Therese Raquin is a clinically observed, sinister tale of adultery and murder among the lower orders in nineteenth-century Paris. Zola’s dispassionate dissection of the motivations of his characters, mere ‘human beasts’ who kill in order to satisfy their lust, is much more than an atmospheric Second Empire period-piece. Many readers were scandalized by an approach to character-drawing which seemed to undermine not only the moral values of a deeply conservative society, but also the whole code of psychological description on which the realist novel was based. Together with the important ‘Preface to the Second Edition’ in which Zola defended himself against charges of immorality, Therese Raquin stands as a key early manifesto of the French Naturalist movement, of which Zola was the founding father. Even today, this novel has lost none of its power to shock. This new translation is based on the second edition of 1868. The Introduction situates the novel in the context of Naturalism, medicine, and the scientific ideas of Zola’s day.
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Marie Darrieussecq - Pig Tales
A bizarre tale encompassing feminism, politics and social hypocrisy. A stunning young woman employed in the sex industry enjoys extraordinary success at bringing home the bacon (in part due to her increasingly rosy and irresistible backside) until she slowly metamorphoses into a pig.
Albert Camus - The Stranger
Through the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach, Camus explored what he termed "the nakedness of man faced with the absurd." First published in English in 1946; now in a new translation by Matthew Ward.
Stendhal - Scarlet and Black
To us, as to Stendhal, Scarlet and Black is a clear reflection of the "blue of the skies and the mire of the road below". It mirrors, rather than paints, mobile and revealing glimpses of life as it was wiled away in the climate of fear and greedy drawing-room conformity that followed Waterloo. Julien Sorel, the novel's restless, ambitious hero, rebels against his circumstances and wills himself to make something of his life by adopting a code of hypocrisy. On the road to the surprising crime he commits (out of passion, principle or insanity), he turns into Stendhal's greatest and most completely human creation. Margaret Shaw's brilliant translation keeps intact the colloquial style of the writer who, in an age of Romantics, set the pattern for later realists such as Flaubert and Zola.
Michel Houellebecq - Whatever
Ever found yourself all at sea at work? Suffered from information overload? If you have, Houellebecq's grim, funny and clever tongue-in-cheek exploration of corporate jargon, psychobabble and the ineffectual use of long words is for you. Just thirty, with a well-paid job and no love-life, our narrator smokes 4 packs of cigarettes a day and writes weird animal stories - cows and all - in his spare time. He's tolerably content in his boredom - until he's packed off with the unimaginably ugly Raphael Tisserand to train provincial civil servants in the use of a new computer system.
Grégoire Delacourt - The List of My Desires
What would it take to change your life? Jocelyne is 47. She lives in a small provincial French town, runs her own dressmaking shop, has been married to the same man for what seems like an eternity, has had two children and lives a very ordinary existence. In fact so ordinary that she is beginning to wonder what happened to her, to all those dreams she had when she was seventeen. Then comes the chance to change her life completely - but should she? For when Jocelyne begins to look at her life and its small pleasures - her friendship with the twins who run the hairdresser next door, her weekends away, her sewing blog - she realises that maybe ordinary isn't so bad. Until the decision is taken out of her hands...The List of my Desires is a wonderfully heart-warming novel about what we value in life and the search for happiness.
Henri Charrière - Papillon (angol)
Henri Charrière, called Papillon, for the butterfly tattoo on his chest, was convicted in Paris in 1931 for a murder he did not commit. When he was sentenced to life imprisonment in the penal colony of French Guiana, one thought obsessed him: escape. After planning and executing a series of treacherous yet failed attempts over many years, Papillon was eventually sent to the notorious prison, Devil's Island, a place from which no one had ever escaped -- that was, until Papillon. His escape, described in breathless detail, was one of the most incredible tests of human cunning, will, and endurance. In 1968, more than twenty years after his final escape, Charrière had his astonishing autobiography, Papillon, published in France to instant acclaim -- a worldwide bestseller describing the gripping, shocking odyssey of the author's imprisonment and escape over a greuling decade.
