Mark Twain was not an admirer of Jane Austen’s work as he once declared: “I often want to criticize Jane AuI used to share Mark Twain's sentiments ...
Mark Twain was not an admirer of Jane Austen’s work as he once declared: “I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can't conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read “Pride and Prejudice” I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”
My first introduction to Austen’s famous romances was “Pride and Prejudice”. Like Mark Twain, her writing style grated on my nerves so much I could not finish the book. While I believe in respecting the rest of the departed, I too was ready to get a shovel, disturb the author’s grave and brutally pummel into dust what Mark Twain may have missed. Disappointed, I abandoned “Pride and Prejudice” and eventually made a second attempt years later. By that time, I had hoped the chronological lapse would alter my prejudice against her style, forgive the pun, but it still had the same effect on my nerves, but at least I finished the book.
Lo and behold, by some miraculous intervention I was persuaded to try again to see if I could appreciate her work, and this time not just with one novel, but to plough through all her famous books. If you cannot judge a book by its cover, surely we should not judge an author by one book alone? Especially Austen, someone who has withstood the test of time and has entered the history books as one of England’s most famous authors. Would it be possible to overcome my prejudice that had become as unrelenting as Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s towards the mysterious Mr. Darcy?
To be honest, it was a struggle at first. I found myself flipping through the novels and wondering when would I get to the end. “Pride and Prejudice” still stuck in this category for me, “Sense and Sensibility” was also difficult, but after these two, I realized it was just the writing I disliked, get over it! Once I could turn a blind critical eye to her style and concentrate on the stories, the true talent of Austen began to shine through: her unique ability to portray the various characters of the landed gentry of the early 1800s in Regency Britannia, the plotting and scheming for social or monetary advancement, the love triangles, and how true love can over come all adversities even though life will always remain imperfect. Austen was gifted with a keen observation of human nature and possessed a refined sense of the satirical, a master at setting off events with the crash and collision of weak versus strong characters and how all things will settle themselves for better or worse depending on the choices each person makes.
“Sense and Sensibility” ~ After a death in the family, the once wealthy Dashwoods are reduced in their monetary means and are compelled by their change in circumstances to move to a humble cottage on the estate of a distant relative. Can the Dashwood sisters weather the trials of meagre living and find true love among the eligible men from the higher echelons of society now that they must suffer their reduced circumstances?
“Pride and Prejudice” ~ Ah yes, the handsome Mr. Darcy, but out of misplaced pride he snubs Elizabeth Bennet on their introduction. Consequently she perceives him to be cold and aloof, sparking her prejudice against him despite his fortune and good looks. Will ever the twain meet?
“Mansfield Park”~ Fanny Price, a girl from a poor family, is taken in as a ward by her wealthy uncle at Mansfield Park. Fanny is treated as a second class member of the household due to her charity status, but she valiantly suffers through the continual belittlement she suffers. However, an offer of marriage is made to her by someone she detests and the offer is forced upon her by her uncle as a fit match, her ward duly reminding her in so many words of her previous circumstances. As a charity case she could not expect to find anyone better. If she had not been raised in the elegant, refined setting of Mansfield, she would not find anyone in the social circles that mattered, and therefore should take what is on offer. Why, she should be grateful to accept someone who, knowing her former status, has condescended to take an interest in her, and whom he deems to be a fit spouse for her! Will shy, quiet Fanny have the courage to stand up for herself despite appearing ungrateful to her uncle?
“Emma” ~ The delightful tale of a girl who thinks she knows everyone’s heart and is ignorant of her own takes it upon herself to play matchmaker for her acquaintances to the amused chagrin of Mr. Knightly, a family friend. Poor Emma is in for a surprise when her games of love go awry. Will it all end as happily as she envisioned?
“Northanger Abbey” ~ Catherine, the daughter of a clergyman, is invited by a family friend to visit the famous spa town of Bath with them. While there she meets a dashing young gentleman who soon catches her eye and her heart, however, another bachelor attempts to monopolize her time and keep her away from the attentions of anyone else. Can Catherine ditch the self-centred control freak and be allowed to pursue the man who mystifies her?
“Persuasion” ~ Ah, young love! Anne has fallen in love with a captain in the navy, but is persuaded against the match by her aristocratic connections, reasons that all seemed good at the time. Years later, the lovers cross paths and Anne discovers her love is still very much alive. Can there be any hope when in earlier years there was much opposition to their match? More importantly, does he still feel the same way about her after she had rejected his offer?
“Lady Susan” ~ an epistolary novel told through letters. Lady Susan is a devil-may-care socialite who has squandered her fortune makes life a misery for her family and friends. She continues to do so, scheming and plotting for her own ends and welfare. She is manipulative and cunning, and is especially cruel to her daughter Frederica because she is too much like her father and his family, whom she despises. Will Frederica find her true love, or be steered into marriage with a man she has no respect for?
My personal favourites are “Northanger Abbey”, “Lady Susan”, and “Emma”. “Northanger” is filled with colourful descriptions of the social life at Bath, and Austen’s satire on the public’s fascination with gothic novels was quite amusing indeed, a fun blend of gothic mystery with a humorous, bracing wake-up call to reality displaying the ambitious, greed-filled folly of human nature. “Lady Susan” and the depraved depths that vixen will go to deceive all around her for her own ends was a fascinating character study, so was “Emma” with her playful scheming to arrange the love lives of those closest to her, a capricious innocent tale in comparison with “Lady Susan”! One theme I find interesting in Austen’s writings is the ‘semi-outcast’ family member who is treated harshly but manages to find happiness such as Anne in “Persuasion” and Fanny Price in “Mansfield Park”. A second theme is ‘toxic relationships’ as seen with overbearing parents or guardians, for instance, Fanny’s uncle in “Mansfield Park”, “Lady Susan”, and General Tilney in “Northanger Abbey”. Obviously, Austen seemed to be fascinated with these topics and explored them in different settings.
