, including in the case of old material, the heirs of the composers etc.

    Consider: would you think it was alright to borrow a book from the library and photo-copy the entire thing to keep?

    Music lends itself to theft given modern technology… that doesn’t make it not theft.

  13. Michael Kramer says:

    I couldn’t find instructions on this so I’ll post here to get help. I have something for Father Z to post. How can I send to him if its something like that. Just email it or is there a special method for that?

  14. Cathguy says:

    W. Shrift,

    If you bought the original and were making a back-up copy for yourself, you would be correct. If you never purchased a copy for yourself, and then kept the original for private enjoyment, that is stealing. That is what taking something for private enjoyment that you didn’t pay for means.

  15. Cathguy: Pretty preachy tonight! o{]:¬)

    I think a personal recording of LP from 1956, not ever redistributed in any other form that I can find – nor to be by me – is within the fair use foreseen by the relevant statutes.

    Also, if the copyright had expired on the book, you could copy the whole thing.

  16. Brian says:

    What format did you rip the tracks to? mp3, .flac, or .ogg (the last two can hold more data and deliver a more accurate copy)
    BTW, copyright law in this country is a joke, totally at the service of big business. Singing a catchy advertising slogan? fine and dandy! Singing a popular song you head on the radio? pay for permission or else risk damnation!
    Besides, a decades old vinyl recording of Eliot reading a poem? are you kidding me? it’s not like Fr. Z is making copies of Madonna and selling them out the back of a van in Midtown.

  17. Cathguy says:

    W Shrift,

    If you copied parts of the book that would be okay. If you photo-copied the whole thing no.

    Thou shalt not steal. There is no justification for taking music you didn’t pay for, whether from napster or anywhere else.

    Even if you purchased the music and made a back-up copy on MP3 (this is FINE TO DO) you MUST retain the original and not sell it. As soon as you get money for selling the original you have sold the “license” to that music as it were.

    You are stealing from the artist. And no, just because it is easy and commonly done, it doesn’t make it okay. Trust me. I lost 1000s of dollars stepping up to the plate and refusing to steal music this way.

    Under the examination of conscience put out by Bishop Lori it specifically says “Have you pirated music, software, etc.” right after asking about plagarism.

    You can’t pirate music.

  18. W. Schrift says:


    But he rented it from a public library. There’s no obligation to pay for something that comes from a public library. It’s not like he went to a book store with a copy machine and started photocopying the books there.

    Dunno. I can see where you’re coming from here, but these are murky waters. I guess it’s better to err on the side of caution.

    And to Michael Kramer, just email it to him. Clear subject heading, make sure there’s documentation or a (live) link, and keep it short.

  19. I will shut this down now, since Cathguy has taken us down the rabbit hole.

    This might be an interesting discussion for another entry, in a more focused way, with the help of people who actually understand the questions to be asked.

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