When the young Ishmael gets on board Captain Ahab''s whaling ship, little does he suspect that the mission on which he is about to embark is the fulfilment of his master''s obsessive desire for revenge on Moby Dick, a white whale who has already claimed countless human victims and destroyed many fleets. With some sinister crew members in their midst and the hazardous conditions of the sea to contend with, the expedition becomes increasingly dangerous the closer it gets to its quarry.
One of the great American novels, if not the greatest, Moby Dick epically combines rip-roaring adventure, a meticulously realistic portrayal of the whaling trade and a profound philosophical disquisition on the nature of good and evil.>
Beautiful Emma Rouault yearns for the life of wealth, passion and romance she has encountered in popular sentimental fiction, and when her doctor, the well-meaning but awkward and unremarkable Charles Bovary, begins to pay her attention, she imagines that she may be granted her wish. However, after their marriage, Emma soon becomes frustrated with the boredom of provincial life and finds herself seeking escape and contemplating adultery. As Emma''s efforts to make a reality of her fantasies become more dangerous, both she and those around her must face the shattering consequences of her actions. Causing widespread scandal when it was published in 1857, Madame Bovary is Gustave Flaubert''s masterpiece and one of the landmark works of nineteenth-century realist fiction.>
As Mrs Dalloway works on the preparations for a dinner party, her thoughts throughout the day wander from memories of the past to interrogations about the present and lead her to assess the choices she has made in life and love. Her monologue interweaves with the account of the distress, on that same day, of the shell-shocked veteran Septimus Warren Smith, whose trauma and hallucinations end in tragedy, as the links between the two characters unfold.
One of Virginia Woolf''s most famous novels, Mrs Dalloway is a triumph of experimentation, a cornerstone of Modernism and a subtle examination of love, freedom, mental illness and the female condition in society.>
A novel of high romance and great intensity, Jane Eyre has enjoyed popular success and critical acclaim ever since its first publication in 1847. Jane''s journey from a troubled childhood to independence - and her turbulent love affair with the enigmatic Mr Rochester - electrified Victorian readers with its narrative power.
With characters that are as unforgettable as the story they enact, and a striking use of language that amazed the readers of the day, Jane Eyre ranks among the most influential English novels ever written.>
Charles Dickens''s second novel is the tale of a young orphan who faces the gruelling conditions of a Victorian workhouse before finding himself sucked into the criminal underworld of London. Teeming with unforgettable characters such as the villainous Fagin, the virtuous Nancy and the brutal Bill Sikes, Oliver Twist combines dark humour, elements of melodrama and social polemic.
At once a ferocious indictment of the author''s era and a timeless story of coming of age, this classic has enthralled readers and inspired countless adaptations and imitations since it was first published in 1838.>
Under the feckless husbandry of Mr Jones, the Manor Farm has fallen into disrepair. Pushed into hardship, the animals decide to stage a revolt, and, led by two young pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, they overthrow Mr Jones and drive him away from the farm. In the subsequent struggle for power, it is Napoleon who emerges as a victor: he renames the place "Animal Farm", gets rid of his enemies and, by the way he behaves - expecting to be glorifi ed above the others and turning the screw on his fellow beasts in order to keep them subjugated - begins to resemble more and more the former rulers of the farm, the hated humans.
Written during the Second World War and published in 1945, this allegorical novel is a carefully constructed critique of the Russian Revolution and a sharp satire on the abuse of power. It remains unsurpassed both as a document of its time and as a testament to the versatility and creative genius of George Orwell.>
Emma is considered by many readers to be Jane Austen''s crowning achievement, a timeless comedy of manners that lays bare the limits on women''s autonomy in Regency England. The disparity between Emma Woodhouse''s self-confidence and self-knowledge, and her determination to arrange marriages for her friends while avoiding one for herself, leads to a painful series of misunderstandings for everyone who suffers from her well-meaning altruism - and with Mr Knightley being the only person of her acquaintance who has the good sense to challenge her, Emma must eventually recognize her match in every sense.
Long praised for its rich detail and perfect craftsmanship, Emma is one of those classic masterpieces that readers go back to again and again for its inexhaustible fund of humanity.>
Shakespeare''s Sonnets are among the most lyrical and moving pieces of poetry in any language, abounding with examples of his genius for wordplay, rhythm and metaphor and dealing with the eternal themes of love, memory, beauty and the ravishes of time. First published in 1609, after Shakespeare had written many of his most famous works, the Sonnets have been the subject of literary curiosity ever since, mainly concerning the identity of the two addressees, ''Mr W.H.'' and the ''Dark Lady'', and the light they could shine on Shakespeare''s life.
This collection constitutes one of English literature''s most profound poetic meditations on life and love, and is a vital complement to the plays, offering clues to Shakespeare''s own biography. Presented here in an edition that makes them accessible to twentieth-century readers, these poems are worth returning to again and again.>
Part of Alma Classics Evergreen series at GBP4.99. Oscar Wilde's only full-length novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray is a lasting gem of sophisticated wit and playfulness, which brings together all the best elements of his talent in a reinterpretation of the Faustian myth. This edition contains photographs and a wealth of extra material.
The pride of high-ranking Mr Darcy and the prejudice of middle-class Elizabeth Bennet conduct an absorbing dance through the rigid social hierarchies of early-nineteenth-century England, with the passion of the two unlikely lovers growing as their union seems ever more improbable.
One of the most cherished love stories in English literature, Jane Austen''s 1813 masterpiece has a lasting effect on everyone who reads it.>
Born in Newgate Prison to an incarcerated mother, Moll Flanders is compelled from earliest childhood to make her own way in the world and to live off her wit and beauty. Her desire to climb the rungs of society leads her through a tangled web of incest, adultery, prostitution, deception and theft, before she is eventually transported to the New World for her crimes.
