GACE: Major British Authors & Summary of Works – Flashcards

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Jane Austen An English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature. Her realism, biting irony and social commentary have gained her historical importance among scholars and critics. Sense and Sensibility (1811)
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SUMMARY: Difference between "sense" and "sensibility" Characters: Elinor, the older sister, represents qualities of "sense": reason, restraint, social responsibility, and a clear-headed concern for the welfare of others. In contrast, Marianne, her younger sister, represents qualities of "sensibility": emotion, spontaneity, impulsiveness, and rapturous devotion. CONTEXT: Austen wrote this novel around the turn of the eighteenth century, on the cusp between two cultural movements: Classicism and Romanticism. Elinor represents the characteristics associated with eighteenth-century neo-classicism, including rationality, insight, judgment, moderation, and balance. She never loses sight of propriety, economic practicalities, and perspective, as when she reminds Marianne (impulsive, independent) that their mother would not be able to afford a pet horse or that it is indecorous for her to go alone with Willoughby to Allenham. It was during the Classical period and its accompanying cultural Enlightenment that the novel first developed as a literary genre. TYPE: Novel
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Richard Adams An English novelist who is best known as the author of Watership Down. He studied modern history at university before serving in the British Army during World War II. Afterward he completed his studies and then joined the British Civil Service. In 1974, two years after Watership Down was published, Adams became a full-time author. Watership Down (1972)
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SUMMARY: In the Sandleford warren, Fiver, a young rabbit who is a seer, receives a frightening vision of his warren's imminent destruction. When he and his brother Hazel fail to convince their chief rabbit of the need to evacuate, they set out on their own with a small band of rabbits to search for a new home, barely eluding the Owsla, the warren's military caste. The travelling group of rabbits finds itself following the leadership of Hazel, previously an unimportant member of the warren. They travel through dangerous territory, with Bigwig and Silver, both former Owsla, as the strongest rabbits among them. Eventually they meet a rabbit named Cowslip, who invites them to join his warren. However, when Bigwig is nearly killed in a wire trap, the rabbits realize the residents of the new warren are simply using them to increase their own odds of survival, and they continue on their journey. TYPE: Adventure novel
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Douglas Adams An English writer, humorist, and dramatist. Adams is best known as the author of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," which originated in 1978 as a BBC radio comedy before developing into a "trilogy" of five books that sold more than 15 million copies in his lifetime, a television series, several stage plays, comics, a computer game, and in 2005 feature film. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979 -book)
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SUMMARY: Arthur Dent faces the bulldozing of his house. This is due to occur in order to create room for a motorway bypass. Arthur's friend Ford Prefect comes along and tells Arthur three important things: 1) He, Ford, is an alien from Beetlegeuse; 2) He, Ford, is a writer for the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and 3) The Earth is about to be destroyed. Ford helps Arthur to escape with him on a Vogon ship. Unfortunately, the Vogons don't like anyone, and are particularly adverse to hitchhikers. Ford and Arthur are blasted into space to be picked up by Ford's cousin Zaphod Beeblebox. Zaphod and his earthling girlfriend have stolen a spaceship called the Heart of Gold. This ship runs on an improbability drive, meaning that when a button is pushed, the most improbable thing will happen. Zaphod and Trillian are using it to try to find Magrathea, which (according to legend) was once the richest planet in the galaxies. The group do get to Magrathea and are attacked by an ancient weapons system. Once again, the improbability drive saves them, and they land on the planet and start to explore. Arthur meets a guy by the name of Slartibartfast who tells him that the planet was home to the most intelligent computer of all time. The computer was built by the inhabitants to find the answer to the question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. The computer, after telling the waiting crowd that the answer was 42, commissioned the building of Earth in order to search for the actual question. Earth was destroyed by the Vogons. However, just before the question was found, descendants of the computer's creators, two mice, want to take Arthur's brain to look for the answer, since he was on Earth just before it was blown up. Arthur is saved by the gang and they all leave Magreathea on the Heart of Gold, heading to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe for some food. TYPE: Science Fiction
