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By: Jane Austen (1775-1817)

Emma by Jane Austen Emma

A comedy of manners, Emma portrays the spoilt, snobbish, yet charming Emma Woodhouse as she delightfully interferes in the relationships of others without taking much notice of her own heart. Although quick to make prejudgments and decisions, Emma is eventually able to notice her mistakes, and it is this revelation that makes her an endearing heroine and an inspiration to women throughout. Austen has not only created, but also brought to life the world inhabited by her characters through her vivid depictions and clever use of wit...

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen Mansfield Park

One of the most controversial novels written by Austen, Mansfield Park follows the life of the young heroine Fanny Price as she searches for her place in society. Set in early 19th century England, the classic novel depicts the social issues of the time including marriage, social mobility and morality. The classic centers on the life of the poor young girl Fanny Price, who is the oldest daughter of nine siblings. Her father is a former naval officer and a heavy drinker, while her mother has married beneath her and is undeniably the black sheep in the family when compared to her two sisters, Mrs...

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen Northanger Abbey

Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is a book about the life of Catherine Morland and her romantic relationships. The novel is divided into two parts; the first part begins with Catherine’s visit to Bath and her relationship with Henry Tilney and the other people she met there, and the second part starts with the arrival of Frederick Tilney and her visit to Northanger Abbey. This book alongside Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility is considered one of the major works of Jane Austen. The novel had undergone many revisions before its publication and it was even originally titled “Catherine...

Love and Friendship by Jane Austen Love and Friendship

Begun when she was just eleven years old, Love and Friendship is one of Jane Austen's stories that very few readers may have encountered before. Austen experts feel that this story was written, like many others, only for the pleasure of her family and friends. It is scribbled across three notebooks, in childish handwriting, and the complete work is thought to have been written over a period of six or seven years. It is dedicated to one of her cousins, whom she was very close to, Eliza de Feuillide...

Lady Susan by Jane Austen Lady Susan

An epistolary novel, Lady Susan is an early work by Austen that was posthumously published in 1871. The short novel focuses on the self-serving eponymous anti-heroine, as she cunningly maneuvers her way through society in search of a wealthy husband for both her daughter and herself. Disregarding anything but her own selfish goals, Susan employs her charms to lure men and draw them into her web of deceit, no matter their age or status. Exploring issues including morals, manners, self-indulgence, malevolence, and social machinations, the relatively short novel is sure to fascinate with its atypical form...

By: Mark Twain (1835-1910)

1601: Conversation, as it was by the Social Fireside, in the Time of the Tudors by Mark Twain 1601: Conversation, as it was by the Social Fireside, in the Time of the Tudors

An atypical piece of writing by Mark Twain, the short bawdy skit documents a conversion between Queen Elizabeth and several notable writers of the time, including Sir Walter Raleigh, Francis Beaumont, Ben Jonson, and William Shakespeare. Despite first being published in 1880, the piece remained anonymous for a period of time, until it was later acknowledged by Twain in 1901 as his own. Comprised of humor, descriptive imagery, ribald connotations, and vulgar language, the faux conversation is simultaneously humorous and repulsing, but nonetheless a wonder for its satirical precision...

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

When Hank Morgan, a practical, no-nonsense Yankee who works in an ammunition factory as a head superintendent gets into a fight with an aggressive employee, little does he know what's in store for him. The bully lays Morgan low with a skull-crushing blow delivered with a crowbar and knocks him out. When Morgan regains consciousness, he finds himself transported back in time, to the sixth century. From here on, the story describes the travails of a hard-boiled, true blue American with strong democratic values who has to deal with medieval feudalism and ancient customs! A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court was published in 1889...

The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson by Mark Twain The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson

It was published in 1893–1894 by Century Magazine in seven installments, and is a detective story with some racial themes. The plot of this novel is a detective story, in which a series of identities — the judge’s murderer, Tom, Chambers — must be sorted out. This structure highlights the problem of identity and one’s ability to determine one’s own identity. Broader issues of identity are the central ideas of this novel. One of Twain’s major goals in this book was to exploit the true nature of Racism at that period...

Extract from Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven by Mark Twain Extract from Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven

This was the last story published by Twain, a few months before he died. The story follows Captain Elias Stormfield on his extremely long cosmic journey to heaven. It deals with the obsession of souls with the "celebrities" of heaven, like Adam and Moses, who according to Twain become as distant to most people in heaven as living celebrities are on Earth. Twain uses this story to show his view that the common conception of heaven is ludicrous and points out the incongruities of such beliefs.A lot of the description of Heaven is given by the character Sandy McWilliams, a cranberry farmer who is very experienced in the ways of heaven...

The Gilded Age, A Tale of Today by Mark Twain The Gilded Age, A Tale of Today

The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today is an 1873 novel by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner that satirizes greed and political corruption in post-Civil War America. The term gilded age, commonly given to the era, comes from the title of this book. Twain and Warner got the name from Shakespeare's King John (1595): "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily... is wasteful and ridiculous excess." Gilding a lily, which is already beautiful and not in need of further adornment, is excessive and wasteful, characteristics of the age Twain and Warner wrote about in their novel...

What is Man? and Other Essays by Mark Twain What is Man? and Other Essays

"What Is Man?", published by Mark Twain in 1906, is a dialogue between a young man and an older man jaded to the world. It involves ideas of destiny and free will, as well as of psychological egoism. The Old Man asserted that the human being is merely a machine, and nothing more. The Young Man objects, and asks him to go into particulars and furnish his reasons for his position. This collection of short stories covers a wide range of Twain's interests: the serious, the political and the ironically humorous.

