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By: George Gordon Byron, Lord (1788-1824)

Don Juan: Canto I by George Gordon Byron, Lord Don Juan: Canto I

The legend of Don Juan is one that's been told and retold over the centuries by poets and novelists. His life has been the subject of operas, musicals and film. The earliest reference was in a fourteenth century Spanish play and compiled in book form in the seventeenth century. His life continued to fascinate writers like Moliere, Byron, Bernard Shaw, Pushkin, Shakespeare, Jose Saramago and musicians like Mozart, whose Don Giovanni is a brilliant work that still charms audiences and music lovers all over the world...

By: Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850)

Sarrasine by Honoré de Balzac Sarrasine

Published by Honoré de Balzac in the tempestuous year of 1830, the tale follows the undulating pathways of Sarrasine the sculptor’s shocking journey to his coming of age. As one of the “fathers of realism” Balzac painted with his words a vivid portrait of life in the swirling salons of Europe at the end of the Bourbon monarchy, and we follow Sarrasine from France to Italy in search of both his métier and his muse.However it is also the story of La Zambinella, an Italian singer with whom Sarrasine falls madly and passionately in love. But that passion holds a secret which Sarrasine spies too late.

The Girl with the Golden Eyes by Honoré de Balzac The Girl with the Golden Eyes

"Give me a feast such as men give when they love," she said, "and whilst I sleep, slay me..."Listeners who like to plunge straight into a story would do well to skip the lengthy preamble. Here, Balzac the virtuoso satirist depicts the levels of Parisian society as a version of the Inferno of Dante - but perhaps keeps the reader waiting too long for the first act of his operatic extravaganza.Our beautiful, androgynous hero, Henri de Marsay, is one of the bastard offspring of a depraved Regency milord and himself practises the cynical arts of the libertine...

Farewell by Honoré de Balzac Farewell

In his startling and tragic novella Farewell (‘Adieu’), Balzac adds to the 19th century’s literature of the hysterical woman: sequestered, confined in her madness; mute, or eerily chanting in her moated grange. The first Mrs Rochester lurks in the wings; the Lady of Shalott waits for the shadowy reflection of the world outside to shatter her illusion. Freud’s earliest patients will soon enter the waiting-room in their turn. Whilst out hunting two friends come across a strange waif-like woman shut up in a decaying chateau which one of them dubs “the Palace of the Sleeping Beauty”...

Modeste Mignon by Honoré de Balzac Modeste Mignon

Modeste Mignon, a young provincial woman of romantic temperament, imagines herself to be in love with the famous Parisian poet Melchior de Canalis. However, he is not moved by her attentions. He invites his secretary Ernest de la Brière to "deal with the matter". Ernest answers Modeste's letters in his name and acts as her lover, disguised as Canalis. The scene changes dramatically when Ernest discoveres that Modest is, in fact, a rich heiress. Would he be able to win her heart despite his lie?

Louis Lambert by Honoré de Balzac Louis Lambert

Louis Lambert is an 1832 novel by French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850), included in the Études philosophiques section of his novel sequence La Comédie humaine. Set mostly in a school at Vendôme, it examines the life and theories of a boy genius fascinated by the Swedish philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772). Balzac wrote Louis Lambert during the summer of 1832 while he was staying with friends at the Château de Saché, and published three editions with three different titles...

Book cover Father Goriot

One of Balzac's most popular works, set around 1815 during the re-ascendancy of the Bourbon kings following the defeat of Napoleon. Said to have been an inspiration to Charles Dickens and Henry James as well as others, the novel seeks to portray the realism of scenes and people. It is also a commentary upon the changing social strata and mores of the day.

Book cover Eugénie Grandet

Eugénie Grandet, first published in 1833, is one of Honoré de Balzac's finest novels, and one of the first works in what would become his large novel series titled La Comédie Humaine. Set in a provincial town in post-Revolutionary France, the story deals with money, avarice, love, and obsession. A wealthy old miser must manage the passion of his innocent daughter, who later has to navigate on her own the treacherous ways of a world in which money is "the only god." Balzac's meticulous use of psychological and physical detail influenced the development of 19th-century literary realism, in the hands of writers such as Dickens, Dostoyevsky, Flaubert, and Henry James.

