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By: Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

Walden by Henry David Thoreau Walden

Two years, two months and two days! This is what forms the time line of one man's quest for the simple life and a unique social experiment in complete self reliance and independence. Henry David Thoreau published Walden in 1884. Originally drafted as a series of essays describing a most significant episode in his life, it was finally released in book form with each essay taking on the form of a separate chapter. Thoreau's parents were in financial straights, but rich intellectually and culturally...

On the Duty of Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau On the Duty of Civil Disobedience

Civil Disobedience (Resistance to Civil Government) is an essay by American transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau that was first published in 1849. In it, Thoreau argues that individuals should not permit governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that they have a duty to avoid allowing such acquiescence to enable the government to make them the agents of injustice. Thoreau was motivated in part by his disgust with slavery and the Mexican–American War.

Walking by Henry David Thoreau Walking

This was originally a lecture given by Thoreau in 1851 at the Concord lyceum titled “The Wild” . He revised it before his death and it was included as part of the June 1862 edition of Atlantic Monthly. This essay appears, on the surface, to be simply expounding the qualities of Nature and man’s place therein. Through this medium he not only touches those subjects, but with the implications of such a respect for nature, or lack thereof.

Book cover Excursions
Book cover Canoeing in the wilderness
Book cover A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
Book cover A Plea for Captain John Brown
Book cover Cape Cod
Book cover Wild Apples

By: Anna Sewell

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell Black Beauty

This unique tale is narrated by a lovely, gentle horse named Black Beauty and has remained a children's classic since it was first published in 1877. It earned eternal name and fame for its author Anna Sewell, an invalid who died within a few months of publication. According to current estimates, it has sold more than fifty million copies world wide, been translated into many languages and delighted generations of children. The original title page reads: Black Beauty: Translated from the original Equine by Anna Sewell and this gives the reader an instant glimpse into what the book will be about...

BLACK BEAUTY - Young Folks Edition by Anna Sewell BLACK BEAUTY - Young Folks Edition

The same beloved story of the adventures and misadventures and of a young horse that we all know and love, but rewritten by the author for young people with much shorter chapters. All of the pathos, tenderness and fun are still there, just written for a younger audience. While forthrightly teaching animal welfare, it also teaches how to treat people with kindness, sympathy, and respect.

By: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851)

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Frankenstein

A precursor to gothic literature and science fiction genres, Frankenstein is a novel fuming with imagination as it depicts a well known horror story. Shelly’s gothic fiction is written in epistolary form as a means of correspondence between the failed writer Robert Walton and his sister, while he is away on a dangerous expedition in search of fame. Some major themes explored in the gothic classic are the fallibility of ambition and knowledge, revenge, prejudice, isolation, and the imperfections of society...

The Last Man by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley The Last Man

The Last Man is an early post-apocalyptic science fiction novel by Mary Shelley, which was first published in 1826. The book tells of a future world that has been ravaged by a plague. The plague gradually kills off all people. Lionel Verney, central character, son of a nobleman who gambled himself into poverty, finds himself immune after being attacked by an infected “negro,” and copes with a civilization that is gradually dying out around him.

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

Book cover Proserpine and Midas
Book cover Notes to the Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley

By: Henry James (1843-1916)

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James The Turn of the Screw

Christmas Eve. Guests round a fireside begin telling each other ghost stories. One of them relates a true incident involving the governess of his little nephew and niece. Strange events begin to take place, involving the housekeeper, a stranger who prowls round the grounds, a mysterious woman dressed in black and an unknown misdemeanor committed by the little nephew. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James was published in 1893 and it remains one of the best-known and admired works of this great American writer...

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James The Portrait of a Lady

Regarded as one of James’ finest works, The Portrait of a Lady revolves around the life and the development of Isabel Archer as she embarks on a scrupulous journey of self-discovery, forced to choose between her individual freedom and the preset conventions of society. Moreover, the novel explores themes of existentialism, objectification of women, wealth, suffering, and the conflict between individual longing and social conformity. Set in the second half of the 19th century, the novel opens with the introduction of Isabel Archer, a naive young woman from Albany, New York...

Washington Square by Henry James Washington Square

First appearing as a serial in Cornhill Magazine in 1880, Washington Square focuses on the strained relationship between father and daughter, which is instigated as a result of opposing personalities, viewpoints, and lack of affection. At the same time, James presents an insidious father, who would rather sacrifice his daughter’s happiness and condemn her to a lifetime of misery, simply to prove the accuracy of his prediction. Essentially a tragicomedy, the novel focuses on themes including family, deception, cruelty, manipulation, and opposed principles...

Daisy Miller: A Study in Two Parts by Henry James Daisy Miller: A Study in Two Parts

Daisy Miller is an 1878 novella by Henry James. It portrays the confused courtship of the eponymous American girl by Winterbourne, a compatriot of hers with much more sophistication. His pursuit of her is hampered by her own flirtatiousness, which is frowned upon by the other expatriates they meet in Switzerland and Italy. Her lack of understanding of the social mores of the society she so desperately wishes to enter ultimately leads to tragedy.

