David Ignatius — The Sun King — Videos

Posted on January 7, 2017. Filed under: American History, Art, Art, Blogroll, Book, Books, Business, Crisis, Employment, Entertainment, Faith, Family, Fiction, Freedom, history, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, People, Philosophy, Photos, Religious, Speech | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Sun King

Image result for the sun king book cover david ignatius

David Ignatius, (The Washington Post)

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David Ignatius interviewed about his book “BloodMoney”

THE SUN KING

“A thoroughly involving narrative with a sharp, satiric edge, Ignatius’s contemporary take on the tragic confluence of love, power and ambition is a sophisticated look at the media mystique and the movers and shakers in our nation’s capitol.” Publishers Weekly

The Sun KingWashington Post columnist David Ignatius is one of the most highly regarded writers in the capital, an influential journalist and acclaimed novelist with a keen eye for the subtleties of power and politics. In The Sun King, Ignatius has written a love story for our time, a spellbinding portrait of the collision of ambition and sexual desire.

Sandy Galvin is a billionaire with a rare talent for taking risks and making people happy. Galvin arrives in a Washington suffering under a cloud of righteous misery and proceeds to turn the place upside down. He buys the city’s most powerful newspaper, The Washington Sun and Tribune, and wields it like a sword, but in his path stands his old Harvard flame, Candace Ridgway, a beautiful and icy journalist known to her colleagues as the Mistress of Fact. Their fateful encounter, tangled in the mysteries of their past, is narrated by David Cantor, an acid-tongued reporter and Jerry Springer devotee who is drawn inexorably into the Sun King’s orbit and is transformed by this unpredictable man.

In this wise and poignant novel, love is the final frontier for a generation of baby boomers at midlife–still young enough to reach for their dreams but old enough to glimpse the prospect of loss. The Sun King can light up a room, but can he melt the worldly bonds that constrain the Mistress of Fact? In The Sun King, David Ignatius proves with perceptive wit and haunting power that the phrase “Washington love story” isn’t an oxymoron.


Reviews

“A splendid, star-crossed Gatsby update that roasts on the same skewer Washington’s power elite and the journalists they so easily seduce… Fitzgerald’s boozy gloom brightened with social satire, bittersweet romance, and a comic send-up of all that newspapers hold dear, from a man who’s been there.” Kirkus

“The emotional integrity at the heart of this novel is searingly honest and makes for a wise and satisfying work.” — Library Journal

http://davidignatius.com/the-sun-king/

 

David Ignatius

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
David Ignatius
David ignatius.jpg
Born May 26, 1950 (age 66)
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Occupation Novelist, Journalist, Analyst
Language English
Nationality American-Armenian
Education St. Albans School
Harvard University
King’s College, Cambridge
Genre Suspense, Espionage fiction, Thriller
Notable works Body of Lies, Agents of Innocence, The Increment
Spouse Dr. Eve Thornberg Ignatius

David R. Ignatius (May 26, 1950), is an American journalist and novelist. He is an associate editor and columnist for The Washington Post. He also co-hosts PostGlobal, an online discussion of international issues at Washingtonpost.com, with Fareed Zakaria. He has written nine novels, including Body of Lies, which director Ridley Scott adapted into a film. He is a former Adjunct Lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and currently Senior Fellow to the Future of Diplomacy Program. He has received numerous honors, including the Legion of Honor from the French Republic, the Urbino World Press Award from the Italian Republic, and a lifetime achievement award from the International Committee for Foreign Journalism.

Personal life

Ignatius was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[1] His parents are Nancy Sharpless (née Weiser) and Paul Robert Ignatius, a former Secretary of the Navy (1967–69), president of The Washington Post, and former president of the Air Transport Association.[2][3] He is of Armenian descent on his father’s side, with ancestors from Harput, Elazığ, Turkey;[4][5] his mother, a descendant of Puritan minister Cotton Mather, is of German and English descent.[6]

Ignatius was raised in Washington, D.C., where he attended St. Albans School. He then attended Harvard College, from which he graduated magna cum laude in 1973. Ignatius was awarded a Frank Knox Fellowship from Harvard University and studied at King’s College, Cambridge, where he received a diploma in economics.[7]

He is married to Dr. Eve Thornberg Ignatius, with whom he has three daughters.[7]

Career

Journalism

After completing his education, Ignatius was an editor at the Washington Monthly before moving to the Wall Street Journal, where he spent ten years as a reporter. At the Journal, Ignatius first covered the steel industry in Pittsburgh. He then moved to Washington where he covered the Justice Department, the CIA, and the Senate. Ignatius was the Journal’s Middle East correspondent between 1980 and 1983, during which time he covered the wars in Lebanon and Iraq. He returned to Washington in 1984, becoming chief diplomatic correspondent. In 1985 he received the Edward Weintal Prize for Diplomatic Reporting.

In 1986, Ignatius left the Journal for the Washington Post. From 1986 to 1990, he was the editor of the “Outlook” section. From 1990 to 1992 he was foreign editor, and oversaw the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. From 1993 to 1999, he served as assistant managing editor in charge of business news. In 1999, he began writing a twice-weekly column on global politics, economics and international affairs.

In 2000, he became the executive editor of the International Herald Tribune in Paris. He returned to the Post in 2002 when the Post sold its interest in the Herald Tribune. Ignatius continued to write his column once a week during his tenure at the Herald Tribune, resuming twice-weekly columns after his return to the Post. His column is syndicated worldwide by The Washington Post Writers Group. The column won the 2000 Gerald Loeb Award for Commentary and a 2004 Edward Weintal Prize. In writing his column, Ignatius frequently travels to the Middle East and interviews leaders such as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the Lebanese military organization Hezbollah.

Ignatius’s writing has also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Foreign Affairs, The New Republic, Talk Magazine, and The Washington Monthly.

Ignatius’s coverage of the CIA has been criticized as being defensive and overly positive. Melvin A. Goodman, a 42-year CIA veteran, Johns Hopkins professor, and senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, has called Ignatius “the mainstream media’s apologist for the Central Intelligence Agency,” citing as examples Ignatius’s criticism of the Obama administration for investigating the CIA’s role in the use of torture in interrogations during the Iraq War, and his charitable defense of the agency’s motivations for outsourcing such activities to private contractors.[8][9][10][10] Columnist Glenn Greenwald has leveled similar criticism against Ignatius.[11]

On a number of occasions, however, Ignatius criticized the CIA and the U.S. government’s approach on intelligence.[12] He was also critical of the Bush administration’s torture policies.[13]

On March 12, 2014, he wrote a two-page descriptive opinion on Putin’s strengths and weaknesses which was published in the Journal and Courier soon after.[14]

On March 26, 2014, Ignatius wrote a piece in the Washington Post on the crisis in Ukraine and how the world will deal with Putin‘s actions. Ignatius’ theory of history is that it is a chaos and that “good” things are not pre-ordained, “decisive turns in history can result from ruthless political leaders, from weak or confused adversaries, or sometimes just from historical accident. Might doesn’t make right, but it does create ‘facts on the ground’ that are hard to reverse.” His piece mentioned 4-star USAF General Philip M. Breedlove, the current NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya. Putin, says Ignatius, “leads what by most political and economic indicators is a weak nation—a declining power, not a rising one.” He places great hope in Angela Merkel.[15]

Novels

In addition to being a journalist, Ignatius is also a successful novelist. He has written seven novels in the suspense/espionage fiction genre, which draw on his experience and interest in foreign affairs and his knowledge of intelligence operations. Reviewers have compared Ignatius’ work to classic spy novels like those by Graham Greene. Ignatius’s novels have also been praised for their realism; his first novel, Agents of Innocence, was at one point described by the CIA on its website as “a novel but not fiction”.[16] His 1999 novel The Sun King, a re-working of The Great Gatsby set in late-20th-century Washington, is his only departure from the espionage genre.[citation needed]

His 2007 novel Body of Lies was adapted into a film by director Ridley Scott. It starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer has acquired the rights to Ignatius’s seventh novel, The Increment.[citation needed]

The Director, a spy thriller about a new CIA director and cyber-espionage, is his latest novel.

Opera

In May 2015, MSNBC‘s Morning Joe announced that Ignatius would be teaming up with noted composer Mohammed Fairouz to create a political opera called ‘The New Prince’ based on the teachings of Niccolo Machiavelli. The opera was commissioned by the Dutch National Opera.[17] Speaking with The Washington Post, Ignatius described the broad themes of the opera in terms of three chapters: “The first chapter is about revolution and disorder. Revolutions, like children, are lovable when young, and they become much less lovable as they age. The second lesson Machiavelli tells us is about sexual obsession, among leaders. And then the final chapter is basically is the story of Dick Cheney [and] bin Laden, the way in which those two ideas of what we’re obliged to do as leaders converged in such a destructive way.” [18]

Other

In 2006, he wrote a foreword to the American edition of Moazzam Begg’s Enemy Combatant, a book about the author’s experiences as a detainee at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. In 2008, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft, and Ignatius published America and the World: Conversations on the Future of American Foreign Policy, a book that collected conversations, moderated by Ignatius, between Brzezinski and Scowcroft. Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times named it one of the ten best books of 2008.[19]

Ignatius has been trustee of the German Marshall Fund since 2000. He is a member of the Council of the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London and has been a director of its U.S. affiliate since 2006. He has been a member of the Council on Foreign Relations since 1984. From 1984 to 1990, he was a member of the Governing Board of St. Albans School.[citation needed]

In 2011, Ignatius held a contest for Washington Post readers to write a spy novel. Ignatius wrote the first chapter and challenged fans to continue the story. Over eight weeks, readers sent in their versions of what befalls CIA agents Alex Kassem and Sarah Mancini and voted for their favorite entries. Ignatius chose the winning entry for each round, resulting in a six-chapter Web serial. Winners of the subsequent chapters included: Chapter 2 “Sweets for the Sweet” by Colin Flaherty; Chapter 3: “Abu Talib” by Jill Borak; Chapter 4. “Go Hard or Go Home” by Vineet Daga; Chapter 5: “Inside Out” by Colin Flaherty; and Chapter 6: “Onward!” by Gina ‘Miel’ Ard.[20]

In early 2012, Ignatius served as an Adjunct Lecturer at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University teaching an international affairs course titled: “Understanding the Arab Spring from the Ground Up: Events in the Middle East, their Roots and Consequences for the United States”. He is currently serving as a Senior Fellow at the Future of Diplomacy Program at Harvard University.[21]

Controversy

2009 Davos incident

At the 2009 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Ignatius moderated a discussion including then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Israeli President Shimon Peres, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa. As the December 2008–January 2009 conflict in Gaza was still fresh in memory, the tone of the discussion was lively.[22] Ignatius gave Erdoğan 12 minutes to speak, and gave the Israeli President 25 minutes to respond.[22] Erdoğan objected to Peres’ tone and raised voice during the Israeli President’s impassioned defense of his nation’s actions. Ignatius gave Erdoğan a minute to respond (who repeatedly insisted “One minute”, in English), and when Erdoğan went over his allocated minute, Ignatius repeatedly cut the Turkish PM off, telling him and the audience that they were out of time and that they had to adjourn to a dinner.[23] Erdoğan seemed visibly frustrated as he said confrontationally to the Israeli President, “When it comes to killing, you know well how to kill”.[22] Ignatius put his arm on Erdoğan’s shoulder and continued to tell him that his time was up. Erdoğan then gathered his papers and walked out, saying, “I do not think I will be coming back to Davos after this because you do not let me speak.”[23]

Writing about the incident later, Ignatius said that he found himself “in the middle of a fight where there was no longer a middle”. “Because the Israel–Palestinian conflict provokes such heated emotions on both sides of the debate,” Ignatius concluded, “it was impossible for anyone to be seen as an impartial mediator”. Ignatius wrote that his experience elucidated a larger truth about failure of the United States’ attempt to serve as an impartial mediator in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. “American leaders must give up the notion that they can transform the Middle East and its culture through military force”, Ignatius wrote, and instead “get out of the elusive middle, step across the threshold of anger, and sit down and talk” with the Middle Eastern leaders.[24]

Confounding Allende and Castro

On December 17, 2016, Ignatius drew negative attention when he appeared on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday

http://www.npr.org/2016/12/17/505965392/obama-suggests-putin-had-role-as-u-s-recasts-antagonistic-relationship-with-russ

and was asked by host Scott Simon “Is this a new Cold War? You covered the last one.” As part of his response, Ignatius said:

“This is the kind of thing United States used to do to other countries. We were famous for our covert actions, destabilizing their political systems. … I saw a little piece from a Cuban who lived during the time when the CIA destabilized the Cuban president, Allende.” Simon intervened to correct Ignatius, saying: “Chilean president – Allende – I think.” Ignatius responded “Yes. Forgive me. Yes, the Chilean president.” Ignatius then continued as if there had been no confusion, leaving listeners to wonder when he meant to refer to Cuba and Castro, or to Chile and Allende.

Works

Novels

Non-fiction

  • America and the World: Conversations on the Future of American Foreign Policy. Basic Books; First Trade Paper Edition. 2009. ISBN 0-465-01801-7.
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Tom Wolfe — The Right Stuff — Videos

Posted on December 10, 2016. Filed under: American History, Art, Articles, Blogroll, Book, Books, College, Comedy, Communications, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Fiction, Heroes, history, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, media, Money, Movies, Movies, Music, People, Philosophy, Photos, Press, Rants, Raves, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Video, War, Wisdom, World War II, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

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Image result for tom wolf the right stuff

Image result for tom wolf the right stuff

Image result for tom wolf the right stuff

Image result for tom wolf the right stuff

Image result for tom wolf the right stuff

The Right Stuff – The Bell X-1 (with Levon Helm as CPT Jack Ridley)

The Right Stuff (Part 2)

The Right Stuff (Part 3)

The Right Stuff (Part 4)

The Right Stuff (Part 5)

The Right Stuff (Part 6)

The Right Stuff (Part 7)

The Right Stuff (book)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Right Stuff
The Right Stuff (book).jpg

First edition
Author Tom Wolfe
Country United States
Language English
Genre New Journalism
Non-fiction
Publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date
1979
Media type Print (hardcover & paperback)
Pages 436 pages
ISBN 0-374-25032-4
OCLC 5007334
629.4/0973 19
LC Class TL789.8.U5 W64 1979

The Right Stuff is a 1979 book by Tom Wolfe about the pilots engaged in U.S. postwar research with experimental rocket-powered, high-speed aircraft as well as documenting the stories of the first Project Mercury astronauts selected for the NASA space program. The Right Stuff is based on extensive research by Wolfe, who interviewed test pilots, the astronauts and their wives, among others. The story contrasts the “Mercury Seven[1] and their families with test pilots such as Chuck Yeager, who was considered by many contemporaries as the best of them all, but who was never selected as an astronaut.

Wolfe wrote that the book was inspired by the desire to find out why the astronauts accepted the danger of space flight. He recounts the enormous risks that test pilots were already taking, and the mental and physical characteristics—the titular “right stuff”—required for and reinforced by their jobs. Wolfe likens the astronauts to “single combat warriors” from an earlier era who received the honor and adoration of their people before going forth to fight on their behalf.

The 1983 film The Right Stuff is adapted from the book.

Writing and publication

First-state dust jacket, showing initial design never released in a public edition[2]

In 1972 Jann Wenner, the editor of Rolling Stone assigned Wolfe to cover the launch of NASA’s last moon mission, Apollo 17. Wolfe became fascinated with the astronauts, and his competitive spirit compelled him to try to outdo Norman Mailer‘s nonfiction book about the first moon mission, Of a Fire on the Moon. He published a four-part series for Rolling Stone in 1973 titled “Post-Orbital Remorse”, about the depression that some astronauts experienced after having been in space. After the series, Wolfe began researching the whole of the space program, in what became a seven-year project from which he took time to write The Painted Word, a book on art, and to complete Mauve Gloves & Madmen, Clutter & Vine, a collection of shorter pieces.[3]

In 1977 he returned to his astronaut book full-time. Wolfe originally planned to write a complete history of the space program, though after writing through the Mercury program, he felt that his work was complete and that it captured the astronauts’ ethos — the “right stuff” that astronauts and test pilots of the 1940s and 1950s shared — the unspoken code of bravery and machismo that compelled these men to ride on top of dangerous rockets. While conducting research, he consulted with General Chuck Yeager and, after receiving a comprehensive review of his manuscript, was convinced that test pilots like Yeager should form the backdrop of the period. In the end, Yeager becomes a personification of the many postwar test pilots and their “right stuff.”[4] The phrase itself may have originated in the Joseph Conrad story “Youth”, where it was used.

The Right Stuff was published in 1979 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and became Wolfe’s best selling book yet.[citation needed] It was praised by most critics, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and won the National Book Award for Nonfiction.[5][6]

In the foreword to a new edition, published in 1983 when the film adaptation was released, Wolfe wrote that his “book grew out of some ordinary curiosity” about what “makes a man willing to sit up on top of an enormous Roman candle… and wait for someone to light the fuse.”[7]

Book

The story is more about the space race than space exploration in general. The Soviet Union‘s early space efforts are mentioned only as background, focusing entirely on an early portion of the U.S. space program. Only Project Mercury, the first operational manned space-flight program, is covered. The Mercury Seven were Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton. Emphasis is given to the personal stories of the astronauts and their wives rather than the technical aspects of space travel and the flights themselves.

The storyline also involves the political reasons for putting people into space, asserting that the Mercury astronauts were actually a burden to the program and were only sent up for promotional reasons. Reasons for including living beings in spacecraft are barely touched upon, but the first option considered was to use a chimpanzee (and, indeed, chimpanzees were sent up first).

Another option considered were athletes already accustomed to physical stress, such as circus trapeze artists. Wolfe states that President Dwight D. Eisenhower, however, insisted on pilots, even though the first crew members would not actually fly the spacecraft. When Gus Grissom lands at sea and exits his space capsule, saving the capsule seems more important to the recovery team than saving the pilot because of the value of the data.

Wolfe contrasts the Seven with the Edwards AFB test pilots, among whom was Chuck Yeager, who was shut out of the astronaut program after NASA officials decided to use college-degreed pilots, not ones who gained their commissions as enlisted men, such as participants in the USAAF Flying Sergeants Program in World War II. Chuck Yeager spent time with Tom Wolfe explaining accident reports “that Wolfe kept getting all wrong.” Publishing insiders say these sessions between Wolfe and Yeager led Wolfe to highlight Yeager’s character, presence, thoughts, and anecdotes throughout the book. As an example, Yeager prides his speech to the Society of Test Pilots that the first rider in the Mercury development program would be a monkey, not a real test pilot, and Wolfe plays this drama out on the angst felt by the Mercury Astronauts over those remarks. Yeager himself downplayed the theory of “the right stuff,” attributing his survival of potential catastrophes to simply knowing his airplane thoroughly, along with some good luck.

Another test pilot highlighted in the book is Scott Crossfield. Crossfield and Yeager were fierce but friendly rivals for speed and altitude records.

Film adaptation

A 3-hour, 13-minute film stars Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid, Fred Ward, Barbara Hershey, Kim Stanley, Levon Helm, Veronica Cartwright, Pamela Reed, Lance Henriksen, and the real Chuck Yeager in a cameo appearance. NFL Hall of Famer Anthony Muñoz also has a small role, playing “Gonzalez”. It features a score by composer Bill Conti.

The screenplay was adapted by Philip Kaufman from the book, with some contributions from screenwriter William Goldman (Goldman dissociated himself with the film after quarrelling with Kaufman about the story). The film was also directed by Kaufman.

While the movie took liberties with certain historical facts as part of “dramatic license”, criticism focused on one: the portrayal of Gus Grissom panicking when his Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft sank following splashdown. Most historians, as well as engineers working for or with NASA and many of the related contractor agencies within the aerospace industry, are now convinced that the premature detonation of the spacecraft hatch’s explosive bolts was caused by failure not associated with direct human error or deliberate detonation at the hands of Grissom.[citation needed]

This determination had, in fact, been made long before the movie was filmed, and even Tom Wolfe‘s book only states that this possibility was considered, not that it was actually judged as being the cause of the accident. In fact, Grissom was assigned to command the first flights of both Gemini and Apollo. Ironically, Grissom died in the Apollo 1 fire because there was no quick-opening hatch on the Block 1 Apollo Command Module – a design choice made because NASA had determined that the explosion in the hatch on Grissom’s Liberty Bell 7 had been most likely self-initiated.[citation needed]

Another fact that had been altered in the film was the statement by Trudy Cooper, who commented that she “wondered how they would’ve felt if every time their husband went in to make a deal, there was a one-in-four chance he wouldn’t come out of that meeting.” According to the book, this actually reflected the 23% chance of dying during a 20-year career as a normal pilot. For a test pilot, these odds were higher, at 53%, but were still considerably less than the movie implied. In addition, the movie merely used the fictional Mrs. Cooper as a vehicle for the statement; the real Mrs. Cooper is not known to have said this.[8]

Wolfe made no secret that he disliked the film, especially because of changes from his original book. William Goldman, involved in early drafts of the script, also disliked the choices made by Kaufman, saying in his book Adventures in the Screen Trade that “Phil [Kaufman]’s heart was with Yeager. And not only that, he felt the astronauts, rather than being heroic, were really minor leaguers, mechanical men of no particular quality, not great pilots at all, simply the product of hype.”[9] Critics, however, generally were favorable toward the film.

References

Citations

  1. Jump up^ Wolfe 2001, p. 143. Note: Wolfe uses this term exactly once.
  2. Jump up^ The Right Stuff.” ABE books. Retrieved: 3 November 2009.
  3. Jump up^ Ragen 2001, pp. 22–26.
  4. Jump up^ Wolfe 1979, p. 368.
  5. Jump up^ Ragen 2001, p. 26–28.
  6. Jump up^ “National Book Awards – 1980”. National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-02-21.
    This was the award for General Nonfiction (hardcover) during a period in National Book Awards history when there were many nonfiction subcategories.
  7. Jump up^ Wolfe 2001, Foreword.
  8. Jump up^ Wolfe 1979, p. 22.
  9. Jump up^ Goldman 1983

Bibliography

  • Bryan, C.D.B. “The Right Stuff (review).” New York Times, 23 September 1979.
  • Charity, Tom. The Right Stuff (BFI Modern Classics). London: British Film Institute, 1991. ISBN 0-85170-624-X.
  • Goldman, William (1989). Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting (reissue ed.). Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-39117-4.
  • Ragen, Brian Abel, ed. Tom Wolfe: A Critical Companion. West Port, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2001. ISBN 0-313-31383-0.
  • Wolfe, Tom. The Right Stuff. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1979, ISBN 0-374-25032-4.
  • Wolfe, Tom. The Right Stuff. New York: Bantam, 1979, ISBN 0-553-24063-3.
  • Wolfe, Tom. The Right Stuff. New York: Bantam, 2001, 1979, ISBN 0-553-38135-0.

External links

Tom Wolfe

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Not to be confused with Thomas Wolfe or Tom Wolf (politician).
Tom Wolfe
Wolfe at White House.jpg

Wolfe at the White House on March 22, 2004
Born Thomas Kennerly Wolfe, Jr.
March 2, 1931 (age 85)
Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
Occupation Journalist, author
Language English
Nationality American
Period 1959–present
Literary movement New Journalism
Notable works The Painted Word, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, The Right Stuff, A Man in Full, Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, The Bonfire of the Vanities, I Am Charlotte Simmons, Back to Blood
Spouse Sheila Wolfe
Children 2

Thomas KennerlyTomWolfe, Jr. (born March 2, 1931)[1] is an American author and journalist, best known for his association with and influence over the New Journalism literary movement, in which literary techniques are used extensively and traditional values of journalistic objectivity and evenhandedness are rejected. He began his career as a regional newspaper reporter in the 1950s, but achieved national prominence in the 1960s following the publication of such best-selling books as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (a highly experimental account of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters), and two collections of articles and essays, Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers and The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby. His first novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities, published in 1987, was met with critical acclaim, became a commercial success, and was adapted as a major motion picture (directed by Brian De Palma).