Book cover Magic Skin

Something along the lines of Dorian Gray as part of the Comedies Humane Philosophique, this is Balzac's first successful novel. He even wrote "criticisms" of the writing himself in promotion of the book, in addition to hyping the work before it even came out. It is a criticism of materialism and French bourgeoisie as so many of his compiled works seek to be. Some same characters reappear.

Book cover Cousin Betty

Cousin Betty (La Cousine Bette), published in serial format in 1846, was one of the last and greatest of Balzac's works. It was part of his long novel collection titled La Comédie Humaine. Set in mid-19th-century France, it tells the story of a woman who resents her position as a "poor relation." As we follow her schemes to bring ruin upon the more privileged members of her family, we see a society in transition. The stability and idealism of the old order give way to a new bourgeois world in which virtue is strangled in the struggle for power and money...

Book cover Cousin Pons

Cousin Pons is one of the final works in Balzac's long novel series titled The Human Comedy. It was published in 1847, along with Cousin Betty, as one of a complementary pair of novels, collectively titled Poor Relations. While Cousin Betty tells the story of a bitter woman who seeks revenge on her wealthier relations, in Cousin Pons, Balzac turns to the story of an timid, innocent man who is exploited and victimized by the wealthier members of his extended family.Balzac offers probing character portraits and an indictment of greed and materialism in this detailed portrait of mid-19th-century French life...

Book cover Gobseck

Part of the La Comedie Humane and something of a sequence to Balzac's Father Goriot, the short book's title is the name of the pawn broker/money lender the father Goriot utilized to maintain his spoiled daughters in the luxury he had accustomed them to. This is a continuation of the tale of one of those daughters, Mme Restaud.

Book cover Firm of Nucingen

Part of the Comedie Humane and a "supplementary" tale to go with Father Goriot and Gobseck. Nucingen is the married family name of one of Father Goriot's daughters. "James Waring" is a pseudonym of Ellen Marriage (Balzac was considered sometimes too racy by the Victorian Age).

By: Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-420)

The City of God by Saint Augustine of Hippo The City of God

Rome having been stormed and sacked by the Goths under Alaric their king, the worshipers of false gods, or pagans, as we commonly call them, made an attempt to attribute this calamity to the Christian religion, and began to blaspheme the true God with even more than their wonted bitterness and acerbity. It was this which kindled my zeal for the house of God, and prompted me to undertake the defense of the city of God against the charges and misrepresentations of its assailants. This work was in my hands for several years, owing to the interruptions occasioned by many other affairs which had a prior claim on my attention, and which I could not defer...

Confessions by Saint Augustine of Hippo Confessions

Confessions (Latin: Confessiones) is the name of an autobiographical work, consisting of 13 books, by St. Augustine of Hippo, written between AD 397 and AD 398. Modern English translations of it are sometimes published under the title The Confessions of St. Augustine in order to distinguish the book from other books with similar titles, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions.

The Enchiridion by Saint Augustine of Hippo The Enchiridion

The Enchiridion, Manual, or Handbook of Augustine of Hippo is alternatively titled, “Faith, Hope, and Love”. The Enchiridion is a compact treatise on Christian piety, written in response to a request by an otherwise unknown person, named Laurentis, shortly after the death of Saint Jerome in 420. It is intended as a model for Christian instruction or catechesis. – As the title indicates, the work is organized according to the three graces necessary for the Christian worship of God: Faith, Hope and Love...

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...

The History of Henry Esmond, Esq., A Colonel in the Service of Her Majesty Queen Anne by William Makepeace Thackeray The History of Henry Esmond, Esq., A Colonel in the Service of Her Majesty Queen Anne

A classic Victorian novel and a historical novel rolled into one! Read about court and army life during the reign of Queen Anne – a story of Catholic – Protestant intrigue, and the party which aspired to the restoration of Bonny Prince Charlie. And, a good love story as well.

