Summary: Olenin is an aimless young nobleman who is disenchanted with city life. Taking....+
Olenin is an aimless young nobleman who is disenchanted with city life. Taking a post as a Cadet in the army, he finds himself assigned to the remote Cossack outpost in the Caucasus. It is here, among the Tatars, the Chechens, and the Old Believers, that he will fall in love with a beautiful Cossack girl. The only problem is that she is promised to a Cossack warrior.
In the setting of what is present-day Kazakhstan, Tolstoy examines two psychological problems. The first is the dilemma of a young man who desires both fulfilling love and a place as a respected member of society. The other is the difficulty of a primitive society to accept domination by a higher culture that has no understanding of the traditions it asks its colonists to cast aside.
One of Tolstoy’s lesser-known novels, The Cossacks is one of the finest pictures of Cossack society in all of Russian literature.
Summary: Hector Monro, writing under the pseudonym of Saki, is justly renowned for his....+
Hector Monro, writing under the pseudonym of Saki, is justly renowned for his urbane and witty short stories. His eccentric characters, humorous dialogue, and engaging domestic situations all reveal a penetrating and sometimes disturbing insight into human nature. As a quixotic tour guide, Saki leads the reader from garden party to pig sty to political convention with the ease of one who is intimately familiar with the cares and foibles of the human condition, showing us this vista of life through the well-tempered lens of his gentle, British irony.
In this definitive collection of seventy short stories, we can browse and sightsee at our leisure, cross borders of fresh insight, admire and enjoy each whimsical tale as we journey through the imaginative landscape of a truly artful writer.
Summary: First published in 1846, Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novella The Double is a classic....+
First published in 1846, Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novella The Double is a classic doppelgänger and the second major work published by the author. It is the story of Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin, a government clerk who believes that a fellow clerk has taken over his identity and is determined to bring about his ruin. Considered the most Gogolesque of Dostoevsky's works, the novella brilliantly depicts Golyadkin's descent into madness in a way that is hauntingly poetic. The Double illustrates Dostoevsky's uncanny ability at capturing the complexity of human emotion, especially the darker side of the human psyche.
Summary: After spending four years in a Siberian penal settlement, during which time....+
After spending four years in a Siberian penal settlement, during which time he underwent a religious conversion, Dostoevsky developed a keen ability for deep character analysis. In The Brothers Karamazov, he explores human nature at its most loathsome and cruel but never flinches at what he finds.
The Brothers Karamazov tells the stirring tale of four brothers: the pleasure-seeking, impatient Dmitri; the brilliant and morose Ivan; the gentle, loving, and honest Alyosha; and the illegitimate Smerdyakov: shy, silent, and cruel. The four unite in the murder of one of literature’s most despicable characters--their father. This was Dostoevsky’s final and best work.
Summary: Both a masterpiece of Russian populist writing and a parody of the entire genre,....+
Both a masterpiece of Russian populist writing and a parody of the entire genre, Poor People is an early example of Dostoevsky’s genius.
Written as a series of letters, Poor People is the tragic tale of a petty clerk and his impossible love for a young girl. Longing to help her and her family, he sells everything he can, but his kindness leads him only into more desperate poverty, and ultimately into debauchery. As a typical “man of the underground,” he serves as the embodiment of the belief that happiness can only be achieved with riches.
This work is remarkable for its vivid characterizations, especially of Dievushkin, the clerk, solely by means of his letters to the young girl and her answers to him.
Summary: This is a new reading of Alan Paton’s impassioned novel about a black man’s....+
This is a new reading of Alan Paton’s impassioned novel about a black man’s country under white man's law. Set in the troubled and changing South Africa of the 1940s, Cry, the Beloved Country is the deeply moving story of Stephen Kumalo, a Zulu pastor, and his son, Absalom. Written with keen compassion and understanding, the novel powerfully evokes the experience of a land and a people torn by racial injustice. Paton said of his book: “It is a song of love for one’s far distant country.” Thus, it is a tale that is passionately African while also being timeless and universal. Remarkable for its lyricism, unforgettable for character and incident, Cry, the Beloved Country is a work of love and hope, of courage and tragedy, born of the dignity of man.