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Aphra Behn A dramatist of the English Restoration, the first English professional female literary writer.Her writing contributed to the amatory fiction genre of British literature. She is sometimes referred to as part of "The fair triumvirate of wit." According to biographer Janet Todd, Behn did not oppose slavery per se. She accepted the idea that powerful groups would enslave the powerless. Orooncko or The Royal Slave (1688)
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SUMMARY:The Coromantin grandson of an African king, Prince Oroonoko, falls in love with Imoinda, the daughter of that king's top general. "Coromantee people" were Akan slaves brought from present-day Ghana, a polyglot band known for their rebellious nature. The king, too, falls in love with Imoinda. He gives Imoinda the sacred veil, thus commanding her to become one of his wives, even though she was already married to Oroonoko. After unwillingly spending time in the king's harem (the Otan), Imoinda and Oroonoko plan a tryst with the help of the sympathetic Onahal and Aboan. They are eventually discovered, and because she has lost her virginity, Imoinda is sold as a slave. The king's guilt, however, leads him to falsely inform Oroonoko that she has been executed, since death was thought to be better than slavery. Later, after winning another tribal war, Oroonoko is betrayed and captured by an English captain, who planned to sell him and his men as slaves. Both Imoinda and Oroonoko were carried to Surinam, at that time an English colony based on sugarcane plantation in the West Indies. The two lovers are reunited there, under the new Christian names of Caesar and Clemene, even though Imoinda's beauty has attracted the unwanted desires of other slaves and of the Cornish gentleman, Trefry. Upon Imoinda's pregnancy, Oroonoko petitions for their return to the homeland. But after being continuously ignored, he organises a slave revolt. The slaves are hunted down by the military forces and compelled to surrender on deputy governor Byam's promise of amnesty. Yet, when the slaves surrender, Oroonoko and the others are punished and whipped. To avenge his honour, and to express his natural worth, Oroonoko decides to kill Byam. But to protect Imoinda from violation and subjugation after his death, he decides to kill her. The two lovers discuss the plan, and with a smile on her face, Imoinda willingly dies by his hand. A few days later, Oroonoko is found mourning by her decapitated body and is kept from killing himself, only to be publicly executed. During his death by dismemberment, Oroonoko calmly smokes a pipe and stoically withstands all the pain without crying out. The novel is written in a mixture of first and third person, as the narrator relates actions in Africa and portrays herself as a witness of the actions that take place in Surinam. At the conclusion of the love story, the narrator leaves Surinam for London. TYPE: Short novel
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J.G. Ballard An English novelist, short story writer, and essayist. Ballard came to be associated with the New Wave of science fiction early in his career with apocalyptic (or post-apocalyptic) novels. Empire of the Sun (1984)
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SUMMARY: A young British boy, Jamie Graham lives with his parents in Shanghai. After the Pearl Harbor attack, the Japanese occupy the Shanghai International Settlement, and in the following chaos Jim becomes separated from his parents. He spends some time in abandoned mansions, living on remnants of packaged food. Having exhausted the food supplies, he decides to try to surrender to the Japanese Army. After many attempts, he finally succeeds and is interned in the Lunghua Civilian Assembly Center. Although the Japanese are "officially" the enemies, Jim identifies partly with them, both because he adores the pilots with their splendid machines and because he feels that Lunghua is still a comparatively safer place for him. Towards the end of the war, with the Japanese army collapsing, the food supply runs short. Jim barely survives, with people around him starving to death. The camp prisoners are forced upon a march to Nantao, with many dying along the route. Jim then leaves the march and is saved from starvation by air drops from American Bombers. Jim returns to Lunghua camp and finds Dr. Ransome there, soon returning to his pre-war residence with his parents. TYPE: Sci-fi novel
