Prospero’s Isle

Latest articles

  • "In Autumn" (1883), by Anton Chekhov

    by Anton Chekhov

    On a stormy evening Tikhon’s tavern is crowded with coachmen and pilgrims, and a forty-year-old man in shoddy clothes at the bar is ceaselessly begging for a glass of vodka, eventually proposing his worn-out coat in exchange. Tikhon contemptuously refuses to give him any more vodka until a (...)

  • "A Report to an Academy" (1920) by Franz Kafka

    by Franz Kafka

    An ape that has learned human ways reports to an assembly of scientists on the use or rather misuse that mankind had made of his talents.
    A moving and powerful account of his determined, obsessive striving to fundamentally change his essential condition and acquire a form of freedom in spite (...)

  • "Candide" (1759) by Voltaire

    by Voltaire

    Voltaire’s brilliant parody of the ideological notion that all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds [1], ironically sub-titled "Optimism", that was written in three incredibly productive days(!) and has retained its charm, its venom and its Enlightenment message for mankind ever (...)

  • "A Christmas Tale (Conte de Noël)" by Guy de Maupassant

    by Guy de Maupassant

    A doctor recounts his most memorable Christmas experience – the resolution of a dramatic case of possession – to a group of listeners.
    A vivid, intense account of a Christmas miracle from a distinctly detached point of view.
    Translated specially for this site. e-books of this striking tale, (...)

  • "The Judgement (Das Urteil)" (1913), by Franz Kafka

    by Franz Kafka

    A subtle shocker written in Kafka’s detached, almost otherworldly way, where a man-to-man conversation between a father and son brings out long-suppressed thoughts and attitudes and hitherto-hidden facts, and quasi-instantaneously triggers off a final catastrophic conclusion to what had (...)

  • English is a wordy language!

    by Ray

    We have compared the word-counts of the considerable number of translations into English from other languages on our site – 311 at latest count – with the following results: - ALL OF THE TRANSLATIONS INTO ENGLISH OF RUSSIAN AND GERMAN TEXTS HAVE WITHOUT EXCEPTION SIGNIFICANTLY MORE WORDS THAN (...)

  • "The Thief" and other stories by Guy de Maupassant

    by Guy de Maupassant

    1. THE THIEF (1882) Three friends are having a party and dress up in the ancient uniforms that the host collects, each with an appropriate weapon. So when they hear a suspicious noise in the attic and realise that a prowler’s up there, they launch a military expedition to (...)

  • "The Fantastic Night (Phantastische Nacht)" (1922) by Stefan Zweig

    by Stefan Zweig

    A well-off and rather idle reserve officer in Vienna in June 1913 quite by hazard finds himself at the races in the Prater, the great Viennese public park, and watches the excited behaviour of the crowd during the races with a detached eye. His day and his whole existence are thrown head over (...)

  • The Science-fiction stories of Jack London

    by Jack London

    Jack London was a major precursor in the domain of science-fiction, with these remarkably innovative tales centered on the potential of science for good or (especially) evil that were as far as we have been able to determine the very first science-fiction stories ever published in the US of A – (...)

  • "Amok" (1922) by Stefan Zweig

    by Stefan Zweig

    An expatriate doctor on the verge of a nervous breakdown in a remote outpost in the Dutch East Indies receives the visit of an elegant lady from the European community in the area’s capital who offers him a large sum of money to perform an illegal operation. Although he does need the money, her (...)

  • "Chess Story (Schachnovelle)" (1942) by Stefan Zweig

    by Stefan Zweig

    Having learnt that the world chess champion is on board the ship that’s taking him from New York to Buenos Aires, the narrator organises a match at high stakes – the hard-nosed champion only plays for money – against the combined forces of the chess enthusiasts on the boat. The champion scornfully (...)

  • "The Olive Grove" and other stories by Guy de Maupassant

    by Guy de Maupassant

    1. FEAR (1882) A group on a passenger boat is discussing the topic and one of them intervenes to give two examples of what fear really is other than simply the somewhat-instinctive reaction to a dangerous situation. Both examples have an eerie and almost-but-not-quite (...)