Early life and education

Wolfe was born in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Louise (née Agnew), a landscape designer, and Thomas Kennerly Wolfe, Sr., an agronomist.[2][3]

Wolfe grew up on Gloucester Road in the historic Richmond North Side neighborhood of Sherwood Park. He recounts some of his childhood memories of growing up there in a foreword to a book about the nearby historic Ginter Park neighborhood.

Wolfe was student council president, editor of the school newspaper and a star baseball player at St. Christopher’s School, an Episcopalian all-boys school in Richmond, Virginia.

Upon graduation in 1947, he turned down admission to Princeton University to attend Washington and Lee University, both all-male schools at the time; at Washington and Lee, Wolfe was a member of the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity. Wolfe majored in English and practiced his writing outside the classroom as well. He was the sports editor of the college newspaper and helped found a literary magazine, Shenandoah. Of particular influence was his professor Marshall Fishwick, a teacher of American studies educated at Yale. More in the tradition of anthropology than literary scholarship, Fishwick taught his classes to look at the whole of a culture, including those elements considered profane. The very title of Wolfe’s undergraduate thesis, “A Zoo Full of Zebras: Anti-Intellectualism in America,” evinced his fondness for words and aspirations toward cultural criticism. Wolfe graduated cum laude in 1951.

Wolfe had continued playing baseball as a pitcher and had begun to play semi-professionally while still in college. In 1952 he earned a tryout with the New York Giants but was cut after three days, which Wolfe blamed on his inability to throw good fastballs. Wolfe abandoned baseball and instead followed his professor Fishwick’s example, enrolling in Yale University‘s American studies doctoral program. His PhD thesis was titled The League of American Writers: Communist Organizational Activity Among American Writers, 1929–1942.[4] In the course of his research, Wolfe interviewed many writers, including Malcolm Cowley, Archibald MacLeish, and James T. Farrell.[5] A biographer remarked on the thesis: “Reading it, one sees what has been the most baleful influence of graduate education on many who have suffered through it: it deadens all sense of style.”[6] His thesis was originally rejected but he finally passed by rewriting it being objective instead of subjective. Upon leaving Yale he wrote a friend explaining through expletives his personal opinions about his thesis.

Journalism and New Journalism

Though Wolfe was offered teaching jobs in academia, he opted to work as a reporter. In 1956, while still preparing his thesis, Wolfe became a reporter for the Springfield Union in Springfield, Massachusetts. Wolfe finished his thesis in 1957 and in 1959 was hired by The Washington Post. Wolfe has said that part of the reason he was hired by the Post was his lack of interest in politics. The Post’s city editor was “amazed that Wolfe preferred cityside to Capitol Hill, the beat every reporter wanted.” He won an award from The Newspaper Guild for foreign reporting in Cuba in 1961 and also won the Guild’s award for humor. While there, he experimented with fiction-writing techniques in feature stories.[7]

In 1962, Wolfe left Washington for New York City, taking a position with the New York Herald Tribune as a general assignment reporter and feature writer. The editors of the Herald Tribune, including Clay Felker of the Sunday section supplement New York magazine, encouraged their writers to break the conventions of newspaper writing.[8] During the 1962 New York City newspaper strike, Wolfe approached Esquire magazine about an article on the hot rod and custom car culture of Southern California. He struggled with the article until finally a desperate editor, Byron Dobell, suggested that Wolfe send him his notes so they could piece the story together.

Wolfe procrastinated until, on the evening before the article was due, he typed a letter to Dobell explaining what he wanted to say on the subject, ignoring all journalistic conventions. Dobell’s response was to remove the salutation “Dear Byron” from the top of the letter and publish it intact as reportage. The result, published in 1963, was “There Goes (Varoom! Varoom!) That Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby.” The article was widely discussed—loved by some, hated by others—and helped Wolfe publish his first book, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, a collection of his writings in the Herald-Tribune, Esquire, and other publications.[9]

This was what Wolfe called New Journalism, in which some journalists and essayists experimented with a variety of literary techniques, mixing them with the traditional ideal of dispassionate, even-handed reporting. More specifically, Wolfe experimented with four literary devices not normally associated with feature writing—scene-by-scene construction, extensive dialogue, multiple points of view, and detailed description of one’s status-life symbols (the materialistic choices one makes)—to produce this stylized form of journalism, which would later be commonly referred to as literary journalism.[10] Of status symbols, Wolfe has said, “I think every living moment of a human being’s life, unless the person is starving or in immediate danger of death in some other way, is controlled by a concern for status.”[11]

Wolfe also championed what he called “saturation reporting,” a reportorial approach where the journalist “shadows” and observes the subject over an extended period of time. “To pull it off,” says Wolfe, “you casually have to stay with the people you are writing about for long stretches . . . long enough so that you are actually there when revealing scenes take place in their lives.”[12] Saturation reporting differs from “in-depth” and “investigative” reporting, which involve the direct interviewing of numerous sources and/or the extensive analyzing of external documents relating to the story. Saturation reporting, according to communication professor Richard Kallan, “entails a more complex set of relationships wherein the journalist becomes an involved, more fully reactive witness, no longer distanced and detached from the people and events reported.”[13]

One of the most striking examples of New Journalism is Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. The book, an account of the adventures of the Merry Pranksters, a famous sixties counter-culture group, was highly experimental in its use of onomatopoeia, free association, and eccentric punctuation—such as multiple exclamation marks and italics—to convey the manic ideas and personalities of Ken Kesey and his followers.

In addition to his own forays into this new style of journalism, Wolfe edited a collection of New Journalism with E.W. Johnson, published in 1973 and titled The New Journalism. This book brought together pieces from Truman Capote, Hunter S. Thompson, Norman Mailer, Gay Talese, Joan Didion, and several other well-known writers with the common theme of journalism that incorporated literary techniques and that could be considered literature.[14]

Non-fiction books

In 1965, a collection of his articles in this style was published under the title The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, and Wolfe’s fame grew. A second volume of articles, The Pump House Gang, followed in 1968. Wolfe wrote on popular culture, architecture, politics, and other topics that underscored, among other things, how American life in the 1960s had been transformed by post-WWII economic prosperity. His defining work from this era is The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (published the same day as The Pump House Gang in 1968), which for many epitomized the 1960s. Although a conservative in many ways and certainly not a hippie (in 2008, he claimed never to have used LSD and to have tried marijuana only once[15]) Wolfe became one of the notable figures of the decade.

In 1970, he published two essays in book form as Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers: “Radical Chic,” a biting account of a party given by Leonard Bernstein to raise money for the Black Panther Party, and “Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers,” about the practice of using racial intimidation (“mau-mauing”) to extract funds from government welfare bureaucrats (“flak catchers”). The phrase “radical chic” soon became a popular derogatory term for upper-class leftism. Published in 1977, Mauve Gloves & Madmen, Clutter & Vine included one of Wolfe’s more famous essays, “The Me Decade and the Third Great Awakening.”

Back row – Shepard, Grissom, Cooper; Front row – Schirra, Slayton, Glenn, Carpenter.
The astronauts of the Mercury Seven were the subject of The Right Stuff.

In 1979, Wolfe published The Right Stuff, an account of the pilots who became America’s first astronauts. Famously following their training and unofficial, even foolhardy, exploits, he likened these heroes to “single combat champions” of a bygone era, going forth to battle in the space race on behalf of their country. In 1983, the book was adapted as a successful feature film.

In 2016 Wolfe published The Kingdom of Speech, which is a controversial[16] critique of Charles Darwin and Noam Chomsky.[17]

Art critiques

Wolfe also wrote two highly skeptical social histories of modern art and modern architecture, The Painted Word and From Bauhaus to Our House, in 1975 and 1981, respectively. The Painted Word mocked the excessive insularity of the art world and its dependence on what he saw as faddish critical theory, while From Bauhaus to Our House explored the negative effects of the Bauhaus style on the evolution of modern architecture.[18]

Made for TV movie

A fictional television movie appeared on PBS in 1977, “Tom Wolfe’s Los Angeles”, a suitably satirical story set in Los Angeles. Wolfe appears in the movie himself.[19][20]

Novels

Throughout his early career, Wolfe had planned to write a novel that would capture the wide spectrum of American society. Among his models was William Makepeace Thackeray‘s Vanity Fair, which described the society of 19th century England. Wolfe remained occupied writing nonfiction books and contributing to Harper’s until 1981, when he ceased his other work to concentrate on the novel.

Wolfe began researching the novel by observing cases at the Manhattan Criminal Court and shadowing members of the Bronx homicide squad. While the research came easily, the writing did not immediately follow. To overcome his writer’s block, Wolfe wrote to Jann Wenner, editor of Rolling Stone, to propose an idea drawn from Charles Dickens and Thackeray. The Victorian novelists that Wolfe viewed as his models had often written their novels in serial installments. Wenner offered Wolfe around $200,000 to serialize his work.[21] The deadline pressure gave him the motivation he had hoped for, and from July 1984 to August 1985 each biweekly issue of Rolling Stone contained a new installment. Wolfe was later not happy with his “very public first draft”[22] and thoroughly revised his work. Even Sherman McCoy, the novel’s central character, changed: originally a writer, the book version cast McCoy as a bond salesman. Wolfe researched and revised for two years, and his The Bonfire of the Vanities was published in 1987. The book was a commercial and critical success, spending weeks on bestseller lists and earning praise from much of the literary establishment on which Wolfe had long heaped scorn.[23]

Because of the success of Wolfe’s first novel, there was widespread interest in his second. This novel took him more than 11 years to complete; A Man in Full was published in 1998. The book’s reception was not universally favorable, though it received glowing reviews in Time, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere. An enormous initial printing of 1.2 million copies was announced and the book stayed at number one on the New York Times bestseller list for ten weeks. John Updike wrote a critical review for The New Yorker complaining that the novel “amounts to entertainment, not literature, even literature in a modest aspirant form.” This touched off an intense war of words in the print and broadcast media between Wolfe and Updike, John Irving, and Norman Mailer. In 2001, Wolfe published an essay referring to these three authors as “My Three Stooges.”

After publishing Hooking Up (a collection of short pieces, including the 1997 novella Ambush at Fort Bragg) in 2001, he followed up with his third novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons (2004), which chronicles the decline of a poor, bright scholarship student from Alleghany County, North Carolina, in the context of snobbery, materialism, institutionalised anti-intellectualism and sexual promiscuity she finds at a prestigious contemporary American university. The novel met with a mostly tepid response by critics but won praise from many social conservatives, who saw the book’s account of college sexuality as revealing of a disturbing moral decline. The novel won a Bad Sex in Fiction Award from the London-based Literary Review, a prize established “to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel”. Wolfe later explained that such sexual references were deliberately clinical.

Wolfe has written that his goal in writing fiction is to document contemporary society in the tradition of John Steinbeck, Charles Dickens, and Émile Zola.

In early 2008, it was announced that Wolfe was leaving his longtime publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. His fourth novel, Back to Blood, was published in October 2012 by Little, Brown. According to The New York Times, Wolfe was paid close to US$7 million for the book.[24] According to the publisher, Back to Blood is about “class, family, wealth, race, crime, sex, corruption and ambition in Miami, the city where America’s future has arrived first.”[25]

Recurring themes

Several themes are present in much of Wolfe’s writing, including his novels. One such theme is male power-jockeying, which is a major part of The Bonfire of the Vanities, A Man in Full, and I Am Charlotte Simmons as well as several of his journalistic pieces. Male characters in his fiction often suffer from feelings of extreme inadequacy or hugely inflated egos, sometimes alternating between both. He satirizes racial politics, most commonly between whites and blacks; he also highlights class divisions between characters. Men’s fashions often play a large part in his stories, being used to indicate economic status. Much of his recent work also addresses neuroscience, a subject which he admitted a fascination with in “Sorry, Your Soul Just Died,” one of the essays in Hooking Up, and which played a large role in I Am Charlotte Simmons—the title character being a student of neuroscience, and characters’ thought processes, such as fear, humiliation and lust, frequently being described in the terminology of brain chemistry. Wolfe also frequently gives detailed descriptions of various aspects of his characters’ anatomies.[26]

Two of his novels (A Man in Full and I Am Charlotte Simmons) feature major characters (Conrad Hensley and Jojo Johanssen, respectively) who are set on paths to self-discovery by reading classical Roman and Greek philosophy.

Law and banking firms in Wolfe’s writing often have satirical names formed by the surnames of the partners. “Dunning, Sponget and Leach” and “Curry, Goad and Pesterall” appear in The Bonfire of the Vanities, and “Wringer, Fleasom and Tick” in A Man in Full. Ambush at Fort Bragg contains a law firm called “Crotalus, Adder, Cobran and Krate” (all names or homophones of venomous snakes).

Some characters appear in multiple novels, creating a sense of a “universe” that is continuous throughout Wolfe’s fiction. The character of Freddy Button, a lawyer from Bonfire of the Vanities, is mentioned briefly in I Am Charlotte Simmons. A character named Ronald Vine, an interior decorator who is mentioned in The Bonfire of the Vanities, reappears in A Man in Full as the designer of Charlie Croker’s home.

A fictional sexual practice called “that thing with the cup” appears in several of his writings, including The Bonfire of the Vanities, A Man in Full and a (non-fiction) essay in Hooking Up.

The surname “Bolka” appears in three Wolfe novels—as the name of a rendering plant in A Man in Full, as a partner in an accounting firm in Bonfire of the Vanities, and as a college lacrosse player from the Balkans in I Am Charlotte Simmons.

The white suit

Wolfe adopted the white suit as a trademark in 1962. He bought his first white suit planning to wear it in the summer in the style of Southern gentlemen. However, he found that the suit he purchased was too heavy for summer use, so he wore it in winter, which created a sensation.[27] Wolfe has maintained this uniform ever since, sometimes worn with a matching white tie, white homburg hat, and two-tone shoes. Wolfe has said that the outfit disarms the people he observes, making him, in their eyes, “a man from Mars, the man who didn’t know anything and was eager to know.”[28]

Views

In 1989, Wolfe wrote an essay for Harper’s Magazine titled “Stalking the Billion-Footed Beast“, which criticized modern American novelists for failing to engage fully with their subjects, and suggested that modern literature could be saved by a greater reliance on journalistic technique. This attack on the mainstream literary establishment was interpreted as a boast that Wolfe’s work was superior to more highly regarded authors.[29]

Wolfe was a supporter of George W. Bush and said he voted for him for president in 2004 because of what he called Bush’s “great decisiveness and willingness to fight.” (Bush apparently reciprocates the admiration, having read all of Wolfe’s books, according to friends in 2005.[30]) After this fact emerged in a New York Times interview, Wolfe said that the reaction in the literary world was as if he had said, “I forgot to tell you—I’m a child molester.” Because of this incident, he sometimes wears an American flag pin on his suit, which he compared to “holding up a cross to werewolves.”[31]

Wolfe’s views and choice of subject material, such as mocking left-wing intellectuals in Radical Chic and glorifying astronauts in The Right Stuff, have sometimes led to his being labeled conservative,[32] and his depiction of the Black Panther Party in Radical Chic led to a member of the party calling him a racist.[33] Wolfe rejects such labels; in a 2004 interview, he said that his “idol” in writing about society and culture is Émile Zola, who, in Wolfe’s words, was “a man of the left” but “went out, and found a lot of ambitious, drunk, slothful and mean people out there. Zola simply could not—and was not interested in—telling a lie.”[32]

Asked to comment by the Wall Street Journal on blogs in 2007 to mark the tenth anniversary of their advent, Wolfe wrote that “the universe of blogs is a universe of rumors” and that “blogs are an advance guard to the rear.” He also took the opportunity to criticize Wikipedia, saying that “only a primitive would believe a word of” it. He noted a story about him in his Wikipedia entry at the time, which he said had never happened.[34]

Personal life

Wolfe lives in New York City with his wife Sheila, who designs covers for Harper’s magazine. They have two children, a daughter, Alexandra, and a son, Tommy.[35]

A writer for Examiner Magazine who interviewed Wolfe in 1998 said, “He has no computer and does not surf, or even know how to use, the Internet”, adding, however, that Wolfe’s novel A Man in Full does have a subplot involving “a muckraking cyber-gossip site, à la the Drudge Report or Salon.”[35]

Influence

Wolfe is credited with introducing the terms “statusphere,” “the right stuff,” “radical chic,” “the Me Decade,” “social x-ray,” and “pushing the envelope” into the English lexicon.[36][dubious ] He is sometimes credited with inventing the term “trophy wife” as well, but this is incorrect: he described emaciated wives as “X-rays” in his novel The Bonfire of the Vanities but did not use the term “trophy wife”.[37] According to journalism professor Ben Yagoda, Wolfe is also responsible for the use of the present tense in magazine profile pieces; before he began doing so in the early 1960s, profile articles had always been written in the past tense.[38]

Terms coined by Wolfe

List of awards and nominations

Television appearances

  • Wolfe was featured as an interview subject in the 1987 PBS documentary series Space Flight.
  • In July 1975 Wolfe was interviewed on Firing Line by William F. Buckley, Jr., discussing “The Painted Word”.[44]
  • Wolfe was featured on the February 2006 episode “The White Stuff” of Speed Channel‘s Unique Whips, where his Cadillac‘s interior was customized to match his trademark white suit.[45]
  • Wolfe guest-starred alongside Jonathan Franzen, Gore Vidal and Michael Chabon in The Simpsons episode “Moe’N’a Lisa“, which aired November 19, 2006. He was originally slated to be killed by a giant boulder, but that ending was edited out.[46] Wolfe was also used as a sight gag on The Simpsons episode “Insane Clown Poppy“, which aired on November 12, 2000. Homer spills chocolate on Wolfe’s trademark white suit, and Wolfe rips it off in one swift motion, revealing an identical suit underneath.

Bibliograph

Non-fiction

Novels

Featured in

Notable articles

  • “The Last American Hero Is Junior Johnson. Yes!” Esquire, March 1965.
  • “Tiny Mummies! The True Story of the Ruler of 43rd Street’s Land of the Walking Dead!” New York Herald-Tribune supplement (April 11, 1965).
  • “Lost in the Whichy Thicket,” New York Herald-Tribune supplement (April 18, 1965).
  • “The Birth of the New Journalism: Eyewitness Report by Tom Wolfe.” New York, February 14, 1972.
  • “The New Journalism: A la Recherche des Whichy Thickets.” New York Magazine, February 21, 1972.
  • “Why They Aren’t Writing the Great American Novel Anymore.” Esquire, December 1972.
  • “The Me Decade and the Third Great Awakening” New York, August 23, 1976.
  • Stalking the Billion-Footed Beast“, Harper’s. November 1989.
  • “Sorry, but Your Soul Just Died.” Forbes 1996.
  • “Pell Mell.” The Atlantic Monthly (November 2007).
  • “The Rich Have Feelings, Too.” Vanity Fair (September 2009).

See also

Notes

  1. Jump up^ This was the award for hardcover “General Nonfiction”. From 1980 to 1983 in National Book Award history there were dual awards for hardcover and paperback books in many categories, including several nonfiction subcategories. Most of the paperback award-winners were reprints, including the 1980 General Nonfiction.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Wolfe

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The Secret Agent — Videos

Posted on July 28, 2015. Filed under: Blogroll, Bomb, Book, Books, British History, Communications, Congress, Constitution, Culture, Entertainment, Faith, Family, Fiction, Friends, government spending, history, Literature, Movies, Terrorism, Video, War, Welfare, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , |

The Secret Agent (David Suchet, Patrick Malahide, Peter Capaldi, 1992)

The Secret Agent

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Secret Agent (disambiguation).
The Secret Agent
SecretAgent.jpg

First US edition cover
Author Joseph Conrad
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Spy fiction
Publisher Methuen & Co
Publication date
September 1907
Media type Print (hardcover)
Pages 442

The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale is a novel by Joseph Conrad, published in 1907.[1] The story is set in London in 1886 and deals with Mr. Verloc and his work as a spy for an unnamed country (presumably Russia).The Secret Agent is notable for being one of Conrad’s later political novels. In these later novels, Conrad has moved away from his former tales of seafaring.

The novel deals broadly with anarchism, espionage, and terrorism.[2] It also deals with exploitation of the vulnerable, particularly in Verloc’s relationship with his brother-in-law Stevie, who has an intellectual disability.

The Secret Agent was ranked the 46th best novel of the 20th century by Modern Library.[3]

Because of its terrorism theme, it was noted as “one of the three works of literature most cited in the American media” two weeks after the September 11 attacks.[4]

Plot summary

The novel is set in London in 1886 and follows the life of Mr. Verloc, a secret agent. Verloc is also a businessman who owns a shop which sells pornographic material, contraceptives, and bric-a-brac. He lives with his wife Winnie, his mother-in-law, and his brother-in-law, Stevie. Stevie has a mental disability, possibly autism,[5] which causes him to be very excitable; his sister, Verloc’s wife, attends to him, treating him more as a son than as a brother. Verloc’s friends are a group of anarchists of which Comrade Ossipon, Michaelis, and “The Professor” are the most prominent. Although largely ineffectual as terrorists, their actions are known to the police. The group produce anarchist literature in the form of pamphlets entitled F.P., an acronym for The Future of the Proletariat.

The novel begins in Verloc’s home, as he and his wife discuss the trivialities of everyday life, which introduces the reader to Verloc’s family. Soon after, Verloc leaves to meet Mr. Vladimir, the new First Secretary in the embassy of a foreign country. Although a member of an anarchist cell, Verloc is also secretly employed by the Embassy as an agent provocateur. Vladimir informs Verloc that from reviewing his service history he is far from an exemplary model of a secret agent and, to redeem himself, must carry out an operation – the destruction of Greenwich Observatory by a bomb explosion. Vladimir explains that Britain’s lax attitude to anarchism endangers his own country, and he reasons that an attack on ‘science’, which he claims is the current vogue amongst the public, will provide the necessary outrage for suppression. Verloc later meets with his friends, who discuss politics and law, and the notion of a communist revolution. Unbeknownst to the group, Stevie, Verloc’s brother-in-law, overhears the conversation, which greatly disturbs him.

The novel flashes forward to after the bombing has taken place. Comrade Ossipon meets The Professor, who discusses having given explosives to Verloc. The Professor then describes the nature of the bomb which he carries in his coat at all times: it allows him to press a button which will blow him up in twenty seconds, and those nearest to him. After The Professor leaves the meeting, he stumbles into Chief Inspector Heat. Heat is a policeman who is working on the case regarding a recent explosion at Greenwich, where one man was killed. Heat informs The Professor that he is not a suspect in the case, but that he is being monitored due to his terrorist inclinations and anarchist background. Knowing that Michaelis has recently moved to the countryside to write a book, the Chief Inspector informs the Assistant Commissioner that he has a contact, Verloc, who may be able to assist in the case. The Assistant Commissioner shares some of the same high society acquaintances with Michaelis and is chiefly motivated by finding the extent of Michaelis’s involvement in order to assess any possible embarrassment to his connections. He later speaks to his superior, Sir Ethelred, about his intentions to solve the case alone, rather than rely on the effort of Chief Inspector Heat.

The novel then flashes back to before the explosion, taking the perspective of Winnie Verloc and her mother. At home, Mrs. Verloc’s mother informs the family that she wishes to move out of the house. Mrs. Verloc’s mother and Stevie use a hansom which is driven by a man with a hook in the place of his hand. The journey greatly upsets Stevie, as the driver’s tales of hardship coupled with his menacing hook scare him to the point where Mrs. Verloc must calm him down. On Verloc’s return from a business trip to the continent, his wife tells him of the high regard that Stevie has for him and she implores her husband to spend more time with Stevie. Verloc eventually agrees to go for a walk with Stevie. After this walk, Mrs. Verloc notes that her husband’s relationship with her brother has improved. Verloc then tells his wife that he has taken Stevie to go and visit Michaelis, and that Stevie would stay with him in the countryside for a few days.

