By: Israel Zangwill (1864-1926)
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...
The King of Schnorrers
Manasseh da Costa is a schnorrer (beggar) who lives on the charitable contributions of the Jews of late 18th-century London. But Manasseh is far from being a humble panhandler for, as every schnorrer knows, supporting the poor is a commandment from God (a mitzvah) not just a favour. And as the descendant of Portuguese Jews who had lived in England for many generations, Manasseh is the social superior of those newly arrived from Eastern Europe (called ‘Tedesco’), even his wealthy patron Joseph Grobstock...
Children of the Ghetto
In this 1892 novel of London's Jewish East End, Israel Zangwill sets the apparently irrational and decidedly indecorous religious practices of transplanted eastern European Jews against the forces of assimilation. Zangwill's knowledge of Yiddishkeit and skill in melodrama created a series of unforgettable vignettes that had a significant effect on the public perception of this much stigmatized immigrant group. Israel Zangwill (1864-1926) was born in London of Russian and Polish parents. He coined the term cultural "melting pot".
By: L. Frank Baum (1856-1919)
Mother Goose in Prose
Before he wrote the Oz books, L. Frank Baum wrote this book which was the best selling book of 1897. Taking 22 beloved nursery rhymes, he explains their meaning and fascinating history. What is the true story of Little Boy Blue? Why was Mary contrary?As he says in the introduction, "Many of these nursery rhymes are complete tales in themselves, telling their story tersely but completely; there are others which are but bare suggestions, leaving the imagination to weave in the details of the story...
By: Robert W. Chambers (1865-1933)
The King in Yellow
Robert W. Chambers (1865-1933) studied art in Paris in the late 80’s and early 90’s, where his work was displayed at the Salon. However, shortly after returning to America, he decided to spend his time in writing. He became popular as the writer of a number of romantic novels, but is now best known as the author of “The King In Yellow”. This is a collection of the first half of this work of short stories which have an eerie, other-worldly feel to it; but the stories in the second half are essentially love stories, strongly coloured by the author’s life as an artist in France...
The Flaming Jewel
During the last two years, Fate, Chance, and Destiny had been too busy to attend to Mike Clinch. But now his turn was coming in the Eternal Sequence of things. The stars in their courses indicated the beginning of the undoing of Mike Clinch. In the North Woods, mayhem ensues as three parties vie for possession of the Flaming Jewel. Become immersed in the chasing and slinking to determine who will possess this famed jewel. Better than typical adventure writing magnificently describe the 19th Century Northeastern US in this great novel.
By: Honore de Balzac (1799-1850)
Letters of Two Brides
An epistolary novel written by renowned French novelist Balzac, who is regarded as one of the founders of realism and a significant influence to later novelists, the novel focuses on two young women who preserve their friendship through regular correspondence. Originally published in the French newspaper La Presse in 1841 as a serial, the piece later became a part of Balzac’s distinguished novel sequence La Comédie Humaine, or The Human Comedy. Furthermore, Letters of Two Brides surrounds intriguing topics including love, romance, confusion, duty, and the complexity of relationships...
By: Henrik Ibsen
A Doll's House
Nineteenth century attitudes towards marriage, the role of women, morality and the search for identity are brilliantly explored in Henrik Ibsen's three act play, A Doll's House. It was highly controversial and received with a sense of outrage among opinion leaders in Europe. Many thinkers like August Strindberg lashed out at Ibsen for portraying the sacred institution of marriage in such a derogatory way. A Doll's House, written in the original Danish, was first performed at the Royal Theater in Copenhagen in 1879...
Hedda Gabler is a play first published in 1890 by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. In it, Hedda Gabler, daughter of an aristocratic General, has just returned from her honeymoon with George Tesman, an aspiring young academic, reliable but not brilliant, who has combined research with their honeymoon. The reappearance of Tesman’s academic rival, Eilert Lovborg, throws their lives into disarray.
The Master Builder
Henrik Ibsen's The Master Builder, first published in 1892, is about architect Halvard Solness, who despite personal tragedy (including the death of his two sons) has risen to the top of his profession. He has succeeded partly through ruthless competition and exploitation and partly through a seeming ability to force his will on others. His unhappy wife Aline mourns for their lost life, and resents his interest in various young women, including his bookkeeper Kaia Fosli. Solness disregards the ambitions of other architects, including Knut Brovik and his son Ragnar, and seeks solace in the advice of family physician and friend Dr...
Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts was first published in 1881 and staged in 1882, and like his earlier play A Doll's House, profoundly shocked his contemporaries. Dubbed "a dirty deed done in public" by one of its critics, the play focuses on (among other things) venereal disease, euthanasia, and incest. The original title literally means "the ones who return," and the play is about how we can deal with the awful legacy of the past.
The Lady From the Sea
The title character in Ibsen's drama, Ellida Wangel, is married to a prosperous doctor, but feels stifled by her roles as wife and stepmother to her husband's two daughters by a previous marriage, Hilde and Bolette. Ten years earlier she had promised to marry another man - and on a sultry summer day, he comes back to her. Ellida must decide whether to choose the safety of her life with Wangel, or to yield to the siren song of the sea.
Henrik Ibsen's 1894 play Little Eyolf tells the story of the Allmers family: the father, Alfred, his wife Rita, their crippled nine-year-old son Eyolf, and Alfred's sister Asta. As the play begins, Alfred has just gotten back from a trip to the mountains, and resolves to spend more time with his son, rather than on intellectual pursuits. Asta is romantically pursued by Borgheim, an engineer, while the cracks in Alfred and Rita's marriage gradually reveal themselves. The family receives a visit from the Rat-Wife, and are never the same again.
Enemy of the People
A small coastal town in Norway is experiencing an economic boom from its newly found hot springs. When Dr. Thomas Stockmann finds that the waters are contaminated and dangerous, the people refuse to accept his statement, and Dr. Stockmann's friends turn against him.
When We Dead Awaken
When We Dead Awaken (1899) is the last play by Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen. Dreamlike and highly symbolic, the play charts the dissolution of sculptor Arnold Rubek's marriage to Maia, her flirtation with Ulfheim, and his involvement with the mysterious Irene, his former model. The tensions rise between the characters as they climb higher and higher into the Norwegian mountains.
Pillars of Society
Pillars of Society was Ibsen's first successful realist drama, first performed in 1877. Karsten Bernick is the dominant businessman in a small coastal town in Norway, with interests in shipping and shipbuilding in a long-established family firm. Now he is planning his most ambitious project yet, backing a railway which will connect the town to the main line and open a fertile valley which he has been secretly buying up. Suddenly his past explodes on him with the arrival of Lona Hessel, the woman he once jilted, and Johan Tonnesen, who left town in disgrace fifteen years earlier.
John Gabriel Borkman
John Gabriel Borkman is the penultimate play of the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, written in 1896. The Borkman family fortunes have been brought low by the imprisonment of John Gabriel who used his position as a bank manager to illegally speculate with his investors' money. The action of the play takes place eight years after Borkman's release when John Gabriel Borkman, Mrs. Borkman, and her twin sister Ella Rentheim battle over the future of young Erhart Borkman. Though John Gabriel Borkman...
By: Baroness Orczy (1865-1947)
The Old Man in the Corner
Created by Baroness Orczy, author of the famous Scarlet Pimpernel series, The Old Man in the Corner was one of the earliest armchair detectives, popping up with so many others in the wake of the huge popularity of the Sherlock Holmes stories. The Old Man relies mostly upon sensationalistic “penny dreadful” newspaper accounts, with the occasional courtroom visit for extra laughs. He narrates all this information (while tying complicated knots in a piece of string) to a Lady Journalist who frequents the same tea-shop.
Lady Molly of Scotland Yard
Lady Molly of Scotland Yard is a collection of short stories about Molly Robertson-Kirk, an early fictional female detective. It was written by Baroness Orczy, who is best known as the creator of The Scarlet Pimpernel, but who also invented two immortal turn-of-the-century detectives in The Old Man in the Corner and Lady Molly of Scotland Yard. First published in 1910, Orczy’s female detective was the precursor of the lay sleuth who relies on brains rather than brawn. The book soon became very popular, with three editions appearing in the first year...
