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Frances Burnett Hodgson's novel The Secret Garden is both intriguing and uplifting. It is regarded as one of the best children's books written in the twentieth century. Mary Lennox, a sickly ten year old girl, adrift in the world after both her mother and father die is sent to Yorkshire to live with an uncle whom she has never met, at his isolated house, Misselthwaite Manor. Initially Mary is seen as a rude, aggressive and selfish child. She dislikes her new home and the people living in it. But now the scene is set for her transformation and the introduction of the author's engaging theme of rejuvenation and renewal. In exploring the grounds Mary finds the key to the locked garden which is neglected and overrun with weeds. She sets her mind to bringing it back to life. In doing so, Mary finds a purpose and an excitement in her lonely existence. However, apart from the garden, there are other secrets to be revealed at Misselthwaite Manor such as the strange cries in the night and the identity of Colin, a disabled boy, whom she discovers in the hidden bedroom. The popularity of this novel bears witness to its universal appeal and its timeless hold on the imagination.
The Little Prince is a modern fable, and for readers far and wide both the title and the work have exerted a pull far in excess of the book's brevity. Written and published first by Antoine de St-Exupery in 1943, only a year before his plane disappeared on a reconnaissance flight, it is one of the world's most widely translated books, enjoyed by adults and children alike. In the meeting of the narrator who has ditched his plane in the Sahara desert, and the little prince, who has dropped there through time and space from his tiny asteroid, comes an intersection of two worlds, the one governed by the laws of nature, and the other determined only by the limits of imagination. The world of the imagination wins hands down, with the concerns of the adult world often shown to be lamentably silly as seen through the eyes of the little prince. While adult readers can find deep meanings in his various encounters, they can also be charmed back to childhood by this wise but innocent infant. This popular translation contains the author's own delightful illustrations, bringing to visual life the small being at the tale's heart, and a world of fantasy far removed from any quotidian reality. It is also a sort of love story, in which two frail beings, the downed pilot and the wandering infant-prince who has left behind all he knows, share their short time together isolated from humanity and finding sustenance in each other. This is a book which creates a unique relationship with each reader, whether child or adult.
Treasure Island is the seminal pirates and buried treasure novel, which is so brilliantly concocted that it appeals to readers both young and old. The story is told in the first person by young Jim Hawkins, whose mother keeps the Admiral Benbow Inn. An old seadog, a resident at the inn, hires Jim to keep a watch out for other sailors whom he fears but, despite all precautions, the old man is served with the black spot which means death. Among the dead man's belongings Jim discovers a map showing the location of the buried treasure of the notorious pirate Captain Flint. It is not long before he, along with Doctor Livesey and Squire Trelawney, sets sail to find the treasure. However, amongst the hired hands is the one-legged Long John Silver who has designs on the treasure for himself. The continuing fascination with this tale of high drama, buried treasure and treachery bears out what Stevenson wrote about the book to his friend W. E. Henley: 'if this don't fetch the kids, why, they have gone rotten since my day.' The book not only continues to 'fetch the kids' but the grown-ups too - in fact all those with the spirit of adventure in their hearts.
The Wonderful World of the Wizard of Oz, which the the Library of Congress named as 'America's greatest and best-loved homegrown fairytale', is one of the great works of children's literature. The story concerns Dorothy, a young girl from Kansas, who, with her little dog Toto, is caught up in a terrifying tornado, which whisks her far away to the magical land of Oz. Here she encounters the Munchkins, strange small creatures, who tell her that in order for her to return home she must follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City and seek out the mysterious Wizard of Oz. On the journey she encounters the Tin Woodman, the brainless Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion, each of whom wish to make a request of the Wizard. After several adventures, including an encounter with a deadly poppy field and being chased by winged monkeys, the travellers reach the Emerald City. The story rolls along at a tremendous pace in clear and engaging prose, which has helped the novel to become a perennial favourite with children. The appeal of the kaleidoscopic world of the land of Oz with all its incredible and fantastic elements and characters has great appeal to the unfettered mind of the young - and indeed those grown-ups who still retain a romantic imagination.
A Christmas Carol is the most famous, heart-warming and chilling festive story of them all. In these pages we meet Ebenezer Scrooge, whose name is synonymous with greed and parsimony: 'Every idiot who goes about with Merry Christmas on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart'. This attitude is soon challenged when the ghost of his old partner, Jacob Marley, returns from the grave to haunt him on Christmas Eve. Scrooge is then visited in turn by three spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future, each one revealing the error of his ways and gradually melting the frozen heart of this old miser, leading him towards his redemption. On the journey we take with Scrooge we encounter a rich array of Dickensian characters including the poor Cratchit family with the ailing Tiny Tim and the generous and jolly Fezziwig. When Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in 1843 he fashioned an enduring gift to the world, capturing the essence of the love, kindness and generosity of the Christmas season. It is a timeless classic and the story's uplifting magic remains as potent today as when it was first published.
Black Beauty is a perennial children's favourite, one which has never been out of print since its publication in 1877. It is a moralistic tale of the life of the horse related in the form of an autobiography, describing the world through the eyes of the creature. In taking this anthropomorphic approach, the author Anna Sewell broke new literary ground and her effective storytelling ability makes it very easy for the reader to accept the premise that a horse is recounting the exploits in the narrative. The gentle thoroughbred, Black Beauty, is raised with care and is treated well until a vicious groom injures him. The damaged horse is then sold to various masters at whose hands he experiences cruelty and neglect. After many unpleasant episodes, including one where he becomes a painfully overworked cab horse in London, Black Beauty finally canters towards a happy ending. Although Anna Sewell's classic is set firmly in the Victorian period, its message is universal and timeless: animals will serve humans well if they are treated with consideration and kindness. There have been many film and television adaptations of the story, but it is only the novel that captures the authentic voice of the central character.
The Jungle Book introduces Mowgli, the human foundling adopted by a family of wolves. It tells of the enmity between him and the tiger Shere Khan, who killed Mowgli's parents, and of the friendship between the man-cub and Bagheera, the black panther, and Baloo, the sleepy brown bear, who instructs Mowgli in the Laws of the Jungle. The Second Jungle Book contains some of the most thrilling of the Mowgli stories. It includes Red Dog, in which Mowgli forms an unlikely alliance with the python Kaa, How Fear Came and Letting in the Jungle as well as The Spring Running, which brings Mowgli to manhood and the realisation that he must leave Bagheera, Baloo and his other friends for the world of man.
Little Women is one of the best-loved children's stories of all time, based on the author's own youthful experiences. It describes the family life of the four March sisters living in a small New England community, Meg, the eldest, is pretty and wishes to be a lady; Jo, at fifteen is ungainly and unconventional with an ambition to be an author; Beth is a delicate child of thirteen with a taste for music and Amy is a blonde beauty of twelve. The story of their domestic adventures, their attempts to increase the family income, their friendship with the neighbouring Lawrence family, and their later love affairs remains as fresh and beguiling as ever. Good Wives takes up the story of the March sisters, some three years later, when, as young adults, they must face up to the inevitable trials and traumas of everyday life in their search for individual happiness.
Anne Shirley is an eleven-year-old orphan who has hung on determinedly to an optimistic spirit and a wildly creative imagination through her early deprivations. She erupts into the lives of aging brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, a girl instead of the boy they had sent for. Thus begins a story of transformation for all three; indeed the whole rural community of Avonlea comes under Anne's influence in some way. We see her grow from a girl to a young woman of sixteen, making her mistakes, and not always learning from them. Intelligent, hot-headed as her own red hair, unwilling to take a moral truth as read until she works it out for herself, she must also face grief and loss and learn the true meaning of love. Part Tom Sawyer, part Jane Eyre, by the end of Anne of Green Gables, Anne has become the heroine of her own story. The sequel, Anne of Avonlea, follows her progress as a teacher as she seeks to put into practice the lessons she has learnt, helping at the same time to keep Green Gables going, pursuing her enduring friendships, and finding first love where she least expects it. Both books conjure an enchanting landscape of wild blossom, lakes and brooks, woods and ocean, seen through Anne's 'beauty-loving eyes', whose vision of the world she brings us to share.
Robin Hood is perhaps the greatest of all British folk heroes. Henry Gilbert's book assembles all the disparate elements of the legend into an elegiac and detailed version of Robin's life and adventures. The book re-conceives all the familiar set-pieces of the story that gives to the whole the grandeur of an epic. Robin Hood is a dashing romantic hero, an enemy of injustice and a friend to the downtrodden and he emerges from the text as a vivid and fully rounded individual. All the regular characters are here, too, including Little John, Friar Tuck, Will Scarlet and Maid Marian. And of course the villainous Guy of Gisborne and the Sherriff of Nottingham play their usual dastardly roles in the drama. Gilbert's tale begins with an account of why Robin becomes an outlaw and then how he assembles a group of supporters, a band of dispossessed men, sick to death of oppression by the ruling class, who choose a life under Robin Hood in preference to their brutal former existences. While the tale is essentially a merry romp, it also paints a vivid picture of the times, the cruelty, the poverty and the fragility of human life. The novel is a wonderful, engaging realisation of the saga of Robin Hood.
With an Introduction and Notes by Dr Andrew Frayn, Lecturer in Twentieth-Century Literature and Culture at Edinburgh Napier University.In these two compelling novels H.G. Wells imagines terrifying futures in which civilisation itself is threatened. The narrator of The War of the Worlds is quick to discover that what appeared to be a falling star was, in fact, a metallic cylinder landing from Mars. Six million people begin to flee London in panic as tentacled invaders emerge and overpower the city. With their heat-ray, killing machines, black gas, and a taste for fresh human blood, is there anything that can be done to stop the Martians? In The War in the Air, naive but resourceful Bert Smallways is thrilled by speed and fascinated by the new flying machines. His curiosity sweeps him away by accident into a German plan to conquer America, beginning with the destruction of New York. The ease of movement in aerial warfare means that nothing and nobody is safe as Total War erupts, civilisation crumbles, and Bert's hopes of getting back to London to marry his love seem impossibly distant.
With an Introduction and Notes by Dr Emily Alder, Lecturer in Literature and Culture at Edinburgh Napier University 'Each time I dip a living creature into the bath of burning pain, I say: this time I will burn out all the animal, this time I will make a rational creature of my own!' declares Doctor Moreau to hapless narrator Edward Prendick. Moreau's highly controversial methods and ambitions conflict with the religious, moral and scientific norms of his day and Wells later called The Island of Doctor Moreau 'a youthful exercise in blasphemy'. Today his vivid depictions of the Beast People still strike modern readers with an uncanny glimpse of the animal in the human, while the behaviour of humans leave us wondering who is the most monstrous after all. This volume unites four of Wells' liveliest and most engaging tales of the strange evolution and behaviour of animals - including human beings. The Island of Doctor Moreau is followed by three fantastic yet chillingly plausible short stories of human-animal encounters. The Empire of the Ants is a darkly humorous account of intelligent Amazonian ants threatening to displace humans as 'the lords of the future and masters of the earth'. In The Sea Raiders, the south coast of England is terrorized by an unwelcome visit from deep-sea predator Haploteuthis ferox, while AEpyornis Island provides a marooned egg collector with an unusual companion.
With an Introduction and Notes by Linda Dryden, Professor of English Literature at Edinburgh Napier University and the author of Joseph Conrad and H. G. Wells: The Fin-de Siecle-Literary Scene.At the end of the nineteenth century a stranger arrives in the Sussex countryside and mayhem ensues; in the sleepy county of Kent a miracle food brings biological chaos that engulfs and threatens the entire planet. H. G. Wells's fertile and mercurial imagination never brought us more bizarre and unsettling stories than those revealed in The Invisible Man (1897) and The Food of the Gods, and How It Came to Earth (1904). These are stories of extraordinary physical transformations and are at once extremely funny and richly imaginative. At the same time, Wells poses some very probing questions about the ethical dimensions to science and the human capacity for both pity and cruelty. Brought together for the first time in this new Wordsworth edition, The Invisible Man and The Food of the Gods are two of Wells's most entertaining and thought-provoking works.
In these 'scientific romances' H. G. Wells sees the present reflected in the future and the future in the present. His aim is to provoke rather than predict. The Sleeper falls into a trance, waking up two centuries later as the richest man in a world of new technologies, power-greedy leaders, sensual elites, and brutalised industrial slaves. Arriving in the year 802,701, the Time-Traveller finds that humanity has evolved into two drastically different species; going farther still, he witnesses the ultimate fate of the solar system. The Chronic Argonauts, the original version of The Time Machine, pits a scientist with daring views of time and space against superstitious villagers. In all three works Wells laces vivid adventure stories with the latest ideas in biology and physics.
This volume contains a generous selection of the tales of H. G. Wells, some of them famous, some forgotten. They demonstrate his immense imaginative energy, his originality, his prophetic genius, and his mastery of a range embracing Gothic horror, social satire, lyrical reverie and Utopian fantasy. Here Wells predicts the use of the tank, the aeroplane, the parachute and the bathysphere; he depicts the arrival of monsters from the deep, and envisages the destruction of life on our planet. Nevertheless, in social comedy, Wells anticipates E. M. Forster. We also see why Wells proved to be a provocation and inspiration not only to numerous science-fiction writers but also to such eminent authors as Vladimir Nabokov, Jorge Luis Borges and William Golding. Entertaining, disturbing, astonishing and thought-provoking, these tales constitute a Wellsian cornucopia. Enjoy!
This is the first paperback edition to bring out in one volume Kate Chopin's extraordinary novel The Awakening (1899), along with the complete text of her two collections of short stories, Bayou Folk (1894) and A Night in Acadie (1897), and twelve uncollected tales. The Awakening is a strikingly modern, evocative story of self-discovery and female emancipation, set in the sensuous environment of Southern Louisiana, where the young Edna Pontellier reclaims her own individuality, refusing to be defined by her roles of wife and mother. Chopin's stories are brilliantly observed, compassionate and often humorous, alert to the foibles, weaknesses and small triumphs of her characters. Overshadowed by the relatively recent fame of The Awakening, they contain some of the best work of this remarkably original author.
Edited, introduced and annotated by Cedric Watts, M.A., Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of English, University of Sussex. Richard III is one of the finest of Shakespeare's historical dramas. Although it has a huge cast, Richard himself, gleefully wicked, charismatically Machiavellian, always dominates the play: a role to gratify such leading actors as David Garrick, Laurence Olivier, Anthony Sher, Ian McKellen and Al Pacino. Since, in real life, political Machiavellianism is never out of date, Richard III remains perennially topical. Numerous revivals on stage and screen have demonstrated the enduring cogency of this drama about the lethally corrupting quest for power. Richard III is the twenty-first play in the Wordsworth Classics' Shakespeare Series. The Times Literary Supplement says: 'Many students and ordinary readers will be grateful to Watts and his publishers for making such useful editions available at such low cost.'
With an Introduction and Notes by David Rampton, Department of English, University of Ottowa. Notes from Underground and Other Stories is a comprehensive collection of Dostoevsky's short fiction. Many of these stories, like his great novels, reveal his special sympathy for the solitary and dispossessed, explore the same complex psychological issues and subtly combine rich characterization and philosophical meditations on the (often) dark areas of the human psyche, all conveyed in an idiosyncratic blend of deadly seriousness and wild humour. In Notes from Underground, the Underground Man casually dismantles utilitarianism and celebrates in its stead a perverse but vibrant masochism. A Christmas Tree and a Wedding recounts the successful pursuit of a young girl by a lecherous old man. In Bobok, one Ivan Ivanovitch listens in on corpses gossiping in a cemetery and ends up deploring their depravity. In A Gentle Spirit, the narrator describes his dawning recognition that he is responsible for his wife's suicide. In short, as a commentator on spiritual stagnation, Dostoevsky has no equal.
Translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff (revised by Moya Longstaffe). With an Introduction and Notes by Moya Longstaffe. The Red and the Black has been hailed as the first great 'realist' novel of the nineteenth century, offering a lively and detailed picture of social and political life in the provinces and in Paris towards the end of the 1820s, the close of the stifling reactionary period of the Bourbon Restoration. Stendhal himself claimed that no-one before him had ventured to portray with such verisimilitude the 'moral and morose' France of 1830. However 'moral and morose' his novel is definitely not. Ironic, fast-moving, entertaining and incisive in its social criticism, it is a novel of ambition and passion, of indignation and tenderness, of polemic and poetry, which speaks to us today, as clearly as it did to the author's contemporaries, of the heights, depths and idiocies of which our human nature is capable or culpable.
Translated by Constance Garnett Notes and Introductions by David Rampton, Department of English, University of Ottawa Gogol's works constitute one of Russian literature's supreme achievements, yet the nature of their brilliant originality, comic genius, and complex workings is difficult to summarize precisely. The Government Inspector, a perennial favourite on stage and screen, is considered a national institution in Russia, and Gogol's stories present us with one of the most marvellous worlds a writer has ever created. His quirky characters - the lowly official who imagines himself to be the King of Spain, the man committed to chase his nose around St. Petersburg, a whole village paralyzed at the prospect of being visited by an authority from the capital - are immortal. Although Gogol's fiction was commandeered by Russia's progressive critics as the work of an important social commentator, he was in many ways an arch-conservative, and there is a madcap strain in it that makes him a precursor of Kafka and absurdist drama.
Like George Orwell, Franz Kafka has given his name to a world of nightmare, but in Kafka's world, it is never completely clear just what the nightmare is. The Trial, where the rules are hidden from even the highest officials, and if there is any help to be had, it will come from unexpected sources, is a chilling, blackly amusing tale that maintains, to the very end, a relentless atmosphere of disorientation. Superficially about bureaucracy, it is in the last resort a description of the absurdity of 'normal' human nature. Still more enigmatic is The Castle. Is it an allegory of a quasi-feudal system giving way to a new freedom for the subject? The search by a central European Jew for acceptance into a dominant culture? A spiritual quest for grace or salvation? An individual's struggle between his sense of independence and his need for approval? Is it all of these things? And K? Is he opportunist, victim, or an outsider battling against elusive authority? Finally, in his fables, Kafka deals in dark and quirkily humorous terms with the insoluble dilemmas of a world which offers no reassurance, and no reliable guidance to resolving our existential and emotional uncertainties and anxieties.
This powerful novel, Tolstoy's third major masterpiece, after War and Peace and Anna Karenina, begins with a courtroom drama (the finest in Russian literature) all the more stunning for being based on a real-life event. Dmitri Nekhlyudov, called to jury service, is astonished to see in the dock, charged with murder, a young woman whom he once seduced, propelling her into prostitution. She is found guilty on a technicality, and he determines to overturn the verdict. This pitches him into a hellish labyrinth of Russian courts, prisons and bureaucracy, in which the author loses no opportunity for satire and bitter criticism of a state system (not confined to that country) of cruelty and injustice. This is Dickens for grown-ups, involving a hundred characters, Crime and Punishment brought forward half a century. With unforgettable set-pieces of sexual passion, conflict and social injustice, Resurrection proceeds from brothel to court-room, stinking cells to offices of state, luxury apartments to filthy life in Siberia. The ultimate crisis of moral responsibility embroils not only the famous author and his hero, but also you and me. Can we help resolve the eternal issues of law and imprisonment?