As Verloc is talking to his wife about the possibility of emigrating to the continent, he is paid a visit by the Assistant Commissioner. Shortly thereafter, Chief Inspector Heat arrives to speak with Verloc, without knowing that the Assistant Commissioner had left with Verloc earlier that evening. The Chief Inspector tells Mrs. Verloc that he had recovered an overcoat at the scene of the bombing which had the shop’s address written on a label. Mrs. Verloc confirms that it was Stevie’s overcoat, and that she had written the address. On Verloc’s return, he realises that his wife knows her brother has been killed by Verloc’s bomb, and confesses what truly happened. A stunned Mrs. Verloc, in her anguish, then fatally stabs her husband.

After the murder, Mrs. Verloc flees her home, where she chances upon Comrade Ossipon, and begs him to help her. Ossipon assists her while confessing romantic feelings but secretly with a view to possess Mr Verloc’s bank account savings. They plan to run away and he aids her in taking a boat to the continent. However, her instability and the revelation of Mr. Verloc’s murder increasingly worry him, and he abandons her, taking Mr Verloc’s savings with him. He later discovers in a newspaper that a woman had disappeared, leaving behind her a wedding ring, before drowning herself in the English Channel.

Characters]

  • Mr. Adolf Verloc: a secret agent who owns a shop in the Soho region of London. His primary characteristic, as described by Conrad, is indolence. He has been employed by an unnamed embassy to spy on revolutionary groups, which then orders him to instigate a terrorist act against the Greenwich Observatory. Their belief is that the resulting public outrage will force the English government to act more forcibly against emigre socialist and anarchist activists. He is part of an anarchist organisation that creates pamphlets under the heading The Future of the Proletariat. He is married to Winnie, and lives with his wife, his mother-in-law, and his brother-in-law, Stevie.
  • Mrs. Winnie Verloc: Verloc’s wife. She cares deeply for her brother Stevie, who has the mental age of a young child. Of working class origins, her father was the owner of a pub. She is younger than her husband and married him not for love but to provide a home for her mother and brother. A loyal wife, she is deeply disturbed upon learning of the death of her brother due to her husband’s plotting, and kills him with a knife in the heart. She dies, presumably by drowning herself to avoid the gallows.
  • Stevie: Winnie’s brother has the mental age of a young child and is very sensitive and is disturbed by notions of violence or hardship. His sister cares for him, and Stevie passes most of his time drawing numerous circles on pieces of paper. Verloc, exploiting both Stevie’s childlike simplicity and outrage at suffering, employs him to carry out the terrorist attack on the Greenwich Observatory. However, Stevie stumbles and the bomb explodes prematurely.
  • Mrs. Verloc’s mother: Old and infirm, Mrs Verloc’s mother leaves the household to live in an almshouse, believing that two disabled people (herself and Stevie) are too much for Mr Verloc’s generosity. The widow of a publican, she spent most of her life working hard in her husband’s pub and believed Mr Verloc to be a gentleman because she thought he resembled patrons of business houses (pubs with higher prices, consequently frequented by higher classes).
  • Chief Inspector Heat: a policeman who is dealing with the explosion at Greenwich. An astute and practical man who uses a clue found at the scene of the crime to trace events back to Verloc’s home. Although he informs his superior what he is planning to do with regards to the case, he is initially not aware that the Assistant Commissioner is acting without his knowledge. Heat knew Verloc before the bombing as Verloc had supplied information to Heat through the Embassy. Heat has contempt for anarchists who he regards as amateurs, as opposed to burglars who he regards as professionals.
  • The Assistant Commissioner: of a higher rank than the Chief Inspector, he uses the knowledge gained from Heat to pursue matters personally, for reasons of his own. The Assistant Commissioner is married to a lady with influential connections. He informs his superior, Sir Ethelred, of his intentions, and tracks down Verloc before Heat can.
  • Sir Ethelred: the Secretary of State (Home Secretary) to whom the Assistant Commissioner reports. At the time of the bombing he is busy trying to pass a bill regarding the nationalisation of fisheries through the House of Commons against great opposition. He is briefed by the Assistant Commissioner throughout the novel who he often admonishes to not go into detail.
  • Mr. Vladimir: the First Secretary of an embassy of an unnamed country. Though his name might suggest that this is the Russian embassy, the name of the previous first secretary, Baron Stott-Wartenheim, is Germanic, as is that of Privy Councillor Wurmt, another official of this embassy. There is also the suggestion that Vladimir is not from Europe but Central Asia.[6] Vladimir thinks that the English police are far too soft on émigré socialist and anarchists, which are a real problem in his home country. He orders Verloc to instigate a terrorist act, hoping that the resulting public outrage will force the English government to adopt repressive measures.
  • Michaelis: a member of Verloc’s group, and another anarchist. The most philosophical member of the group, his theories resemble those of Peter Kropotkin while some of his other attributes resemble Mikhail Bakunin.
  • Comrade Alexander Ossipon: an ex-medical student, anarchist and member of Verloc’s group. He survives on the savings of various women he seduces, mostly working class. He is influenced by the theories on degeneracy of Cesare Lombroso. After Mr Verloc’s murder he initially helps, but afterwards abandons Winnie leaving her penniless on a train. He is later disturbed when he reads of her suicide and wonders if he will be able to seduce a woman again.
  • Karl Yundt: a member of Verloc’s group, commonly referred to as an “old terrorist”.
  • The Professor: another anarchist, who specialises in explosives. The Professor carries a flask of explosives in his coat that can be detonated within twenty seconds of him squeezing an india rubber ball in his pocket. The police know this and keep their distance. The most nihilistic member of the anarchists, the Professor feels oppressed and disgusted by the rest of humanity and has particular contempt for the weak. He dreams of a world where the weak are freely exterminated so that the strong can thrive. He supplies to Mr Verloc the bomb that kills Stevie.

Background: Greenwich Bombing of 1894

Royal Observatory, Greenwich c. 1902 as depicted on a postcard

Conrad’s character, Stevie, is based on the French anarchist, Martial Bourdin, who died gruesomely in Greenwich Park when the explosives he carried prematurely detonated.[7] Bourdin’s motives remain a mystery as does his intended target, which may have been the Greenwich Observatory.[8] In the 1920 Author’s Note to the novel, Conrad recalls a discussion with Ford Madox Ford about the bombing:[9]

[…] we recalled the already old story of the attempt to blow up the Greenwich Observatory; a blood-stained inanity of so fatuous a kind that it was impossible to fathom its origin by any reasonable or even unreasonable process of thought. For perverse unreason has its own logical processes. But that outrage could not be laid hold of mentally in any sort of way, so that one remained faced by the fact of a man blown to bits for nothing even most remotely resembling an idea, anarchistic or other. As to the outer wall of the Observatory it did not show as much as the faintest crack. I pointed all this out to my friend who remained silent for a while and then remarked in his characteristically casual and omniscient manner: “Oh, that fellow was half an idiot. His sister committed suicide afterwards.” These were absolutely the only words that passed between us […].[10]

Major themes

Terrorism and anarchism

Terrorism and anarchism are intrinsic aspects of the novel, and are central to the plot. Verloc is employed by an agency which requires him to orchestrate terrorist activities, and several of the characters deal with terrorism in some way: Verloc’s friends are all interested in an anarchistic political revolution, and the police are investigating anarchist motives behind the bombing of Greenwich.

The novel was written at a time when terrorist activity was increasing. There had been numerous dynamite attacks in both Europe and the US, as well as several assassinations of heads of state.[11] Conrad also drew upon two persons specifically: Mikhail Bakuninand Prince Peter Kropotkin. Conrad used these two men in his “portrayal of the novel’s anarchists”.[12] However, according to Conrad’s Author’s Note, only one character was a true anarchist: Winnie Verloc. In The Secret Agent, she is “the only character who performs a serious act of violence against another”,[13] despite the F.P.’s intentions of radical change, and The Professor’s inclination to keep a bomb on his person.

Critics have analysed the role of terrorism in the novel. Patrick Reilly calls the novel “a terrorist text as well as a text about terrorism”[14] due to Conrad’s manipulation of chronology to allow the reader to comprehend the outcome of the bombing before the characters, thereby corrupting the traditional conception of time. The morality which is implicit in these acts of terrorism has also been explored: is Verloc evil because his negligence leads to the death of his brother-in-law? Although Winnie evidently thinks so, the issue is not clear, as Verloc attempted to carry out the act with no fatalities, and as simply as possible to retain his job, and care for his family.[15]

Politics

The role of politics is paramount in the novel, as the main character, Verloc, works for a quasi-political organisation. The role of politics is seen in several places in the novel: in the revolutionary ideas of the F.P.; in the characters’ personal beliefs; and in Verloc’s own private life. Conrad’s depiction of anarchism has an “enduring political relevance”, although the focus is now largely concerned with the terrorist aspects that this entails.[16] The discussions of the F.P. are expositions on the role of anarchism and its relation to contemporary life. The threat of these thoughts is evident, as Chief Inspector Heat knows F.P. members because of their anarchist views. Moreover, Michaelis’ actions are monitored by the police to such an extent that he must notify the police station that he is moving to the country.

The plot to destroy Greenwich is in itself anarchistic. Vladimir asserts that the bombing “must be purely destructive” and that the anarchists who will be implicated as the architects of the explosion “should make it clear that [they] are perfectly determined to make a clean sweep of the whole social creation.”[17] However, the political form of anarchism is ultimately controlled in the novel: the only supposed politically motivated act is orchestrated by a secret government agency.

Some critics, such as Fredrick R. Karl,[18] think that the main political phenomenon in this novel is the modern age, as symbolised by the teeming, pullulating foggy streets of London (most notably in the cab ride taken by Winnie and Stevie Verloc). This modern age distorts everything, including politics (Verloc is motivated by the need to keep his remunerative position, the Professor to some extent by pride), the family (symbolised by the Verloc household, in which all roles are distorted, with the husband being like a father to the wife, who is like a mother to her brother), even the human body (Michaelis and Verloc are hugely obese, while the Professor and Yundt are preternaturally thin). This extended metaphor, using London as a center of darkness much like Kurtz’s headquarters in Heart of Darkness,[19] presents “a dark vision of moral and spiritual inertia” and a condemnation of those who, like Mrs Verloc, think it a mistake to think too deeply.[20]

Literary significance and reception

Initially, the novel fared poorly in both the United Kingdom and the United States, selling only 3,076 copies between 1907 and 1914. The book fared slightly better in Britain, yet no more than 6,500 copies were pressed before 1914. Although sales increased after 1914, the novel never sold more than “modestly” throughout Conrad’s lifetime. The novel was released to favourable reviews, with most agreeing with the view of The Times Literary Supplement, that the novel “increase[d] Mr. Conrad’s reputation, already of the highest.”[21] However, there were detractors, who largely disagreed with the novel’s “unpleasant characters and subject”. Country Life magazine called the story “indecent”, whilst also criticising Conrad’s “often dense and elliptical style”.[21]

In modern times, The Secret Agent is considered to be one of Conrad’s finest novels. The Independent calls it “[o]ne of Conrad’s great city novels”[22] whilst The New York Times insists that it is “the most brilliant novelistic study of terrorism”.[23] It is considered to be a “prescient” view of the 20th century, foretelling the rise of terrorism, anarchism, and the augmentation of secret societies, such as MI5. The novel is on reading lists for both secondary school pupils and university undergraduates.[24][25][26]

Influence on Ted Kaczynski

The Secret Agent is said to have influenced the Unabomber—Theodore Kaczynski. Kaczynski was a great fan of the novel and as an adolescent kept a copy at his bedside.[27] He identified strongly with the character of “the Professor” and advised his family to readThe Secret Agent to understand the character with whom he felt such an affinity. David Foster, the literary attributionist who assisted the FBI, said that Kaczynski “seem[ed] to have felt that his family could not understand him without reading Conrad.”[28]

Kaczynski’s idolisation of the character was due to the traits that they shared: disaffection, hostility toward the world, and being an aspiring anarchist.[29] However, it did not stop at mere idolisation. Kaczynski used “The Professor” as a source of inspiration, and “fabricated sixteen exploding packages that detonated in various locations”.[30] After his capture, Kaczynski revealed to FBI agents that he had read the novel a dozen times, and had sometimes used “Conrad” as an alias.[31] It was discovered that Kaczynski had used various formulations of Conrad’s name – Conrad, Konrad, and Korzeniowski, Conrad’s original surname – to sign himself into several hotels in Sacramento. As in his youth, Kaczynski retained a copy of The Secret Agent, and kept it with him whilst living as a recluse in a hut in Montana.[11]

Adaptations

See also

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Secret_Agent

Joseph Conrad

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Joseph Conrad (disambiguation).
Joseph Conrad
Joseph Conrad.PNG

1904
Born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski
3 December 1857
Terekhove near Berdychiv, Kiev Governorate, Russian Empire
Died 3 August 1924 (aged 66)
Bishopsbourne, England
Resting place Canterbury Cemetery,Canterbury
Occupation Novelist, short-story writer
Language English
Nationality Polish
Citizenship British
Period 1895–1923: Modernism
Genre Fiction
Notable works The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’(1897)
Heart of Darkness (1899)
Lord Jim (1900)
Typhoon (1902)
Nostromo (1904)
The Secret Agent (1907)
Under Western Eyes (1911)
Spouse Jessie George
Children Borys, John

Signature

Joseph Conrad (born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski; 3 December 1857 – 3 August 1924) is regarded as one of the greatest novelists in English.[1] He was granted British nationality in 1886, but always considered himself a Pole.[2][note 1] Though he did not speak English fluently until he was in his twenties (and always with a marked accent), he was a master prose stylist who brought a distinctly non-English sensibility into English literature.[note 2][3] He wrote stories and novels, many with a nautical setting, that depict trials of the human spirit.

Joseph Conrad is considered an early modernist, though his works still contain elements of nineteenth-century realism.[4] His narrative style and anti-heroic characters[5] have influenced many authors, including T.S. Eliot,William Faulkner,[6] Graham Greene,[6] and more recently Salman Rushdie.[note 3] Many films have been adapted from, or inspired by, Conrad’s works.

Writing in the heyday of the British Empire, Conrad drew on his Polish heritage and on his experiences in the French and British merchant navies to create short stories and novels that reflect aspects of a European-dominated world, while profoundly exploring human psychology. Appreciated early on by literary critics, his fiction and nonfiction have since been seen as almost prophetic, in the light of subsequent national and international disasters of the 20th and 21st centuries.[7]

Contents

 

Life

Early years

Conrad’s writer father, Apollo Korzeniowski

Nowy Świat 47, Warsaw, where three-year-old Conrad lived with his parents in 1861. In front: a “Chopin’s Warsaw” bench.

Joseph Conrad was born on 3 December 1857 in Berdychiv, in a part of Ukraine that had belonged to the Kingdom of Poland before 1793 and was at the time of his birth under Russianrule.[8] He was the only child of Apollo Korzeniowski and his wife Ewa Bobrowska. The father was a writer, translator, political activist, and would-be revolutionary. Conrad was christenedJózef Teodor Konrad after his maternal grandfather Józef, his paternal grandfather Teodor, and the heroes (both named “Konrad”) of two poems by Adam Mickiewicz, Dziady andKonrad Wallenrod. He was subsequently known to his family as “Konrad”, rather than “Józef”.

Though the vast majority of the surrounding area’s inhabitants were Ukrainians, and the great majority of Berdychiv’s residents were Jewish, almost all the countryside was owned by the Polish szlachta (nobility), to which Conrad’s family belonged as bearers of the Nałęcz coat-of-arms.[9] Polish literature, particularly patriotic literature, was held in high esteem by the area’s Polish population.[10]:1

The Korzeniowski family played a significant role in Polish attempts to regain independence. Conrad’s paternal grandfather served under Prince Józef Poniatowski during Napoleon’s Russian campaign and formed his own cavalry squadron during the November 1830 Uprising.[11] Conrad’s fiercely patriotic father belonged to the “Red” political faction, whose goal was to re-establish the pre-partition boundaries of Poland, but which also advocated land reform and the abolition of serfdom. Conrad’s subsequent refusal to follow in Apollo’s footsteps, and his choice of exile over resistance, were a source of lifelong guilt for Conrad.[12][note 4]

Because of the father’s attempts at farming and his political activism, the family moved repeatedly. In May 1861 they moved to Warsaw, where Apollo joined the resistance against the Russian Empire. This led to his imprisonment in Pavilion X (Ten) of the Warsaw Citadel.[note 5] Conrad would write: “[I]n the courtyard of this Citadel – characteristically for our nation – my childhood memories begin.”[2]:17–19 On 9 May 1862 Apollo and his family were exiled to Vologda, 500 kilometres (310 mi) north of Moscow and known for its bad climate.[2]:19–20 In January 1863 Apollo’s sentence was commuted, and the family was sent to Chernihiv in northeast Ukraine, where conditions were much better. However, on 18 April 1865 Ewa died of tuberculosis.[2]:19–25

Apollo did his best to home-school Conrad. The boy’s early reading introduced him to the two elements that later dominated his life: in Victor Hugo‘s Toilers of the Sea he encountered the sphere of activity to which he would devote his youth; Shakespeare brought him into the orbit of English literature. Most of all, though, he read Polish Romantic poetry. Half a century later he explained that “The Polishness in my works comes fromMickiewicz and Słowacki. My father read [Mickiewicz’s] Pan Tadeusz aloud to me and made me read it aloud…. I used to prefer [Mickiewicz’s] Konrad Wallenrod [and] Grażyna. Later I preferred Słowacki. You know why Słowacki?… [He is the soul of all Poland]”.[2]:27

In December 1867, Apollo took his son to the Austrian-held part of Poland, which for two years had been enjoying considerable internal freedom and a degree of self-government. After sojourns in Lwów and several smaller localities, on 20 February 1869 they moved to Kraków (till 1596 the capital of Poland), likewise in Austrian Poland. A few months later, on 23 May 1869, Apollo Korzeniowski died, leaving Conrad orphaned at the age of eleven.[2]:31–34 Like Conrad’s mother, Apollo had been gravely ill with tuberculosis.

Tadeusz Bobrowski, Conrad’s uncle and mentor, to whom Conrad owed so much

The young Conrad was placed in the care of Ewa’s brother, Tadeusz Bobrowski. Conrad’s poor health and his unsatisfactory schoolwork caused his uncle constant problems and no end of financial outlays. Conrad was not a good student; despite tutoring, he excelled only in geography.[2]:43 Since the boy’s illness was clearly of nervous origin, the physicians supposed that fresh air and physical work would harden him; his uncle hoped that well-defined duties and the rigors of work would teach him discipline. Since he showed little inclination to study, it was essential that he learn a trade; his uncle saw him as a sailor-cum-businessman who would combine maritime skills with commercial activities.[2]:44–46 In fact, in the autumn of 1871, thirteen-year-old Conrad announced his intention to become a sailor. He later recalled that as a child he had read (apparently in French translation) Leopold McClintock‘s book about his 1857–59 expeditions in the Fox, in search of Sir John Franklin‘s lost ships Erebus and Terror.[note 6] He also recalled having read books by the American James Fenimore Cooper and the English Captain Frederick Marryat.[2]:41–42 A playmate of his adolescence recalled that Conrad spun fantastic yarns, always set at sea, presented so realistically that listeners thought the action was happening before their eyes.

In August 1873 Bobrowski sent fifteen-year-old Conrad to Lwów to a cousin who ran a small boarding house for boys orphaned by the 1863 Uprising; group conversation there was in French. The owner’s daughter recalled:

He stayed with us ten months… Intellectually he was extremely advanced but [he] disliked school routine, which he found tiring and dull; he used to say… he… planned to become a great writer…. He disliked all restrictions. At home, at school, or in the living room he would sprawl unceremoniously. He… suffer[ed] from severe headaches and nervous attacks…[2]:43–44

Conrad had been at the establishment for just over a year when in September 1874, for uncertain reasons, his uncle removed him from school in Lwów and took him back to Kraków.

On 13 October 1874 Bobrowski sent the sixteen-year-old to Marseilles, France, for a planned career at sea.[2]:44–46 Though Conrad had not completed secondary school, his accomplishments included fluency in French (with a correct accent), some knowledge of Latin, German and Greek, probably a good knowledge of history, some geography, and probably already an interest in physics. He was well read, particularly in Polish Romantic literature. He belonged to only the second generation in his family that had had to earn a living outside the family estates: he was a member of the second generation of the intelligentsia, a social class that was starting to play an important role in Central and Eastern Europe.[2]:46–47 He had absorbed enough of the history, culture and literature of his native land to be able eventually to develop a distinctive world view and make unique contributions to the literature of his adoptive Britain.[10]:1–5 It was tensions that originated in his childhood in Poland and grew in his adulthood abroad that would give rise to Conrad’s greatest literary achievements.[10]:246–47 Najder, himself an emigrant from Poland, observes:

Living away from one’s natural environment – family, friends, social group, language – even if it results from a conscious decision, usually gives rise to… internal tensions, because it tends to make people less sure of themselves, more vulnerable, less certain of their… position and… value… The Polish szlachta and… intelligentsia were social strata in which reputation… was felt… very important… for a feeling of self-worth. Men strove… to find confirmation of their… self-regard… in the eyes of others… Such a psychological heritage forms both a spur to ambition and a source of constant stress, especially if [one has been inculcated with] the idea of [one]’s public duty…[2]:47

Citizenship

Conrad was a Russian subject, having been born in the Russian part of what had once been the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. In December 1867, with the Russian government’s permission, his father Apollo had taken him to the Austrian part of the former Commonwealth, which enjoyed considerable internal freedom and a degree of self-government. After the father’s death, Conrad’s uncle Bobrowski had attempted to secure Austrian citizenship for him – to no avail, probably because Conrad had not received permission from Russian authorities to remain abroad permanently and had not been released from being a Russian subject. Conrad could not return to Ukraine, in the Russian Empire – he would have been liable to many years’ military service and, as the son of political exiles, to harassment.[2]:41

In a letter of 9 August 1877, Conrad’s uncle Bobrowski broached two important subjects:[note 7] the desirability of Conrad’s naturalisation abroad (tantamount to release from being a Russian subject) and Conrad’s plans to join the British merchant marine. “[D]o you speak English?… I never wished you to become naturalized in France, mainly because of the compulsory military service… I thought, however, of your getting naturalized in Switzerland…” In his next letter, Bobrowski supported Conrad’s idea of seeking citizenship of the United States or of “one of the more important Southern Republics”.[2]:57–58

Eventually Conrad would make his home in England. On 2 July 1886 he applied for British nationality, which was granted on 19 August 1886. Yet, in spite of having become a subject of Queen Victoria, Conrad had not ceased to be a subject of Tsar Alexander III. To achieve the latter, he had to make many visits to the Russian Embassy in London and politely reiterate his request. He would later recall the Embassy’s home at Belgrave Square in his novel The Secret Agent.[2]:112 Finally, on 2 April 1889, the Russian Ministry of Home Affairs released “the son of a Polish man of letters, captain of the British merchant marine” from the status of Russian subject.[2]:132

Merchant marine

In 1874 Conrad left Poland to start a merchant-marine career. After nearly four years in France and on French ships, he joined the British merchant marine and for the next fifteen years served under the Red Ensign. He worked on a variety of ships as crew member (steward, apprentice, able-bodied seaman) and then as third, second and first mate, until eventually achieving captain’s rank. Of his 19-year merchant-marine career, only about half was spent actually at sea.

Most of Conrad’s stories and novels, and many of their characters, were drawn from his seafaring career and persons whom he had met or heard about. For his fictional characters he often borrowed the authentic names of actual persons. The historic trader William Charles Olmeijer, whom Conrad encountered on four short visits to Berau in Borneo, appears as “Almayer” (possibly a simple misspelling) in Conrad’s first novel, Almayer’s Folly. Other authentic names include those of Captain McWhirr (in Typhoon), Captain Beard and Mr. Mahon (Youth), Captain Lingard (Almayer’s Folly and elsewhere), and Captain Ellis (The Shadow Line). Conrad also preserves, in The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’, the authentic name of the Narcissus, a ship in which he sailed in 1884.