Colette - Cheri and the Last of Cheri
Cheri, first published in 1920, is considered Colette's finest novel. Exquisitely handsome, spoilt and sardonic, Cheri is the only son of a wealthy courtesan, a contemporary of Lea, the magnificent and talented woman who for six years has devoted herself to his amorous education. When a rich marriage is arranged for Cheri, Lea reluctantly decides their relationship must end. Cheri, despite his apparent detachment, is haunted by memories of Lea; alienated from his wife, his family and his surroundings, he retreats into a fantasy world made up of dreams and the past, a world from which there is only one route of escape. In her portrait of the fated love affair between a very young man and a middle-aged woman, Colette achieved a peak in her earthy, sensuous and utterly individual art. Cheri caused considerable controversy both in its choice of setting - the fabulous demi-monde of the Parisian courtesans - and in its portrayal of Cheri. --- At the end of Cheri the young Cheri left his aging mistress Lea on the eve of his marriage. Having served in the army during the war Cheri returns to Paris haunted by memories of his carefree youth and the bounty of his benevolent mistress. In the post-war 1920's he finds it impossible to settle down to a new life with his efficient and entrepreneurial wife and friends. As his looks and his reputation begin to deteriorate Cheri's life is thrown into crisis as he attempts to recapture the contentment and companionship of his luxurious youth. As Cheri and Lea confront each other, and the changes a decade has wrought on their lives and their looks, Colette displays the incredible sensitivity and insight for which she is justly famous.
Anna Gavalda - Someone I loved
Someone I Loved is Anna Gavalda's first novel and is obviously inspired by the dissolution of her own marriage. Told from the perspective of a woman in her late 30s, Chloe, it begins with her decision to take her children to her in-laws' lake house after her husband leaves her for another woman. Chloe's father-in-law decides to come along. What ensues is a loaded conversation by the fireplace about love found, love lost, and the realization that no one is truly who you think they are. While Chloe has always believed her father-in-law to be an „old bastard,” it turns out he is human, has flaws, had the option to do to his family what Chloe's husband did to his, and took the nobler path.
Jean-Christophe Valtat - 03
“From the bus stop across the street, it was hard to tell, but suddenly I understood, seeing the passengers in the van that picked her up every morning, that she was slightly retarded.” A precocious teenager in a French suburb finds himself powerfully, troublingly drawn to the girl he sees every day on the way to school. As he watches and thinks about her, his daydreams—full of lyrics from Joy Division and the Smiths, fairy tales, Flowers for Algernon, sexual desire and fear, loneliness, rage for escape, impatience to grow up—reveal an entire adolescence. And this fleeting erotic obsession, remembered years later, blossoms into a meditation on what it means to be a smart kid, what it means to be dumb, and what it means to be in love with another person. 03 is a book about young love like none you have ever read. It marks the English-language debut of a unique French writer—one of the great stylists of his generation.
Pierre Pevel - The Cardinal's Blades
Welcome to seventeenth-century Paris, where intrigue, duels, and spies are rife and Cardinal Richelieu’s men may be prevailed upon to risk life and limb in the name of France at a moment’s notice. And with war on the horizon, the defense of the nation has never been more pressing. Danger is rising from the south—an insidious plot that could end with a huge dragon-shaped shadow falling over France, a shadow cast by dragons quite unlike the pet dragonets that roam the cities like stray cats, or the tame wyverns men ride like horses, high over the Parisian rooftops. These dragons and their descendants are ancient, terrible, and powerful ... and their plans contain little room for the lives or freedom of men. Cardinal Richelieu has nowhere else to turn; Captain La Fargue and his elite group of men, the Cardinal’s Blades, must turn the tide. They must hold the deadly Black Claw cult at bay, root out traitors to the crown, rescue prisoners, and fulfill their mission for the Cardinal, for their country, but above all for themselves. It’s death or victory. And the victory has never been less certain.