The final verdict: At long last, I can finally appreciate most of Austen’s work, hurray! I am giving it the full five stars because her development of characters and social situations makes for fascinating reading when you get right down to it. I still have not quite warmed up to “Pride and Prejudice”, but who knows? I promise to give it another chance, I may become the admiring convert, prejudice finally exchanged for undying appreciation.
About the book itself, the edition I am referring to is printed by Wordsworth Library Collection, Wordsworth Editions Limited, (2007). ISBN 978-1-84022-556-3. This version is missing the novel “Sanditon”, probably due to the fact Austen never finished it. I also heard that “Pride and Prejudice” is missing a line in this edition, but as I am not an Austen expert, I do not know if this is true or not. For those of you who like footnotes, this book does not have them, so if you are looking for detailed historical explanations as you read, you will have to invest in another edition. I always find the Oxford World Classics editions very informative if you are inclined to learn more about the historical background of a book. As for the hardback quality, this particular edition is covered in cloth with gold etching for the title, and features a sticker with on the front for the image, not a embossed image printed directly into the cover. The pages are actually thin, the paper more suited for a pocketbook paperback, but if treated well, the book should not fall apart. It does present a pleasing presentation, and looks delightful on a collector’s shelf. However, if you tend to be rough on books, you might want a more sturdy edition.
Gaston Leroux's tale of a disfigured genius living in the cellars of the Paris Opéra and falling in love with a beautiful singer has become a classic,Gaston Leroux's tale of a disfigured genius living in the cellars of the Paris Opéra and falling in love with a beautiful singer has become a classic, thanks due to the many film adaptations and especially to Andrew Lloyd Webber's award-winning musical sensation.
After the début of Webber's version, the Phantom theme has grown into a cultural phenomenon with a league of “Phans” enthralled with the love story cum mystery thriller similar to the Romantic generation of the 19th century that was captivated by Goethe's “Faust”. The story of the Phantom, the man with a devil's face and an angel's voice, has inspired many fan-based fictions and professional re-creations. There are the prequels revealing the life of Erik, the man fated to become L'Opéra's resident ghost, how he assumed the phantasmal role and meets Christine, the object of his passion. Then we have the sequels, the myriad of “what if's” that could have happened to the main characters after the tragic love triangle has sung its last trio at the opera house.
The urge to explore the characters in more depth is difficult to ignore: Gaston Leroux left many blanks and character-development enigmas that remain unanswered in his novel. Who is the mysterious “Persian” and how did he become the Phantom's one and only friend? Why did Christine refuse to leave with Raoul, her sweetheart, when he provided the opportunity to escape? Did she really love Erik but was afraid to admit it? The biggest mystery is Erik's life: the Phantom of the Opera wasn't always a Phantom.
Leroux hints at the sad details in the Epilogue of his novel, but that is all they are, vague glimpses into a shattered childhood and loveless existence. In a few paragraphs, Leroux declares Erik's father was a stonemason and that he was born in a small town on the outskirts of Rouen. Because of his facial deformity, he was an object of horror and shame to his parents and was forced to run away. Eventually his extraordinary talents in music caught the attention of a travelling showman and he put Erik on display as “The Living Corpse” similar to the “Elephant Man”. How he was treated and how long he was forced to live like this, we do not know. Erik's talents also extended to many other fields, architecture being one, and he travelled to the Middle East, entering into the service of the Shah of Persia and the Sultan of Turkey. In addition to constructing some of the palaces, he entertained his royal employers with his inventions and magic arts, in the process he became privy to many state secrets. However, because he knew too much, was compelled to flee the executioner both times. He finally returned to France and the rest is history as they say. Leroux focused his story on just the last six months or so of Erik's tragic yet adventurous life, and leaves all the rest. Is it a wonder Phans want to hear more?
As far as I am aware, Susan Kay's novel was one of the first prequel / sequel recreations that appeared in print from a major publisher, and in fact, may have started the “vogue” to retell the Phantom's story, hence the sudden explosion in Phantom books. By far, it is still the best Phantom-based literary creation after Leroux's original ~ any time a Phan recommends someone to Leroux's book, the next phrase they will usually utter is, “You will have to read Susan Kay's book too.” I agree. Kay delves into the depths of the human element of the story where Leroux concentrated on the mystery-thriller aspect of his novel. Of course, Kay had to use her own imagination to fill the blanks, and there are many parts and new characters that are her own invention, such as Erik's providential introduction to an Italian stonemason during his teenage years, and his first experience of falling in love only to have it end in tragedy, meaning Christine is not his first love according to Kay. Kay also rewrites what happens at the opera house since she cannot complete rehash Leroux's work, which would be plagiarism, but I think he would be pleasantly surprised by her re-working of the story if he could read it today. In addition to her emotionally-charged exploration of the characters, Kay's research into the history of the times is very accurate and she handles the story in its historical context admirably. Furthermore, her writing style is a pleasure to read. This a page-turner from beginning to end. Definitely worth a Five-Star rating.
A note to parents, if you are wondering if this is for suitable for Young Adults (YA), I would suggest you read it first: while there are no over-the-top racy scenes, there are one or two sections that are of a mature / adult / disturbing subject matter that you may want to be read for yourself and decide if it suitable for your children.
E.A. Bucchianeri author of “Faust: My Soul be Damned for the World, 2 vols)” “Brushstrokes of a Gadfly” “A Compendium of Essays: Purcell, Hogarth and Handel, Beethoven, Liszt, Debussy, and Andrew Lloyd Webber” ...more
Charles W. Eliot, an American academic who became Harvard's president in 1869, was instrumental in raising the once provincial college to the most preCharles W. Eliot, an American academic who became Harvard's president in 1869, was instrumental in raising the once provincial college to the most prestigious university of the United States. Eliot not only served the longest term as president in the university's history, but also edited a collection of Classic literature that has become a classic in its own right and continues to be reprinted numerous times since the copyright dating from the early 1900s. Eliot announces in the Editor's Introduction (Volume 50):
“My purpose in selecting The Harvard Classics was to provide the literary materials from which a careful and persistent reader might gain a fair view of the progress of man observing, recording inventing, and imagining from the earliest historical times to the close of the nineteenth century. Within the limits of fifty volumes, containing 22,000 pages, I was to provide the means of obtaining such a knowledge of ancient and modern literature as seems essential to the twentieth-century idea of a cultivated man.”