Conrad’s three-year appointment with a Belgian trading company included service as captain of a steamer on the Congo River, an episode that would inspire his novella, Heart of Darkness.

John Galsworthy, whom Conrad met on the Torrens

During a brief call in India in 1885–86, 28-year-old Conrad sent five letters to Joseph Spiridion,[note 8] a Pole eight years his senior whom he had befriended at Cardiff in June 1885 just before sailing for Singapore in the clipper ship Tilkhurst. These letters are Conrad’s first preserved texts in English. His English is generally correct but stiff to the point of artificiality; many fragments suggest that his thoughts ran along the lines of Polish syntax andphraseology. More importantly, the letters show a marked change in views from those implied in his earlier correspondence of 1881–83. He had departed from “hope for the future” and from the conceit of “sailing [ever] toward Poland”, and from his Panslavic ideas. He was left with a painful sense of the hopelessness of the Polish question and an acceptance of England as a possible refuge. While he often adjusted his statements to accord to some extent with the views of his addressees, the theme of hopelessness concerning the prospects for Polish independence often occurs authentically in his correspondence and works before 1914.[2]:104–5

When Conrad left London on 25 October 1892 aboard the clipper ship Torrens, one of the passengers was William Henry Jacques, a consumptive Cambridge graduate who died less than a year later (19 September 1893) and was, according to Conrad’s A Personal Record, the first reader of the still-unfinished manuscript of his Almayer’s Folly. Jacques encouraged Conrad to continue writing the novel.[2]:181

Conrad completed his last long-distance voyage as a seaman on 26 July 1893 when the Torrens docked at London and “J. Conrad Korzemowin” (per the certificate of discharge) debarked. When the Torrens had left Adelaide on 13 March 1893, the passengers had included two young Englishmen returning from Australia and New Zealand: 25-year-old lawyer and future novelist John Galsworthy; and Edward Lancelot Sanderson, who was going to help his father run a boys’ preparatory school at Elstree. They were probably the first Englishmen and non-sailors with whom Conrad struck up a friendship; he would remain in touch with both. The protagonist of one of Galsworthy’s first literary attempts, “The Doldrums” (1895–96), the first mate Armand, is obviously modeled on Conrad. At Cape Town, where the Torrens remained from 17 to 19 May, Galsworthy left the ship to look at the local mines. Sanderson continued his voyage and seems to have been the first to develop closer ties with Conrad.[2]:182–3

Writer

In 1894, aged 36, Conrad reluctantly gave up the sea, partly because of poor health, partly due to unavailability of ships, and partly because he had become so fascinated with writing that he had decided on a literary career. His first novel, Almayer’s Folly, set on the east coast of Borneo, was published in 1895. Its appearance marked his first use of the pen name “Joseph Conrad”; “Konrad” was, of course, the third of his Polish given names, but his use of it – in the anglicised version, “Conrad” – may also have been an homage to the Polish Romantic poet Adam Mickiewicz‘s patriotic narrative poem, Konrad Wallenrod.[13]

Edward Garnett, a young publisher’s reader and literary critic who would play one of the chief supporting roles in Conrad’s literary career, had – like Unwin’s first reader of Almayer’s Folly, Wilfrid Hugh Chesson – been impressed by the manuscript, but Garnett had been “uncertain whether the English was good enough for publication.” Garnett had shown the novel to his wife, Constance Garnett, later a well-known translator of Russian literature. She had thought Conrad’s foreignness a positive merit.[2]:197

While Conrad had only limited personal acquaintance with the peoples of Maritime Southeast Asia, the region looms large in his early work. According to Najder, Conrad, the exile and wanderer, was aware of a difficulty that he confessed more than once: the lack of a common cultural background with his Anglophone readers meant he could not compete with English-language authors writing about the Anglosphere. At the same time, the choice of a non-English colonial setting freed him from an embarrassing division of loyalty:Almayer’s Folly, and later “An Outpost of Progress” (1897, set in a Congo exploited by King Leopold II of Belgium) and Heart of Darkness (1899, likewise set in the Congo), contain bitter reflections on colonialism. The Malay states came theoretically under the suzerainty of the Dutch government; Conrad did not write about the area’s British dependencies, which he never visited. He “was apparently intrigued by… struggles aimed at preserving national independence. The prolific and destructive richness of tropical nature and the dreariness of human life within it accorded well with the pessimistic mood of his early works.”[2]:118–20 [note 9]

Almayer’s Folly, together with its successor, An Outcast of the Islands (1896), laid the foundation for Conrad’s reputation as a romantic teller of exotic tales – a misunderstanding of his purpose that was to frustrate him for the rest of his career.[note 10]

Almost all of Conrad’s writings were first published in newspapers and magazines: influential reviews like The Fortnightly Review and the North American Review; avant-garde publications like the Savoy, New Review, and The English Review; popular short-fiction magazines like The Saturday Evening Post and Harper’s Magazine; women’s journals like the Pictorial Review and Romance; mass-circulation dailies like the Daily Mail and the New York Herald; and illustrated newspapers like The Illustrated London News and theIllustrated Buffalo Express.[citation needed] He also wrote for The Outlook, an imperialist weekly magazine, between 1898 and 1906.[14][note 11]

Financial success long eluded Conrad, who often asked magazine and book publishers for advances, and acquaintances (notably John Galsworthy) for loans.[2][note 12] Eventually a government grant (“Civil List pension”) of £100 per annum, awarded on 9 August 1910, somewhat relieved his financial worries,[2]:420 [note 13] and in time collectors began purchasing his manuscripts. Though his talent was early on recognised by the English intellectual elite, popular success eluded him until the 1913 publication of Chance – paradoxically, one of his weaker novels.

Edward Said describes three phases to Conrad’s literary career.[15] In the first and longest, from the 1890s to World War I, Conrad writes most of his great novels, including The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’ (1897), Heart of Darkness (1899), Lord Jim (1900), Nostromo(1904), The Secret Agent (1907) and Under Western Eyes (1911). The second phase, spanning the war and following the popular success of Chance (1913), is marked by the advent of Conrad’s public persona as “great writer”. In the third and final phase, from the end of World War I to Conrad’s death (1924), he at last finds an uneasy peace; it is, as C. McCarthy writes, as though “the War has allowed Conrad’s psyche to purge itself of terror and anxiety.”[16]

Personal life

Temperament and health

Conrad was a reserved man, wary of showing emotion. He scorned sentimentality; his manner of portraying emotion in his books was full of restraint, scepticism and irony.[2]:575 In the words of his uncle Bobrowski, as a young man Conrad was “extremely sensitive, conceited, reserved, and in addition excitable. In short […] all the defects of the Nałęcz family.”[2]:65

Conrad suffered throughout life from ill health, physical and mental. A newspaper review of a Conrad biography suggested that the book could have been subtitled Thirty Years of Debt, Gout, Depression and Angst.[17] In 1891 he was hospitalised for several months, suffering from gout, neuralgic pains in his right arm and recurrent attacks of malaria. He also complained of swollen hands “which made writing difficult”. Taking his uncle Tadeusz Bobrowski’s advice, he convalesced at a spa in Switzerland.[2]:169–70 Conrad had a phobia of dentistry, neglecting his teeth till they had to be extracted. In one letter he remarked that every novel he had written had cost him a tooth.[7]:258 Conrad’s physical afflictions were, if anything, less vexatious than his mental ones. In his letters he often described symptoms of depression; “the evidence,” writes Najder, “is so strong that it is nearly impossible to doubt it.”[2]:167

Attempted suicide

In March 1878, at the end of his Marseilles period, 20-year-old Conrad attempted suicide, by shooting himself in the chest with a revolver.[18] According to his uncle, who was summoned by a friend, Conrad had fallen into debt. Bobrowski described his subsequent “study” of his nephew in an extensive letter to Stefan Buszczyński, his own ideological opponent and a friend of Conrad’s late father Apollo.[note 14] To what extent the suicide attempt had been made in earnest, likely will never be known, but it is suggestive of a situational depression.[2]:65–7

Romance and marriage

Little is known about any intimate relationships that Conrad might have had prior to his marriage, confirming a popular image of the author as an isolated bachelor who preferred the company of close male friends.[19] However, in 1888 during a stop-over on Mauritius, Conrad developed a couple of romantic interests. One of these would be described in his 1910 story “A Smile of Fortune”, which contains autobiographical elements (e.g., one of the characters is the same Chief Mate Burns who appears in The Shadow Line). The narrator, a young captain, flirts ambiguously and surreptitiously with Alice Jacobus, daughter of a local merchant living in a house surrounded by a magnificent rose garden. Research has confirmed that in Port Louis at the time there was a 17-year-old Alice Shaw, whose father, a shipping agent, owned the only rose garden in town.[2]:126–27

More is known about Conrad’s other, more open flirtation. An old friend, Captain Gabriel Renouf of the French merchant marine, introduced him to the family of his brother-in-law. Renouf’s eldest sister was the wife of Louis Edward Schmidt, a senior official in the colony; with them lived two other sisters and two brothers. Though the island had been taken over in 1810 by Britain, many of the inhabitants were descendants of the original French colonists, and Conrad’s excellent French and perfect manners opened all local salons to him. He became a frequent guest at the Schmidts’, where he often met the Misses Renouf. A couple of days before leaving Port Louis, Conrad asked one of the Renouf brothers for the hand of his 26-year-old sister Eugenie. She was already, however, engaged to marry her pharmacist cousin. After the rebuff, Conrad did not pay a farewell visit but sent a polite letter to Gabriel Renouf, saying he would never return to Mauritius and adding that on the day of the wedding his thoughts would be with them.

In March 1896 Conrad married an Englishwoman, Jessie George.[20] The couple had two sons, Borys and John. The elder, Borys, proved a disappointment in scholarship and integrity.[2] Jessie was an unsophisticated, working-class girl, sixteen years younger than Conrad. To his friends, she was an inexplicable choice of wife, and the subject of some rather disparaging and unkind remarks.[21][22] (See Lady Ottoline Morrell’s opinion of Jessie in Impressions.) However, according to other biographers such as Frederick Karl, Jessie provided what Conrad needed, namely a “straightforward, devoted, quite competent” companion.[23] Similarly, Jones remarks that, despite whatever difficulties the marriage endured, “there can be no doubt that the relationship sustained Conrad’s career as a writer”, which might have been a lot less successful without her.[24]

The couple rented a long series of successive homes, occasionally in France, sometimes briefly in London, but mostly in the English countryside, sometimes from friends – to be close to friends, to enjoy the peace of the countryside, but above all because it was more affordable.[2][note 15] Except for several vacations in France and Italy, a 1914 vacation in his native Poland, and a 1923 visit to the United States, Conrad lived the rest of his life in England.

In 1914, Conrad stayed at the Zakopanepension Konstantynówka, operated by his cousin Aniela Zagórska, mother of his future Polish translator of the same name.[2]:462–63

Conrad; Aniela Zagórska(left), Karola Zagórska, Conrad’s nieces. Aniela translated Conrad into Polish.[25]

The 1914 vacation with his wife and sons in Poland, at the urging of Józef Retinger, coincided with the outbreak of World War I. On 28 July 1914, the day war broke out between Austro-Hungary and Serbia, Conrad and the Retingers arrived in Kraków (then in the Austro-Hungarian Empire), where Conrad visited childhood haunts. As the city lay only a few miles from the Russian border, there was a risk of getting stranded in a battle zone. With wife Jessie and younger son John ill, Conrad decided to take refuge in the mountain resort town of Zakopane. They left Kraków on 2 August. A few days after arrival in Zakopane, they moved to the Konstantynówka pension operated by Conrad’s cousin Aniela Zagórska; it had been frequented by celebrities including the statesman Józef Piłsudski and Conrad’s acquaintance, the young concert pianist Artur Rubinstein.[2]:458–63

Zagórska introduced Conrad to Polish writers, intellectuals and artists who had also taken refuge in Zakopane, including novelist Stefan Żeromski and Tadeusz Nalepiński, a writer friend of anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski. Conrad roused interest among the Poles as a famous writer and an exotic compatriot from abroad. He charmed new acquaintances, especially women. However, the double Nobel laureate Maria Skłodowska-Curie‘s physician sister, Bronisława Dłuska, scolded him for having used his great talent for purposes other than bettering the future of his native land[2]:463–64[note 16] But thirty-three-year-old Aniela Zagórska (daughter of the pension keeper), Conrad’s niece who would translate his works into Polish in 1923–39, idolised him, kept him company, and provided him with books. He particularly delighted in the stories and novels of the ten-years-older, recently deceased Bolesław Prus,[2]:463[26] read everything by his fellow victim of Poland’s 1863 Uprising – “my beloved Prus” – that he could get his hands on, and pronounced him “better than Dickens” – a favourite English novelist of Conrad’s.[27][note 17]

Conrad, who was noted by his Polish acquaintances to be fluent in his native tongue, participated in their impassioned political discussions. He declared presciently, as Piłsudski had earlier in 1914 in Paris, that in the war, for Poland to regain independence, Russia must be beaten by the Central Powers (the Austro-Hungarian and German Empires), and the latter must in turn be beaten by France and Britain.[2]:464

After many travails and vicissitudes, at the beginning of November 1914 Conrad managed to bring his family back to England. On his return, he was determined to work on swaying British opinion in favour of restoring Poland’s sovereignty.[2]:464–68

Jessie Conrad would later write in her memoirs: “I understood my husband so much better after those months in Poland. So many characteristics that had been strange and unfathomable to me before, took, as it were, their right proportions. I understood that his temperament was that of his countrymen.”[2]:466

Politics

Conrad [writes Najder] was passionately concerned with politics. [This] is confirmed by several of his works, starting with Almayer’s Folly. […] Nostromo revealed his concern with these matters more fully; it was, of course, a concern quite natural for someone from a country [Poland] where politics was a matter not only of everyday existence but also of life and death. Moreover, Conrad himself came from a social class that claimed exclusive responsibility for state affairs, and from a very politically active family. Norman Douglas sums it up: “Conrad was first and foremost a Pole and like many Poles a politician and moralist malgré lui [French: “in spite of himself”]. These are his fundamentals.” [What made] Conrad see political problems in terms of a continuous struggle between law and violence, anarchy and order, freedom and autocracy, material interests and the noble idealism of individuals […] was Conrad’s historical awareness. His Polish experience endowed him with the perception, exceptional in the Western European literature of his time, of how winding and constantly changing were the front lines in these struggles.[28]

The most extensive and ambitious political statement that Conrad ever made was his 1905 essay, “Autocracy and War”, whose starting point was the Russo-Japanese War (he finished the article a month before the Battle of Tsushima Strait). The essay begins with a statement about Russia’s incurable weakness and ends with warnings against Prussia, the dangerous aggressor in a future European war. For Russia he predicted a violent outburst in the near future, but Russia’s lack of democratic traditions and the backwardness of her masses made it impossible for the revolution to have a salutary effect. Conrad regarded the formation of a representative government in Russia as unfeasible and foresaw a transition from autocracy to dictatorship. He saw western Europe as torn by antagonisms engendered by economic rivalry and commercial selfishness. In vain might a Russian revolution seek advice or help from a materialistic and egoistic western Europe that armed itself in preparation for wars far more brutal than those of the past.[2]:351–54

Conrad’s “Autocracy and War”, Najder points out, showed a historical awareness “exceptional in the Western European literature of his time” – an awareness that Conrad had drawn from his membership in a very politically active family of a country that had for over a century been daily reminded of the consequences of neglecting the broad enlightened interests of the national polity.[2]:352

Conrad’s distrust of democracy sprang from his doubts whether the propagation of democracy as an aim in itself could solve any problems. He thought that, in view of the weakness of human nature and of the “criminal” character of society, democracy offered boundless opportunities for demagogues and charlatans.[2]:290

He accused social democrats of his time of acting to weaken “the national sentiment, the preservation of which [was his] concern” – of attempting to dissolve national identities in an impersonal melting-pot. “I look at the future from the depth of a very black past and I find that nothing is left for me except fidelity to a cause lost, to an idea without future.” It was Conrad’s hopeless fidelity to the memory of Poland that prevented him from believing in the idea of “international fraternity,” which he considered, under the circumstances, just a verbal exercise. He resented some socialists’ talk of freedom and world brotherhood while keeping silent about his own partitioned and oppressed Poland.[2]:290

Before that, in the early 1880s, letters to Conrad from his uncle Tadeusz[note 18] show Conrad apparently having hoped for an improvement in Poland’s situation not through a liberation movement but by establishing an alliance with neighbouring Slavic nations. This had been accompanied by a faith in the Panslavic ideology – “surprising,” Najder writes, “in a man who was later to emphasize his hostility towards Russia, a conviction that… Poland’s [superior] civilization and… historic… traditions would [let] her play a leading role… in the Panslavic community, [and his] doubts about Poland’s chances of becoming a fully sovereign nation-state.”[2]:88–89

Conrad’s alienation from partisan politics went together with an abiding sense of the thinking man’s burden imposed by his personality, as described in an 1894 letter of Conrad’s to a relative-by-marriage and fellow author, Marguerite Poradowska (née Gachet, and cousin of Vincent van Gogh‘s physician, Paul Gachet) of Brussels:

We must drag the chain and ball of our personality to the end. This is the price one pays for the infernal and divine privilege of thought; so in this life it is only the chosen who are convicts – a glorious band which understands and groans but which treads the earth amidst a multitude of phantoms with maniacal gestures and idiotic grimaces. Which would you rather be: idiot or convict?[2]:195

In a 23 October 1922 letter to mathematician-philosopher Bertrand Russell, in response to the latter’s book, The Problem of China, which advocated socialist reforms and an oligarchy of sages who would reshape Chinese society, Conrad explained his own distrust of political panaceas:

I have never [found] in any man’s book or… talk anything… to stand up… against my deep-seated sense of fatality governing this man-inhabited world…. The only remedy for Chinamen and for the rest of us is [a] change of hearts, but looking at the history of the last 2000 years there is not much reason to expect [it], even if man has taken to flying – a great “uplift” no doubt but no great change….[2]:548–9

Death

On 3 August 1924, Conrad died at his house, Oswalds, in Bishopsbourne, Kent, England, probably of a heart attack. He was interred at Canterbury Cemetery, Canterbury, under a misspelled version of his original Polish name, as “Joseph Teador Conrad Korzeniowski”.[2]:573 Inscribed on his gravestone are the lines from Edmund Spenser‘s The Faerie Queene which he had chosen as the epigraph to his last complete novel, The Rover:

Sleep after toyle, port after stormie seas,

Ease after warre, death after life, doth greatly please[2]:574

Conrad’s modest funeral took place amid great crowds. His old friend Edward Garnett recalled bitterly:

To those who attended Conrad’s funeral in Canterbury during the Cricket Festival of 1924, and drove through the crowded streets festooned with flags, there was something symbolical in England’s hospitality and in the crowd’s ignorance of even the existence of this great writer. A few old friends, acquaintances and pressmen stood by his grave.[2]:573

Another old friend of Conrad’s, Cunninghame Graham, wrote Garnett: “Aubry was saying to me… that had Anatole France died, all Paris would have been at his funeral.”[2]:573

Twelve years later, Conrad’s wife Jessie died on 6 December 1936 and was interred with him.

In 1996 his grave became a Grade II listed building.[29]

Critical reception

Style

Conrad, 1916

Conrad, an emotional man subject to fits of depression, self-doubt, and pessimism, disciplined his romantic temperament with an unsparing moral judgment.

Despite the opinions even of some who knew him personally, such as fellow novelist Henry James,[2]:446–47 Conrad – even when he was only writing elegantly crafted letters to his uncle and acquaintances – was always at heart a writer who sailed, rather than a sailor who wrote. He used his sailor’s experiences as a backdrop for many of his works, but he also produced works of similar world view, without the nautical motifs. The failure of many critics in his time to appreciate this caused him much frustration.[2]:377, 562

An October 1923 visitor to Oswalds, Conrad’s home at the time – Cyril Clemens, a cousin of Mark Twain – quoted Conrad as saying: “In everything I have written there is always one invariable intention, and that is to capture the reader’s attention.”[2]:564

Conrad the artist famously aspired, in the words of his preface to The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’ (1897), “by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel… before all, to make you see. That – and no more, and it is everything. If I succeed, you shall find there according to your deserts: encouragement, consolation, fear, charm – all you demand – and, perhaps, also that glimpse of truth for which you have forgotten to ask.”[30]

Writing in what to the visual arts was the age of Impressionism, and what to music was the age of impressionist music, Conrad showed himself in many of his works a prose poet of the highest order: for instance, in the evocativePatna and courtroom scenes of Lord Jim; in the scenes of the “melancholy-mad elephant” and the “French gunboat firing into a continent”, in Heart of Darkness; in the doubled protagonists of The Secret Sharer; and in the verbal and conceptual resonances of Nostromo and The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’.

