A Christmas Carol (full title: A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas) is A Christmas Carol is a Victorian morality tale of an old and bitter miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, who undergoes a profound experience of redemption over the course of one evening.
It is the end of the 19th century. Like thousands of others, the Rudkus family has emigrated from Lithuania to America in search of a better life. As they settle into the Packingtown neighborhood of Chicago, they find their dreams are unlikely to be realized. In fact, just the opposite is quite likely to occur. Jurgis, the main character of the novel, has brought his father Antanas, his fiancée Ona, her stepmother Teta Elzbieta, Teta Elzbieta's brother Jonas and her six children, and Ona's cousin Marija Berczynskas along. The family, naïve to the ways of Chicago, quickly falls prey to con men and makes a series of bad decisions that lead them into wretched poverty and terrible living conditions. All are forced to find jobs in dismal working conditions for their very survival. Jurgis, broken and discouraged, eventually finds solace in the American Socialist movement.
This novel was written during a period in American history when “Trusts” were formed by multiple corporations to establish monopolies that stifled competition and fixed prices. Unthinkable working conditions and unfair business practices were the norm. The Jungle’s author, Upton Sinclair, was an ardent Socialist of the time. Sinclair was commissioned by the “Appeal To Reason”, a Socialist journal of the period, to write a fictional expose on the working conditions of the immigrant laborers in the meat packing industry in Chicago. Going undercover, Sinclair spent seven weeks inside the meatpacking plants gathering details for his novel.
Inheritors, (1921) by American dramatist Susan Glaspell concerns the legacy of an idealistic farmer who wills his highly coveted midwest farmland to the establishment of a college (Act I.) Forty years later, when his granddaughter stands up for the rights of Hindu nationals to protest at the college her grandfather founded, she jeopardizes funding for the college itself and sets herself against her own uncle, president of the institution's trustees (Acts II and III.) Ultimately, she defies her family's wishes, and as a consequence is bound for prison herself (Act IV.) The play was a stirring defense of free speech and an individual's ability to stand for his or her own ideal during a time of aggressive anti-Communist politics in the US. Inheritors was first performed at Provincetown Playhouse in 1922, the last of Glaspell's plays presented there. It has been revived in New York City by Mirror Repertory in 1983 and Metropolitan Playhouse in 2005.
Wharton's classic story of an aging (by Victorian-era standards) spinster socialite who would rather marry for money than for true love.
In Spanish California, a troubling pattern had developed. The natives were reduced to peasants, the Franciscan friars that ministered to them were derided, and the only people who mattered were the caballeros – who styled themselves as knights of the New World. These men strutted about in elegant clothes, riding magnificent horses, and sporting rapiers at their sides that they were quick to draw if they felt their honor was affronted.
Into this world burst Zorro (Spanish for “fox”). A later-day Robin Hood, he stole from the rich and gave to the poor, but he also took it upon himself to punish men who had notably abused others. Cloaked and masked, appearing suddenly from the dark, he always stayed ahead of the manhunt launched at his heels.
The authorities called him a highwayman.
And when the doings of a corrupt governor began to affect the good people around the pueblo of early Los Angeles, Zorro responded – vigorously. Summary by Mark Smith
Wells, H. G.
Ann Veronica was a controversial book detailing the development of a naive school girl into a "New Woman". When it was published, the Spectator described it as a "poisonous book ... capable of poisoning the minds of those who read it." Although it is unlikely to offend modern listeners in this way, this novel addresses many feminist issues that are still relevant today.
One of Dickens' Christmas stories, this was first published as part of the Christmas number of Household Words for 1854. The first chapter relates Dickens' visit to the ancient Richard Watts's Charity at Rochester. The second chapter is the touching story of "Richard Doubledick", which Dickens supposedly told the travellers, and Dickens' journey home on Christmas morning provides the short concluding chapter.
Haggard, H. Rider
Black Heart and White Heart, is a story of the courtship, trials and final union of a pair of Zulu lovers in the time of King Cetywayo.
Du Bois, W.E.B.
The Quest of the Silver Fleece is a story of romance, race economics and politics set around the 1900s. Here, a traditionally educated boy and an unschooled “swamp girl” each begin a journey toward love, ambition and redemption in the “Old South.”
Wells, H. G.