  • "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" (1927) by B. Traven

    by B. Traven

    A remarkably realistic novel about a trio of American down-and-outers digging for gold in the troubled Mexico of the post-revolutionary period, told in the inimitably forceful, down-to-earth style of the author of The Death Ship.
    A forceful tale brimming with empathy for the common man and his (...)

  • "The Death Ship" (1926) by B. Traven

    by B. Traven

    This extraordinary account of the life and hardships of a penniless but very articulate and anti-establishmentarian not to say revolutionary sailor in the chaotic post-WW1 world of the twenties was first published as Das Totenschiff in Germany in 1926 under the pen-name of B. Traven. It was (...)

  • "Mendel the Book-dealer (Buchmendel)" (1929) by Stefan Zweig

    by Stefan Zweig

    The narrator recounts how he had taken shelter unexpectedly in a suburban café where he suddenly remembered having met twenty years before Mendel, a book-handler who possessed a phenomenal memory for the slightest details of any book he had ever seen or read about.
    Famous in his day, he had now (...)

  • "In the Time of Prince Charley" and other stories by Jack London

    by Jack London

    1. IN THE TIME OF PRINCE CHARLEY (1899) After the decisive Battle of Culloden in 1746 that put an end to Scottish dreams of independance a British officer escorts the captured Prince Charlie through the highlands to a rendezvous with a ship, but opposition from fierce (...)

  • "A Living Calendar" and other stories by Anton Chekhov

    by Anton Chekhov

    1. A LIVING CALENDAR (1885) An elderly official is discussing with a friend about how things used to be more lively in their town, citing memorable occasions from the past. He needs reminders from his wife as to exactly when each of these four events had taken place, and (...)

  • "A Country Doctor" (1918) by Franz Kafka

    by Franz Kafka

    An elderly country doctor is called at night to come to the bedside of a suffering young man ten miles away, but the mission is surrounded by difficulties from the start: there’s a snowstorm raging outside and his only horse has just died from over-exertion in the freezing winter. But although (...)

  • "A Family Affair" and other stories by Guy de Maupassant

    by Guy de Maupassant

    1. A FAMILY AFFAIR (1881) We follow Monsieur Caravan in his daily routine and trying to cope with the constant state of warfare between his spouse and his elderly mother who lives with them and their two ragamuffin children. But today there’s a dramatic decline in the mother’s (...)

  • "A Hunger Artist" (1922) by Franz Kafka

    by Franz Kafka

    Written in 1922 and published as the title story in the first collection of his stories to be published after his death two years later at the age of forty, this account of a man’s determined and obsessive drive to surpass himself in the art of fasting explores the theme of eating in a calmly (...)

  • Corsican stories by Maupassant

    by Guy de Maupassant

    Guy de Maupassant wrote six stories taking place in Corsica, "l’Île de Beauté" that he knew well and was particularly attracted to.
    These short but powerful tales, written in his straightforward, realistic and elegant style at the height of his literary career, are a remarkable testimonial to (...)

  • "Cosmic Encounter" (1980) by A. E. van Vogt

    by A. E. van Vogt

    In 1704 the English nobleman-turned-pirate Nathan Fletcher is en route to a planned assault on a British merchant ship in the Caribbean when one of the men spots a very strange unidentified object falling from the sky on the horizon. This turns out to be a disabled spaceship from the 83rd (...)

  • "Don Juan" (1813), by E. T. A. Hoffmann

    by E. T. A. Hoffmann

    A traveling salesman discovers that his hotel room leads directly to a private lodge in the neighbouring theatre, where a performance of Mozart’s opera “Don Juan” is about to be given. Delighted, the music lover rushes over to the lodge, where not only is the performance exceptional, but where he (...)

  • "Tobacco Shop (Tabacaria)" by Fernando Pessoa (1928)

    by Fernando Pessoa

    Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) was one of the most outstanding Portuguese poets of his time and of all time, and this celebrated poem Tabacaria, a complex, melancholic and inspired meditation, is one of his most renowned works, without a doubt one of the most memorable poetic texts of the 20th (...)