Conrad used his own memories as literary material so often that readers are tempted to treat his life and work as a single whole. His “view of the world“, or elements of it, are often described by citing at once both his private and public statements, passages from his letters, and citations from his books. Najder warns that this approach produces an incoherent and misleading picture. “An… uncritical linking of the two spheres, literature and private life, distorts each. Conrad used his own experiences as raw material, but the finished product should not be confused with the experiences themselves.”[2]:576–77

Many of Conrad’s characters were inspired by actual persons he had met, including, in his first novel, Almayer’s Folly (completed 1894), William Charles Olmeijer, the spelling of whose name Conrad, probably inadvertently, altered to “Almayer.”[10]:11, 40 The historic trader Olmeijer, whom Conrad encountered on his four short visits to Berau in Borneo, subsequently haunted Conrad’s imagination.[10]:40–1 Conrad frequently borrowed the authentic names of actual individuals, e.g., Captain McWhirr[note 19] (Typhoon), Captain Beard and Mr. Mahon (“Youth“), Captain Lingard (Almayer’s Folly and elsewhere), Captain Ellis (The Shadow Line). “Conrad,” writes J. I. M. Stewart, “appears to have attached some mysterious significance to such links with actuality.”[10]:11–12 Equally curious is “a great deal of namelessness in Conrad, requiring some minor virtuosity to maintain.”[10]:244 We never learn the surname of the protagonist of Lord Jim.[10]:95 Conrad also preserves, in The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’, the authentic name of the ship, the Narcissus, in which he sailed in 1884.[2]:98–100

Apart from Conrad’s own experiences, a number of episodes in his fiction were suggested by past or contemporary publicly known events or literary works. The first half of the 1900 novel Lord Jim (the ‘Patna’ episode) was inspired by the real-life 1880 story of theSS Jeddah;[10]:96–7 the second part, to some extent by the life of James Brooke, the first White Rajah of Sarawak.[31] The 1901 short story “Amy Foster” was inspired partly by an anecdote in Ford Madox Ford‘s The Cinque Ports (1900), wherein a shipwrecked sailor from a German merchant ship, unable to communicate in English, and driven away by the local country people, finally found shelter in a pigsty.[2]:312–13 [note 20] In Nostromo (completed 1904), the theft of a massive consignment of silver was suggested to Conrad by a story he had heard in the Gulf of Mexico and later read about in a “volume picked up outside a second-hand bookshop.”[10]:128–29 [note 21] The Secret Agent (completed 1906) was inspired by the French anarchist Martial Bourdin‘s 1894 death while apparently attempting to blow up the Greenwich Observatory.[32] Conrad’s story “The Secret Sharer” (completed 1909) was inspired by an 1880 incident when Sydney Smith, first mate of the Cutty Sark, had killed a seaman and fled from justice, aided by the ship’s captain.[10]:235–6 The plot of Under Western Eyes (completed 1910) is kicked off by the assassination of a brutal Russian government minister, modelled after the real-life 1904 assassination of Russian Minister of the Interior Vyacheslav von Plehve.[10]:199 The near-novella “Freya of the Seven Isles” (completed in March 1911) was inspired by a story told to Conrad by a Malaya old hand and fan of Conrad’s, Captain Carlos M. Marris.[2]:405, 422–23

For the natural surroundings of the high seas, the Malay Archipelago and South America, which Conrad described so vividly, he could rely on his own observations. What his brief landfalls could not provide was a thorough understanding of exotic cultures. For this he resorted, like other writers, to literary sources. When writing his Malayan stories, he consulted Alfred Russel Wallace‘s The Malay Archipelago (1869), James Brooke‘s journals, and books with titles like Perak and the Malays, My Journal in Malayan Waters, and Life in the Forests of the Far East. When he set about writing his novel Nostromo, set in the fictitious South American country of Costaguana, he turned to The War between Peru and Chile; Edward Eastwick, Venezuela: or, Sketches of Life in a South American Republic(1868); and George Frederick Masterman, Seven Eventful Years in Paraguay (1869).[10]:130 [note 22] As a result of relying on literary sources, in Lord Jim, as J. I. M. Stewart writes, Conrad’s “need to work to some extent from second-hand” led to “a certain thinness in Jim’s relations with the… peoples… of Patusan…”[10]:118 This prompted Conrad at some points to alter the nature of Charles Marlow‘s narrative to “distanc[e] an uncertain command of the detail of Tuan Jim’s empire.”[10]:119

In keeping with his scepticism[7]:166[10]:163 and melancholy,[10]:16, 18 Conrad almost invariably gives lethal fates to the characters in his principal novels and stories. Almayer (Almayer’s Folly, 1894), abandoned by his beloved daughter, takes to opium, and dies;[10]:42Peter Willems (An Outcast of the Islands, 1895) is killed by his jealous lover Aïssa;[10]:48 the ineffectual “Nigger,” James Wait (The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’, 1897), dies aboard ship and is buried at sea;[10]:68–9 Mr. Kurtz (Heart of Darkness, 1899) expires, uttering the enigmatic words, “The horror!”;[10]:68–9 Tuan Jim (Lord Jim, 1900), having inadvertently precipitated a massacre of his adoptive community, deliberately walks to his death at the hands of the community’s leader;[10]:97 in Conrad’s 1901 short story, “Amy Foster“, a Pole transplanted to England, Yanko Goorall (an English transliteration of the Polish Janko Góral, “Johnny Highlander”), falls ill and, suffering from a fever, raves in his native language, frightening his wife Amy, who flees; next morning Yanko dies of heart failure, and it transpires that he had simply been asking in Polish for water;[note 23] Captain Whalley (The End of the Tether, 1902), betrayed by failing eyesight and an unscrupulous partner, drowns himself;[10]:91 Gian’ Battista Fidanza,[note 24] the eponymous respected Italian-immigrant Nostromo (Italian: “Our Man”) of the novel Nostromo (1904), illicitly obtains a treasure of silver mined in the South American country of “Costaguana” and is shot dead due to mistaken identity;[10]:124–26 Mr. Verloc, The Secret Agent (1906) of divided loyalties, attempts a bombing, to be blamed on terrorists, that accidentally kills his mentally defective brother-in-law Stevie, and Verloc himself is killed by his distraught wife, who drowns herself by jumping overboard from a channel steamer;[10]:166–68 in Chance(1913), Roderick Anthony, a sailing-ship captain, and benefactor and husband of Flora de Barral, becomes the target of a poisoning attempt by her jealous disgraced financier father who, when detected, swallows the poison himself and dies (some years later, Captain Anthony drowns at sea);[10]:209–11 in Victory (1915), Lena is shot dead by Jones, who had meant to kill his accomplice Ricardo and later succeeds in doing so, then himself perishes along with another accomplice, after which Lena’s protector Axel Heyst sets fire to his bungalow and dies beside Lena’s body.[10]:220

When a principal character of Conrad’s does escape with his life, he sometimes does not fare much better. In Under Western Eyes (1911), Razumov betrays a fellow University of St. Petersburg student, the revolutionist Victor Haldin, who has assassinated a savagely repressive Russian government minister. Haldin is tortured and hanged by the authorities. Later Razumov, sent as a government spy to Geneva, a center of anti-tsarist intrigue, meets the mother and sister of Haldin, who share Haldin’s liberal convictions. Razumov falls in love with the sister and confesses his betrayal of her brother; later he makes the same avowal to assembled revolutionists, and their professional executioner bursts his eardrums, making him deaf for life. Razumov staggers away, is knocked down by a streetcar, and finally returns as a cripple to Russia.[10]:185–87

Conrad was keenly conscious of tragedy in the world and in his works. In 1898, at the start of his writing career, he had written to his Scottish writer-politician friend Cunninghame Graham: “What makes mankind tragic is not that they are the victims of nature, it is that they are conscious of it. [A]s soon as you know of your slavery the pain, the anger, the strife – the tragedy begins.” But in 1922, near the end of his life and career, when another Scottish friend, Richard Curle, sent Conrad proofs of two articles he had written about Conrad, the latter objected to being characterised as a gloomy and tragic writer. “That reputation… has deprived me of innumerable readers… I absolutely object to being called a tragedian.”[2]:544–5

Conrad claimed that he “never kept a diary and never owned a notebook.” John Galsworthy, who knew him well, described this as “a statement which surprised no one who knew the resources of his memory and the brooding nature of his creative spirit.”[33]Nevertheless, after Conrad’s death, Richard Curle published a heavily modified version of Conrad’s diaries describing his experiences in the Congo;[34] in 1978 a more complete version was published as The Congo Diary and Other Uncollected Pieces.[35]

Unlike many authors who make it a point not to discuss work in progress, Conrad often did discuss his current work and even showed it to select friends and fellow authors, such as Edward Garnett, and sometimes modified it in the light of their critiques and suggestions.[2]

He also borrowed from other, Polish- and French-language authors, to an extent sometimes skirting plagiarism. When the Polish translation of his 1915 novel Victory appeared in 1931, readers noted striking similarities to Stefan Żeromski‘s kitschy novel, The History of a Sin (Dzieje grzechu, 1908), including their endings. Comparative-literature scholar Yves Hervouet has demonstrated in the text of Victory a whole mosaic of influences, borrowings, similarities and allusions. He further lists hundreds of concrete borrowings from other, mostly French authors in nearly all of Conrad’s works, from Almayer’s Folly (1895) to his unfinished Suspense. Conrad seems to have used eminent writers’ texts as raw material of the same kind as the content of his own memory. Materials borrowed from other authors often functioned as allusions. Moreover, he had a phenomenal memory for texts and remembered details, “but [writes Najder] it was not a memory strictly categorized according to sources, marshalled into homogeneous entities; it was, rather, an enormous receptacle of images and pieces from which he would draw.”[2]:454–7

But [writes Najder] he can never be accused of outright plagiarism. Even when lifting sentences and scenes, Conrad changed their character, inserted them within novel structures. He did not imitate, but (as Hervouet says) “continued” his masters. He was right in saying: “I don’t resemble anybody.” Ian Watt put it succinctly: “In a sense, Conrad is the least derivative of writers; he wrote very little that could possibly be mistaken for the work of anyone else.”[2]:457[note 25]

Conrad, like other artists, faced constraints arising from the need to propitiate his audience and confirm its own favourable self-regard. This may account for his describing the admirable crew of the Judea in his 1898 story “Youth” as “Liverpool hard cases”, whereas the crew of the Judea’s actual 1882 prototype, the Palestine, had included not a single Liverpudlian, and half the crew had been non-Britons;[2]:94 and for Conrad’s turning the real-life 1880 criminally negligent British Captain J. L. Clark, of the SS Jeddah, in his 1900 novel Lord Jim, into the captain of the fictitious Patna – “a sort of renegade New South Wales German” so monstrous in physical appearance as to suggest “a trained baby elephant.”[10]:98–103 Similarly, in his letters Conrad – during most of his literary career, struggling for sheer financial survival – often adjusted his views to the predilections of his correspondents.[2]:105 And when he wished to criticise the conduct of European imperialism in what would later be termed the “Third World“, he turned his gaze upon the Dutchand Belgian colonies, not upon the British Empire.[2]:119

The singularity of the universe depicted in Conrad’s novels, especially compared to those of near-contemporaries like his friend and frequent benefactor John Galsworthy, is such as to open him to criticism similar to that later applied to Graham Greene.[36] But where “Greeneland” has been characterised as a recurring and recognisable atmosphere independent of setting, Conrad is at pains to create a sense of place, be it aboard ship or in a remote village; often he chose to have his characters play out their destinies in isolated or confined circumstances. In the view of Evelyn Waugh and Kingsley Amis, it was not until the first volumes of Anthony Powell‘s sequence, A Dance to the Music of Time, were published in the 1950s, that an English novelist achieved the same command of atmosphere and precision of language with consistency, a view supported by later critics like A. N. Wilson; Powell acknowledged his debt to Conrad. Leo Gurko, too, remarks, as “one of Conrad’s special qualities, his abnormal awareness of place, an awareness magnified to almost a new dimension in art, an ecological dimension defining the relationship between earth and man.”[37]

T. E. Lawrence, one of many writers whom Conrad befriended, offered some perceptive observations about Conrad’s writing:

He’s absolutely the most haunting thing in prose that ever was: I wish I knew how every paragraph he writes (…they are all paragraphs: he seldom writes a single sentence…) goes on sounding in waves, like the note of a tenor bell, after it stops. It’s not built in the rhythm of ordinary prose, but on something existing only in his head, and as he can never say what it is he wants to say, all his things end in a kind of hunger, a suggestion of something he can’t say or do or think. So his books always look bigger than they are. He’s as much a giant of the subjective as Kipling is of the objective. Do they hate one another?[7]:343

In Conrad’s time, literary critics, while usually commenting favourably on his works, often remarked that many readers were put off by his exotic style, complex narration, profound themes, and pessimistic ideas. Yet, as his ideas were borne out by ensuing 20th-century events, in due course he came to be admired for beliefs that seemed to accord more closely with subsequent times than with his own.

Conrad’s was a starkly lucid view of the human condition – a vision similar to that which had been offered in two micro-stories by his ten-years-older Polish compatriot, Bolesław Prus (whose work Conrad greatly admired):[note 26]Mold of the Earth” (1884) and “Shades” (1885). Conrad wrote:

Faith is a myth and beliefs shift like mists on the shore; thoughts vanish; words, once pronounced, die; and the memory of yesterday is as shadowy as the hope of to-morrow….

In this world – as I have known it – we are made to suffer without the shadow of a reason, of a cause or of guilt….

There is no morality, no knowledge and no hope; there is only the consciousness of ourselves which drives us about a world that… is always but a vain and fleeting appearance….

A moment, a twinkling of an eye and nothing remains – but a clod of mud, of cold mud, of dead mud cast into black space, rolling around an extinguished sun. Nothing. Neither thought, nor sound, nor soul. Nothing.[7]:166

Conrad’s friendCunninghame Graham

In a letter of late December 1897 to Cunninghame Graham, Conrad metaphorically described the universe as a huge machine:

It evolved itself (I am severely scientific) out of a chaos of scraps of iron and behold! – it knits. I am horrified at the horrible work and stand appalled. I feel it ought to embroider – but it goes on knitting. You come and say: “this is all right; it’s only a question of the right kind of oil. Let us use this – for instance – celestial oil and the machine shall embroider a most beautiful design in purple and gold.” Will it? Alas no. You cannot by any special lubrication make embroidery with a knitting machine. And the most withering thought is that the infamous thing has made itself; made itself without thought, without conscience, without foresight, without eyes, without heart. It is a tragic accident –and it has happened. You can’t interfere with it. The last drop of bitterness is in the suspicion that you can’t even smash it. In virtue of that truth one and immortal which lurks in the force that made it spring into existence it is what it is  – and it is indestructible!

It knits us in and it knits us out. It has knitted time space, pain, death, corruption, despair and all the illusions  – and nothing matters.[2]:253

Conrad is the novelist of man in extreme situations. “Those who read me,” he wrote in the preface to A Personal Record, “know my conviction that the world, the temporal world, rests on a few very simple ideas; so simple that they must be as old as the hills. It rests, notably, among others, on the idea of Fidelity.”

For Conrad fidelity is the barrier man erects against nothingness, against corruption, against the evil that is all about him, insidious, waiting to engulf him, and that in some sense is within him unacknowledged. But what happens when fidelity is submerged, the barrier broken down, and the evil without is acknowledged by the evil within? At his greatest, that is Conrad’s theme.[1]

What is the essence of Conrad’s art? It surely is not the plot, which he – like Shakespeare – often borrows from public sources and which could be duplicated by lesser authors; the plot serves merely as the vehicle for what the author has to say. A focus on plot leads to the absurdity of Charles and Mary Lamb‘s 1807 Tales from Shakespeare. Rather, Conrad’s essence is to be sought in his depiction of the world open to our senses, and in the world view that he has evolved in the course of experiencing that outer, and his own inner, world. An evocative part of that view is expressed in an August 1901 letter that Conrad wrote to the editor of The New York Times Saturday Book Review:

Egoism, which is the moving force of the world, and altruism, which is its morality, these two contradictory instincts, of which one is so plain and the other so mysterious, cannot serve us unless in the incomprehensible alliance of their irreconcilable antagonism.[2]:315 [note 27]

Language

Conrad spoke both his native Polish language and the French language fluently from childhood and only acquired English in his twenties. Why then did he choose to write his books in, effectively, his third language? He states in his preface to A Personal Record that writing in English was for him “natural”, and that the idea of his having made a deliberate choice between English and French, as some had suggested, was in error. He explained that, though he was familiar with French from childhood, “I would have been afraid to attempt expression in a language so perfectly ‘crystallized’.”[38]:iv-x In a 1915 conversation with American sculptor Jo Davidson, as he posed for his bust, in response to Davidson’s question Conrad said: “Ah… to write French you have to know it. English is so plastic—if you haven’t got a word you need you can make it, but to write French you have to be an artist like Anatole France.”[39] These statements, as so often happens in Conrad’s “autobiographical” writings, are subtly disingenuous.[2] In 1897 Conrad was paid a visit by a fellow Pole, Wincenty Lutosławski, who was intent on imploring Conrad to write in Polish and “to win Conrad for Polish literature”. Lutosławski recalls that during their conversation Conrad explained why he did not write in Polish: “I value too much our beautiful Polish literature to introduce into it my worthless twaddle. But for Englishmen my capacities are just sufficient: they enable me to earn my living”. Perhaps revealingly, Conrad later wrote to Lutosławski to keep his visit a secret.[40]

More to the point is Conrad’s remark in A Personal Record that English was “the speech of my secret choice, of my future, of long friendships, of the deepest affections, of hours of toil and hours of ease, and of solitary hours, too, of books read, of thoughts pursued, of remembered emotions—of my very dreams!”[38]:252 In 1878 Conrad’s four-year experience in the French merchant marine had been cut short when the French discovered that he did not have a permit from the Imperial Russian consul to sail with the French.[note 28] This, and some typically disastrous Conradian investments, had left him destitute and had precipitated a suicide attempt. With the concurrence of his uncle Bobrowski, who had been summoned to Marseilles, Conrad decided to seek employment with the British merchant marine, which did not require Russia’s permission.[2]:64–66 Thus began Conrad’s sixteen years’ seafarer’s acquaintance with the British and with the English language.

Had Conrad remained in the Francophone sphere or had he returned to Poland, the son of the Polish poet, playwright and translator Apollo Korzeniowski – from childhood exposed to Polish and foreign literature, and ambitious to himself become a writer[2]:43–44 –might have ended writing in French or Polish instead of English. Certainly his mentor-uncle Tadeusz Bobrowski thought Conrad might write in Polish; in an 1881 letter he advised his 23-year-old nephew:

As, thank God, you do not forget your Polish… and your writing is not bad, I repeat what I have… written and said before – you would do well to write… for Wędrowiec [The Wanderer] in Warsaw. We have few travelers, and even fewer genuine correspondents: the words of an eyewitness would be of great interest and in time would bring you… money. It would be an exercise in your native tongue—that thread which binds you to your country and countrymen—and finally a tribute to the memory of your father who always wanted to and did serve his country by his pen.[2]:86

Inescapably, Conrad’s third language, English, remained under the influence of his first two languages – Polish and French. This makes his English seem unusual. Najder observes:

[H]e was a man of three cultures: Polish, French, and English. Brought up in a Polish family and cultural environment… he learned French as a child, and at the age of less than seventeen went to France, to serve… four years in the French merchant marine. At school he must have learned German, but French remained the language he spoke with greatest fluency (and no foreign accent) until the end of his life. He was well versed in French history and literature, and French novelists were his artistic models. But he wrote all his books in English—the tongue he started to learn at the age of twenty. He was thus an English writer who grew up in other linguistic and cultural environments. His work can be seen as located in the borderland of auto-translation [emphasis added by Wikipedia].[2]:IX

Inevitably for a trilingual Polish–French–English-speaker, Conrad’s writings occasionally show examples of “Franglais” and “Poglish” – of the inadvertent use of French or Polish vocabulary, grammar or syntax in his English compositions. In one instance, Najder uses “several slips in vocabulary, typical for Conrad (Gallicisms) and grammar (usually Polonisms)” as part of internal evidence against Conrad’s sometime literary collaborator Ford Madox Ford‘s claim to have written a certain instalment of Conrad’s novel Nostromo, for serialised publication in T. P.’s Weekly, on behalf of an ill Conrad.[2]:341–42

The impracticality of working with a language which has long ceased to be one’s principal language of daily use is illustrated by Conrad’s 1921 attempt at translating into English the Polish columnist and comedy-writer Bruno Winawer‘s short play, The Book of Job. Najder writes:

[T]he [play’s] language is easy, colloquial, slightly individualized. Particularly Herup and a snobbish Jew, “Bolo” Bendziner, have their characteristic ways of speaking. Conrad, who had had little contact with everyday spoken Polish, simplified the dialogue, left out Herup’s scientific expressions, and missed many amusing nuances. The action in the original is quite clearly set in contemporary Warsaw, somewhere between elegant society and the demimonde; this specific cultural setting is lost in the translation. Conrad left out many accents of topical satire in the presentation of the dramatis personae and ignored not only the ungrammatical speech (which might have escaped him) of some characters but even the Jewishness of two of them, Bolo and Mosan.[2]:538–39

As a practical matter, by the time Conrad set about writing fiction, he had little choice but to write in English.[note 29] Poles who accused Conrad of cultural apostasy because he wrote in English instead of Polish,[2]:292–95, 463–64 missed the point – as do Anglophoneswho see, in Conrad’s default choice of English as his artistic medium, a testimonial to some sort of innate superiority of the English language.[note 30] According to Conrad’s close friend and literary assistant Richard Curle, the fact of Conrad writing in English was “obviously misleading” because Conrad “is no more completely English in his art than he is in his nationality”.[41]:223 Moreover, Conrad “could never have written in any other language save the English language….for he would have been dumb in any other language but the English.”[41]:227–28

Conrad always retained a strong emotional attachment to his native language. He asked his visiting Polish niece Karola Zagórska, “Will you forgive me that my sons don’t speak Polish?”[2]:481 In June 1924, shortly before his death, he apparently expressed a desire that his son John marry a Polish girl and learn Polish, and toyed with the idea of returning for good to now independent Poland.[2]:571

Controversy

In 1975 the Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe published an essay, “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’“, which provoked controversy by calling Conrad a “thoroughgoing racist”. Achebe’s view was that Heart of Darkness cannot be considered a great work of art because it is “a novel which celebrates… dehumanisation, which depersonalises a portion of the human race.” Referring to Conrad as a “talented, tormented man”, Achebe notes that Conrad (via the protagonist, Charles Marlow) reduces and degrades Africans to “limbs”, “angles”, “glistening white eyeballs”, etc. while simultaneously (and fearfully) suspecting a common kinship between himself and these natives—leading Marlow to sneer the word “ugly.”[42] Achebe also cited Conrad’s description of an encounter with an African: “A certain enormous buck nigger encountered in Haiti fixed my conception of blind, furious, unreasoning rage, as manifested in the human animal to the end of my days.”[43] Achebe’s essay, a landmark in postcolonial discourse, provoked debate and the questions it raised have been addressed in most subsequent literary criticism of Conrad.[44][45]

Achebe’s critics argue that he fails to distinguish Marlow‘s view from Conrad’s, which results in very clumsy interpretations of the novella.[46] In their view, Conrad portrays Africans sympathetically and their plight tragically, and refers sarcastically to, and outright condemns, the supposedly noble aims of European colonists, thereby demonstrating his scepticism about the moral superiority of white men.[47] This, indeed, is a central theme of the novel; Marlow’s experiences in Africa, expose the brutality of colonialism and its rationales. Ending a passage that describes the condition of chained, emaciated slaves, the novelist remarks: “After all, I also was a part of the great cause of these high and just proceedings.” Some observers assert that Conrad, whose native country had been conquered by imperial powers, empathised by default with other subjugated peoples.[48] Jeffrey Meyers noted that Conrad, like his acquaintance Roger Casement, “was one of the first men to question the Western notion of progress, a dominant idea in Europe from the Renaissance to the Great War, to attack the hypocritical justification of colonialism and to reveal… the savage degradation of the white man in Africa.”[7]:100–1

Conrad scholar Peter Firchow wrote that “nowhere in the novel does Conrad or any of his narrators, personified or otherwise, claim superiority on the part of Europeans on the grounds of alleged genetic or biological difference”. If Conrad or his novel is racist, it is only in a weak sense, since Heart of Darkness acknowledges racial distinctions “but does not suggest an essential superiority” of any group.[49][50] Achebe’s reading of Heart of Darkness can be (and has been) challenged by a reading of Conrad’s other African story, “An Outpost of Progress“, which has an omniscient narrator, rather than the embodied narrator, Marlow. Some younger scholars, such as Masood Ashraf Raja, have also suggested that if we read Conrad beyond Heart of Darkness, especially his Malay novels, racism can be further complicated by foregrounding Conrad’s positive representation of Muslims.[51]

Memorials

Monument to Conrad inVologda, Russia, to which Conrad and his parents were exiled in 1862

Anchor-shaped Conrad monument at Gdynia, on Poland’s Baltic Seacoast

Plaque commemorating “Joseph Conrad–Korzeniowski”, Singapore

An anchor-shaped monument to Conrad at Gdynia, on Poland’s Baltic Seacoast, features a quotation from him in Polish: “Nic tak nie nęci, nie rozczarowuje i nie zniewala, jak życie na morzu” (“[T]here is nothing more enticing, disenchanting, and enslaving than the life at sea” – Lord Jim, chapter 2, paragraph 1).

In Circular Quay, Sydney, Australia, a plaque in a “writers walk” commemorates Conrad’s visits to Australia between 1879 and 1892. The plaque notes that “Many of his works reflect his ‘affection for that young continent.'”[52]

In San Francisco in 1979, a small triangular square at Columbus Avenue and Beach Street, near Fisherman’s Wharf, was dedicated as “Joseph Conrad Square” after Conrad. The square’s dedication was timed to coincide with release of Francis Ford Coppola‘s Heart of Darkness-inspired film, Apocalypse Now.

In the latter part of World War II, the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Danae was rechristened ORP Conrad and served as part of the Polish Navy.

Notwithstanding the undoubted sufferings that Conrad endured on many of his voyages, sentimentality and canny marketing place him at the best lodgings in several of his destinations. Hotels across the Far East still lay claim to him as an honoured guest, with, however, no evidence to back their claims: Singapore’s Raffles Hotel continues to claim he stayed there though he lodged, in fact, at the Sailors’ Home nearby. His visit to Bangkok also remains in that city’s collective memory, and is recorded in the official history of The Oriental Hotel (where he never, in fact, stayed, lodging aboard his ship, the Otago) along with that of a less well-behaved guest, Somerset Maugham, who pilloried the hotel in a short story in revenge for attempts to eject him.