Arthur Kipps, an orphaned draper’s assistant of humble means, unexpectedly inherits a large sum of money and that is when all his troubles begin. Wanting to marry above his social class, he has to learn how to lead a genteel life, but that is too much for him. You would think that his decision to revert to Ann, his boyhood love, would solve his problems and bring him back to earth and contentment. But even now the consequences of being wealthy are not easy to live with.
A poignant tale about ambition and social class in England in the early 20th century by H.G. Wells, a master of this genre, who drew on features of his own life to provide some of the material
At a certain committee meeting held in the spring of 1916, it was agreed that fourteen leading American authors, known to be extremely generous as well as gifted, should be asked to write a composite novel.
Third, to have the novel finished and published serially during the autumn Campaign of 1917.
The carrying out of these requirements has not been the childish diversion it may have seemed. Splendid team work, however, has made success possible.
Every author represented, every worker on the team, has gratuitously contributed his or her services; and every dollar realized by the serial and book publication of "The Sturdy Oak" will be devoted to the Suffrage Cause. But the novel itself is first of all a very human story of American life today. It neither unduly nor unfairly emphasizes the question of equal suffrage, and it should appeal to all lovers of good fiction.
Another Jamesian look at Americans in Paris. What happens when a reporter for an American scandal sheet (The Reverberator) is looking for a good story, though one which might interfere with the marriage plans of a young American woman in the City of Light? This book has been described as "a delicious Parisian bonbon," and its generally good humor stands in contrast with some of the writer's other work.
"I doubt that anyone who reads [Born Again] will ever forget it: it is quite singularly bad, with long undigestible rants against the evils of the world, an impossibly idealistic Utopian prescription for the said evils, and - as you will have gathered - a very silly plot." - oddbooks.co.uk
Alfred Lawson was a veritable Renaissance man: a professional baseball player, a luminary in the field of aviation, an outspoken advocate of vegetarianism and economic reform, and the founder of a pseudo-scientific crackpot philosophy called Lawsonomy. Born Again, his only novel, is a bizarre, delirious, and delightfully silly utopian science-fiction novel that lays the groundwork for the philosophy that would later dominate Lawson's life. It tells the story of John Convert, a wayward, seafaring soul (based loosely on Lawson, minus the conveniently symbolic initials) who is tossed overboard by his crewmen after a physical altercation. Convert awakens on an island inhabited by a race of superhuman giants -- called the Sagemen -- who slumber in their subterranean city. He then meets Arletta, a giantess who takes Convert on a journey that will change his life in ways too fantastically strange to imagine.
"A Christmas Carol" has been credited with relaunching the celebration of Christmas as we know it. It relaunched Charles Dickens' literary career, that is for sure! More than that, and more importantly, it is an illustration of one "covetous old sinner" and his opportunity for redemption in the eyes of both God and man. For me the book holds a special meaning for it repeatedly shows me that no matter how I often I may make mistakes, mercy and forgiveness are there for the asking.
A major preoccupation of Hesse in writing Siddhartha was to cure his "sickness with life" (Lebenskrankheit) by immersing himself in Indian philosophy such as that expounded in the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. The reason the second half of the book took so long to write was that Hesse "had not experienced that transcendental state of unity to which Siddhartha aspires. In an attempt to do so, Hesse lived as a virtual semi-recluse and became totally immersed in the sacred teachings of both Hindu and Buddhist scriptures. His intention was to attain to that 'completeness' which, in the novel, is the Buddha's badge of distinction." The novel is structured on three of the traditional stages of life for Hindu males (student (brahmacharin), householder (grihastha) and recluse/renunciate (vanaprastha)) as well as the Buddha's four noble truths (Part One) and eight-fold path (Part Two) which form twelve chapters, the number in the novel. Ralph Freedman mentions how Hesse commented in a letter "[my] Siddhartha does not, in the end, learn true wisdom from any teacher, but from a river that roars in a funny way and from a kindly old fool who always smiles and is secretly a saint." In a lecture about Siddhartha, Hesse claimed "Buddha's way to salvation has often been criticized and doubted, because it is thought to be wholly grounded in cognition. True, but it's not just intellectual cognition, not just learning and knowing, but spiritual experience that can be earned only through strict discipline in a selfless life". Freedman also points out how Siddhartha described Hesse's interior dialectic: "All of the contrasting poles of his life were sharply etched: the restless departures and the search for stillness at home; the diversity of experience and the harmony of a unifying spirit; the security of religious dogma and the anxiety of freedom." Eberhard Ostermann has shown how Hesse, while mixing the religious genre of the legend with that of the modern novel, seeks to reconcile with the double-edged effects of modernization such as individualization, pluralism or self-disciplining.
