Robert Louis Stevenson originally wrote “Dr. Jekyll And Mr Hyde” as a “chilling shocker.” He then burned the draft and, upon his wife’s advice, rewrote it as the darkly complex tale it is today. Stark, skillfully woven, this fascinating novel explores the curious turnings of human character through the strange case of Dr. Jekyll, a kindly scientist who by night takes on his stunted evil self, Mr. Hyde. Anticipating modern psychology, “Jekyll And Hyde” is a brilliantly original study of man’s dual nature — as well as an immortal tale of suspense and terror. Published in 1866, “Jekyll And Hyde” was an instant success and brought Stevenson his first taste of fame. Though sometimes dismissed as a mere mystery story, the book has evoked much literary admirations. Vladimir Nabokov likened it to “Madame Bovary” and “Dead Souls” as “a fable that lies nearer to poetry than to ordinary prose fiction.”
Emily Brontë - Wuthering Heights
In a house haunted by memories, the past is everywhere... As darkness falls, a man caught in a snowstorm is forced to shelter at the strange, grim house Wuthering Heights. It is a place he will never forget. There he will come to learn the story of Cathy: how she was forced to choose between her well-meaning husband and the dangerous man she had loved since she was young. How her choice led to betrayal and terrible revenge - and continues to torment those in the present. How love can transgress authority, convention, even death. And how desire can kill.
Robert Louis Stevenson - Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
'All human beings ... are commingled out of good and evil' Dr Jekyll has been experimenting with his identity. He has developed a drug which separates the two sides of his nature and allows him occasionally to abandon himself to his most corrupt inclinations as the monstrous Mr Hyde. But gradually he begins to find that the journey back to goodness becomes more and more difficult, and the risk that Mr Hyde will break free entirely from Dr Jekyll's control puts all of London in grave peril.
Oscar Wilde - The Picture of Dorian Gray
There can be many varying reasons for selling one's soul to the devil. Fame, power, love; a distraction of this world can rapidly consume the entirety of one's concentration until the distraction becomes that person's very "reality". It is fascinating to observe how the good in this world can be overlooked or neglected due to the singularity of one's concentration on what is, ultimately, the "bad". The Picture of Dorian Gray is a story that captures such a concept and places it in the context of late nineteenth century London. Basil Hallward is a painter, one of amateur talents, but a painter that receives an inspiration that some like to call divine. A particularly new acquaintance of his, a Mr. Dorian Gray, seems to put all art into perspective for the aspiring artist. The result is a perfectly splendid picture of the beautiful Dorian Gray, who sits for Hallward in the epitome of innocence. There is a friend of Hallward's, who goes by the name of Lord Henry Wotton. Harry, as his friends call him, is something of an enigma to the familial circles of English aristocracy; Dorian most aptly entitles him "Prince Paradox" much later in the novel. Gray is immediately captivated by the charisma of Lord Wotton, whom he met while Hallward is painting his portrait. Following the completion of the painting, Dorian becomes melancholic, having just learned the wonders of his youth and beauty from Prince Paradox; indeed, upon gazing into his own picture, Dorian Gray is already missing his youthful splendour. In his newfound narcissism, Dorian makes a foolhardy wish: that the painting grows old and ugly while he should retain his exceptional beauty. There is a liberal utilization of symbolization in this controversial book, and most particularly so in Henry Wotton and his meeting with Dorian Gray. Harry, who becomes Dorian's closest friend, represents a kind of hedonism that is vastly different from the sociality of their familiars, and yet also apart from the vulgar tastes of the uneducated. In the words of Dorian Gray: "Yes: there was to be, as Lord Henry prophesied, a new Hedonism that was to recreate life, and to save it from the harsh, uncomely Puritanism that was making its own curious revival. It was to have its service of the intellect, certainly; yet, it was never to accept any theory or system that would involve the sacrifice of any mode of passionate experience. His aim, indeed, was to be experience itself, and not the fruits of experience, sweet or bitter as they might be. Of the asceticism that deadens the sense, as of the vulgar profligacy that dulls them, it was to know