Leo Tolstoy's classic story of doomed love is one of the most admired novels in world literature. Generations of readers have been enthralled by his magnificent heroine, the unhappily married Anna Karenina, and her tragic affair with dashing Count Vronsky.
Franz Kafka's 1915 novella of unexplained horror and nightmarish transformation became a worldwide classic and remains a century later one of the most widely read works of fiction in the world. It is the story of traveling salesman Gregor Samsa, who wakes one morning to find himself transformed into a monstrous insect. This hugely influential work inspired George Orwell, Albert Camus, Jorge Louis Borges, and Ray Bradbury, while continuing to unsettle millions of readers.
Once upon a time, a teenaged Kate Winslet (The Reader, Titanic, Revolutionary Road) received a gift that would leave a lasting impression: a copy of Emile Zola's classic Thérèse Raquin. Six Academy Award nominations and one Best Actress award later, she steps behind the microphone to perform this haunting classic of passion and disaster.
"gripping and vivid"
Eugene Onegin is the master work of the poet whom Russians regard as the fountainhead of their literature. Set in 1820s imperial Russia, Pushkin's novel in verse follows the emotions and destiny of three men - Onegin the bored fop, Lensky the minor elegiast, and a stylized Pushkin himself - and the fates and affections of three women - Tatyana the provincial beauty, her sister Olga, and Pushkin's mercurial Muse.
Goethe's masterpiece and perhaps the greatest work in German literature, Faust has made the legendary German alchemist one of the central myths of the Western world. Here indeed is a monumental Faust, an audacious man boldly wagering with the devil, Mephistopheles, that no magic, sensuality, experience or knowledge can lead him to a moment he would wish to last forever.
One of the great works of the twentieth century, Kafka's The Trial has been read as a study of political power, a pessimistic religious parable, or a crime novel where the accused man is himself the problem. In it, a man wakes up one morning to find himself under arrest for an offence which is never explained. Faced with this ambiguous but threatening situation, Josef K. gradually succumbs to its psychological pressure.
"The Trial: Lost in a Sea of Pretentious Fishes."
Pope Joan traces the remarkable history of a young woman who, according to tradition, travelled across Europe in the ninth century disguised as a monk, acquired great learning and ruled over Christendom for two years as Pope John VIII before dying in childbirth. On the books first publication in Athens in 1886, it created a sensation; it was banned and its author excommunicated. The work became nevertheless soon established itself securely in Greek literature.
"I don't know if it's true, but it's very funny"
A collection of German fairy tales first published in 1812 by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, the famous Brothers Grimm. Their most famous tales are instantly recognizeable: "Rumpelstiltskin", "Snow White", "Rapunzel", "Cinderella", "Hansel and Gretel", and "The Frog Prince." The collection is often known today as "Grimms' Fairy Tales".
'I had begun, God knows why, tearing a corner off of everyday truth, begun seeing myself in another kind of mirror, and now the whole of the old, more or less comfortable truth was falling to pieces.' Confident and successful, New York advertising executive Ray Sanders takes what he wants from life. When he goes missing in a snowstorm in Connecticut one evening, his closest friend begins to reassess his loyalties, gambling with Ray's fate and his own future.
Based on the true story of Alexander Selkirk, who survived alone for almost five years on an uninhabited island off the coast of Chile, The Mysterious Island is considered by many to be Jules Verne's masterpiece. "Wide-eyed mid-nineteenth-century humanistic optimism in a breezy, blissfully readable translation by Stump" (Kirkus Reviews), here is the enthralling tale of five men and a dog who land in a balloon on a faraway, fantastic island of bewildering goings-on and their struggle to survive....
"in the words of Pencroft, Hoorah!"
Professor Charles Lexington led a placid and uneventful life until he made the mistake of discovering a way by which lead could be turned into gold. A Mr. Bowry volunteered to help the Professor capitalize the discovery, and from then on things began to happen. Before Professor Lexington got back to Earth he had been a match seller on the streets of London, an end man in a minstrel show, an inmate of a charitable institution, and a plumber.
"Belloc -+ Caulfield = fantastic"
Aristide Rougon, known as Saccard, is a failed property speculator determined to make his way once more in Paris. Unscrupulous, seductive, and with unbounded ambition, he schemes and manipulates his way to power. Financial undertakings in the Middle East lead to the establishment of a powerful new bank and speculation on the stock market; Saccard meanwhile conducts his love life as energetically as he does his business, and his empire is seemingly unstoppable.
A masterpiece of European imagination, The Sufferings of Young Werther is the classic Sturm und Drang tale of youthful angst and tragedy. The acclaimed translator Stanley Corngold brings new passion and precision to Goethe's timeless novel of obsessive love and madness in this magnificent new translation.