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James Boswell A lawyer, diarist, and author born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is best known for the biography he wrote of one of his contemporaries, the English literary figure Samuel Johnson, which the modern Johnsonian critic Harold Bloom has claimed is the greatest biography written in the English language. The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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SUMMARY: Regarded as an important stage in the development of the modern genre of biography; many have claimed it as the greatest biography written in English. While Boswell's personal acquaintance with his subject only began in 1763, when Johnson was 54 years old, Boswell covered the entirety of Johnson's life by means of additional research. The biography takes many critical liberties with Johnson's life, as Boswell makes various changes to Johnson's quotations and even censors many comments. Regardless of these actions, modern biographers have found Boswell's biography as an important source of information on Johnson and his times. The work was popular among early audiences and with modern critics, but some of the modern critics believe that the work cannot be considered a proper biography.Boswell started working on the "vast treasure of his conversations at different times" that he recorded in his journals. His goal was to recreate Johnson's "life in scenes".Literary critic Donald Greene has pointed out, Boswell's works only describe 250 days that Boswell could have actually been present with Johnson, the rest of the information having to come from either Johnson himself or from secondary sources recounting various incidents. TYPE: Biography
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Anne Bronte A British novelist and poet, the youngest member of the Bront√ę literary family. The daughter of a poor Irish clergyman in the Church of England, Bront√ę went to a boarding school. At the age of 19 she left Haworth and worked as a governess between 1839 and 1845. After leaving her teaching position, she fulfilled her literary ambitions. Died early. Sister of Charlotte Bronte. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848)
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BACKGROUND: This is her second and last novel, which is considered to be one of the first sustained feminist novels. SUMMARY: The novel is divided into three volumes. It is framed as a letter from Gilbert Markham to his friend and brother-in-law about the events leading to his meeting his wife. A mysterious young widow arrives at Wildfell Hall, an Elizabethan mansion which has been empty for many years, with her young son and servant. She lives there in strict seclusion under the assumed name Helen Graham and very soon finds herself the victim of local slander. Refusing to believe anything scandalous about her, Gilbert Markham, a young farmer, discovers her dark secrets. In her diary, Helen writes about her husband's physical and moral decline through alcohol, and the world of debauchery and cruelty from which she has fled. This novel of marital betrayal is set within a moral framework tempered by Anne's optimistic belief in universal salvation. TYPE: Novel
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Charlotte Bronte An English novelist and poet, the eldest of the three Bront√ę sisters who survived into adulthood and whose novels are English literature standards. She wrote Jane Eyre under the pen name Currer Bell. Jane Eyre (1847)
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SUMMARY: Primarily of the bildungsroman genre, Jane Eyre follows the emotions and experiences of its eponymous character, including her growth to adulthood, and her love for Mr. Rochester, the byronic master of fictitious Thornfield Hall. The focus is on the gradual unfolding of Jane's moral and spiritual sensibility and all the events are coloured by a heightened intensity that was previously the domain of poetry - the novel revolutionised the art of fiction. The novel contains elements of social criticism, with a strong sense of morality at its core, but is nonetheless a novel many consider ahead of its time given the individualistic character of Jane and the novel's exploration of classism, sexuality, religion, and proto-feminism. TYPE: Novel
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Emily Bronte an English novelist and poet, best remembered for her only novel, "Wuthering Heights." Bronte was the third eldest of the four surviving Bront√ę siblings, between the youngest Anne and her brother Branwell. She wrote under the pen name Ellis Bell. Wuthering Heights (1847)
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SUMMARY: Flashbacks (Heathcliff starts as adult, then goes back to boyhood and reader learns how he grew up...) In 1801, Mr Lockwood, a wealthy man from the south of England, rents Thrushcross Grange in the north for peace and recuperation. He visits his landlord, Mr Heathcliff, (boy)who lives in a remote moorland farmhouse, "Wuthering Heights," where he finds an odd assemblage: Heathcliff seems to be a gentleman, but his manners are uncouth; the reserved mistress of the house is in her mid-teens; and a young man seems to be a family member yet dresses and speaks like servants. Snowed in, Lockwood is grudgingly allowed to stay and is shown to a bedchamber where he notices books and graffiti left by a former inhabitant named Catherine. He falls asleep and has a nightmare in which he sees the ghostly Catherine trying to enter through the window. He cries out in fear, rousing Heathcliff who rushes to the room. Lockwood was convinced that what he saw was real. Heathcliff, believing Lockwood to be right, examines the window and opens it hoping to allow Catherine's spirit to enter. When nothing happens, Heathcliff shows Lockwood to his own bedroom and returns to keep watch at the window. At sunrise, Heathcliff escorts Lockwood back to Thrushcross Grange. Lockwood asks the housekeeper, Nelly Dean, about the family at Wuthering Heights, and she tells him the tale. The book's core theme is the destructive effect that jealousy and vengefulness have on their communities. Originally, it received mixed reviews when first published, and was considered controversial because its depiction of mental and physical cruelty was so unusually stark. TYPE: Novel