nothing. But it was to teach man to concentrate himself upon the moments of a life that is itself but a moment." Before Dorian Gray met Lord Henry Wotton, he recognized things as they were. Following that momentous exchange, Dorian Gray recognized only shadows. Art, to the corrupted youth, was not just a reflection of life and love, but reality itself. Passion is the first and final goal of his new worldview, and it ultimately destroys the child within. Basil Hallward symbolizes the simplicity, the good, and the rare in modern London: his friend Henry calls him "dull", as all great artists are. Hallward, in a clever instance of foreboding, did not want Lord Henry to even meet Dorian: "Dorian Gray has a simple and beautiful nature… Don't spoil him." The good in life seems to become less relevant, less necessary as life goes on, as the individual experiences more, until the good doesn't seem to exist… at all. A key idea in the Picture of Dorian Gray is, I think, the fall of innocence to the pleasures of this novel Hedonism that plays the antagonism of this story. Though Dorian may indeed retain his outer beauty, startling the perceptions of everyone near him, the soul within becomes unrecognizable to a simple eye, to any eye removed of darkness. In the writing of this, his only novel, Oscar Wilde manages to take hold of several key ideas and succeeds in putting them on a magnificent, provocative display. The central themes, art, love and novelty, are the fine threads that boldly form the grandeur of the patterned Idea. As this is the ultimate goal in every work of art, I would claim that The Picture of Dorian Gray is an accomplished story on every level.
David Mitchell - Cloud Atlas
'Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies...' A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan's California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified dinery server on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation. The narrators of _Cloud Atlas_ hear each other's echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great and small. In his extraordinary third novel, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of language, genre and time to offer a meditation on humanity's dangerous will to power, and where it may lead us.
Jane Austen - Northanger Abbey
Harper Collins is proud to present its new range of best-loved, essential classics. 'Northanger Abbey! These were thrilling words, and wound up Catherine's feelings to the highest point of ecstasy.' Considered the most light-hearted and satirical of Austen's novels, Northanger Abbey tells the story of an unlikely young heroine Catherine Morland. While staying in Bath, Catherine meets Henry Tilney and his sister Eleanor who invite her to their family estate, Northanger Abbey. A fan of Gothic Romance novels, naive Catherine is soon letting her imagination run wild in the atmospheric abbey, fuelled by her friendship with the vivacious Isabella Thorpe. It is only when the realities of life set in around her that Catherine's fantastical world is shattered. A coming-of-age novel, Austen expertly parodies the Gothic romance novels of her time and reveals much about her unsentimental view of love and marriage in the eighteenth century.
Jeffrey Eugenides - The Virgin Suicides
First published in 1993, "The Virgin Suicides" announced the arrival of a major new American novelist. In a quiet suburb of Detroit, the five Lisbon sisters--beautiful, eccentric, and obsessively watched by the neighborhood boys--commit suicide one by one over the course of a single year. As the boys observe them from afar, transfixed, they piece together the mystery of the family's fatal melancholy, in this hypnotic and unforgettable novel of adolescent love, disquiet, and death. Jeffrey Eugenides evokes the emotions of youth with haunting sensitivity and dark humor and creates a coming-of-age story unlike any of our time. Adapted into a critically acclaimed film by Sofia Coppola, "The Virgin Suicides" is a modern classic, a lyrical and timeless tale of sex and suicide that transforms and mythologizes suburban middle-American life.
Charles Dickens - Our Mutual Friend
Paul Scofield, one of Britain's most distinguished actors, reads Our Mutual Friend, Dickens' mysterious murder story. Scofield won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Sir Thomas More in A Man For All Seasons, a role he created on the stage. In the last of Dickens' completed novels, a bitter love triangle, a mysterious inheritance, and power of money motivates, frustrates and activates the characters to a bitter end. Our Mutual Friend is a witty indictment of a society fallen prey to the dawning age of commercialism.