This classic tale is a fantastical fable of two dear friends - one of whom goes astray and is literally lost to the north woods, while the other undertakes an epic journey to rescue him. This charming, strange, and wonderful story is a timeless allegory about growing up and the challenges of staying true to one's self, and it served as the wintry inspiration for the blockbuster hit Frozen.
"Classic fairytale for Xmas"
A Signature Performance: Leelee Sobieski's Emma is sultry but vulnerable, offering a sympathetic rendering of the heroine and her plight, allowing the listener to draw his own conclusions about Madame Bovary in this cautionary tale of love, passion, and desperation.
In stories like "A Night in the Cemetery," "Night of Horror," and "Murder," not only will Chekhov's dark humor and twisted crimes satisfy even the most hardboiled of mystery fans, but readers will again appreciate the penetrating, absurdist insight into the human condition that only Chekhov can bring. Whether it is the death of a young amateur playwright at the hands of an editor who hates bad writing, or a drunken civil servant who ends up trapped in a graveyard, these stories overflow with the unforgettable characters and unique sensibility that will forever make Chekhov one of the most fascinating figures in literature.
A pairing of Tolstoy's most spiritual and existential works of fiction and nonfiction from the renowned translator of Turgenev and Chekhov. In the last two days of his own life, Peter Carson completed these new translations of The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Confession before he succumbed to cancer in January 2013. In Carson's shimmering prose, these two transcendent works are presented in their most faithful rendering in English.
A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public, commonly referred to as A Modest Proposal, is a Juvenalian satirical essay written and published anonymously by Jonathan Swift in 1729. Swift suggests in his essay that the impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling children as food. By doing this he mocks the authority of the British officials.
"A Classic Work of Satire Brought to Life"
This collection of 10 time-honored tales brims with enchantment, whimsy, and sly humor. Assembled by a renowned poet and student of Gaelic language and culture, this edition includes "The Birth of Bran", "The Little Brawl at Allen", "The Enchanted Cave of Cesh Corran", "Becuma of the White Skin", "Mongan's Frenzy", and other stories.
The great virtue of this volume is that it reveals a lighter, comic side of Sade. He was a man obsessed, like many great writers, and his obsessions are still present here: his hatred of all things pretentious, his loathing of a corrupt judicial system, his damning of hypocrisy and false piety. One of the great anarchists of all time, he was nevertheless far from mad (as many pretended) and these works of fiction shed another light on this most feverish of minds.
Ulysses is regarded by many as the single most important novel of the 20th century. It tells the story of one day in Dublin, June 16th 1904, largely through the eyes of Stephen Dedalus (Joyce's alter ego from Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man) and Leopold Bloom, an advertising salesman. Both begin a normal day, and both set off on a journey around the streets of Dublin, which eventually brings them into contact with one another.
The most influential work of the entire Spanish literary canon and a founding work of modern Western literature, Don Quixote is also one of the greatest works ever written. Hugely entertaining but also moving at times, this episodic novel is built on the fantasy life of one Alonso Quixano, who lives with his niece and housekeeper in La Mancha. Quixano, obsessed by tales of knight errantry, renames himself 'Don Quixote' and with his faithful servant Sancho Panza, goes on a series of quests.
"The Mother and Father of all novels"
On the eve of his marriage to the beautiful Mercedes, having that very day been made captain of his ship, the young sailor Edmond Dantès is arrested on a charge of treason, trumped up by jealous rivals. Incarcerated for many lonely years in the isolated and terrifying Chateau d'If near Marseille, he meticulously plans his brilliant escape and extraordinary revenge.
"The Count of Monte CristoNarrated by Bill Homewood"
A century after it first appeared, Crime and Punishment remains one of the most gripping psychological thrillers. A poverty-stricken young man, seeing his family making sacrifices for him, is faced with an opportunity to solve his financial problems with one simple but horrifying act: the murder of a pawnbroker. She is, he feels, just a parasite on society. But does the end justify the means? Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov makes his decision and then has to live with it.
"Last two words are missing which is a nuisance.."
The great adventure story tells of Odysseus, a veteran of the Trojan War, who - through a landscape peopled with monsters, sea nymphs, evil enchantresses, and vengeful gods - makes his tortuous way home to his faithful wife, Penelope. Shipwrecked numerous times, faced with apparently insurmountable obstacles, offered the temptations of ease, comfort, and even immortality, Odysseus remains steadfast and determined. Themes of courage and perseverance, fidelity and fortitude.
Often called the greatest novel ever written, War and Peace is at once an epic of the Napoleonic wars, a philosophical study, and a celebration of the Russian spirit. Tolstoy's genius is clearly seen in the multitude of characters in this massive chronicle, all of them fully realized and equally memorable.