Summary: Regarded as the first great masterpiece of Russian literature, Dead Souls mixes....+
Regarded as the first great masterpiece of Russian literature, Dead Souls mixes realism and symbolism for a vivid and highly original portrait of Russian life. Chichikov, a mysterious stranger, arrives in a provincial town with a bizarre but seductive proposition for local landowners. He proposes to buy the names of their serfs who have died but who are still registered on the census, saving their owners from paying tax on them. But what collateral will Chichikov receive for these “souls”? Full of larger-than-life Dickensian characters--rogues and scoundrels, landowners and serfs, conniving petty officials, and the wily antihero Chichikov--Dead Souls is a devastating comic satire on social hypocrisy.
Summary: Published together for the first time are three of Ayn Rand's compelling stage....+
Published together for the first time are three of Ayn Rand's compelling stage plays. The courtroom drama "Night of January 16th", a 1935 Broadway success famous for leaving the verdict to the audience, is presented here in its definitive, final revised text--a superb dramatization of Rand’s vision of human strengths and weaknesses. Also included are two of Rand's unproduced plays: "Think Twice", a clever philosophical murder mystery; and "Ideal", a bitter indictment of people's willingness to betray their highest values, as symbolized by a Hollywood goddess suspected of a crime and fleeing the authorities.
Summary: This is one of the most important works written by Nietzsche and represents....+
This is one of the most important works written by Nietzsche and represents his attempt to sum up his philosophy. The great nineteenth-century philosopher refines his previously expressed ideal of the superman in this work, a fascinating examination of human values and morality. It takes up and expands on the ideas of his previous work, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, but approaches it from a more critical, polemical stance. In nine parts, this book is designed to give listeners a comprehensive idea of Nietzsche’s thought and style.
In Beyond Good and Evil, Friedrich Nietzsche attacks past philosophers for their alleged lack of critical sense and their blind acceptance of Christian premises in their consideration of morality. The work moves into the realm “beyond good and evil” in the sense of leaving behind the traditional morality, which Nietzsche subjects to a destructive critique, in favor of what he regards as an affirmative approach that fearlessly confronts the contextual nature of knowledge and the perilous condition of the modern individual.
Of the four “late-period” writings of Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil most closely resembles the aphoristic style of his middle period. In it he exposes the deficiencies of those usually called “philosophers” and identifies the qualities of the “new philosophers”: imagination, self-assertion, danger, originality, and the “creation of values.” Religion and the master and slave moralities feature prominently as Nietzsche re-evaluates deeply-held humanistic beliefs, portraying even domination, appropriation, and injury to the weak as not universally objectionable.
Summary: Loosely based on sensational press reports of a Moscow student’s murder by....+
Loosely based on sensational press reports of a Moscow student’s murder by fellow revolutionists, The Possessed depicts the destructive chaos caused by outside agitators who move into a provincial town. The enigmatic Stavrogin dominates the novel. His magnetic personality influences his tutor, the liberal intellectual poseur Stepan Verhovensky, and the teacher’s revolutionary son Pyotr, as well as other radicals. Stavrogin is portrayed as a man of strength without direction, capable of goodness and nobility. When Stavrogin loses his faith in God, however, he is seized by brutal desires he does not fully understand. Widely considered the greatest political novel ever written, The Possessed showcases Dostoevsky’s brilliant characterization, amazing insight into the human heart, and crushing criticism of the desire to manipulate the thought and behavior of others.
Summary: Young Peony is sold into a rich Chinese household as a bondmaid - an awkward....+
Young Peony is sold into a rich Chinese household as a bondmaid - an awkward role in which she is more a servant, but less a daughter. As she grows into a lovely, provocative young woman, Peony falls in love with the family's only son. However, tradition forbids them to wed. How she resolves her love for him and her devotion to her adoptive family unfolds in this profound tale, based on true events in China over a century ago.
Summary: On her fortieth birthday, Madame Wu carries out a decision she has been planning....+
On her fortieth birthday, Madame Wu carries out a decision she has been planning for a long time: she tells her husband that after twenty-four years their physical life together is now over and she wishes him to take a second wife. The House of Wu, one of the oldest and most revered in China, is thrown into an uproar by her decision, but Madame Wu will not be dissuaded and arranges for a young country girl to come take her place in bed. Elegant and detached, Madame Wu orchestrates this change as she manages everything in the extended household of more than sixty relatives and servants. Alone in her own quarters, she relishes her freedom and reads books she has never been allowed to touch. When her son begins English lessons, she listens, and is soon learning from the "foreigner," a free-thinking priest named Brother Andre, who will change her life. Pavilion of Women is a thought-provoking combination of Old China, unorthodox Christianity, and liberation, written by Pearl S. Buck, a Nobel Prize winner born and raised in China. Few stories raise so many questions about the nature and roles of men and women, about self-discipline and happiness. At the center is the amazing Madame Wu -brilliant, beautiful, full of contradictions and authority. About the Author: Pearl S. Buck recreated the lives of ordinary Chinese people in The Good Earth, an overnight worldwide best-seller in 1932, later a blockbuster movie. Buck went on to become the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Long before anyone else, she foresaw China's future as a superpower, and she recognized the crucial importance for both countries of China's building a relationship with the United States. As a teenager she had witnessed the first stirrings of Chinese revolution, and as a young woman she narrowly escaped being killed in the deadly struggle between Chinese Nationalists and the newly formed Communist Party.
Summary: The story of Tzu Hsi is the story of the last Empress in China. In this audio....+
The story of Tzu Hsi is the story of the last Empress in China. In this audio book, Pearl S. Buck recreates the life of one of the most intriguing rules during a time of intense turbulence. Tzu Hsi was born into one of the lowly ranks of the Imperial dynasty. According to custom, she moved to the Forbidden City at the age of seventeen to become one of hundreds of concubines. But her singular beauty and powers of manipulation quickly moved her into the position of Second Consort. Tzu Hsi was feared and hated by many in the court, but adored by the people. The Empress’s rise to power (even during her husband’s life) parallels the story of China’s transition from the ancient to the modern way. Pearl S. Buck’s knowledge of and fascination with the Empress’s life are contagious. She reveals the essence of this self-involved and infamous last Empress, at the same time she takes the listener through China’s struggle for freedom and democracy.
Summary: They, published in 1905, is a somber short story that recalls a tragedy of....+
They, published in 1905, is a somber short story that recalls a tragedy of Kipling’s own life--the sudden death of his daughter, Josephine. About the Author: Joseph Rudyard Kipling (December 30, 1865 - January 18, 1936) was an English author and poet, born in Bombay, India. He is regarded as a major "innovator in the art of the short story"; his children's books are enduring classics of children's literature; and his best work speaks to a versatile and luminous narrative gift. Kipling was one of the most popular writers in English, in both prose and verse, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The author Henry James famously said of him: "Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius that I have ever known." In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first English language writer to receive the prize, and he remains its youngest-ever recipient. Among other honors, he was sounded out for the British Poet Laureateship and on several occasions for a knighthood, all of which he rejected. About the Narrator: Graeme Malcolm, with over 150 audiobooks to his credit, is an accomplished television, film and stage actor. He has been honored with an Audie Award for his narrative skills and was the 1998 recipient of the Narrator of the Year Award from the American Foundation For The Blind.
Summary: Hear rare recordings from some of the world's most-respected poets reading....+
Hear rare recordings from some of the world's most-respected poets reading their own works: J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hoard; ee cummings, Prose Jottings; Archibald Macleish, The Old Man To The Lizard; Ted Hughes, Six Young Men; May Swenson, Naked In Borneo; Marilyn Hacker, The Dark Twin; Kenneth Patchen, 23rd Street Runs Into Heaven; Edith Sitwell, An Old Woman; Theodore Roethke, The Bat. Recording obtained and published by Rick Sheridan.
Summary: JRR Tolkien was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor....+
JRR Tolkien was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor best known as the author of fantasy works like "The Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings." Listen as Tolkien reads "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil," "The Mewlips," "The Hoard," "Perry-The-Winkle," and "The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon." Also included is a reading of "A Elbereth Gilthoniel" in Elvish and "The Road Goes Ever On," sung by William Elvin with music by Donald Swann.
Summary: Hear rare recordings from some of the world's most-respected poets reading....+
Hear rare recordings from some of the world's most-respected poets reading their own works: Ezra Pound, Old Men With Beautiful Manners; William Butler Yeats, The Lake Isle Of Innisfree; Robert Graves, A Last Poem; Edna St. Vincent Millay, The Harp-Weaver; Richard Eberhart, The Groundhog; Philip Levine, Blasting From Heaven; Marianne Moore, The Mind Is An Enchanting Thing; Stephen Spender, What I Expected; Vachel Lindsay, An Interpolation By Mr. Lindsay. Recording obtained and published by Rick Sheridan.
Summary: Ronald E. Hignite demonstrates in "The Ten Commandments In Poems" his poetic....+
Ronald E. Hignite demonstrates in "The Ten Commandments In Poems" his poetic skills and provides greater understanding and meaning for God's laws for mankind. Listeners will be inspired by the manner and design by which the events at Mt. Sinai are described in poetry and rhyme. This audiobook contains twelve poems, with one on each of the ten commandments, along with an introductory and closing poem. About the Author: Ronald E. Hignite was born in North Carolina and grew up in Connersville, Indiana. He returned to North Carolina with his family after high school and attended East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. There he earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees. Following college, he taught English at Fork Union Military Academy in Fork Union, Virginia. After two years in Fork Union, he moved back to northeastern North Carolina where he spent most of his educational career in the towns of Washington, Camden, Murfreesboro, and Ahoskie. His interest in writing poetry was sparked while in college with his readings of the English poets, Byron, Shelley, and Keats.
Summary: The Man Who Would Be King tells the story of two British adventurers in British....+
The Man Who Would Be King tells the story of two British adventurers in British India who become kings of Kafiristan, a remote part of Afghanistan. It was inspired by the exploits of James Brooke, an Englishman who became the “white Raja” of Sarawak in Borneo, and by the travels of American adventurer Josiah Harlan, who claimed the title Prince of Ghor.
The story was first published in The Phantom Rickshaw and other Tales (Volume Five of the Indian Railway Library, published by A H Wheeler & Co of Allahabad in 1888). It also appeared in Wee Willie Winkie and Other Stories in 1895, and in numerous later editions of that collection. It is the basis for John Huston’s 1975 film of the same name, starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine as the “kings”, and Christopher Plummer as Kipling. (Summary from Wikipedia adapted by Philippa)
Summary: In American Notes, Rudyard Kipling, the Nobel Prize-winning author of the Jungle....+
In American Notes, Rudyard Kipling, the Nobel Prize-winning author of the Jungle Book, visits the USA. As the travel-diary of an Anglo-Indian Imperialist visiting the USA, these American Notes offer an interesting view of America in the 1880s.
Kipling affects a wide-eyed innocence, and expresses astonishment at features of American life that differ from his own, not least the freedom (and attraction) of American women. However, he scorns the political machines that made a mockery of American democracy, and while exhibiting the racist attitudes that made him controversial in the 20th century concludes “It is not good to be a negro in the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
G. A. England of Harvard University (letter to The New York Times 10/11/1902) wrote: “To the American temperament, the gentleman who throws stones while himself living in a glass house cannot fail to be amusing; the more so if, as in Mr Kipling’s case, he appears to be in a state of maiden innocence regarding the structure of his own domicile.”
Summary by Tim Bulkeley with Quotations from the Gutenberg edition of American Notes and the online version of The New York Times of October 11th 1902.