Ali Smith - The Accidental
Arresting and wonderful, _The Accidental_ pans in on the Norfolk holiday home of the Smart family one hot summer. There, a beguiling stranger called Amber appears at the door bearing all sorts of unexpected gifts, trampling over family boundaries and sending each of the Smarts scurrying from the dark into the light. A novel about the ways that seemingly chance encounters irrevocably transform our understanding of ourselves, _The Accidental_ explores the nature of truth, the role of fate and the power of storytelling.
Mark Twain - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer / The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
With an Introduction and Notes by Stuart Hutchinson, University of Kent at Canterbury. Tom Sawyer, a shrewd and adventurous boy, is as much at home in the respectable world of his Aunt Polly as in the self-reliant and parentless world of his friend Huck Finn. The two enjoy a series of adventures, accidentally witnessing a murder, establishing the innocence of the man wrongly accused, as well as being hunted by Injun Joe, the true murderer, eventually escaping and finding the treasure that Joe had buried. Huckleberry Finn recounts the further adventures of Huck, who runs away from a drunken and brutal father, and meets up with the escaped slave Jim. They float down the Mississippi on a raft, participating in the lives of the characters they meet, witnessing corruption, moral decay and intellectual impoverishment. Sharing so much in background and character, these two stories, the best of Twain, indisputably belong together in one volume. Though originally written as adventure stories for young people, the vivid writing provides a profound commentary on provincial American life in the mid-nineteenth century and the institution of slavery.
Ford Madox Ford - Some Do Not...
Christopher Tietjens, a brilliant, unconventional mathematician, is married to the dazzling yet unfaithful Sylvia when, during a turbulent weekend, he meets a young Suffragette by the name of Valentine Wannop. Christopher and Valentine are on the verge of becoming lovers until he must return to his World War I regiment. Ultimately, Christopher, shell-shocked and suffering from amnesia, is sent back to London. An unforgettable exploration of the tensions of a society confronting catastrophe, sexuality, power, madness, and violence, this narrative examines time and a critical moment in history.
Thomas Hardy - Far from the Madding Crowd
The first of Thomas Hardy’s great novels, Far From the Madding Crowd established the author as one of Britain’s foremost writers. It also introduced readers to Wessex, an imaginary county in southwestern England that served as the pastoral setting for many of the author’s later works. Far From the Madding Crowd tells the story of beautiful Bathsheba Everdene, a fiercely independent woman who inherits a farm and decides to run it herself. She rejects a marriage proposal from Gabriel Oak, a loyal man who takes a job on her farm after losing his own in an unfortunate accident. He is forced to watch as Bathsheba mischievously flirts with her neighbor, Mr Boldwood, unleashing a passionate obsession deep within the reserved man. But both suitors are soon eclipsed by the arrival of the dashing soldier, Frank Troy, who falls in love with Bathsheba even though he’s still smitten with another woman. His reckless presence at the farm drives Boldwood mad with jealousy, and sets off a dramatic chain of events that leads to both murder and marriage. A delicately woven tale of unrequited love and regret, Far from the Madding Crowd is also an unforgettable portrait of a rural culture that, by Hardy’s lifetime, had become threatened with extinction at the hands of ruthless industrialization.
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
'The reaches opened before us and closed behind, as if the forest had stepped leisurely across the water to bar the way for our return. We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness.' When Charles Marlow agrees to captain a steamer up the Congo in search of the elusive ivory trader Mr Kurtz, it becomes a terrifying journey into both the unknown and his own subconscious. As he travels deeper and deeper into the dense jungle, he begins to sense the presence of this extraordinary and terrible man, and to question the horrifying realities of European imperialism and of human nature itself.