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Anita Brookner An English language novelist and art historian. Brookner had a lonely childhood, although her grandmother and uncle lived with the family, and her parents, secular Jews, opened their house to Jewish refugees escaping Nazi persecution during the 1930s and World War II. Hotel du Lac (1984)
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SUMMARY: Romantic novelist Edith Hope is staying in a hotel on the shores of Lake Geneva, where her friends have advised her to retreat following an unfortunate incident. There she meets other English visitors, including Mrs Pusey, Mrs Pusey's daughter Jennifer, and an attractive middle-aged man, Mr Neville. Edith reaches Hotel du Lac in a state of bewildered confusion at the turn of events in her life. A secret and often lonely affair with a married man and an aborted marriage later, she is banished by her friends, who advise her to go on "probation" so as to "grow up", "be a woman", and atone for her mistakes. Edith comes to the hotel swearing not to change. However, the hotel's silent charms and her observations of the guests there all tug at Edith with questions about her identity, forcing her to examine who she is and what she has been. At the hotel, she observes people from different walks of life ‚ÄĒ Mrs Pusey and her daughter Jennifer, their love for each other, and the splendid oblivious lives they live; Mme de Bonneuil, who lives at the hotel in solitary expulsion from her son; and Monica, who came to the hotel, acceding to her husband's demands. Edith falls for the ambiguous smile of Mr Neville, who asks for her hand in marriage. She considers a life of recognition the married state would confer but ultimately rejects the possibility of a relationship with him when she realises he is an incorrigible womaniser. This also finally leads her to realize what her life is expected to be. Once again, she breaks chains and decides to take things into her own hands. TYPE: Novel
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Anthony Burgess An English writer who eventually became one of the best known English literary figures of the latter half of the twentieth century. Although Burgess was predominantly a comic writer, his dystopian satire "A Clockwork Orange" remains his best known novel. In 1971 it was adapted into a highly controversial film by Stanley Kubrick, which Burgess said was chiefly responsible for the popularity of the book. A Clockwork Orange (1962)
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TYPE OF WORK · Novella GENRE · Dystopia; philosophical novel; social satire; black comedy NARRATOR · Alex narrates A Clockwork Orange immediately after the events of the novel. POINT OF VIEW · The narrator speaks in the first person, subjectively describing only what he sees, hears, thinks, and experiences. TONE · Irreverent; comical; hateful; playful; juvenile TENSE · Past, though in the last few paragraphs the narrator switches to present tense SETTING (PLACE) · A large town or small city in England, as well as an English countryside village PROTAGONIST · Alex MAJOR CONFLICT · Alex asserts himself against the State, which seeks to suppress his freedom by psychologically removing his power to make free choices. RISING ACTION · Alex commits several violent crimes that disrupt the order of the State. CLIMAX · Alex is apprehended by the police and sent to jail, where he eventually undergoes behavioral conditioning that kills his capacity for violence. FALLING ACTION · Alex becomes a being incapable of making moral decisions, and he is caught up in a political struggle between the current government and a cabal of revolutionaries. THEMES · The inviolability of free will; the necessity of commitment; the inherent evil of government; "duality as the ultimate reality" SOURCE: www.sparknotes.com
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Fanny Burney An English novelist, diarist and playwright. Evelina (1778)
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SUMMARY: In this 3-volume epistolary novel, title character Evelina is the unacknowledged, but is the legitimate daughter of a dissipated English aristocrat, thus raised in rural seclusion until her 17th year. Through a series of humorous events that take place in London and the resort town of Hotwells, near Bristol, Evelina learns to navigate the complex layers of 18th-century society and earn the love of a distinguished nobleman. This sentimental novel, which has notions of sensibility and early romanticism, satirizes the society in which it is set and is a significant precursor to the work of Jane Austen and Maria Edgeworth, whose novels explore many of the same issues. TYPE: Novel
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Samuel Butler "The Way of All Flesh" is a semi-autobiographical novel by Butler that attacks Victorian-era hypocrisy. Written between 1873 and 1884, it traces four generations of the Pontifex family. Butler dared not publish it during his lifetime, but when it was published it was accepted as part of the general reaction against Victorianism. The Way of All Flesh (1903)
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SUMMARY: Traces Ernest's emergence from previous generations of the Pontifex family. John Pontifex was a carpenter; his son George rises in the world to become a publisher; George's son Theobald, pressed by his father to become a minister, is manipulated into marrying Christina, the daughter of a clergyman; the main character Ernest Pontifex is the eldest son of Theobald and Christina. The author depicts an antagonistic relationship between Ernest and his hypocritical and domineering parents. His aunt Alethea is aware of this relationship, but dies before she can fulfill her aim of counteracting the parents' malign influence on the boy. However, shortly before her death she secretly passes a small fortune into Overton's keeping, with the agreement that once Ernest is twenty-eight, he can receive it. As Ernest develops into a young man, he travels a bumpy theological road, reflecting the divisions and controversies in the Church of England in the Victorian era. Easily influenced by others at university, he starts out as an Evangelical Christian, and soon becomes a clergyman. He then falls for the lures of the High Church (and is duped out of much of his own money by a fellow clergyman). He decides that the way to regenerate the Church of England is to live among the poor, but the results are, first, that his faith in the integrity of the Bible is severely damaged by a conversation with one of the poor he was hoping to redeem, and, second, that under the pressures of poverty and theological doubt, he attempts a sexual assault on a woman he had incorrectly believed to be of loose morals. This assault leads to a prison term. His parents disown him. His health deteriorates. As he recovers he learns how to tailor and decides to make this his profession once out of prison. He loses his Christian faith. He marries Ellen, a former housemaid of his parents, and they have two children and set up shop together in the second-hand clothing industry. However, in due course he discovers that Ellen is both a bigamist and an alcoholic. Overton at this point intervenes and pays Ellen a stipend, and she happily leaves with another for America. He gives Ernest a job, and takes him on a trip to Continental Europe. In due course Ernest becomes 28, and receives his aunt Alethea's gift. He returns to the family home until his parents die: his father's influence over him wanes as Theobald's own position as a clergyman is reduced in stature, though to the end Theobald finds small ways purposefully to annoy him. Ernest becomes an author of controversial literature. TYPE: Novel
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Frances Hodgson Burnett An English-American playwright and author. Born in Cheetham, near Manchester, England. After her father died in 1852, the family eventually fell on straitened circumstances and in 1865 emigrated to the United States, settling near Knoxville, Tennessee. The Secret Garden (1911)
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ABBREVIATED SUMMARY: Mary Lennox is a sour-faced 10-year-old girl, who is born in India to selfish wealthy British parents who had not wanted her and were too wrapped up in their own lives. She was taken care of primarily by servants, who pacified her as much as possible to keep her out of the way. Spoiled and with a temper, she is unaffectionate, angry, rude and obstinate. Later, there is a cholera epidemic which hits India and kills her mother, father and all the servants. She is discovered alone but alive after the house is empty. She is sent to Yorkshire, England to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven at his home called Misselthwaite Manor. At first, Mary is her usual self, sour and rude, disliking her uncle's large house, the people within it, and most of all the vast stretch of moor, which seems scrubby and grey after the winter. She is told that she must stay confined to her two rooms and that nobody will bother much with her and she must amuse herself. Martha Sowerby, her good-natured maidservant, tells Mary a story of the late Mrs. Craven, and how she would spend hours in a private garden growing roses. Later, Mrs. Craven was killed in an accident, and Mr. Craven had the garden locked and the key buried. Mary is roused by this story and starts to soften her ill manner despite herself. Soon she begins to lose her disposition and gradually comes to enjoy the company of Martha, Ben Weatherstaff the gardener, and also that of a friendly robin redbreast to whom she attaches human qualities. Her appetite increases and she finds herself getting stronger as she plays by herself on the moor. Martha's mother buys Mary a skipping rope to encourage this, and she takes to it immediately. Mary's time is occupied by wondering about the secret garden and a strange crying sound that can sometimes be heard around the house which the servants ignore or deny. TYPE: Children's literature