A plaque commemorating “Joseph Conrad–Korzeniowski” has been installed near Singapore’s Fullerton Hotel.

Conrad is also reported to have stayed at Hong Kong’s Peninsula Hotel—a port that, in fact, he never visited. Later literary admirers, notably Graham Greene, followed closely in his footsteps, sometimes requesting the same room and perpetuating myths that have no basis in fact. No Caribbean resort is yet known to have claimed Conrad’s patronage, although he is believed to have stayed at a Fort-de-Francepension upon arrival in Martinique on his first voyage, in 1875, when he travelled as a passenger on the Mont Blanc.

In April 2013, a monument to Conrad was unveiled in the Russian town of Vologda, where he and his parents lived in exile in 1862–63.

Legacy

After the publication of Chance in 1913, Conrad was the subject of more discussion and praise than any other English writer of the time. He had a genius for companionship, and his circle of friends, which he had begun assembling even prior to his first publications, included authors and other leading lights in the arts, such as Henry James, Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham, John Galsworthy, Edward Garnett, Garnett’s wife Constance Garnett (translator of Russian literature), Stephen Crane, Hugh Walpole, George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, Arnold Bennett, Norman Douglas, Jacob Epstein, T. E. Lawrence, André Gide, Paul Valéry, Maurice Ravel, Valery Larbaud, Saint-John Perse, Edith Wharton,James Huneker, anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski, Józef Retinger (later a founder of the European Movement, which led to the European Union, and author of Conrad and His Contemporaries). Conrad encouraged and mentored younger writers.[2] In the early 1900s he composed a short series of novels in collaboration with Ford Madox Ford.[53]

In 1919 and 1922 Conrad’s growing renown and prestige among writers and critics in continental Europe fostered his hopes for a Nobel Prize in Literature. Interestingly, it was apparently the French and Swedes – not the English – who favoured Conrad’s candidacy.[2]:512, 550 [note 31]

Conrad’s Polish Nałęczcoat-of-arms

In April 1924 Conrad, who possessed a hereditary Polish status of nobility and coat-of-arms (Nałęcz), declined a (non-hereditary) British knighthood offered by Labour Party Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald.[note 32] [note 33] Conrad kept a distance from official structures — he never voted in British national elections — and seems to have been averse to public honours generally; he had already refused honorary degrees from Cambridge, Durham, Edinburgh, Liverpool, and Yale universities.[2]:570

Of Conrad’s novels, Lord Jim (1900) and Nostromo (1904) are widely read as set texts and for pleasure. The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’ (1897), The Secret Agent (1907) and Under Western Eyes (1911) are also considered among his finest novels. Arguably his most influential work remains Heart of Darkness (1899), to which many have been introduced by Francis Ford Coppola‘s film, Apocalypse Now (1979), inspired by Conrad’s novel and set during the Vietnam War; the novel’s depiction of a journey into the darkness of the human psyche resonates with modern readers. Conrad’s short stories, other novels, and nonfiction writings also continue to find favour with many readers and filmmakers.

In the People’s Republic of Poland, translations of Conrad’s works were published – all except Under Western Eyes, banned by the censors due to its advocacy of fairness and neutrality.[citation needed] Under Western Eyes was published in Poland in the 1980s as an underground “bibuła“.[54]

Joseph Conrad was an influence on many subsequent writers, including D. H. Lawrence, T.S. Eliot, Maria Dąbrowska,[55] F. Scott Fitzgerald,[6] William Faulkner,[6] Gerald Basil Edwards, Ernest Hemingway,[56] Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,[55] André Malraux,[55] George Orwell,[7]:254 Graham Greene,[6] Malcolm Lowry, William Golding,[6] William S. Burroughs, Joseph Heller, Italo Calvino, Gabriel García Márquez,[6] J. G. Ballard, Chinua Achebe, John le Carré,[6] V. S. Naipaul,[6] Philip Roth,[57]Hunter S. Thompson, J. M. Coetzee,[6] Stephen Donaldson, and Salman Rushdie.[note 34]

Impressions

A striking portrait of Conrad, aged about 46, was drawn by the historian and poet Henry Newbolt, who met him about 1903:

One thing struck me at once—the extraordinary difference between his expression in profile and when looked at full face. [W]hile the profile was aquiline and commanding, in the front view the broad brow, wide-apart eyes and full lips produced the effect of an intellectual calm and even at times of a dreaming philosophy. Then [a]s we sat in our little half-circle round the fire, and talked on anything and everything, I saw a third Conrad emerge—an artistic self, sensitive and restless to the last degree. The more he talked the more quickly he consumed his cigarettes… And presently, when I asked him why he was leaving London after… only two days, he replied that… the crowd in the streets… terrified him. “Terrified? By that dull stream of obliterated faces?” He leaned forward with both hands raised and clenched. “Yes, terrified: I see their personalities all leaping out at me like tigers!” He acted the tiger well enough almost to terrify his hearers: but the moment after he was talking again wisely and soberly as if he were an average Englishman with not an irritable nerve in his body.[2]:331

On 12 October 1912, American music critic James Huneker visited Conrad and later recalled being received by “a man of the world, neither sailor nor novelist, just a simple-mannered gentleman, whose welcome was sincere, whose glance was veiled, at times far-away, whose ways were French, Polish, anything but ‘literary,’ bluff or English.”[2]:437

After respective separate visits to Conrad in August and September 1913, two British aristocrats, the socialite Lady Ottoline Morrell and the mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell – who were lovers at the time – recorded their impressions of the novelist. In her diary, Morrell wrote:

I found Conrad himself standing at the door of the house ready to receive me. How different from the [disparaging] picture Henry James had evoked [in conversation with Morrell], for Conrad’s appearance was really that of a Polish nobleman. His manner was perfect, almost too elaborate; so nervous and sympathetic that every fibre of him seemed electric… He talked English with a strong accent, as if he tasted his words in his mouth before pronouncing them; but he talked extremely well, though he had always the talk and manner of a foreigner… He was dressed very carefully in a blue double-breasted jacket. He talked… apparently with great freedom about his life – more ease and freedom indeed than an Englishman would have allowed himself. He spoke of the horrors of the Congo, from the moral and physical shock of which he said he had never recovered… [His wife Jessie] seemed a nice and good-looking fat creature, an excellent cook, as Henry James [had] said, and was indeed a good and reposeful mattress for this hypersensitive, nerve-wracked man, who did not ask from his wife high intelligence, only an assuagement of life’s vibrations…. He made me feel so natural and very much myself, that I was almost afraid of losing the thrill and wonder of being there, although I was vibrating with intense excitement inside; and even now, as I write this, I feel almost the same excitement, the same thrill of having been in the presence of one of the most remarkable men I have known. His eyes under their pent-house lids revealed the suffering and the intensity of his experiences; when he spoke of his work, there came over them a sort of misty, sensuous, dreamy look, but they seemed to hold deep down the ghosts of old adventures and experiences – once or twice there was something in them one almost suspected of being wicked…. But then I believe whatever strange wickedness would tempt this super-subtle Pole, he would be held in restraint by an equally delicate sense of honour…. In his talk he led me along many paths of his life, but I felt that he did not wish to explore the jungle of emotions that lay dense on either side, and that his apparent frankness had a great reserve. This may perhaps be characteristic of Poles as it is of the Irish.[2]:447

A month later, Bertrand Russell visited Conrad at Capel House, and the same day on the train wrote down his impressions:

It was wonderful – I loved him & I think he liked me. He talked a great deal about his work & life & aims, & about other writers…. I got him on to Henry James… Then we went for a little walk, & somehow grew very intimate. I plucked up courage to tell him what I find in his work – the boring down into things to get to the very bottom below the apparent facts. He seemed to feel I had understood him; then I stopped & we just looked into each other’s eyes for some time, & then he said he had grown to wish he could live on the surface and write differently, that he had grown frightened. His eyes at the moment expressed the inward pain & terror that one feels him always fighting…. Then he talked a lot about Poland, & showed me an album of family photographs of the [18]60’s – spoke about how dream-like all that seems, & how he sometimes feels he ought not to have had any children, because they have no roots or traditions or relations.[2]:448

Russell’s insights, so resonant with Morrell’s, reveal the profundity of Conrad’s existential loneliness. Russell’s Autobiography, published over half a century later in 1968, vividly confirms his original experience:

My first impression was one of surprise. He spoke English with a very strong foreign accent, and nothing in his demeanour in any way suggested the sea. He was an aristocratic Polish gentleman to his fingertips…. At our very first meeting, we talked with continually increasing intimacy. We seemed to sink through layer after layer of what was superficial, till gradually both reached the central fire. It was an experience unlike any other… I have known. We looked into each other’s eyes, half appalled and half intoxicated to find ourselves together in such a region. The emotion was as intense as passionate love, and at the same time all-embracing. I came away bewildered, and hardly able to find my way among ordinary affairs.[2]:448–49

The two men’s subsequent friendship and correspondence lasted, with long intervals, to the end of Conrad’s life. In one letter, Conrad avowed his “deep admiring affection, which, if you were never to see me again and forget my existence tomorrow will be unalterably yours usque ad finem.”[2]:449 Conrad in his correspondence often used the Latin expression meaning “to the very end”, which he seems to have adopted from his faithful guardian, mentor and benefactor, his maternal uncle Tadeusz Bobrowski.[58]

Conrad looked with less optimism than Russell on the possibilities of scientific and philosophic knowledge.[2]:449 In a 1913 letter to acquaintances who had invited Conrad to join their society, he reiterated his belief that it was impossible to understand the essence of either reality or life: both science and art penetrate no further than the outer shapes.[2]:446

Najder describes Conrad as “[a]n alienated émigré… haunted by a sense of the unreality of other people – a feeling natural to someone living outside the established structures of family, social milieu, and country”.[2]:576

Throughout almost his entire life Conrad was an outsider and felt himself to be one. An outsider in exile; an outsider during his visits to his family in… Ukraine; an outsider – because of his experiences and bereavement – in [Kraków] and Lwów; an outsider in Marseilles; an outsider, nationally and culturally, on British ships; an outsider as an English writer.[2]:576

Conrad’s sense of loneliness throughout his exile’s life found memorable expression in the 1901 short story, “Amy Foster“.

In popular culture

Works

Novels

Stories

Epstein’s bust of Conrad (1924),Birmingham Art Gallery. Additional copies are at London’s National Portrait Gallery and San Francisco’s Maritime Museum. Epstein, wrote Conrad, “has produced a wonderful piece of work of a somewhat monumental dignity, and yet—everybody agrees—the likeness is striking”[2]:568

  • “The Black Mate”: written, according to Conrad, in 1886; may be counted as his opus double zero; published 1908; posthumously collected in Tales of Hearsay, 1925.
  • The Idiots“: Conrad’s truly first short story, which may be counted as his opus zero; written during his honeymoon (3.1896), published in The Savoy periodical, 1896, and collected in Tales of Unrest, 1898.
  • The Lagoon“: composed 1896; published in Cornhill Magazine, 1897; collected in Tales of Unrest, 1898: “It is the first short story I ever wrote.”
  • An Outpost of Progress“: written 1896; published in Cosmopolis, 1897, and collected in Tales of Unrest, 1898: “My next [second] effort in short-story writing”; it shows numerous thematic affinities with Heart of Darkness; in 1906, Conrad described it as his “best story”.
  • “The Return”: completed early 1897, while writing “Karain”; never published in magazine form; collected in Tales of Unrest, 1898: “[A]ny kind word about ‘The Return’ (and there have been such words said at different times) awakens in me the liveliest gratitude, for I know how much the writing of that fantasy has cost me in sheer toil, in temper, and in disillusion.” Conrad, who suffered while writing this psychological chef-d’oeuvre of introspection, once remarked: “I hate it.”
  • “Karain: A Memory”: written February–April 1897; published November 1897 in Blackwood’s Magazine and collected in Tales of Unrest, 1898: “my third short story in… order of time”.
  • Youth“: written 1898; collected in Youth, a Narrative, and Two Other Stories, 1902
  • “Falk”: novella / story, written early 1901; collected only in Typhoon and Other Stories, 1903
  • Amy Foster“: composed 1901; published in the Illustrated London News, December 1901, and collected in Typhoon and Other Stories, 1903.
  • “To-morrow”: written early 1902; serialised in The Pall Mall Magazine, 1902, and collected in Typhoon and Other Stories, 1903
  • “Gaspar Ruiz”: written after Nostromo in 1904–5; published in The Strand Magazine, 1906, and collected in A Set of Six, 1908 (UK), 1915 (US). This story was the only piece of Conrad’s fiction ever adapted by the author for cinema, as Gaspar the Strong Man, 1920.
  • “An Anarchist”: written late 1905; serialised in Harper’s Magazine, 1906; collected in A Set of Six, 1908 (UK), 1915 (US)
  • “The Informer”: written before January 1906; published, December 1906, in Harper’s Magazine, and collected in A Set of Six, 1908 (UK), 1915 (US)
  • “The Brute”: written early 1906; published in The Daily Chronicle, December 1906; collected in A Set of Six, 1908 (UK), 1915 (US)
  • “The Duel: A Military Story”: serialised in the UK in The Pall Mall Magazine, early 1908, and later that year in the US as “The Point of Honor”, in the periodical Forum; collected in A Set of Six in 1908 and published by Garden City Publishing in 1924. Joseph Fouché makes a cameo appearance.
  • “Il Conde” (i.e., “Conte” [count]): appeared in Cassell’s Magazine (UK), 1908, and Hampton‍ ’​s (US), 1909; collected in A Set of Six, 1908 (UK), 1915 (US)
  • The Secret Sharer“: written December 1909; published in Harper’s Magazine, 1910, and collected in Twixt Land and Sea, 1912
  • “Prince Roman”: written 1910, published 1911 in The Oxford and Cambridge Review; posthumously collected in Tales of Hearsay, 1925; based on the story of Prince Roman Sanguszko of Poland (1800–81)
  • “A Smile of Fortune”: a long story, almost a novella, written in mid-1910; published in London Magazine, February 1911; collected in Twixt Land and Sea, 1912
  • “Freya of the Seven Isles”: a near-novella, written late 1910–early 1911; published in The Metropolitan Magazine and London Magazine, early 1912 and July 1912, respectively; collected in Twixt Land and Sea, 1912
  • “The Partner”: written 1911; published in Within the Tides, 1915
  • “The Inn of the Two Witches”: written 1913; published in Within the Tides, 1915
  • “Because of the Dollars”: written 1914; published in Within the Tides, 1915
  • “The Planter of Malata”: written 1914; published in Within the Tides, 1915
  • “The Warrior’s Soul”: written late 1915–early 1916; published in Land and Water, March 1917; collected in Tales of Hearsay, 1925
  • “The Tale”: Conrad’s only story about World War I; written 1916, first published 1917 in The Strand Magazine; posthumously collected in Tales of Hearsay, 1925

Essays

Adaptations

A number of works in various genres and media have been based on, or inspired by, Conrad’s writings, including:

Films

Operas

Orchestral works

See also

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Conrad

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Kevin Guilfoile — The Thousand — Videos

Posted on February 13, 2015. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Books, College, Communications, Corruption, Education, Fiction, history, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, media, Medicine, Money, Non-Fiction, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Strategy, Video, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

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Kevin Guilfoile, author of The Thousand and Cast of Shadows, on The Interview Show

The Inside Corner – Kevin Guilfoile

Synopsis | The Thousand By Kevin Guilfoile

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Robert Harris — An Officer and A Spy — Videos

Posted on January 21, 2015. Filed under: Blogroll, Books, Communications, Corruption, Crime, Crisis, Culture, European History, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Friends, government, history, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Literature, media, Money, Non-Fiction, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Press, Raves, Reviews, Strategy, Talk Radio, Video, War, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Robert_Harrisan_officer_and_a_spydegradation_alfred_dreyfusAn Officer and a SpyRobert Harris in his study

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Alfred Dreyfus Documentary │ Full video │

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The Ghost Writer Full Movie

The Ghost Writer is a 2010 French-German-British political thriller film directed by Roman Polanski. The film is an adaptation of the Robert Harris novel, The Ghost, with the screenplay written by Polanski and Harris.

Robert Harris: FATHERLAND

 

 

 

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The Greatest Books Lists — Videos

Posted on November 23, 2014. Filed under: Art, Blogroll, Book, Books, Communications, Culture, Fiction, Literature, Non-Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , |

The 10 Greatest Books Ever, According to 125 Top Authors (Download Them for Free)

 Earlier this month, we highlighted The 10 Greatest Films of All Time According to 846 Film Critics. Featuring films by Hitchcock, Kubrick, Welles and Fellini, this master list came together in 2012 when Sight & Sound (the cinema journal of the British Film Institute) asked contemporary critics and directors to name their 12 favorite movies. Nearly 900 cinephiles responded, and, from those submissions, a meta list of 10 was culled.

So how about something similar for books, you ask? For that, we can look back to 2007, when J. Peder Zane, the book editor of the Raleigh News & Observer, asked 125 top writers to name their favorite books — writers like Norman Mailer, Annie Proulx, Stephen King, Jonathan Franzen, Claire Messud, and Michael Chabon. The lists were all compiled in an edited collection, The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books, and then prefaced by one uber list, “The Top Top Ten.”

Zane explained the methodology behind the uber list as follows: “The participants could pick any work, by any writer, by any time period…. After awarding ten points to each first-place pick, nine to second-place picks, and so on, the results were tabulated to create the Top Top Ten List – the very best of the best.”

The short list appears below, along with links to electronic versions of the works. There’s one notable exception, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. We couldn’t provide that text, but we do have something special — an audio recording of Nabokov reading a chapter from his controversial 1955 novel.

The texts listed below are permanently housed in our collection of Free eBooks, along with many other classics. In many cases, you’ll find audio versions of the same works in our ever-growing collection of Free Audio Books. If you have questions about how to load files onto your Kindle, please see this related instructional video.

Got an issue with any of the selections? Tell us all about it in the comments section below.

1. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy

iPad/iPhone – Kindle + Other Formats – Read Online

2. Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert

3. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy

4. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov

5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

6. Hamlet, by William Shakespeare

7. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

8. In Search of Lost Time, by Marcel Proust

9. The Stories of Anton Chekhov

10. Middlemarch, by George Eliot

Note: Great literature courses can be found in our collection of 825 Free Online Courses.

http://www.openculture.com/2013/09/the-10-greatest-books-ever.html

J. Peder Zane Interview by Stacey Cochran – Part 1

J. Peder Zane Interview by Stacey Cochran – Part 2

J. Peder Zane Interview by Stacey Cochran – Part 3

The 10 Greatest Books Of All Time

100 Classic Books Of All Time

The 100 Best Books of All Time

100 Greatest Novels of All-Time: Part 1

100 Greatest Novels of All-Time: Part 2

100 Greatest Novels of All-Time: Part 3

100 Greatest Novels of All-Time: Part 4

100 Greatest Novels of All-Time: Part 5

Classic Books You Should Actually Read

Reading Classics as a Woman

Reading Classics + Recommendations

Books I Wish I Could Read Again For The First Time

Where To Begin Part 1

Where To Begin Part 2

Where To Begin Part 3

I Should Be Reading

I Should Be Reading #2

I Should Be Reading #3

I Should Be Reading #4

Friday Reads: November 14, 2014 + Break

Review: Anthem by Ayn Rand

Q&A Part 1: Books and Booktube

 

The Greatest Books of All Time, As Voted by 125 Famous Authors

by

Why Tolstoy is 11.6% better than Shakespeare.

“Reading is the nourishment that lets you do interesting work,” Jennifer Egan once said. This intersection of reading and writing is both a necessary bi-directional life skill for us mere mortals and a secret of iconic writers’ success, as bespoken by their personal libraries. The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books asks 125 of modernity’s greatest British and American writers — including Norman Mailer, Ann Patchett,Jonathan Franzen, Claire Messud, andJoyce Carol Oates — “to provide a list, ranked, in order, of what [they] consider the ten greatest works of fiction of all time– novels, story collections, plays, or poems.”

Of the 544 separate titles selected, each is assigned a reverse-order point value based on the number position at which it appears on any list — so, a book that tops a list at number one receives 10 points, and a book that graces the bottom, at number ten, receives 1 point.

In introducing the lists, David Orr offers a litmus test for greatness:

If you’re putting together a list of ‘the greatest books,’ you’ll want to do two things: (1) out of kindness, avoid anyone working on a novel; and (2) decide what the word ‘great’ means. The first part is easy, but how about the second? A short list of possible definitions of ‘greatness’ might look like this:

1. ‘Great’ means ‘books that have been greatest for me.’
2. ‘Great’ means ‘books that would be considered great by the most people over time.’
3. ‘Great’ has nothing to do with you or me — or people at all. It involves transcendental concepts like God or the Sublime.
4. ‘Great’? I like Tom Clancy.

From David Foster Wallace (#1: The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis) toStephen King (#1: The Golden Argosy, a 1955 anthology of the best short stories in the English language), the collection offers a rare glimpse of the building blocks of great creators’ combinatorial creativity — because, as Austin Kleon put it, “you are a mashup of what you let into your life.”