Charlotte Brontë - Villette (angol)
In shaping Villette, as with Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontё drew upon her own life. Her heroine, Lucy Snowe, possesses neither beauty nor fortune, but her cool demeanour belies a passionate heart. Friendless and alone in the world, she takes up a position at a girls' school in Brussels presided over by the indomitable Madame Beck. There she falls under the spell of the vain, irascible and noble-hearted professor, M. Paul Emanuel. Seldom has the ebb and flow of a love affair been portrayed so harrowingly and movingly. In its wit and flashes of poetry, its depth and originality of character, for many readers Villette is Charlotte Brontё's crowning achievement.
Douglas Adams - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of the The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out of work actor. Together this dynamic pair begin their journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitch Hiker's Guide "A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have" and a galaxy-full of fellow travellers: Zaphod Beeblebrox - the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out to lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod's girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ball-point pens he has bought over the years.
James Hogg - The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner
James Hogg's most ambitious prose work, _The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner_, is now widely acclaimed as his masterpiece. In the early years of the 18th century, Scotland is torn by religious and political strife. Hogg's sinner, justified by his Calvinist convinction that his own salvation is pre-ordained, is suspected of involvement in a series of bizarre and hideous crimes. A century later his memoirs reveal the extraordinary, macabre truth. The tale is chilling for its astute psychological accuracy as it illustrates, with power and economy, the dire effect of self-righteous bigotry on a fanatical character.
Margaret Mitchell - Gone with the Wind
Margaret Mitchell's epic novel of love and war won the Pulitzer Prize and went on to give rise to two authorized sequels and one of the most popular and celebrated movies of all time. Many novels have been written about the Civil War and its aftermath. None take us into the burning fields and cities of the American South as "Gone With the Wind" does, creating haunting scenes and thrilling portraits of characters so vivid that we remember their words and feel their fear and hunger for the rest of our lives. In the two main characters, the white-shouldered, irresistible Scarlett and the flashy, contemptuous Rhett, Margaret Mitchell not only conveyed a timeless story of survival under the harshest of circumstances, she also created two of the most famous lovers in the English-speaking world since Romeo and Juliet.
H. G. Wells - The War of the Worlds
The War of the Worlds (1898) is a science fiction novel by H. G. Wells. It describes the experiences of an unnamed narrator who travels through the suburbs of London as the Earth is invaded by Martians. It is one of the earliest stories that details a conflict between mankind and an alien race. The War of the Worlds is split into two parts, Book one: The Coming of the Martians, and Book two: The Earth under the Martians. The novel is narrated by a writer of philosophical articles who throughout the narrative struggles to reunite with his wife, while witnessing the Martians rampaging through the southern English counties. Part one also features the tale of his brother, who accompanies two women to the coast in the hope of escaping England as it is invaded.
Charles Dickens - Little Dorrit
Charles Dickens's masterpiece about prison life is set in an English debtors' prison (where Dickens's own father had been imprisoned) and where Amy Dorrit, the heroine, has spent her entire life caring for her imprisoned father. The novel portrays both the physical and psychological horrors of imprisonment and the hypocrisy of a society that allows them to continue.
Horace Walpole - The Castle of Otranto
All the familiar components of the Gothic novel - the ominous darkness and the howling winds, the dire portents and the ineluctable prophecy - originate in this tale of unnatural passions and unacknowledgeable guilt. The clap of thunder, the creaking door, and "the clank of more than mortal armour" reverberate in these pages as contrapuntal accents to the portrait that steps out of its frame, the statue that bleeds, the skeleton in a hermit's cowl that prays. It is in this setting that the story of Manfred, Prince of Otranto, unfolds. His eagerness to marry off his son Conrad is thwarted when a gigantic, supernatural helmet crushes the youth to death and sets off a fearful sequence of events. Written half-jokingly by the clever, dilettantish Walpole, this story started a fashion that brought the romantic, the uncanny, and the bizarre to the literature of Western Europe.