Summary: Written nearly a century ago and translated into over 40 languages, this masterpiece....+
Written nearly a century ago and translated into over 40 languages, this masterpiece of historical fiction is one of the best-selling novels in history and the inspiration for the MGM motion picture of 1951. An epic of love and courage in Nero’s time, it illustrates the conflict of moral ideas within the Roman Empire at the dawn of Christianity.
Marcus, a Roman officer in Nero's army, risks his career, his family, and even his life when he falls in love with a Christian woman named Callina. In order to win Callina’s love, Marcus must come to understand the true meaning of her religion, even as Rome sinks under the excesses of Nero and Christians are thrown to the lions. Quo Vadis brims with the passion and life as it explores one of the turning points in history.
Summary: With swordfights and romance, adventure and treachery set against the backdrop....+
With swordfights and romance, adventure and treachery set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, this is the book that made Rafael Sabatini famous.
André-Louis Moreau has good prospects as a young lawyer, but an unfair duel with the ruthlessly cruel Count de La Tour d’Azyr leaves André-Louis’ best friend dead and André-Louis himself a fugitive from the king’s justice. While incognito, disguised as “Scaramouche,” he becomes both a wildly popular actor and a firebrand of the Revolution. His vow to avenge his friend’s murder leads him deeper into the political intrigues that surround the Revolution and to a position of power. But there are secrets to be revealed that will stun all of Paris.
One of the best historical romances of all time, Scaramouche was a bestseller upon its original publication in the United States in 1921. Today it remains a classic of swashbuckling adventure.
Summary: “Man was born free, but everywhere he is in chains.” Thus begins Jean-Jacques....+
“Man was born free, but everywhere he is in chains.” Thus begins Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s influential 1762 work, On the Social Contract, a milestone of political science, and essential reading for students of history, philosophy, and social science. A progressive work, it inspired world-wide political reforms, most notably the American and French Revolutions, because it argued that monarchs were not divinely empowered to legislate. Rousseau asserts that only the people, in the form of the sovereign, have that all powerful right. On the Social Contract’s appeal and influence has been wide-ranging and continuous. It has been called an encomium to democracy and, at the same time, a blueprint for totalitarianism. Individualists, collectivists, anarchists, and socialists have all taken courage from Rousseau’s controversial masterpiece.
Summary: Ovid’s sensuous and witty poem brings together a dazzling array of mythological....+
Ovid’s sensuous and witty poem brings together a dazzling array of mythological tales, ingeniously linked by the idea of transformation, often as a result of love or lust, in which men and women find themselves magically changed into new and sometimes extraordinary beings. Beginning with the creation of the world and ending with the deification of Augustus, Ovid interweaves many of the best known myths and legends of ancient Greece and Rome, including Daedalus and Icarus, Pyramus and Thisbe, Pygmalion, Perseus and Andromeda, and the fall of Troy. Mortals become gods, animals turn to stone, and humans change into flowers, trees, or stars.
First published in a.d. 8, Ovid’s Metamorphoses remains one of the most accessible and inspirational introductions to Greek mythology.
Summary: It’s the early days of the French Republic, and Robespierre’s revolutionaries....+
It’s the early days of the French Republic, and Robespierre’s revolutionaries find their wicked schemes repeatedly thwarted by the cunning and heroic Pimpernel--in reality, Sir Percival Blakeney. Now, Monsieur Chauvelin devises a dastardly plot to annihilate both Sir Percy and his beautiful wife Marguerite once and for all. Lured to France, where the entire town of Boulogne is being held hostage on their behalf, they seem to be hopelessly trapped.
Set during the Reign of Terror, the rousing Pimpernel stories are precursors to such classic tales as Zorro--yet another hero in disguise. Expect more swashbuckling adventures in this thrilling sequel to The Scarlet Pimpernel.