A collection of legends and myths of the Hawaiian islands and their 'strange people' as told by His Majesty King Kalakaua, the last king of Hawaii. Introduction, including a history, geography and social and religious commentary on the islands by R.M. Daggett, United States Minister to the Hawaiian Islands 1882-1885.
The Mill on the Floss is George Eliot’s second novel, and was published in 1860, only a year after her first, Adam Bede. It centres on the lives of brother and sister Tom and Maggie Tulliver growing up on the river Floss near the town of St. Oggs (a fictionalised version of Gainsborough, in Lincolnshire, England) in the years following the Napoleonic Wars, with both as young adults eventually meeting a tragic end by the Mill which the family holds so dear. In large measure, their lives are dominated by their father, a successful miller brought down by his inability to resist settling arguments in a court of law. Character differences between Tom and Maggie - he dour and rigid of thought, she lively and impulsive - seem to matter little in childhood, but eventually strain their relationship beyond breaking point. It is Maggie, however, who is the dominant character of the book, arguably one of the great characters of 19th century literature. Each of her relationships is vital to the narrative: with her parents, with Tom above all, but on a romantic level with Philip Wakem, the sensitive hunchbacked son of her father’s (and Tom’s) bitterest enemy, and with charming and urbane Stephen Guest, fiance of Maggie’s cousin Lucy Deane. Maggie’s life is changed utterly by an impulsive elopement which she turns back from, but too late to stop the inevitable abuse and contempt. This is a semi-autobiographical reflection of the vilification which George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) herself had to endure while openly living with a married man, a time when her brother was willing to communicate with her only through lawyers. Eliot writes of character and relationships with an insight and sharp detail that few authors have ever equaled. It’s a long book, but you will appreciate it for its depth.
Washington Irving is, arguably, one of America's greatest writers. He spent many years in Europe and kept records of his observations, which formed the basis of such classics as "Old Christmas," "Bracebridge Hall" and "Tales of a Traveler." This volume is the latest entry in a series of collected essays written during these early years. The fragility of the heart forms the basis of many of these short stories. Irving handles the issues of love, heartbreak and death in a caring and compassionate way. ( Greg Giordano)
A collection of six short stories by American writer Herman Melville, published in May 1856. Except for the newly written title story, "The Piazza," all of the stories had appeared in Putnam's Monthly between 1853 and 1855. The collection includes what has long been regarded as three of Melville's most important achievements in the genre of short fiction, "Bartleby, the Scrivener", "Benito Cereno", and "The Encantadas", his sketches of the Galápagos Islands. (Billy Budd, arguably his greatest piece of short fiction, would remain unpublished in his lifetime.) One should note that the era's prevalent racism occasionally surfaces, as in describing blacks as "indisputable inferiors", to be found in "Benito Cereno".
Clearly frustrated at the refusal of his contemporaries to recognise the iniquity of society, Tressell's cast of hypocritical Christians, exploitative capitalists and corrupt councillors provide a backdrop for his main target — the workers who think that a better life is "not for the likes of them". Hence the title of the book; Tressell paints the workers as "philanthropists" who throw themselves into back-breaking work for poverty wages in order to generate profit for their masters.
The hero of the book, Frank Owen, is a socialist who believes that the capitalist system is the real source of the poverty he sees all around him. In vain he tries to convince his fellow workers of his world view, but finds that their education has trained them to distrust their own thoughts and to rely on those of their "betters". Much of the book consists of conversations between Owen and the others, or more often of lectures by Owen in the face of their jeering; this was presumably based on Tressell's own experiences.
Emile, or On Education or Émile, or Treatise on Education (French: Émile, ou De l’éducation) was published in 1762 in French and German and in 1763 in English. The significance of Rousseau in education as well as in politics must be found in his revolutionary attitude toward established institutions. Some of his biographers relate the story that when the Academy of Dijon, in 1749, offered a prize for an essay on the question whether the progress of the arts and sciences has tended to the purification of morals and manners, he followed the suggestion of Diderot, who reminded him of the greater notoriety which he could gain by advocating the negative side. The Archbishop of Paris, Christophe de Beaumont (1703-1781), saw in it a dangerous, mischievous work, and gave himself the trouble of writing a long encyclical letter in order to point out the book to the reprobation of the faithful. This was due to the Fourth Book, Confessions of a Savoyard Priest.
