The Comedies with Introductions by Judith Buchanan:
These Comedies are among the best loved of Shakespeare's plays. In each a problem emerges, is then intensified to a point of maximum confusion and potential upset, before the chaos is resolved, however improbably, into general goodwill and a spate of marriages. The triumph of these plays lies in the way they mingle humorous stage business and dexterous word play with a more serious study of identity, gender, dreaming, the meaning of love, even of the theatre itself. They reassure us that with all its faults, the world will always in the end be redeemable.
Walt Whitman's verse gave the poetry of America a distinctive national voice. It reflects the unique vitality of the new nation, the vastness of the land and the emergence of a sometimes troubled consciousness, communicated in language and idiom regarded by many at the time as shocking.
Whitman's poems are organic and free flowing, fit into no previously defined genre and skilfully combine autobiographical, sociological and religious themes with lyrical sensuality. His verse is a fitting celebration of a new breed of American and includes "Song of Myself", "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry", the ...|
Shelley's short, prolific life produced some of the most memorable and well-known lyrics of the Romantic period. But he was also the most radical writer in the English literary tradition of his day, a fiery political visionary committed to social change and progress.
The generous selection in this volume represents the wide range of his writing, both poetry and prose. Arranged chronologically, the accompanying introductory essays set Shelley's works in their historical, social and political context.
They provide a vivid insight into the life and times of this volcanic spirit whose inspiring voice called on ...|
The Black Death is sweeping through Europe. In Florence, plague has carried off one hundred thousand people. In their Tuscan villas, seven young women and three young men tell tales to recreate the world they have lost, weaving a rich tapestry of comedy, tragedy, ribaldry and farce.
Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron recasts the storytelling heritage of the ancient and medieval worlds into perennial forms that inspired writers from Chaucer and Shakespeare down to our own day. Boccaccio makes the incredible believable, with detail so sharp we can look straight into the lives of people who lived six hundred years ago. ...|
The Brothers Grimm rediscovered a host of fairy tales, telling of princes and princesses in their castles, witches in their towers and forests, of giants and dwarfs, of fabulous animals and dark deeds.
This selection of their folk tales was made and translated by Lucy Crane, and includes firm favourites such as "Cinderella", "Rapunzel", "The Goose Girl", "Sleeping Beauty", "Hansel and Gretel", and "Snow White".
It is illustrated throughout by Walter Crane's charming line drawings. ...|
The story of Edmund Dantes, self-styled Count of Monte Cristo, is told with consummate skill. The victim of a miscarriage of justice, Dantes is fired by a desire for retribution and empowered by a stroke of providence. In his campaign of vengeance, he becomes an anonymous agent of fate. The sensational narrative of intrigue, betrayal, escape, and triumphant revenge moves at a cracking pace.
Dumas' novel presents a powerful conflict between good and evil embodied in an epic saga of rich diversity that is complicated by the hero's ultimate discomfort with the hubristic implication of his own actions. Our edition ...|
"Treasure Island" is a tale of pirates and villains, maps, treasure and shipwreck. When young Jim Hawkins finds a packet in Captain Flint's sea chest, he could not know that the map inside it would lead him to unimaginable treasure. Shipping as cabin boy on the Hispaniola, he sails with Squire Trelawney, Captain Smollett, Dr. Livesey, the sinister Long John Silver and a frightening crew to "Treasure Island". There, mutiny, murder and mayhem lead to a thrilling climax. ...|
Set in Hardy's Wessex, Tess is a moving novel of hypocrisy and double standards. Its challenging sub-title, A Pure Woman, infuriated critics when the book was first published in 1891, and it was condemned as immoral and pessimistic.
It tells of Tess Durbeyfield, the daughter of a poor and dissipated villager, who learns that she may be descended from the ancient family of d'Urbeville. In her search for respectability her fortunes fluctuate wildly, and the story assumes the proportions of a Greek tragedy. It explores Tess's relationships with two very different men, her struggle against the social mores of ...|
"My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don't know." ... "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" first introduced Arthur Conan Doyle's brilliant detective to the readers Strand Magazine. The runaway success of this series promoted a second set of stories, "The Memoirs". In these twenty three tales, collected here in one volume, you have some of the best detective yarns ever penned. In his consulting room at 221B Baker Street, the master sleuth receives a stream of clients all presenting him with baffling and bizarre mysteries to unravel. There is, for ...|
Lawrence's finest, most mature novel initially met with disgust and incomprehension. In the love affairs of two sisters, Ursula with Rupert, and Gudrun with Gerald, critics could only see a sorry tale of sexual depravity and philosophical obscurity.
"Women in Love" is, however, a profound response to a whole cultural crisis. The "progress" of the modern industrialised world had led to the carnage of the First World War. What, then, did it mean to call ourselves "human"? On what grounds could we place ourselves above and beyond the animal world? What are the definitive forms of our ...|
James Joyce's astonishing masterpiece, Ulysses, tells of the diverse events which befall Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus in Dublin on 16 June 1904, during which Bloom's voluptuous wife, Molly, commits adultery.
Initially deemed obscene in England and the USA, this richly-allusive novel, revolutionary in its Modernistic experimentalism, was hailed as a work of genius by W. B. Yeats, T. S. Eliot and Ernest Hemingway. Scandalously frank, wittily erudite, mercurially eloquent, resourcefully comic and generously humane, Ulysses offers the reader a life-changing experience. ...|
How like a winter hath my absence been
From Thee, the pleasure if the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt , what dark day seen!
What old December's bareness everywhere! ... Shakespeare's sonnets have an intensity of both feeling and meaning unmatched in English sonnet form. They divide into two parts; the first 126 sonnets are addressed to a fair youth for whom the poet has an obsessive love and the second chronicles his love for the notorious "Dark Lady".
In addition to the sonnets, this volume includes Shakespeare's two lengthy narrative poems on classical themes, "The Rape of ...|