With an Introduction and Notes by James Fowler, Senior Lecturer in French, University of Kent Candide (1759) is a bright, colourful literary firework display of a novella. With sparkling wit and biting humour, Voltaire hits several targets with fierce and comic satire: organised religion, the overweening pride of aristocrats, merchants' greed, colonial ambition and the hopeless complacency of Leibnizian philosophy that believes 'all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds'. Through this rites of passage story, with his central character, Candide, a naive and impressionable young man, Voltaire attacks the social ills of his day, which remarkably remain as pertinent now as ever. Zadig is a tale of love and detection. Edgar Allan Poe was inspired by this story when he created C. Auguste Dupin in 'The Murders in the Rue Morgue', a story which established the modern detective fiction genre. The Ingenu recounts how a young man raised by Huron Indians discover the ways of Europe. Nanine is a sharp three act comedy concerned with marital dilemmas. In all these works Voltaire manages to combine humour with trenchant satire in a highly entertaining fashion.
In this famous story of seduction, two highly intelligent but amoral French aristocrats plot the downfall of a respectable young married woman and a fifteen year old girl who has only just emerged from the convent. The letters these two conspirators exchange are remarkably frank in describing how they manage to achieve their ends and, at the same time, reveal nuances of character which make it impossible to dismiss either of them as simply evil. Those written by their victims are equally revelatory in a quite different and subtle way, while the manner in which Laclos handles the epistolary form in order to ensure that his two protagonists are finally defeated, not by outside forces, but the fissures in their own relationship, is a triumph of narrative skill. This novel poses shrewd questions about the relation between love and sex, and suggests that, in certain sections of eighteenth century French high society, idleness, boredom and wealth had created individuals whose misfortunes it would be hard to regret when, only seven years after Dangerous Liaisons was published, the Revolution broke out. Blurb by David Ellis
'As a man loved a woman, that was how I loved...It was good, good, good...' Stephen is an ideal child of aristocratic parents - a fencer, a horse rider and a keen scholar. Stephen grows to be a war hero, a bestselling writer and a loyal, protective lover. But Stephen is a woman, and her lovers are women. As her ambitions drive her, and society confines her, Stephen is forced into desperate actions. The Well of Loneliness was banned for obscenity when published in 1928. It became an international bestseller, and for decades was the single most famous lesbian novel. It has influenced how love between women is understood, for the twentieth century and beyond.
Edited, introduced and annotated by Cedric Watts, M.A., Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of English, University of Sussex. Richard II is one of Shakespeare's finest works: lucid, eloquent, and boldly structured. It can be seen as a tragedy, or a historical play, or a political drama, or as one part of a vast dramatic cycle which helped to generate England's national identity. Today, to some of us, Richard II may appear conservative; but, in Shakespeare's day, it could appear subversive: 'I am Richard II', declared an indignant Queen Elizabeth. Numerous recent revivals in the theatre and on screen have demonstrated the enduring power and poignancy of this drama of the downfall of an egoistic but pitiable monarch. Richard II is the seventeenth volume in the Wordsworth Classics' Shakespeare Series, in which each volume has been freshly edited by Cedric Watts.
Edited, introduced and annotated by Cedric Watts, Emeritus Professor of English, University of Sussex. In Henry IV, Part 1, the King is in a doubly ironic position. His rebellion against Richard II was successful, but now he himself is beset by rebels, led by the charismatic Harry Hotspur. The King's son, Prince Hal, seems to be more concerned with the pleasures of the tavern world and the company of the fat rogue, Falstaff, than with concerns of state. Eventually, however, Hal proves a courageous foe of the rebels. This history play is lively in its interplay of political intrigue and boisterous comedy, subtle in the connections between high statecraft and low craftiness, exuberant in its range of vivid characters, and memorable in its thematic concern with honour, loyalty and the quest for power. In Henry IV, Part 2, the King is ailing, Falstaff is ageing, and the kingdom itself, where rebellion is still rife, seems diseased or debilitated. The comedy has a melancholy undertone, and the politics verge on the Machiavellian. Eventually, the resourceful Hal, inheriting the crown as Henry V, must prove that he can uphold justice in the realm. Here Shakespeare demonstrates a mastery of thematic complexity and subtlety, and shows the price in human terms that may be exacted by political success.
With an Introduction, explanatory notes, and annotated bibliography by Nicholas Seager. This collection brings together Jane Austen's earliest experiments in the art of fiction and novels that she left incomplete at the time of her premature death in 1817. Her fragmentary juvenilia show Austen developing her own sense of narrative form whilst parodying popular kinds of fiction of her day. Lady Susan is a wickedly funny epistolary novel about a captivating but unscrupulous widow seeking to snare husbands for her daughter and herself. The Watsons explores themes of family relationships, the marriage market, and attitudes to rank, which became the hallmarks of her major novels. In Sanditon, Austen exercises her acute powers of social observation in the setting of a newly fashionable seaside resort. These novels are here joined by shorter fictions that survive in Austen's manuscripts, including critically acclaimed works like Catharine, Love and Freindship [sic], and The History of England.
Elizabeth Gaskell's first novel depicts nothing less than the great clashes between capital and labour, which arose from rapid industrialisation and problems of trade in the mid-nineteenth century. But these clashes are dramatized through personal struggles. John Barton has to reconcile his personal conscience with his socialist duty, risking his life and liberty in the process. His daughter Mary is caught between two lovers, from opposing classes - worker and manufacturer. And at the heart of the narrative lies a murder which implicates them all. Mary Barton was published in 1848, at a time of great social ferment in Europe, and it reflects its revolutionary moment through an English lens. Elizabeth Gaskell wrote her first novel about the world in which she lived - Manchester at the height of the industrial revolution. As the wife of a Unitarian minister she was solidly middle-class; but she also had close contact with the working classes around her, sympathised with them, and represented their extreme distresses in her fiction. She is radical in taking on their dialect, imagining the realities of their lives, and placing a working woman at the centre of her fiction. If to our eyes her vision remains limited, it was an honest vision, for which she was much criticised in her own time, by her own class.
An invaluable companion to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi is Mark Twain's inimitable portrait of 'the great Father of Waters'. Part memoir, part travelogue, it expresses the full range of Twain's literary personality, and remains the most vivid, boisterous and provocative account of the cultural and societal history of the Mississippi Valley, from 'the golden age' of steamboating to the violence wrought by the Civil War. This new edition of Life on the Mississippi contains a comprehensive introduction, extensive annotations and a guide to further reading designed to appeal to both the student and the general reader.
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is a classic representation of the impoverished and politically powerless underclass of British society in Edwardian England, ruthlessly exploited by the institutionalized corruption of their employers and the civic and religious authorities. Epic in scale, the novel charts the ruinous effects of the laissez-faire mercantilist ethics on the men, women, and children of the working classes, and through its emblematic characters, argues for a socialist politics as the only hope for a civilized and humane life for all. This Wordsworth edition includes an exclusive foreword by the late Tony Benn.
This volume brings together Virginia Woolf's last two novels, The Years (1937) which traces the lives of members of a dispersed middle-class family between 1880 and 1937, and Between the Acts (1941), an account of a village pageant in the summer preceding the Second World War which successfully interweaves comedy, satire and disturbing observation. Rewriting the traditional family saga and the pageant, these unsettling novels provide extraordinary critiques of Englishness and English identity while pursuing compelling existentialist and psychological themes such as the nature of time, memory, personal relationships and sexual desire. Their tightly constructed narratives enable the reader to experience the fragmented lives of their characters and the difficulties that they have in communicating with each other and even understanding themselves. Read together, these novels illuminate each other in ways that will engage both the student and the general reader.
Virginia Woolf's second novel, Night and Day (1919), portrays the gradual changes in a society, the patterns and conventions of which are slowly disintegrating; where the representatives of the younger generation struggle to forge their own way, for '... life has to be faced: to be rejected; then accepted on new terms with rapture'. Woolf begins to experiment with the novel form while demonstrating her affection for the literature of the past. Jacob's Room (1922), Woolf's third novel, marks the bold affirmation of her own voice and search for a new form to express her view that 'the human soul ... orientates itself afresh every now & then. It is doing so now. No one can see it whole therefore.' Jacob's life is presented in subtle, delicate and tantalising glimpses, the novel's gaps and silences are as replete with meaning as the wicker armchair creaking in the empty room.
A Room of One's Own (1929) has become a classic feminist essay and perhaps Virginia Woolf's best known work; The Voyage Out (1915) is highly significant as her first novel. Both focus on the place of women within the power structures of modern society. The essay lays bare the woman artist's struggle for a voice, since throughout history she has been denied the social and economic independence assumed by men. Woolf's prescription is clear: if a woman is to find creative expression equal to a man's, she must have an independent income, and a room of her own. This is both an acute analysis and a spirited rallying cry; it remains surprisingly resonant and relevant in the 21st century. The novel explores these issues more personally, through the character of Rachel Vinrace, a young woman whose 'voyage out' to South America opens up powerful encounters with her fellow-travellers, men and women. As she begins to understand her place in the world, she finds the happiness of love, but also sees its brute power. Woolf has a sharp eye for the comedy of English manners in a foreign milieu; but the final undertow of the novel is tragic as, in some of her finest writing, she calls up the essential isolation of the human spirit.
Finnegans Wake is the book of Here Comes Everybody and Anna Livia Plurabelle and their family - their book, but in a curious way the book of us all as well as all our books. Joyce's last great work, it is not comprised of many borrowed styles, like Ulysses, but, rather, formulated as one dense, tongue-twisting soundscape. This 'language' is based on English vocabulary and syntax but, at the same time, self-consciously designed to function as a pun machine with an astonishing capacity for resisting singularity of meaning. Announcing a 'revolution of the word', this astonishing book amounts to a powerfully resonant cultural critique - a unique kind of miscommunication which, far from stabilizing the world in meaning, constructs a universe radically unfixed by a wild diversity of possibilities and potentials. It also remains the most hilarious, 'obscene', book of innuendos ever to be imagined.
Jules Verne (1828-1905) was internationally famous as the author of novels based on 'extraordinary voyages.' His visionary use of new travel technologies inspired his readers to look to the industrial future rather than the remote past for their dreams of adventure. The popularity of his novels led directly to modern science fiction. In From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon, Jules Verne turned the ancient fantasy of space flight into a believable technological possibility - an engineering dream for the industrial age. Directly inspired by Verne's story, enthusiasts worked successfully at overcoming the practical difficulties, and within a century, human beings did indeed fly to the Moon. Curiously, however, Verne is unlikely to have thought it possible that a manned projectile could actually be fired out of a giant cannon, rising higher than the Moon, swinging around it, and then landing safely back on Earth. He had used the science of the day to construct a literary conjuring trick, a hoax, one of the most successful in all history. By skilful misdirection he drew the attention of readers away from weaknesses in the project. Read the book and you, too, will be fooled into accepting the realistic possibility in Verne's time of that dream of flying to the Moon.
With an Introduction and Notes by Henry Claridge, Senior Lecturer, School of English, University of Kent at Canterbury. Tender is the Night is a story set in the hedonistic high society of Europe during the 'Roaring Twenties'. A wealthy schizophrenic, Nicole Warren, falls in love with Dick Diver - her psychiatrist. The resulting saga of the Divers' troubled marriage, and their circle of friends, includes a cast of aristocratic and beautiful people, unhappy love affairs, a duel, incest, and the problems inherent in the possession of great wealth. Despite cataloguing a maelstrom of interpersonal conflict, Tender is the Night has a poignancy and warmth that springs from the quality of Fitzgerald's writing and the tragic personal experiences on which the novel is based. Six years separate Tender is the Night and The Last Tycoon, the novel Fitzgerald left unfinished at his death in December 1940. Fitzgerald lived in Hollywood more or less continuously from July 1937 until his death, and a novel about the film industry at the height of 'the studio system' centred on the working life of a top producer was begun in 1939. Even in its incomplete state The Last Tycoon remains the greatest American novel about Hollywood and contains some of Fitzgerald's most brilliant writing.
With an Introduction and Notes by Lionel Kelly, University of Reading. This Side of Paradise tells the story of Amory Blaine, the only child of wealthy parents, whose journey from adolescence to adulthood follows him from prep school through to Princeton University, where his literary talents flourish, in contrast to his academic failure. A sequence of love affairs with beautiful young women are fatally damaged by the collapse of his family's fortune, and the novel ends with him poised to face the challenge of making his own way in the world. Composed in an unconventional narrative mode, the novel is a rich fusion of satiric and romance idioms, and found a captivated audience on its publication in 1920. It made Fitzgerald rich and famous overnight. The Beautiful and Damned is a bleaker version of the corrosive power of wealth and its privileges, one of Fitzgerald's abiding subjects. Anthony Patch, is heir to a huge fortune, whose marriage to the beautiful and indolent Gloria is increasingly shadowed by Anthony's fall into alcoholism. Though he wins a lawsuit to gain his inheritance of millions of dollars, it is a pyrrhic victory, for he is now a physically and morally broken man.
With an Introduction, Notes and Bibliography by Michael Irwin, Emeritus Professor of English, University of Kent, Canterbury. The young Thomas Hardy, working as an architect, but fired with literary ambition, tried for years to get into print. He finally succeeded with Desperate Remedies, a 'sensation novel' in the mode of Wilkie Collins. Here was a racy specimen of the genre, replete with sudden death, dark mysteries, intriguing clues, fire and storm, flight and pursuit. Anyone who enjoys The Woman in White is likely to enjoy Desperate Remedies. But that is only half the story. Hardy contrived also, in this unlikely context, to give a first airing to various of the ideas and technical experiments which were to characterise his later fiction. The result is an exhilaratingly uneven work: at any point in the narrative some brilliant passage of description or metaphor may burst out like a firework. Desperate Remedies can be relished both for what it is and for what it promises.
Major General Sir Richard Hannay is the fictional secret agent created by writer and diplomat John Buchan, who was himself an Intelligence officer during the First World War. The strong and silent type, combining the dour temperament of the Scot with the stiff upper lip of the Englishman, Hannay is pre-eminent among early spy-thriller heroes. Caught up in the first of these five gripping adventures just before the outbreak of war in 1914, he manages to thwart the enemy's evil plan and solve the mystery of the 'thirty-nine steps'. In Greenmantle, he undertakes a vital mission to prevent jihad in the Islamic Near East. Mr Standfast, set in the decisive months of 1917-18, is the novel in which Hannay, after a life lived 'wholly among men', finally falls in love; later, in The Three Hostages, he finds himself unravelling a kidnapping mystery with his wife's help. In the last adventure, The Island of Sheep, he is called upon to honour an old oath. A shrewd judge of men, he never dehumanises his enemy, and despite sharing some of the racial prejudices of his day, Richard Hannay is a worthy prototype hero of espionage fiction.
With an Introduction by Anthony Briggs. Translated by Isabel F. Hapgood. Russia in the 1840s. There is a stranger in town, and he is behaving oddly. The unctuous Pavel Chichikov goes around the local estates buying up 'dead souls'. These are the papers relating to serfs who have died since the last census, but who remain on the record and still attract a tax demand. Chichikov is willing to relieve their owners of the tax burden by buying the titles for a song. What he does not say is that he then proposes to take out a huge mortgage against these fictitious citizens and buy himself a nice estate in Eastern Russia. Will he get away with it? Who will rumble him? Does this narrative contain a deeper message about Russia itself or the spiritual health of humanity? There is much interest and some suspense in considering these issues, but the real pleasure of this story lies elsewhere. It is an enjoyable comic romp through a retarded part of a backward country, a picaresque series of grotesque portraits, situations and conversations described with Gogolian humour based mainly on hyperbole. This is, quite simply, the funniest book in the Russian language before the twentieth century.
Translated by Constance Garnett with an introduction by Anthony Briggs. Dostoevsky's fascination for mental breakdown and violence (20 murders in his four main novels) was based on his own life, and these two unmistakably autobiographical works bear this out. The House of the Dead is fiction, but based on his four years in a Siberian prison. An educated upper-class man is condemned to live among criminals and brutal guards, with arbitrary punishments, lousy food, disgusting living conditions, hard toil and many floggings. Somehow he avoids bitterness and recrimination; faith in humanity survives. With its breadth of characterisation, acute sense of detail and strong narrative interest, this work can still shock, entertain and inspire. In The Gambler we see the Russian community in a German spa town. Drawn to the casino, Alexey becomes obsessed with roulette. In a gripping story, full of psychological interest, his growing mania eclipses even his interest in Polina, a heroine of demonic and vibrant sexuality. Dostoevsky himself was rescued from a similar gambling obsession by the young stenographer who took down this work at his dictation and married him soon afterwards.
'Who could read the programme for the excursion without longing to make one of the party?' So Mark Twain acclaims his voyage from New York City to Europe and the Holy Land in June 1867. His adventures produced The Innocents Abroad, a book so funny and provocative it made him an international star for the rest of his life. He was making his first responses to the Old World - to Paris, Milan, Florence, Venice, Pompeii, Constantinople, Sebastopol, Balaklava, Damascus, Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Bethlehem. For the first time he was seeing the great paintings and sculptures of the 'Old Masters'. He responded with wonder and amazement, but also with exasperation, irritation, disbelief. Above all he displayed the great energy of his humour, more explosive for us now than for his beguiled contemporaries.
With an Introduction by Alex Dolby. Translation by W.H.G. Kingston. Jules Verne (1828-1905) is internationally famous as the author of a distinctive series of adventure stories describing new travel technologies which opened up the world and provided means to escape from it. The collective enthusiasm of generations of readers of his 'extraordinary voyages' was a key factor in the rise of modern science fiction. In The Mysterious Island a group of men escape imprisonment during the American Civil War by stealing a balloon. Blown across the world, they are air-wrecked on a remote desert island. In a manner reminiscent of Robinson Crusoe, the men apply their scientific knowledge and technical skill to exploit the island's bountiful resources, eventually constructing a sophisticated society in miniature. The book is also an intriguing mystery story, for the island has a secret.
With an Introduction and Notes by Sara Haslam, Department of English, The Open University. The Good Soldier is a masterpiece of twentieth-century fiction, an inspiration for many later, distinguished writers, including Graham Greene. Set before the First World War, it tells the tale of two wealthy and sophisticated couples, one English, one American, as they travel, socialise, and take the waters in the spa towns of Europe. They are 'playing the game', in style. That game has begun to unravel, however, and with compelling attention to the comic, as well as the tragic, results the American narrator reveals his growing awareness of the sexual intrigues and emotional betrayals that lie behind its facade.
Translated by Constance Garnett, with an Introduction by A. D. P. Briggs. As Fyodor Karamazov awaits an amorous encounter, he is violently done to death. The three sons of the old debauchee are forced to confront their own guilt or complicity. Who will own to parricide? The reckless and passionate Dmitri? The corrosive intellectual Ivan? Surely not the chaste novice monk Alyosha? The search reveals the divisions which rack the brothers, yet paradoxically unite them. Around the writhings of this one dysfunctional family Dostoevsky weaves a dense network of social, psychological and philosophical relationships. At the same time he shows - from the opening 'scandal' scene in the monastery to a personal appearance by an eccentric Devil - that his dramatic skills have lost nothing of their edge. The Karamazov Brothers, completed a few months before Dostoevsky's death in 1881, remains for many the high point of his genius as novelist and chronicler of the modern malaise. It cast a long shadow over D. H. Lawrence, Thomas Mann, Albert Camus, and other giants of twentieth-century European literature.