Although we have now entered twenty-first century, this remarkable series remains a valuable resource for the persistent reader who desires to become familiar with the great classics of the world. Naturally, There were many works that Eliot could not include, but he succeeded in publishing the most essential fictional, non-fictional, dramatic, poetic, philosophical, historical and religious texts to impart a thorough grounding in the classics of the liberal arts, both ancient and modern, conservative and controversial.
Alas, after several years ploughing away I still have to finish four or five volumes, but since I'm near the end, I thought it was time I write a review: as a collection, it is worth the full five stars. As far as I am aware, reprints of the Harvard Classics are basically facsimiles of the original 1900s printings. Each section in every volume features a small introduction / biography of the authors and the documents featured. Some volumes also contain explanatory footnotes with certain texts, but unfortunately, not for all of them. While the Harvard Classics contains excellent documents / reprints, etc., if you wish for a more in-depth academic explanation of a work with updated translations, reading lists, etc., I would recommend looking up individual titles in the Oxford's World Classics Series, nevertheless, to have all these major texts compiled in one collection together with a practical index in Volume 50, a Bonus Volume of Lectures, plus a separate helpful “15 Minutes a Day” Reading Guide that might interest younger readers and help them explore these works, the Harvard Classics Five-Foot Shelf of Books is still worth the five stars. If you are the reader who desires to build a well-stocked private library this is well worth the investment. It is beyond the scope of a single review to examine each and every work, so I shall provide a list each of the volumes and their texts to display the wealth of information this collection provides:
Volume 1 Benjamin Franklin: “His Autobiography” John Woolman: “The Journal of John Woolman” William Penn: “Some Fruits of Solitude, In Reflections and Maxims, Part I” and “More Fruits of Solitude, Being the Second Part of Reflections and Maxims.”
Volume 2 Plato: “The Apology”, “Phaedo”, “Crito” Epictetus: “The Golden Sayings of Epictetus” Marcus Aurelius: “The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius”
Volume 3 Francis Bacon: “Essays or Counsels – Civil and Moral” (59 essays in all), “The New Atlantis” John Milton's Prose: “Areopagitica”, “Tractate on Education” Thomas Browne: “Religio Medici”
Volume 4 The Complete Poems in English, John Milton. Includes all his poems, also “Paradise Lost” and “Paradise Regained”.
Volume 5 Ralph Waldo Emerson -- Essays: “The American Scholar”, “An Address”, “Man the Reformer”, “Self-Reliance”, “Compensation”, “Friendship”, “Heroism”, “The Over-Soul”, “Circles”, “The Poet”, “Character”, “Manners”, “Gifts”, “Nature”, “Politics”, “New England Reformers”, “Worship”, “Beauty”. Also includes Emerson's “English Traits”.
Volume 6 Poems and Songs, Robert Burns (Includes Poems with Scottish words / spellings.)
Volume 7 “The Confessions” of St. Augustine and “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas A. Kempis
Volume 8 Nine Greek Dramas: “The House of Atreus” Trilogy by Aeschylus: “Agamemnon”, “The Libation-Bearers” and “The Furies”. “Prometheus Bound” by Aeschylus “Oedipus the King” by Sophocles “Antigone” by Sophocles “Hippolytus” by Euripides “The Bacchae” by Euripides “The Frogs” by Aristophanes
Volume 9 Letters and Treatises of Cicero and Pliny Cicero: “On Friendship”, “On Old Age”, “Letters” Pliny: “Letters”
Volume 10 “Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith
Volume 11 “Origin of Species”, by Charles Darwin
Volume 12 Plutarch's Lives; “Themistocles”, “Pericles”, “Aristides”, “Alcibiades”, “Coriolanus”, “Comparison of Alcibiades with Coriolanus”, “Demosthenes”, “Cicero”, “Comparision of Demosthense and Cicero”, “Caesar”, “(Mark) Antony”.
Volume 13 “The Aeneid”, by Virgil
Volume 14 “Don Quixote, Part I”, Miguel Cervantes
Volume 15 “Pilgrim's Progress”, by John Bunyan “The Lives of Donne and George Herbert”, by Izaak Walton
Volume 16 “The Thousand and One Nights”
Volume 17 Folk Lore and Fable, Aesop: (82 fables) Grimm: (41 fairy tales) Andersen: (20 fairy tales)
Volume 18 Modern English Drama “All for Love, or, The World Well Lost”, by John Dryden “The School for Scandal”, by Richard Brinsley Sheridan “She Stoops to Conquer”, by David Garrick “The Cenci”, by Percy Bysshe Shelley “A Blot on the 'Scutcheon”, by Robert Browning “Manfried”, by Lord Byron
Volume 19 “Faust Part I”, “Egmont”, "Hermann and Dorothea", by Goethe “Doctor Faustus”, by Christopher Marlowe
Volume 20 “The Divine Comedy” Dante
Volume 21 “I Promessi Sposi”, Manzoni
Volume 22 “The Odyssey”, by Homer
Volume 23 “Two Years Before the Mast”, Dana
Volume 24 Writings of Edmund Burke: “On Taste”, “On the Sublime and the Beautiful”, “Reflections of the French Revolution”, “A Letter to a Noble Lord”
Volume 25 J.S. Mill: “Autobiography of John Stuart Mill”, “On Liberty” Thomas Carlyle: “Characteristics”, “Inaugural Address at Edinburgh”, “Sir Walter Scott”
Volume 26 Continental Drama “Life is a Dream”, Pedro Calderon de la Barca “Polyeucte”, Pierre Corneille “Phaedra”, Jean Baptiste Racine “Tartuffe, or the Hypocrite”, Jean Baptiste Molière “Minna von Barnhelm, or The Soldier's Fortune”, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing “William Tell”, Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller
Volume 27 English Essays “The Defence of Poesy”, Sir Philip Sidney “On Shakespeare”, “On Bacon”, Ben Johnson “Of Agriculture” Abraham Cowley “The Vision of Mirza”, “Westminster Abbey”, Joseph Addison “The Spectator Club”, Sir Richard Steele “Hints Towards an Essay on Conversation”, “A Treatise on Good Manners and Breeding”, “A Letter of Advice to a Young Poet”, “On the Death of Esther Johnson (Stella)”, Jonathan Swift “The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters”, “The Education of Women”, Daniel Defoe “Life of Addison, 1672-1719”, Samuel Johnson “On the Standard of Taste”, David Hume “Fallacies of Anti-Reformers”, Sydney Smith “On Poesy or Art”, Samuel Taylor Coleridge “Of Persons One Would Wish to Have Seen”, William Hazlitt “Deaths of Little Children”, “On the Realities of Imagination”, Leigh Hunt “On the Tragedies of Shakespeare”, Charles Lamb “Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow”, Thomas de Quincey “A Defence of Poetry”, Percy Bysshe Shelley “Machiavelli”, Thomas Babington Macaulay
Volume 28 Essays, English and American “The Idea of a University”, John Henry Newman “The Study of Poetry”, Matthew Arnold “Sesame and Lilies: Lecture I. Sesame, of King's Treasuries. Lecture II. Lilies, Of Queen's Gardens”, John Ruskin “John Milton”, Walter Bagehot “Science and Culture”, Thomas Henry Huxley “Truth of Intercourse”, “Samuel Pepys”, Robert Louis Stevenson “On the Elevation of the Labouring Classes”, William Ellery Channing “The Poetic Principle”, Edgar Allan Poe “Walking”, Henry David Thoreau “Abraham Lincoln”, “Democracy”, James Russell Lowell
Volume 29 “Voyage of the Beagle”, Darwin
Volume 30 Scientific Papers; Physics,Chemistry, Astronomy, Geology “The Forces of Matter”, The Chemical History of a Candle”, Michael Faraday “On the Conversation of Force”, “Ice and Glaciers”, Hermann von Helmholtz “The Wave Theory of Light”, “The Tides”, Sir William Thomson “The Extent of the Universe”, Simon Newcomb “Geographical Evolution”, Sir Archibald Geike
Volume 31 “Autobiography”, by Benvenuto Cellini
Volume 32 “That We Should Not Judge of Our Happiness Until After Our Death”, “That to Philosophise is to Learne How to Die”, “Of the Institution and Education of Children”, “Of Friendship”, “Of Bookes”, Montaigne “Montaigne”, “What is a Classic?”, Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve “The Poetry of the Celtic Races”, Ernst Renan “The Education of the Human Race”, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing “Letters Upon the Aesthetic Education of Man”, Schiller “Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals”, “Transition from Popular Moral Philosophy to the Metaphysic”, Immanuel Kant “Byron and Goethe”, Giuseppe Mazzini
Volume 33 Voyages and Travels “An Account of Egypt”, Herodotus “Germany”, Tacitus “Sir Francis Drake Revived”, Sir Francis Drake “Sir Francis Drake's Famous Voyage Around the World”, Francis Pretty “Drake's Great Armada”, Cpt. Walter Bigges “Sir Humphrey Gilbert's Voyage to Newfoundland”, Edward Haies “The Discovery of Guiana”, Sir Walter Raleigh
Volume 34 “Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason and Seeking the Truth in the Sciences,” René Descartes, “Letters on the English”, Voltaire “A Discourse Upon the Origin and the Foundation of the Inequality Among Mankind”, J.J. Rousseau “Of Man, Being the First Part of Leviathan”, Thomas Hobbes
Volume 35 “The Campaign of Crecy”, “The Battle of Poitiers”, “Wat Tyler's Rebellion”, “The Battle of Otterburn”, from the Chronicles of Froissart “The Holy Grail”, from the Caxton Edition of “The Morte d'Arthur” by Sir Thomas Malory “A Description of Elizabethan England Written by William Harrison for Holinshed's Chronicles”, Holinshed
Volume 36 “The Prince”, Machiavelli “The Life of Sir Thomas More”, William Roper “Utopia”, Sir Thomas More “Ninety-five Theses”, “Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation Respecting the Reformation of the Christian Estate”, “Concerning Christian Liberty”, Martin Luther
Volume 37 “Some Thoughts Concerning Education”, John Locke “Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous in Opposition to Sceptics and Atheists”, George Berkeley, “An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding”, David Hume
Volume 38 “The Oath of Hippocrates”, “The Law of Hippocrates”, Hippocrate “Journeys in Diverse Places”, Ambroise Paré “On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals”, “William Harvey”, William Harvey “The Three Original Publications on Vaccination Against Smallpox”, Edward Jenner “The Contagiousness of Puerperal Fever”, O.W. Holmes “On the Antiseptic Principle of the Practise of Surgery”, Lord Lister “The Physiological Theory of Fermentation”, “The Germ Theory and its Application to Medicine and Surgery”, “On the Extension of the the Germ Theory to the Etiology of Certain Common Diseases”, Louis Pasteur “Prejudices which have Retard the Progress of Geology”, “Uniformity in the Series of Past Changes in the Animate and Inanimate World”, Sir Charles Lyell
