By: Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881)
Ivan Matveich, the most ordinary person you might hope to meet, is swallowed alive by a crocodile at a sideshow. Finding life inside the belly of the beast quite comfortable, he makes a home for himself there. His disquisitions on the state of the world from inside the crocodile make him quite a name for himself; while all the while the discussion rages outside as to whether the beast is going to be cut open to release him or not, its value as a sideshow attraction having massively increased owing to the presence of the human voice buried inside it. One of Jorge Luis Borges' seven most favourite stories. - Summary by Tony Addison
By: Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850)
Another Study of Woman
A series of tales -- told by men, of course -- about women. Though the book first appeared in 1842, Balzac later added to it as an addenfum a tale of 1831, La Grande Bretèche. That will be read later, keeping it separate to mirror the form of the English translation here used. - Summary by Nicholas Clifford
By: George Henry Lewes (1817-1878)
Novels of Jane Austen
An 1859 essay by the prominent philosopher and literary critic, G. H. Lewes, who was an enthusiastic promoter of the novels of Jane Austen at a time when they were yet to achieve great critical acclaim. Lewes was the life partner of the novelist George Eliot. - Summary by barbara2
By: William Lyon Phelps (1865-1943)
Essays on Modern Novelists
A collection of essays on 19th century novelists, both famous ones and those largely forgotten now. Among the writers presented most wrote in English, but three foreign authors are also discussed. Phelps taught a course on novels at a university and he added to those biographical essays some of his ideas about the importance of novels in the process of teaching about literature.
By: Sigrid Undset (1882-1949)
Jenny Winge is a Norwegian expatriate studying art in Rome, part of a Bohemian group of friends who explore the ancient City in an intoxicating passion for Beauty. Yearning for an immortal Love, she allows herself to fall into less-than-ideal romantic relationships and then has to struggle with all her might to recover her independence. Constantly resisting conformity, she demands absolute freedom for herself while always being tempted to fall back into the comfortable ruts of provincial domesticity...
By: Mark Twain (1835-1910)
Mark Twain's Speeches, Part 2
This collection of the 195 known, publicly-printed speeches of Mark Twain was compiled by Paul Fatout and published by the University of Iowa Press. The speeches are in the Public Domain, and our thanks go to the University of Iowa for making them available for this Public Domain audio recording. They were compiled in the University of Iowa Press book entitled "Mark Twain Speaking" and are arranged, chronologically, from Twain's first authenticated public speech in 1864, to his last speech, exactly 7 months before he died. Extensive analysis , notes, appendix and index are included in the printed work. - Summary by John Greenman
By: Henry James (1843-1916)
Siege of London
In this work, first published in 1883, James once again writes of an American trying to settle in England. The woman at the center, however, is not a product of the Boston or New York upper classes, but of the American West, and is thus distinguished from the characters of many of his other transatlantic works. - Summary by Nicholas Clifford
By: Agnes Mary Frances Robinson (1857-1944)
Emily Brontë is best known for her only novel, "Wuthering Heights." She was born in Yorkshire, northern England, where her father was an Anglican curate. When Brontë was three years old her mother died of cancer. At the age of six she joined her three sisters briefly at the Clergy Daughters' School, where privations and abuse contributed to the deaths of two of them. Her elder sister, Charlotte, immortalized this terrible place in "Jane Eyre." In 1846 Emily Brontë, under the pseudonym Ellis Bell, published a selection of her poetry...
By: Henry van Dyke (1852-1933)
Many books are dry and dusty, there is no juice in them; and many are soon exhausted, you would no more go back to them than to a squeezed orange; but some have in them an unfailing sap, both from the tree of knowledge and the tree of life. Here I have written about a few of these books which have borne me good company, in one way or another, -- and about their authors, who have put the best of themselves into their work. Such criticism as the volume contains is therefore mainly in the form of appreciation with reasons for it...
By: Henry James (1843-1916)
Portrait of a Lady (version 3)
Our central character is Isabel Archer of Albany, New York, a young woman of no great means, and no great beauty yet of rich imagination, high ideals and a thirst for knowledge of the world. Carried off by her aunt to England, she quite unexpectedly finds herself the beneficiary of a substantial legacy from her uncle, a very successful American banker in London. It will, her admiring cousin says to his father, allow her “to put a little wind in her sails” and to see the world. Though some American reviewers rather dismissed the book when it appeared in the mid-1880s, for other readers today The Portrait of a Lady has become THE Great American Novel, or at least very close to the top...