By: Emma Orczy (1865-1947)
The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel
Written by Baroness Orczy and first published in 1919, The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel is a sequel book to the classic adventure tale, The Scarlet Pimpernel. The book consists of eleven short stories about Sir Percy Blakeney’s exploits in rescuing various aristos and French citizens from the clutches of the guillotine. The stories which are listed below, are set in 1793 but appear in no particular order. They occasionally refer to events in other books in the series.
By: Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)
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...
Defeat of Youth and Other Poems
Though later known for his essays and novels, Aldous Huxley started his writing career as a poet. Published in 1918, The Defeat of Youth and Other Poems is his third compilation of poetry. The volume begins with "The Defeat of Youth", a sequence of twenty-two sonnets that explores irreconcilability of the ideal and the disappointing reality. Jerome Meckier called it “the century’s most successful sonnet sequence, better than Auden’s or Edna St. Vincent Millay’s.” In the rest of the volume, Huxley continues to explore themes started in The Burning Wheel, his first volume of poetry, including vision, blindness, and other contrasts...
By: Henry van Dyke
The Spirit of Christmas
A collection of short Christmas works by the author of The Story of the Fourth Wise Man
The Story of the Other Wise Man
You know the story of the Three Wise Men of the East, and how they travelled from far away to offer their gifts at the manger-cradle in Bethlehem. But have you ever heard the story of the Other Wise Man, who also saw the star in its rising, and set out to follow it, yet did not arrive with his brethren in the presence of the young child Jesus? Of the great desire of this fourth pilgrim, and how it was denied, yet accomplished in the denial; of his many wanderings and the probations of his soul;...
First Christmas Tree
This is a folk tale of how the first tree came into being. It tells of a hero Winfried with his young companion stepping boldly into the pagan right of the passing into winter. He preaches the gospel of Christ and His birth on that night; then from the heavens came a miracle that resulted in the salvation of the people. To celebrate, they brought new life or the Christmas tree into their homes.
"Sometimes short stories are brought together like parcels in a basket. Sometimes they grow together like blossoms on a bush. Then, of course, they really belong to one another, because they have the same life in them. ...There is such a thought in this book. It is the idea of the search for inward happiness, which all men who are really alive are following, along what various paths, and with what different fortunes! Glimpses of this idea, traces of this search, I thought that I could see in certain tales that were in my mind,—tales of times old and new, of lands near and far away...
By: Fujiwara no Teika (ed.)
One Hundred Verses from Old Japan
In 12th-13th century Japan there lived a man named Fujiwara no Teika (sometimes called Sadaie), a well-regarded poet in a society that prized poetry. At one point in his life he compiled the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (often known simply as the Hyakunin Isshu), which means “A Hundred Poems by A Hundred Poets” (literally “A hundred people, one poem [each]“). This collection of a hundred poems is known to almost all Japanese, and over the years it has been translated by many different people. One of the early translators of the collection was William Porter. His translation, first published in 1909, was titled “A Hundred Verses from Old Japan”.
By: Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)
The Complete Poems of Wallace Stevens
A collection of Wallace Stevens poems written before 1923. Stevens trained to be a lawyer. Within eleven years after this series of poems were written, he was vice-president at the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company in Connecticut. He continued to pursue a quiet life of poetry and correspondence and for the remainder of his life he nurtured his contemplative habit of observation and writing as he walked from home to work and back again. Few at Hartford knew of his world acclaim as a poet. While...
By: Publius Vergilius Maro (70 BC - 19 AD)
The Aeneid is a Latin epic written by Virgil in the 1st century BC that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who traveled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. The first six of the poem’s twelve books tell the story of Aeneas’ wanderings from Troy to Italy, and the poem’s second half treats the Trojans’ ultimately victorious war upon the Latins, under whose name Aeneas and his Trojan followers are destined to be subsumed. The poem was commissioned from Vergil by the Emperor Augustus to glorify Rome...
This book of poems, written between 42 en 39 BC, was a bestseller in ancient Rome, and still holds a fascination today. Held to be divinely inspired not only by the Romans themselves, but by the Medieval Catholic church, The Eclogues is one of the most beloved collections of Latin short poetry.
By: Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus
Parallel Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, translated by Bernadotte Perrin (1847-1920)
Plutarch’s “Parallel Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans Volume 1, translated by Bernadotte Perrin.
By: Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)
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.