Summary: For his Royal Highness Klaus Heinrich, prince of a small German duchy, life....+
For his Royal Highness Klaus Heinrich, prince of a small German duchy, life means servitude to traditional ducal functions--until he meets the independent-spirited and liberal-minded American Miss Spoelmann. During the course of his unorthodox and quixotically tender wooing, Heinrich is forced to reach into unknown depths of his personality and discover the real meaning of the word ‘duty’.
Peopled with a range of characters from aristocrat to artisan, Royal Highness provides a microcosmic view of Europe before the Great War. Mann’s charming fable of a decaying, stratified society rejuvenated by modern forces illustrates what he regarded as a universal truth: that ripeness and death are necessary conditions for rebirth.
Summary: This new edition of Kafka’s terrifying and comic masterpiece is the product....+
This new edition of Kafka’s terrifying and comic masterpiece is the product of an international team of experts who used Kafka’s original text and notes to render this story as close to the author’s vision as possible. Kafka’s final novel tells the haunting tale of a man’s relentless struggle with authority in order to gain entrance to the Castle.
The story of K--the unwanted land surveyor who is never to be admitted to the Castle and yet cannot go home--seems to depict, like a dream from the deepest recesses of consciousness, an inexplicable truth about the nature of existence. A perpetual human condition lies at the heart of this labyrinthine world: dualities of certainty and doubt, hope and fear, reason and nonsense, harmony and disintegration. An unfinished novel that feels strangely complete, The Castle uses absurd fantasy to reveal a profound truth.
Summary: Written in 1831, Washington Irving’s dreamlike description of the Alhambra,....+
Written in 1831, Washington Irving’s dreamlike description of the Alhambra, the beautiful Moorish castle that defined the height of Moorish civilization, and of the surrounding territory of Granada remains one of the most romantic and entertaining travelogues ever written of this region in Spain.
Enhanced here with exquisite Spanish guitar music, the narrative is a heady mix of historical fact, medieval myth and mystery, sensual descriptions, and an appreciation for a civilization that valued beauty, philosophy, literature, science, and the arts on an equal level with warrior skills. Secret chambers, desperate battles, imprisoned princesses, palace ghosts, and fragrant gardens, described in a wistful and dreamlike eloquence, will transport listeners to a paradise of their own.
Summary: It is 1793 in France--the year of the guillotine. Already, Louis XVI has been....+
It is 1793 in France--the year of the guillotine. Already, Louis XVI has been sentenced to the scaffold, and terror reigns. Ideals topple in the face of political necessity, alliances founder, and intrigue is a way of life.
The architects of the Revolution--Marat, Danton, and Robespierre--have set up an embryo parliament called the Convention, designed to stem social chaos. As Republican troops engage in bloody battle with counter-revolutionaries, a peasant woman strives simply to protect her three children.
The characters of Ninety-Three define the French Revolution, and history hangs on their actions. As they battle for their own future, the future of a large part of the world can be seen to sway in the balance. Hugo’s epic masterpiece captures brilliantly the moment that shaped the destiny not only of France but of all European monarchy.
Originally published in France as Quatrevingt-treize in 1874. Translated from the French by Frank Lee Benedict in 1874.
Summary: Beyond the gardens of Hamilcar’s palace, beyond the walls of Carthage, the....+
Beyond the gardens of Hamilcar’s palace, beyond the walls of Carthage, the Roman hordes stood waiting to annihilate the noblest city of ancient Africa. Within the city, all was madness: the houses were filled with the screams of women and the streets teemed with terrified men. The veil of the goddess Tanit, sacred to Carthage, had fallen to Matho, Roman soldier-of-fortune.
But when Salambo, the exquisite daughter of Hamilcar, rode into the Roman camp, into Matho’s tent, to exchange her beauty for the veil of Carthage--he would throw away victory and forsake his army, his nation, and his soul for the price of her body.
Set during the historical struggle between Rome and Carthage, Flaubert’s novel offers a richly detailed portrait of the lives and rites of two ancient kingdoms moved by their allegiances to very different gods.