Volume 39 Famous Prefaces “Title, Prologue and Epilogues to the Recuyell of the Histories of Troy”, “Epilogue to Dictes and Saying of the Philosophers”, Prologue to Golden Legend”, “Prologue to Caton”, “Epilogue to Aesop”, “Proem to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales”, “Prologue to Malory's King Arthur”, “Prologue to Virgil's Eneydos”, William Caxton “Dedication to the Institutes of the Christian Religion”, John Calvin “Dedication of the Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies”, Nicolaus Copernicus “Preface to the History of the Reformation in Scotland”, John Knox “Prefatory Letter to Sir Walter Raleigh on the Faerie Queen”, Edmund Spenser “Preface to the History of the World”, Sir Walter Raleigh “Proemium, Epistle, Dedicatory, Preface, and Plan of the Insturatio Magna, Etc.”, “Preface to the Novum Organum”, Francis Bacon “Preface to the First Folio Edition of Shakespeare's Plays”, Heminge and Condell “Preface to the Philosophiae Naturalis Principa Mathematica”, Sir Isaac Newton “Preface to Fables, Ancient and Modern”, John Dryden “Preface to Joseph Andrews”, Henry Fielding “Preface to the English Dictionary”, “Preface to Shakespeare”, Samuel Johnson “Introduction to the Propylaen”, J.W. von Goethe “Prefaces to Various Volumes of Poems”, “Appendix to Lyrical Ballads”, “Essay Supplementary to Preface”, William Wordsworth “Preface to Cromwell”, Victor Hugo “Preface to Leaves of Grass”, Walt Whitman “Introduction to the History of English Literature”, H.A. Taine
Volume 40 Selections of English Poetry 1 Chaucer to Gray
Volume 41 English Poetry 2 Collins to Fitzgerald
Volume 42 English Poetry 3 Tennyson to Whitman
Volume 43 American Historical Documents “The Voyages to Vinland (c. 1000)” “The Letter of Columbus to Luis de Saint Angel Announcing His Discovery (1493)” “Amerigo Vespucci's Account of His First Voyage (1497)” “John Cabot's Discovery of North America (1497)” “First Charter of Virginia (1606)” “The Mayflower Compact (1620)” “The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1639)” “The Massachusetts Body of Liberties (1641)” “Arbitrary Government Described and the Government of the Massachusetts Vindicated from that Apersion, by John Winthrop (1644)” “The Instrument of Government (1653)” “A Healing Question, by Sir Henry Vane (1656)” “John Eliot's Brief Narrative (1670)” “Declaration of Rights (1756)” “The Declaration of Independence (1776)” “Articles of Confederation (1777)” “Articles of Capitulation, Yorktown (1781)” “Treaty with Great Britain (1783)” “Constitution of the United States (1787)” “The Federalist, Nos. 1 and 2” (1787)” “Opinion of Chief Justice Marshall, in the Case of McCulloch vs. The State of Maryland (1819)” “Washington's First Inaugural Address (1789)” “Treaty with the Six Nations (1794)” “Washington's Farewell Address (1796)” “Treaty with France, Louisiana Purchase (1803)” “Treaty with Great Britain, End of War of 1812 (1814)” “Arrangement as to the Naval Force to be Respectively Maintained on the American Lakes (1817)” “Treaty with Spain, Acquisition of Florida (1842)” “The Monroe Doctrine (1823)” “Webster-Ashburn Treaty with Great Britain (1842)” “Treaty with Mexico (1848)” “Fugitive Slave Act (1850)” “Lincoln's First Inaugural Address (1861)” “Emancipation Proclamation (1863)” “Haskell's Account of the Battle of Gettysburg” “Lincoln's Gettysburg Address (1863)” “Proclamation of Amnesty (1863)” “Lincoln's Letter to Mrs. Bixby (1864)” “Terms of Lee's Surrender at Appomattox (1865)” “Lee's Farewell to his Army (1865)” “Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address (1865)” “Proclamation Declaring the Insurrection at and End (1866)” “Treaty with Russia, Alaska Purchase (1867)” “Annexation of the Hawaiian Islands (1898)” “Recognition of the Independence of Cub (1898)” “Treaty with Spain, Cession of Puerto Rico and the Philippines (1898)” “Convention between the United States and the Republic of Panama, (1904)”
Volume 44 Sacred Writings 1 Confucian; The Sayings of Confucius Hebrew: The Book of Job, The Book of Psalms, Ecclesiastes; or The Preacher Christian: Luke's Gospel, The Acts of the Apostles
Volume 45 Sacred Writings 2 Christian: First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, Second Epistle to the Corinthians, Hymns of the Christian Church Buddist: Buddist writings Hindu: The Bhagavad-Gita, or Song Celestial Mohammedan: Chapters from the Koran
Volume 46 Elizabethan Drama 1 “Edward the Second”, Christopher Marlowe “Hamlet”, “King Lear”, “Macbeth”, “The Tempest”, Shakespeare
Volume 47 Elizabethan Drama 2 “The Shoemaker's Holiday”, Thomas Dekker “The Alchemist”, Ben Johnson “Philaster”, Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher “The Duchess of Malfi”, John Webster “A New Way to Pay Old Debts”, Philip Massinger
Volume 49 Epic and Saga “Beowolf” “The Song of Roland” “The Destruction of Dá Derga's Hostel” “The Story of the Volsungs and Niblungs” “Songs from the Elder Edda”
Volume 50 Editor's Introduction Reader's Guides: Class I, listed under The history of Civilization, Religion and Philosopher, Education, Science, Politics, Voyages and Travels, Criticism of Literature and Fine Arts Class II, listed under Drama, Biography and Letters, Essays, Narrative Poetry and Prose Fiction Index to the First lines of Poems, Songs and Choruses, Hymns and Psalms, (Useful if you can only remember an opening line and want to know the rest of the work and the author). General Alphabetical Index Chronological Index, gives historical dates, publication of works, and birth / death of authors
Bonus Volume: Lectures Features lectures on History, Poetry, Natural Science, Philosophy, Biography, Prose Fiction, Criticism and the Essay, Education, Political Science, Drama, Voyages and Travel, and Religion by the Harvard Professors teaching at the time the Harvard Classics first went into print.
