«Sit down awhile;
And let us once again assail your ears, That are so fortified against our story What we have two nights seen...» The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, often shortened to Hamlet, is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare at an uncertain date between 1599 and 1602.
Set in the Kingdom of Denmark, the play dramatises the revenge Prince Hamlet is called to wreak upon his uncle, Claudius, by the ghost of Hamlet's father, King Hamlet. Claudius had murdered his own brother and seized the throne, also marrying his deceased brother's widow.
Hamlet is Shakespeare's longest play, and is among the most powerful and influential tragedies in English literature, with a story capable of "seemingly endless retelling and adaptation by others". The play likely was one of Shakespeare's most popular works during his lifetime, and still ranks among his most performed.
«Doubtful it stood ;
As two spent swimmers, that do cling together ;
And choke their art. The merciless Macdonwald - Worthy to be a rebel, for to that ;
The multiplying villanies of nature ;
Do swarm upon him - from the western isles...» Macbeth (full title The Tragedy of Macbeth) is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare. Set mainly in Scotland, the play dramatises the damaging physical and psychological effects of political ambition on those who seek power for its own sake. The play is believed to have been written between 1599 and 1606. The earliest account of a performance of what was probably Shakespeare's play is April 1611, when Simon Forman recorded seeing such a play at the Globe Theatre. It was first published in the Folio of 1623, possibly from a prompt book. It was most likely written during the reign of James I, who had been James VI of Scotland before he succeeded to the English throne in 1603. James was a patron of Shakespeare's acting company, and of all the plays Shakespeare wrote during James's reign, Macbeth most clearly reflects the playwright's relationship with the sovereign.
«I was born in the year 1632, in the city of York, of a good family, though not of that country, my father being a foreigner of Bremen, who settled first at Hull. He got a good estate by merchandise, and leaving off his trade lived afterward at York,...» Robinson Crusoe is a novel by Daniel Defoe, first published on 25 April 1719. The first edition credited the work's protagonist Robinson Crusoe as its author, leading many readers to believe he was a real person and the book a travelogue of true incidents.
Epistolary, confessional, and didactic in form, the book is presented as an autobiography of the title character (whose birth name is Robinson Kreutznaer)-a castaway who spends thirty years on a remote tropical island near Trinidad, encountering cannibals, captives, and mutineers before being rescued.
Taken as non-fiction, the details of Robinson Crusoe are given at the start of the novel. The story has since been perceived to be based on the life of Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish castaway who lived for four years on the Pacific island of Chile.
«Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch Hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage; there he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one...» Persuasion is Jane Austen's last completed novel, published posthumously. She began it soon after she had finished Emma and completed it in August 1816.
As the Napoleonic Wars come to an end in 1814, Admirals and Captains of the Royal Navy are put ashore, their work done. Anne Elliot meets Captain Frederick Wentworth after seven years, by the chance of his sister and brother-in-law renting her father's estate, while she stays for a few months with her married sister, living nearby.
They fell in love the first time, but she broke off the engagement.
Besides the theme of persuasion, the novel evokes other topics, with which Austen was familiar: the Royal Navy, in which two of Jane Austen's brothers rose to the rank of admiral; and the superficial social life of Bath. It is portrayed extensively and serves as a setting for the second half of Persuasion.
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.
«Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,» he told me,«just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had.» The Great Gatsby is a 1925 novel written by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald that follows a cast of characters living in the fictional town of West Egg on prosperous Long Island in the summer of 1922. The story primarily concerns the young and mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and his quixotic passion and obsession for the beautiful former debutante Daisy Buchanan.
Considered to be Fitzgerald's magnum opus, The Great Gatsby explores themes of decadence, idealism, resistance to change, social upheaval, and excess, creating a portrait of the Jazz Age or the Roaring Twenties that has been described as a cautionary tale regarding the American Dream.
«Buck did not read the newspapers, or he would have known that trouble was brewing, not alone for himself, but for every tide-water dog, strong of muscle and with warm, long hair, from Puget Sound to San Diego...» The Call of the Wild is a short adventure novel by Jack London published in 1903 and set in Yukon, Canada during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush, when strong sled dogs were in high demand. The central character of the novel is a dog named Buck. The story opens at a ranch in the Santa Clara Valley of California when Buck is stolen from his home and sold into service as a sled dog in Alaska. He progressively reverts to a wild state in the harsh climate, where he is forced to fight to dominate other dogs. By the end, he sheds the veneer of civilization and relies on primordial instinct and learned experience to emerge as a leader in the wild.