Rousseau created an imaginary child named Emile and became his tutor. As tutor, he was careful to keep the passions in check while developing the mind. Then he created an imaginary mate for Emile named Sophy.
The book was reviewed in The Monthly Review 1763 printed by Ralph Griffiths. "Rousseau says man is born twice, first to exist, then to live; once to a species and again with regard to sex. At the age of puberty commences the second birth, when he is truly born to live, and enters into full possession of the powers of human nature. Tho' nature points out the time when youth emerges from infancy this period may be either accelerated or retarded by education." It was originally translated into English as early as 1768.
William H. Payne (1836–1907) translated Emile in 1895. This reading is from Barbara Foxley's 1912 translation from Gutenberg.org.
William Butler Yeats
This is a collection of Fairy and Folk tales. The poet William Butler Yeats collected them from around the Western part of Ireland and translated them near the end of the 1800s.
Carol Milford, a college-educated, progressive, ambitious young woman, is self-sufficient working as a librarian in St. Paul, when she meets a country doctor, Will Kennicott, who convinces her to marry him and move to the rural Minnesota town of Gopher Prairie. She arrives with dreams of beautifying the town, of establishing art and culture, of improving lives and promoting child welfare, but whose spirit is gradually and inexorably crushed by small-town attitudes, ignorance and bigotry. First published in 1920, Main Street is Sinclair Lewis' first major novel, and was a phenomenal success at the time. In 1930 Lewis would be the first American to receive the Nobel Prize for literature.
George Eliot was the pen name of Mary Ann Evans – an ironic ‘deception’ given that Adam Bede, her first novel, is written unashamedly from a feminist standpoint.The story centres on a pastoral love triangle. Two young men, carpenter Adam Bede and squire Captain Arthur Donnithorne, are both in love with the mercurial Hetty Sorrel. There’s a further love interest between Adam and beautiful lay preacher Dinah Morris.The setting is a country village in the north of England in the last years of the eighteenth century. The author paints a wonderful landscape of contemporary life as it really was, and excels in the portraits of her characters. Each is flawed, each has their own passions, each is unique, and through this great novel, Eliot put her stamp on literature and on the way we view the vagaries of character, helping us to see people as they really are.This is one of the greatest novels in the English language. First published in 1859, Adam Bede has never been out of print since, which speaks volumes about its timeless quality.
Reading this book, I had a vision of a land, heretofore sunk in the mists of muteness, suddenly rising up into the eminence of song. Innumerable books have been written about the South; some good books have been written in the South. This book is the South. . . . . Part One is the primitive and evanescent world of Georgia. Part Two is the threshing and suffering brown world of Washington. . . . Part Three is Georgia again . . . this black womb of the ferment seed: the neurotic, educated, spiritually stirring Negro. From the Forward by Waldo Frank
Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
"Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life" was Mrs Gaskell's first full-length novel. It was published anonymously in that tumultuous year of political change, 1848 - only a few months after the Communist Manifesto co-authored by her fellow Manchester-resident, Friedrich Engels. Engels's experience as agent in his father's cotton-spinning factory motivated him to write "The Condition of the Working Class in England", a classic account of the sufferings of the poor under the factory-system.
Elizabeth Gaskell's own personal contact with the plight of the poor cotton workers of Lancashire also compelled her to a compassionate examination of their lives; but as a middle-class woman, married to a Unitarian minister, her approach to her subject took on a more emotionally complex significance; influenced by religious faith but also by more personal considerations.
In the brief preface to the novel, Mrs Gaskell hints at her initial impulse. The loss of a beloved child in infancy led her to seek a therapeutic outlet, but one which left her uncertain of her capacity to contextualize her public, writerly response to the tragedies occurring in the surrounding society of Manchester's poorest classes: "I know nothing of Political Economy, or the theories of trade..." She was, however, determined to portray, in novelistic form, the intimate connection between the private experience of her characters and the social forces of her time. The success of the novel led her to proclaim her authorship and move on to further works of fiction, which have secured her in our times a mounting reputation as one of the leading novelists of the mid-Victorian period.