Anna Gavalda - Consolation
An international bestseller and French publishing sensation "Consolation" is a dazzling, heartbreaking tale of one man, two remarkable women and an unforgettable transvestite. Charles Balanda is forty-seven; a successful architect, he is constantly on the move. But from the moment he hears about the death of the woman he once loved - Anouk, the tragically big-hearted mother of a childhood friend - his life begins to unravel until, one day, he finds himself on a Paris pavement covered in blood. But fate brings him one final chance to be happy in Kate, an enchanting young woman, herself damaged but fearless and in love with life. The resulting story is a triumphant, spellbinding and ultimately consoling novel about the power of a second chance.
Marc Levy - Just Like Heaven
What do you do when you find a stranger in your closet, particularly when she's surprised that you can even see her — and she can disappear and reappear at whim? What if she then tells you that her body is actually in a coma on the other side of town? Should you have her see a psychiatrist or should you consult one yourself? Or do you take a chance and believe in her, and allow yourself to be swept up in an extraordinary adventure? This is the beginning of the dilemma that Arthur, a young San Francisco architect, is faced with when he discovers Lauren in his apartment. Arthur is the only man who can share Lauren's secret, the only one who can see her, hear her, and talk to her when no one else so much as senses her presence. So when doctors prepare to end Lauren's physical care — which would destroy the magical bond she and Arthur cherish — he must find a way to save her. For, after all, it is only her love that can save him. A heartwarming love story that's impossible to forget, an adventure that is by turns breathtaking and hilarious, Just Like Heaven is a captivating tale that evokes the essence of romance and our boundless capacity to believe.
Stendhal - The Red and the Black
The Red and the Black, Stendhal’s masterpiece, is the story of Julien Sorel, a young dreamer from the provinces, fueled by Napoleonic ideals, whose desire to make his fortune sets in motion events both mesmerizing and tragic. Sorel’s quest to find himself, and the doomed love he encounters along the way, are delineated with an unprecedented psychological depth and realism. At the same time, Stendhal weaves together the social life and fraught political intrigues of post–Napoleonic France, bringing that world to unforgettable, full-color life. His portrait of Julien and early-nineteenth-century France remains an unsurpassed creation, one that brilliantly anticipates modern literature. Neglected during its time, The Red and the Black has assumed its rightful place as one of the world’s great books, and Burton Raffel’s extraordinary new translation, coupled with an enlightening Introduction by Diane Johnson, helps it shine more brightly than ever before.
Louis-Ferdinand Céline - Journey to the End of the Night
The dark side of On the Road: instead of seeking kicks, the French narrator travels the globe to find an ever deeper disgust for life. Louis-Ferdinand Celine's revulsion and anger at what he considered the idiocy and hypocrisy of society explodes from nearly every page of this novel. Filled with slang and obscenities and written in raw, colloquial language, Journey to the End of the Night is a literary symphony of violence, cruelty and obscene nihilism. This book shocked most critics when it was first published in France in 1932, but quickly became a success with the reading public in Europe, and later in America where it was first published by New Directions in 1952. The story of the improbable yet convincingly described travels of the petit-bourgeois (and largely autobiographical) antihero, Bardamu, from the trenches of World War I, to the African jungle, to New York and Detroit, and finally to life as a failed doctor in Paris, takes the readers by the scruff and hurtles them toward the novel's inevitable, sad conclusion.
Jules Verne - In Search of the Castaways; or the Children of Captain Grant
In Search of the Castaways (French: Les Enfants du capitaine Grant, lit. The Children of Captain Grant) is a novel by the French writer Jules Verne, published in 1867-1868. The original edition, by Hetzel, contains a number of illustrations by Edouard Riou. In 1876 it was republished by George Routledge & Sons as a three volume set titled "A Voyage Round The World". The three volumes were subtitled "South America", "Australia", and "New Zealand". The book tells the story of the quest for Captain Grant of the Britannia. After finding a bottle cast into the ocean by the captain himself after the Britannia is shipwrecked, Lord and Lady Glenarvan of Scotland contact Mary and Robert, the young daughter and son of Captain Grant, through an announcement in a newspaper. Moved by the children's condition, Lord and Lady Glenarvan decide to launch a rescue expedition. The main difficulty is that the coordinates of the wreckage are mostly erased, and only the latitude (37 degrees) is known; thus, the expedition would have to circum-navigate the 37th parallel. Remaining clues consist of a few words in three languages. They are re-interpreted several times throughout the novel to make various destinations seem likely.
