Prospero’s Isle

Latest articles

  • "White Nights" (1848) by Fyodor Dostoevsky

    by Fyodor Dostoevsky

    A very lonely and very penniless young man wanders around the streets of Saint Petersburg dreaming about life in general and the people he sees around him in particular. One eventful evening he rescues a damsel in distress and strikes up the most significant relationship of his life – that does (...)

  • "Lieutenant Gustl" (1900) by Arthur Schnitzler

    by Arthur Schnitzler

    A long, intense and dramatic "stream-of-consciousness" mental monologue of of an officer in pre-WW1 Vienna before, during and after a dramatic incident in an opera house that neither he nor the reader can ever forget.
    A brilliant portrayal of the military mindset in the country that started (...)

  • "Saintly Simplicity" (1885) by Anton Chekhov

    by Anton Chekhov

    Savya, the aged priest of a little town, is delighted to by the visit of his son Alexander, a celebrated Moscow lawyer whom he hadn’t seen for fifteen years since he had sent him off to university in Moscow. The father can’t relate to the big-city life that the son has been leading: he thinks (...)

  • "The Cremona Violin (Rat Krespel)" by E. T. A. Hoffmann (1818)

    by E. T. A. Hoffmann

    Councillor Krespel (“Rat Krespel” – the original title of this original story) is an eccentric and somewhat mysterious fellow who plays the violin marvelously, specialises in repairing ancient instruments and who lives with (!) a particularly talented young singer Angelina whose voice – for those (...)

  • "The District Doctor" (1848) by Ivan Turgenev

    by Ivan Turgenev

    A country doctor recounts a particularly moving experience – for him and for the reader – when he had been called out to visit in difficult conditions a peasant family whose young daughter had been taken seriously ill.
    One of the most memorable stories in Turgenev’s collection of hunting tales A (...)

  • "Commentaries on the Gallic War" by Julius Caesar

    by Julius Caesar

    Julius Caesar’s account of his military campaign from 58-52 B.C. that integrated Gaul – and Britain – into the Roman Empire. A remarkably vivid, dramatic and on the whole accurate account of a particularly important episode in European history, written with the clarity, style and forcefulness that (...)

  • "The Queen of Spades" (1834) by Alexander Pushkin

    by Alexander Pushkin

    A cautious young man who has never gambled sees large sums of money being won and lost around him in the social whirl of Saint Petersburg and becomes fascinated by a fabulous story about an aged countess who had learned a secret method of winning at cards in her youth. He devotes all his (...)

  • "Counterparts" (1914) by James Joyce

    by James Joyce

    One of the central stories in James Joyce’s first published work of fiction, Dubliners (1914), this account of a day in the life of a very mediocre but very believable office worker is one of the harsher but nevertheless most outstanding stories in that collection of variegated vignettes of life (...)

  • "The Sandman" (1816) by E. T. A. Hoffmann

    by E. T. A. Hoffmann

    Nathaniel has vivid memories of being terrified in his childhood of the Sandman, an evil being who punished children who didn’t want to go to bed by sprinkling sand over their eyes and then taking their eyes out to feed to his own monstrous brood (!). And of the fearsome advocate Coppelius who (...)

  • "Treasure Island" (1883) by Robert Louis Stevenson

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    One of the best books for younger readers ever written - anyone who has not read this book around the age of 12 years or so has missed something important in the growing-up experience!
    The writing is splendidly taut, the story moves along steadily at a nice pace, the bad guys are really well (...)

  • "The Burrow (Der Bau)" (1922) by Franz Kafka

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    A fascinating account of an undefined creature’s psychosis as it wanders around its enormous underground complex worrying about how to protect the domain from being discovered and invaded by enemies and, towards the end, constantly hearing strange sounds and worrying about what menacing creature (...)

  • "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. An e-book 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 – 408 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 learned 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 (...)

  • "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 (...)