Book cover Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences

This is Mark Twain's vicious and amusing review of Fenimore Cooper's literary art. It is still read widely in academic circles. Twain's essay, Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses (often spelled "Offences") (1895), particularly criticized The Deerslayer and The Pathfinder. Twain wrote at the beginning of the essay: 'In one place in Deerslayer, and in the restricted space of two-thirds of a page, Cooper has scored 114 offenses against literary art out of a possible 115. It breaks the record.' Twain listed 19 rules 'governing literary art in domain of romantic fiction', 18 of which Cooper violates in The Deerslayer. (Introduction by Wikipedia and John Greenman)

Goldsmith's Friend Abroad Again by Mark Twain Goldsmith's Friend Abroad Again

This satire on the U.S.A.'s myth of being the "Home of the Oppressed, where all men are free and equal", is unrelenting in its pursuit of justice through exposure. It draws a scathingly shameful portrait of how Chinese immigrants were treated in 19th century San Francisco. (Introduction by John Greenman)

By: Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens Our Mutual Friend

As the last published novel of a writer whose career spanned over a dozen novels, innumerable short stories, plays and nonfiction, Our Mutual Friend is indeed a great composition by Charles Dickens. Considered to be one of his most mature, insightful and refined works, Our Mutual Friend takes a long, hard look at what many Victorians loved but hated to admit they did—money. Dickens uses satire, irony, symbolism and biting wit to portray this unlovely picture of a society obsessed with material comforts and its hypocrisy about the means it uses to achieve its ends...

The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit

Dickens thought it was “in a hundred points, immeasurably the best” of his stories. Yet it was also one of his greatest flops. Compared to his other novels, The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit was a dismal failure in terms of sales and the main reason for Dickens falling out with his long term publisher Chapman & Hall. They invoked a penalty clause and demanded that he pay back a portion of the advance which he refused. Martin Chuzzlewit was also dimly received in Dickens friendly America...

Hard Times by Charles Dickens Hard Times

The shortest novel by far of Charles Dickens', Hard Times is also one of his most idea based works. In it, he launches a scathing attack on the prevailing fashion of believing in Utilitarianism, a philosophy that proposed the goal of society should be “the greatest good for the greatest number of people.” Dickens felt that such a philosophy saw people as mere statistics and not as individuals. The novel was published in serial form in his magazine Household Words. It is also the only novel where London is not featured...

Book cover The Pickwick Papers

A sportsman who doesn't hunt; a poet who doesn't write; a lover with no one to love; all three are devoted to their cheerful and benevolent leader, Mr. Pickwick. Join him and his friends, Winkle, Snodgrass, and Tupman, as they tour the country in search of adventures, knowledge, and stories. Along the way, they have their share of mishaps, and meet plenty of interesting characters, both the good and the not so good. (Mr. Pickwick's dedicated manservant, Sam Weller, is a scene-stealer sure to delight just about everybody...

Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens Little Dorrit

Originally published in monthly installments between 1855 and 1857, the novel focuses on the various forms of imprisonment, both physical and psychological, while also concentrating on dysfunctional family ties. Accordingly, Dickens avidly criticizes the social deficiencies of the time including injustice, social hypocrisy, the austerity of the Marshalsea debtors’ prison, and bureaucratic inefficiency. The novel kicks off with the introduction of William Dorrit, the oldest prisoner in the Marshalsea prison, who is also referred to as The Father of the Marshalsea...

By: Aesop (620 BC - 563 BC)

Aesop's Fables by Aesop Aesop's Fables

As children, our first experience of the magic of talking animals, the conflict between good and evil, the battle of wits between the cunning and the innocent most probably came from Aesop's Fables. These delightful, pithy and brief narratives are simple, easy to understand and convey their message in a memorable and charming fashion. Aesop's Fables by Aesop consists of about 600 tales, some well-loved and familiar, others less known but just as entertaining and educative and help us map the perimeters of our moral universe...

By: H. G. Wells (1866-1946)

The First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells The First Men in the Moon

Written nearly seven decades before Neil Armstrong's historic “Giant leap for Mankind” this book by one of the most influential sci-fi writers in English is an interesting read. The First Men in the Moon by Herbert George Wells, the English author who is today called the Father of Science Fiction, describes a strange and fantastic voyage. Businessman and budding playwright, John Bedford takes a sabbatical from his work and decides to write a play. He moves to a lonely cottage in Kent where he hopes to come up with a theatrical masterpiece...

By: Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Lady Windermere's Fan by Oscar Wilde Lady Windermere's Fan

Lady Windermere’s Fan: A Play About a Good Woman is a four act comedy by Oscar Wilde, published in 1893. As in some of his other comedies, Wilde satirizes the morals of Victorian society, and attitudes between the sexes. The action centres around a fan given to Lady Windermere as a present by her husband, and the ball held that evening to celebrate her 21st birthday.

By: Herman Melville (1819-1891)

The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade

The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade was the last major novel by Herman Melville, the American writer and author of Moby-Dick. Published on April 1, 1857 (presumably the exact day of the novel's setting), The Confidence-Man was Melville's tenth major work in eleven years. The novel portrays a Canterbury Tales-style group of steamboat passengers whose interlocking stories are told as they travel down the Mississippi River toward New Orleans. The novel is written as cultural satire, allegory, and metaphysical treatise, dealing with themes of sincerity, identity, morality, religiosity, economic materialism, irony, and cynicism...