Victor Hugo - The Wretched
A brilliant new translation by Christine Donougher of Victor Hugo's thrilling masterpiece, with an introduction by Robert Tombs. The Wretched (Les Misérables) is the basis for both the longest running musical on the West End and the highly-acclaimed recent film starring Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway. Victor Hugo's tale of injustice, heroism and love follows the fortunes of Jean Valjean, an escaped convict determined to put his criminal past behind him. But his attempts to become a respected member of the community are constantly put under threat: by his own conscience, and by the relentless investigations of the dogged policeman Javert. It is not simply for himself that Valjean must stay free, however, for he has sworn to protect the baby daughter of Fantine, driven to prostitution by poverty.
Jean-Christophe Valtat - Aurorarama
In the defense of steampunk comes a literary adventure unlike anything you’ve read before. 1908, New Venice: An ominous black airship hovers in the sky, and the city is hunting for the author of a radical pamphlet calling for revolt. The lead suspect is Brentford Orsini, one of the city’s most prominent figures. As the net around him tightens, Orsini receives a mysterious message from a long-lost love that compels him to act. Brilliant in its conception, masterful in its prose, thrilling in its plot twists, and laced with humor, suspense, and intelligence, Aurorarama marks the beginning of a great new series of books.
Anne Berest - Sagan, Paris 1954
Before Françoise Sagan the literary icon there was Françoise Quoirez, an eighteen-year-old Parisian girl, who wrote a novel and needed a publisher for it. This intimate narrative charts the months in 1954 leading up to the publication of the legendary Bonjour Tristesse. We encounter Françoise, her family and friends close-up, in a post-war world that is changing radically; and Mlle Quoirez, in her new guise of Françoise Sagan, will be at the heart of that social change. Sagan was always focused on her writing, though at times the fame of her books was to be eclipsed by her wild-child reputation. Yet, as Anne Berest herself testifies, Sagan’s fearless approach to life lived on her own terms remains an inspiration even now.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau - Emile or on education
The publication of Emile was hailed by Kant as an event comparable with the French Revolution, and Rousseau himself regarded it as his best book. Yet his masterpiece on the education and training of the young - consciously concieved to rival or supersede Plato's Republic - has been the most misunderstood of all his major works. In Emile Rousseau describes an imaginary attempt to transform a oung boy into an autonomous, morally and intellectually independent - that is to say, truly democratic - human being. In the process he presents an egalitarian politics that attempts to reconcile nature with history, human selfishness with the demands of civil society and, hence, inclination with duty. Articulating the struggle against alienation and the quest for the wholeness or unity of man, Rousseau formulated the ideas that have dominated political and psychological discourse ever since.
Choderlos de Laclos - Les Liaisons Dangereuses (angol)
Les Liasons Dangereuses, by Choderlos De Laclos is an erotic tale of deceit, betrayal, and seduction that has existed through time as one of the most controversial novels in European history. The Vicomte de Valmont and the Marquise de Merteuil are two wealthy individuals in high society who take great pleasure in showing their power over their lovers, and who choose cruelty and deceit over the passion of true love. Valmont, a suave and charming man, takes aims to seduce the virtuous Madame de Tourvel, the wife of a prominent judge. His goal is not to shake her foundations of religious faith, but to use that faith, and her own virtues, to ensure her complete demise. Merteuil, on the other hand, seeks revenge against the Comte de Gercourt, and devises a plan to corrupt his.....