Presented as Moll''s autobiography, and published anonymously, the novel, through its self-made protagonist, highlights the intricacies and double standards of Moll''s contemporary society, and offers an irresistible and evocative insight into both the drawing rooms and seedy back alleys of seventeenth-century England.>
The tale of Heathcliff and Cathy''s ungovernable love and suffering, and the havoc that their passion wreaks on the families of the Earnshaws and the Lintons, shocked the book''s first readers, with even Emily''s sister Charlotte wondering whether it is right or advisable to create beings like Heathcliff . Replete with unforgettable characters and situations that have seared themselves into our literary consciousness, Emily Bronte''s intense masterpiece is one of the most haunting love stories in the canon of English literature.>
Ebenezer Scrooge is a lonely, miserly old man who hates Christmas, which he dismisses as "humbug". One Christmas Eve, however, he is visited by a series of ghosts who reveal to him the innocence he has lost, the wretchedness of his future and the poverty of the present, which he has so far ignored. This experience teaches Scrooge the true meaning of the holiday and leaves him a transformed man.
With its memorable cast of characters such as Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come, Charles Dickens''s A Christmas Carol is the most heart-warming of seasonal tales, a timeless classic that continues to enchant readers around the world and a lesson in charity and hopefulness that is as powerful today as when it was first written in 1843.>
After her parents die of cholera in India, Mary Lennox is sent to live with her uncle in his gloomy house in Yorkshire, where she leads a lonely and neglected life, with nothing to do apart from exploring her surroundings. One day she discovers a walled garden which has been locked up, and becomes determined to enter it and find out its secret and the source of the mysterious crying sound that can be heard nearby.
A powerful tale of regeneration and personal transformation, The Secret Garden has become one of the most popular children''s classics, and has continued to delight generations of young readers.>
The four March sisters - Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy - live in financial hardship in New England with their mother, while their father has been drafted to fight in the Civil War. The girls embark on a series of adventures and endure a number of unexpected misfortunes - experiences that allow their personalities to emerge: Meg sensible and outgoing, Jo literary and boyish, Beth musical and shy, and Amy artistic and selfish - but the bonds holding together the March family remain unbroken.
Initially written as a novel for girls, Little Women is now regarded as an all-time American classic for all readers, inspiring generations of women writers and giving rise to many adaptations.>
Invited to an extravagantly lavish party in a Long Island mansion, Nick Carraway, a young bachelor who has just settled in the neighbouring cottage, is intrigued by the mysterious host, Jay Gatsby, a flamboyant but reserved self-made man with murky business interests and a shadowy past. As the two men strike up an unlikely friendship, details of Gatsby''s impossible love for a married woman emerge, until events spiral into tragedy.
Regarded as Fitzgerald''s masterpiece and one of the greatest novels of American literature, The Great Gatsby is a vivid chronicle of the excesses and decadence of the "Jazz Age", as well as a timeless cautionary critique of the American dream.>
Written in 1957, but only recently rediscovered in manuscript form in a New Jersey warehouse, Beat Generation bears the hallmarks of vintage Kerouac: flowing, stream-of-consciousness language, orchestrated with a jazz-like sense of adventure and rhythm.
One of the best-loved adventure stories ever written, Treasure Island''s timeless tale of pirates, lost treasure maps, mutiny and derring-do has appealed to generations of readers ever since Robert Louis Stevenson penned it in 1881 with the claim: If this don''t fetch the kids, why, they have gone rotten since my day.
But more than just a children''s classic, the novel is considered to be one of the greatest feats of storytelling in the English language, with characters such as the unforgettable Long John Silver becoming part of the cultural consciousness. Treasure Island is a coming-of-age story that will captivate both adults and children for as long as stories are told.>
From his Baker Street apartment, Sherlock Holmes wields his powers of deduction in pursuit of justice and truth, venturing out into foggy Victorian London accompanied by his faithful sidekick Dr Watson. This classic collection of Holmes tales includes many of the detective''s most-loved exploits: Holmes is confronted by a venomous snake in ''The Adventure of the Speckled Band'', mystified by a missing thumb in ''The Adventure of the Engineer''s Thumb'' and beguiled by a beautiful opera singer in ''A Scandal in Bohemia'', never once losing his famous cool.
First appearing separately in the Strand Magazine, these stories were published together in 1892 in a volume that rapidly became one of the most popular Sherlock Holmes collections. Showcasing Arthur Conan Doyle''s inimitable genius for mystery and storytelling, these tales are proof that the famous detective remains one of the greatest crime fighters ever created.>
Peopled by an unforgettable cast of aristocrats and high-fliers, Tender is the Night is at once a scathing critique of the materialism and hypocrisy of the Roaring Twenties and a poignant and sensitive account of personal tragedy and disillusionment.
When young Dorothy and her dog Toto are caught in a cyclone, their Kansas farmhouse is carried off to the magical Land of Oz. Upon being told that the only way back is to follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City, home to the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy embarks on an extraordinary but perilous quest, in which the Wicked Witch of the West is constantly lurking around the corner.
With its unforgettable cast of now iconic characters such as the Tin Man, Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was an instant hit when it was published over a century ago, inspiring numerous adaptations and sequels.>
When Rachel Verinder''s legacy of a priceless Indian diamond is stolen, all the evidence indicates that it is her beloved, Franklin Blake, who is guilty. Around this central axis of crime and thwarted love, Collins constructs an ingenious plot of teasing twists and surprises, and an elaborate multi-voiced narrative that sustains the tension all the way to its stunning ending.
Described by T.S. Eliot as the first, the longest and the best of modern English detective novels, Wilkie Collins''s The Moonstone is an important precursor of the modern mystery and suspense genres.>