Certainly the novel features numerous death-scenes, all conveyed with a depth of sympathy that contrasts with the queasy iambics with which Dickens orchestrated the notorious demise of Little Nell. Mrs Gaskell was not, like Dickens, a London-based novelist observing the sufferings of the provincial poor with a journalistic detachment - as evidenced in his own admirable, Lancashire-based novel "Hard Times". Gaskell lived among the people whose attenuated lives she chronicled - and however hesitantly, as a début novelist, she rendered their experience in literary terms, her writing presents us with a true insight into the sufferings of individuals at a point in history when the mass of human beings fell casualty to the forms of economic progress following upon the Industrial Revolution. Most impressively she called into question the political and social cost of creating a resentful proletariat despairing of survival in (to quote Karl Marx) a "heartless world".
Our reader Tony Foster is a resident of Manchester and a near-neighbour of Mrs Gaskell (allowing for their separation in time). His superb narration renders the native speech of her characters with an authenticity which ideally conveys the spirit of this book. A truly moving experience awaits everyone who gives ear to this 'Tale of Manchester Life'.
Mary Wollstonecraft was one of the early promoters of gender equality long before other crusaders took up the cause. She is perhaps best known for her books, “A Vindication of the Rights of Women” (1792) and “A Vindication of the Rights of Men” (1790). But she also wrote widely on education and used fiction formats to promote her progressive views. This book using the genre of didactic children’s stories, was written the same year as her “Mary: A Fiction” 1788, but was first published anonymously. It relates the re-education two young girls -- Mary 15 and Caroline, 12, by Mrs. Mason who dispenses her advice on topics of character and behavior ranging from the treatment of animals to idleness and innocent amusements, without any real dialog.
The British Isles, in particular Wales, are renowned for legend and folklore. The author, an American journalist working in Europe, was appointed Consul to Wales and thus began his fascination with Welsh folklore. He became a renowned authority and published several books on the subject. This work is more of a scholarly discussion on the origins and geography than a narration of the stories.
Elizabeth Gaskell's last novel was serialized in Cornhill Magazine from 1864 to 1866, and completed by her editor posthumously. It looks at English life in the 1830s through the experiences of Molly Gibson, the daughter of a widowed doctor growing up in the provincial town of Hollingford. When Mr. Gibson decides to marry again, Molly is forced to contend with a pretentious stepmother, but consoled by a close friendship with Cynthia, her new stepsister. The girls' relations with the local residents, particularly the Squire of Hamley Hall and his family, make for incidents comic, romantic, and tragic, by turns.
A collection of early writings of Charles Dickens under his early pseudonym, "Boz." They first appeared in various publications from 1833 to 1836. Divided into four sections, "Our Parish," "Scenes," "Characters," and "Tales." The first three sections are descriptions of various people and places, and the final section contains fictional short stories.
W. S. Gilbert
Iolanthe is a fairy banished from fairyland for the crime of marrying a mortal. Her half-fairy, half-human son Strephon is a fairy down to the waist, but his legs are human. He loves Phyllis, but she is courted by the whole House of Lords and the Lord High Chancellor himself! Strephon decides the only way to win his love is to go into Parliament, with the help of his mother and all his fairy aunts. None of them understand politics, but that doesn't matter. He will soon make some changes, starting with throwing the Peerage open to competitive examination! But how will Phyllis react when she catches Strephon with an impossibly young and very beautiful lady who he claims is his fairy mother?
This is a spoken "poetic" version of the libretto written by W. S. Gilbert, where a full cast of voices brings the sparkling wit of Gilbert to the fore, and will enhance understanding and appreciation of this comic light opera.
This is an historical fiction novel. Many real characters of history are included, as well as fictitious ones. The saga takes place in the period slightly before the American Revolution, and extends for some years after that war. It covers the first movement of southern colonists, over the mountains, into Kentucky, then into the lands that would become Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. The battles to take these lands from the British make up much of the drama. The characters also move into New Orleans to face off with the French.
This was a major best selling novel when released. The writer, Winston Churchill, was a most prominent American novelist of the time. The Prime Minister of England, Winston S. Churchill, was his contemporary, but no family relation. This book contains content that some listeners might find offensive.
