Jane Austen is without question, one of England's most enduring and skilled novelists. With her wit, social precision, and unerring ability to create some of literature's most charismatic and believable heroines, she mesmerises her readers as much today as when her novels were first published.
Whether it is her sharp, ironic gaze at the Gothic genre invoked by the adventures of Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey; the diffident and much put-upon Fanny Price struggling to cope with her emotions in Mansfield Park; her delightfully paced comedy of manners and the machinations of the sisters Elinor and Marianne in Sense and Sensibility; the quiet strength of Anne Elliot in Persuasion succeeding in a world designed to subjugate her very existence; and Emma - 'a heroine whom no one but myself will like' teased Austen - yet another irresistible character on fire with imagination and foresight. Indeed not unlike her renowned creator.
Jane Austen is as sure-footed in her steps through society's whirlpools of convention and prosaic mores as she is in her sometimes restrained but ever precise and enduring prose.
The Shadows of Sherlock Holmes is a fascinating collection of stories featuring detectives, criminal agents and debonair crooks from the golden age of crime fiction: a time when Sherlock Holmes was esconsced in his rooms at 221B Baker Street and London was permanently wreathed in a sinister fog. These gripping tales of mystery, suspense and clever puzzles are wonderfully entertaining and in them you will meet The Crime Doctor, Professor Augustus S.F.X.Van Dusen - The Thinking Machine, Max Carrados - the incredible blind detective, the repulsive but brilliant Skin o' My Teeth, and the natty, ingenious French sleuth Eugene Valmont. On the other side of the law, there are gentleman crooks Raffles and Simon Carn - the Prince of Swindlers. The stories include: ''The Purloined Letter' by Edgar Allan Poe, 'The Stolen Cigar Case' by Bret Harte, 'The Swedish Match' by Anton Chekhov, 'Nine Points of the Law' by E.W. Hornung, 'The Ghost at Massingham Mansions' by Ernest Bramah and 'The Great Pearl Mystery' by Baroness Orczy.
The thing came abruptly and unannounced; a demon, rat-like, scurrying from pits remote and unimaginable, a hellish panting and stifled grunting, and then from that opening beneath the chimney a burst of multitudinous and leprous life - a loathsome night-spawned flood of organic corruption more devastatingly hideous than the blackest conjurations of mortal madness and morbidity.’
Only the expansive imagination of H.P. Lovecraft could conceive the delicious and spine-tingling horrors you will find within the pages of this unique collection. In addition to such classics as 'The Picture in the House', 'The Music of Erich Zann' and 'The Rats in the Walls', this volume contains some fascinating rarities: examples of Lovecraft's earliest weird fiction and material unpublished during his lifetime.
When Princess Irene and her nursemaid stay out too late one night and are chased home by goblins, a young miner boy called Curdie comes to their rescue. So begins a fantastic adventure in which Irene and Curdie must try to stop a goblin invasion, helped by Irene's mysterious great-great-grandmother. This much-loved tale was a personal favourite of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. This edition includes the sequel, The Princess and Curdie.
Major General Sir Richard Hannay is the fictional secret agent created by writer and diplomat John Buchan, who was himself an Intelligence officer during the First World War. The strong and silent type, combining the dour temperament of the Scot with the stiff upper lip of the Englishman, Hannay is pre-eminent among early spy-thriller heroes. Caught up in the first of these five gripping adventures just before the outbreak of war in 1914, he manages to thwart the enemy's evil plan and solve the mystery of the 'thirty-nine steps'.
In Greenmantle, he undertakes a vital mission to prevent jihad in the Islamic Near East. Mr Standfast, set in the decisive months of 1917-18, is the novel in which Hannay, after a life lived 'wholly among men', finally falls in love; later, in The Three Hostages, he finds himself unravelling a kidnapping mystery with his wife's help. In the last adventure, The Island of Sheep, he is called upon to honour an old oath.
Translated by F Max-Muller, revised and with an Introduction by Suren Navlakha.
Upanishads are mankind's oldest works of philosophy, predating the earliest Greek philosophy. They are the concluding part of the Vedas, the ancient Indian sacred literature, and mark the culmination of a tradition of speculative thought first expressed in the Rig-Veda more than 4000 years ago. Remarkable for their meditative depth, spirit of doubt and intellectual honesty, the Upanishads are concerned with the knowledge of the Brahman, the Ultimate Reality, and Man's relationship with it.
The name Upanishad is derived from the face-to-face mode of imparting knowledge - in the utmost sanctity and secrecy, to prevent its trivialisation or perversion. Composed in Sanskrit between 900 and 600 BC, the Upanishads presented here are by far the oldest and most important of those that exist. Twelve were first translated more than a hundred years ago, and have been extensively revised and edited. The thirteenth is an entirely new translation by Suren Navlakha.
“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.”