By: Alan Edward Nourse (1928-1992)

Book cover Meeting of the Board

By: P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975)

The Swoop! by P. G. Wodehouse The Swoop!

The Swoop! tells of the simultaneous invasion of England by several armies — “England was not merely beneath the heel of the invader. It was beneath the heels of nine invaders. There was barely standing-room.” (ch. 1) — and features references to many well-known figures of the day, among them the politician Herbert Gladstone, novelist Edgar Wallace, actor-managers Seymour Hicks and George Edwardes, and boxer Bob Fitzsimmons.

By: Stephen Leacock (1869-1944)

Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich by Stephen Leacock Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich

“Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich” is a work of humorous fiction by Stephen Leacock first published in 1914. It is the follow-up to his 1912 classic “Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town.” Like that work, it is a sequence of interlocking stories set in one town, but instead of focusing on a small Canadian town in the countryside, it is set in a major American metropolis and its characters are the upper crust of society. Although currently not as well-known as the earlier book, “Arcadian Adventures” was extremely popular in North America at the time of its publication and for a while was considered the greater success...

Moonbeams from the Larger Lunacy by Stephen Leacock Moonbeams from the Larger Lunacy

Humorous, ironic, and sometimes cynical observations of life in 1915 from Canadian humourist Stephen Leacock.

By: Voltaire (1694-1778)

Candide by Voltaire Candide

A picaresque novel written by French satirical polemicist and philosopher Voltaire, Candide blatantly attacks the ideology of philosopher Leibniz. Candide follows the series of unfortunate events encountered by the young, yet blindly optimistic Candide. Shifting from one adventure to the next, Voltaire’s signature piece does not cease to grip its audience with its humorous criticism of power, wealth, love, religion, philosophy and especially optimism. The novel begins with the introduction of the protagonist Candide, who lives in the castle of an influential German Baron, along with the Baron’s daughter Cunégonde, and tutor Dr...

Zadig, or the Book of Fate by Voltaire Zadig, or the Book of Fate

Zadig, ou La Destinée, (”Zadig, or The Book of Fate”) (1747) is a famous novel written by the French Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire. It tells the story of Zadig, a philosopher in ancient Babylonia. The author does not attempt any historical accuracy, and some of the problems Zadig faces are thinly disguised references to social and political problems of Voltaire’s own day. The book is philosophical in nature, and presents human life as in the hands of a destiny beyond human control. It is a story of religious and metaphysical orthodoxy, both of which Voltaire challenges with his presentation of the moral revolution taking place in Zadig himself...

By: Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)

Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift Gulliver's Travels

Comprised of four parts, Gulliver’s Travels documents the bizarre, yet fascinating voyages of Lemuel Gulliver as he makes his way through several uncharted destinations, experiencing the lives of the small, the giant, the scientific, and downright eccentric societies. Narrated in first person, Swift successfully portrays Gulliver’s thoughts and reactions as he faces struggles of integration throughout his travels. Beginning with the introduction of Gulliver, an educated ship’s surgeon, who after a series of unfortunate events is victim to repeated shipwrecks, desertions, and set adrift...

A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift A Modest Proposal

A satirical essay written by one of the most renowned satirists, Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal expresses the author’s exasperation with the ill treatment of impoverished Irish citizens as a result of English exploitation and social inertia. Furthermore, Swift ventilates the severity of Ireland’s political incompetence, the tyrannical English policies, the callous attitudes of the wealthy, and the destitution faced by the Irish people. Focusing on numerous aspects of society including government exploitation, reckless greed, hypocrisy, apathy, and prejudice, the essay successfully exemplifies Swift’s satirical skills...

Book cover Gulliver's Travels Into Several Remote Regions of the World
Book cover Tale of a Tub

A Tale of a Tub was the first major work written by Jonathan Swift, composed between 1694 and 1697, that was eventually published in 1704. It is arguably his most difficult satire, and perhaps his most masterly. The Tale is a prose parody which is divided into sections of "digression" and a "tale" of three brothers, each representing one of the main branches of western Christianity. A Tale was long regarded as a satire on religion itself, and has famously been attacked for that, starting with William Wotton...

Book cover The Battle of the Books and other Short Pieces
Book cover Bickerstaff-Partridge Papers

By: Anthony Trollope

The Warden by Anthony Trollope The Warden

Published in 1855, The Warden is the first installment in Trollope’s highly acclaimed series Chronicles of Barsetshire, and offers an enlightening insight into the life of the Victorian clergy, its gentry, politics, and social settings. The novel focuses on Mr. Harding, an elderly clergyman who finds himself in the center of a vehement dispute over his questionable position as warden of Hiram’s Hospital. Exploring various themes including human nature, morals, reform, and manners, The Warden is a perfect representation of the structure of Victorian society...

The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope The Way We Live Now

The Way We Live Now is a scathing satirical novel published in London in 1875 by Anthony Trollope, after a popular serialization. It was regarded by many of Trollope’s contemporaries as his finest work. One of his longest novels (it contains a hundred chapters), The Way We Live Now is particularly rich in sub-plot. It was inspired by the financial scandals of the early 1870s, and lashes at the pervading dishonesty of the age, commercial, political, moral, and intellectual. It is one of the last memorable Victorian novels to have been published in monthly parts.

The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope The Eustace Diamonds

Lizzie Greystock, a fortune-hunter who ensnares the sickly, dissipated Sir Florian Eustace, is soon left a very wealthy widow and mother. While clever and beautiful, Lizzie has several character flaws; the greatest of these is an almost pathological delight in lying, even when it cannot benefit her. Before he dies, the disillusioned Sir Florian discovers all this, but does not think to change the generous terms of his will. The diamonds of the book’s title are a necklace, a Eustace family heirloom that Sir Florian gave to Lizzie to wear...