By: Maurice Baring (1874-1945)
Within these pages find passages from the "lost diaries" of a wide range of people: royal, regular, famous, infamous, historical, and fictional. - Summary by A. Gramour
By: Rosanna Eleanor Leprohon (1829-1879)
Armand Durand, published in 1868, was written by Rosanna Leprohon, an English-speaker with an insider’s knowledge of French Canada, thanks to her Montreal education and marriage to a man from an old Québécois family. Paul Durand, a prosperous Québécois farmer, marries in quick succession two very different wives, and fathers two very different sons. The first son, Armand, delicate and bookish, is destined for a legal career in the city; the second, Paul Junior, tougher and down-to-earth, continues life on the farm...
By: Georg Ebers (1837-1898)
The world knows the fate of the classic lovers Cleopatra and Mark Antony, so there is no need to announce a spoiler alert. Georg Ebers was a German Egyptologist who deftly applied his comprehensive knowledge of Rome and Egypt into a fictionalized account of the ill-fated romance between the Egyptian Queen and her Roman lover Mark Antony.
By: Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880)
Temptation Of St. Anthony
An extraordinary work of the aesthetic imagination, cast in the form of a psycho-drama detailing the events of one night in the life of the aged hermit, later Saint, Anthony, in the course of which his claims to sainthood are severely tested by, among other things, Gods, Magicians, Science, Food, Monstres, Lust and Death. Beautifully translated by Lafcadio Hearn, justly celebrated for his eerie re-tellings of Japanese ghost stories and legends, it boasts equally extraordinary printworks by renowned symbolist artist Odilon Redon. - Summary by Tony Addison
By: W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965)
Basil Kent marries Jenny Bush, because he believes that is the honourable thing to do after getting her pregnant, but he realizes that he is really in love with Hilda Murray. Grace Castillyon, an established married woman of position, has fallen hopelessly in love with young Reggie Bassett, who is only playing with her. Bella Langton ignores the short remaining days of Herbert Field who is suffering from consumption, and determines to marry him so that he can afford to spend the winters abroad. The Merry-Go-Round weaves together these relationships, adorned by the peripheral figures of Miss Ley and Frank Hurrell, observers of what is going on, who also have their own stories to tell...
By: Franz Kafka (1883-1924)
Metamorphosis (version 4)
This story, about a man who wakes up transformed into a bug and the repercussions it has on his life and the people around him, has intrigued me for many years. The translation is by Ian Johnston, not the translator that is in Gutenberg; I like Johnston's more. What does it mean? [Spoiler possibly]In my mind it is not complicated at all and is most probably an autobiography of how Kafka himself had experienced his early life living with his parents. Kafka describes how he had experienced his parents’ financial and emotional exploitation's of him, to the point of detaching from them and thereby ceasing to be their son ...
Recitation was a vital part of the curriculum in education in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. It not only enabled students to gain practice in addressing groups in public, but also provided models for the study of accent and elocution – vital skills in the days before public address systems were universally available. Accordingly, a number of “reciters,” or collections of texts suitable for recitation, were published in this period. The Coo-ee Reciter, published in 1904, was one of the most popular of these collections in Australia...
By: Joseph Hocking (1860-1937)
A frank look at the revolt of the younger generation following World War I, the book follows the Trelawney family. The father looks eagerly forward to his return home after serving an important but harrowing stint in the army. What he finds at home is not what he expects, as his two daughters test the boundaries of new morals, ethics, and dress. Many of the generational and class issues central to the theme continue to resonate in families and society. The book was made into a silent movie starring Gloria Swanson in 1923. Summary by Kate Follis
Life of Lazarillo de Tormes (Markham translation)
A whimsical collection of stories about a wandering street urchin, Lazarillo de Tormes is a classic of the Spanish Golden Age, even paid homage in Cervantes’ Don Quixote. Rendered homeless by the arrest of his father and poverty of his mother, the boy Lazarillo has no choice but to go out and find masters to serve. Unfortunately, each of his masters is worse than the one before, and in each case Lazarillo is cast upon his own wits in order to survive. Clever, hungry, and desperate, he always has a sharp eye for lessons on how to outwit the greedy and unscrupulous people who surround him...
By: Hamilton Fyfe (1869-1951)
Arthur Wing Pinero, Playwright - A Study
A discussion about the life and works of the playwright Arthur Wing Pinero. The perfect accompaniment to the plays by Pinero available here at. - Summary by ToddHW
By: Charles Harold Herford (1853-1931)
Six lectures on literature
C. H. Herford was Professor of English Literature at the Victoria University of Manchester in era when public lectures were published in pamphlet form. The six lectures in this collection span Herford's career at the University during the turbulent first two decades of the twentieth century. Taking a historical view, Herford covers a wide range of eras and writers in an exploration of the roots of English literature. - Summary by Phil Benson
By: H. L. Mencken (1880-1956)
"It was part of my daily work, for a good many years, to read the principal English newspapers and reviews; it has been part of my work, all the time, to read the more important English novels, essays, poetry and criticism. An American born and bred, I early noted, as everyone else in like case must note, certain salient differences between the English of England and the English of America as practically spoken and written—differences in vocabulary, in syntax, in the shades and habits of idiom, and even, coming to the common speech, in grammar...