The Book of Snobs by William Makepeace Thackeray The Book of Snobs

The necessity of a work on Snobs, demonstrated from History, and proved by felicitous illustrations:—I am the individual destined to write that work—My vocation is announced in terms of great eloquence—I show that the world has been gradually preparing itself for the WORK and the MAN—Snobs are to be studied like other objects of Natural Science, and are a part of the Beautiful (with a large B). They pervade all classes—Affecting instance of Colonel Snobley.

Book cover Rose And The Ring

Victorian social satire hiding in a set of children's fairy tales by the author of the classic "Vanity Fair"

Book cover Virginians

It tells the story of Henry Esmond's twin grandsons, George and Henry Warrington. Henry's romantic entanglements with an older woman lead up to his taking a commission in the British army and fighting under the command of General Wolfe at the capture of Quebec. On the outbreak of the American War of Independence he takes the revolutionary side. George, who is also a British officer, thereupon resigns his commission rather than take up arms against his brother.

By: Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

An exciting, compelling, and eerie ballad, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner focuses on the uncanny experiences of a sailor who has returned from a long sea voyage that has left him with a heavy burden to bear. Furthermore, the poem explores numerous themes including retribution, suffering, salvation, torment, nature, spirituality, and supernaturalism. The poem opens with the appearance of its mysterious protagonist, a skinny old man with a curious glittering eye, as he stops a young man who is on his way to attend a wedding...

By: William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

Book cover Lyrical Ballads (1798)

Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems is a collection of poems by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, first published in 1798 and generally considered to have marked the beginning of the English Romantic movement in literature. The immediate effect on critics was modest, but it became and remains a landmark, changing the course of English literature and poetry. Most of the poems in the 1798 edition were written by Wordsworth, with Coleridge contributing only four poems to the collection, including one of his most famous works, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"...

By: Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

Book cover Answer to a Child's Question

LibriVox volunteers bring you 21 recordings of Answer to a Child's Question by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This was the Weekly Poetry project for October 6, 2013.

By: Joseph Trienens (b. 1863)

The Handy Cyclopedia of Things Worth Knowing by Joseph Trienens The Handy Cyclopedia of Things Worth Knowing

Written in 1910, this “cyclopedia” is full of information that was quite useful at the time. A hundred years later, its text is more humorous than practical — although some advice never goes out of style.

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...

Present at a Hanging and Other Ghost Stories by Ambrose Bierce Present at a Hanging and Other Ghost Stories

Ambrose Bierce (1842 – 1914?), satirist, critic, poet, short story writer and journalist. His fiction showed a clean economical style often sprinkled with subtle cynical comments on human behaviour. Nothing is known of his death, as he went missing while an observer with Pancho Villa’s army in 1913/14. (Summaries by Peter Yearsley)The Ways of Ghosts: Stories of encounters with the ghosts of the dead and dying. The spirits of the dead reach out to the living, to pass on a message or to pursue a killer...

The Parenticide Club by Ambrose Bierce The Parenticide Club

Ambrose Bierce (1842 – 1914?), best known as journalist, satirist and short story writer. Cynical in outlook, economical in style; Bierce vanished while an observer with Pancho Villa’s army. Four grotesque short stories about murder within the family, seen through the gently innocent eyes of family members … usually the murderer himself.My favorite murder (00:23)Oil of Dog (20:13)An Imperfect Conflagration (29:32)The Hypnotist (37:14)

Write it Right by Ambrose Bierce Write it Right

Witty, opinionated alphabetical examples of what Bierce considered poor (American) English and advice on alternatives – entertaining, thought-provoking, occasionally outdated but so interesting to see how style and taste have changed.

Can Such Things Be? by Ambrose Bierce Can Such Things Be?

24 short stories in fairly typical Bierce fashion - ghostly, spooky, to be read (or listened to) in the dark, perhaps with a light crackling fire burning dimly in the background. Stories of ghosts, apparitions, and strange, inexplicable occurrences are prevalent in these tales, some of which occur on or near Civil War fields of battle, some in country cottages, and some within urban areas. Can Such Things Be? implies and relates that anything is possible, at any time.

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.


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