No catches, no fine print just unadulterated book loving, with your favourite books saved to your own digital bookshelf.
New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop Plus lots lots more…Find out more
See below for a selection of the latest books from Classic fiction (pre c 1945) category. Presented with a red border are the Classic fiction (pre c 1945) books that have been lovingly read and reviewed by the experts at Lovereading. With expert reading recommendations made by people with a passion for books and some unique features Lovereading will help you find great Classic fiction (pre c 1945) books and those from many more genres to read that will keep you inspired and entertained. And it's all free!
This outstanding and greatly neglected novel of the war, revolution, civil war and early Bolshevik rule first appeared in English in 1930 under the title Quiet Street. At the story's centre is a family, Grandfather (an ornithologist), grandmother and grandchild living in a corner house in Sivtsey Vrazhek and it is through their experiences and those of their circle that we glimpse the surrounding momentous events. It was not the author's intention to fashion an abstract historical sweep but rather to focus on the experiences of individuals (and even some of those from the animal kingdom). For Osorgin, nature is a more powerful force in life than the solipsistic beliefs of humankind. At the heart of 'A Corner House in Moscow' is the portrait of the coming-of-age granddaughter, Tanyusha, and her development as an individual in spite of the surrounding chaos. Indeed, a host of memorable characters grace the novel including Stolnikov, the young university graduate who volunteers in 1914, becomes an officer and wins the St George Cross but ultimately loses both his arms and legs to an artillery shell. In the hospital he became known as 'the trunk'. 'The doctors said: A miracle. Just look at him. There's nature for you. ' Written in very short chapters, the wealth of the novel is in the vignettes of individuals and incidences. Cumulatively, they combine to affirm life over death and individuals over ideology.
Mary Shelley's third published novel, The Last Man, is a disillusioned vision of the end of civilization, set in the twenty-first century. The book offers a sweeping account of war, plague, love, and desolation. It is the sort of apocalyptic vision that was widespread at the time, though Shelley's treatment of the theme goes beyond the conventional; it is extraordinarily interesting and deeply moving. If The Last Man is in some sense a conventional text of the period, it is also intensely personal in its origin; Shelley refers in her journal to the last man as her alter ego, the last relic of a beloved race, my companions extinct before me. The novel thus develops out of and contributes to a network of story and idea in which fantasy, allusion, convention, and autobiography are densely interwoven. This new version of the first edition (1826) sets out to provide not only a thoroughly annotated text, but also contextual materials to help the reader acquire knowledge of the intellectual and literary milieu out of which the novel emerged. Appendices include material on the last man as early nineteenth-century hero, texts from the debate initiated by Malthus in 1798 about the adequacy of food supply to sustain human population, various accounts of outbreaks of plague, and Shelley's poems representing her feelings after the death of her husband. The Last Man reverberates particularly strongly for the late twentieth-century reader, not only because of its millennial overtones but also because of its parallels between the plague that Shelley depicts and the AIDS epidemic of our own time. Overall, it is a novel that rivals Frankenstein in the rich profusion of ideas it gives rise to in the reader.
Teresa, first published in 1886, is set in Italy's Po Valley near Cremona. The story relates the life of Teresa Caccia, an eldest daughter whose primary responsibilities at age fifteen include taking care of her younger siblings. When she falls in love, the union is deemed financially unsuitable and she's forced to spend the remainder of her youth caring for her family. Only when her brothers and sisters have left home can she emerge from her bleak existence and create her own life. Through Teresa and other women characters, Neera addressed the injustice of such societal restrictions in nineteenth-century Italy. Neera's narratives are noted for their subtle psychoanalytical presentation of feminine states of mind as well as for an unflinching examination of society.
An illiterate Calabrian in southern Italy owes money to his church and mayor. He skips town for the bustling streets of New York. Meeting an old friend, a fellow immigrant, he thanks him for help getting settled, and then steals his money. With a new parcel of wealth, he materializes from a small-time laborer into a big-time entrepreneur, soon becoming the tyrant of the local Italian American community. By pluck, luck, and unscrupulous business practices, this cunning character 'makes America'. There are riches, pleasure, and the beautiful Carmela. Then trouble. Comeuppance. Ambush. Revenge. Twenty-first century popular culture? Not at all. The Grand Gennaro , a riveting saga set at the turn of the last century in Italian American Harlem, reflects on how youthful acts of cruelty and desperation follow many to the grave. A classic in the truest sense, this operatic narrative is alive once again, addressing the question: How does one become an 'American'?