The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope The Small House at Allington

Fifth novel in the Barsetshire series, The Small House at Allington is largely focused on the Small House's inhabitants, Mrs. Dale and her two marriageable daughters, Lily and Bell. The two girls, of course, have suitors: their cousin, Bernard Dale, his friend Adolphus Crosbie, and the local boy, Johnny Eames, whose career in London is to mark him as far more than the "hobbledehoy" that he has earlier been considered. Crosbie is a social climber, and his connection with the dysfunctional de Courcys of Barsetshire give the author a chance for a splendid portrayal of an aristocratic family in decline...

Orley Farm by Anthony Trollope Orley Farm

Orley Farm is Trollope at his best (as good as the Barsetshire series), which means some of the best characterizations in the English language. Trollope's people are real; the beleaguered Lady Mason, charged with forging a will; the aged lover Sir Peregrine Orme; Madeleine Stavely, deeply but practically in love; the shallow, fickle Sophia Furnival and others are 3-dimensional figures that live and breathe. His satire of the so-called "justice" system is the best kind of satire: he just describes the court proceedings as they really are. The result is as up-to-date as today's newspaper. (Introduction by Leonard Wilson)

Book cover Struggles of Brown, Jones, and Robinson

Billed as a satire concerning the dishonest advertising and business practices of the day, it tells the tale of an upstart clothing business doomed from the get-go to utter failure. Its senior partner (the elderly Brown, who provides the investment) is far too timid for business. His son-in-law (Jones, who runs the store) is stealing from the till, and the junior partner, Robinson (who writes advertisements for the store) is so obsessed with the idea that advertising alone will drive the business, he uses up every last penny of the capital investment in a series of increasingly ludicrous ad campaigns and publicity stunts...

By: Arnold Bennett (1867-1931)

Anna of the Five Towns by Arnold Bennett Anna of the Five Towns

The plot centers on Anna Tellwright, daughter of a wealthy but miserly and dictatorial father, living in the Potteries area of Staffordshire, England. Her activities are strictly controlled by the Methodist church. Having escaped her father by marrying the respectable and attractive Henry, she attempts in vain to help Willy, son of a drunken and bankrupt business associate of her father's.

By: O. Henry (1862-1910)

Book cover Gentle Grafter

If Jefferson "Parleyvoo" Pickens had appeared in print just a few years later, he might have been the "Gentle Grifter" instead of the "Gentle Grafter", the name O. Henry picked for him. His situation as an ethical graft artist gives Jeff an extra impediment in pursuing his craft, but he never wanted it to be too easy. The result is fourteen delightful tales for us and a number of new partners for him. With those partners (he always has at least one) he works his way through a number of confidence games...

By: J. M. Barrie (1860-1937)

The Admirable Crichton by J. M. Barrie The Admirable Crichton

From the author of Peter Pan:Lord Loam, a British peer, considers class divisions to be artificial. He promotes his views during tea-parties where servants mingle with his aristocratic guests, to the embarrassment of all. Crichton, his butler, particularly disapproves of this.Loam, his family, a maid, and Crichton are shipwrecked on a deserted tropical island. The resourceful Crichton is the only one of the party with any practical knowledge. Eventually, social roles are reversed, and Crichton becomes the governor.

By: Washington Irving (1783-1859)

Book cover Knickerbocker's History of New York, Vol. 1

Washington Irving, an author, biographer, historian, and diplomat, completed his first major work, a satire of contemporary local history and politics entitled A History of New-York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, by Diedrich Knickerbocker in 1809. Prior to its publication, Irving started a promotional hoax (not unlike some modern-day publicity stunts?) by placing fake missing persons advertisements in local newspapers asking for help in locating Diedrich Knickerbocker...

By: Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf The Voyage Out

The Voyage Out is the first novel by Virginia Woolf, published in 1915 by Duckworth; and published in the U.S. in 1920 by Doran. One of Woolf's wittiest social satires.Rachel Vinrace embarks for South America on her father's ship and is launched on a course of self-discovery in a kind of modern mythical voyage. The mismatched jumble of passengers provide Woolf with an opportunity to satirize Edwardian life. The novel introduces Clarissa Dalloway, the central character of Woolf's later novel, Mrs...

By: Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)

2 B R 0 2 B by Kurt Vonnegut 2 B R 0 2 B

In this chilling short-story by a master of the craft, Kurt Vonnegut creates a fictional world of the future where life and death are no longer matters of individual choice or destiny. The title refers to the famous quote from Hamlet, “To be or not to be....” with “0” being pronounced as “naught.” It also refers to the eternal dilemma of life and death that face every human being at some point in their lives. Written in 1962 it is set in some unspecified time in the future, when earth has become a Utopia...

By: William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863)

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray Vanity Fair

If you've enjoyed watching the 1998 BBC television miniseries, you'd probably want to renew your acquaintance with William Makepeace Thackeray's 1847 novel, Vanity Fair. However, if you're unfamiliar with what has been dubbed one of the Best 100 Books in English Literature, you certainly have a treat ahead. Miss Pinkerton's Academy in Chiswick Mall in London is where young ladies with ambitions of making a good marriage are sent by their socially aspiring middleclass parents. Two young ladies, Amelia Sedley and Rebecca (Becky) Sharpe are on their way home after completing their term at Miss Pinkerton's...

