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By: Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre

Paul and Virginia by Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre Paul and Virginia

Paul and Virginia was first published in 1787. The novel's title characters are very good friends since birth who fall in love, but sadly die when the ship Le Saint-Geran is wrecked. The story is set in the island of Mauritius under French rule, then named Île de France, which the author had visited. Written on the eve of the French Revolution, the novel is hailed as Bernardin's finest work. It records the fate of a child of nature corrupted by the false, artificial sentimentality that prevailed at the time among the upper classes of France.

By: Jean Racine (1639-1699)

Book cover Phaedra

In the court of Louis XIV, adaptations of Greek tragedies were very popular. This play, heavily influenced by Euripides' Hippolytus, deals with love that violates social taboos. Note: In Racine's work, a new "scene" begins whenever a character enters or exits. Therefore, there are no stage directions, only a list of the characters on stage for each scene. The action is continuous for the entire act.

Book cover Thebaid, or The Brothers at War

"The reign of Louis XIV. in France, like the age of Pericles at ancient Athens, was remarkable for literary excellence no less than for military achievements. Like Euripides, Racine confined himself almost exclusively to tragedy.... It was under Molière's friendly auspices that Racine's first published play, "La Thébaïde," was put upon the stage ... at the Palais Royale, Molière's own theater." The story, very much the opposite of a Moliere farce, describes the battle between the brothers Eteocles and Polynices, and being a proper tragedy does not end well for anyone...

Book cover Andromache

In this tragedy [about part of the aftermath of the Trojan War], which made its appearance in 1667, there is a more intricate plot than is usual in Racine's plays, and it offers a greater variety of character and motive. Love, jealousy, friendship, conjugal fidelity, maternal tenderness, anger, and despair are all portrayed with skillful touches; and if the language is that of the French Court of the seventeenth century, the natural emotions of the human heart, the same in all ages, show themselves...

Book cover Britannicus

Britannicus is son and heir of the Roman emperor Claudius. However, this does not please Nero, who wants both throne and Britannicus's fiancee Junia. - Summary by ToddHW Cast list: Nero, emperor, son of Agrippina: Dale Burgess Britannicus, son of Messalina and of the emperor Claudius: David Purdy Agrippina, widow of Domitus Ahenbarbus, the Father of Nero, and widow by her second marriage of the emperor Claudius: Matea Bracic Junia, beloved by Britannicus: thestorygirl Burrus, tutor of Nero: ToddHW Narcissus, tutor of Britannicus: Alan Mapstone Albina, confidential friend of Agrippina: Sonia Stage Directions: Larry Wilson Editing: ToddHW

Book cover Berenice

Titus, emperor of Rome, wants to marry Berenice, queen of Palestine, but decides that Rome will not be able to handle having him marry a foreign queen. Berenice refuses to stay in this case and leaves Rome. Unlike many of the other Racine plays, there actually are survivors at the end of this one! - Summary by ToddHW Cast list: Titus, emperor of Rome: Adrian Stephens Berenice, queen of Palestine: WendyKatzHiller Antiochus, king of Commagene: ToddHW Paulinus, a friend of Titus: Tchaikovsky Arsaces, a friend of Antiochus: Alan Mapstone Phoenice, a friend of Berenice: Jenn Broda Rutilus, a Roman: Larry Wilson Stage Directions: Sonia Editing: ToddHW

Book cover Bajazet

"The time to which this tragedy relates is much later than that of any other of Racine's historical plays. The capture of Babylon from the Persians by Sultan Amurath IV, on which the catastrophe of the plot depends, occurred only a year before the poet's birth, viz 1638." - Summary by the Translator Cast list: Bajazet, Brother of Sultan Amurath: VocalPenguin Roxana, Sultana, the favorite of Sultan Amurath: Matea Bracic Atalide, a Turkish Damsel of Royal Blood: Availle Achmet, the Grand Vizier: ToddHW Osman, Friend of the Grand Vizier: Alan Mapstone Fatima, a Slave of the Sultana: Jenn Broda Zara, a Slave of Atalide: Sonia Stage Directions: Larry Wilson Editing: ToddHW

