Prospero’s Isle

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  • "Dombey and Son" (1846) by Charles Dickens

    by Charles Dickens

    After the huge popular successes of his first four novels and the lukewarm reception by the mass public of the next two, but encouraged by the huge success of his Christmas Carol stories published in 1843, Dickens raised his sights and clearly aimed at impressing the arbiters of literary good (...)

  • "Bleak House" (1853) by Charles Dickens

    by Charles Dickens

    A blockbuster of a book [1], with what was for Dickens a big theme — the incredibly antiquated and abstruse, bureaucratic procedures involved in property legislation via the time-hallowed Chancery Law courts.
    Today the very lengthy satire about the inefficiencies of that antiquated system has (...)

  • "Hard Times" (1854) by Charles Dickens

    by Charles Dickens

    The only book in which Dickens ventures into the industrial heartland of the England of his time, the sprawling factory belt in the north around Manchester and Liverpool. Also the shortest of all his novels, slightly above one-third the average length of the others.
    The hard-hitting portrayal (...)

  • "A Tale of Two Cities" (1859) by Charles Dickens

    by Charles Dickens

    Dickens’s second and best-known (and last) historical novel, the one that starts off with the famous opening lines "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, . . .".
    This is one of his shortest novels and also his most overtly (...)

  • "Barnaby Rudge" (1841) by Charles Dickens

    by Charles Dickens

    Dickens’s first historical novel, set in the period of the ultra-violent anti-catholic Gordon Riots in the London of 1780 that saw angry mobs storm into the Parliament buildings, destroy the central Newgate prison and other buildings and shake the state to its very foundations.
    The historical (...)

  • "The Old Curiosity Shop" (1841) by Charles Dickens

    by Charles Dickens

    Dickens’s fourth novel, another huge best-seller, a «road novel» about the adorable Little Nell and her grandfather on the run all around England from a cruel, grasping creditor, no doubt the most villainous villain in all of his works.
    The young heroine shines like a beacon through the gloomy (...)

  • "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" (1900) by L. Frank Baum

    by L. Frank Baum

    L. Frank Baum (1856-1919) was a prolific author of novels, short stories, poetry and theatre plays who achieved everlasting posthumous fame when this wonderful story about the adventures of Dorothy and her faithful companions (her dog Toto, a scarecrow without brains, a tin woodman without a (...)

  • "Nicholas Nickleby" (1839) by Charles Dickens

    by Charles Dickens

    Where the penniless young Nicholas goes up to the wilds of Yorkshire to begin a teaching career and finds himself with am schoolmaster who’s extravagantly and exploiting and mistreating his pupils there, then flees down south after a dramatic show-down to join a roving band of actors and to get (...)

  • "Our Mutual Friend" (1865), by Charles Dickens

    by Charles Dickens

    This last complete novel of Charles Dickens, his fourteenth, has a very strong theme, one of his best and most timeless: the Thames river that dominates the lives of those who work on and beside and near it and which symbolises the force and power and also violence of the current of life (...)

  • "The Pickwick Papers" (1837) by Charles Dickens

    by Charles Dickens

    Dickens’s first and funniest novel, published when he was only 25, was a huge worldwide hit that had people lining up on the wharfs in Sydney and New York when the boats came in with the latest instalment.
    With a hundred English and American editions before 1900, it was probably the (...)

  • "The Mixed Men" novel (1952) by A. E. van Vogt

    by A. E. van Vogt

    The inhabitants of the 70 inhabited planets of the Fifty Suns civilisation in the Greater Magellanic Cloud galaxy are up against a gigantic invading warship from Earth bent on finding them out and integrating them into their empire that rules the Milky Way galaxy.
    Based on somewhat modified (...)

  • "Oliver Twist" (1838), by Charles Dickens

    by Charles Dickens

    This was the second consecutive worldwide success for Dickens at the age of 26(!), and it was a shock to his vast public, who were looking for another Cockney comedy in the vein of The Pickwick Papers, but got instead a hard-hitting description of some of the most shocking aspects of the social (...)

  • "Make Westing" and other stories by Jack London

    by Jack London

    TABLE OF CONTENTS
    1. The Misogynist (1897) A confirmed bachelor wakes up one morning to find that all females have suddenly disappeared and the world is now a purely masculine one! Things start rapidly going to pot as everyone, including our hero, desperately tries to survive. (8,600 words) (...)