The book concludes with an appendix of “literary number games” summing up some patterns and constructing several overall rankings based on the totality of the different authors’ picks. Among them (*with links to free public domain works where available):

TOP TEN WORKS OF THE 20TH CENTURY
  1. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  3. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
  4. Ulysses* by James Joyce
  5. Dubliners* by James Joyce
  6. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  7. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  8. To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  9. The complete stories of Flannery O’Connor
  10. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
TOP TEN WORKS OF THE 19th CENTURY
  1. Anna Karenina* by Leo Tolstoy
  2. Madame Bovary* by Gustave Flaubert
  3. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  4. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  5. The stories of Anton Chekhov
  6. Middlemarch* by George Eliot
  7. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  8. Great Expectations* by Charles Dickens
  9. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  10. Emma* by Jane Austen
TOP TEN AUTHORS BY NUMBER OF BOOKS SELECTED
  1. William Shakespeare — 11
  2. William Faulkner — 6
  3. Henry James — 6
  4. Jane Austen — 5
  5. Charles Dickens — 5
  6. Fyodor Dostoevsky — 5
  7. Ernest Hemingway — 5
  8. Franz Kafka — 5
  9. (tie) James Joyce, Thomas Mann, Vladimir Nabokov, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf — 4
TOP TEN AUTHORS BY POINTS EARNED
  1. Leo Tolstoy — 327
  2. William Shakespeare — 293
  3. James Joyce — 194
  4. Vladimir Nabokov — 190
  5. Fyodor Dostoevsky — 177
  6. William Faulkner — 173
  7. Charles Dickens — 168
  8. Anton Chekhov — 165
  9. Gustave Flaubert — 163
  10. Jane Austen — 161

As a nonfiction loyalist, I’d love a similar anthology of nonfiction favorites — then again, famous writers might wave a knowing finger and point me to the complex relationship between truth and fiction.

 http://www.brainpickings.org/2012/01/30/writers-top-ten-favorite-books/

 

The Greatest Books

all | 2000 | 1990 | 1980 | 1970 | 1950 | 1900 |
  1. Image of Ulysses

Ulysses chronicles the passage of Leopold Bloom through Dublin during an ordinary day, June 16, 1904. The title parallels and alludes to Odysseus (Latinised into Ulysses), the hero of Homer’s Odyss…

 

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Swann’s Way, the first part of A la recherche de temps perdu, Marcel Proust’s seven-part cycle, was published in 1913. In it, Proust introduces the themes that run through the entire work. The narr…

 

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Alonso Quixano, a retired country gentleman in his fifties, lives in an unnamed section of La Mancha with his niece and a housekeeper. He has become obsessed with books of chivalry, and believes th…

 

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First published in 1851, Melville’s masterpiece is, in Elizabeth Hardwick’s words, “the greatest novel in American literature.” The saga of Captain Ahab and his monomaniacal pursuit of the white wh…

 

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The novel chronicles an era that Fitzgerald himself dubbed the “Jazz Age”. Following the shock and chaos of World War I, American society enjoyed unprecedented levels of prosperity during the “roar…

 

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The book is internationally famous for its innovative style and infamous for its controversial subject: the protagonist and unreliable narrator, middle aged Humbert Humbert, becomes obsessed and se…

 

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Epic in scale, War and Peace delineates in graphic detail events leading up to Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, and the impact of the Napoleonic era on Tsarist society, as seen through the eyes of fi…

 

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One of the 20th century’s enduring works, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a widely beloved and acclaimed novel known throughout the world, and the ultimate achievement in a Nobel Prize–winning car…

 

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For daring to peer into the heart of an adulteress and enumerate its contents with profound dispassion, the author of Madame Bovary was tried for “offenses against morality and religion.” What shoc…

 

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Dostoevsky’s last and greatest novel, The Karamazov Brothers, is both a brilliantly told crime story and a passionate philosophical debate. The dissolute landowner Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov is mur…

 

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11 . The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Image of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Revered by all of the town’s children and dreaded by all of its mothers, Huckleberry Finn is indisputably the most appealing child-hero in American literature. Unlike the tall-tale, idyllic worl…

 

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12 . The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

Image of The Divine Comedy

Belonging in the immortal company of the great works of literature, Dante Alighieri’s poetic masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, is a moving human drama, an unforgettable visionary journey through the …

 

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13 . The Odyssey by Homer

Image of The Odyssey

The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work traditionally ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the m…

 

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14 . Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Image of Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina tells of the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer, Count Vronsky. Tragedy unfolds as Anna rejects her passionless marriage and must endu…

 

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15 . The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

Image of The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye is a 1945 novel by J. D. Salinger. Originally published for adults, the novel has become a common part of high school and college curricula throughout the English-speaking wo…

 

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16 . The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

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The Sound and the Fury is set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County. The novel centers on the Compson family, former Southern aristocrats who are struggling to deal with the dissolution of their fa…

 

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17 . 1984 by George Orwell

Image of 1984

The story follows the life of one seemingly insignificant man, Winston Smith, a civil servant assigned the task of perpetuating the regime’s propaganda by falsifying records and political literatur…

 

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18 . Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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The book is narrated in free indirect speech following the main character Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with matters of upbringing, marriage, moral rightness and education in her aristocratic socie…

 

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19 . The Iliad by Homer

Image of The Iliad

The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set in the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of Ilium by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and e…

 

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20 . Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Image of Hamlet

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601. The play, set in Denmark, recounts how Pri…

 

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21 . To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

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A landmark novel of high modernism, the text, centering on the Ramsay family and their visits to the Isle of Skye in Scotland between 1910 and 1920, skillfully manipulates temporality and psycholog…

 

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22 . Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Image of Invisible Man

The novel addresses many of the social and intellectual issues facing African-Americans in the early twentieth century, including black nationalism, the relationship between black identity and Marx…

 

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23 . King Lear by William Shakespeare

Image of King Lear

King Lear is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1603 and 1606. It is considered one of his greatest works. The play is based on the legend of Leir of Britain, a…

 

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24 . The Trial by Franz Kafka

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Written in 1914, The Trial is one of the most important novels of the twentieth century: the terrifying tale of Josef K., a respectable bank officer who is suddenly and inexplicably arrested and mu…

 

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25 . Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

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In 1862 Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a shy Oxford mathematician with a stammer, created a story about a little girl tumbling down a rabbit hole. Thus began the immortal adventures of Alice, perhaps th…

 

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26 . Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

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Absalom, Absalom! is a Southern Gothic novel by the American author William Faulkner, first published in 1936. It is a story about three families of the American South, taking place before, during,…

 

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27 . Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

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Catch-22 is a satirical, historical novel by the American author Joseph Heller, first published in 1961. The novel, set during the later stages of World War II from 1943 onwards, is frequently cite…

 

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28 . Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

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Created from two short stories, “Mrs Dalloway in Bond Street” and the unfinished “The Prime Minister”, the novel’s story is of Clarissa’s preparations for a party of which she is to be hostess. Wit…

 

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29 . Middlemarch by George Eliot

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Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life is a novel by George Eliot, the pen name of Mary Anne Evans, later Marian Evans. It is her seventh novel, begun in 1869 and then put aside during the final i…

 

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30 . Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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It is a murder story, told from a murder;s point of view, that implicates even the most innocent reader in its enormities. It is a cat-and-mouse game between a tormented young killer and a cheerful…

 

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31 . Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

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The story details an incident when Marlow, an Englishman, took a foreign assignment from a Belgian trading company as a ferry-boat captain in Africa. Although Conrad does not specify the name of th…

 

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32 . Beloved by Toni Morrison

Image of Beloved

Beloved (1987) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison. The novel, her fifth, is loosely based on the life and legal case of the slave Margaret Garner, about whom Morrison…

 

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33 . Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

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The narrative is non-linear, involving several flashbacks, and two primary narrators: Mr. Lockwood and Ellen “Nelly” Dean. The novel opens in 1801, with Mr. Lockwood arriving at Thrushcross Grange,…

 

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34 . The Red and the Black by Stendhal

Image of The Red and the Black

Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black), subtitled Chronique du XIXe siécle (“Chronicle of the 19th century”), is an historical psychological novel in two volumes by Stendhal, published in 1830…

 

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35 . The Stranger by Albert Camus

Image of The Stranger

Since it was first published in English, in 1946, Albert Camus’s extraordinary first novel, The Stranger (L’Etranger), has had a profound impact on millions of American readers. Through this story …

 

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36 . One Thousand and One Nights by India/Iran/Iraq/Egypt

Image of One Thousand and One Nights

One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. It is often known in English as the Arabian Ni…

 

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37 . The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

Image of The Portrait of a Lady

The story centres on Isabel Archer, an attractive American whom circumstances have brought to Europe. Isabel refuses the offer of marriage to an English peer and to a bulldog-like New Englander, to…

 

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38 . Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

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Jane Eyre is a first-person narrative of the title character, a small, plain-faced, intelligent and honest English orphan. The novel goes through five distinct stages: Jane’s childhood at Gateshead…

 

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39 . Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne

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As its title suggests, the book is ostensibly Tristram’s narration of his life story. But it is one of the central jokes of the novel that he cannot explain anything simply, that he must make expla…

 

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40 . David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Image of David Copperfield

The story of the abandoned waif who learns to survive through challenging encounters with distress and misfortune.

 

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41 . The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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Set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on a poor family of sharecroppers, the Joads, driven from their home by drought, economic hardship, and changes in the agriculture industry. In a …

 

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42 . The Complete Stories of Franz Kafka by Franz Kafka

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The Complete Stories of Franz Kafka is a compilation of all Kafka’s short stories. With the exception of Kafka’s three novels (The Trial, The Castle and Amerika), this collection includes all of Ka…

 

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43 . Macbeth by William Shakespeare

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The Tragedy of Macbeth, commonly just Macbeth, is a play by William Shakespeare about a regicide and its aftermath. It is Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy and is believed to have been written sometim…

 

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44 . Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

Image of Gulliver's Travels

From the preeminent prose satirist in the English language, a great classic recounting the four remarkable journeys of ship’s surgeon Lemuel Gulliver. For children it remains an enchanting fantasy;…

 

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45 . The Tempest by William Shakespeare

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The Tempest is a play by William Shakespeare, estimated to have been written in 1610–11, (although some researchers have argued for an earlier dating). The play’s protagonist is the banished sorcer…

 

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46 . Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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Great Expectations is written in the genre of “bildungsroman” or the style of book that follows the story of a man or woman in their quest for maturity, usually starting from childhood and ending i…

 

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47 . A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a semi-autobiographical novel by James Joyce, first serialized in The Egoist from 1914 to 1915 and published in book form in 1916. It depicts the formativ…

 

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48 . A Passage to India by E.M. Forster

Image of A Passage to India

A Passage to India is set against the backdrop of the British Raj and the Indian independence movement in the 1920s. The story revolves around four characters: Dr. Aziz, his British friend Cyril Fi…

 

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49 . The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

Image of The Sun Also Rises

The novel explores the lives and values of the so-called “Lost Generation,” chronicling the experiences of Jake Barnes and several acquaintances on their pilgrimage to Pamplona for the annual San F…

 

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50 . Collected Fiction by Jorge Luis Borges

Image of Collected Fiction

From his 1935 debut with The Universal History of Iniquity, through his immensely influential collections Ficciones and The Aleph, these enigmatic, elaborate, imaginative inventions display Borges’…

  1. 51 . Othello by William Shakespeare

    Image of Othello

    Othello, the Moor of Venice is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in approximately 1603, and based on the Italian short story “Un Capitano Moro” (“A Moorish Captain”) b…

 

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52 . To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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As a Southern Gothic novel and a Bildungsroman, the primary themes of To Kill a Mockingbird involve racial injustice and the destruction of innocence. Scholars have noted that Lee also addresses is…

 

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53 . Richard III by William Shakespeare

Image of Richard III

Final play in Shakespeare’s masterly dramatization of the struggle for power between the Houses of York and Lancaster. Richard is a stunning archvillain who schemes, seduces, betrays and murders hi…

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54 . Candide by Voltaire

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Candide, ou l’Optimisme is a French satire written in 1759 by Voltaire, a philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment. Candide is characterized by its sarcastic tone and its erratic, fantastical, an…

 

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55 . The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

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The Magic Mountain is a novel by Thomas Mann, first published in November 1924. It is widely considered to be one of the most influential works of 20th century German literature.

 

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56 . The Aeneid by Virgil

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The Aeneid is a Latin epic poem written by Virgil in the late 1st century BC (29–19 BC) that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who traveled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the…

 

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57 . The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford

Image of The Good Soldier

Ford Madox Ford wrote The Good Soldier, the book on which his reputation most surely rests, in deliberate emulation of the nineteenth-century French novels he so admired. In this way he was able to…

 

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58 . As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

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The book is told in stream of consciousness writing style by 15 different narrators in 59 chapters. It is the story of the death of Addie Bundren and her family’s quest—noble or selfish—to honor he…

 

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59 . The Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov

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Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was a Russian short-story writer, playwright and physician, considered to be one of the greatest short-story writers in the history of world literature. His career as a dram…

 

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60 . Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

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Midnight’s Children is a loose allegory for events in India both before and, primarily, after the independence and partition of India, which took place at midnight on 15 August 1947. The protagonis…

 

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61 . Journey to the End of The Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline

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Journey to the End of Night is the first novel of Louis-Ferdinand Céline. This semi-autobiographical work describes antihero Ferdinand Bardamu. His surname, Bardamu, is derived from the French word…

 

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62 . Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

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A novel of great power that turns the world upside down. The Nigerian novelist Achebe reached back to the early days of his people’s encounter with colonialism, the 1890’s, though the white man and…

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63 . Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

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Leaves of Grass (1855) is a poetry collection by the American poet Walt Whitman. Among the poems in the collection are “Song of Myself,” “I Sing the Body Electric,” “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Roc…

 

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64 . Emma by Jane Austen

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Before she began the novel, Austen wrote, “I am going to take a heroine whom no-one but myself will much like.”[1] In the very first sentence she introduces the title character as “Emma Woodhouse, …

 

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65 . Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

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No one is better equipped in the struggle for wealth and worldly success than the alluring and ruthless Becky Sharp, who defies her impoverished background to clamber up the class ladder. Her senti…

 

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66 . The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

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The Old Man and the Sea is one of Hemingway’s most enduring works. Told in language of great simplicity and power, it is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, down on his luck, and his supreme ordea…

 

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67 . Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

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The novel is presented as a poem titled “Pale Fire” with commentary by a friend of the poet’s. Together these elements form two story lines in which both authors are central characters. The int…

 

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68 . The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

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With their astonishing diversity of tone and subject matter, The Canterbury Tales have become one of the touchstones of medieval literature. Translated here into modern English, these tales of a mo…

 

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69 . Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol

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Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol, Russian writer, was first published in 1842, and is one of the most prominent works of 19th-century Russian literature. Gogol himself saw it as an “epic poem in prose”,…

 

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70 . Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry

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To describe his perennial theme, Lowry once borrowed the words of the critic Edmund Wilson: “the forces in man which cause him to be terrified of himself.” You see exactly what he means in this cor…

Time

 

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71 . The Tin Drum by Günter Grass

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Acclaimed as the greatest German novel written since the end of World War II, The Tin Drum is the autobiography of thirty-year-old Oskar Matzerath, who has lived through the long Nazi nightmare and…

 

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72 . The Complete Tales of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allan Poe

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Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American writer, poet, editor and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery…

 

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73 . Tom Jones by Henry Fielding

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A foundling of mysterious parentage brought up by Mr. Allworthy on his country estate, Tom Jones is deeply in love with the seemingly unattainable Sophia Western, the beautiful daughter of the neig…

 

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74 . The Castle by Franz Kafka

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The Castle is a novel by Franz Kafka. In it a protagonist, known only as K., struggles to gain access to the mysterious authorities of a castle who govern the village where he wants to work as a la…

 

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75 . On the Road by Jack Kerouac

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On the Road is a largely autobiographical work that was based on the spontaneous road trips of Kerouac and his friends across mid-century America. It is often considered a defining work of the post…

 

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76 . Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence

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Sons and Lovers is one of the landmark novels of the twentieth century. When it appeared in 1913, it was immediately recognized as the first great modern restatement of the oedipal drama, and it is…

 

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77 . Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

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An anti-war science fiction novel by Kurt Vonnegut about World War II experiences and journeys through time of a soldier called Billy Pilgrim.

 

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78 . The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

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The Master and Margarita (Russian: Ма́стер и Маргари́та) is a novel by Mikhail Bulgakov, woven around the premise of a visit by the Devil to the fervently atheistic Soviet Union. Many critics consi…

 

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79 . Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

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The main character, an African American woman in her early forties named Janie Crawford, tells the story of her life and journey via an extended flashback to her best friend, Pheoby, so that Pheoby…

 

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80 . My Antonia by Willa Cather

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In Willa Cather’s own estimation, My Antonia, first published in 1918, was “the best thing I’ve ever done.” An enduring paperback bestseller on Houghton Mifflin’s literary list, this hauntingly elo…

 

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81 . Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

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Les Misérables is a novel by French author Victor Hugo and is widely considered one of the greatest novels of the 19th century. It follows the lives and interactions of several French characters ov…

 

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82 . Nostromo by Joseph Conrad

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Edited with an introduction and notes by Martin Seymour-Smith. In his evocation of the republic of Costaguana, set amid the exotic and grandiose scenery of South America, Conrad reveals not only th…

 

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83 . The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

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The Lord of the Rings is an epic high fantasy novel written by philologist and Oxford University professor J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien’s earlier, less complex children’…

 

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84 . The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Hester Prynne is a beautiful young woman. She is also an outcast. In the eyes of her neighbors she has committed an unforgivable sin. Everyone knows that her little daughter, Pearl, is the product …

 

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85 . Native Son by Richard Wright

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The novel tells the story of 20-year old Bigger Thomas, an African American living in utter poverty. Bigger lived in Chicago’s South Side ghetto in the 1930s. Bigger was always getting into troubl…

 

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86 . The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

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The Age of Innocence centers on an upperclass couple’s impending marriage, and the introduction of a scandalous woman whose presence threatens their happiness. Though the novel questions the assump…

 

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87 . Light in August by William Faulkner

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Lght in August is an exploration of racial conflict in the society of the Southern United States.

 

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88 . Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

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Gone With the Wind is set in Jonesboro and Atlanta, Georgia during the American Civil War and Reconstruction and follows the life of Scarlett O’Hara, the daughter of an Irish immigrant plantation o…

 

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89 . Oedipus the King by Sophocles

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Oedipus the King is an Athenian tragedy by Sophocles that was first performed c. 429 BC. It was the second of Sophocles’s three Theban plays to be produced, but it comes first in the internal chron…

 

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90 . For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

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It tells the story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to a communist guerilla unit during the Spanish Civil War. As an expert in the use of explosives, he is …

 

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91 . Rabbit, Run by John Updike

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Rabbit, Run depicts five months in the life of a 26-year-old former high school basketball player named Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom, and his attempts to escape the constraints of his life.

 

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92 . Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats by W. B. Yeats

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William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet, dramatist, and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature.

 

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93 . Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

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A shipwreck’s sole escapee, Robinson Crusoe endures 28 years of solitude on a Caribbean island and manages not only to survive but also to prevail. A warm humanity, evocative details of his struggl…

 

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94 . Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

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Violated by one man, forsaken by another, Tess Durbeyfield is the magnificent and spirited heroine of Thomas Hardy’s immortal work. Of all the great English novelists, no one writes more eloquently…

 

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95 . Father Goriot by Honoré de Balzac

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Le Père Goriot (English: Father Goriot or Old Goriot) is an 1835 novel by French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850), included in the Scènes de la vie privée section of his novel s…

 

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96 . Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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At this challenge, Mary Shelley began work on the ‘ghost story’ that was to evolve into the most celebrated horror novel in literary history. Frankenstein was published the next year and become the…

 

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97 . The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu

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The Tale of Genji is a classic work of Japanese literature attributed to the Japanese noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu in the early eleventh century, around the peak of the Heian Period. It is sometimes…

 

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98 . Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann

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Buddenbrooks was Thomas Mann’s first novel, published in 1901 when he was twenty-six years old. It portrays the downfall (already announced in the subtitle, Decline of a family) of a wealthy mer…

 

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99 . Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio

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In the early summer of the year 1348, as a terrible plague ravages the city, ten charming young Florentines take refuge in country villas to tell each other stories — a hundred stories of love, adv…

 

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100 . The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot

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The Waste Land is a 434 line modernist poem by T. S. Eliot published in 1922. It has been called “one of the most important poems of the 20th century.” Despite the alleged obscurity of the poem – i…

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    Bleak House is the ninth novel by Charles Dickens, published in twenty monthly instalments between March 1852 and September 1853. It is held to be one of Dickens’s finest novels, containing one of …

 

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102 . Orlando: A Biography by Virginia Woolf

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In her most exuberant, most fanciful novel, Woolf has created a character liberated from the restraints of time and sex. Born in the Elizabethan Age to wealth and position, Orlando is a young noble…

 

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103 . The Possessed by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Possessed is an 1872 novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Though titled The Possessed in the initial English translation, Dostoevsky scholars and later translations favour the titles The Devils or Demon…

 

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104 . Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

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Set in the London of AD 2540 (632 A.F. in the book), the novel anticipates developments in reproductive technology and sleep-learning that combine to change society. The future society is an embod…

 

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105 . Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais

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The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel (in French, La vie de Gargantua et de Pantagruel) is a connected series of five novels written in the 16th century by François Rabelais. It is the story of t…

 

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106 . American Pastoral by Philip Roth

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American Pastoral is a Philip Roth novel concerning Seymour “Swede” Levov, a Jewish-American businessman and former high school athlete from Newark, New Jersey. Levov’s happy and conventional upper…

 

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107 . The Ambassadors by Henry James

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This dark comedy, one of the masterpieces of James’ final period, follows the trip of protagonist Lewis Lambert Strether to Europe in pursuit of his widowed fiancée’s supposedly wayward son. Streth…

 

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108 . Paradise Lost by John Milton

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Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 in ten books. A second edition followed in 1674, redivided into twelve…

 

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109 . The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

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The Big Sleep (1939) is a crime novel by Raymond Chandler, the first in his acclaimed series about hardboiled detective Philip Marlowe. The work has been adapted twice into film, once in 1946 and a…

 

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110 . Animal Farm by George Orwell

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Animal Farm is a dystopian novella by George Orwell. Published in England on 17 August 1945, the book reflects events leading up to and during the Stalin era before World War II. Orwell, a democrat…

 

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111 . The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

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Set against the tumultuous years of the post-Napoleonic era, The Count of Monet Cristo recounts the swashbuckling adventures of Edmond Dantes, a dashing young sailor falsely accused of treason. The…

 

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112 . Fairy Tales and Stories by Hans Christian Anderson

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a Danish author and poet noted for his children’s stories. These include “The Steadfast Tin Soldier”, “The Snow Queen”, “The Little Mermaid”, “Thumbelina”, “The Little Match Girl”, and the “The Ugl…

 

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113 . Hunger by Knut Hamsun

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Hunger is a novel by the Norwegian author Knut Hamsun and was published in its final form in 1890. Parts of it had been published anonymously in the Danish magazine Ny Jord in 1888. The novel is ha…

 

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114 . The Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire

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Les Fleurs du mal (English: The Flowers of Evil) is a volume of French poetry by Charles Baudelaire. First published in 1857 (see 1857 in poetry), it was important in the symbolist and modernist mo…

 

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115 . All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren

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All the King’s Men portrays the dramatic political ascent and governorship of Willie Stark, a driven, cynical populist in the American South during the 1930s.

 

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116 . The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

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This book, as well as the couple that followed it, enters the realm of what Margaret Drabble in The Oxford Companion to English Literature has called Lessing’s “inner space fiction”, her work that …

 

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117 . A Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert

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The novel describes the life of a young man (Frederic Moreau) living through the revolution of 1848 and the founding of the Second French Empire, and his love for an older woman (based on the wife …

 

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118 . Antigone by Sophocles

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Antigone is a tragedy by Sophocles written before or in 442 BC. Chronologically, it is the third of the three Theban plays but was written first.[1] The play expands on the Theban legend that preda…

 

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119 . Howards End by E. M. Forster

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“Only Connect,” Forster’s key aphorism, informs this novel about an English country house, Howards End, and its influence on the lives of the wealthy and materialistic Wilcoxes; the cultured, ideal…

 

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120 . Dangerous Liaison by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

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The complex moral ambiguities of seduction and revenge make Les Liaisons dangereuses (1782) one of the most scandalous and controversial novels in European literature. Its prime movers, the Vicomte…

 

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121 . The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

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A slender novel but far from flimsy, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie enrolls the reader at Edinburgh’s fictional Marcia Blaine School for Girls under the tutelage of one Jean Brodie, a magnetic, unco…

Time

 

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122 . The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor by Flannery O’Connor

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The publication of this extraordinary volume firmly established Flannery O’Connor’s monumental contribution to American fiction. There are thirty-one stories here in all, including twelve that do n…

 

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123 . Herzog by Saul Bellow

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Herzog is a novel set in 1964, in the United States, and is about the midlife crisis of a Jewish man named Moses E. Herzog. He is just emerging from his second divorce, this one particularly acrimo…

 

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124 . Clarissa by Samuel Richardson

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It tells the tragic story of a heroine whose quest for virtue is continually thwarted by her family, and is one of the longest novels in the English language.

 

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125 . An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser

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Clyde Griffiths is a young man with ambitions. He’s in love with a rich girl, but it’s a poor girl he has gotten pregnant, Roberta Alden, who works with him at his uncle’s factory. One day he takes…

Time

 

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126 . A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

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A Doll’s House is an 1879 play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. Written one year after The Pillars of Society, the play was the first of Ibsen’s to create a sensation and is now perhaps his mo…

 

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127 . The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal

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Balzac considered it the most important French novel of his time. André Gide later deemed it the greatest of all French novels, and Henry James judged it to be a masterpiece. Now, in a major litera…

 

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128 . A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh

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In A Handful of Dust Waugh satirises the upper class, the mercantile class and the establishments (for example: the Church) using many effective literary devices which characterise most of his work…

 

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129 . Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust is a tragic play, although more appropriately it should be defined a tragicomedy, despite the very title of the work. It was published in two parts: Faust. Der Tr…

 

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130 . Dubliners by James Joyce

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Dubliners is a collection of 15 short stories by James Joyce, first published in 1914. The fifteen stories were meant to be a naturalistic depiction of the Irish middle class life in and around Dub…

 

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131 . The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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The Handmaid’s Tale is a feminist dystopian novel, a work of science fiction or speculative fiction, written by Canadian author Margaret Atwood and first published by McClelland and Stewart in 1985…

 

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132 . Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson

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Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) was an American poet. Born in Amherst, Massachusetts, to a successful family with strong community ties, she lived a mostly introverted …

 

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133 . The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

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The Leopard is a novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa that chronicles the changes in Sicilian life and society during the Risorgimento. Published posthumously in 1958, after two rejections by the …

 

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134 . Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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The story is that of the rise and fall of Dick Diver, a promising young psychoanalyst and his wife, Nicole, who is also one of his patients. It would be Fitzgerald’s first novel in nine years, and …

 

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135 . The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

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A classic in children’s literature The Wind in the Willow is alternately slow moving and fast paced. The book focuses on four anthropomorphised animal characters in a pastoral version of England. T…

 

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136 . Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

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Set sometime around 1950, Lucky Jim follows the exploits of the eponymous James (Jim) Dixon, a reluctant Medieval history lecturer at an unnamed provincial English university. Having made a bad fir…

 

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137 . Lord of the Flies by William Golding

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Lord of the Flies discusses how culture created by man fails, using as an example a group of British schoolboys stuck on a deserted island who try to govern themselves, but with disastrous results….