Translated by Constance Garnett with an Introduction by A.D.P. Briggs. In 1869 a young Russian was strangled, shot through the head and thrown into a pond. His crime? A wish to leave a small group of violent revolutionaries, from which he had become alienated. Dostoevsky takes this real-life catastrophe as the subject and culmination of Devils, a title that refers the young radicals themselves and also to the materialistic ideas that possessed the minds of many thinking people Russian society at the time. The satirical portraits of the revolutionaries, with their naivety, ludicrous single-mindedness and readiness for murder and destruction, might seem exaggerated - until we consider their all-too-recognisable descendants in the real world ever since. The key figure in the novel, however, is beyond politics. Nikolay Stavrogin, another product of rationalism run wild, exercises his charisma with ruthless authority and total amorality. His unhappiness is accounted for when he confesses to a ghastly sexual crime - in a chapter long suppressed by the censor. This prophetic account of modern morals and politics, with its fifty-odd characters, amazing events and challenging ideas, is seen by some critics as Dostoevsky's masterpiece.
With a new Introduction by Cedric Watts, Research Professor of English, University of Sussex. James Joyce's astonishing masterpiece, Ulysses, tells of the diverse events which befall Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus in Dublin on 16 June 1904, during which Bloom's voluptuous wife, Molly, commits adultery. Initially deemed obscene in England and the USA, this richly-allusive novel, revolutionary in its Modernistic experimentalism, was hailed as a work of genius by W. B. Yeats, T. S. Eliot and Ernest Hemingway. Scandalously frank, wittily erudite, mercurially eloquent, resourcefully comic and generously humane, Ulysses offers the reader a life-changing experience.
With an Introduction by A. M. de Medeiros, University of Kent at Canterbury. A year after the publication of The Three Musketeers,/em>, Alexandre Dumas produced a sequel worthy in every respect of the original. In Twenty Years After the much beloved D'Artaganan, Athos, Porthos and Aramis reunite to fight the forces of evil. In the original novel they defeated Milady, a formidable foe; now they need to face her vengeful son Mordaunt, as well as countering the machinations of the sinister Cardinal Mazarin. Their adventures also take them to England, where Cromwell is about to topple Charles I. Meanwhile, they must overcome the obstacles which the passing of time has placed between them. Rediscovering strength in unity, they fight for Queen and country. The Musketeer novels were a huge success in Dumas' own lifetime, and have lost none of their original appeal. Translated into many languages and adapted for cinema and television, they have helped to make Dumas arguably the most successful exporter of French culture to the wider world. Our edition is based on the William Robson translation first published by Routledge in 1856.
With an Introduction and Notes by Lionel Kelly, Senior Lecturer in English, University of Reading. Transplanted to Europe from her native America, Isabel Archer has candour, beauty, intelligence, an independent spirit and a marked enthusiasm for life. An unexpected inheritance apparently gives her freedom, but despite all her natural advantages she makes one disastrous error of judgement and the result is genuinely tragic. Her tale, told with James' inimitable poise, is of the widest relevance. 'The phase when his (Henry James') genius functioned with the freest and fullest vitality is represented by The Portrait of a Lady'. (F.R. LEAVIS)
With an Introduction and Notes by Professor Stephen Arkin, San Francisco State University. Katherine Mansfield is widely regarded as a writer who helped create the modern short story. Born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1888, she came to London in 1903 to attend Queen's College and returned permanently in 1908. her first book of stories, In a German Pension, appeared in 1911, and she went on to write and publish an extraordinary body of work. This edition of The Collected Stories brings together all of the stories that Mansfield had written up until her death in January of 1923. With an introduction and head-notes, this volume allows the reader to become familiar with the complete range of Mansfield's work from the early, satirical stories set in Bavaria, through the luminous recollections of her childhood in New Zealand, and through the mature, deeply felt stories of her last years. Admired by Virginia Woolf in her lifetime and by many writers since her death, Katherine Mansfield is one of the great literary artists of the twentieth century.
With an Introduction and Notes by Professor Emeritus John Chapple, University of Hull. The sheer variety and accomplishment of Elizabeth Gaskell's shorter fiction is amazing. This new volume contains six of her finest stories that have been selected specifically to demonstrate this, and to trace the development of her art. As diverse in setting as in subject matter, these tales move from the gentle comedy of life in a small English country town in Dr Harrison's Confessions, to atmospheric horror in far north-west Wales with The Doom of the Griffiths. The story of Cousin Phillis, her masterly tale of love and loss, is a subtle, complex and perceptive analysis of changes in English national life during an industrial age, while the gripping Lois the Witch recreates the terrors of the Salem witchcraft trials in seventeenth-century New England, as Gaskell shrewdly shows the numerous roots of this furious outbreak of delusion. Whimsically modified fairy tales are set in a French chateau, while an engaging love story poetically evokes peasant life in wine-growing Germany.
Notes and Introduction by David Ellis, University of Kent at Canterbury. With its four-letter words and its explicit descriptions of sexual intercourse, Lady Chatterley's Lover is the novel with which D.H. Lawrence is most often associated. First published privately in Florence in 1928, it only became a world-wide best-seller after Penguin Books had successfully resisted an attempt by the British Director of Public Prosecutions to prevent them offering an unexpurgated edition. The famous 'Lady Chatterley trial' heralded the sexual revolution of the coming decades and signalled the defeat of Establishment prudery. Yet Lawrence himself was hardly a liberationist and the conservativism of many aspects of his novel would later lay it open to attacks from the political avant-garde and from feminists. The story of how the wife of Sir Clifford Chatterley responds when her husband returns from the war paralysed from the waist down, and of the tender love which then develops between her and her husband's gamekeeper, is a complex one open to a variety of conflicting interpretations. This edition of the novel offers an occasion for a new generation of readers to discover what all the fuss was about; to appraise Lawrence's bitter indictment of modern industrial society, and to ask themselves what lessons there might be for the 21st century in his intense exploration of the complicated relations between love and sex.
With an Introduction and Notes by Dr T.C.B.Cook. Count Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) is best known for War and Peace and Anna Karenina, commonly regarded as amongst the greatest novels ever written. He also, however, wrote many masterly short stories, and this volume contains four of the longest and best in distinguished translations that have stood the test of time. In the early story Family Happiness, Tolstoy explores courtship and marriage from the point of view of a young wife. In The Kreutzer Sonata he gives us a terrifying study of marital breakdown, in The Devil a powerful depiction of the power of sexual temptation, and, in perhaps the finest of all, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, he portrays the long agony of a man gradually coming to terms with his own mortality. This volume also includes an Introduction and Notes written specially for this Wordsworth edition by Dr Tim Cook, formely lecturer in literature at the Universities of Kingston and Ulster. Previous work contributed by Dr Cook for Wordsworth includes an introduction and notes to Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby.
With an Introduction and Notes by Dr Pamela Bickley, The Godolphin and Latymer School, formerly of Royal Holloway, University of London. The Last Man is Mary Shelley's apocalyptic fantasy of the end of human civilisation. Set in the late twenty-first century, the novel unfolds a sombre and pessimistic vision of mankind confronting inevitable destruction. Interwoven with her futuristic theme, Mary Shelley incorporates idealised portraits of Shelley and Byron, yet rejects Romanticism and its faith in art and nature. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851) was the only daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, author of Vindication of the Rights of Woman, and the radical philosopher William Godwin. Her mother died ten days after her birth and the young child was educated through contact with her father's intellectual circle and her own reading. She met Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1812; they eloped in July 1814. In the summer of 1816 she began her first and most famous novel, Frankenstein. Three of her children died in early infancy and in 1822 her husband was drowned. Mary returned to England with her surviving son and wrote novels, short stories and accounts of her travels; she was the first editor of P.B.Shelley's poetry and verse.
Introduction and Notes by Janet Beer, Manchester Metropolitan University. The House of Mirth tells the story of Lily Bart, aged 29, beautiful, impoverished and in need of a rich husband to safeguard her place in the social elite, and to support her expensive habits - her clothes, her charities and her gambling. Unwilling to marry without both love and money, Lily becomes vulnerable to the kind of gossip and slander which attach to a girl who has been on the marriage market for too long. Wharton charts the course of Lily's life, providing, along the way, a wider picture of a society in transition, a rapidly changing New York where the old certainties of manners, morals and family have disappeared and the individual has become an expendable commodity. The House of Mirth was published in October 1905 to widespread critical acclaim. It became an instant bestseller and is regarded today as one of Edith Wharton's most accomplished and compelling social satires.
With a new Introduction by Professor Cedric Watts, M.A., Ph.D. The Forsyte Saga is Galsworthy's enduringly popular masterpiece. Initially, the plot centres on Soames Forsyte, a successful solicitor living in London with his beautiful wife, Irene. A pillar of the late-Victorian upper middle class, wealthy and well-connected, he seems to lead an enviable life. But beneath the respectable exterior lie acute tensions and frustrations. The marriage of Soames and Irene culminates in sexual violence and recriminations. The consequent feud within the family will be long-lasting, with ironic and dramatic outcomes. In The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy analyses the achievements, confusions and hypocrisies of an era. This renowned chronicle of a divided dynasty, repeatedly filmed and televised, has engrossed audiences internationally.
With an Introduction by David Stuart Davies. 'Doctor Watson, Mr Sherlock Holmes' - The most famous introduction in the history of crime fiction takes place in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet, bringing together Sherlock Holmes, the master of science detection, and John H. Watson, the great detective's faithful chronicler. This novel not only establishes the magic of the Holmes myth but also provides the reader with a dramatic adventure yarn which ranges from the foggy, gas-lit streets of London to the burning plains of Utah. The Sign of the Four, the second Holmes novel, presents the detective with one of his greatest challenges. The theft of the Agna treasure in India forms a catalyst for treachery, deceit and murder. With these two classic novels, A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four, you have the brilliant foundation of the Sherlock Holmes canon. Reading pleasure rarely comes any finer.
With an Introduction and Notes by Keith Wren, University of Kent at Canterbury. The Man in the Iron Mask is the final episode in the cycle of novels featuring Dumas' celebrated foursome of D'Artagnan, Athos, Porthos and Aramis, who first appeared in The Three Musketeers. Some thirty-five years on, the bonds of comradeship are under strain as they end up on different sides in a power struggle that may undermine the young Louis XIV and change the face of the French monarchy. In the fast-paced narrative style that was his trademark, Dumas pitches us straight into the action. What is the secret shared by Aramis and Madame de Chevreuse? Why does the Queen Mother fear its revelation? Who is the mysterious prisoner in the Bastille? And what is the nature of the threat he poses? Dumas, the master storyteller, keeps us reading until the climactic scene in the grotto of Locmaria, a fitting conclusion to the epic saga of the musketeers.
Introduction and Notes by Ian F.A. Bell, Professor of English Literature, University of Keele. Washington Square marks the culmination of James's apprentice period as a novelist. With sharply focused attention upon just four principal characters, James provides an acute analysis of middle-class manners and behaviour in the New York of the 1870's, a period of great change in the life of the city. This change is explored through the device of setting the novel's action during the 1840s, similarly a period of considerable turbulence as the United States experienced the onset of rapid commercial and industrial expansion. Through the relationships between Austin Sloper, a celebrated physician, and his sister Lavinia Penniman, his daughter Catherine, and Catherine's suitor, Morris Townsend, James observes the contemporary scene as a site of competing styles and performances where authentic expression cannot be articulated or is subject to suppression.
Edited, introduced and annotated by Cedric Watts, M.A., Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of English, University of Sussex. The Wordsworth Classics' Shakespeare Series presents a newly-edited sequence of William Shakespeare's works. The textual editing takes account of recent scholarship while giving the material a careful reappraisal. Romeo and Juliet is the world's most famous drama of tragic young love. Defying the feud which divides their families, Romeo and Juliet enjoy the fleeting rapture of courtship, marriage and sexual fulfilment; but a combination of old animosities and new coincidences brings them to suicidal deaths. This play offers a rich mixture of romantic lyricism, bawdy comedy, intimate harmony and sudden violence. Long successful in the theatre, it has also generated numerous operas, ballets and films; and these have helped to make Romeo and Juliet perennially topical.
Edited, introduced and annotated by Cedric Watts, M.A., Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of English, University of Sussex. The Wordsworth Classics' Shakespeare Series presents a newly-edited sequence of William Shakespeare's works. The textual editing takes account of recent scholarship while giving the material a careful reappraisal. The Merchant of Venice is one of Shakespeare's most popular comedies, but it remains deeply controversial. The text may seem anti-Semitic; yet repeatedly, in performance, it has revealed a contrasting nature. Shylock, though vanquished in the law-court, often triumphs in the theatre. In his intensity he can dominate the play, challenging abrasively its romantic and lyrical affirmations. What results is a bitter-sweet drama. Though The Merchant of Venice offers some of the traditional pleasures of romantic comedy, it also exposes the operations of prejudice. Thus Shakespeare remains our contemporary.
Introduction and Notes by Jane Thomas, University of Hull. The Well-Beloved completes the cycle of Hardy's great novels, reiterating his favourite themes of man's eternal quest for perfection in both love and art, and the suffering that ensues. Jocelyn Pierston, celebrated sculptor, tries to create an image of his ideal woman - his imaginary Well-Beloved - in stone, just as he tries to find her in the flesh. Powerful symbolism marks this romantic fantasy that Hardy has grounded firmly in reality with a characteristically authentic rendering of location, the Isle of Slingers, or Portland as we know it. Overt exploration of the relationship between erotic fascination and creativity makes this novel a nineteenth-century landmark in the persistent debate about art, aesthetics and gender. This volume breaks new ground by including in full the1892 serialised version of the novel - The Pursuit of the Well-Beloved.
Introduction and Notes by Deborah Parsons, University of Birmingham. 'I am writing to a rhythm and not to a plot', Virginia Woolf stated of her eighth novel, The Waves. Widely regarded as one of her greatest and most original works, it conveys the rhythms of life in synchrony with the cycle of nature and the passage of time. Six children - Bernard, Susan, Rhoda, Neville, Jinny and Louis - meet in a garden close to the sea, their voices sounding over the constant echo of the waves that roll back and forth from the shore. The subsequent continuity of these six main characters, as they develop from childhood to maturity and follow different passions and ambitions, is interspersed with interludes from the timeless and unifying chorus of nature. In pure stream-of-consciousness style, Woolf presents a cross-section of multiple yet parallel lives, each marked by the disintegrating force of a mutual tragedy. The Waves is her searching exploration of individual and collective identity, and the observations and emotions of life, from the simplicity and surging optimism of youth to the vacancy and despair of middle-age.
Edited, introduced and annotated by Cedric Watts, M.A., Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of English, University of Sussex. The Wordsworth Classics' Shakespeare Series, with Henry V as its inaugral volume, presents a newly-edited sequence of William Shakespeare's works. The textual editing endeavours to take account of recent scholarship while giving the material a careful reappraisal. Henry V is the most famous and influential of Shakespeare's history plays. Its powerful patriotic rhetoric has resounded down the ages, gaining eloquent expression in Laurence Olivier's renowned film. Henry himself, astute and charismatic, who led his 'band of brothers' to victory in the Battle of Agincourt, could indeed seem to be 'this star of England'. In recent decades the play has attracted increasing critical attention and is now highly controversial. Kenneth Branagh's film-production reflected the changing valuation. Does this play have a sceptical sub-text which subverts its patriotism? Is Henry's achievement beset by irony? Has current scepticism distorted a predominantly and proudly nationalistic drama? Henry V demonstrates Shakespeare's acclaimed ability to bring new complexity to the material that he adapted, so that different eras may find within his work the familiar and the strange, the congenial and the harsh, the sustaining and the challenging.
Translated by Constance Garnett with an Introduction and Notes by Dr Keith Carabine, University of Kent at Canterbury. Crime and Punishment is one of the greatest and most readable novels ever written. From the beginning we are locked into the frenzied consciousness of Raskolnikov who, against his better instincts, is inexorably drawn to commit a brutal double murder. From that moment on, we share his conflicting feelings of self-loathing and pride, of contempt for and need of others, and of terrible despair and hope of redemption: and, in a remarkable transformation of the detective novel, we follow his agonised efforts to probe and confront both his own motives for, and the consequences of, his crime. The result is a tragic novel built out of a series of supremely dramatic scenes that illuminate the eternal conflicts at the heart of human existence: most especially our desire for self-expression and self-fulfilment, as against the constraints of morality and human laws; and our agonised awareness of the world's harsh injustices and of our own mortality, as against the mysteries of divine justice and immortality.
With an Introduction and Notes by Anne Varty, Royal Holloway, University of London. Oscar Wilde took London by storm with his first comedy, Lady Windermere's Fan. The combination of dazzling wit, subtle social criticism, sumptuous settings and the theme of a guilty secret proved a winner, both here and in his next three plays, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband, and his undisputed masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest. This volume includes all Wilde's plays from his early tragedy Vera to the controversial Salome and the little known fragments, La Sainte Courtisane and A Florentine Tragedy. The edition affords a rare chance to see Wilde's best known work in the context of his entire dramatic output, and to appreciate plays which have hitherto received scant critical attention. Wilde's plays have never failed to delight audiences and are a lasting testimony to their author's supreme wit and theatrical genius.
With an Introduction by Dr Pamela Knights, Department of English Studies, Durham University. With this intensely moving short novel, Edith Wharton set out 'to draw life as it really was' in the lonely villages and desolate farms of the harsh New England mountains. Through the eyes of a visitor from the city, trapped for a winter in snowbound Starkfield, readers glimpse the hidden histories of this austere and beautiful land. Piecing together the story of monosyllabic Ethan Frome, his grim wife, Zeena, and Mattie Silver, her charming cousin, Wharton explores psychological dead-lock:frustration, longing, resentment, passion. First published in 1911, the novella stunned its public with its consummate handling of the unfolding drama, and has remained for many readers the most compelling and subtle of all Wharton's fiction.
Selected and Introduced by David Stuart Davies. Short Stories from the Nineteenth Century is a wonderful collection of classic stories specially selected and introduced by David Stuart Davies. These are tales from the golden age of the great storytellers presenting evocative snapshots from that bygone era while at the same time providing engaging entertainment and stimulation for the modern reader. All emotions are catered for in the offerings by Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, H.G.Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Bram Stoker, Mrs Gaskell, O Henry, Anthony Trollope, Thomas Hardy, Wilkie Collins, Guy de Maupassant, Anton Chekhov, Charlotte Perkins Gillman and Charles Lamb. Through their words the rich pageant of yesterday springs to vibrant life. Each story has its own introduction and there is a set of informative notes. This volume is ideal reading for the student as well as those who relish a good tale well told.