Mini-Volume Fifteen Minutes a Day Reading Guide ...more
“Paradise is under the shadow of swords.” – Mohammed
Welcome to Mir'aj, a new world created by Val Gunn that rivals the classic settings of the 1001 Ni“Paradise is under the shadow of swords.” – Mohammed
Welcome to Mir'aj, a new world created by Val Gunn that rivals the classic settings of the 1001 Nights and the stories of Sindbad the Sailor, a paradise of kingdoms with Arabian styled palaces, courtyards with jasmine scented gardens, shrines with minarets, verdant vineyards, bubbling fountains, labyrinthine cities made wealthy by sea commerce and trade caravans that brave the blistering sands of the great desert blasted by the heat of twin suns and nights lit by the light of three moons.
It is a world they would kill for.
Hiril Altair, a soldier trained by the Four Banners, a warrior league with the mission to rid the land of demonic creatures and brigands, has been given a special mission: to deliver a set of secret manuscripts, the Books of Promise. In these manuscripts lies the power to destroy the world as the inhabitants of Mir'aj know it, and they must be taken to a safe place away from those who would use their secrets to rule the world. He never makes it, Altaȉr is slain at the door of the embassy that would have given him sanctuary, cut down by the most feared assassin of the land, Ciris Sarn—the Kingslayer.
Sarn, however, has a story of his own, and refuses to hand over the manuscripts to the power-hungry master who has him bound in a djinn-curse. In an act of defiance, he complies with his order to kill to the letter, but leaves the manuscripts where he found them, let his master come for them if he wants. By chance, the Books come into the possession of Marin, Hiril Altair's widow, a lady-warrior of the Four Banners. She makes it her mission to discover the truth about the manuscripts, who wants them and why, but most of all, to hunt down her husband's assassin, her thoughts bent on revenge.
That's not all, the master of Sarn has other schemes in operation and has enmeshed the Sultanate of Qatana in a web of conspiracies and black designs to achieve his ends to acquire ultimate power. Only one man is a threat to him, Pavanan Munif, leader of the Jassaj warrior spies in service to the Sultan of Qatana, and Munif must find some way to stop his enemy before his evil plans come into effect.
The tale weaves between these three characters, Sarn, Marin and Munif. Sarn desperately trying to break free from the curse that binds him to the Sultan and his cronies, Marin hunting for Sarn, and Munif's adventures as he tries to unravel the conspiracies set into motion by his enemy. It is a fast-paced novel, and while the story gets a little confusing with the different threads running through the narration, the amount of characters that are introduced and the few flashbacks, if you stick with it, you will find it a fascinating tale of deception, murder, mayhem, and the thirst for power. It is a refreshing change for anyone who needs a break from fantasy based on northern myths of elves, dragons and unicorns as this is set in an Arabic wonderland with efrits, demonic kayals, evil úathirs and strange alchemical spells.
Of course, as the author states from the beginning: this is not Lord of the Rings. It is not a book for the kiddies with it's graphic murders, a few expletive words, and frank mentions of the seedy side of life and human weakness. This is meant to be a gritty novel, and indeed, it reads like a chronicle of the Sultan's court in ancient Persia, lending it a sense of authenticity as if we were reading about long-lost Middle-eastern kingdoms here on earth as Emirs and Kings struggle of political dominance.
As you would expect of fantasy novels, the book comes with a map of Mir'aj, it is truly well done, and the introduction of magic words in Arabic script makes me wish I could read and understand Arabic!
This is the first of the Mir'aj chronicles, and it is obvious we have not heard the last of Sarn, Munif, Marin, or the Books of Promise—I can't wait....more
"The deerstalker cap and cape-backed over-coat. The pipe. The grace of gaslit Victoriana. The clop clop of carriage and cobblestone. The fog rolling i"The deerstalker cap and cape-backed over-coat. The pipe. The grace of gaslit Victoriana. The clop clop of carriage and cobblestone. The fog rolling in from England's imperial seas. Baker Street."
Thus do the first words of the Introduction recall to mind the setting of Doyle's famous tales of mystery, intrigue, and the triumph of deductive reasoning. Few remain unacquainted with Holmes and his singular adventures, unravelling this most baffling of crimes with the assistance of his trusty companion, Dr. Watson. We might dare to say that no one would argue the fact the words "detective" and "Sherlock Holmes" are practically synonymous. He had become so popular as a literary character he quickly overshadowed his creator during the two years the first adventures were published in the Strand Magazine beginning in 1891. When Doyle eventually "killed" him in 1893, London was thrown into a state of mourning -- men wore black arm bands, vehemently describing the author as a brute and an assassin! Eight years later, Doyle was finally persuaded to resurrect his character and he produced several additional adventures, including the classic "Hound of the Baskervilles".
This hardcover edition featuring gold scrolling on the red leather-like cover and spine is a regal treasure for library buffs who have made it their main aim in life to fill their shelves with eye-catching unabridged collections. Every adventure is included, and better yet, the stories are a facsimile print of the 1901-1905 edition printed in the Strand Magazine, complete with the original illustrations by Sidney Paget, who was hired by the Strand as the illustrator (by accident!) It is a treat to read these stories in the same format Doyle's followers read them at the turn of the last century. ...more
(Note...this is a review for an earlier Oxford Worlds Classics edition by David Luke, I am assuming this particular book is a reprint of the same.)
Goe(Note...this is a review for an earlier Oxford Worlds Classics edition by David Luke, I am assuming this particular book is a reprint of the same.)
Goethe's "Faust" is arguably the most important milestone in Romantic literature. Taking the famous medieval legend of Dr. Faustus and his pact with the devil, Goethe adapted the tale of old, and transformed it into a great love story, and a probing poetical tract on the nature of good and evil, salvation and damnation, failing and striving, the innate search for truth and lasting fulfilment.
Part One (first published 1808) features Faust's disgust with his life and the world at large, and attempting to unite with the Spirit of creation and soar above the petty corporality of earth, the proud old scholar is dashed to the ground, for he must first work his salvation out on earth by the sweat of his brow before he can be admitted into the presence of the Deity. In desperation, Faust tries to commit suicide, but then makes a wager with the devil: if Mephistopheles can show him that one moment of bliss he is searching for and succeeds in persuading him to cease all his human striving for that one moment, then his soul is forfeit. The devil agrees to the wager, grants Faust the gift of youth, and the adventures begin. He meets young Margareta and falls in love, a romance that leads to tragedy for the innocent maiden.