Edith Wharton's 1913 novel is a devastating critique of American upward mobility, told through the journey of Undine Spragg from fictional Midwestern Apex City to New York to Paris. Undine is determined to acquire money and position through marriage, even if it means multiple divorces.
The Gawain Poet
This poem celebrates Christmas by exploring the mystery of Christ's mission on earth: his death, resurrection, and second coming as judge of all human souls. Sir Gawain is cast in the role of Everyman. At the feast of the New Year, an unarmed green giant rides his green horse into the banqueting hall of King Arthur and challenges any member of the assembled company to behead him with a huge axe and then to submit to the same treatment from his victim the next year. Gawain volunteers to prevent Arthur from accepting this challenge, fairly confident that the challenger will be unfit to return the blow. However, when the green knight rides out of the hall carrying his severed head, Gawain must wait a year under what amounts to a sentence of death. At the end of this period his quest for the green knight leads him first through perilous adventures comparable to the life-threatening dangers confronting all mortals in their earthly sojourn and then, when his travels are at an end, through a series of temptations that represent allegorically the spiritual challenges determining not the time of death but the fortunes of the soul after death. The spot where Gawain then meets his foe closely resembles a graveyard superintended by the green knight, now converted, in effect, from a victim into a judge, as Christ was murdered by mankind but survived to be our judge at the end of time. A couple early footnotes may help in appreciating two details in the conclusion of the tale: First, Catholics believe that to perform the sacrament of Confession while intending to commit another sin deprives the priest's absolution of effect. Second, it was generally believed, in the Middle Ages and even today, that evil spirits cannot cross running water. This belief appears in "Tam o’Shanter," "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," and The Lord of the Rings.
These Norwegian tales of elemental mountain, forest and sea spirits, have been handed down by hinds and huntsmen, wood choppers and fisher folk. They are men who led a hard and lonely life amid primitive surroundings. The Norwegian Fairy Book has an appeal for one and all, since it is a book in which the mirror of fairy-tale reflects human yearnings and aspirations, human loves, ambitions and disillusionments, in an imaginatively glamored, yet not distorted form. [from the book's preface]
Washington Irving's Old Christmas tells of an American's travels through England during the Christmas season. Through a chance meeting with an old friend he is able to experience Christmas in a stately manor house. Through his eyes as a houseguest he glimpses the uniquely British customs and celebrations of Christmas as it would have been experienced during the Middle Ages, rather than in the early 19th century.
"Harold Transome is a landowner who goes against his family's political tradition (much to his mother's distress), while Felix Holt is a sincere radical. The setting of the book, the 1832 parliament election, is used to discuss the social problems of that time. A secondary plot involves Esther Lyon, the stepdaughter of a minister who is the real heiress to the Transome estate, with whom both Harold Transome and Felix Holt fall in love. Esther loves poor Felix Holt, but would she choose a comfortable life with Harold Transome?"
A. G. Seklemian
Armenians trace their history back to before the time of the Babylonians and earliest recorded history - in fact, to Togarmah, a grandson of Japhet, Noah's son, who settled in Armenia after the Ark came to rest on mount Ararat. Armenia was also the first State in the world to adopt Christianity as their official religion, around the 3rd Century AD. This book contains many wonderful folk and fairy tales culled from this long history of the Armenian country people, to whom all nature is full of stories, by the scholar and storyteller Mr. A. G. Seklemian.
Alice Dunbar Nelson
This is a collection of the author's short stories and poems where she writes about the collective experience of African American women, and African Americans in general. But she is sharpest when she pushes back against the notion that women must accept and endure a subservient role to men.
Sir Walter Scott
An historical novel set in Scotland in 1736, involving a riot and surrounding drama.
Katharine Berry Judson
"...The preparation of a volume of the quainter, purer myths, suitable for general reading, authentic, and with illustrations of the country portrayed, but with no pretensions to being a purely scientific piece of work.... This volume is intended for popular use." As with most mythologies or religions, these stories tell how the world came to be, how places and peoples got their names, how social customs and mores developed, adventures of the ancestors or gods, and much, much more.