With an Introduction and Notes by Dinny Thorold, University of Westminster Gaskell's last novel, widely considered her masterpiece, follows the fortunes of two families in nineteenth century rural England. At its core are family relationships - father, daughter and step-mother, father and sons, father and step-daughter - all tested and strained by the romantic entanglements that ensue. Despite its underlying seriousness, the prevailing tone is one of comedy. Gaskell vividly portrays the world of the late 1820s and the forces of change within it, and her vision is always humane and progressive. The story is full of acute observation and sympathetic character-study: the feudal squire clinging to old values, his naturalist son welcoming the new world of science, the local doctor and his scheming second wife, the two girls brought together by their parent's marriage...
Editedand with an Introduction and Notes by Dr Keith Carabine. University of Kent at Canterbury. Uncle Tom's Cabin is the most popular, influential and controversial book written by an American. Stowe's rich, panoramic novel passionately dramatises why the whole of America is implicated in and responsible for the sin of slavery, and resoundingly concludes that only 'repentance, justice and mercy' will prevent the onset of 'the wrath of Almighty God!'. The novel gave such a terrific impetus to the crusade for the abolition of slavery that President Lincoln half-jokingly greeted Stowe as'the little lady' who started the great Civil War. As Keith Carabine argues in his lively and provocative Introduction, the novel immediately provoked a storm of competing and contradictory responses among Northern and Southern readers, moderate and radical abolitionist groups, blacks and women, with regard to issues of form, genre, politics, religion, race and gender, that are still of great interest because they anticipate the concerns that vex and divide modern readers and critical constituencies.
With an Introduction and Notes by Anne Varty, Royal Holloway, University of London. De Profundis is Wilde's eloquent and bitter reproach from prison to his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas. He contrasts his behaviour with that of his close friend Robert Ross who became Wilde's literary executor. The Ballad of Reading Gaol is a deeply moving and characteristically generous poem on the horrors of prison life, which was published anonymously in 1898. This collection also includes the essay The Soul of Man under Socialism and two of his Platonic dialogues, The Decay of Lying and The Critic as Artist.
With an Introduction by David Stuart Davies. The Hound of the Baskervilles is the classic detective chiller. It features the world's greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes, in his most challenging case. The Baskerville family is haunted by a phantom beast with blazing eyes and dripping jaws which roams the mist-enshrouded moors around the isolated Baskerville Hall on Dartmoor. Now the hound seems to be stalking young Sir Henry, the new master of the Baskerville estate. Is this devilish spectre the manifestation of the family curse? Or is Sir Henry the victim of a vile and scheming murderer? Only Sherlock Holmes can solve this devilish affair. The Valley of Fear is a dark, powerful tale, which provides the great detective with a most perplexing case and opens with a vile murder: Lying across his chest was a most curious weapon, a shotgun with the barrel sawn off in front of the triggers. It was clear that it had been fired at close range, and that he had received the whole charge in the face, blowing his head almost to pieces . Sherlock Holmes' arch enemy, the criminal genius Professor Moriarty, is back! But the solution to the riddle, found after many surprising twists and high dramas, lies far away, half across the world in a location known as 'The Valley of Fear'. This is Conan Doyle's last Holmes novel and in the opinion of many of his fans, it is the best!
Illustrations by Hablot K. Browne (Phiz) and George Cattermole, with a new Introduction by Cedric Watts, Research Professor of English, University of Sussex. This vivid historical and political novel by Dickens is centred on the infamous 'No Popery' riots, instigated by Lord George Gordon, which terrorised London in 1780. Dickens' targets are prejudice, intolerance, religious bigotry and nationalistic fervour, together with the villains who exploit these for selfish ends. His intense account of the riots is interwoven with the mysterious tale of a long-unsolved murder and with a romance involving forbidden love, treachery and heroism. Barnaby Rudge abounds in memorably strange, comic and grotesque characters. Furthermore, recent historical events have renewed its political topicality.
Selected, Edited and Introduced by David Stuart Davies. The Best of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of twenty of the very best tales from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fifty-six short stories featuring the arch sleuth. Basing his selection around the author's own twelve personal favourites, David Stuart Davies has added a further eight sparkling stories to Conan Doyle's 'Baker Street Dozen', creating a unique volume which distils the pure essence of the world's most famous detective. Within these pages the reader will encounter the greatest collection of villains and the weirdest and most puzzling mysteries ever seen in print. And there at the centre, in a London swathed in eddies of fog and illuminated by gaslight, is to be found the remarkable character of Sherlock Holmes and his staunch companion, Doctor John H. Watson. Few will be able to resist this invitation to step aboard the waiting hansom cab and rattle off along cobbled streets into unimagined dangers and intrigues.
With an Introduction and Notes by Peter Preston, University of Nottingham. Illustrations by S.L. Fildes and Hablot K. Browne (Phiz). Dickens's final novel, left unfinished at his death, is a tale of mystery whose fast-paced action takes place in an ancient cathedral city and in some of the darkest places in nineteenth-century London. Drugs, sexual obsession, colonial adventuring and puzzles about identity are among the novel's themes. At the centre of the plot lie the baffling disappearance of Edwin Drood and the many explanations of his whereabouts. A sombre and menacing atmosphere, a fascinating range of characters and Dickens's usual superb command of language combine to make this an exciting and tantalising story. Also included in this volume are a number of unjustly neglected stories and sketches, with subjects as different as murder and guilt and childhood romance. This unusual selection illustrates Dickens's immense creativity and versatility.
With an Introduction and Notes by Keith Wren, University of Kent at Canterbury. The story of Edmund Dantes, self-styled Count of Monte Cristo, is told with consummate skill. The victim of a miscarriage of justice, Dantes is fired by a desire for retribution and empowered by a stroke of providence. In his campaign of vengeance, he becomes an anonymous agent of fate. The sensational narrative of intrigue, betrayal, escape, and triumphant revenge moves at a cracking pace. Dumas' novel presents a powerful conflict between good and evil embodied in an epic saga of rich diversity that is complicated by the hero's ultimate discomfort with the hubristic implication of his own actions. Our edition is based on the most popular and enduring translation first published by Chapman and Hall in 1846. The name of the translator was never revealed.
With an Introduction and Notes by Esther Saxey The flaxen-haired beauty of the childlike Lady Audley would suggest that she has no secrets. But M.E. Braddon's classic novel of sensation uncovers the truth about its heroine in a plot involving bigamy, arson and murder. It challenges assumptions about the nature of femininity and investigates the narrow divide between sanity and insanity, using as its focus one of the most fascinating of all Victorian heroines. Combining elements of the detective novel, the psychological thriller and the romance of upper class life, Lady Audley's Secret was one of the most popular and successful novels of the nineteenth century and still exerts a powerful hold on readers.
With a new Introduction by Cedric Watts, Research Professor of English, University of Sussex. The diverse tales selected for this volume display the astonishing virtuosity of Rudyard Kipling's early writings. A Nobel prize-winner, Kipling was phenomenally productive and imaginative, displaying a literary mastery of idioms, technology and technical terms, exotic locations, and social range. He gained immense popularity, becoming (as these stories indicate) the knowledgeable spokesman for a wide public. Later, although Kipling's right-wing views increasingly incurred hostility, his creativity remained formidable. In this rich collection, we encounter bold realism, poignant nostalgia, dark comedy, the vividly horrific, the exuberantly fanciful and the disturbingly uncanny.
With an Introduction and Notes by Deborah Wynne, Chester College. Illustrated by Marcus Stone. Our Mutual Friend, Dickens' last complete novel, gives one of his most comprehensive and penetrating accounts of Victorian society. Its vision of a culture stifled by materialistic values emerges not just through its central narratives, but through its apparently incidental characters and scenes. The chief of its several plots centres on John Harmon who returns to England as his father's heir. He is believed drowned under suspicious circumstances - a situation convenient to his wish for anonymity until he can evaluate Bella Wilfer whom he must marry to secure his inheritance. The story is filled with colourful characters and incidents - the faded aristocrats and parvenus gathered at the Veneering's dinner table, Betty Higden and her terror of the workhouse and the greedy plottings of Silas Wegg.
With an Introduction by Doreen Roberts, Rutherford College, University of Kent at Canterbury 'Examine your words well, and you will find that even when you have no motive to be false, it is a very hard thing to say the exact truth, even about your immediate feelings...' Adam Bede (1859), George Eliot's first full-length novel, marked the emergence of an artist to rank with Scott and Dickens. Set in the English Midlands of farmers and village craftsmen at the turn of the eighteenth century, the book relates a story of seduction issuing in 'the inward suffering which is the worst form of Nemesis'. But it is also a rich and pioneering record - drawing on intimate knowledge and affectionate memory - of a rural world that we have lost. The movement of the narration between social realism and reflection on its own processes, the exploration of motives, and the constant authorial presence all bespeak an art that strives to connect the fictional with the actual.
Interest in supernatural phenomena was high during Charles Dickens' lifetime. He had always loved a good ghost story himself, particularly at Christmas time, and was open-minded, willing to accept, and indeed put to the test, the existence of spirits. His natural inclinations toward drama and the macabre made him a brilliant teller of ghost tales, and in the twenty stories presented here, which include his celebrated A Christmas Carol, the full range of his gothic talents can be seen. Chilling as some of these stories are, Dickens has managed to inject characteristically grotesque comedy as he writes of revenge, insanity, pre-cognition and dream visions, he indulges also in some debunking of contemporary credulity.
With a new Introduction by Cedric Watts, Research Professor of English, University of Sussex. Guy de Maupassant was a master of the short story. This collection displays his lively diversity, with tales that vary in theme and tone, ranging from tragedy and satire to comedy and farce. In a lucidly direct style, he provides unflinching realism and sceptical irony. He depicts the deceptions, hypocrisies and vanities at different levels of society. Prostitution is frankly described, while the harshness of war is deftly exposed. His tales have been televised and have influenced films, operas and rock music. Unillusioned but humane, Maupassant remains our contemporary.
With an Introduction and Notes by David Blair, University of Kent at Canterbury James Hogg's most ambitious prose work, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, is now widely acclaimed as his masterpiece. In the early years of the 18th century, Scotland is torn by religious and political strife. Hogg's sinner, justified by his Calvinist conviction that his own salvation is pre-ordained, is suspected of involvement in a series of bizarre and hideous crimes. A century later his memoirs reveal the extraordinary, macabre truth. The tale is chilling for its astute psychological accuracy as it illustrates, with power and economy, the dire effect of self-righteous bigotry on a fanatical character. In the first half of his new introduction David Blair provides a detailed explanation of the historical and religious contexts of Hogg's novel. In the second half he probes the book's brilliant, complex engagement with issues of identity, history and narrative itself.
Introduction and Notes by Robert Hampson, Royal Holloway College, University of London. Nostromo is the only man capable of the decisive action needed to save the silver of the San Tome mine and secure independence for Sulaco, Occidental province of the Latin American state of Costaguana. Is his integrity as unassailable as everyone believes, or will his ideals, like those which have inspired the struggling state itself, buckle under economic and political pressures? Nostromo is an extraordinary illustration of the impact of foreign commercial exploits on a young developing nation, and the problems of reconciling individual identity with a social role. Conrad peoples his imaginary Latin American state with a multi-national cast of fully-rounded characters to achieve striking realism and create a novel that he called 'my largest canvas'.
With an Introduction and Notes by David Blair. From its first publication in 1816 Rob Roy has been recognised as containing some of Scott's finest writing and most engaging, fully realised characters. The outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor was already a legendary, disputed figure by the time Scott wrote - a heroic Scottish Robin Hood to some, an over-glamorised, unprincipled predator to others. Scott approaches Rob Roy indirectly, through the adventures of his fictional hero, Frank Osbaldistone, amid the political turmoil of England and Scotland in 1715. With characteristic care Scott reconstructs the period and settings so as to place Rob Roy and the Scotland he inhabits amid conflicting moral, economic and historical forces. This edition features, besides a new critical introduction and extensive explanatory notes, an essay outlining clearly the novel's historical context and a glossary of Scottish words and phrases used by Scott's colourful, vernacular characters.
Translated by Constance Garnett, with an Introduction and Notes by Agnes Cardinal, Honorary Senior Lecturer in Comparative Literature at the University of Kent. Prince Myshkin returns to Russia from an asylum in Switzerland. As he becomes embroiled in the frantic amatory and financial intrigues which centre around a cast of brilliantly realised characters and which ultimately lead to tragedy, he emerges as a unique combination of the Christian ideal of perfection and Dostoevsky's own views, afflictions and manners. His serene selflessness is contrasted with the worldly qualities of every other character in the novel. Dostoevsky supplies a harsh indictment of the Russian ruling class of his day who have created a world which cannot accomodate the goodness of this idiot.
In the renowned translation by Edward FitzGerald, with an introduction by Professor Cedric Watts. Here is Edward FitzGerald's original translation of the Rubaiyat, the collection of poems attributed to the Persian astronomer and mathematician, Omar Khayyam. FitzGerald's distinctive version (1859), with its oriental imagery and sensual warmth, made an exotic appeal to the Victorian imagination. Its scepticism fitted a time of increasing religious doubt; its romantic melancholy resonated with the writings of Matthew Arnold and Thomas Hardy; and its epicureanism heralded the Aesthetic Movement. It has inspired composers, rock groups, artists and film-makers. As rendered by FitzGerald, the Rubaiyat remains a seductively subversive poem.
With an Introduction and Notes by Peter Merchant, Canterbury Christchurch University College The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a powerful and sometimes violent novel of expectation, love, oppression, sin, religion and betrayal. It portrays the disintegration of the marriage of Helen Huntingdon, the mysterious 'tenant' of the title, and her dissolute, alcoholic husband. Defying convention, Helen leaves her husband to protect their young son from his father's influence, and earns her own living as an artist. Whilst in hiding at Wildfell Hall, she encounters Gilbert Markham, who falls in love with her. On its first publication in 1848, Anne Bronte's second novel was criticised for being 'coarse' and 'brutal'. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall challenges the social conventions of the early nineteenth century in a strong defence of women's rights in the face of psychological abuse from their husbands. Anne Bronte's style is bold, naturalistic and passionate, and this novel, which her sister Charlotte considered 'an entire mistake', has earned Anne a position in English literature in her own right, not just as the youngest member of the Bronte family. This newly reset text is taken from a copy of the 1848 second edition in the Library of the Bronte Parsonage Museum and has been edited to correct known errors in that edition.
With an Introduction and Notes by Peter Preston, University of Nottingham. With Illustrations by Hablot K. Browne (Phiz). Little Dorrit is a classic tale of imprisonment, both literal and metaphorical, while Dickens' working title for the novel, Nobody's Fault, highlights its concern with personal responsibility in private and public life. Dickens' childhood experiences inform the vivid scenes in Marshalsea debtor's prison, while his adult perceptions of governmental failures shape his satirical picture of the Circumlocution Office. The novel's range of characters - the honest, the crooked, the selfish and the self-denying - offers a portrait of society about whose values Dickens had profound doubts. Little Dorrit is indisputably one of Dickens' finest works, written at the height of his powers. George Bernard Shaw called it 'a masterpiece among masterpices', a vedict shared by the novel's many admirers.
Introduction and Notes by Dr Claire Seymour, University of Kent at Canterbury. The proverbial phrase 'life's little ironies' was coined by Hardy for his third volume of short stories. These tales and sketches possess all the power of his novels: the wealth of description, the realistic portrayal of the quaint lore of Wessex, the 'Chaucerian' humour and characterisation, the shrewd and critical psychology, the poignant estimate of human nature and the brooding sense of wonder at the essential mystery of life. The tales which make up Life's Little Ironies tenderly re-create a rapidly vanishing rural world and scrutinise the repressions of fin-de-siecle bourgeois life. They share the many concerns of Hardy's last great novels, such as the failure of modern marriage and the insidious effects of social ambition on the family and community life. Ranging widely in length and complexity, they are unified by Hardy's quintessential irony, which embraces both the farcical and the tragic aspects of human existence.
With an Introduction and Notes by Merry M. Pawlowski, Professor and Chair, Department of English, California State University,Bakersfield. Virginia Woolf's singular technique in Mrs Dalloway heralds a break with the traditional novel form and reflects a genuine humanity and a concern with the experiences that both enrich and stultify existence. Society hostess, Clarissa Dalloway is giving a party. Her thoughts and sensations on that one day, and the interior monologues of others whose lives are interwoven with hers gradually reveal the characters of the central protagonists. Clarissa's life is touched by tragedy as the events in her day run parallel to those of Septimus Warren Smith, whose madness escalates as his life draws toward inevitable suicide.
With an Introduction and Notes by Dr Carole Jones, freelance writer and researcher. George Eliot's final novel, Daniel Deronda (1876), follows the intertwining lives of the beautiful but spoiled and selfish Gwendolene Harleth and the selfless yet alienated Daniel Deronda, as they search for personal and vocational fulfilment and sympathetic relationship. Set largely in the degenerate English aristocratic society of the 1860s, Daniel Deronda charts their search for meaningful lives against a background of imperialism, the oppression of women, and racial and religious prejudice. Gwendolen's attempts to escape a sadistic relationship and atone for past actions catalyse her friendship with Deronda, while his search for origins leads him, via Judaism, to a quest for moral growth. Eliot's radical dual narrative constantly challenges all solutions and ensures that the novel is as controversial now, as when it first appeared.
With an Introduction and Notes by Phillip Mallett, Senior Lecturer in English, University of St Andrews. Educated beyond her station, Grace Melbury returns to the woodland village of little Hintock and cannot marry her intended, Giles Winterborne. Her alternative choice proves disastrous, and in a moving tale that has vibrant characters, many humorous moments and genuine pathos coupled with tragic irony, Hardy eschews a happy ending. With characteristic derision, he exposes the cruel indifference of the archaic legal system off his day, and shows the tragic consequences of untimely adherence to futile social and religious proprieties
With an Introduction and Notes by Joe Andrew, Professor of Russian Literature, Keele University. Anton Chekhov is widely regarded as one of the greatest writers of short stories. He constructs stories where action and drama are implied rather than described openly, and which leave much to the reader's imagination. This collection contains some of the most important of his earliest and shortest comic sketches, as well as examples of his great, mature works. Throughout, the doctor-turned-writer displays compassion for human suffering and misfortune, but is always able to see the comical, even farcical aspects of the human condition. Chekhov sees and depicts life with unwavering honesty and truthfulness, although a clear moral sense can be detected beneath his apparent objectivity.
With a new Introduction by Cedric Watts, Research Professor of English, University of Sussex. Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is a huge literary paradox, for it is both a novel and an anti-novel. As a comic novel replete with bawdy humour and generous sentiments, it introduces us to a vivid group of memorable characters, variously eccentric, farcical and endearing. As an anti-novel, it is a deliberately tantalising and exuberantly egoistic work, ostentatiously digressive, involving the reader in the labyrinthine creation of a purported autobiography. This mercurial eighteenth-century text thus anticipates modernism and postmodernism. Vibrant and bizarre, Tristram Shandy provides an unforgettable experience. We may see why Nietzsche termed Sterne 'the most liberated spirit of all time'.