Book cover Barry Lyndon
Book cover The Fitz-Boodle Papers

By: Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?)

The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce The Devil's Dictionary

RESPECTABILITY, n. The offspring of a liaison between a bald head and a bank account. BEAUTY, n. The power by which a woman charms a lover and terrifies a husband. LITIGANT, n. A person about to give up his skin for the hope of retaining his bones. If these caustic definitions catch your fancy, you'd enjoy The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. He was a columnist with the San Francisco News Letter, a weekly paper which was a business publication aimed at the corporate sector. However, it had a column entitled Town Crier which featured satirical asides and comments in a lighter vein...

In the Midst of Life; Tales of Soldiers and Civilians by Ambrose Bierce In the Midst of Life; Tales of Soldiers and Civilians

These stories detail the lives of soldiers and civilians during the American Civil War. This is the 1909 edition. The 1909 edition omits six stories from the original 1891 edition; these six stories are added to this recording (from an undated English edition). The 1891 edition is entitled In The Midst Of Life; Tales Of Soldiers And Civilians. The Wikipedia entry for the book uses the title Tales of Soldiers and Civilians. Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce (June 24, 1842 – after December 26, 1913) was an American editorialist, journalist, short story writer, fabulist and satirist...

Book cover Cynic Looks At Life

Civilization, Immortality, the Death Penalty, these are just a few of the essays enclosed in this collection, A Cynic Looks At Life. Written by Ambrose Bierce, these essays continue to be thought provoking, offering a valid outlook on life.

By: Saki (1870-1916)

The Chronicles of Clovis by Saki The Chronicles of Clovis

This is the third collection of short stories by Saki, following on from “Reginald” and “Reginald in Russia”. Although some of the stories have characters that do not appear elsewhere in the collection, many of them are loosely centred round the young Clovis Sangrail (effectively a reincarnation of Reginald).

By: Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951)

Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis Babbitt

By: Edwin Abbott Abbott (1838-1926)

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott Abbott Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

If you've never heard the term “Mathematical Fiction” before, Edwin Abbott Abbott's 1884 novella, Flatland can certainly enlighten you! Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions was published in 1884 and since then, it has been discovered and re-discovered by succeeding generations who have been delighted by its unique view of society and people. The plot opens with a description of the fictional Flatland. The narrator calls himself “Square” and asks readers to “Imagine a vast sheet of paper on which straight Lines, Squares, Triangles, Pentagons, Hexagons and other figures, instead of remaining fixed in their places, move freely about...

By: John Kendrick Bangs (1862-1922)

Alice in Blunderland: an Iridescent Dream by John Kendrick Bangs Alice in Blunderland: an Iridescent Dream

John Kendrick Bangs (May 27, 1862 – January 21, 1922) was an American author and satirist, and the creator of modern Bangasian Fantasy, the school of fantasy writing that sets the plot wholly or partially in the afterlife. (Wikipedia)Plot summary: J K Bangs has taken Alice from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” and lets her on a boring day travel with the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Cheshire Cat and the other of Carroll’s familiar characters to Blunderland. The story is a well written Satire, a witty, humorous tale of adventure and city politics, a tale of Alice in a land where nothing is as it should be. (Summary by Lars Rolander)

The Idiot by John Kendrick Bangs The Idiot

The Idiot is anything but, yet his fellow boarders at Mrs. Smithers-Pedagog’s home for single gentlemen see him as such. His brand of creative thought is dismissed as foolishness yet it continues to get under their skin, because when you’re beneath contempt you can say what you please. – This is the first of John Kendrick Bangs' “Idiot” books and was published by Harper and Brothers in 1895.

The Autobiography of Methuselah by John Kendrick Bangs The Autobiography of Methuselah

A satirical look at early biblical events from the point of view of someone who was there to witness most of them: the oldest man in recorded history.

By: George Barr McCutcheon (1866-1928)

Book cover Yollop

Mr. Crittenden Yollop makes friends with the man who came to burglarize his home and sets out to help him return to where he really wants to be...prison. This humorous satire takes a somewhat different look at prisons, criminals, the law and reformers.

By: Anatole France (1844-1924)

Penguin Island by Anatole France Penguin Island

An old monk is tricked by the Devil into undertaking a voyage to a remote island to save the souls of thousands who live there. He arrives on the island which is actually a desolate one, inhabited only by colonies of millions of penguins. The old monk whose eyesight and hearing are almost nonexistent, mistakes them for humans and begins baptizing them. In Heaven, God finds Himself in a dilemma; the old monk's unwavering faith compels him to regard the baptisms as genuine. However, in Christian theology, only humans have souls – hence God is forced to grant the thousands of newly baptized penguins with souls! This is the beginning of their journey into “civilization...

By: Israel Zangwill (1864-1926)

The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill The Big Bow Mystery

Regarded as the first full-length locked room mystery, the novel focuses on a murder that has occurred inside a locked room, with no clear indication as to the weapon used, the perpetrator of the horrendous crime, or a possible escape route. Needless to say, The Big Bow Mystery has all the elements necessary to engage its audience and encourage them to look between the lines in an attempt to unravel the complex murder. Set in Bow, east London, the novel opens when Mrs. Drabdump, a widow who rents out rooms, panics when one of her lodgers does not respond to her fervent attempts to wake him...