― Khalil Gibran, The Prophet
Since its first publication in 1651, Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan has been recognised as one of the most compelling, and most controversial, works of political philosophy written in English. Forged in the crucible of the civil and religious warfare of the mid-seventeenth century, it proposes a political theory that combines an unequivocal commitment to natural human liberty with the conviction that the sovereign power of government must be exercised absolutely. Leviathan begins from some shockingly naturalistic starting-points: an analysis of human nature as being motivated by vain-glory and pride, and a vision of religion as simply the fear of invisible powers made up by the mind. Yet from these deliberately unpromising elements, Hobbes constructs with unparalleled forcefulness an elaborate, systematic, and comprehensive account of how political society ought to be: ordered, law-bound, peaceful. In Leviathan, Hobbes presents us with a portrait of politics which depicts how a state that is made up of the unified body of all its citizens will be powerful, fruitful, protective of each of its members, and − above all − free from internal violence.
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) is one of the most important and innovative figures of the European Middle Ages. Writing his Comedy (the epithet 'Divine' was added by later admirers) in exile from his native Florence, he aimed to address a world gone astray both morally and politically. At the same time, he sought to push back the restrictive rules which traditionally governed writing in the Italian vernacular, to produce a radically new and all-encompassing work.
The Comedy tells the story of the journey of a character who is at one and the same time both Dante himself and Everyman. In the Inferno, Dante's protagonist - and his reader - is presented with a graphic vision of the dreadful consequences of sin, and encounters an all-too-human array of noble, grotesque, beguiling, ridiculous and horrific characters.
He saw her wounded, and bleeding to death; saw her ashy countenance, and her wasting eyes ... turned piteously on himself, as if imploring him to save her from the fate that was dragging her to the grave...’
Ann Radcliffe, author of The Romance of the Forest and The Mysteries of Udolpho, is the high priestess of the gothic novel. In The Italian, first published in 1797, she creates a chilling, atmospheric concoction of thwarted lovers, ruined abbeys, imprisonment and dark passages, with an undercurrent of seething sexuality and presents us with a cunning villain in the sinister monk Schedoni.
A contemporary review commented on, ‘Radcliffe’s uncommon talent for exhibiting, with picturesque touches of genius, the vague and horrid shapes which imagination bodies forth...’
Radcliffe’s work was hugely influential and H.P. Lovecraft, early twentieth century master of the uncanny, was impressed by the, ‘eerie touch of setting and action contributing artistically to the impression of illimitable frightfulness which she wished to convey.’
The novel remains a fascinating, engrossing and unnerving masterpiece of gothic fiction.
The exploits of Sweeney Todd, ‘The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’, have been recounted many times in plays, films and musicals, but the origins of the character largely were forgotten for many years. The String of Pearls - the original tale of Sweeney Todd, a classic of British horror - was first published as a weekly serial in 1846-7 by Edward Lloyd, the King of the Penny Dreadfuls. One of the earliest detective stories, it became an important source for Bram Stoker's Dracula, but it was after over 150 years of obscurity that it appeared first in book form in the Wordsworth edition published in 2005.
The one great mystery that has surrounded the book is who the author was - or was it possibly the work of more than one man? In his new introduction to this fully revised second edition, Dick Collins, by means of detailed research of contemporary records, has established finally the identity of the creator of this legendary figure.
So here is the original story of the terrifying owner of that famous London barber-shop, and the secret recipe for Mrs Lovett's delicious pies…
In 1888 Henry James wrote 'There was the customary novel by Mr Le Fanu for the bedside; the ideal reading in a country house for the hours after midnight'. Madam Crowl's Ghost & Other Stories are tales selected from Le Fanu's stories which mostly appeared in The Dublin University Magazine and other periodicals, and their haunting, sinister qualities still have an enormous appeal for the modern reader. The great M.R. James, who collected and introduces the stories in this book, considered that Le Fanu 'stands absolutely in the first rank as a writer of ghost stories.
‘The worst parts were the great masses of flesh of the monstrous Worm, in all its red and sickening aspect… The sight was horrible enough, but, with the awful smell added, was simply unbearable. The Worm's hole appeared to breathe forth death in its most repulsive forms.’
Here are two great, neglected horror novels by Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, together in one volume for the first time. It is a double treat for lovers of blood-curdling fantasy fiction.
The Lady of the Shroud, published here in its full and unabridged form, is a fascinating and engrossing concoction of a vampire tale, Ruritanian adventure story and science fiction romance. The novel fully demonstrates the breadth and ingenuity of Stoker's imagination.
The spine-chilling The Lair of the White Worm features a monstrous worm secreted for thousands of years in a bottomless well and able to metamorphose into a seductive woman of a reptilian beauty who survives on her victim's life blood. The novel contains some of Stoker's most graphic and grisly moments of horror.
From "The Crystal Egg": There was, until a year ago, a little and very grimy-looking shop near Seven Dials over which, in weather-worn yellow lettering, the name of "C. Cave, Naturalist and Dealer in Antiquities," was inscribed. The contents of its window were curiously variegated. They comprised some elephant tusks and an imperfect set of chessmen, beads and weapons, a box of eyes, two skulls of tigers and one human, several moth-eaten stuffed monkeys (one holding a lamp), an old-fashioned cabinet, a flyblown ostrich egg or so, some fishing-tackle, and an extraordinarily dirty, empty glass fish tank. There was also, at the moment the story begins, a mass of crystal, worked into the shape of an egg and brilliantly polished.