With an Introduction by Lionel Kelly, University of Reading. Translated by C.J. Hogarth. Fathers and Sons is one of the greatest nineteenth century Russian novels, and has long been acclaimed as Turgenev's finest work. It is a political novel set in a domestic context, with a universal theme, the generational divide between fathers and sons. Set in 1859 at the moment when the Russian autocratic state began to move hesitantly towards social and political reform, the novel explores the conflict between the liberal-minded fathers of Russian reformist sympathies and their free-thinking intellectual sons whose revolutionary ideology threatened the stability of the state. At its centre is Evgeny Bazorov, a strong-willed antagonist of all forms of social orthodoxy who proclaims himself a nihilist and believes in the need to overthrow all the institutions of the state. As the novel develops Bazarov's political ambitions become fatally meshed with emotional and private concerns, and his end is a tragic failure. The novel caused a bitter furore on its publication in 1862, and this, a year later, drove Turgenev from Russia.
The father of science fiction, Jules Verne, invites you to join the intrepid and eccentric Professor Liedenbrock and his companions on a thrilling and dramatic expedition as they travel down a secret tunnel in a volcano in Iceland on a journey which will lead them to the centre of the earth. Along the way they encounter various hazards and witness many incredible sights such as the underground forest, illuminated by electricity, the Great Geyser, the battle between prehistoric monsters, the strange whispering gallery, giant insects and the vast subterranean sea with its ferocious whirlpool. Although published in the nineteenth century, Journey to the Centre of the Earth has lost none of its power and potency to excite and engage the modern reader. The novel has been filmed many times, but nothing can compare with the thrills and excitement generated by the written narrative. It is supreme escapist entertainment for all ages.
An immediate best-seller on publication, Ben Hur remains a dazzling achievement by any standards. A thoroughly exhilarating tale of betrayal, revenge and salvation, it is the only novel that ranks with Uncle Tom's Cabin as a genuine American folk possession. This was the book that finally overcame the inherent suspicion of fiction that still prevailed in much of america in the late nineteenth century. Wallace writes with a freshness and immediacy that brings every action-packed scene to life and illuminates the geography, ethnology and customs of the ancient world.
With a new Introduction by Cedric Watts, Research Professor of English, University of Sussex. A Pair of Blue Eyes, though early in the sequence of Hardy's novels, is lively and gripping. Its dramatic cliff-hanging episode, for example, is at once tense, ironic, feministic and erotic. With settings in Wessex and London, the novel also has some strongly autobiographical features, as the blue-eyed heroine, Elfride Swancourt, is based largely on Emma Gifford, who became Thomas Hardy's first wife. Elfride's vivacious nature attracts several lovers, but she is beset by sexual prejudice, and the ensuing ironies reveal the constraints of her times. A Pair of Blue Eyes provides an engaging and moving experience for today's readers.
With a new Introduction by David Stuart Davies. 'Surely no man would take up my profession if it were not that danger attracts him.' In The Casebook, you can read the final twelve stories that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote about his brilliant detective. They are perhaps the most unusual and the darkest that he penned. Treachery, mutilation and the terrible consequences of infidelity are just some of the themes explored in these stories, along with atmospheric touches of the gothic, involving a bloodsucking vampire, crypts at midnight and strange bones in a furnace. The collection His Last Bow features some of Sherlock Holmes' most dramatic cases, including the vicious revenge intrigue connected with 'The Red Circle' and the insidious murders in 'The Devil's Foot'. The title story recounts how Sherlock Holmes is brought out of retirement to help the government foil a German plot on the eve of the First World War. These two fascinating sets of stories make a glorious farewell to the greatest detective of them all and his erstwhile companion, Dr Watson.
Introduction and Notes by Michael Irwin, Professor of English Literature, University of Kent at Canterbury. Wessex Tales was the first collection of Hardy's short stories, and they reflect the experience of a novelist at the height of his powers. These seven tales, in which characters and scenes are imbued with a haunting realism, show considerable diversity of content, form and style, and range from fantasy to realism and from tragedy to comedy. In insisting on the unusual nature of any story worth the telling, and with his gift for irony and compassion, Hardy achieves more in the genre of the short story than any English novelist before him.
With illustrations by Edward Landseer, Daniel Maclise, Clarkson Stanfield, Frank Stone, Richard Doyle, John Leech and John Tenniel, and with a new Introduction by Cedric Watts, Research Professor of English, University of Sussex. In these five long stories, written specifically for Christmas, Dickens combines his concern for social ills with the myths and memories of childhood and traditional seasonal lore. A Christmas Carol, the first of the selection, has become a touchstone of English festive fiction and an enduring favourite internationally. Repeatedly adapted, parodied, staged and filmed, this richly influential tale is powerfully vivid and moving. The other stories, The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life and The Haunted Man, blend whimsy, sentiment, comedy, satire, the didactic and the fantastic, developing resourcefully the theme of individual and social regeneration.
Translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude. Introduction and Notes by E.B. Greenwood, University of Kent. Anna Karenina is one of the most loved and memorable heroines of literature. Her overwhelming charm dominates a novel of unparalleled richness and density. Tolstoy considered this book to be his first real attempt at a novel form, and it addresses the very nature of society at all levels,- of destiny, death, human relationships and the irreconcilable contradictions of existence. It ends tragically, and there is much that evokes despair, yet set beside this is an abounding joy in life's many ephemeral pleasures, and a profusion of comic relief.
Introduction and Notes by Dr T.C.B. Cook Illustrations by Hablot K. Browne (Phiz). Following the success of Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby was hailed as a comic triumph and firmly established Dickens as a 'literary gentleman'. It has a full supporting cast of delectable characters that range from the iniquitous Wackford Squeers and his family, to the delightful Mrs Nickleby, taking in the eccentric Crummles and his travelling players, the Mantalinis, the Kenwigs and many more. Combining these with typically Dickensian elements of burlesque and farce, the novel is eminently suited to dramatic adaptation. So great was the impact as it left Dickens' pen that many pirated versions appeared in print before the original was even finished. Often neglected by critics, Nicholas Nickleby has never ceased to delight readers and is widely regarded as one of the greatest comic masterpieces of nineteenth-centure literature.
Introduction and Notes by Norman Vance, Professor of English, University of Sussex. Jude Fawley is a rural stone mason with intellectual aspirations. Frustrated by poverty and the indifference of the academic institutions at the University of Christminster, his only chance of fulfilment seems to lie in his relationship with his unconventional cousin, Sue Bridehead. But life as social outcasts proves undermining, and when tragedy occurs, Sue has no resilience and Jude is left in despair. Hardy's portrait of Jude, the idealist and dreamer who is a prisoner of his own physical nature, is one of the most haunting and desperate of his creations. Jude the Obscure is a dark yet compassionate account of the insurmountable frustrations of human existence which reflect Hardy's yearning for the spiritual values of the past and his despair at their decline.
The Aeneid is Virgil's Masterpiece. His epic poem recounts the story of Rome's legendary origins from the ashes of Troy and proclaims her destiny of world dominion. This optimistic vision is accompanied by an undertow of sadness at the price that must be paid in human suffering to secure Rome's future greatness. The tension between the public voice of celebration and the tragic private voice is given full expression both in the doomed love of Dido and Aeneas, and in the fateful clash between the Trojan leader and the Italian hero, Turnus. Hailed by T.S. Eliot as 'the classic of all Europe', Virgil's Aeneid has enjoyed a unique and enduring influence on European literature, art and politics for the past two thousand years.
With an Introduction and Notes by Karl Ashley Smith, University of St Andrews. Illustrations by Hablot K. Browne (Phiz). Mr Dombey is a man obsessed with his firm. His son is groomed from birth to take his place within it, despite his visionary eccentricity and declining health. But Dombey also has a daughter, whose unfailing love for her father goes unreturned. 'Girls' said Mr Dombey, 'have nothing to do with Dombey and Son'. When Walter Gay, a young clerk in her father's office, rescues her from a bewildering experience in the streets of London, his unforgettable friends believe he is well on his way to receiving her hand in marriage and inheriting the company. It is to be a very different type of story. Dombey and Son moved grown men to tears (Thackeray despaired of 'writing against such power as this'), but its rich, comic characters and their joyful explosions of language draw laughter with equally unerring magic.
Not recognised as a masterpiece until years after Anthony Trollope's death (perhaps it made people flinch a little too much), The Way We Live Now is just as current and relevant as it was when it was written. Corruption, social climbing, and scandal is as prevalent today as it has always been and the main character Melmotte is truly wonderful, because he is so very dreadful. A book to make you smirk, wince, and nod. There are surely some well known people alive today that would easily step between the pages and feel right at home. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
Edited, introduced and annotated by Cedric Watts, M.A., Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of English, University of Sussex. The Wordsworth Classics' Shakespeare Series presents a newly-edited sequence of William Shakespeare's works. The textual editing takes account of recent scholarship while giving the material a careful reappraisal. Much Ado About Nothing has long been celebrated as one of Shakespeare's most popular comedies. The central relationship, between Benedick and Beatrice, is wittily combative until love prevails. Broader comedy is provided by Dogberry, Verges and the watchmen. The drama ranges between the destructively sinister and the lyrically romantic, giving the whole a complex and sometimes problematic character. Numerous revivals, in the theatre and on screen, have displayed the lively variety and interpretative openness of this engaging comedy.
Edited, introduced and annotated by Cedric Watts, M.A., Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of English, University of Sussex. In the hope of saving her brother's life, should a woman submit to rape? Should the law be respected when its administrator is corrupt? How powerful in the state should religion become? Although Measure for Measure ends like a comedy, with reconciliations, forgiveness and marriages, it has often been regarded as one of Shakespeare's problem plays. The drama shows the difficulty of effecting an appropriate balance between judicial severity and mercy, between sexual repression and decadence, and between political vigilance and social manipulation. These problems remain topical, and, in Measure for Measure, they are given immediacy by vivid character-conflicts and memorably intense poetry. This is one of Shakespeare's most probing and powerful works.
With a new Introduction by Professor Cedric Watts, M.A., Ph.D. This selection of a hundred of O. Henry's succinct tales displays the range, humour and humanity of a perennially popular short-story writer. Here Henry gives a richly colourful and exuberantly entertaining panorama of social life, ranging from thieves to tycoons, from the streets of New York to the prairies of Texas. These stories are famed for their 'trick endings' or 'twists in the tail': repeatedly the plot twirls adroitly, compounding ironies. Indeed, O. Henry's cunning plots surpass those of the ingenious rogues he creates. His style is genial, lively and witty, displaying a virtuoso's command of language and allusion. This great collection offers delights for the mind, imagination and emotions.
With an Introduction and Notes by Lionel Kelly, University of Reading. In 1915, Lawrence's frank representation of sexuality in The Rainbow caused a furore and the novel was seized by the police and banned almost as soon as it was published. Today it is recognised as one of the classic English novels of the twentieth century. The Rainbow is about three generations of the Brangwen family of Nottinghamshire from the 1840s to the early years of the twentieth century. Within this framework Lawrence's essential concern is with the passional lives of his characters as he explores the pressures that determine their lives, using a religious symbolism in which the 'rainbow' of the title is his unifying motif. His primary focus is on the individual's struggle to growth and fulfilment within marriage and changing social circumstances, a process shown to grow more difficult through the generations. Young Ursula Brangwen, whose story is continued in Women in Love, is finally the central figure in Lawrence's anatomy of the confining structures of English social life and the impact of industrialisation and urbanisation on the human psyche.
With an Introduction and Notes by Peter Preston, University of Nottingham. Illustrations by Hablot K. Browne (Phiz) and George Cruickshank. The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-41), with its combination of the sentimental, the grotesque and the socially concerned, and its story of pursuit and courage, which sets the downtrodden and the plucky against the malevolent and the villainous, was an immediate popular success. Little Nell quickly became one of Dickens' most celebrated characters, who so captured the imagination of his readers that while the novel was being serialised, many of them wrote to him about her fate. Dickens was conscious of the 'many friends' the novel had won for him, and 'the many hearts it turned to me when they were full of private sorrow', and it remains one of the most familiar and well-loved of his works.
With a new Introduction by Cedric Watts, M.A., Ph.D., Research Professor of English, University of Sussex. These lively, varied and thought-provoking science-fiction stories (from the era of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells) are linked by their imposing central character, the pugnaciously adventurous and outrageous Professor Challenger. The Lost World (forebear of Jurassic Park) vividly depicts a perilous region in which the explorers confront creatures from the prehistoric era. The Poison Belt presents an eerie doomsday scenario, while The Disintegration Machine satirically comments on scientific cynicism. In When the World Screamed, the planet responds violently to an experimental incursion. The strangest item is The Land of Mist, which seeks to reconcile science with spiritualism. This memorable collection provides imaginative entertainment, entrancing escapism and bold provocation.
With an Introduction and Notes by Charles P.C. Pettit. Thomas Hardy's only historical novel, The Trumpet Major is set in Wessex during the Napoleonic Wars. Hardy skilfully immerses us in the life of the day, making us feel the impact of historical events on the immemorial local way of life - the glamour of the coming of George III and his soldiery, fears of the press-gang and invasion, and the effect of distant but momentous events like the Battle of Trafalgar. He interweaves a compelling, bitter-sweet romantic love story of the rivalry of two brothers for the hand of the heroine Anne Garland, played out against the loves of a lively gallery of other characters. While there are elements of sadness and even tragedy, The Trumpet-Major shows Hardy's skills of story-telling, characterisation and description in a novel of vitality, comedy and warmth.
Introduction and Notes by Gene M. Moore, Universiteit van Amsterdam. Generally regarded as the pre-eminent work of Conrad's shorter fiction, Heart of Darkness is a chilling tale of horror which, as the author intended, is capable of many interpretations. Set in the Congo during the period of rapid colonial expansion in the 19th century, the story deals with the highly disturbing effects of economic, social and political exploitation of European and African societies and the cataclysmic behaviour this induced in some individuals. The other two stories in this book - Youth and The End of the Tether - concern the sea and those who sail upon it, a genre in which Conrad reigns supreme.
With an Introduction and Notes by Adam Roberts, Royal Holloway, University of London. The product of more than a decade's continuous work (1598-1611), Chapman's translation of Homer's great poem of war is a magnificent testimony to the power of The Iliad. In muscular, onward-rolling verse Chapman retells the story of Achilles, the great warrior, and his terrible wrath before the walls of besieged Troy, and the destruction it wreaks on both Greeks and Trojans. Chapman regarded the translation of this epic, and of Homer's Odyssey (also available in Wordsworth Editions) as his life's work, and dedicated himself to capturing the 'soul' of the poem. Swinburne praised the resulting translation for its 'romantic and sometimes barbaric grandeur, its freshness, strength, and inexhaustible fire', qualities that reflect the grandeur, fire and brutality of the original poem. This new edition includes a critical introduction and extensive notes, rendering Chapman's extraordinary poetic masterpiece accessible to modern readers.
With an Introduction and Notes by Claire Seymour, University of Kent at Canterbury. The Return of the Native is widely recognised as the most representative of Hardy's Wessex novels. He evokes the dismal presence and menacing beauty of Egdon Heath - reaching out to touch the lives and fate of all who dwell on it. The central figure is Clym Yeobright, the returning 'native' and the story tells of his love for the beautiful but capricious Eustacia Vye. As the narrative unfolds and character after character is driven to self-destruction the presence of the Heath becomes all-embracing, while Clym becomes a travelling preacher in an attempt to assuage his guilt.
With an Introduction and Notes by Merry M. Pawlowski, Professor and Chair, Department of English, California State University, Bakersfield. Virginia Woolf's Orlando 'The longest and most charming love letter in literature', playfully constructs the figure of Orlando as the fictional embodiment of Woolf's close friend and lover, Vita Sackville-West. Spanning three centuries, the novel opens as Orlando, a young nobleman in Elizabeth's England, awaits a visit from the Queen and traces his experience with first love as England under James I lies locked in the embrace of the Great Frost. At the midpoint of the novel, Orlando, now an ambassador in Costantinople, awakes to find that he is a woman, and the novel indulges in farce and irony to consider the roles of women in the 18th and 19th centuries. As the novel ends in 1928, a year consonant with full suffrage for women. Orlando, now a wife and mother, stands poised at the brink of a future that holds new hope and promise for women.
Introduction and Notes by David Blair, University of Kent at Canterbury. Set in the reign of Richard I, Coeur de Lion, Ivanhoe is packed with memorable incidents - sieges, ambushes and combats - and equally memorable characters: Cedric of Rotherwood, the die-hard Saxon; his ward Rowena; the fierce Templar knight, Sir Brian de Bois-Gilbert; the Jew, Isaac of York, and his beautiful, spirited daughter Rebecca; Wamba and Gurth, jester and swineherd respectively. Scott explores the conflicts between the Crown and the powerful Barons, between the Norman overlords and the conquered Saxons, and between Richard and his scheming brother, Prince John. At the same time he brings into the novel the legendary Robin Hood and his band, and creates a brilliant, colourful account of the age of chivalry with all its elaborate rituals and costumes and its values of honour and personal glory.
Edited, introduced and annotated by Cedric Watts, M.A., Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of English, University of Sussex. The Winter's Tale, one of Shakespeare's later romantic comedies, offers a striking and challenging mixture of tragic and violent events, lyrical love-speeches, farcical comedy, pastoral song and dance, and, eventually, dramatic revelations and reunions. Thematically, there is a rich orchestration of the contrasts between age and youth, corruption and innocence, decline and regeneration. Both Leontes' murderous jealousy and Perdita's love-relationship with Florizel are eloquently intense. In the theatre, The Winter's Tale often proves to be diversely entertaining and deeply moving.
Introduction and Notes by Dinny Thorold, University of Westminster. Illustrated by F. Walker and Maurice Greiffenhagen. Unusually for Dickens, Hard Times is set, not in London, but in the imaginary mid-Victorian Northern industrial town of Coketown with its blackened factories, downtrodden workers and polluted environment. This is the soulless domain of the strict utilitarian Thomas Gradgrind and the heartless factory owner Josiah Bounderby. However human joy is not excluded thanks to 'Mr Sleary's Horse-Riding' circus, a gin-soaked and hilarious troupe of open-hearted and affectionate people who act as an antidote to all the drudgery and misery endured by the ordinary citizens of Coketown. Macaulay attacked Hard Times for its 'sullen socialism', but 20th-century critics such as George Bernard Shaw and F.R. Leavis have praised this book in the highest terms, while readers the world over have found inspiration and enjoyment from what is both Dickens' shortest completed novel and also one of his important statements on Victorian society.
With an Introduction and Notes by Dr Claire Seymour, University of Kent at Canterbury. Under the Greenwood Tree is Hardy's most bright, confident and optimistic novel. This delightful portrayal of a picturesque rural society, tinged with gentle humour and quiet irony, established Hardy as a writer. However, the novel is not merely a charming rural idyll. The double-plot, in which the love story of Dick Dewey and Fancy Day is inter-related with a tragic chapter in the history of Mellstock Choir, hints at the poignant disappearance of a long-lived and highly-valued traditional way of life.
Introduction and Notes by R.T. Jones, Honorary Fellow of the University of York. Although the shortest of George Eliot's novels, Silas Marner is one of her most admired and loved works. It tells the sad story of the unjustly exiled Silas Marner - a handloom linen weaver of Raveloe in the agricultural heartland of England - and how he is restored to life by the unlikely means of the orphan child Eppie. Silas Marner is a tender and moving tale of sin and repentance set in a vanished rural world and holds the reader's attention until the last page as Eppie's bonds of affection for Silas are put to the test.