An International Episode by Henry James An International Episode

Two men visting the US from London meet a pair of charming women who return the visit the following year in London. Romantic intrigues, miscommunication and cultural faux pas abound in this short but delightful novel.

The Europeans by Henry James The Europeans

The Europeans: A sketch is a short novel by Henry James, published in 1878. It is essentially a comedy contrasting the behaviour and attitudes of two visitors from Europe with those of their relatives living in the ‘new’ world of New England. The novel first appeared as a serial in The Atlantic Monthly for July-October, 1878. James made numerous minor revisions for the first book publication.

The American by Henry James The American

One of James’s early novels, The American plunges right in to one of the writer’s most enduring subjects, that of the innocent, or at least inexperienced, American abroad, seeking to come to terms with the social customs and conventions of an old European aristocracy (think of Daisy Miller, Portrait of a Lady, The Wings of the Dove and others). The aptly named Christopher Newman, having made a small fortune from business in California, has come to the Old World for the first time, determined to enlarge his experience by learning all he can of it...

The Ambassadors by Henry James The Ambassadors

Henry James considered The Ambassadors his best, or perhaps his best-wrought, novel. It plays on the great Jamesian theme of Americans abroad, who finds themselves in an older, and some would say richer and more sophisticated, culture that that of the United States. The protagonist is Lambert Strether, a man in his fifties, editor of a small literary magazine in the manufacturing town of Woollett, Massachusetts, who arrives in Europe on a mission undertaken at the urging of his patron, Mrs. Newsome, to bring home her son Chadwick...

The Golden Bowl by Henry James The Golden Bowl

The Golden Bowl is a 1904 novel by Henry James. Set in England, this complex, intense study of marriage and adultery completes what some critics have called the “major phase” of James’ career. The Golden Bowl explores the tangle of interrelationships between a father and daughter and their respective spouses. The novel focuses deeply and almost exclusively on the consciousness of the central characters, with sometimes obsessive detail but also with powerful insight.

The Altar of the Dead by Henry James The Altar of the Dead

A fable of literally life and death significance, the story explores how the protagonist tries to keep the remembrance of his dead friends, to save them from being forgotten entirely in the rush of everyday events. He meets a woman who shares his ideals, only to find that the past places what seems to be an impassable barrier between them. Although James was not religious in any conventional sense, the story shows a deep spirituality in its treatment of mortality and the transcendent power of unselfish love.

The Wings of the Dove by Henry James The Wings of the Dove

The Wings of the Dove, published in 1902, represents to my memory a very old–if I shouldn’t perhaps rather say a very young–motive; I can scarce remember the time when the situation on which this long-drawn fiction mainly rests was not vividly present to me. The idea, reduced to its essence, is that of a young person conscious of a great capacity for life, but early stricken and doomed, condemned to die under short respite, while also enamoured of the world; aware moreover of the condemnation and passionately desiring to “put in” before extinction as many of the finer vibrations as possible, and so achieve, however briefly and brokenly, the sense of having lived.

The Aspern Papers by Henry James The Aspern Papers

One of James’s favorite short novels, the Aspern Papers tells of the efforts of the nameless narrator to procure the papers of a famous, but now dead, American poet. His attempts to secure them from the poet’s former lover and her niece, now recluses in Venice, are stymied both by them, and by his own mistakes in his quest.

The Beast in the Jungle by Henry James The Beast in the Jungle

'The Beast in the Jungle' is a 1903 novella by Henry James, first published as part of the collection, The Better Sort. Almost universally considered one of James' finest short narratives, this story treats appropriately universal themes: loneliness, fate, love and death. The parable of John Marcher and his peculiar destiny has spoken to many readers who have speculated on the worth and meaning of human life.

The Jolly Corner by Henry James The Jolly Corner

“The Jolly Corner,” published in 1908, is considered by many to be a ghost story ranking second only to “The Turn of the Screw.” James’s protagonist, Spencer Brydon, is an American of 56, returned to New York after 33 years in Europe, where he has apparently accomplished little while living off his New York rentals. His friendship with Alice Staverton, and his engagement in the development of a property awaken him to the possibilities that might have been his, had he chosen a different course of life...

What Maisie Knew by Henry James What Maisie Knew

When Beale and Ida Farange are divorced, the court decrees that their only child, the very young Maisie, will shuttle back and forth between them, spending six months of the year with each. The parents are immoral and frivolous, and they use Maisie to intensify their hatred of each other.

The Pupil by Henry James The Pupil

Pemberton, a young American with an Oxford education and out of money, takes a job tutoring Morgan Moreen, the 12-year old son of an American couple living in Europe in a style not quite matched by their income. Morgan, who is highly intelligent, is also precocious and perceptive enough to understand his parents' pretentious aimlessness. Nor, as it happens, do his parents pay Pemberton the salary to which they'd agreed -- shouldn't he be satisfied, after all, by his life with them, and by the joy of tutoring young Morgan? Alternately charmed and put off by the Moreen family, Pemberton is left to choose between his attachment to his young pupil and his need to get on in life.


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