Arnim, Elizabeth von
Elizabeth and Her German Garden is a novel by Elizabeth von Arnim, first published in 1898; it was very popular and frequently reprinted during the early years of the 20th century. The story is a year's diary written by the protagonist Elizabeth about her experiences learning gardening and interacting with her friends. It includes commentary on the beauty of nature and on society, but is primarily humorous due to Elizabeth's frequent mistakes and her idiosyncratic outlook on life. She looked down upon the frivolous fashions of her time writing "I believe all needlework and dressmaking is of the devil, designed to keep women from study.' The book is the first in a series about the same character. It is noteworthy for being published without a named author.
Jewett, Sarah Orne
As contemporary today as it was over a century ago, this relatively unsentimental tale of labor relations still packs a punch.
A ruthless squire becomes obsessed with a younger woman and conspires against her lover, George Fielding, so that the squire can win her. With the squire's financial pressure turned up on his family, George goes to Australia to earn money enough to marry his girl. In the meantime, a young man named Tom Robinson is sent to prison for stealing. For his somewhat minor offense, he suffers severe mistreatment in prison. "It Is Never Too Late to Mend" was written in the 1850s to shed light on abuses in British prison discipline and the treatment of criminals, but is also an adventure yarn set in the gold fields of Australia.
In this 1892 novel of London's Jewish East End, Israel Zangwill sets the apparently irrational and decidedly indecorous religious practices of transplanted eastern European Jews against the forces of assimilation. Zangwill's knowledge of Yiddishkeit and skill in melodrama created a series of unforgettable vignettes that had a significant effect on the public perception of this much stigmatized immigrant group.
Israel Zangwill (1864-1926) was born in London of Russian and Polish parents. He coined the term cultural "melting pot".
Sir Walter Scott
During the turbulent moment in English history involving King James 1 and 6, Nigel Olifaunt, a Scottish lord, seeks to protect his family home and holdings, but meets with recalcitrance and treachery, which eventually results in his imprisonment. But there are forces of good that help to set him free and right injustices.
Friedrich von Schlegel
Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel was born in 1772 at Hannover, Holy Roman Empire, to Johann Adolf Schlegel and Johanna Christiane Erdmuthe Hübsch. He attended Jena University and made friends with many of the writers known by his brother August Wilhelm Schlegel. His first book was About the Diotima, written in 1795, and four years later he wrote Lucinda. The translator, Calvin Thomas, called Lucinda a "naughty book", but that was in 1914. I have no idea where it stands now in the world of literature. It was made up of many disconnected parts.
This is a comic novel written by Irish author James Stephens, a quick-witted storyteller whose pantheistic philosophy is revealed in his adult Irish fairy tales. His first novel, The Charwoman's Daughter (1911), humorously examines the life and fantasies of a poor Dublin mother and daughter. His second, The Crock of Gold (1913), again showcases his unique writing style, quirky thoughts, grasp of irony and cleverness of phrase. No conformity here, lots of head-scratching twists and turns that reveal odd bits of wisdom too! The main characters are an extremely pedantic Philosopher, his revengeful wife, their sweet innocent children lured down leprechaun holes, a teenage girl seduced by Pan (the god of lust and carefree living) then saved by Angus Og (the Irish god of youth, love and beauty), culminating in a giant parade of Irish gods. Stephen's serious philosophy is on display here and there, and we learn many useful tips for dealing with fairies, goblins and gods, especially that no good comes of stealing a leprechaun's crock of gold! ~Summary by Michele Fry
"Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio" or "Strange Tales of Liaozhai" is a collection of nearly five hundred mostly supernatural tales written by Pu Songling during the early Qing Dynasty. It was written in Classical Chinese rather than Vernacular Chinese. Pu is believed to have completed the majority of the tales sometime in 1679, though he could have added entries as late as 1707. He borrows from a folk tradition of oral storytelling to put to paper a series of captivating, colorful stories, where the boundary between reality and the odd or fantastic is blurred. The cast of characters includes vixen spirits, ghosts, scholars, court officials, Taoist exorcists and beasts. Moral purposes are often inverted between humans and the supposedly degenerate ghosts or spirits, resulting in a satirical edge to some of the stories. Ghosts and spirits are often bold and trustworthy, while humans are on the other hand weak, indecisive and easily manipulated, reflecting the author's own disillusionment with his society. ( Wikipedia)
I. L. Peretz
A collection of short stories written originally in Yiddish and later translated into English. These stories were published under censorship in Russia from 1875 to 1900 provide an illuminating portrayal of the harsh life conditions for Russian Jews. Summary by Elsie Selwyn
This book tells of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures.