I’ve been using and abusing Gutenberg.org a lot lately. It’s a web site dedicated to public domain books, mostly in English but there is variety in other languages too including Beowulf in Old English. You can basically find anything you want that was published before 1923. They have ebook formats, pdfs, html documents, and a lot of audio books submitted by supporters. All the classics are there.
I’ve been reading Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan and John Carter of Mars books to the kids at bed time. I loved those books as a kid and now despite limited library space and an unwillingness to store any more books in this house, I can read the classics to my heart’s content.
So here’s the work flow: Download a book at gutenberg.org, open it up in konqueror or firefox and when you come upon a strange archaic word pop it into your kdict public domain dictionary reader and peruse several different definitions and usage entries. I’m simply amazed at how awesome the public domain is and how many volunteers have come together to make it all possible. Consider donating to gutenberg.org.
I just noticed that the character of Tarzan went into the public domain in 1998. Is it a coincidence that Disney’s movie was released in 1999? Hmmm.