Agnes Grey is a trenchant expose of the frequently isolated, intellectually stagnant and emotionally starved conditions under which many governesses worked in the mid-nineteenth century. This is a deeply personal novel written from the author's own experience and as such Agnes Grey has a power and poignancy which mark it out as a landmark work of literature dealing with the social and moral evolution of English society during the last century.
With an Introduction and Notes by Stuart Hutchinson, University of Kent at Canterbury. The Diamond as Big as the Ritz is an ominous fable about the pursuit of great wealth. Readers will be transported to a fabulous fantasy land of such opulence that its very existence has to remain a jealously guarded secret. Fatal consequences lie in store for 'bona fide' guests and uninvited visitors alike, while the sybaritic luxury of the place is evoked in an effortless prose style which is quintessentially F. Scott Fitzgerald. Also featured in this volume are The Cut-Glass Bowl, May Day, The Rich Boy, Crazy Sunday, An Alcoholic Case, The Lees of Happiness, The Lost Decade and Babylon Revisited.
With an Introduction and Notes by Dr Sally Minogue. The Professor is Charlotte Brontes first novel, in which she audaciously inhabits the voice and consciousness of a man, William Crimsworth. Like Jane Eyre he is parentless; like Lucy Snowe in Villette he leaves the certainties of England to forge a life in Brussels. But as a man, William has freedom of action, and as a writer Bronte is correspondingly liberated, exploring the relationship between power and sexual desire. William's first person narration reveals his attraction to the dominating directress of the girls' school where he teaches, played out in the school's 'secret garden'. Balanced against this is his more temperate relationship with one of his pupils, Frances Henri, in which mastery and submission interplay. The Professor was published only after Charlotte Brontes death; today it gives us a fascinating insight into the first stirrings of her supreme creative imagination.
Widely regarded as one of Edith Wharton's greatest achievements, The Age of Innocence is not only subtly satirical, but also a sometimes dark and disturbing comedy of manners in its exploration of the 'eternal triangle' of love. Set against the backdrop of upper-class New York society during the 1870s, the author's combination of powerful prose combined with a thoroughly researched and meticulous evocation of the manners and style of the period, has delighted readers since the novel's first publication in 1920. In 1921 The Age of Innocence achieved a double distinction - it won the Pulitzer Prize and it was the first time this prestigious award had been won by a woman author.
With an Introduction by Cedric Watts, Research Professor of English, University of Sussex. This anthology of tales by Rudyard Kipling contains some of the most memorable and popular examples of the genre of which he is an undisputed master. The Man Who would be King (later adapted as a spectacular film) is a vivid narrative of exotic adventure and disaster. The other tales include the ironic, horrific, poignant and haunting. Here Kipling displays his descriptive panache and realistic boldness. Shrewd, audacious, abrasive and challenging, he remains absorbingly readable.
With an Introduction and Notes by Dr John Bowen, Department of English, University of Keele. Illustrations by Hablot K. Browne (Phiz). Martin Chuzzlewit is Charles Dickens' comic masterpiece about which his biographer, Forster, noted that it marked a crucial phase in the author's development as he began to delve deeper into the 'springs of character'. Old Martin Chuzzlewit, tormented by the greed and selfishness of his family, effectively drives his grandson, young Martin, to undertake a voyage to America. It is a voyage which will have crucial consequences not only for young Martin, but also for his grandfather and his grandfather's servant, Mary Graham with whom young Martin is in love. The commercial swindle of the Anglo-Bengalee company and the fraudulent Eden Land Corporation have a topicality in our own time. This strong sub-plot shows evidence of Dickens' mastery of crime where characters such as the criminal Jonas Chuzzlewit, the old nurse Mrs Gamp, and the arch-hypocrite Seth Pecksniff are the equal to any in his other great novels. Generations of readers have also delighted in Dickens' wonderful description of the London boarding-house - 'Todgers'.
With a new Introduction by Cedric Watts, Research Professor of English, University of Sussex. Kim is Rudyard Kipling's finest work. Now controversial, this novel is a memorably vivid evocation of the life and landscapes of India in the late nineteenth century. Kim himself is a resourceful lad who befriends a lama, an ageing priest; and both embark on a combined quest. Whereas Kim has an insatiable interest in the varied activities around him, the lama seeks redemption from the 'Wheel of Life'. Kim becomes involved in the 'Great Game':, undertaking espionage for the British rulers. This engrossing and moving novel, with its diversity of memorable characters, offers many insights into political, religious and social tensions.
With an Introduction and Notes by Michael Irwin, Professor of English Literature, University of Kent at Canterbury. The Diary of a Nobody is so unassuming a work that even its author, George Grossmith, seemed unaware that he had produced a masterpiece. For more than a century this wonderfully comic portrayal of suburban life and values has remained in print, a source of delight to generations of readers, and a major literary influence, much imitated but never equalled. If you don't recognise yourself at some point in The Diary you are probably less than human. If you can read it without laughing aloud you have no sense of humour.
Edited, introduced and annotated by Cedric Watts, M.A., Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of English, University of Sussex. The Wordsworth Classics' Shakespeare's Series presents a newly-edited sequence of William Shakespeare's works. The textual editing takes account of recent scholarship while giving the material a careful reappraisal. The Tempest is the most lyrical, profound and fascinating of Shakespeare's late comedies. Prospero, long exiled from Italy with his daughter Miranda, seeks to use his magical powers to defeat his former enemies. Eventually, having proved merciful, he divests himself of that magic, his 'art', and prepares to return to the mainland. The Tempest has often been regarded as Shakespeare's 'farewell to the stage' before his retirement. In the past, critics emphasised the romantically beautiful features of The Tempest, seeing it as an imaginative fantasia. In recent decades, however, The Tempest has also been treated as a potently political drama which offers controversial insights into colonialism and racism. Frequently staged and diversely filmed, the play has influenced numerous poets and novelists.
With an Introduction and Notes by Michael Irwin, Professor of English Literature, University of Kent at Canterbury. None of the great Victorian novels is more vivid and readable than The Mayor of Casterbridge. Set in the heart of Hardy's Wessex, the 'partly real, partly dream country' he founded on his native Dorset, it charts the rise and self-induced downfall of a single 'man of character'. The fast-moving and ingeniously contrived narrative is Shakespearian in its tragic force, and features some of the author's most striking episodes and brilliant passages of description.
Edited, introduced and annotated by Cedric Watts, M.A., Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of English, University of Sussex. The Wordsworth Classics' Shakespeare Series presents a newly-edited sequence of William Shakespeare's works. The textual editing takes account of recent scholarship while giving the material a careful reappraisal. King Lear has been widely acclaimed as Shakespeare's most powerful tragedy. Elemental and passionate, it encompasses the horrific and the heart-rending. Love and hate, loyalty and treachery, cruelty and self-sacrifice: all these contend in a tempestuous drama which has become an enduring classic of the world's literature. In the theatre and on screen King Lear continues to challenge and enthral. This Wordsworth edition of King Lear provides a comprehensive, integrated text of the play.
With an Introduction and Notes by Dr Nicola Bradbury, University of Reading. This simple and haunting story captures the transcience of life and its surrounding emotions. To the Lighthouse is the most autobiographical of Virginia Woolf's novels. It is based on her own early experiences, and while it touches on childhood and children's perceptions and desires, it is at its most trenchant when exploring adult relationships, marriage and the changing class-structure in the period spanning the Great War.
With an Introduction and Notes by Professor Roger Cardinal. University of Kent at Canterbury. Translationsare by Paul Desages (Around the World in Eighty Days) and Arthur Chambers (Five Weeks in a Balloon). JULES VERNE (1828-1905) POSSESSED that rare storyteller's gift of being able to present the far-fetched and the downright unbelievable in such a way as effortlessly to inspire his reader's allegiance and trust. This volume contains two of his best-loved yarns, chosen from among the sixty-four titles of Les Voyages Extraordinaires, Verne's pioneering contribution to the canon of modern science fiction. Around the World in Eighty Days (1873) relates the hair-raising journey made as a wager by the Victorian gentleman Phileas Fogg, who succeeds - but only just! - in circling the globe within eighty days. The dour Fogg's obsession with his timetable is complemented by the dynamism and versatility of his French manservant, Passepartout, whose talent for getting into scrapes brings colour and suspense to the race against time. Five Weeks in a Balloon (1863) was Verne's first novel. It documents an apocryphal jaunt across the continent of Africa in a hydrogen balloon designed by the omniscient, imperturbable and ever capable Dr Fergusson, the prototype of the Vernian adventurer.
Introduction and Notes by Doreen Roberts, Rutherford College, University of Kent at Canterbury. Middlemarch is a complex tale of idealism, disillusion, profligacy, loyalty and frustrated love. This penetrating analysis of the life of an English provincial town during the time of social unrest prior to the Reform Bill of 1832 is told through the lives of Dorothea Brooke and Dr Tertius Lydgate and includes a host of other paradigm characters who illuminate the condition of English life in the mid-nineteenth century. Henry James described Middlemarch as a 'treasurehouse of detail' while Virginia Woolf famously endorsed George Eliot's masterpiece as 'one of the few English novels written for grown-up people.
With a new Introduction by Cedric Watts, Research Professor of English, University of Sussex. Richard Hannay finds a corpse in his flat, and becomes involved in a plot by spies to precipitate war and subvert British naval power. The resourceful victim of a manhunt, he is pursued by both the police and the ruthless conspirators. The Thirty-Nine Steps is a seminal 'chase' thriller, rapid and vivid. It has been widely influential and frequently dramatised: the film directed by Alfred Hitchcock became a screen classic. This engaging novel also provides insights into the inter-action of patriotism, fear and prejudice.
With an Introduction and Notes by Doreen Roberts, University of Kent at Canterbury. Illustrations by Hablot K. Browne (Phiz). Bleak House is one of Dickens' finest achievements, establishing his reputation as a serious and mature novelist, as well as a brilliant comic writer. It is at once a complex mystery story that fully engages the reader in the work of detection, and an unforgettable indictment of an indifferent society. Its representations of a great city's underworld, and of the law's corruption and delay, draw upon the author's personal knowledge and experience. But it is his symbolic art that projects these things in a vision that embraces black comedy, cosmic farce, and tragic ruin. In a unique creative experiment, Dickens divides the narrative between his heroine, Esther Summerson, who is psychologically interesting in her own right, and an unnamed narrator whose perspective both complements and challenges hers.
With an Introduction and Notes by Dr Pamela Knights, Department of English Studies, Durham University. Lorna Doone, a Romance of Exmoor is an historical novel of high adventure set in the South West of England during the turbulent time of Monmouth's rebellion (1685). It is also a moving love story told through the life of the young farmer John Ridd, as he grows to manhood determined to right the wrongs in his land, and to win the heart and hand of the beautiful Lorna Doone. Continuously in print since its first publication in 1869, Lorna Doone has remained perennially popular with a wide readership ever since.
With an Introduction by Roger Clark, University of Kent at Canterbury. Translation by Eleanor Marx-Aveling. Castigated for offending against public decency, Madame Bovary has rarely failed to cause a storm. For Flaubert's contemporaries, the fascination came from the novelist's meticulous account of provincial matters. For the writer, subject matter was subordinate to his anguished quest for aesthetic perfection. For his twentieth-century successors the formal experiments that underpin Madame Bovary look forward to the innovations of contemporary fiction. Flaubert's protagonist in particular has never ceased to fascinate. Romantic heroine or middle-class neurotic, flawed wife and mother or passionate protester against the conventions of bourgeois society, simultaneously the subject of Flaubert's admiration and the butt of his irony - Emma Bovary remains one of the most enigmatic of fictional creations. Flaubert's meticulous approach to the craft of fiction, his portrayal of contemporary reality, his representation of an unforgettable cast of characters make Madame Bovary one of the major landmarks of modern fiction.
Edited, introduced and annotated by Cedric Watts, M.A., Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of English, University of Sussex. The Wordsworth Classics' Shakespeare's Series presents a newly-edited sequence of William Shakespeare's works. The textual editing takes account of recent scholarship while giving the material a careful reappraisal. The Taming of the Shrew is one of the most famous and controversial of Shakespeare's comedies. The central relationship, in which Petruchio boisterously 'tames' a rebellious Kate, has often appeared problematic. In the theatre, it has been treated in a diversity of ways, so that Kate's apparent capitulation varies between the ironic and the sincere. Feminists have been divided in their responses. The provocative vitality of this comedy has been transmitted by numerous adaptations for stage and screen, notably the film directed by Franco Zeffirelli and the Cole Porter musical, Kiss Me, Kate.
Edited, introduced and annotated by Cedric Watts, M.A., Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of English, University of Sussex. Antony and Cleopatra is one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies: a spectacular, widely-ranging drama of love and war, passion and politics. Antony is divided between the responsibilities of imperial power and the intensities of his sexual relationship with Cleopatra. She, variously generous and ruthless, loving and jealous, petulant and majestic, emerges as Shakespeare's most complex depiction of a woman: 'Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale Her infinite variety.' Unsurpassed in sumptous eloquence and powerful characterisation, Anthony and Cleopatra deservedly retains its popularity in the theatre. Its insights into the corruptions of power and the ambiguities of desire remain timely. This volume is part of the Wordsworth Classics' Shakespeare Series, in which each volume has been edited by Cedric Watts. Readers wishing to know more of Cedric Watts' work should buy his 'Shakespeare Puzzles', published by PublishNation (ISBN 978-1-291-66410-2), available from Amazon (both in printed and Kindle editions) and through all good bookshops.
With an Introduction and Notes by Dr Sally Minogue, Department of English, Canterbury Christ Church University College. Based on Charlotte Bronte's personal experience as a teacher in Brussels, Villette is a moving tale of repressed feelings and subjection to cruel circumstance and position, borne with heroic fortitude. Rising above the frustrations of confinement within a rigid social order, it is also the story of a woman's right to love and be loved.
With an Introduction and Notes by R.T.Jones, Honorary Fellow of the University of York. The novel follows the life of its eponymous heroine, Moll Flanders, through its many vicissitudes, which include her early seduction, careers in crime and prostitution, conviction for theft and transportation to the plantations of Virginia, and her ultimate redemption and prosperity in the New World. Moll Flanders was one of the first social novels to be published in English and draws heavily on Defoe's experience of the topography and social conditions prevailing in the London of the late 17th century.
Introduction and Notes by R.T. Jones, Honorary Fellow of the University of York. This novel, based on George Eliot's own experiences of provincial life, is a masterpiece of ambiguity in which moral choice is subjected to the hypocrisy of the Victorian age. As the headstrong Maggie Tulliver grows into womanhood, the deep love which she has for her brother Tom turns into conflict, because she cannot reconcile his bourgeois standards with her own lively intelligence. Maggie is unable to adapt to her community or break free from it, and the result, on more than one level, is tragedy.
'All decent people live beyond their incomes nowadays, and those who aren't respectable live beyond other people's'. Saki (H.H. Munro) stands alongside Anton Chekhov and O Henry as a master of the short story. His extraordinary stories are a mixture of humorous satire, irony and the macabre, in which the stupidities and hypocrisy of conventional society are viciously pilloried. This collection includes Sredni Vastor and The Unrest Cure. 'We all know that Prime Ministers are wedded to the truth, but like other married couples they sometimes live apart'
With an Introduction and Notes by Keith Wren, University of Kent at Canterbury. Translation by James Carroll Beckwirth (1899). Set in 1482, Victor Hugo's powerful novel of 'imagination, caprice and fantasy' is a meditation on love, fate, architecture and politics, as well as a compelling recreation of the medieval world at the dawn of the modern age. In a brilliant reworking of the tale of Beauty and the Beast, Hugo creates a host of unforgettable characters - amongst them, Quasimodo, the hunchback of the title, hopelessly in love with the gypsy girl Esmeralda, the satanic priest Claude Frollo, Clopin Trouillefou, king of the beggars, and Louis X1, King of France. Over the entire novel, both literally and symbolically, broods the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. Vivid characters and memorable set-piece action scenes combine to bring the past to life in this story of love, lust, betrayal, doom and redemption.
With an Introduction and Notes by Dr Claire Seymour, University of Kent at Canterbury. The Turn of the Screw is the classic ghost story for which James is most remembered. Set in a country house, it is a chilling tale of the supernatural told by a master of the genre. The Aspern Papers is a tale of Americans in Europe, a theme in which Henry James is at his most assured and accomplished. The author cleverly evokes the drama of comedie humaine against the settings of a Venetian palace.
With an Introduction and Notes by Hugh Epstein, Secretary of the Joseph Conrad Society of Great Britain. 'Then the vision of an enormous town presented itself, of a monstrous town...a cruel devourer of the world's light. There was room enough there to place any story, depth enough for any passion, variety enough there for any setting, darkness enough to bury five millions of lives.' Conrad's 'monstrous town' is London, and his story of espionage and counter-espionage, anarchists and embassies, is a detective story that becomes the story of Winnie Verloc's tenacity in maintaining her devotion to her peculiar and simple-minded brother, Stevie, as they pursue their very ordinary lives above a rather dubious shop in the back streets of Soho. However, far from offering any sentimental picture, The Secret Agent is Conrad's funniest novel. Its savagely witty picture of human absurdity and misunderstanding is written in an ironic style that provokes laughter and unease at the same time, and that continues to provide one of the most disturbing visions of aspiration and futility in twentieth century literature.
Introduction and Notes by Norman Vance, Professor of English, University of Sussex. Far from the Madding Crowd is perhaps the most pastoral of Hardy's Wessex novels. It tells the story of the young farmer Gabriel Oak and his love for and pursuit of the elusive Bathsheba Everdene, whose wayward nature leads her to both tragedy and true love. It tells of the dashing Sergeant Troy whose rakish philosophy of life was '...the past was yesterday; never, the day after', and lastly, of the introverted and reclusive gentleman farmer, Mr Boldwood, whose love fills him with '...a fearful sense of exposure', when he first sets eyes on Bathsheba. The background of this tale is the Wessex countryside in all its moods, contriving to make it one of the most English of great English novels.
With an Introduction and Notes by Sally Minogue The Shirley of the title is a woman of independent means; her friend Caroline is not. Both struggle with what a woman's role is and can be. Their male counterparts - Louis, the powerless tutor, and Robert, his cloth-manufacturing brother - also stand at odds to society's expectations. The novel is set in a period of social and political ferment, featuring class disenfranchisement, the drama of Luddite machine-breaking, and the divisive effects of the Napoleonic Wars. But Charlotte Brontes particular strength lies in exploring the hidden psychological drama of love, loss and the quest for identity. Personal and public agitation are brought together against the dramatic backdrop of her native Yorkshire. As always, Bronte challenges convention, exploring the limitations of social justice whilst telling not one but two love stories.
With an Introduction and Notes by Dr Tim Middleton, Head of English Studies, University of Ripon and York. In seeking to discover his inner self, the brilliant Dr Jekyll discovers a monster. First published to critical acclaim in 1886, this mesmerising thriller is a terrifying study of the duality of man's nature, and it is the book which established Stevenson's reputation as a writer. Also included in this volume is Stevenson's 1887 collection of short stories, The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables. The Merry Men is a gripping Highland tale of shipwrecks and madness; Markheim, the sinister study of the mind of a murderer; Thrawn Janet, a spine-chilling tale of demonic possession; Olalla, a study of degeneration and incipient vampirism in the Spanish mountains; Will O' the Mill, a thought-provoking fable about a mountain inn-keeper; and The Treasure of Franchard, a study of French bourgeois life.
