Prospero’s Isle

Latest articles

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

    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 (...)

  • "Humans, Go Home!" (1969) by A. E. van Vogt

    by A. E. van Vogt

    Miliss and Dav are the only two humans on the Jana planet, and their mission is to help the population evolve progressively towards a more advanced state of civilization, more compatible with the ultra-developed nature of the rest of the human-controlled galaxy. But there are big problems, not (...)

  • "The Universe Maker" (1953) by A. E. van Vogt

    by A. E. van Vogt

    We are in 1953 and Lieutenant Morton Cargill is on leave from the Korean War when he stumbles into a young woman who is also leaving the dive he has been binge-leavng in. The next thing he knows is that he’s running away from a car crash that the young acquaintance hasn’t survived. However, when (...)

  • "The Golden Pot" (1814) by E. T. A. Hoffmann

    by E. T. A. Hoffmann

    An extravagant fairy-tale for grown-ups, the story of how the student Anselmus blundered his way to eternal happiness through a maze of mysterious not to say magical water-snakes, elder-trees, a golden pot and fantastic events of all sorts — one of the celebrated master of German Romanticism E. (...)

  • "Little Zaches, called Zinnober" (1819) by E. T. A. Hoffmann

    by E. T. A. Hoffmann

    Little Zaches is a very small, misshapen, evil-tempered, utterly selfish and vainglorious little boy who’s a complete burden to his poverty-stricken mother, until one day the kindly Fräulein von Rosenschön — actually the Fairy Rosabelverde in the shape of the mistress of a convent — takes pity on (...)

  • "The War of the Worlds" (1898) by H. G. Wells

    by H. G. Wells

    This was, we do believe, the first novel on the theme of conflict with alien civilisations in the history of literature.
    It has remained justly famous for its dramatic story line — the invading Martians have superior tecHnology and are more advanced scientifically than mankind — and its (...)

  • "The Metamorphosis" (1915) by Franz Kafka

    by Franz Kafka

    One of the strangest stories of its time, a moving account of Gregor Samsa’s sudden transformation into a giant beetle that has retained his sensibility and understanding — but not the ability to express himself in ordinary language that his family can understand — and how he has to contend with (...)

  • More of A. E. van Vogt’s best late-period stories

    by A. E. van Vogt

    1. RESEARCH ALPHA (1965) A ruthless doctor in a research lab secretly tries out his new serum for accelerating evolutionary development on two unsuspecting office workers, with variable but amazing results, astounding even the superiorly-intelligent aliens who are monitoring the lab’s results — (...)

  • "Waiting for the Barbarians" (1904) by Constantin Cavafy

    by Constantin Cavafy

    Constantin Cavafy (1863-1933) , who lived all his life in the ancient Greek community in Alexandria, Egypt, was one of the most important poets of modern times.
    His legacy has been celebrated by writers and poets around the world, notably by Laurence Durell in his monumental Alexandria Quartet (...)

  • "The Time Machine" (1895) by H. G. Wells

    by H. G. Wells

    H. G. Wells (1866-1946) was a prolific author in many diverse domains (novels, short stories, social commentary, history, satire and biography) and a very engaged social commentator and critic. He was nominated four times for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
    But he is best remembered today for (...)

  • "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland" (1865) by Lewis Carroll

    by Lewis Carroll

    Written in 1862 by the Oxford lecturer in mathematics Charles Dodgson (1832-1898) to amuse Alice Liddell, one of the daughters of the dean of his Christ Church faculty, this brilliant, inventive, very original and very funny tale gained immediate world-wide attention when it was published in (...)

  • "The Overcoat" (1843) by Nikolai Gogol

    by Nicolai Gogol

    The story of Akaky Akakiyevich, an administrative assistant in a government office, who is constantly treated with arrogance and mockery by one and all, particularly on account of his threadbare coat that is falling apart to such an extent that it cannot even be repaired. When, at the price of (...)

  • "Dead Souls" (1842) by Nikolai Gogol

    by Nicolai Gogol

    The account of the not-always-successful attempts of the traveling schemer Chichikov to make his way in the world by ingratiating himself with important people and devising complicated schemes to achieve financial and social success by wile and charm — notably to purchase deceased surfs (“dead (...)

  • "The Portrait" (1842) by Nikolai Gogol

    by Nicolai Gogol

    An impoverished painter finds an unusual portrait in a market shop that he buys for 20 kopecs, and finds on cleaning it that the piercing gaze of the mysterious man in the portrait has a bizarrely ominous effect on him and on his whole life — and indeed on all those who possess it in turn.
    One (...)

  • "The Nose" (1836) by Nikolai Gogol

    by Nicolai Gogol

    The adventures of a government official in search of his nose, that’s apparently gone off on adventures of its own.
    Recounted in a semi-serious, semi-farcical tone, this imaginative, very original tale with a light, fantastic touch effortlessly sweeps the reader along wondering with Major (...)

  • "The Diary of a Madman" (1835) by Nikolai Gogol

    by Nicolai Gogol

    Extracts from the diary of an employee in a government office, documenting his frustrations with the rigid hierarchical system of his time, his aspirations for recognition, his libertarian impulses, his infatuation with the director’s daughter, his dreams of grandeur, his persecution complex and (...)

  • "Nevsky Prospect" (1835) by Nikolai Gogol

    by Nicolai Gogol

    Nevsky Prospect in Saint Petersburg is one of the most famous streets in Russia and this account by Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852) of the goings-on in and around it is one of the most famous stories of all Russian literaature.
    Combining an elegant evocation of Saint Petersburg, that magnificent (...)

  • "Nineteen Eighty-Four" by George Orwell (1949)

    by George Orwell

    One of the most famous novels of its time and certainly the best-known and most widely-read science-fiction novel of all time, Nineteen Eighty-Four is an extrapolation some forty years into the future of the Stalinist regime in the Soviet Union — that had just been extended to a significant part (...)

  • "Animal Farm" (1945) by George Orwell

    by George Orwell

    This brilliant parable describes in simple, clear and convincing terms the revolt of the animals in an English farm that at first succeeds in establishing an egalitarian society only to evolve relentlessly into an system of oppression under the leadership of a small group of intelligent, (...)

  • "Homage to Catalonia" (1938) by George Orwell

    by George Orwell

    George Orwell, a convinced left-wing socialist, went to Barcelona in December 1936 to join the forces in Catalonia fighting against the military uprising led by the General Franco. He joined the extreme-left party P.O.U.M. there and spent six months on duty in their section of the front line (...)

  • "Down and Out in Paris and London" (1933) by George Orwell

    by George Orwell

    George Orwell (1903-1950) was a passionate defender all his life of the underdogs in the society of his time, and in spite of his background as a member of the upper middle class — he was well educated and spoke with a „posh“ accent — spent several years in his late twenties working as a dishwasher (...)