This picaresque tale, first published in 1751, was Tobias Smollett's second novel. Following the fortunes and misfortunes of the egotistical dandy Peregrine Pickle, the novel is written as a series of brief adventures with every chapter typically describing a new escapade. The novel begins with Peregrine as a young country gentleman. His mother rejects him, as do his aloof father and his dissolute, spiteful brother. Commodore Hawser Trunnion takes Peregrine under his care and raises him. Peregrine's upbringing, education at Oxford and journey to France, his debauchery, bankruptcy, jailing and succession to his father's fortune and his final repentance and marriage to his beloved Emilia all provide scope for Smollett's comic and caustic perspective on the Europe of his times. As John P. Zomchick and George S. Rousseau note in the introduction, by contrasting the genteel and the common, the sophisticated and the primal, Smollett conveys forcefully the way it felt to be alive in the middle of the eighteenth century. The introduction provides an overview of the composition and publication history of Peregrine Pickle and discusses the novel's critical reception over time by such figures as Lady Luxborough, Sir Walter Scott, Joseph Conrad and George Orwell. The text of the novel uses the first edition of 1751 as copy-text while recording the second edition's substantive variants. Included are illustrations by Thomas Rowlandson, Richard Corbould and George Cruikshank, as well as frontispieces designed by, and engraved in the style of, Henry Fuseli. A complete textual apparatus concludes the volume.
The huge man-fig tree that sits on the town square in the fictional Coastal Bend town of Thornham (probably West Columbia) is the gathering place for the town's male gossips. Under this tree reputations are made and broken, rumors are spread, and a twisted folk history of the town is created. Under the Man-Fig, by Mollie Moore Davis, a popular late-nineteenth century poet, novelist, and historian, is part romance, realism, color, and satire. The idea that men are the purveyors of gossip rings a change on the usual cliche that women are the worst rumor-mongers. Davis' main characters, drawn mostly from Victorian romance, are true to the genre, and her African Americans borrow heavily from the moonlight-and-magnolias format of many novels about the Old South. But there are many things in the novel that make it important to early Texas writing. The Juneteenth scene with its interesting center figger captures a part of folklore not often seen. And the flavor of life just north of the Texas Gulf Coast is rarely captured in fiction. In 1895, the year Under the Man-Fig was published, there was not a large body of Texas writing besides the Wild West tales published in dime novels. Davis' novel was more realistic than the shoot-em-ups that featured bold cowboys and degenerate or bloodthirsty Indians. Davis' mixture of realism and romance appealed to the audience of the times but has long since been overwhelmed by the Texas of the wild frontier.
This book features the return of popular nineteenth-century short stories of the early American frontier. The Indian Hater and Other Stories , by James Hall returns to print an important and popular writer from an often-overlooked moment in American literary history. In the decades before the Civil War, when readers and writers in both the United States and England thought about writing from the American West they thought about James Hall (1793-1867) and his stories The Indian Hater and Pete Featherton. Between 1828 and 1836, Hall wrote dozens of short stories in a wide variety of genres while working as an editor, politician, and businessman, first in frontier Illinois and after 1833 in Cincinnati. Many of his stories were immediately reprinted on both sides of the Atlantic and achieved success with both the popular audience and the critics, despite their unorthodox treatment of the frontier. Born a younger son to a prominent Philadelphia literary family, Hall first heard many of the stories that inspired his later fiction as a lawyer and judge riding the circuit in 1820s Illinois. Describing more common subjects than the sweeping narratives of James Fenimore Cooper or Francis Parkman, Hall's stories depict complex cultural collisions and exchanges: French settlers still populate his southern Illinois, and their more humane treatment of their Indian neighbors is contrasted with that of the Anglo-Americans Hall saw flooding the region; his white men are complicated and often corrupted, hardly confirmations of the myths of Daniel Boone or Cooper's Leatherstocking; his Indian characters are complex and humanized, unusual depictions in a moment of race-based Manifest Destiny; and Hall's West is simultaneously tragic, violent, comedic, and deeply conflicted. James Hall was popular and important in his moment, and his stories embody very progressive sentiments. His most famous story, The Indian Hater, is Hall's fictionalization of a real-life settler who, to avenge earlier attacks on his family, periodically hunted and murdered Indians at random. He wrote two versions of this tale, both included in the current volume, the second of which ends with a successful interracial marriage, a very controversial theme at the time. To read these stories is to rediscover an American frontier too often left out of the history books, one rendered by the hands of a master prose stylist. The lack of quality of nineteenth-century texts coupled with the growing interest in early American writers make The Indian Hater and Other Stories , by James Hall an important addition to both U.S. history and literature.