The clergyman, without any ceremony, asked the price of the crystal egg.
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is a classic representation of the impoverished and politically powerless underclass of British society in Edwardian England, ruthlessly exploited by the institutionalized corruption of their employers and the civic and religious authorities.
Epic in scale, the novel charts the ruinous effects of the laissez-faire mercantilist ethics on the men, women, and children of the working classes, and through its emblematic characters, argues for a socialist politics as the only hope for a civilized and humane life for all. It is a timeless work whose political message is as relevant today as it was in Tressell's time. For this it has long been honoured by the Trade Union movement and thinkers across the political spectrum.
None of the great Victorian novels is more vivid and readable than The Mayor of Casterbridge. Set in the heart of Hardy's Wessex, the 'partly real, partly dream country' he founded on his native Dorset, it charts the rise and self-induced downfall of a single 'man of character'.
The fast-moving and ingeniously contrived narrative is Shakespearian in its tragic force, and features some of the author's most striking episodes and brilliant passages of description.
The Little Prince is a modern fable, and for readers far and wide both the title and the work have exerted a pull far in excess of the book's brevity. Written and published first by Antoine de St-Exupéry in 1943, only a year before his plane disappeared on a reconnaissance flight, it is one of the world's most widely translated books, enjoyed by adults and children alike. In the meeting of the narrator who has ditched his plane in the Sahara desert, and the little prince, who has dropped there through time and space from his tiny asteroid, comes an intersection of two worlds, the one governed by the laws of nature, and the other determined only by the limits of imagination. The world of the imagination wins hands down, with the concerns of the adult world often shown to be lamentably silly as seen through the eyes of the little prince. While adult readers can find deep meanings in his various encounters, they can also be charmed back to childhood by this wise but innocent infant.
This popular translation contains the author’s own delightful illustrations, bringing to visual life the small being at the tale’s heart, and a world of fantasy far removed from any quotidian reality. It is also a sort of love story, in which two frail beings, the downed pilot and the wandering infant-prince who has left behind all he knows, share their short time together isolated from humanity and finding sustenance in each other. This is a book which creates a unique relationship with each reader, whether child or adult.
The narrator of The War of the Worlds is quick to discover that what appeared to be a falling star was, in fact, a metallic cylinder landing from Mars. Six million people begin to flee London in panic as tentacled invaders emerge and overpower the city. With their heat-ray, killing machines, black gas, and a taste for fresh human blood, is there anything that can be done to stop the Martians?
In The War in the Air, naive but resourceful Bert Smallways is thrilled by speed and fascinated by the new flying machines. His curiosity sweeps him away by accident into a German plan to conquer America, beginning with the destruction of New York. The ease of movement in aerial warfare means that nothing and nobody is safe as Total War erupts, civilisation crumbles, and Bert's hopes of getting back to London to marry his love seem impossibly distant.
Almayer’s Folly was Conrad’s outstanding debut novel: as well as exploring the culture of a part of the world previously unknown to English fiction, it showed immense sophistication in its handling of narrative, time-shifts and point of view. Hailed as ‘a writer of genius’ by contemporary reviewers, Conrad returned to the same riverine settlement in Borneo in his second novel, An Outcast of the Islands. Set some 15 years earlier, this prequel to Almayer’s Folly tells how Lingard lost his monopoly of trade in Sambir, and follows the dangerous rivalry of his protegés Willems and Almayer. In The Rescue, the narrative moves even further back in time and shows the young, idealistic Lingard torn between his loyalties to his Sulawesi allies and his unexpected attraction to Edith Travers, with explosive consequences. Throughout this sequence of novels, the fascinating figure of Captain Lingard comes steadily into the foreground.
Wordsworth Classics makes the Lingard Trilogy available, for the first time, in a single volume.
'Each time I dip a living creature into the bath of burning pain, I say: this time I will burn out all the animal, this time I will make a rational creature of my own!' declares Doctor Moreau to hapless narrator Edward Prendick.
Moreau's highly controversial methods and ambitions conflict with the religious, moral and scientific norms of his day and Wells later called The Island of Doctor Moreau 'a youthful exercise in blasphemy'. Today his vivid depictions of the Beast People still strike modern readers with an uncanny glimpse of the animal in the human, while the behaviour of humans leave us wondering who is the most monstrous after all.
This volume unites four of Wells' liveliest and most engaging tales of the strange evolution and behaviour of animals - including human beings. The Island of Doctor Moreau is followed by three fantastic yet chillingly plausible short stories of human-animal encounters. The Empire of the Ants is a darkly humorous account of intelligent Amazonian ants threatening to displace humans as ‘the lords of the future and masters of the earth’. In The Sea Raiders, the south coast of England is terrorized by an unwelcome visit from deep-sea predator Haploteuthis ferox, while Æpyornis Island provides a marooned egg collector with an unusual companion.
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