Books Should Be Free
Loyal Books
Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBook Downloads
Search by: Title, Author or Keyword

Vanitas Polite Stories (Lady Tal—A Worldly Woman—The Legend of Madame Krasinska)   By: (1856-1935)

Book cover

Vanitas Polite Stories, a collection of three remarkable tales by Vernon Lee, takes readers on a journey through the captivating worlds of Lady Tal, A Worldly Woman, and The Legend of Madame Krasinska. With its intricate storytelling and thought-provoking themes, this book is a remarkable exploration of human nature and society.

The first story, Lady Tal, introduces us to a woman who seems to possess an almost supernatural ability to influence those around her. Through Lady Tal's eyes, we witness a series of encounters that expose the complexities of human desires and the fragile nature of power. Lee masterfully explores the intricacies of social dynamics, unraveling the various facades of society with precise details and sharp observations. The reader is left questioning the nature of control and manipulation, pondering the subtle ways in which we shape and are shaped by those around us.

A Worldly Woman, the second tale, transports us to Italy and delves into the life of a woman who refuses to conform to society's expectations. Lee astutely critiques the limitations imposed on women during this time, highlighting the stifling nature of societal norms. Through the eyes of this rebellious protagonist, we witness her constant struggle for freedom and individuality. Lee's vivid descriptions bring the Italian landscape to life, enticing readers with its beauty while simultaneously emphasizing the constraints placed upon women in a conservative society.

The final story, The Legend of Madame Krasinska, takes us to an aristocratic Parisian setting, where the titular character captivates the minds of both men and women alike. This tale is a haunting exploration of the power of storytelling, blurring the lines between reality and illusion, as Madame Krasinska's influence extends far beyond her immediate surroundings. The story grapples with the nature of truth and deception, challenging societal notions of identity and exposure. Lee's precise and eloquent prose creates an atmosphere of intrigue, captivating readers until the very end.

One of the most striking aspects of Vanitas Polite Stories is Vernon Lee's ability to delve into the psychological depths of her characters. She skillfully dissects their motivations and desires, allowing readers to gain profound insights into the human condition. Lee's exploration of gender dynamics, societal expectations, and the power dynamics between individuals is exceptionally thought-provoking.

Although Vanitas Polite Stories was originally published in 1892, its themes and insights remain relevant and resonant to this day. Lee's writing style combines elegance, intelligence, and depth, making this collection a literary gem. Readers who appreciate intricate storytelling and profound introspection will find themselves enchanted by this lesser-known work by Vernon Lee.

First Page:

E text prepared by Delphine Lettau and the Online Distributed Proofreading Canada Team (

The Crown Copyright Series 1892


Polite Stories



Author of "Hauntings," Etc.

London William Heinemann 1892

[All rights reserved]




We had a conversation once, walking on your terrace, with the wind rippled olives above and the quietly nodding cypress tufts below about such writings as you chose to compare with carved cherry stones. We disagreed, for it seemed to me that the world needed cherry stone necklaces as much as anything else; and that the only pity was that most of its inhabitants could not afford such toys, and the rest despised them because they were made of such very cheap material. Still, lest you should wonder at my sending such things to you, I write to declare that my three little tales, whatever they be, are not carved cherry stones.

For round these sketches of frivolous women, there have gathered some of the least frivolous thoughts, heaven knows, that have ever come into my head; or rather, such thoughts have condensed and taken body in these stories. Indeed, how can one look from outside on the great waste of precious things, delicate discernment, quick feeling and sometimes stoical fortitude, involved in frivolous life, without a sense of sadness and indignation? Or what satisfaction could its portrayal afford, save for the chance that such pictures might mirror some astonished and abashed creature; or show to men and women who toil and think that idleness, and callousness, and much that must seem to them sheer wickedness, is less a fault than a misfortune... Continue reading book >>

eBook Downloads
ePUB eBook
• iBooks for iPhone and iPad
• Nook
• Sony Reader
Kindle eBook
• Mobi file format for Kindle
Read eBook
• Load eBook in browser
Text File eBook
• Computers
• Windows
• Mac

Review this book

Popular Genres
More Genres
Paid Books