Walter Scott’s best-known work, a historical novel that established him as the most celebrated European novelist for a good long time, recounting the complex struggles in 12th-century England between the Norman rulers – Richard Coeur-de-Lion and his ambitious brother John – and their numerous enemies and opponents, notably the Saxon nobility that still dreamed of reestablishing their authority and also highly-organized bands of outlaws in parts of the realm such as the forests of (...)
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A SELECTION OF ESSENTIAL ENGLISH-LANGUAGE NOVELS
in on-line and e-book formats
"Ivanhoe’ by Walter Scott (1819)
6 September, by Walter Scott
"Sons and Lovers" by D. H. Lawrence (1913)
4 September, by D. H. Lawtence
The third and best-known novel (with Lady Chatterly’s Lover) of the brilliant English novelist, poet, short-story writer, travel writer, literary critic, globe-trotter, iconoclast and eternal exile D. H. Lawrence, this is an intense and sensitive family drama set in the coal-mining area of Nottingham in central England at the turn of the 20th century.
A finely-drawn psychological drama centered on the life of the youngest son of the family, Paul Morel, his conflictual relations with his (...)
"Kim" by Rudyard Kipling (1901)
28 August, by Rudyard Kipling
Kim is a street urchin speaking Hindi/Urdu with a smattering of English in the northern part of India who meets a travelling Tibetan monk and follows him on his search for the fabled river created where Buddha’s fabulous arrow fell. Kim too is on a search for a Red Bull that his scarcely-remembered father told him to look for in a document that he preciously carries in an amulet around his neck. Both of them successfully achieve their goals while wandering all over northern India as well (...)
"The Way of All Flesh" by Samuel Butler (1903)
21 August, by Samuel Butler
The narrator recounts the harsh upbringing of his godson Ernest Pontifex, son of a Church of England minister, the oppressive everyday religiosity of his family life, his difficult schooling, his career at Cambridge, his ordination, his floundering attempts to live in a working-class neighbourhood to better be able to bring them the good word, his fall into the depths and then his struggle to start a new life and to conciliate his new set of beliefs to the world around him.
"The Red Badge of Courage" by Steven Crane (1895)
2 August, by Steven Crane
The celebrated story of fear, anguish, cowardice and heroism in the American Civil War by the young twenty-four-year-old author Steven Crane (1871-1899] that has long since taken its rightful place as one of the finest American works of its time.
(46,000 words) An e-book is available for downloading below. TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER I. CHAPTER II. CHAPTER III. CHAPTER IV. CHAPTER V. CHAPTER VI. CHAPTER VII. CHAPTER VIII. CHAPTER IX. CHAPTER X. CHAPTER XI. CHAPTER XII. CHAPTER XIII. (...)
"Jude the Obscure" by Thomas Hardy (1895)
30 July, by Thomas Hardy
Hardy’s masterful last novel, a forceful, wide-ranging and subtly-erudite overview of the social foibles of the late Victorian society (we are in the 1880s in the south of England and in Oxford) as Hardy saw them, notably: a) the class barriers preventing labouring-class young people from being admitted into institutions of higher learning; b) the rigidity of the marriage institution, whereby people are forced by law and by intense social pressures to live out the rest of the days with (...)
"Tess of the D’Urbervilles" by Thomas Hardy (1891)
6 July, by Thomas Hardy
Hardy’s penultimate and probably his best-known work, first published four years before his final and equally scandalous novel Jude the Obscure.
Here the angle that grated the most with his contemporary public and critics (Victorian morals and rules were then at the peak of their sway over the English-speaking world’s mindset) was the wanton way whereby the female heroine Jude gets herself into trouble by foolishly falling to the spiel of a local socially and physically desirable (...)
"The Mayor of Casterbridge" by Thomas Hardy (1886)
30 June, by Thomas Hardy
The most striking scene in this novel is right at its beginning, where the then-20-year-old central character and future mayor gets drunk in a tavern and - get this - sells his wife and baby daughter to a passing sailor! We then follow his ups and downs, especially the latter, twenty years later when his past starts catching up with him after he has become mayor and one of the town’s leading merchants. Set in the south-east region of "Wessex" (a fictionalised transposition of Hardy’s (...)
"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (1884)
24 June, by Mark Twain
Mark Twain’s sequel to the ever-so-charming Tom Sawyer, this time written more for an adult public, where Huck recounts at first hand his harrowing river-trip down the Mississippi River after escaping from the clutches of his ultra-violent, brutish father into the heartland of the Deep South with an escaped black slave.
The scenes of everyday nightmarish violence in the frontier towns of the South are as striking to us today as they must have appeared to be to the East Coast readers of (...)
"The Portrait of a Lady" by Henry James (1881)
20 June, by Henry James
A well-rounded, in-depth exploration of the inner psyche of Isabel Archer, a liberated and very independent-minded young American woman, discovering England and Italy and the complexities of life in the eighteen-eighties. The author’s somewhat verbose style, his inherent difficulty in summing things up in a nutshell, and the quasi-absence of much of a story line – other than the tribulations of the heroine’s sentimental adventures - make this a rather hard read at times, but perseverance (...)