Summary: Dashing young Edmond Dantès has everything: a fine reputation, an appointment....+
Dashing young Edmond Dantès has everything: a fine reputation, an appointment as captain of a ship, and the heart of a beautiful woman. But his perfect life is shattered when three jealous friends conspire to destroy him. Falsely accused of a political crime, Dantès is locked away for life in the infamous Chateau d'If prison. But it is there that Dantès learns of a vast hidden treasure. After fourteen years of hopeless imprisonment, Dantès makes his daring escape and follows his secret map to untold fortune. Disguised now as the mysterious and powerful Count of Monte Cristo, Dantès seeks out his enemies--and nothing will stand in the way of his just revenge.
Filled with thrilling episodes of betrayal, romance, and revenge, The Count of Monte Cristo is one of the greatest adventure stories ever written.
Summary: Alexandre Dumas’s novels are notable for their suspense and excitement, their....+
Alexandre Dumas’s novels are notable for their suspense and excitement, their foul deeds, hairsbreadth escapes, and glorious victories. In The Black Tulip, the real hero is no musketeer but a flower.
The novel, a deceptively simple story, is set in Holland in 1672 during the amazing tulipmania of the seventeenth century that brought wealth to some and ruin to many. The story weaves the historical events surrounding the brutal murder of John de Witte and his brother Cornelius into a tale of romantic love. The novel is also a timeless political allegory in which Dumas, drawing on the violence and crimes of history, makes his case against tyranny and puts all his energies into creating a symbol of justice and tolerance: the fateful tulipa negra.
Summary: Alexandre Dumas brings an extraordinary period of history to life in this exciting....+
Alexandre Dumas brings an extraordinary period of history to life in this exciting period romance.
It is the twilight of the reign of King Charles IX, and France is dominated by religious wars between Catholics and Protestants. King Charles’ sister, Marguerite, daughter of staunch Catholics Henri II and Catherine de Medici, is set to marry the Protestant Henri de Navarre. Their marriage sets off a series of conspiracies between the Catholics and the Protestants in a dangerous and breathtaking game for power.
From the mysterious murder of Henri de Navarre’s mother, cleverly plotted by the evil Catherine de Medici, to the notorious Saint Bartholomew Massacre, which killed thousands of Protestants lured to Paris by the wedding, Queen Margot is full of suspense, intrigue, betrayals, and daring escapes. At the center of it all are the good-hearted Marguerite and Henri, perfect political allies with fascinating love lives.
Summary: Joseph Conrad’s multilayered masterpiece tells of one nation's violent revolution....+
Joseph Conrad’s multilayered masterpiece tells of one nation's violent revolution and one hero's moral degeneration. Conrad convincingly invents an entire country, Costaguana, and sets it afire as warlords compete for power and a fortune in silver.
Señor Gould, adamant that his silver should not become spoil for his enemies, entrusts it to his faithful longshoreman, Nostromo, a local hero of sorts whom Señor Gould believes to be incorruptible. Nostromo accepts the mission as an opportunity to increase his own fame. But when his exploit fails to win him the rewards he had hoped for, he is consumed by a corrupting resentment.
Nostromo, relevant both as literature and as a brilliant social study, ambitiously brings to life Latin American history and the politics of an underdeveloped country.
Summary: Blackstone Audio presents a new recording of this classic masterpiece, originally....+
Blackstone Audio presents a new recording of this classic masterpiece, originally published in 1320, read by award-winning narrator Ralph Cosham. No words can describe the greatness of this work, a greatness both of theme and of artistry. Dante’s theme is universal; it involves the greatest concepts that man has ever attained. Only a genius could have found the loftiness of tone and the splendor and variety of images that are presented in The Divine Comedy. The story is an allegory representing the soul’s journey from spiritual depths to spiritual heights. As mankind exposes itself, by its merits or demerits, to the rewards or the punishments of justice, it experiences “Inferno” or hell, “Purgatorio” or purgatory, and “Paradiso” or heaven, a vision of a world of beauty, light, and song. Dante’s arduous journey through the circles of hell make for an incredibly moving human drama, and a single listen will reveal the power of Dante’s imagination to make the spiritual visible.