This engaging short work by a great American novelist addresses the then-controversial topic of interracial marriage. An Imperative Duty tells the story of Rhoda Aldgate, a young woman on the verge of marriage who has been raised by her aunt to assume that she is white but who is in fact the descendant of an African-American grandmother. The novel traces the struggles of Rhoda, her aunt, and Edward Olney, the aunt's physician and Rhoda's eventual suitor, to come to terms with the implications of Rhoda's ethnic heritage. Howells employs this stock situation to explore newly urgent questions of identity, morality, and social policy raised by 'miscegenation' in the new, post-Reconstruction situation to which he writes. The novel imagines interracial marriage sympathetically at a time when racist sentiment was on the rise, and does this is one of Howells' most aesthetically economical performances in the short novel form. The novel's appeal is increased by the primary source documents on nineteenth-century scientific race theory, contemporary attitudes toward race and miscegenation, and contemporary responses to the novel included in the appendices to this edition.
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) is now generally recognized as the author of two of the twentieth century's greatest literary works,To the Lighthouse and Mrs. Dalloway, both of which employ a style of narration that has come to be known as stream of consciousness because it focuses on the interior-and not always logical-movement of thought that make up the better part of most people's psyches. The Ramsays are holidaying in the Hebrides, and young James Ramsay is keen to visit a lighthouse; his father and mother respond quite differently to the idea, but his father prevails. Through this and a variety of other incidents a portrait of the family and their friends comes into focus; most clearly of all, at the family's centre, the consciousness of Mrs. Ramsay emerges. In the book's final section, Mrs. Ramsay has died, as have two of the Ramsay children-Andrew in the war, Prue in childbirth. In this sombre context, James and his father finally make the trip to the lighthouse. This Broadview edition provides a reliable text at a very reasonable price. It contains textual notes but no appendices or introduction.
In Ragged Dick, Horatio Alger's most successful book, Alger codified the basic formula he would follow in nearly a hundred subsequent novels for boys: a young hero, inexperienced in the temptations of the city but morally armed to resist them, is unexpectedly forced to earn a livelihood. The hero's exemplary struggle - to retain his virtue, to clear his name of accusations, and to gain economic independence - was the basis of the Alger plot. Hugely popular at the turn of the twentieth century, Alger's works have at different times been framed as a model for the American dream and as dangerously exciting sensationalism for young readers; Gary Scharnhorst's new introduction separates the myth of Alger as success ideologue from the more complex messages conveyed in his work. Ragged Dick is paired in this edition with Risen from the Ranks, another coming-of-age story of a young man achieving respectability. Historical appendices include extensive contemporary reviews, material on the success myth associated with Alger, and parodies of Alger's work.
Notes from the Underground is recounted from the perspective of a narrator who describes himself as sick, spiteful, and unattractive; he styles himself the Underground Man. His thoughts and his moods veer unpredictably as he reflects on himself and his world; on past, present, and future; on the folly of human idealism and the reality of human squalor and degradation. The intellectual and psychological power of the book are deeply rooted in the conflicts and contradictions that afflict the narrator-many of which seem to have afflicted Dostoevsky himself for much of the 1860s. Once attracted to idealistic and utopian notions, he now found himself repelled by them. A passionate advocate of freedom, he had little confidence that humans could use freedom for the good. The Underground Man is not a unified self, but a self-contradictory character, like his author. His bewildering complexity and relentless self-analysis make him one of the most memorable and thought-provoking protagonists of modern literature. As well as the text itself and an informative introduction, this new edition includes a selection of background documents (also newly translated), which help set the work in the cultural and intellectual context out of which it emerged.