 

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138 . Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

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Conrad’s great novel of guilt and redemption follows the first mate on board the Patna, a raw youth with dreams of heroism who, in an act of cowardice, abandons his ship. His unbearable guilt and i…

 

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139 . Malone Dies by Samuel Beckett

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Malone Dies is a novel by Samuel Beckett. It was first published in 1951, in French, as Malone Meurt, and later translated into English by the author.

 

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140 . Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

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Traditionally considered a coming-of-age story, it is an adventure tale known for its superb atmosphere, character and action, and also a wry commentary on the ambiguity of morality—as seen in Long…

 

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141 . Metamorphoses by Ovid

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The Metamorphoses by the Roman poet Ovid is a narrative poem in fifteen books that describes the creation and history of the world. Completed in 8 AD, it has remained one of the most popular works …

 

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142 . The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

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Written in Charlotte, North Carolina in a house on East Blvd, it is about a deaf man named John Singer and the people he encounters in a 1930s mill town in the U.S. state of Georgia.

 

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143 . Oresteia by Aeschylus

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The Oresteia is a trilogy of Greek tragedies written by Aeschylus which concerns the end of the curse on the House of Atreus. When originally performed it was accompanied by Proteus, a satyr play t…

 

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144 . Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

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The novel tells the story of a pig named Wilbur and his friendship with a barn spider named Charlotte. When Wilbur is in danger of being slaughtered by the farmer, Charlotte writes messages praisin…

 

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145 . Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann

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Doctor Faustus is a German novel written by Thomas Mann, begun in 1943 and published in 1947 as Doktor Faustus: Das Leben des deutschen Tonsetzers Adrian Leverkühn, erzählt von einem Freunde (“Doct…

 

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146 . Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence

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Perhaps no other of the world’s great writers lived and wrote with the passionate intensity of D. H. Lawrence. And perhaps no other of his books so explores the mysteries between men and women–both…

 

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147 . The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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The Idiot is a novel written by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky and first published in 1868. It was first published serially in Russian in Russky Vestnik, St. Petersburg, 1868-1869. The Idiot…

 

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148 . Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

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Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (French: Vingt mille lieues sous les mers) is a classic science fiction novel by French writer Jules Verne published in 1870. It tells the story of Captain Nem…

 

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149 . The World According to Garp by John Irving

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The story deals with the life of T. S. Garp. His mother, Jenny Fields, is a strong-willed nurse who wants a child but not a husband. She encounters a dying ball turret gunner known only as Technica…

 

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150 . Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

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Spawned by a nightmare that Stevenson had, this classic tale of the dark, primordial night of the soul remains a masterpiece of the duality of good and evil within us all.

151 . A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

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    The novel is told through the point of view of Lieutenant Frederic Henry, an American serving as an ambulance driver in the Italian army during World War I.

 

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152 . I, Claudius by Robert Graves

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I, Claudius deals sympathetically with the life of the Roman Emperor Claudius and cynically with the history of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty and Roman Empire, from Julius Caesar’s assassination in 44…

 

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153 . Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo

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Pedro Páramo is a short novel written by Juan Rulfo, originally published in 1955. In just the 23 FCE editions and reprintings, it had sold by November 1997 1,143,000 copies. Other editions in Mexi…

 

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154 . The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever

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The Stories of John Cheever is a 1978 short story collection by American author John Cheever. It contains some of his most famous stories, including “The Enormous Radio,” “Goodbye, My Brother,” “Th…

 

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155 . Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike

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Rabbit Is Rich is a 1981 novel by John Updike. It is the third novel of the four-part series which begins with Rabbit, Run and Rabbit Redux, and concludes with Rabbit At Rest. There is also a relat…

 

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156 . The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil

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The Man without Qualities (1930-42) is a novel in three books by the Austrian novelist and essayist Robert Musil. The main issue of this “story of ideas”, which takes place in the time of the Au…

 

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157 . Rabbit at Rest by John Updike

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In John Updike’s fourth and final novel about ex-basketball player Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, the hero has acquired heart trouble, a Florida condo, and a second grandchild. His son, Nelson, is behavi…

 

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158 . Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin

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The story concerns a small-time criminal, Franz Biberkopf, fresh from prison, who is drawn into the underworld. When his criminal mentor murders the prostitute whom Biberkopf has been relying on as…

 

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159 . Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

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In Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Bertha is the madwoman locked in the attic by her husband Rochester, the simmering Englishman whose children Jane has been hired to tutor. In Bronte’s novel we lear…

Time

 

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160 . Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

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Set in France (primarily Paris) during the 1930s, it is the tale of Miller’s life as a struggling writer. Combining fiction and autobiography, some chapters follow a strict narrative and refer to M…

 

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161 . Epic of Gilgamesh by Unknown

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The Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from Ancient Iraq and is among the earliest known works of literary writings. Scholars believe that it originated as a series of Sumerian legends and poems abo…

 

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162 . The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

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The Moviegoer tells the story of Binx Bolling, a young stockbroker in post-war New Orleans. The decline of Southern traditions, the problems of his family and his traumatic experiences in the Korea…

 

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163 . The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow

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The Adventures of Augie March (1953) is a novel by Saul Bellow. It centers on the eponymous character who grows up during the Great Depression. This picaresque novel is an example of bildungsroman,…

 

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164 . Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev

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Fathers and Sons is an 1862 novel by Ivan Turgenev, his best known work. The fathers and children of the novel refers to the growing divide between the two generations of Russians, and the chara…

 

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165 . Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

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One of the most powerful dramas of Christian faith ever written, this captivating allegory of man’s religious journey in search of salvation follows the pilgrim as he travels an obstacle-filled roa…

 

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166 . Selected Stories of Alice Munro by Alice Munro

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Selected Stories is a volume of short stories by Alice Munro, published by McClelland and Stewart in 1996. It collects stories previously published in her eight previous books.

 

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167 . Stories of Ernest Hemingway by Ernest Hemingway

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Before he gained wide fame as a novelist, Ernest Hemingway established his literary reputation with his short stories. This collection, The Short Stories, originally published in 1938, is definitiv…

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168 . Medea by Euripides

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Medea is an ancient Greek tragedy written by Euripides, based upon the myth of Jason and Medea and first produced in 431 BC. The plot centers on the barbarian protagonist as she finds her position …

 

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169 . Rabbit Redux by John Updike

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Rabbit Redux finds the former high-school basketball star, Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, working a dead-end job and approaching middle age in the downtrodden and fictional city of Brewer, Pennsylvania, …

 

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170 . If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino

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Calvino’s anti-novel is about the efforts of his two characters — a man called only The Reader, and the Other Reader, a woman named Ludmilla — to read ten very different novels. They are never able…

 

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171 . The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

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The Metamorphosis (German: Die Verwandlung) is a novella by Franz Kafka, first published in 1915. It is often cited as one of the seminal works of short fiction of the 20th century and is widely st…

 

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172 . Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

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Doctor Zhivago is a 20th century novel by Boris Pasternak, first published in 1957. The novel is named after its protagonist, Yuri Zhivago, a medical doctor and poet. It tells the story of a man to…

 

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173 . The Call of the Wild by Jack London

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The plot concerns a previously domesticated and even somewhat pampered dog named Buck, whose primordial instincts return after a series of events finds him serving as a sled dog in the treacherous…

 

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174 . Call It Sleep by Henry Roth

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Call It Sleep is the story of an Austrian-Jewish immigrant family in New York in the early part of the twentieth century. Six-year-old David Schearl has a close and loving relationship with his mot…

 

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175 . Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

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The narrative is set primarily in Europe at the end of World War II and centers on the design, production and dispatch of V-2 rockets by the German military, and, in particular, the quest undertake…

 

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176 . Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

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Before Raymond Carver, John Cheever, and Richard Ford, there was Sherwood Anderson, who, with Winesburg, Ohio, charted a new direction in American fiction — evoking with lyrical simplicity quiet mo…

 

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177 . A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul

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In the “brilliant novel” (“The New York Times) V.S. Naipaul takes us deeply into the life of one man–an Indian who, uprooted by the bloody tides of Third World history, has come to live in an isol…

 

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178 . Germinal by Émile Zola

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Germinal is the thirteenth novel in Émile Zola’s twenty-volume series Les Rougon-Macquart. Often considered Zola’s masterpiece and one of the most significant novels in the French tradition, the no…

 

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179 . The Color Purple by Alice Walker

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Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on female black life during the 1930s in the Southern United States, addressing the numerous issues including their exceedingly low position …

 

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180 . The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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The Sorrows of Young Werther is an epistolary and loosely autobiographical novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, first published in 1774; a revised edition of the novel was published in 1787. Werthe…

 

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181 . Persuasion by Jane Austen

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Of all Jane Austen’s great and delightful novels, Persuasion is widely regarded as the most moving. It is the story of a second chance. Anne Elliot, daughter of the snobbish, spendthrift Sir Walte…

 

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182 . Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

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Waiting for Godot (pronounced /ˈɡɒdoʊ/) is a play by Samuel Beckett, in which two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, wait for someone named Godot. Godot’s absence, as well as numerous other aspects…

 

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183 . The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett

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The Unnamable is a 1953 novel by Samuel Beckett. It is the third and final entry in Beckett’s “Trilogy” of novels, which begins with Molloy followed by Malone Dies. It was originally published in F…

 

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184 . Molloy by Samuel Beckett

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Molloy is a novel by Samuel Beckett. The English translation is by Beckett and Patrick Bowles.

 

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185 . The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa

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The Book Of Disquietude or The Book of Disquiet (Livro do Desassossego in Portuguese), published posthumously, is one of the greatest works by Fernando Pessoa. It is signed under the semi-heteronym…

 

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186 . A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

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The title is taken from an old Cockney expression, “as queer as a clockwork orange” and alludes to the prevention of the main character’s exercise of his free will through the use of a classical co…

 

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187 . The Odes by Horace

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The Odes (Latin: Carmina) are a collection in four books of Latin lyric poems by Horace. The Horatian ode format and style has been emulated since by other poets. Books 1 to 3 were published in 23 …

 

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188 . Confessions of Zeno by Italo Svevo

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Zeno’s Conscience is a novel by Italian businessman and author Italo Svevo. The main character is Zeno Cosini and the book is the fictional character’s memoirs that he keeps at the insistence of hi…

 

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189 . Independent People by Halldor Laxness

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Independent People is an epic novel by Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness, published in 1946. It deals with the struggle of poor Icelandic farmers in the early 20th century, only freed from debt bondag…

 

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190 . The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

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Since his first appearance in Beeton’s Christmas Annual in 1887, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes has been one of the most beloved fictional characters ever created.

 

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191 . Don Juan by Molière

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Don Juan (Spanish, or Don Giovanni in Italian) is a legendary, fictional libertine whose story has been told many times by many authors. El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra (The Trickster …

 

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192 . Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar

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Memoirs of Hadrian is a novel by the French writer Marguerite Yourcenar about the life and death of Roman Emperor Hadrian. The book was first published in France in French in 1951 as Mémoires d’Had…

 

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193 . Complete Poems of Giacomo Leopardi by Giacomo Leopardi

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Giacomo Taldegardo Francesco di Sales Saverio Pietro Leopardi (June 29, 1798 – June 14, 1837) was an Italian poet, essayist, philosopher, and philologist.

 

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194 . Ramayana by Valmiki

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The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is attributed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon (smṛti). The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India, the…

 

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195 . Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

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Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West is a 1985 Western novel by American author Cormac McCarthy. It was McCarthy’s fifth book, and was published by Random House. The narrative foll…

 

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196 . The 42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos

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With his U.S.A. trilogy, comprising THE 42nd PARALLEL, 1919, and THE BIG MONEY, John Dos Passos is said by many to have written the great American novel. While Fitzgerald and Hemingway were cultiva…

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197 . The Big Money by John Dos Passos

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THE BIG MONEY completes John Dos Passos’s three-volume “fable of America’s materialistic success and moral decline” (American Heritage) and marks the end of “one of the most ambitious projects that…

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198 . Nineteen Nineteen by John Dos Passos

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With 1919, the second volume of his U.S.A. trilogy, John Dos Passos continues his “vigorous and sweeping panorama of twentieth-century America” (Forum), lauded on publication of the first volume no…

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199 . The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

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Written for publication as a serial, The Pickwick Papers is a sequence of loosely-related adventures. The novel’s main character, Mr. Samuel Pickwick, Esquire, is a kind and wealthy old gentleman, …

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200 . Los Siete Locos by Roberto Arlt

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Los siete locos is a novel of Argentine writer Roberto Arlt published in October 1929 . In the same some of the problems posed by the philosophical existentialism develop. Moral issues, loneliness,…

  1. Image of Jude the Obscure

    In 1895 Hardy’s final novel, the great tale of Jude the Obscure, sent shock waves of indignation rolling across Victorian England. Hardy had dared to write frankly about sexuality and to indict the…

 

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202 . The Princess of Cleves by Madame de La Fayette

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La Princesse de Clèves is a French novel, regarded by many as the beginning of the modern tradition of the psychological novel, and as a great classic work. Its author is generally held to be Madam…

 

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203 . Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin

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The novel examines the role of the Christian Church in the lives of African-Americans, both as a source of repression and moral hypocrisy and as a source of inspiration and community. It also, more…

 

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204 . The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

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The Red Badge of Courage is an 1895 war novel by American author Stephen Crane. It is considered one of the most influential works in American literature. The novel, a depiction on the cruelty of t…

 

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205 . Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

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Written and set in the Alcott family home, Orchard House, in Concord, Massachusetts, it was published in two parts in 1868 and 1869. The novel follows the lives of four sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth and Am…

 

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206 . If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem by William Faulkner

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In this feverishly beautiful novel—originally titled If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem by Faulkner, and now published in the authoritative Library of America text—William Faulkner interweaves two narrati…

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207 . The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

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Thus young Walter Hartright first meets the mysterious woman in white in what soon became one of the most popular novels of the nineteenth century. Secrets, mistaken identities, surprise revelation…

 

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208 . The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

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World War II has just begun and four children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, are evacuated from London in 1940 to escape the Blitz. They are sent to live with Professor Digory Kirke, who …

 

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209 . The Stand by Stephen King

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The Stand is a post-apocalyptic horror/fantasy novel by American author Stephen King. It re-works the scenario in his earlier short story, Night Surf. The novel was originally published in 1978 and…

 

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210 . A Season in Hell by Arthur Rimbaud

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“With skill and imagination, Bertrand Mathieu gives us an intimacy of the spoken American that allows readers to absorb themselves in Rimbaud’s private drama as in an obsessive dream of our own…….

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211 . Stories of Guy de Maupassant by Guy de Maupassant

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Guy de Maupassant was a master of the short story. This collection displays his lively diversity, with tales that vary in theme and tone, ranging from tragedy and satire to comedy and farce. In a l…

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212 . Jakob Von Gunten by Robert Walser

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The Swiss writer Robert Walser is one of the quiet geniuses of twentieth-century literature. Largely self-taught and altogether indifferent to worldly success, Walser wrote a range of short stories…

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213 . The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is the title of the first of five books in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy comedy science fiction series by Douglas Adams. The novel is an adaptation of th…

 

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214 . The Waves by Virginia Woolf

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The Waves, first published in 1931, is Virginia Woolf’s most experimental novel. It consists of soliloquies spoken by the book’s six characters: Bernard, Susan, Rhoda, Neville, Jinny, and Louis.[1]…

 

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215 . The Poems of Robert Frost by Robert Frost

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Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) was an American poet. His work was initially published in England before it was published in America. He is highly regarded for his realistic de…

 

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216 . Finnegans Wake by James Joyce

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Having done the longest day in literature with his monumental Ulysses (1922), James Joyce set himself an even greater challenge for his next book — the night. “A nocturnal state…. That is what I …

 

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217 . Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles

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Oedipus at Colonus is one of the three Theban plays of the Athenian tragedian Sophocles. It was written shortly before Sophocles’ death in 406 BC and produced by his grandson (also called Sophocles…

 

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218 . Money by Martin Amis

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Money tells the story of, and is narrated by, John Self, a successful director of commercials who is invited to New York by Fielding Goodney, a film producer, in order to shoot his first film. Self…

 

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219 . Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

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Rebecca is considered to be one of her best works. Some observers have noted parallels with Jane Eyre. Much of the novel was written while she was staying in Alexandria, Egypt, where her husband wa…

 

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220 . Henderson The Rain King by Saul Bellow

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Bellow’s glorious, spirited story of an eccentric American millionaire who finds a home of sorts in deepest Africa.

 

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221 . Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe

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It is Wolfe’s first novel, and is considered a highly autobiographical American Bildungsroman. The character of Eugene Gant is generally believed to be a depiction of Wolfe himself. The novel cover…

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222 . Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

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It follows the life of Macon “Milkman” Dead III, an African-American male living in Michigan, from birth to adulthood. The main theme in the novel is Milkman’s quest for identity as a black man in …

 

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223 . Main Street by Sinclair Lewis

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In this classic satire of small-town America, beautiful young Carol Kennicott comes to Gopher Prairie, Minnesota, with dreams of transforming the provincial old town into a place of beauty and cult…

 

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224 . A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell

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A Dance to the Music of Time is a twelve-volume cycle of novels by Anthony Powell, inspired by the painting of the same name by Nicolas Poussin. One of the longest works of fiction in literature, i…

 

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225 . De Rerum Natura by Lucretius

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De rerum natura is a first century BC epic poem by the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius with the goal of explaining Epicurean philosophy to a Roman audience. The poem, written in dactylic hexam…

 

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226 . Jacques the Fatalist and His Master by Denis Diderot

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The main subject of the book is the relationship between the valet Jacques and his master (who is never named). The two are traveling to a destination the narrator leaves insistently vague, and to …

 

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227 . Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

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Death Comes for the Archbishop is a 1927 novel by Willa Cather. It concerns the attempts of a Catholic bishop and a priest to establish a diocese in New Mexico Territory.

 

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228 . Neuromancer by William Gibson

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The novel tells the story of a washed-up computer hacker hired by a mysterious employer to work on the ultimate hack. Gibson explores artificial intelligence, virtual reality, genetic engineering, …

 

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229 . The Rainbow by D. H. Lawrence

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Set in the rural midlands of England, The Rainbow revolves around three generations of the Brangwen family over a period of more than sixty years, setting them against the emergence of modern Engla…

 

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230 . Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

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Brideshead Revisited, The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder is a novel by the English writer Evelyn Waugh, first published in 1945. Waugh wrote that the novel “deals with what is t…

 

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231 . Atonement by Ian McEwan

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Atonement is a 2001 novel by British author Ian McEwan. It tells the story of protagonist Briony Tallis’s crime and how it changes her life, as well as those of her sister Cecilia and her lover Rob…

 

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232 . The Good Soldier Svejk by Jaroslav Hašek

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The Good Soldier Švejk is the abbreviated title of an unfinished satirical novel by Jaroslav Hašek. It was illustrated by Josef Lada and George Grosz after Hašek’s death. The original Czech title o…

 

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233 . The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

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From the esteemed author of The Age of Innocence–a black comedy about vast wealth and a woman who can define herself only through the perceptions of others. Lily Bart’s quest to find a husband who…

 

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234 . White Noise by Don DeLillo

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Set at a bucolic midwestern college known only as The-College-on-the-Hill, White Noise follows a year in the life of Jack Gladney, a professor who has made his name by pioneering the field of Hitle…

 

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235 . One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

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Narrated by the gigantic but docile half-Indian “Chief” Bromden, who has pretended to be a deaf-mute for several years, the story focuses on the antics of the rebellious Randle Patrick McMurphy, a …

 

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236 . Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler

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Darkness At Noon stands as an unequaled fictional portrayal of the nightmare politics of our time. Its hero is an aging revolutionary, imprisoned and psychologically tortured by the Party to which …

 

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237 . Collected Poems of T.S. Eliot by T.S. Eliot

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Thomas Stearns Eliot was an American poet, playwright, and literary critic, arguably the most important English-language poet of the 20th century.

 

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238 . Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens

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Our Mutual Friend (written in the years 1864–65) is the last novel completed by Charles Dickens and is in many ways one of his most sophisticated works, combining deep psychological insight with ri…

 

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239 . The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead

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The novel tells the story of a highly dysfunctional family, the Pollits. The story centers on the family’s impoverishment, the failure of the father Sam to provide for them, the parents’ marital ba…

 

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240 . At Swim Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien

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At Swim-Two-Birds is a 1939 novel by Irish author Brian O’Nolan, writing under the pseudonym Flann O’Brien. It is widely considered to be O’Brien’s masterpiece, and one of the most sophisticated ex…

 

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241 . Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the first novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling and featuring Harry Potter, a young wizard. It describes how Harry discovers he is a …

 

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242 . Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne

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Winnie-the-Pooh, commonly shortened to Pooh Bear and once referred to as Edward Bear, is a fictional bear created by A. A. Milne. The first collection of stories about the character was the book Wi…

 

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243 . Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin

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Dream of the Red Chamber is a masterpiece of Chinese vernacular literature and one of China’s Four Great Classical Novels. The novel was composed some time in the middle of the 18th century during …

 

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244 . Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

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Pippi Longstocking is a children’s book written in 1945 by Astrid Lindgren. Pippi is a 9-year old that lives in an old villa in a Swedish town. (which remains unnamed for the series) She meet To…

 

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245 . History by Elsa Morante

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History: A Novel is a novel by Italian author Elsa Morante, largely seen to be her most famous and controversial work. Published in 1974, it narrates the story of a woman, Ida Ramundo, and her two …

 

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246 . Naked Lunch by William Burroughs

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The book is structured as a series of loosely-connected vignettes. Burroughs himself stated that the chapters are intended to be read in any order. The reader follows the narration of junkie Willia…

 

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247 . The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth

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The novel is set in the 1680s and 90s in London and on the eastern shore of the colony of Maryland. It tells the story of an English poet named Ebenezer Cooke who is given the title “Poet Laureate …

 

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248 . In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway

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When In Our Time was published in 1925, it was praised by Ford Madox Ford, John Dos Passos, and F. Scott Fitzgerald for its simple and precise use of language to convey a wide range of complex emot…

 

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249 . The Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke

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Rilke’s great cycle of ten elegies, perhaps his most profound poetic achievement, had its inception on the morning of January 21, 1912, but was interrupted by the First World War and not completed …

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  1. 250 . The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen

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    The Death of the Heart is a 1938 novel by Elizabeth Bowen set between the two world wars. It is about a sixteen year old orphan, Portia Quayne, who moves to London to live with her half-brother Tho…

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J.R. Moehringer — The Tender Bar — Sutton — Videos

Posted on July 22, 2013. Filed under: Art, Blogroll, Books, Communications, Culture, Entertainment, Fiction, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, media, People, Photos, Psychology, Rants, Raves, Video, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

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Boy Raised By a Bar

Audio Book Review: The Tender Bar: A Memoir by J.R. Moehringer (Author, Narrator)

Amazon chats with “Sutton” author J.R. Moehringer

J.R. Moehringer on Sutton and the Role of Banks on Culture

BEA 2012 – J.R. Moehringer – Adult Book & Author Breakfast

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