Book cover Mithridates

Another tragedy by Racine, based on the historical character and career of Mithridates circa 63 BCE. Closing with sorrow and lamentation and promises of a "search for vengeance". - Summary by ToddHW Cast list: Mithridates, King of Pontus and of many other lands: Greg Giordano Monima, betrothed to Mithridates, and already declared Queen: Sonia Pharnaces, son of Mithridates: Jenn Broda Xiphares, son of Mithridates: Tchaikovsky Arbates, friend of Mithridates, and Governor of Nymphaeum: ToddHW Phoedima, Friend of Monima: WendyKatzHiller Arcas, Servant of Mithridates: Joanna Michal Hoyt Stage Directions: Alan Mapstone Editing: ToddHW

Book cover Iphigenia

Racine's version of the time-honored story of Iphigenia was acted for the first time in 1674. The model upon which it is shaped is the "Iphigenia in Aulis" of his favorite Euripides, but the French poet has heightened the romantic interest and complicated the plot by the important part which Eriphyle is made to play. - Summary by Introduction Cast list: Agamemnon: Greg Giordano Achilles: Alan Mapstone Ulysses: ToddHW Clytaemnestra, Wife of Agamemnon: Sonia Iphigenia, Daughter of Agamemnon:...

By: Joanna Baillie (1762-1851)

Book cover Orra

Considered by her contemporaries a playwright “second only to Shakespeare,” Joanna Baillie was one of the most critically acclaimed writers of the Romantic Era. The Plays on the Passions, first published in 1798, stands as her undeniable magnum opus: a multivolume series of tragedies and comedies exploring the overruling passions of the mind. Orra: A Tragedy in Five Acts, which comes from that series' third volume, is Joanna Baillie’s haunting meditation on fear and madness. It is gothic melodrama par excellence...

Book cover Dream

The Dream is Joanna Baillie’s gothic, proto-Lynchian meditation on fear, guilt, and the prophetic power of dreams. In the cloistered confines of a Swiss monastery, a small group of monks share the same prophetic dream: a forlorn specter reaches out to them with a mysterious—and potentially life-threatening—ultimatum. The dream comes every night, and yet its true import remains hazy and unknown. But when these dreams lead them to a buried corpse, the monastery soon tumbles down a blood-spattered path of vengeance, betrayal, and unbridled terror...

By: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

Book cover The Sorrows of Young Werther

The Sorrows of Young Werther (German, Die Leiden des jungen Werther, originally published as Die Leiden des jungen Werthers) is an epistolary and loosely autobiographical novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, first published in 1774. The story follows the life and sorrows of Werther after he falls desperately in love with a young woman who is married to another. A climactic scene prominently features Goethe's own German translation of a portion of James Macpherson's Ossian cycle of poems, which had originally been presented as translations of ancient works, and was later found to have been written by Macpherson. (Introduction by Wikipedia and Barry Eads)

Faust, Part 1 by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Faust, Part 1

Faust is the protagonist of a classic German legend; a highly successful scholar, but also dissatisfied with his life, and so makes a deal with the devil, exchanging his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures.Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust is a tragic play in two parts. It is Goethe's most famous work and considered by many to be one of the greatest works of German literature.This first part of Faust is not divided into acts, but is structured as a sequence of scenes in a variety of settings. After a dedicatory poem and a prelude in the theatre, the actual plot begins with a prologue in Heaven and Scene 1 in Faust's study.

By: Johanna Brandt (1876-1964)

The Petticoat Commando by Johanna Brandt The Petticoat Commando

In introducing the English version of this book I venture to bespeak a welcome for it, not only for the light which it throws on some little-known incidents of the South African war, but also because of the keen personal interest of the events recorded. It is more than a history. It is a dramatic picture of the hopes and fears, the devotion and bitterness with which some patriotic women in Pretoria watched and, as far as they could, took part in the war which was slowly drawing to its conclusion on the veld outside...