By: Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)
Raven and The Philosophy Of Composition
Poe’s famous narrative poem and the author’s reflections on its composition.
By: Horatio Alger, Jr. (1832-1899)
Mark the Match Boy or Richard Hunter's Ward
In this third installment from the “Ragged Dick” series by Horatio Algers, Jr., the reader is reacquainted with some old friends and meets young Mark Manton. Mark is a match boy plagued by bad luck and an even worse guardian. But, with new friends, hard work, and smart choices, Mark may just find his luck taking a turn for the better. summary by tfaulder
By: Francis Bickford Hornbrooke (1849-1903)
Ring and the Book - An Interpretation
Francis Bickford Hornbrooke was an American Unitarian minister who in later years was recognized as an expert commentator on literature, in particular the works of Robert Browning. Of all Browning's output, it was his monumental epic, the Ring and the Book, which most attracted Hornbrooke's attention, and he said that " I have read the poem throughout at least thirty times, and every time with increased pleasure. The more I read it, the more I love it, and the less I find in it to censure." His interpretation...
By: H. L. Mencken (1880-1956)
Prejudices, First Series
Mencken sharpens his pen and in a collection of short essays delivers acerbic opinions on issues and persons of the time. Among his targets in this volume are critics, H.G. Wells Thorstein Veblen, Arnold Bennett, William Dean Howells, Irvin S. Cobb. Mencken's critiques are delivered against a background of his own well known ethnic, racial, religious, and sectional prejudices. Not for the faint of heart, Mencken's prickly, yet unapologetic, prose reveals a window into American attitudes at the time they were written and their influences on the larger American culture. - Summary by DrPGould
By: Émile Zola (1840-1902)
This epic about French coal miners and the burgeoning labor movement is considered one of Zola's finest novels. - Summary by Matt Pierard
By: James K. Polk (1795-1849)
State of the Union Addresses by United States Presidents (1845 - 1848)
The State of the Union address is a speech presented by the President of the United States to a joint session of the United States Congress, typically delivered annually. The address not only reports on the condition of the nation but also allows the President to outline his legislative agenda and national priorities. This album contains recordings of addresses from James Polk.
By: E. M. Forster (1879-1970)
Howards End (version 3)
Considered Forster's masterpiece and one of the best books of the 20th century, Howards End tackles social conventions of the Edwardian era. The story focuses on three families in England at the beginning of the 20th century: the Wilcoxes, rich capitalists with a fortune made in the colonies; the half-German Schlegel siblings , whose cultural pursuits have much in common with the Bloomsbury Group; and the Basts, an impoverished young couple from a lower-class background. The idealistic, intelligent Schlegel sisters seek to help the struggling Basts and to rid the Wilcoxes of some of their deep-seated social and economic prejudices. - Summary by Lynne Thompson
By: Ben Jonson (1572-1637)
Every Man In His Humour
Knowell, an old man - rumor says Shakespeare originally played this part - tries to spy upon the doings of his potentially wayward son. Meanwhile, Kitely, a merchant, worries so much about being cuckolded by his wife that perhaps it has to happen. All this while a swarm of other interesting characters surround them. - Summary by ToddHW Cast list: KNOWELL, an old Gentleman: ToddHW EDWARD KNOWELL, his Son: Rob Marland BRAINWORM, the Father's Man: Zames Curran GEORGE DOWNRIGHT, a plain Squire: Algy...
By: Mary Webb (1881-1927)
Published in 1924, Precious Bane is a novel by Mary Webb which touches on ambition, prejudice and hatred but also on the power of love. Prue Sarn is a farm girl in rural Shropshire during the period of the Napoleonic Wars and is viewed with suspicion by the local community because of having been born with a harelip. Her ambitious and domineering brother betrays her and her superstitious neighbours accuse her of witchcraft. An itinerant weaver Kester Woodseaves, makes his living by weaving for the local people in their homes. Like Prue, he loves the natural world and comes to recognises Prue's inner strength and beauty.
By: Richard Doddridge Blackmore (1825-1900)
Cradock Nowell Vol. 3
Cradock Nowell: a Tale of the New Forest is a three-volume novel by R. D. Blackmore published in 1866. Set in the New Forest and in London, it follows the fortunes of Cradock Nowell who, at the end of Volume 1, is thrown out of his family home and disowned by his father following the suspicious death of Cradock's twin brother Clayton, their father's favorite. In Volume 2, the story picks up with those left behind at Nowelhurst and the question of who is now heir apparent to the Nowell fortune. Meanwhile, Cradock discovers life independent of the Nowell name and fortune is not easy...