The story was serialized in the Saturday Evening Post in the summer of 1903; it was published a month later in book form. The book's great popularity and success made a reputation for London.
«The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn...» The Picture of Dorian Gray is a philosophical novel by the writer Oscar Wilde, first published complete in the July 1890 issue of Lippincott's Monthly Magazine.
Dorian Gray is the subject of a full-length portrait in oil by Basil Hallward, an artist who is impressed and infatuated by Dorian's beauty; he believes that Dorian's beauty is responsible for the new mode in his art as a painter.
Through Basil, Dorian meets Lord Henry Wotton, and he soon is enthralled by the aristocrat's hedonistic worldview: that beauty and sensual fulfilment are the only things worth pursuing in life. Newly understanding that his beauty will fade, Dorian expresses the desire to sell his soul, to ensure that the picture, rather than he, will age and fade. The wish is granted, and Dorian pursues a libertine life of varied and amoral experiences; all the while his portrait ages and records every soul-corrupting sin.
«In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the Army...» A Study in Scarlet is a detective mystery novel written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, introducing his new characters, "consulting detective" Sherlock Holmes and his friend and chronicler, Dr. John Watson, who later became two of the most famous characters in literature.
Conan Doyle wrote the story in 1886, and it was published the following year. The book's title derives from a speech given by Holmes to Doctor Watson on the nature of his work, in which he describes the story's murder investigation as his "study in scarlet": "There's the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it." (A "study" is a preliminary drawing, sketch or painting done in preparation for a finished piece.) The story, and its main characters, attracted little public interest when it first appeared.
«It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife...» Pride and Prejudice is a novel of manners by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story follows the main character, Elizabeth Bennet, as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of the British Regency. Elizabeth is the second of five daughters of a country gentleman, Mr. Bennet, living in Longbourn.
Pride and Prejudice retains a fascination for modern readers, continuing near the top of lists of "most loved books". It has become one of the most popular novels in English literature, selling over 20 million copies, and receives considerable attention from literary scholars. Modern interest in the book has resulted in a number of dramatic adaptations and an abundance of novels and stories imitating Austen's memorable characters or themes.
«During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher...» Tales of Mystery & Imagination (often rendered as Tales of Mystery and Imagination) is a popular title for posthumous compilations of writings by American author, essayist and poet Edgar Allan Poe and was the first complete collection of his works specifically restricting itself to his suspenseful and related tales.
The precursor to Tales of Mystery and Imagination was a collection of Poe's works entitled Tales of Mystery, Imagination and Humor. The title "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" was first used by "The World's Classics", London, and printed by Grant Richard.
«I have just returned from a visit to my landlord-the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with. This is certainly a beautiful country! In all England, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society...» Wuthering Heights is Emily Brontë's only novel. Written between October 1845 and June 1846. Although is now widely regarded as a classic of English literature; it was considered controversial because its depiction of mental and physical cruelty was unusually stark, and it challenged strict Victorian ideals of the day.
In 1801, Lockwood, a wealthy man from the South of England who is seeking peace and recuperation, rents Thrushcross Grange in Yorkshire. He visits his landlord, Heathcliff, who lives in a remote moorland farmhouse, Wuthering Heights. There Lockwood finds an odd assemblage: Heathcliff seems to be a gentleman, but his manners are uncouth; the reserved mistress of the house is in her mid-teens; and a young man seems to be a member of the family, yet dresses and speaks as if he is a servant.
Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, 'and what is the use of a book,' thought Alice 'without pictures or conversation?' Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) is an 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll.
It tells of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as with children. It is considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre. Its narrative course and structure, characters and imagery have been enormously influential in both popular culture and literature, especially in the fantasy genre.
Alice and the rest of Wonderland continue to inspire or influence many other works of art to this day.
«On a January evening of the early seventies, Christine Nilsson was singing in Faust at the Academy of Music in New York...» The Age of Innocence is Edith Wharton's twelfth novel, initially serialized in four parts in the Pictorial Review magazine in 1920, and later released by D. Appleton and Company as a book in New York and in London. It won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, making Wharton the first woman to win the prize. The story is set in upper-class New York City in the 1870s, during the so-called Gilded Age.
The Age of Innocence centers on an upper-class couple's impending marriage, and the introduction of the bride's cousin, plagued by scandal, whose presence threatens their happiness. Though the novel questions the assumptions and morals of 1870s New York society, it never develops into an outright condemnation of the institution.
The title is an ironic comment on the polished outward manners of New York society when compared to its inward machinations.
«The old lady pulled her spectacles down and looked over them about the room; then she put them up and looked out under them...» The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain is an 1876 novel about a young boy growing up along the Mississippi River. It is set in the fictional town of St. Petersburg, inspired by Hannibal, Missouri, where Twain lived.
Mark Twain created two of the most enduring and beloved fictional characters when he introduced the energetic young whippersnapper Tom Sawyer and his best friend Huckleberry Finn. First published in 1876, the novel tells the story of Tom Sawyer, a young boy who lived in the fictional town of St. Petersburg along the Mississippi River which is based on the real town where Mark Twain grew up; Hannibal, Missouri.
It is a classic tale of adventure seen through the eyes of the young protagonist. This is one of the literary greats that everyone should experience to enjoy the adventures and misadventures of Twain's young protagonist.
«The family of Dashwood had long been settled in Sussex. Their estate was large, and their residence was at Norland Park, in the centre of their property, where, for many generations, they had lived in so respectable a manner as to engage the general good opinion of their surrounding acquaintance...» Sense and Sensibility is a novel by Jane Austen, and was her first published work when it appeared in 1811 under the pseudonym "A Lady". A work of romantic fiction, better known as a comedy of manners, Sense and Sensibility is set in southwest England, London and Kent between 1792 and 1797, and portrays the life and loves of the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne. The novel follows the young ladies to their new home, a meagre cottage on a distant relative's property, where they experience love, romance and heartbreak.
Jane Austen wrote the first draft of the novel in the form of a novel-in-letters (epistolary form) sometime around 1795 when she was about 19 years old, and gave it the title Elinor and Marianne. She later changed the form to a narrative and the title to Sense and Sensibility.
«There was no hope for him this time: it was the third stroke. Night after night I had passed the house (it was vacation time) and studied the lighted square of window: and night after night I had found it lighted in the same way, faintly and evenly...» Dubliners is a collection of fifteen short stories by James Joyce, first published in 1914. They form a naturalistic depiction of Irish middle class life in and around Dublin in the early years of the 20th century.
The stories were written when Irish nationalism was at its peak, and a search for a national identity and purpose was raging; at a crossroads of history and culture, Ireland was jolted by various converging ideas and influences.
They centre on Joyce's idea of an epiphany: a moment where a character experiences a life-changing selfunderstanding or illumination. Many of the characters in Dubliners later appear in minor roles in Joyce's novel Ulysses. The initial stories in the collection are narrated by child protagonists, and as the stories continue, they deal with the lives and concerns of progressively older people. This is in line with Joyce's tripartite division of the collection into childhood, adolescence and maturity.
«Squire Trelawney, Dr. Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted,...» Treasure Island is an adventure novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, narrating a tale of "buccaneers and buried gold". It was originally serialized in the children's magazine Young Folks between 1881 and 1882 under the title Treasure Island, or the mutiny of the Hispaniola, credited to the pseudonym "Captain George North". It was first published as a book on 1883 by Cassell & Co.
Is traditionally considered a coming-of-age story, and is noted for its atmosphere, characters, and action. It is also noted as a wry commentary on the ambiguity of morality-as seen in Long John Silver-unusual for children's literature. It is one of the most frequently dramatized of all novels. Its influence is enormous on popular perceptions of pirates, including such elements as treasure maps marked with an "X", schooners, the Black Spot, tropical islands, parrots on their shoulders...
«The sun had not yet risen. The sea was indistinguishable from the sky, except that the sea was slightly creased as if a cloth had wrinkles in it. Gradually as the sky whitened a dark line lay on the horizon dividing the sea from the sky and the grey cloth became barred with thick strokes moving, one after another, beneath the surface, following each other, pursuing each other, perpetually...» The Waves, first published in 1931, is Virginia Woolf's most experimental novel. It consists of soliloquies spoken by the book's six characters: Bernard, Susan, Rhoda, Neville, Jinny, and Louis. Also important is Percival, the seventh character, though readers never hear him speak in his own voice. The soliloquies that span the characters' lives are broken up by nine brief third-person interludes detailing a coastal scene at varying stages in a day from sunrise to sunset.
As the six characters or "voices" speak Woolf explores concepts of individuality, self and community. Each character is distinct, yet together they compose a gestalt about a silent central consciousness.
«The Nellie, a cruising yawl, swung to her anchor without a flutter of the sails, and was at rest. The flood had made, the wind was nearly calm, and being bound down the river, the only thing for it was to come to and wait for the turn of the tide...» Heart of Darkness (1899) is a novella by Polish-British novelist Joseph Conrad, about a voyage up the Congo River into the Congo Free State, in the heart of Africa, by the story's narrator Marlow. Marlow tells his story to friends aboard a boat anchored on the River Thames, London, England. This setting provides the frame for Marlow's story of his obsession with the ivory trader Kurtz, which enables Conrad to create a parallel between London and Africa as places of darkness.
Central to Conrad's work is the idea that there is little difference between so-called civilised people and those described as savages; Heart of Darkness raises important questions about imperialism and racism.
«You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly...» Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (or, in more recent editions, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn) is a novel by Mark Twain, first published in the United Kingdom in December 1884 and in the United States in February 1885.
Commonly named among the Great American Novels, the work is among the first in major American literature to be written throughout in vernacular English, characterized by local color regionalism. It is told in the first person by Huckleberry "Huck" Finn, a friend of Tom Sawyer and narrator of two other Twain novels. It is a direct sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
The book is noted for its colorful description of people and places along the Mississippi River. Set in a Southern antebellum society that had ceased to exist about twenty years before the work was published, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an often scathing satire on entrenched attitudes, particularly racism.
«To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex...» The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of twelve short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, featuring his fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. It was first published on 1892. The stories are not in chronological order, and the only characters common to all twelve are Holmes and Dr. Watson. As with all but four of the Sherlock Holmes stories, those contained within The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes are told by a first-person narrative from the point of view of Dr. Watson.
In general the stories identify, and try to correct, social injustices. Holmes is portrayed as offering a new, fairer sense of justice. The stories were well received, and boosted the subscriptions figures of The Strand Magazine, prompting Doyle to be able to demand more money for his next set of stories. stories, picking "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" as his overall favourite.
«Dorothy lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies, with Uncle Henry, who was a farmer, and Aunt Em, who was the farmer's wife. Their house was small, for the lumber to build it had to be carried by wagon many miles...» The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a children's novel written by L. Frank Baum. Originally published on May 17, 1900, it has since been reprinted numerous times, most often under the name The Wizard of Oz, which is the name of both the popular 1902 Broadway musical and the well-known 1939 film adaptation.
The story chronicles the adventures of a young girl named Dorothy Gale in the Land of Oz, after being swept away from her Kansas farm home in a cyclone. The novel is one of the best-known stories in American popular culture and has been widely translated. Its initial success, and the success of the 1902 Broadway musical which Baum adapted from his original story, led to Baum's writing thirteen additional Oz books.
Baum dedicated the book "to my good friend & comrade, My Wife", Maud Gage Baum.
«Dark spruce forest frowned on either side the frozen waterway. The trees had been stripped by a recent wind of their white covering of frost, and they seemed to lean towards each other, black and ominous, in the fading light...» White Fang is a novel by American author Jack London (1876-1916) - and the name of the book's eponymous character, a wild wolfdog. First serialized in Outing magazine, it was published in 1906. The story takes place in Yukon Territory, Canada, during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush and details White Fang's journey to domestication.
It is a companion novel (and a thematic mirror) to London's best-known work, The Call of the Wild, which is about a kidnapped, domesticated dog embracing his wild ancestry to survive and thrive in the wild.
Much of White Fang is written from the viewpoint of the titular canine character, enabling London to explore how animals view their world and how they view humans. White Fang examines the violent world of wild animals and the equally violent world of humans.
«Mr Verloc, going out in the morning, left his shop nominally in charge of his brother-in-law. It could be done, because there was very little business at any time, and practically none at all before the evening. Mr Verloc cared but little about his ostensible business. And, moreover, his wife was in charge of his brother-in-law...» The Secret Agent is a novel by Joseph Conrad, published in 1907. The story is set in London in 1886 and deals with Mr. Verloc and his work as a spy for an unnamed country (presumably Russia). The Secret Agent is notable for being one of Conrad's later political novels in which he moved away from his former tales of seafaring.
The novel deals broadly with anarchism, espionage and terrorism. It also deals with exploitation of the vulnerable, particularly in Verloc's relationship with his brother-in-law Stevie, who has an intellectual disability.
The novel begins in Verloc's home, as he and his wife discuss the trivialities of everyday life, which introduces the reader to Verloc's family. Soon after, Verloc leaves to meet Mr. Vladimir, the new First Secretary in the embassy of a foreign country.