War and Peace is a vast epic centred on Napoleon's war with Russia. While it expresses Tolstoy's view that history is an inexorable process which man cannot influence, he peoples his great novel with a cast of over five hundred characters. Three of these, the artless and delightful Natasha Rostov, the world-weary Prince Andrew Bolkonsky and the idealistic Pierre Bezukhov illustrate Tolstoy's philosophy in this novel of unquestioned mastery. This translation is one which received Tolstoy's approval.
May 2014 Guest Editor Daisy Goodwin on Persuasion... I love Jane Austen with a deep and enduring passion, and I think the story of Anne Elliott’s second chance is possibly my favourite. The way that she revives as a character like a flower soaking up water is quite miraculous. It is also has a plot of clockwork perfection. I read this book at least once a year and I always find something new to marvel at.
This Wordsworth Edition includes an exclusive Introduction and Notes by Cedric Watts, M.A., Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of English, University of Sussex. As You Like It is one of Shakespeare's finest romantic comedies, variously lyrical, melancholy, satiric, comic and absurd. Its boldly implausible plot generates a profusion of love-lorn men, a resourceful heroine in disguise, sexual ambiguity, sceptical philosophising, and finally a multiplicity of marriages. The ironic medley of pastoral artifice, romantic ardour and quizzical reflection has helped to make As You Like It perennially popular in the theatre. A recent production was deemed 'fresh, funny, sexy and, when it matters, deeply touching'. As You Like It is part of the Wordsworth Classics' Shakespeare Series, used in the workshops of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Every volume in the series has been newly edited by Cedric Watts, described by Edward Said as 'a man for whom the enjoyment and enrichment of friends and students is the main consideration in what he does'.
A Tale of Two Cities (1859), Dickens' greatest historical novel, traces the private lives of a group of people caught up in the cataclysm of the French Revolution and the Terror. Dickens based his historical detail on Carlyle's great work - The French Revolution. 'The best story I have written' was Dickens' own verdict on A Tale of Two Cities, and the reader is unlikely to disagree with this judgement of a story which combines historical fact with the author's unsurpassed genius for poignant tales of human suffering, self-sacrifice, and redemption.
With an Introduction by John S. Whitley, University of Sussex. After Sherlock Holmes' apparently fatal encounter with the sinister Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls, the great detective reappears, to the delight of the faithful Dr Watson in The Adventures of the Empty House. The stories are illustrated by Sidney Paget, the finest of illustrators, from which our images of Sherlock Holmes and his world derive. This is the second of three volumes of The Complete Sherlock Holmes newly typeset from the original copies of The Strand Magazine The three books present all the Holmes stories in order of first publication.
Introduction and Notes by Laurence Davies, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire. Living overseas but writing, always, about his native city, Joyce made Dublin unforgettable. The stories in Dubliners show us truants, seducers, gossips, rally-drivers, generous hostesses, corrupt politicians, failing priests, amateur theologians, struggling musicians, moony adolescents, victims of domestic brutishness, sentimental aunts and poets, patriots earnest or cynical, and people striving to get by. In every sense an international figure, Joyce was faithful to his own country by seeing it unflinchingly and challenging every precedent and piety in Irish literature.
Introduction and Notes by Susan Jones, St Hilda's College, Oxford. First published in 1900, Lord Jim established Conrad as one of the great storytellers of the twentieth century. Set in the Malay Archipelago, the novel not only provides a gripping account of maritime adventure and romance, but also an exotic tale of the East. Its themes also challenge the conventions of nineteenth-century adventure fiction, confirming Conrad's place in literature as one of the first 'modernists' of English letters. Lord Jim explores the dilemmas of conscience, of moral isolation, of loyalty and betrayal confronting a sensitive individual whose romantic quest for an honourable ideal are tested to the limit. In this novel, Conrad draws on his background as Polish emigre, as well as his first-hand experience as a seaman, to experiment radically with the presentation of human frailty and doubt in the modern world.
With an Introduction and Notes by Dr Patsy Stoneman, University of Hull. Set in the mid-19th century, and written from the author's first-hand experience, North and South follows the story of the heroine's movement from the tranquil but moribund ways of southern England to the vital but turbulent north. Elizabeth Gaskell's skilful narrative uses an unusual love story to show how personal and public lives were woven together in a newly industrial society. This is a tale of hard-won triumphs - of rational thought over prejudice and of humane care over blind deference to the market. Readers in the twenty-first century will find themselves absorbed as this Victorian novel traces the origins of problems and possibilities which are still challenging a hundred and fifty years later: the complex relationships, public and private, between men and women of different classes.
Introduction and Notes by Dr David Rogers, Kingston University. 'There he lay looking as if youth had been half-renewed, for the white hair and moustache were changed to dark iron-grey, the cheeks were fuller, and the white skin seemed ruby-red underneath; the mouth was redder than ever, for on the lips were gouts of fresh blood, which trickled from the corners of the mouth and ran over the chin and neck. Even the deep, burning eyes seemed set amongst the swollen flesh, for the lids and pouches underneath were bloated. It seemed as if the whole awful creature were simply gorged with blood; he lay like a filthy leech, exhausted with his repletion.' Thus Bram Stoker, one of the greatest exponents of the supernatural narrative, describes the demonic subject of his chilling masterpiece Dracula, a truly iconic and unsettling tale of vampirism.
Far from fading with time, Kenneth Grahame's classic tale of fantasy has attracted a growing audience in each generation. Rat, Mole, Badger and the preposterous Mr Toad (with his 'Poop-poop-poop' road-hogging new motor-car), have brought delight to many through the years with their odd adventures on and by the river, and at the imposing residence of Toad Hall. Grahame's book was later dramatised by A. A. Milne, and became a perennial Christmas favourite, as Toad of Toad Hall. It continues to enchant and, above all perhaps, inspire great affection.
Mansfield Park is considered Jane Austen's first mature work and, with its quiet heroine and subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, one of her most profound.
Edited, Introduced and Annotated by Cedric Watts, M.A., Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of English, University of Sussex. The Wordsworth Classics' Shakespeare Series, with Henry V and The Merchant of Venice as its inaugral volumes, presents a newly-edited sequence of William Shakespeare's works. The textual editing takes account of recent scholarship while giving the material a careful reappraisal. Othello has long been recognised as one of the most powerful of Shakespeare's tragedies. This is an intense drama of love, deception, jealousy and destruction. Desdemona's love for Othello, the Moor, transcends racial prejudice; but the envious Iago conspires to devastate their lives. In its vivid rendering of racism, sexism, contested identities, and the savagery lurking within civilisation, Othello is arguably the most topical and accessible tragedy from Shakespeare's major phase as a dramatist. Productions on stage and screen regularly renew its power to engross, impress and trouble the imagination.
Introduction and Notes by David Blair. University of Kent at Canterbury. It is 1757. Across north-eastern America the armies of Britain and France struggle for ascendancy. Their conflict, however, overlays older struggles between nations of native Americans for possession of the same lands and between the native peoples and white colonisers. Through these layers of conflict Cooper threads a thrilling narrative, in which Cora and Alice Munro, daughters of a British commander on the front line of the colonial war, attempt to join their father. Thwarted by Magua, the sinister 'Indian runner', they find help in the person of Hawkeye, the white woodsman, and his companions, the Mohican Chingachgook and Uncas, his son, the last of his tribe. Cooper's novel is full of vivid incident- pursuits through wild terrain, skirmishes, treachery and brutality- but reflects also on the interaction between the colonists and the native peoples. Through the character of Hawkeye, Cooper raises lasting questions about the practises of the American frontier and the eclipse of the indigenous cultures.
Introduced and Annotated by Cedric Watts, M.A., Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of English, University of Sussex. Three Men in a Boat is a comic classic. When it first appeared in 1889 it became a best seller, and has remained popular ever since. This motley novel has not only been translated into many languages but has also been staged, filmed, televised and imitated. The adventures and misfortunes on the Thames of the three English friends and their pugnacious dog, Montmorency, provide rich humour, shrewd observations, lyrical reflections, and, predominantly, genially ironic perceptions of human fallibility. The sequel, Three Men on the Bummel, reunites the three friends for their 'Bummel' ('roaming or wandering') through Germany. The results vary from the seductively titillating to the outrageously farcical; and subsequent history has laden the narrative with ironies.
With an Introduction and Notes by David Ellis, University of Kent at Canterbury. With Illustrations by R.Seymour, R.W. Buss and Hablot K. Browne (Phiz). The Pickwick Papers is Dickens' first novel and widely regarded as one of the major classics of comic writing in English. Originally serialised in monthly instalments, it quickly became a huge popular success with sales reaching 40,000 by the final part. In the century and a half since its first appearance, the characters of Mr Pickwick, Sam Weller and the whole of the Pickwickian crew have entered the consciousness of all who love English literature in general, and the works of Dickens in particular.
Generally considered to be F. Scott Fitzgerald's finest novel, The Great Gatsby is a consummate summary of the roaring twenties , and a devastating expose of the Jazz Age . Through the narration of Nick Carraway, the reader is taken into the superficially glittering world of the mansions which lined the Long Island shore in the 1920s, to encounter Nick's cousin Daisy, her brash but wealthy husband Tom Buchanan, Jay Gatsby and the mystery that surrounds him.
With an Introduction and Notes by Doreen Roberts, Rutherford College, University of Kent at Canterbury. From its first publication in 1719, Robinson Crusoe has been printed in over 700 editions. It has inspired almost every conceivable kind of imitation and variation, and been the subject of plays, opera, cartoons, and computer games. The character of Crusoe has entered the consciousness of each succeeding generation as readers add their own interpretation to the adventures so thrillingly 'recorded' by Defoe. Praised by eminent figures such as Coleridge, Rousseau and Wordsworth, this perennially popular book was cited by Karl Marx in Das Kapital to illustrate economic theory. However it is readers of all ages over the last 280 years who have given Robinson Crusoe its abiding position as a classic tale of adventure.
With an Introduction and Notes by Doreen Roberts, Rutherford College, University of Kent at Canterbury. Jonathan Swift's classic satirical narrative was first published in 1726, seven years after Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (one of its few rivals in fame and breadth of appeal). As a parody travel-memoir it reports on extraordinary lands and societies, whose names have entered the English language: notably the minute inhabitants of Lilliput, the giants of Brobdingnag, and the Yahoos in Houyhnhnmland, where talking horses are the dominant species. It spares no vested interest from its irreverent wit, and its attack on political and financial corruption, as well as abuses in science, continue to resonate in our own times.
With an exclusive introduction and notes by David Stuart Davies. Translation by Louis Mercier. Professor Aronnax, his faithful servant, Conseil, and the Canadian harpooner, Ned Land, begin an extremely hazardous voyage to rid the seas of a little-known and terrifying sea monster. However, the monster turns out to be a giant submarine, commanded by the mysterious Captain Nemo, by whom they are soon held captive. So begins not only one of the great adventure classics by Jules Verne, the 'Father of Science Fiction', but also a truly fantastic voyage from the lost city of Atlantis to the South Pole.
Introduction and Notes by Dr Howard J. Booth, University of Kent at Canterbury. 'When you have experienced Sons and Lovers you have lived through the agonies of the young Lawrence striving to win free from his old life'. Richard Aldington This novel is Lawrence's semi-autobiographical masterpiece in which he explores emotional conflicts through the protagonist, Paul Morel, and his suffocating relationships with a demanding mother and two very different lovers. Lawrence's novels are perhaps the most powerful exploration in the genre in English of family, class, sexuality and relationships in youth and early adulthood.
'My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don't know'. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes first introduced Arthur Conan Doyle's brilliant detective to the readers of The Strand Magazine. The runaway success of this series prompted a second set of stories, The Memoirs. In these twenty three tales, collected here in one volume, you have some of the best detective yarns ever penned. In his consulting room at 221B Baker Street, the master sleuth receives a stream of clients all presenting him with baffling and bizarre mysteries to unravel. There is, for example, the man who is frightened for his life because of the arrival of an envelope containing five orange pips; there is the terrified woman who is aware that her life is in danger and cannot explain the strange whistling sounds she hears in the night; and there is the riddle of the missing butler and the theft of an ancient treasure. In the last story, there is the climatic battle between Holmes and his arch enemy, 'the Napoleon of Crime' Professor Moriarty. Holmes, with trusty Watson by his side, is equal to these and the other challenges in this splendid collection.
With an Introduction and Notes by Keith Wren. University of Kent at Canterbury. One of the most celebrated and popular historical romances ever written, The Three Musketeers tells the story of the early adventures of the young Gascon gentleman, D'Artagnan and his three friends from the regiment of the King's Musketeers - Athos, Porthos and Aramis. Under the watchful eye of their patron M. de Treville, the four defend the honour of the regiment against the guards of Cardinal Richelieu, and the honour of the queen against the machinations of the Cardinal himself as the power struggles of seventeenth century France are vividly played out in the background. But their most dangerous encounter is with the Cardinal's spy, Milady, one of literature's most memorable female villains, and Alexandre Dumas employs all his fast-paced narrative skills to bring this enthralling novel to a breathtakingly gripping and dramatic conclusion. Our edition uses the William Barrow translation first published by Bruce and Wylde (London,1846)
Full to the brim with ready wit and arch social commentary, this amusing and intelligent book is as relevant today as it was when published nearly 200 years ago. If you haven't previously read any of Austen’s works, this is the perfect place to start, it’s one of her lesser known but more stimulating and provocative novels. Quite literally a book of two halves, we have a story of a young woman learning the difference between reality and fantasy and then a consummate commentary from the author on the literary world at the time. Austen introduces an almost anti-heroine, a kind, caring but not particularly captivating Catherine, then surrounds her with four fascinatingly different characters who range from compassionate, intelligent and gracious to self obsessed, mercenary and petulant. As well as the engaging story, you also discover an author who appears to be somewhat on the warpath. She actually talks to you from the page, her views are so clear, you could be having a face-to-face discussion with her. If you already know Northanger Abbey, reacquaint yourself with this fascinating novel. This actual edition is charming, a perfect size for the hand bag and one to treasure.
Introduction and Notes by Henry Claridge, Senior Lecturer, School of English, University of Kent at Canterbury. This is a troubling story of crime, sin, guilt, punishment and expiation, set in the rigid moral climate of 17th-century New England. The young mother of an illegitimate child confronts her Puritan judges. However, it is not so much her harsh sentence, but the cruelties of slowly exposed guilt as her lover is revealed, that hold the reader enthralled all the way to the book's poignant climax.
With an Introduction and Notes by Dr Nicola Bradbury, University of Reading. Jane Austen teased readers with the idea of a 'heroine whom no one but myself will much like', but Emma is irresistible. 'Handsome, clever, and rich', Emma is also an 'imaginist', 'on fire with speculation and foresight'. She sees the signs of romance all around her, but thinks she will never be married. Her matchmaking maps out relationships that Jane Austen ironically tweaks into a clearer perspective. Judgement and imagination are matched in games the reader too can enjoy, and the end is a triumph of understanding.
Edited, Introduced and Annotated by Cedric Watts, M.A., Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of English, University of Sussex. The Wordsworth Classics' Shakespeare Series, with Romeo and Juliet, Henry V and The Merchant of Venice as its inaugural volumes, presents a newly-edited sequence of William Shakespeare's works. The textual editing takes account of recent scholarship while giving the material a careful reappraisal. Its lyricism, comedy (both broad and subtle) and magical transformations have long made A Midsummer Night's Dream one of the most popular of Shakespeare's works. The supernatural and the mundane, the illusory and the substantial, are all shimmeringly blended. Love is treated as tragic, poignant, absurd and farcical. 'Lord, what fools these mortals be!', jeers Robin Goodfellow; but the joke may be on him and on his master Oberon when Bottom the weaver, his head transformed into that of an ass, is embraced by the voluptuously amorous Titania. Recent stage-productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream have emphasised the enchanting, spectacular, ambiguous and erotically joyous aspects of this magical drama which culminates in a multiple celebration of marriage.
Edited, introduced and annotated by Cedric Watts, M.A., Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of English, University of Sussex. Shakespeare's Macbeth is one of the greatest tragic dramas the world has known. Macbeth himself, a brave warrior, is fatally impelled by supernatural forces, by his proud wife, and by his own burgeoning ambition. As he embarks on his murderous course to gain and retain the crown of Scotland, we see the appalling emotional and psychological effects on both Lady Macbeth and himself. The cruel ironies of their destiny are conveyed in poetry of unsurpassed power. In the theatre, this tragedy remains perennially engrossing.
With an Introduction and Notes by Dr. Jacqueline Belanger, University of Cardiff. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man represents the transitional stage between the realism of Joyce's Dubliners and the symbolism of Ulysses, and is essential to the understanding of the later work. This novel is a highly autobiographical account of the adolescence of Stephen Dedalus, who reappears in Ulysses, and who comes to realize that before he can become a true artist, he must rid himself of the stultifying effects of the religion, politics and essential bigotry of his background in late 19th century Ireland. Written with a light touch, this is perhaps the most accessible of Joyce's works.
With an Introduction by David Stuart Davies. Father Brown, one of the most quirkily genial and lovable characters to emerge from English detective fiction, first made his appearance in The Innocence of Father Brown in 1911. That first collection of stories established G.K. Chesterton's kindly cleric in the front rank of eccentric sleuths. This complete collection contains all the favourite Father Brown stories, showing a quiet wit and compassion that has endeared him to many, whilst solving his mysteries by a mixture of imagination and a sympathetic worldliness in a totally believable manner.
With an Introduction and Notes by Stuart Hutchinson, University of Kent at Canterbury. Tom Sawyer, a shrewd and adventurous boy, is as much at home in the respectable world of his Aunt Polly as in the self-reliant and parentless world of his friend Huck Finn. The two enjoy a series of adventures, accidentally witnessing a murder, establishing the innocence of the man wrongly accused, as well as being hunted by Injun Joe, the true murderer, eventually escaping and finding the treasure that Joe had buried. Huckleberry Finn recounts the further adventures of Huck, who runs away from a drunken and brutal father, and meets up with the escaped slave Jim. They float down the Mississippi on a raft, participating in the lives of the characters they meet, witnessing corruption, moral decay and intellectual impoverishment. Sharing so much in background and character, these two stories, the best of Twain, indisputably belong together in one volume. Though originally written as adventure stories for young people, the vivid writing provides a profound commentary on provincial American life in the mid-nineteenth century and the institution of slavery.
Introduction and Notes by Dr Adrienne Gavin, Canterbury Christ Church University College. Illustrations by Hablot K. Browne (Phiz). Dickens wrote of David Copperfield: 'Of all my books I like this the best'. Millions of readers in almost every language on earth have subsequently come to share the author's own enthusiasm for this greatly loved classic, possibly because of its autobiographical form. Following the life of David through many sufferings and great adversity, the reader will also find many light-hearted moments in the company of a host of English fiction's greatest stars including Mr Micawber, Traddles, Uriah Heep, Creakle, Betsy Trotwood, and the Peggoty family. Few readers, arriving at the end of David Copperfield, will not wish to echo Thackeray's famous praise, having read the first monthly part - 'Bravo Dickens'.