  • "Great Expectations" (1861) by Charles Dickens

    by Charles Dickens

    This is Dickens at his very best, or rather his greatest. A mature work, his penultimate novel, it gets off to a rousing start – the dramatic encounter of young Pip with an escaped convict takes place on page 2 –, the writing is absolutely sparkling, deeply infused with his profound humanity and (...)

  • "Suicides" and other stories by Guy de Maupassant

    by Guy de Maupassant

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    1. Suicides (1880) A letter is found beside a 57-year-old man who has just shot himself in a depressed state of mind, as dramatically explained in his letter. (1,800 words)

    2. Lasting Love (1882) A group of hunters and their wives are debating the question of long-lasting (or otherwise) love after a copious dinner, and a retired Parisian doctor recounts the most intense and long-lasting affair he had ever encountered, involving a respectable pharmacist and a (...)

  • "David Copperfield" (1850) by Charles Dickens

    by Charles Dickens

    This portrait of a sensitive young boy’s struggles with his school mentors and with his schoolmates is as powerful and humanistic as anything Dickens or anyone else ever wrote, and the hard-hearted but oh-so-smooth uncle Mr. Murdstone is as worthy a villain — always a Dickens strong point — as (...)

  • "An Enigmatic Nature" and other stories by Anton Chekhov

    by Anton Chekhov

    TABLE OF CONTENTS
    1. An Enigmatic Nature (1883) A very pretty young lady in a first-class railway car is baring her soul to a budding author who is all too anxious to proffer his psychological expertise on problems of the heart, but the explanation by the lovely lady of her current romantic (...)

  • "Twas the night before Christmas" (1823) by Clement Moore

    by Clement Moore

    This charming poem, generally attributed to the New York theologian Clement Moore (1779-1863), was first published (anonymously) in an upstate New York newspaper, the Troy Sentinel, on December 23, 1823, with the title "A Visit from St. Nicolas".
    It rapidly gained acclaim and widespread (...)

  • "The Pearls of Parlay" and other stories by Jack London

    by Jack London

    TABLE OF CONTENTS
    1. Pluck and Pertinacity (1899) In the words of the author: “The true story of a man who practically achieved the impossible in his hazardous ice-journey in the dead of the Arctic winter. Happily, success crowned the effort.” (1,450 words).
    2. The Scorn of Women (1901) Floyd (...)

  • "The Burning Log" and other stories by Guy de Maupassant

    by Guy de Maupassant

    TABLE OF CONTENTS
    1. THE BURNING LOG (1882) The narrator is having tea with a close friend when a log burning in the fireplace rolls onto the carpet. That reminds him of a similar but more dramatic incident when he’d been dining with very close and newly-married friends, a story that the lady (...)

  • "The Black Monk" and other stories by Anton Chekhov

    by Anton Chekhov

    TABLE OF CONTENTS
    1. CHORISTERS (1884) The sacristan of a village church has been intensely rehearsing a complex choral with the school’s choir in preparation for the forthcoming visit of a Petersburg dignitary, in spite of the vocal inadequacies of the singers and the hostility of the church (...)

  • "A Christmas Carol" (1843) by Charles Dickens

    by Charles Dickens

    A Christmas Carol was a huge hit in both England and the United States when it was published shortly before Christmas in 1843.
    This 29,000-word novella was instrumental in reinvigorating popular enthusiasm for the Christmas season among the general public on both sides of the Atlantic, and it (...)

  • "The Invisible Collection" and other stories by Stefan Zweig

    by Stefan Zweig

    TABLE OF CONTENTS
    1. TWO LONELY SOULS (1901) A disabled lad limps home at the end of the day’s work in his factory, left behind by the other workers because of his handicap. He stops when he hears sobbing by the roadside and tries to console another social outcast, a female worker at the (...)

  • "Burning Secret" (1911) by Stefan Zweig

    by Stefan Zweig

    In in the celebrated Austrian mountain resort of Semmering an experienced ladies’ man sets his sights on an attractive woman who has come there with her sickly twelve-year-old son for a cure, and cleverly first strikes up a friendship with the boy as a way to his mother’s heart. This stratagem is (...)

  • The complete (44) stories of Stefan Zweig - synopses, comments and ratings

    by Ray

    Stefan Zweig (1881-1942), born and raised in the glorious pre-WW1 Vienna of the Belle Epoque, was one of the most outstanding European intellectuals of the 20th century, and a prolific writer of stories, biographies, historical studies, essays, travel journals, memoirs and letters – as well as (...)