By: Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

Crome Yellow by Aldous Huxley Crome Yellow

A shy, introverted young poet. A weekend in a magnificent English country house. A beautiful young lady whom the poet is secretly in love with. An assorted group of guests with varied interests, motives, ambitions and aspirations, and the complex web of history and events that connect all of them. Crome Yellow by Aldous Huxley was his first book, published in 1921, when he was just 27 years old. It is typical of many books written during this period by writers like Thomas Love Peacock and Somerset Maugham, centered round a country mansion and the quaint, British tradition of being invited to spend a weekend with a group of people whom one may or may not know...

By: Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)

The Proposal by Anton Chekhov The Proposal

The Proposal is a one act comic farce by Anton Chekhov. In Chekhov’s Russia, marriage was a means of economic stability for most people. They married to gain wealth and possessions. In this play, the concept of marriage is being satirized to show the real purpose of marriage – materialistic gain rather than true love.

The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov The Cherry Orchard

The Cherry Orchard is Russian playwright Anton Chekhov's last play. It premiered at the Moscow Art Theatre 17 January 1904 in a production directed by Constantin Stanislavski. Chekhov intended this play as a comedy and it does contain some elements of farce; however, Stanislavski insisted on directing the play as a tragedy. Since this initial production, directors have had to contend with the dual nature of this play. The play concerns an aristocratic Russian woman and her family as they return to the family's estate (which includes a large and well-known cherry orchard) just before it is auctioned to pay the mortgage...

By: Robert Smythe Hichens (1864-1950)

Book cover Green Carnation

The Green Carnation, first published anonymously in 1894, was a scandalous novel by Robert Hichens whose lead characters are closely based on Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas - also known as 'Bosie', whom the author personally knew. It was an instant succès de scandale on both sides of the Atlantic. The book features the characters of 'Esmé Amarinth' (Wilde), and 'Lord Reginald (Reggie) Hastings' (Douglas). The words put in the mouths of the hero and his young friend in the story are mostly gathered from the sayings of their originals...

By: H. G. Wells (1866-1946)

Book cover Love and Mr Lewisham

The teaching profession, science and politics in late 19th century England. H.G.Wells’ humorous early novel, drawing on his own life, shows how these – as well as involvement in spiritualism – have to compete with love.

By: Edwin F. Benson (1867-1940)

Miss Mapp by Edwin F. Benson Miss Mapp

E. F. Benson’s Mapp and Lucia series, consists of six novels and three short stories. The novels are: Queen Lucia, Lucia in London, Miss Mapp (including the short story The Male Impersonator), Mapp and Lucia, Lucia’s Progress (published as The Worshipful Lucia in the U.S.) and Trouble for Lucia. Most of these works are set in the fictional village of “Tilling”, which is based on the village of Rye, Sussex, England. “Mallards”, the house with the garden room inhabited by Miss Mapp, and later by Lucia, is based on Lamb House, Benson’s own home in Rye. Earlier, the house was the Sussex home of writer Henry James.

By: Henry Fielding (1707-1754)

Book cover Journey from this World to the Next

The narrator dies in the first sentence. Through relating his travels in the afterlife, Henry Fielding, author of Tom Jones and Joseph Andrews, gently satirizes life here on earth.

The History of the Life of the Late Mr. Jonathan Wild the Great by Henry Fielding The History of the Life of the Late Mr. Jonathan Wild the Great

This novel is sometimes thought of as [Fielding's] first because he almost certainly began composing it before he wrote Shamela and Joseph Andrews. It is a satire of Walpole that draws a parallel between Walpole and Jonathan Wild, the infamous gang leader and highwayman. He implicitly compares the Whig party in Parliament with a gang of thieves being run by Walpole, whose constant desire to be a “Great Man” (a common epithet for Walpole) should culminate only in the antithesis of greatness: being hanged.

Book cover An Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews

An Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews, or simply Shamela, as it is more commonly known, is a satirical novel written by Henry Fielding and first published in April 1741 under the name of Mr. Conny Keyber. Fielding never owned to writing the work, but it is widely considered to be his. It is a direct attack on the then-popular novel Pamela (November 1740) by Fielding's contemporary and rival Samuel Richardson and is composed, like Pamela, in epistolary form. Shamela is written as a shocking revelation of the true events which took place in the life of Pamela Andrews, the main heroine of Pamela...

By: Henry L. Mencken

Damn! A Book of Calumny by Henry L. Mencken Damn! A Book of Calumny

Henry Louis “H. L.” Mencken (1880 – 1956) was an American journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, acerbic critic of American life and culture, and a student of American English. Known as the “Sage of Baltimore”, he is regarded as one of the most influential American writers and prose stylists of the first half of the 20th century. Mencken is perhaps best remembered today for The American Language, a multi-volume study of how the English language is spoken in the United States, and for his satirical reporting on the Scopes trial, which he named the “Monkey” trial.”

By: Irvin S. Cobb (1876-1944)

Cobb's Anatomy by Irvin S. Cobb Cobb's Anatomy

Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb was born on June 23, 1876. At seventeen years of age, he began writing for the Paducah Daily News, his hometown paper. At nineteen he became the managing editor; up to that point, our nation’s youngest. He worked as a columnist, a humorist and an author. But ‘horror,’ and ’short stories,’ are not why he is remembered. He is remembered because he was, and still is, funny. And although he is now dead–he died March 11, 1944–this work “Cobb’s Anatomy,” among others, has left an indelible mark upon mankind: a smile.

By: William Dean Howells (1837-1920)

Indian Summer by William Dean Howells Indian Summer

In his novel Indian Summer, William Dean Howells presents a mellow but realistic story that has the complete feel of that delightful time of the year, although the plot actually spans several seasons. The Indian summer aspect applies to a sophisticated gentleman, Theodore Colville, who has just entered his middle years as he returns to a scene, Florence, Italy, that played an important part in his early manhood. It was here twenty years earlier that he first fell in love, seemingly successfully until a sudden and harsh rejection...