Frankenstein is the classic gothic horror novel which has thrilled and engrossed readers for two centuries. Written by Mary Shelley, it is a story which she intended would 'curdle the blood and quicken the beatings of the heart.' The tale is a superb blend of science fiction, mystery and thriller. Victor Frankenstein driven by the mad dream of creating his own creature, experiments with alchemy and science to build a monster stitched together from dead remains. Once the creature becomes a living breathing articulate entity, it turns on its maker and the novel darkens into tragedy. The reader is very quickly swept along by the force of the elegant prose, the grotesque, surreal imagery, and the multi-layered themes in the novel. Although first published in 1818, Shelley's masterpiece still maintains a strong grip on the imagination and has been the inspiration for numerous horror movies, television and stage adaptations.
Edited, introduced and annotated by Cedric Watts, M.A., Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of English, University of Sussex. Julius Caesar is among the best of Shakespeare's historical and political plays. Dealing with events surrounding the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C., the drama vividly illustrates the ways in which power and corruption are linked. The cry 'Peace, freedom and liberty!' is used to exculpate brutal realities, while personal ambitions taint public actions. Rich in characterisation and replete with eloquent rhetoric, Julius Caesar remains engrossing and topical: a play for today.
Introduction and Notes by David Blair, Rutherford College, University of Kent. The Moonstone, a priceless Indian diamond which had been brought to England as spoils of war, is given to Rachel Verrinder on her eighteenth birthday. That very night, the stone is stolen. Suspicion then falls on a hunchbacked housemaid, on Rachel's cousin Franklin Blake, on a troupe of mysterious Indian jugglers, and on Rachel herself. The phlegmatic Sergeant Cuff is called in, and with the help of Betteredge, the Robinson Crusoe-reading loquacious steward, the mystery of the missing stone is ingeniously solved.
Translated by P. A. Motteux With an Introduction and Notes by Stephen Boyd, University College, Cork Cervantes' tale of the deranged gentleman who turns knight-errant, tilts at windmills and battles with sheep in the service of the lady of his dreams, Dulcinea del Toboso, has fascinated generations of readers, and inspired other creative artists such as Flaubert, Picasso and Richard Strauss. The tall, thin knight and his short, fat squire, Sancho Panza, have found their way into films, cartoons and even computer games. Supposedly intended as a parody of the most popular escapist fiction of the day, the 'books of chivalry', this precursor of the modern novel broadened and deepened into a sophisticated, comic account of the contradictions of human nature. On his 'heroic' journey Don Quixote meets characters of every class and condition, from the prostitute Maritornes, who is commended for her Christian charity, to the Knight of the Green Coat, who seems to embody some of the constraints of virtue. Cervantes' greatest work can be enjoyed on many levels, all suffused with a subtle irony that reaches out to encompass the reader, and does not leave the author outside its circle. Peter Motteux's fine eighteenth-century translation, acknowledged as one of the best, brilliantly succeeds in communicating the spirit of the original Spanish.
With an Introduction and Notes by Owen Knowles, University of Hull. Thackeray's upper-class Regency world is a noisy and jostling commercial fairground, predominantly driven by acquisitive greed and soulless materialism, in which the narrator himself plays a brilliantly versatile role as a serio-comic observer. Although subtitled A Novel without a Hero, Vanity Fair follows the fortunes of two contrasting but inter-linked lives: through the retiring Amelia Sedley and the brilliant Becky Sharp, Thackeray examines the position of women in an intensely exploitative male world. When Vanity Fair was published in 1848, Charlotte Bronte commented: 'The more I read Thackeray'sworks the more certain I am that he stands alone - alone in his sagacity, alone in his truth, alone in his feeling... Thackeray is a Titan.'
With an Introduction and Notes by Adam Roberts, Royal Holloway, University of London. Homer's great epic describes the many adventures of Odysseus, Greek warrior, as he strives over many years to return to his home island of Ithaca after the Trojan War. His colourful adventures, his endurance, his love for his wife and son have the same power to move and inspire readers today as they did in Archaic Greece, 2800 years ago. This poem has been translated many times over the years, but Chapman's sinewy, gorgeous rendering (1616) stands in a class of its own. Chapman believed himself inspired by the spirit of Homer himself, and matches the breadth and power of the original with a complex and stunning idiom of his own. John Keats expressed his admiration for the resulting work in the famous sonnet, 'On first looking into Chapman's Homer': 'Much have I travelled in the realms of gold...' This new Wordsworth edition of Chapman's Homer contains accessible annotation, and a detailed introduction that places his masterpiece in the context of his own day, and discusses its influences on later poets.
Introduction and Notes by Dr Sally Minogue, Canterbury Christ Church University College. Jane Eyre ranks as one of the greatest and most perennially popular works of English fiction. Although the poor but plucky heroine is outwardly of plain appearance, she possesses an indomitable spirit, a sharp wit and great courage. She is forced to battle against the exigencies of a cruel guardian, a harsh employer and a rigid social order. All of which circumscribe her life and position when she becomes governess to the daughter of the mysterious, sardonic and attractive Mr Rochester. However, there is great kindness and warmth in this epic love story, which is set against the magnificent backdrop of the Yorkshire moors. Ultimately the grand passion of Jane and Rochester is called upon to survive cruel revelation, loss and reunion, only to be confronted with tragedy.
Edited, Introduced and Annotated by Cedric Watts, M.A., Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of English, University of Sussex. The Wordsworth Classics' Shakespeare Series presents a newly-edited sequence of William Shakespeare's works. The Textual editing takes account of recent scholarship while giving the material a careful reappraisal. Hamlet is not only one of Shakespeare's greatest plays, but also the most fascinatingly problematical tragedy in world literature. First performed around 1600, this a gripping and exuberant drama of revenge, rich in contrasts and conflicts. Its violence alternates with introspection, its melancholy with humour, and its subtlety with spectacle. The Prince, Hamlet himself, is depicted as a complex, divided, introspective character. His reflections on death, morality and the very status of human beings make him 'the first modern man'. Countless stage productions and numerous adaptations for the cinema and television have demonstrated the continuing cultural relevance of this vivid, enigmatic, profound and engrossing drama.
Considered by many to be Dickens' finest novel, Great Expectations traces the growth of the book's narrator, Philip Pirrip (Pip), from a boy of shallow dreams to a man with depth of character. From its famous dramatic opening on the bleak Kentish marshes, the story abounds with some of Dickens' most memorable characters. Among them are the kindly blacksmith Joe Gargery, the mysterious convict Abel Magwitch, the eccentric Miss Haversham and her beautiful ward Estella, Pip's good-hearted room-mate Herbert Pocket and the pompous Pumblechook. As Pip unravels the truth behind his own 'great expectations' in his quest to become a gentleman, the mysteries of the past and the convolutions of fate through a series of thrilling adventures serve to steer him towards maturity and his most important discovery of all - the truth about himself.
Edited, Introduced and Annotated by Cedric Watts, M.A., Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of English, University of Sussex. The Wordsworth Classics' Shakespeare's Series presents a newly-edited sequence of William Shakespeare's works. The textual editing takes account of recent scholarship while giving the material a careful reappraisal. Variously melancholy, lyrical, joyous and farcical, Twelfth Night has long been a popular comedy with Shakespearian audiences. The main plot revolves around mistaken identities and unrequited love. Both Olivia and Orsino are attracted to Viola, who is disguised as a young man; and Viola's brother, Sebastian, finds that he is loved not only by Antonio but also by Olivia. Meanwhile, in the comic sub-plot, Sir Toby Belch and his companions outwit the vain Malvolio, who is ludicrously humiliated. While offering broad comedy, Twelfth Night teasingly probes gender-roles and sexual ambiguities.
Introduction and Notes by Dr Ella Westland, University of Exeter. Illustrations by George Cruickshank. Dickens had already achieved renown with The Pickwick Papers. With Oliver Twist his reputation was enhanced and strengthened. The novel contains many classic Dickensian themes - grinding poverty, desperation, fear, temptation and the eventual triumph of good in the face of great adversity. Oliver Twist features some of the author's most enduring characters, such as Oliver himself (who dares to ask for more), the tyrannical Bumble, the diabolical Fagin, the menacing Bill Sikes, Nancy and 'the Artful Dodger'. For any reader wishing to delve into the works of the great Victorian literary colossus, Oliver Twist is, without doubt, an essential title.
Introduction and Notes by Michael Irwin, Professor of English Literature, University of Kent at Canterbury. Set in Hardy's Wessex, Tess is a moving novel of hypocrisy and double standards. Its challenging sub-title, A Pure Woman, infuriated critics when the book was first published in 1891, and it was condemned as immoral and pessimistic. It tells of Tess Durbeyfield, the daughter of a poor and dissipated villager, who learns that she may be descended from the ancient family of d'Urbeville. In her search for respectability her fortunes fluctuate wildly, and the story assumes the proportions of a Greek tragedy. It explores Tess's relationships with two very different men, her struggle against the social mores of the rural Victorian world which she inhabits and the hypocrisy of the age. In addressing the double standards of the time, Hardy's masterly evocation of a world which we have lost, provides one of the most compelling stories in the canon of English literature, whose appeal today defies the judgement of Hardy's contemporary critics.
Introduction and Notes by Doreen Roberts, Rutherford College, University of Kent at Canterbury. Tom Jones is widely regarded as one of the first and most influential English novels. It is certainly the funniest. Tom Jones, the hero of the book, is introduced to the reader as the ward of a liberal Somerset squire. Tom is a generous but slightly wild and feckless country boy with a weakness for young women. Misfortune, followed by many spirited adventures as he travels to London to seek his fortune, teach him a sort of wisdom to go with his essential good-heartedness. This 'comic, epic poem in prose' will make the modern reader laugh as much as it did his forbears. Its biting satire finds an echo in today's society, for as Doris Lessing recently remarked 'This country becomes every day more like the eighteenth century, full of thieves and adventurers, rogues and a robust, unhypocritical savagery side-by-side with people lecturing others on morality'.
With an Introduction and Notes by David Herd, Lecturer in English and American Literature at the University of Kent at Canterbury and co-editor of 'Poetry Review'. Moby Dick is the story of Captain Ahab's quest to avenge the whale that 'reaped' his leg. The quest is an obsession and the novel is a diabolical study of how a man becomes a fanatic. But it is also a hymn to democracy. Bent as the crew is on Ahab's appalling crusade, it is equally the image of a co-operative community at work: all hands dependent on all hands, each individual responsible for the security of each. Among the crew is Ishmael, the novel's narrator, ordinary sailor, and extraordinary reader. Digressive, allusive, vulgar, transcendent, the story Ishmael tells is above all an education: in the practice of whaling, in the art of writing. Expanding to equal his 'mighty theme' - not only the whale but all things sublime - Melville breathes in the world's great literature. Moby Dick is the greatest novel ever written by an American.
With an Introduction and Notes by Michael Irwin, Professor of English Literature, University of Kent at Canterbury This selection of Carroll's works includes Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, both containing the famous illustrations by Sir John Tenniel. No greater books for children have ever been written. The simple language, dreamlike atmosphere, and fantastical characters are as appealing to young readers today as ever they were. Meanwhile, however, these apparently simple stories have become recognised as adult masterpieces, and extraordinary experiments, years ahead of their time, in Modernism and Surrealism. Through wordplay, parody and logical and philosophical puzzles, Carroll engenders a variety of sub-texts, teasing, ominous or melancholy. For all the surface playfulness there is meaning everywhere. The author reveals himself in glimpses.
Introduction and Notes by Dr Jeff Wallace, University of Glamorgan. Lawrence's finest, most mature novel initially met with disgust and incomprehension. In the love affairs of two sisters, Ursula with Rupert, and Gudrun with Gerald, critics could only see a sorry tale of sexual depravity and philosophical obscurity. Women in Love is, however, a profound response to a whole cultural crisis. The 'progress' of the modern industrialised world had led to the carnage of the First World War. What, then, did it mean to call ourselves 'human'? On what grounds could we place ourselves above and beyond the animal world? What are the definitive forms of our relationships - love, marriage, family, friendship - really worth? And how might they be otherwise? Without directly referring to the war, Women in Love explores these questions with restless energy. As a sequel to The Rainbow, the novel develops experimental techniques which made Lawrence one of the most important writers of the Modernist movement.
Even if you have seen the numerous films and TV adaptations there is nothing quite as good as reading the original book about the Dashwood sisters and the complications and misunderstandings that take place in their love lives. A true classic, a clever, wonderful, romantic read. April 2010 Guest Editor Katharine McMahon on Jane Austen... I can't not choose her. And whichever I've read last is always my favourite. The nuance of emotion, the understanding of human nature revealed by Austen constantly delights me. When I reread Sense and Sensibility recently, for the first time Elinor came across as quite prissy and destined to marry a rather spineless husband. I wonder if that was intended?
September 2009 Good Housekeeping selection. On My Bookshelf by Penny Smith... This wasn’t a set text for us at school, but I read it anyway and it got me into the classics big time. I had such vivid pictures of all the characters and places. Sadly, every adaptation, including the fantastic one with Colin Firth, was never a patch on my image of what they all looked like and were like. Plus I just love a love story… GMTV presenter Penny Smith is passionate about books and is now a novelist herself; her latest fiction, After The Break, is published by Harper Perennial. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
Introduction and Notes by John S. Whitley, University of Sussex. Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine's father. After Mr Earnshaw's death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine's brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries. The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the accomplished handling of a complex structure, the evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature.
With an Introduction and Notes by Lionel Kelly, University of Reading. The Call of the Wild (1903) and White Fang (1906) are world famous animal stories. Set in Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1890s, The Call of the Wild is about Buck, the magnificent cross-bred offspring of a St Bernard and a Scottish Collie. Stolen from his pampered life on a Californian estate and shipped to the Klondike to work as a sledge dog, he triumphs over his circumstances and becomes the leader of a wolf pack. The story records the 'decivilisation' of Buck as he answers 'the call of the wild', an inherent memory of primeval origins to which he instinctively responds. In contrast, White Fang relates the tale of a wolf born and bred in the wild which is civilised by the master he comes to trust and love. The brutal world of the Klondike miners and their dogs is brilliantly evoked and Jack London's rendering of the sentient life of Buck and White Fang as they confront their destiny is enthralling and convincing. The deeper resonance of these stories derives from the author's use of the myth of the hero who survives by strength and courage, a powerful myth that still appeals to our collective unconscious.
With an Introduction and Notes by John M.L. Drew, University of Buckingham. Wilde's only novel, first published in 1890, is a brilliantly designed puzzle, intended to tease conventional minds with its exploration of the myriad interrelationships between art, life, and consequence. From its provocative Preface, challenging the reader to believe in 'art for art's sake', to its sensational conclusion, the story self-consciously experiments with the notion of sin as an element of design. Yet Wilde himself underestimated the consequences of his experiment, and its capacity to outrage the Victorian establishment. Its words returned to haunt him in his court appearances in 1895, and he later recalled the 'note of doom' which runs like 'a purple thread' through its carefully crafted prose.
With an Introduction and Notes by Dr Keith Carabine, University of Kent at Canterbury. Lucia is one of the great comic characters in English literature. Outrageously pretentious, hypocritical and snobbish, Queen Lucia, 'as by right divine' rules over the toy kingdom of 'Riseholme' based on the Cotswold village of Broadway. Her long-suffering husband Pepino is 'her prince-consort', the outrageously camp Georgie is her 'gentleman-in-waiting', the village green is her 'parliament', and her subjects, such as Daisy Quantock, are hapless would-be 'Bolsheviks'. In Lucia in London, the prudish, manically ambitious Lucia launches herself into the louche world of London society. Her earnest determination to learn all about 'modern movements' makes her the perfect comic vehicle for Benson's free-wheeling satire of salon society, and of the dominant fads and movements of the 1920s, including vegetarianism, yoga, palmistry, Freudianism, seances, Post-Impressionist art and Christian Science. Meanwhile in Tilling, clearly modelled on Benson's home town of Rye, Miss Mapp consumed by 'chronic rage and curiosity' sits at her window, armed with her light-opera glasses keeping baleful watch on her neighbours. 'Anger and the gravest suspicions about everybody had kept her young and on the boil': and Benson transmutes her boiling into a series of small humiliations in his witty, malicious comedy. In his insightful Introduction Keith Carabine shows that these books are excruciatingly funny because Benson, like Jane Austen, invites the reader to view the world through the self-deluded fabrications and day-dreams of Lucia and the self-deluded chronic anger and jaundiced suspicions of Elisabeth. Carabine also concentrates on the novels' disturbing, bitchy, 'camp' humour whenever 'that horrid thing which Freud calls sex' is raised.
With an Introduction and Notes by Dr Keith Carabine, University of Kent at Canterbury. These three wonderful comic novels drolly record the battle between Lucia and Elisabeth Mapp for social and cultural supremacy in the village of Tilling (based on Rye). Their constant skirmishes ensure that every game of bridge, tea or dinner-party, church service, council meeting or art-exhibition are thrilling encounters that ensure Tilling is always on 'a very agreeable rack of suspense'. Both Elisabeth and Lucia are gross hypocrites, snobs and bullies, the huge differences in temperament and style ensure the battle is usually unequal. Elisabeth is incurably mean-spirited and Lucia suffers from splendid delusions of grandeur and personal prestige. Driven by demons of revenge, Elisabeth always acts impulsively, and therefore every revelation of her meanness allows Lucia, the consummate actress, to kill her ally with a sickening kindness. In his insightful Introduction Keith Carabine shows that these books are excruciatingly funny because Benson, like Jane Austen, invites the reader to view the world through the self-deluded chronic anger and jaundiced suspicions of Elisabeth and through the self-deluded fabrications and day-dreams of Lucia. Carabine also concentrates on the novels' disturbing, bitchy, 'camp' humour whenever 'that horrid thing which Freud calls sex is raised'
With an Introduction and Notes by Roger Clark, University of Kent at Canterbury. Translation by Charles E. Wilbour (1862). One of the great Classics of Western Literature, Les Miserables is a magisterial work which is rich in both character portrayal and meticulous historical description. Characters such as the absurdly criminalised Valjean, the street urchin Gavroche, the rascal Thenardier, the implacable detective Javert, and the pitiful figure of the prostitute Fantine and her daughter Cosette, have entered the pantheon of literary dramatis personae. Volume 2 of 2
With an Introduction and Notes by Roger Clark, University of Kent at Canterbury. Translation by Charles E. Wilbour (1862). One of the great classics of western literature, Les Miserables is a magisterial work which is rich in both character portrayal and meticulous historical description. Characters such as the absurdly criminalised Valjean, the street urchin Gavroche, the rascal Thenardier, the implacable detective Javert, and the pitiful figure of the prostitute Fantine and her daughter Cosette, have entered the pantheon of literary dramatis personae. The reader is also treated to the unforgettable descriptions of the Battle of Waterloo and Valjean's flight through the Paris sewers. Volume 1 of 2