By: John Galsworthy (1867-1933)

Book cover Skin Game

A small play in three acts. A kind of comic tragedy. The plot tells the story of the interaction between two very different families in rural England just after the end of the First World War. Squire Hillcrist lives in the manor house where his family has lived for generations. He has a daughter, Jill, who is in her late teens; and a wife, Amy, as well as servants and retainers. He is "old money", although his finances are at a bit of low ebb. The other family is the "nouveau riche" Hornblowers,...

By: John Milton (1608-1674)

Samson Agonistes by John Milton Samson Agonistes

“The Sun to me is darkAnd silent as the Moon,When she deserts the nightHid in her vacant interlunar cave.”Milton composes his last extended work as a tragedy according to the classical Unities of Time, Place and Action. Nevertheless it “never was intended for the stage” and is here declaimed by a single reader.Samson the blinded captive, in company with the Chorus of friends and countrymen, receives his visitors on their varying missions and through them his violent story is vividly recalled...

By: John Webster (c.1580 - c.1634)

The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster The Duchess of Malfi

John Webster's bloody Jacobean tragedy exposes the decadence of the Italian court. The virtuous Duchess of Malfi, a young widow, secretly marries her steward Antonio, and is subsequently persecuted by her brothers: the sexually obsessed and eventually mad Ferdinand, and the corrupt Cardinal.

The White Devil by John Webster The White Devil

John Webster's The White Devil (1612) is a Jacobean revenge tragedy, replete with adultery, murder, ghosts, and violence. The Duke of Brachiano and Vittoria Corombona decide to kill their spouses, Isabella and Camillo, in order to be together, aided by the crafty and ambitious Flamineo, Vittoria's brother. Their actions prompt vows of revenge from Isabella's brother Francisco, the Duke of Florence, and Count Lodovico, who was secretly in love with her. The title refers to the early modern proverb that "the white devil is worse than the black," indicating the hypocrisy practiced by many of the characters in the play.

By: Joseph Comyns Carr (1849-1916)

Book cover King Arthur

A retelling of the classic legend of King Arthur, Guinevere & Sir Lancelot.

By: Joseph Conrad (1857-1924)

Amy Foster by Joseph Conrad Amy Foster

Classic shortish story by Conrad that relates his self-thought alienation from British society, as a young foreign man survives a shipwreck off the coast of Kent, England only to be shunned by most of the townsfolk. The one exception is the loving, if dull-witted, Miss Foster.

By: Lagerlöf, Selma (1858-1940)

The Treasure by Lagerlöf, Selma The Treasure

Selma Lagerlöf was born in Vaermland, Sweden, in 1858 and enjoyed a long and very successful career as a writer, receiving the Nobel-Prize in Literature in 1909. She died in Vaermland in 1940. The Treasure (Herr Arnes penningar) is a fairly short Novel, both a Drama and a Ghost Story. Published in 1904 and the English translation in 1923. The story is set in Bohuslaen on the West coast of Sweden in the middle of the 16th Century. Herr Arne, the old Parson in Solberga and all his household are brutally murdered, and his great Treasure stolen...

By: Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)

Ivan the Fool by Leo Tolstoy Ivan the Fool

Written after Tolstoy suffered a spiritual crisis, Ivan the Fool is a fairy tale that offers children instruction in how to live rightly, simply, and generously. The story emphasizes the destructive aspects of materialism and militarism while idealizing manual labor and the peasant life. (Introduction by Dorlene Kaplan)

By: Lord George Gordon Byron (1788-1824)

The Island by Lord George Gordon Byron The Island

Written late in his career, Byron's narrative poem The Island tells the famous story of the mutiny on board the Bounty, and follows the mutineers as they flee to a South Sea island, "their guilt-won Paradise."

By: Louis Ulbach (1822-1889)

The Steel Hammer by Louis Ulbach The Steel Hammer

A large inheritance greatly transforms the lives of three people: a good man, who would have inherited at least a part of the fortune if his uncle hadn't passed away before he could alter the will, his cousin, who inherits all but is prevented from enjoying it, and a gambler, who is in desperate need of such a sum of money. The connection of the three ends fatal for at least one of them.