David Luke's award-winning translation is one of the best I have read. While the rhythms do jar on occasion, this does not take away from the `flow' of this rendition. There will always be discrepancies when a text is taken out of its original language in any case, so it is more constructive to concentrate on the `readability', this translation succeeds in portraying the mood of Goethe's text and the personalities of his vibrant characters. In some instances, it may be argued the translation is too modern, for example, lines [2065 -2070:] when Mephistopheles prepares his magic flying cloak for their journey to a new life of youthful debauchery:
"One merely spreads one's cloak--you'll find It give us aerial elevation. Though, please, this bold step for mankind, Imposes luggage-limitation. I'll set the burners going, heat some air, and lo! We travel light, the earth lies far below."
Did Neil Armstrong land on the moon in Goethe's time? Of course not, but Luke's witty lines humorously displays Mephistopheles' rakish personality and has become one of my personal favourites in this English edition.
The book features an informative introduction on Goethe's biography and the composition of Part One and includes a graph displaying how he edited and added to the scenes until he arrived at the text we know today. There is also a select bibliography, a general chronology of Goethe's life and career, and helpful explanatory endnotes for those who wish to study the details of the text more thoroughly. For "Urfaust" scholars, Luke highlights the lines that were part of Goethe's early draft.
E.A. Bucchianeri, author of "Faust: My Soul be Damned for the World" ...more
Goethe's "Faust" is arguably the most important milestone in Romantic literature. Taking the famous medieval legend of Dr. Faustus and his pact with tGoethe's "Faust" is arguably the most important milestone in Romantic literature. Taking the famous medieval legend of Dr. Faustus and his pact with the devil, Goethe adapted the tale of old, and transformed it into a great love story, and a probing poetical tract on the nature of good and evil, salvation and damnation, failing and striving, the innate search for truth and lasting fulfilment.
After his tragic love affair with Margareta in Part One, Faust is mystically restored by a band of elvin sprites during a glorious sunrise in the alps in Part Two, and he continues his quest to find that one moment of bliss that his soul cries out for, that one moment that will convince him to cease his constant striving and yearning for activity, which ironically, will seal his fate among the damned according to the agreement he made with Mephistopheles. With his diabolical companion, Faust sets out on new adventures and travels the world, often leaving destuction and confusion in his wake. He enters the employment of the Holy Roman Emperor, providing him with grand magical entertainments and helping him to defend the empire from its enemies. He also travels allegorically through poetic space and time to visit ancient Greece, the land of the legendary Helen of Troy and falls in love again. When this does not last, he attempts to build his own kingdom, and he envisions a future moment when he can see the glory of this kingdom established, a moment he wished would last forever. Does this wish damn Faust for all eternity? Who will win the battle for Faust's soul, the demons or the angels?
In contrast to the clear-cut plot of Part One, Faust Part Two is a confusion of strange allegories and cryptic scenes that can often prove tedious to read, and therefore it is no surprise Goethe's admirers found it difficult to comprehend and appreciate. In fact, not many readers continue on past Part One, and few universities include Part Two for their courses in German drama and literature, which is a pity. This work should not be overlooked. To begin with, it is useful to note that Goethe admitted he intended to incorporate 3000 years of history in this drama, and to one acquaintance he declared that the Faust text was filled with contrasts that would seem like an intriguing story with beautiful imaginative pictures to the general readers, while those who could understand the symbols behind Mozart's Masonic opera, "The Magic Flute", would be able to comprehend the deeper meanings hidden in his allegorical jumbles. Hence, appreciating this work and its dramatic riches requires a daunting amount of presupposed knowledge, not only of this mystic symbolism, theology and philosophy, but also ancient and more modern mythology, literature, drama, science, not to mention world history. As one Goethean scholar once declared, to study Goethe is an education in itself.
David Luke's translation is the most accessible to date, and he provides an informative introduction to get readers started with basic accounts of the historical events that inspired Goethe. There is also a glossary of the classical Greek and mythological figures of history to help the reader find their feet. A map of ancient Greece is included to allow you plot Faust's travels in addition to a chronological timeline displaying when he drafted the various scenes, numerous explanatory footnotes, and sketches of Goethe's early drafts of Part Two. This publication is a great starting point for an introduction, however, the information provided by Luke only scratches the surface of Goethe's text, for instance, the glossary provides information on the Greek legends and myths used in the plot, and it is up to the readers to figure out why Goethe changes many elements, but in all, it is well worth the effort. A great book if you love mulling over poetical conundrums.
E.A. Bucchianeri - author of "Faust: My Soul be Damned for the World" ...more
For years, scholars of the printed legacy of the Faust legend have been bereft of a complete edition featuring the various Faust books translated intoFor years, scholars of the printed legacy of the Faust legend have been bereft of a complete edition featuring the various Faust books translated into English from the German original (the Spies edition from Frankfurt, printed in 1587). At last, John Henry Jones has compiled an excellent critical text from the famous Orwin Edition of the English Faust book (printed 1592) that incorporates all the various alterations that occurred with the numerous reprints.
Orwin's edition is the earliest surviving English translation, but several other reprints followed in 1608, 1610, 1618, 1622, 1636 and 1648. Using the Orwin edition as the text proper, Henry Jones indicates in extensive footnotes the original words of the German Spies edition and the changes included in the later reprints. Explanations about the historical nature of the text, such as locations named during Faustus' travels, etc. are included. Furthermore, he highlights throughout the text which sections were the unique additions inserted by P.F., the original English translator, whose identity has not yet been discovered.
Henry Jones also discusses in his lengthy introduction the little known Faust book text, the `Shrewsbury Fragment', the possible existence of a precursor edition of the English Faust book printed circa 1589, offers a new theory as to the identity of the mysterious Mr. P.F., and attempts to date the English Faust Book and Marlowe's play by comparing them with Greene's prose romance, `The Honourable History of Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay'. It is an excellent academic edition of the English Faust Book.