In this edition, “Inferno” is translated by John Aitken Carlyle, “Purgatorio,” by Thomas Okey, and “Paradiso” by Philip H. Wicksteed.
Summary: One of the great masterpieces of Western literature, Odyssey chronicles the....+
One of the great masterpieces of Western literature, Odyssey chronicles the many trials and adventures Odysseus must pass through on his long journey home from the Trojan wars. Though the stormy, vengeful god of the ocean is determined to keep him off course, Odysseus is clever and has the brilliant goddess Athena on his side. With wit, integrity, and bravery, Odysseus must escape the grip of the fearsome Cyclops, resist the deadly seductions of sirens and witches, and traverse the land of the dead to commune with his fallen comrades before returning to his beloved wife, who has waited for him for twenty years. A storehouse of Greek folklore and myth, Homer’s epic tale remains as captivating today as it was 2,700 years ago.
Summary: With flawless construction and impeccable detail, Germinal chronicles the conflicts,....+
With flawless construction and impeccable detail, Germinal chronicles the conflicts, lusts, and deprivation of life in the coal fields of nineteenth-century France.
A father and three of seven children work brutal hours, facing such hazards as landslides, fire, and poisoned air, to scrape together enough money for food. When their lodger, Étienne, shares ideas of a workers’ revolt, the family gradually embraces his plans. Soon the settlement is aflame with resolve to strike for better wages and working conditions. Savage and horrifying events ensue as miners clash with management and with each other. Where people once merely struggled for food they are now dying of starvation. The hungry wage war against the sated, against the resignation of their peers, and ultimately against hunger itself.
Published in 1885, Germinal helped establish Émile Zola as the leading figure in the French school of naturalistic fiction. This masterpiece has been called one of the ten best novels in the French language.
Summary: It has been ten years since Juliette de Marny’s father asked her to swear....+
It has been ten years since Juliette de Marny’s father asked her to swear revenge upon Déroulède for the death of her brother in a duel. At last she finds herself in Déroulède’s house with an easy opportunity to betray him to the citizens of France for conspiring against the people. But Juliette realizes, too late, that she is in love with Déroulède. Can the Scarlet Pimpernel rescue Déroulède from certain death by guillotine? Will Déroulède forgive Juliette for her betrayal of him? Romance and intrigue abound in this delightful swashbuckler.
Summary: James Joyce paints vivid portraits of the poorer classes of Dublin in a collection....+
James Joyce paints vivid portraits of the poorer classes of Dublin in a collection of stories whose larger purpose, he said, was to depict a “moral history of Ireland.” From the first story, in which a young boy encounters death to the haunting final story involving the middle-aged Gabriel, the book gives an unflinchingly realistic portrayal of the author’s own “dear, dirty Dublin” in the early twentieth century.
Joyce’s first published work in prose, this brilliant study is by turns bawdy, witty, and tragic. Said Joyce of the work: “I am trying...to give people some kind of intellectual pleasure or spiritual enjoyment by converting the bread of everyday life into something that has a permanent artistic life of its own...Do you see that man who has just skipped out of the way of the tram? Consider, if he had been run over, how significant every act of his would at once become.”
Summary: In this largely autobiographical coming-of-age story, James Joyce describes....+
In this largely autobiographical coming-of-age story, James Joyce describes the awakening young mind of a middle-class Irish Catholic boy named Stephen Dedalus. The story follows Stephen’s development from his early troubled boyhood through an adolescent crisis of faith--partially inspired by the famous “hellfire sermon” preached by Father Arnall, and partly by the guilt of his own precocious sexual adventures--to his discovery of his ultimate destiny as a poet. Written in a unique voice that reflects the age and emotional state of its protagonist, the novel explores questions of origin and source, authority and authorship, and the relationship of an artist to his family, culture, and race. With richly symbolic language and a boldly original style, this most personal of Joyce’s works confirms his place as one of the world’s greatest writers.