For Fifteen Years by Louis Ulbach For Fifteen Years

For Fifteen Years by Louis Ulbach is the sequel to The Steel Hammer which tells the story of a poor upholsterer, Jean Mortier who is falsely accused of murder and the tragic chain of events that follow. For Fifteen Years begins in the aftermath of the conviction when the destitute wife and daughter of Jean Mortier are taken in by the family of a character witness from the trial, Gaston de Monterey. Circumstances and deceptions lead to distrust and tension among the two families for fifteen years but the daughter of Jean Mortier and the son of Gaston de Monterey have fallen in love...

By: Ludovico Ariosto (1474-1533)

Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto Orlando Furioso

Charlemagne's nephew Orlando (AKA Roland) is driven insane by the infidelity of his beloved Angelica. Angelica's relationship with him and others loosely unifies multiple story lines to produce a rich tapestry of romance, fictionalized history, and pure fantasy. This romance-epic is a sequel to the less distinguished and unfinished romance Orlando Innamorato, by Mattteo Maria Boiardo.

By: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851)

Mathilda by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Mathilda

The finished draft of a short novel by Mary Shelley. Its adult theme, concerning a father’s incestuous love for his daughter and its consequences, meant that the manuscript was suppressed by Shelley’s own father, and not published until 1959, more than a hundred years after her death. Summary by Cori Samuel

By: Matthew Lewis (1775-1818)

Book cover Adelgitha; or, The Fruits of a Single Error

The second original tragedy written by Gothic writer Matthew Lewis, Adelgitha; or, The Fruits of a Single Error is a markedly more serious affair than his melodramatic output, dealing as it does with a fallen woman who is mercilessly blackmailed by a ruthless tyrant when she spurns his advances. Set in Otranto during the High Middle Ages, and featuring fictionalized depictions of historical rulers Robert Guiscard and Michael Ducas , Adelgitha is an archetypal Gothic drama that, while not especially refined or meritorious in terms of quality, still manages to thrill in that deliciously overwrought way that Lewis knew how to sell...

By: Morgan Robertson

Futility, Or the Wreck of the Titan by Morgan Robertson Futility, Or the Wreck of the Titan

This novel was published a full 14 years before the sinking of the Titanic, but listeners may be surprised at how many parallels this fictional tale has with subsequent true events. The Titan is the largest and most technologically advanced steamship of her time. She is considered unsinkable. Her full speed crossings of the Northern Lane Route carry her rich passengers in the highest standards of luxury and comfort. The less well-off travel in rougher quarters but still benefit from the speed of travel...

By: Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

The Duchess of Padua by Oscar Wilde The Duchess of Padua

Guido Ferranti, a young man, travels to Padua with his friend Ascanio after receiving a mysterious letter from a stranger, claiming to know the true secret of Guido's birth. His plan of revenge goes awry, however, when he falls in love with his enemy's beautiful wife, the Duchess of Padua.

By: Ouida (1839-1908)

A Dog of Flanders by Ouida A Dog of Flanders

"Nello and Patrasche were left all alone in the world." So begins the poignant story of the two orphans who were to become inseparable companions. They were Nello, an orphaned youth, and Patrasche, the dog which he and his grandfather saved from near death one day. The tale takes place outside of Antwerp, and so popular has this story become that there is a commemorative statue of Nello and Patrasche standing in the village yet today. The story is powerful, and masterfully written by Marie Louise de la Ramée under the pseudonym Ouida.

By: Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

Zastrozzi, A Romance by Percy Bysshe Shelley Zastrozzi, A Romance

“Would Julia of Strobazzo’s heart was reeking on my dagger!”From the asthmatic urgency of its opening abduction scene to the Satanic defiance of the villain’s departure “with a wild convulsive laugh of exulting revenge”, this first of Shelley’s Gothic novelettes recycles much sensational boyhood reading and also points to some of his more mature concerns.It is the ego-driven pursuit of passionate extremes, revenge included, which consigns figures like Zastrozzi and the murderous Matilda to an isolation which is socially destructive as well as self-annihilating...


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