By: Samuel Butler (1835-1902)

Erewhon by Samuel Butler Erewhon

Erewhon, or Over the Range is a novel by Samuel Butler, published anonymously in 1872. The title is also the name of a country, supposedly discovered by the protagonist. In the novel, it is not revealed in which part of the world Erewhon is, but it is clear that it is a fictional country. Butler meant the title to be read as the word Nowhere backwards, even though the letters “h” and “w” are transposed. It is likely that he did this to protect himself from accusations of being unpatriotic, although Erewhon is obviously a satire of Victorian society.

The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler The Way of All Flesh

The Way of All Flesh (1903) is a semi-autobiographical novel by Samuel Butler which attacks Victorian-era hypocrisy. Written between 1873 and 1884, it traces four generations of the Pontifex family. It represents the diminishment of religious outlook from a Calvinistic approach, which is presented as harsh. Butler dared not publish it during his lifetime, but when it was published it was accepted as part of the general revulsion against Victorianism.

By: Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol

Dead Souls by Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol Dead Souls

Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol, Russian writer, was first published in 1842, and is one of the most prominent works of 19th-century Russian literature. Gogol himself saw it as an “epic poem in prose”, and within the book as a “novel in verse”. Despite supposedly completing the trilogy’s second part, Gogol destroyed it shortly before his death. Although the novel ends in mid-sentence (like Sterne’s Sentimental Journey), it is usually regarded as complete in the extant form. In Russia before the emancipation of the serfs in 1861, landowners were entitled to own serfs to farm their land...

By: Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)

Book cover Sartor Resartus: the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdröckh
Book cover Sartor Resartus, and On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History

By: C. J. Dennis (1876-1938)

The Glugs of Gosh by C. J. Dennis The Glugs of Gosh

First published in 1917, The Glugs of Gosh satirizes Australian life at the start of the twentieth century – but the absurdities it catalogs seem just as prevalent at the start of the twenty-first. The foolishness of kings, the arrogance of the elite, the gullibility of crowds, the pride of the self-righteous, the unthinking following of tradition – all find themselves the targets of C. J. Dennis’ biting wit.

By: Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia by Samuel Johnson Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia

In this enchanting fable (subtitled The Choice of Life), Rasselas and his retinue burrow their way out of the totalitarian paradise of the Happy Valley in search of that triad of eighteenth-century aspiration – life, liberty and happiness.According to that quirky authority, James Boswell, Johnson penned his only work of prose fiction in a handful of days to cover the cost of his mother’s funeral. The stylistic elegance of the book and its wide-ranging philosophical concerns give no hint of haste or superficiality...

By: Owen Wister (1860-1938)

The Dragon of Wantley by Owen Wister The Dragon of Wantley

A novel, The Dragon of Wantley, was written by Owen Wister (best known as the author of The Virginian) in 1892. Published by Lipincott Press, the story is a comic "burlesque" (in the author's words), concerning the "true" story of the Dragon. It is a romantic story set at Christmastime in the early 13th century. The book was a surprise success, going through four editions over the next ten years. This is the 1895 edition.

By: Tobias Smollett

The Expedition of Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

The Expedition of Humphry Clinker was the last of the picaresque novels of Tobias Smollett, and is considered by many to be his best and funniest work. Published in London on 17 June 1771, it is an epistolary novel, presented in the form of letters written by six different characters: Matthew Bramble, a Welsh Squire; his sister Tabitha; their niece and nephew, Jery and Lydia Melford; Tabitha’s maid Winifred Jenkins; and Lydia’s suitor, Wilson. Much of the comedy arises from differences in the descriptions of the same events by different participants...

By: Ward Moore (1903-1978)

Greener Than You Think by Ward Moore Greener Than You Think

Do remember reading a panic-mongering news story a while back about genetically engineered “Frankengrass” “escaping” from the golf course where it had been planted? That news story was foreshadowed decades previously in the form of prophetic fiction wherein a pushy salesman, a cash-strapped scientist, and a clump of crabgrass accidentally merge forces with apocalyptic consequences. A triple-genre combo of science fiction, horror, and satire, Greener Than You Think is a forgotten classic that resonates beautifully with modern times. This is a faithful reading of a 1947 first edition text.

By: Desiderius Erasmus (1466/69-1536)

The Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus The Praise of Folly

The Praise of Folly (Greek title: Morias Enkomion (Μωρίας Εγκώμιον), Latin: Stultitiae Laus, sometimes translated as In Praise of Folly, Dutch title: Lof der Zotheid) is a satirical essay written in 1509 by Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466/69-1536). It is considered one of the most influential works of literature in Western civilization and one of the catalysts of the Protestant Reformation.It starts off with a satirical learned encomium after the manner of the Greek satirist...

By: Charles Miner Thompson (1864-1941)

The Calico Cat by Charles Miner Thompson The Calico Cat

The consequences of letting your irritation get the better of you are humorously portrayed in this story of a self-important man who fires a shotgun at an annoying cat on his fence.. and hits a man skulking in the bushes. What did the cat do to enrage him? Why was the man in the bushes? And how can the whole matter be covered up and done away with before the neighbors start gossiping?