"I knew I'd never read it"
Romance, treachery, courage...The Three Musketeers has it all! In one of the greatest adventure stories ever written, the dashing young swordsman D'Artagnan and his daredevil companions Athos, Aramis and Porthos, become embroiled in duels, love-tangles and sinister intrigues which threaten the future of King, Queen and France herself.
"A Blinking good read"
The story is told by a young 'unknown soldier' in the trenches of Flanders during the First World War. Through his eyes we see all the realities of war; under fire, on patrol, waiting in the trenches, at home on leave, and in hospitals and dressing stations.
"Right Down to the Dirt under the Fingernails"
Les Misérables is set in Paris after the French Revolution. In the sewers and backstreets, we encounter "the wolf-like tread of crime", and assassination for a few sous is all in a day's work. We weep with the unlucky and heart-broken Fantine, and we exult with the heroic revolutionaries of the barricades; but above all we thrill to the steadfast courage and nobility of soul of ex-convict Jean Valjean, always in danger from the relentless pursuit of the diabolical Inspector Javert.
"Wonderful though sound quality poor"
In Madame Bovary, one of the great novels of 19th-century France, Flaubert draws a deeply felt and sympathetic portrait of a woman who, having married a country doctor and found herself unhappy with a rural, genteel existence, longs for love and excitement. However, her aspirations and her desires to escape only bring her further disappointment and eventually lead to unexpected, painful consequences. Flaubert's critical portrait of bourgeois provincial life remains as powerful as ever
Set during the time of the Napoleonic Wars, this classic gives a satirical picture of a worldly society. The novel revolves around the exploits of the impoverished but beautiful and devious Becky Sharp.
"A glorious romp of a novel!"
An American frigate, tracking down a ship-sinking monster, faces not a living creature but an incredible invention - a fantastic submarine commanded by the mysterious Captain Nemo. Suddenly a devastating explosion leaves just three survivors, who find themselves prisoners inside Nemo's death ship on an underwater odyssey around the world from the pearl-laden waters of Ceylon to the icy dangers of the South Pole... as Captain Nemo, one of the greatest villians ever created, takes his revenge on all society. More than a marvelously thrilling drama, this is a perfect classic novel,
"The characters make up for all the marine biology"
Featuring a fictional version of himself - 'Marcel' - and a host of friends, acquaintances, and lovers, In Search of Lost Time is Proust's search for the key to the mysteries of memory, time, and consciousness. As he recalls his childhood days, the sad affair of Charles Swann and Odette de Crecy, his transition to manhood, the tortures of love and the ravages of war, he realises that the simplest of discoveries can lead to astonishing possibilities.
"BBC does Proust proud"
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is the classic working-class novel. It was written in 1906 by an impoverished house painter, Robert Tressell, and within its framework contains a manifesto for socialism. It tells of the appalling working conditions of a group of painters and decorators and their struggle to survive at the most basic level. It is moving, grimly humorous and tragic. It has sold over six million copies worldwide since it was published, and it has the power to change lives.
"Amazing performance of a classic"
Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment is universally regarded as one of literature's finest achievements, as the great Russian novelist explores the inner workings of a troubled intellectual. Raskolnikov, a nihilistic young man in the midst of a spiritual crisis, makes the fateful decision to murder a cruel pawnbroker, justifying his actions by relying on science and reason, and creating his own morality system. Dehumanized yet sympathetic, exhausted yet hopeful, Raskolnikov represents the best and worst elements of modern intellectualism. The aftermath of his crime and Petrovich's murder investigation result in an utterly compelling, truly unforgettable cat-and-mouse game. This stunning dramatization of Dostoevsky's magnum opus brings the slums of St. Petersburg and the demons of Raskolnikov's tortured mind vividly to life.
The adventure begins in London on Tuesday, October 1st, 1872, when rich British gentleman Phileas Fogg gets in an argument with a group of friends. He enters a wager that sets him on a race to make it around the world in 80 days. Although the trip begins as planned with his valet Jean Passepartout, he is quickly mistaken as a bank robber by Scotland Yard detective Fix. Now being pursued on his journey, Fogg must quickly travel in order to win the wager, see the world, and avoid being apprehended for a crime he did not commit in the ultimate adventure story.
"Chekhov is probably better known in Britain for his plays than for his prose. For many, however, it is his short stories that mark the high water of his genius. It might at first glance be hard for those not used to his style of narrative to see what the fuss is about - and fuss there is: for most authors and lovers of literature Chekhov is incomparably the greatest short story writer there ever was."
How remarkable that an Italian living in the 15th and 16th centuries should lend his name to a word still in common usage in the English language today. Nicolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) wrote only one major work as a gift for his ruling Prince, Lorenzo de Medici. Machiavelli held office as a senior civil servant for 14 years until the downfall of the Republic in 1512. No longer officially employed to impart advice, instead Machiavelli poured out his ideas and resentment in his writings.
"Machiavelli is Alive!"