E.A. Bucchianeri, author of "Faust: My Soul be Damned for the World"...more
If you love reading all the classics and wish to learn more about their importance within modern history, or want to view the other side of the spectrIf you love reading all the classics and wish to learn more about their importance within modern history, or want to view the other side of the spectrum and see how the progress of western culture influenced the greatest writers through the ages, this volume should be included in your personal library.
Bear with me: I know this introduction sounds as if I were lauding some ponderous academic tome that would bore any casual reader to death, but do not be fooled, this book is actually a pleasant surprise and an entertaining read from cover to cover despite its informative nature. Well, I find learning new things to be very entertaining.
This book is filled with concise but intriguing chapters from two to four pages long, each chapter focusing on an important period of history, beginning with the Middle Ages / Renaissance and ending with culture and the world after the fall of the Berlin wall. Famous authors and their history-making masterpieces of literature are discussed in each chapter, some authors, cities, countries and geographical areas receive special attention for certain centuries or epochs, like the sections entitled “Cervante’s Spain”, “Washington Irving’s Europe” or “London in the 1890s”. It is quite useful if you have just bought a copy of 'Gulliver’s Travels' or 'Wurthering Heights', to cite a few examples, and want to understand their general background, the authors who wrote them, the cultural history of the times, and how these works may have influenced the creativity of other writers.
This beautifully produced work is filled with interesting colour maps and graphs, not only pictures charting historical events, but special illustrations marking out sites in various cities where a famous scene in a novel occurred, plus charts plotting the travels of fictional characters. Plans of cities showing where authors loved to ‘hang out’ and discuss their ideas are also included, places that may still be found today or that no longer exist are clearly marked. There are also numerous illustrations, sketches and artworks that help evoke a ‘feeling’ of each period, such as paintings, artworks, photographs, book covers and illustrations not to mention authors’ portraits. The reader will find that this work really is an “Atlas of Literature”, my only complaint—it’s a shame that the publisher did not delve deeper and include chapters on ancient civilizations and their literary culture, like the epics and dramas of ancient Greece and Rome. How could the ´Illiad´ by Homer and the ´Aeneid´ by Virgil not be included in this book? These great classics influenced more writers than can be imagined. The contributors certainly missed out on the charts they could have included of ancient Troy plus the wanderings of Ulysses and Aeneas. Never mind, the book is still enjoyable, so I’m giving it the full five stars.
Last but not least, there is an informative appendix with an alphabetical listing of authors and their works, more lists featuring interesting international places to visit that are associated with the literary world such as museums dedicated to specific writers, book clubs, homes of famous authors, also cemeteries where they are buried to name few sites. There is also a suggested list of books for further research, and a useful index for quick referencing if you do not feel like reading this volume straight from beginning to end. This “atlas” is a treasure for literature lovers.
Part One: The Middle Ages and the Renaissance “Dante's Worlds” “Chaucer's England” “Shakespeare's Stratford and London” “Montaigne's France” “Cervante's Spain” “The Discovery of the New World: Arcadia and Utopia”
Part Two: The Age of Reason “The France of the Enlightenment” “The Journeys of the Age of the Novel” “Eighteenth Century London” “Eighteenth Century Dublin” “Eighteenth Century Edinburgh and Scotland”
Part Three: The Romantics “The Lake District of the Romantics” “The Romantic Abroad” “Jane Austen's Regency England” “The Paris of the French Romantics” “Weimar and the German Romantics” “Washington Irving's Europe” “James Fenimore Cooper's Frontier”
Part Four: The Age of Industrialism and Empire “The Sleeping Giant: Pushkin's, Gogol's and Dostoevsky's St Petersburg” “Stendhal's, Balzac's and Sand's France” “Dicken's London” “Steaming Chimney's: Britain and Industrialism” “Wild Yorkshire: The Brontës of Haworth” “Emerson's and Hawthorne's New England” “Dreaming Spires: Nineteenth Century Oxford and Cambridge”
Part Five: The Age of Realism “Mark Twain's Mississippi” “The South, Slavery and the Civil War” “Paris as Bohemia” “The European Apple: Henry James's International Scene” “Thomas Hardey's Wessex” “Scandinavia: The Dark and the Light” “Precipitous City: Robert Louis Stevenson's Edinburgh” “London in the 1890s” “Dreams of Empire” “The Irish Revival” “Chicago's World Fair”
Part Six: The Modern World “Wittgenstein's Vienna” “Kafka's Prague” “James Joyce's Dublin” “Writers of the Great War” “Paris in the Twenties” “The World of Bloomsbury” “Berlin: The Centre of German Modernism” “Greenwich Village” “Harlem's Renaissance” “Main Street, USA” “William Faulkner's New South” “Writer's Hollywood” “Depression America” “Depression Britain” “The Spanish Civil War” “Writers go to War”
Part Seven: After the Second World War “Existentialist Paris and Beyond” “Germany After the War” “Post-war Italian Fiction” “Scenes From Provincial Life” “Broadway” “Dylan Thomas's Wales” “The Beat Generation” “Cold War Tales”
Part Eight: The World Today “Russia and Eastern Europe After the Second World War” “The Fantasywallas of Bombay” “Japan: Land of Spirits of the Earth” “Campus Fictions” “Divided Ireland” “The Writing of the Caribbean” “Australian Images: Sydney and Melbourne” “Contemporary Israeli Writing” “In Search of Andalusia: Arabic Literature Today” “South African Stories” “Latin American Writing: A Literary Heritage Explored” “The Writing of Africa Today” “Canadian Images” “Everywhere the Wind Blows: African-American Writing Today” “Manhattan Tales: Who's Afraid of Tom Wolfe?” “ ´This Grey But Gold City´ The Glasgow of Gray and Kelman” “London: The Dislocated City” “The World After the Wall”
Appendixes: Authors and their works Places to visit Further reading ...more