By: Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)

Book cover Ward No. 6

The line between sanity and insanity is blurred in this classic novella by Anton Chekhov. The disillusioned idealist Dr. Rabin is in charge of a provincial lunatic asylum, overseeing with weary, dubious policies a motley group of patients, a group that mirrors in microcosm all of human and especially Russian society. Seeking answers to profound questions, Dr. Rabin enters into dialogues with both staff members and patients, trying to make sense out of what has become of his life, until it becomes less and less clear who is the doctor and who is the patient...

By: James De Mille (1833-1880)

A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder by James De Mille A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder

A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder is the most popular of James De Mille’s works. It was serialized posthumously in Harper’s Weekly, and published in book form by Harper and Brothers of New York City in 1888. This satirical romance is the story of Adam More, a British sailor. Shipwrecked in Antarctica, he stumbles upon a tropical lost world of prehistoric animals, plants, and a cult of death-worshipping primitives. He also finds a highly developed human society which has reversed the values of Victorian society...

By: Lucian of Samosata (120—180)

Trips to the Moon by Lucian of Samosata Trips to the Moon

The endeavour of small Greek historians to add interest to their work by magnifying the exploits of their countrymen, and piling wonder upon wonder, Lucian first condemned in his Instructions for Writing History, and then caricatured in his True History, wherein is contained the account of a trip to the moon, a piece which must have been enjoyed by Rabelais, which suggested to Cyrano de Bergerac his Voyages to the Moon and to the Sun, and insensibly contributed, perhaps, directly or through Bergerac, to the conception of Gulliver’s Travels. The Icaro-Menippus Dialogue describes another trip to the moon, though its satire is more especially directed against the philosophers.

By: Thomas Love Peacock

Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock Nightmare Abbey

Deep in the fens of the British coast sits the gloomy mansion that goes by the name Nightmare Abbey. It is inhabited by persons of very low opinion of the human race, and in fact they pride themselves in the depths of their detestation. Others of its denizens believe the ultimate exercise and product of the human mind ought to be chaos. Now let the young master of the house get snared by the wiles of a beautiful young lady. And for good measure, toss in another beautiful young lady. Now Scythrop...

By: Ben Jonson (1572-1637)

Book cover Volpone, or, The Fox

Volpone is a comedy by Ben Jonson first produced in 1606, drawing on elements of city comedy and beast fable. A merciless satire of greed and lust, it remains Jonson's most-performed play, and it is among the finest Jacobean Era comedies. Volpone is a Venetian gentleman who pretends to be on his deathbed, after a long illness, in order to dupe Voltore, Corbaccio, and Corvino, three men who aspire to inherit his fortune. In their turns, each man arrives to Volpone’s house bearing a luxurious gift, intent upon having his name inscribed to the will of Volpone, as his heir...

Book cover The Poetaster

By: Max Beerbohm (1872-1956)

Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm Zuleika Dobson

‘A wickedly funny 1911 satire on undergraduate life in Edwardian Oxford’ in which the entire student body of Oxford university including the young, handsome aristocrat the Duke of Dorset falls hopelessly in love with Zuleika who is visiting her grandfather, the warden of Judas college, and ultimately commit mass suicide at the end of ‘Eights Week’

By: F. Anstey (1856-1934)

Book cover Mr. Punch's Pocket Ibsen
Book cover In Brief Authority

Satiric comedy from 1915 about a nouveau riche British family and their nanny who get whisked off to Maerchenland ('the land of Fairy Tales') one evening in a car drawn by storks. The matron of the family, a thorough snob, is crowned Queen of the country by mistake. She is quick to accept her new position and is determined to introduce British social niceties in her realm. And this really is the land of Fairy Tales, with gnomes, giants, a dragon, magic, a fairy godmother and more. Trouble quickly starts to brew as the royal couple and their son introduce things like capitalism and golf...

By: Herbert George Jenkins (1876-1923)

John Dene of Toronto; a Comedy of Whitehall by Herbert George Jenkins John Dene of Toronto; a Comedy of Whitehall

John Dene comes to England with a great invention, and the intention of gingering-up the Admiralty. His directness and unconventional methods bewilder and embarrass the officials at Whitehall, where, according to him, most of the jobs are held by those "whose great-grandfathers had a pleasant way of saying how-do-you-do to a prince." Suddenly John Dene disappears, and the whole civilised world is amazed at an offer of £20,000 for news of him. Scotland Yard is disorganised by tons of letters and thousands of callers...

By: James Branch Cabell (1879-1958)

Book cover Taboo A Legend Retold from the Dirghic of Sævius Nicanor, with Prolegomena, Notes, and a Preliminary Memoir

By: Baron Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754)

Niels Klim's Journey Under the Ground by Baron Ludvig Holberg Niels Klim's Journey Under the Ground

Niels Klim’s Underground Travels, originally published in Latin as “Nicolai Klimii Iter Subterraneum” (1741) is a satirical science-fiction/fantasy novel written by Ludvig Holberg, a Norwegian-Danish dramatist, historian, and essayist, born in Bergen, Norway. It was his first and only novel. It describes a utopian society from an outsider’s point of view, and often pokes fun at diverse cultural and social topics such as moral, science, sexual equality, religion, governments, and philosophy.

By: Lord Dunsany (1878-1957)

Book cover Fifty-One Tales

Very brief, well-crafted stories, many having surprise endings, all steeped in the dye of myth and calling to every reader's neglected imagination.

By: Clarence Day, Jr. (1874-1935)

This Simian World by Clarence Day, Jr. This Simian World

Clarence Day, Jr., best known for his work Life with Father, presents a satirical speculation on how the world might be different if we apes had not risen to prominence, but rather one of the other species had become dominant in our place.

By: Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)

Book cover The Infernal Marriage

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