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Lewis Carroll (alias; real name: Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) An English writer, mathematician, logician, Anglican deacon and photographer. His most famous writings are "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and its sequel "Through the Looking-Glass." Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865)
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SUMMARY: Tells of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as with children.[2] It is considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre.[2][3] Its narrative course and structure, characters and imagery have been enormously influential[3] in both popular culture and literature, especially in the fantasy genre. TYPE: Novel
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Agatha Christie An English crime writer of novels, short stories, and plays. Murder on the Orient Express (1933)
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TYPE OF WORK · Novel GENRE · Mystery NARRATOR · Anonymous POINT OF VIEW · The narrator speaks in the third person, focusing on the thoughts and actions of Poirot. All observations seem to be consistent with Poirot, what the narrator thinks is the same as Poirot. There is one instance that first person is used. In Chapter 3, Part three, there is a brief moment where the reader is privy to the comical thoughts of M.Bouc and Dr.Constantine. TONE · The narrator is amused by the passengers aboard the Orient Express and seems to take pleasure in describing their predicament. TENSE · Present SETTING (TIME) · Winter, 1925-1933 SETTING (PLACE) · The setting is first aboard a train headed to Stamboul, then Stamboul and then on a train from Stamboul to London, the Orient Express. PROTAGONIST · Hercule Poirot MAJOR CONFLICT · A man is murdered aboard a train headed to London from Stamboul called the Orient Express. The morning after, the train gets stuck in the snow and it is up to Hercule Poirot to figure out which passenger was the murderer. RISING ACTION · Hercule Poirot goes to Stamboul and must return to London on business, he rides the Orient Express back to London, the train stops in a snow bank CLIMAX · Ratchett is murdered FALLING ACTION · Poirot is asked to launch an investigation of passengers on the train; he interviews passengers, makes observations, and propounds two solutions. THEMES · The Justice of a Jury, The Insufficency of Law, The Morality of Murder SOURCE: www.sparknotes.com
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Arthur C. Clarke A British science fiction writer, science writer, undersea explorer, television series host, and inventor. Several film adaptations of "Childhood's End" have been attempted. Director Stanley Kubrick expressed interest in the 1960s, but collaborated with Clarke on 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) instead. The novel's theme of transcendent evolution also appears in Clarke's Space Odyssey series. Childhood's End (1953)
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SUMMARY: The story follows the peaceful alien invasion[1] of Earth by the mysterious Overlords, whose arrival ends all war, helps form a world government, and turns the planet into a near-utopia. Many questions are asked about the origins and mission of the aliens, but they avoid answering, preferring to remain in their spacecraft, governing through indirect rule. Decades later, the Overlords show themselves, and their impact on human culture leads to a final utopic Golden Age, but at the cost of humanity's identity and eventually the planet itself. TYPE: Science fiction novel
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William Congreve An English playwright and poet. The Way of the World (1700 -play)
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SUMMARY: The play is based around the two lovers, Mirabell and Millamant. For the two to get married and receive Millamant's full dowry, Mirabell must receive the blessing of Millamant's aunt, Lady Wishfort. Unfortunately, she is a very bitter lady, who despises Mirabell and wants her own nephew, Sir Wilfull, to wed Millamant. Mirabell, a young man-about-town, apparently not a man of great wealth, has had an affair with Mrs. Fainall, the widowed daughter of Lady Wishfort. To protect her from scandal in the event of pregnancy, he has helped engineer her marriage to Mr. Fainall, a man whom he feels to be of sufficiently good reputation to constitute a respectable match, but not a man of such virtue that tricking him would be unfair. Fainall, for his part, married the young widow because he coveted her fortune to support his amour with Mrs. Marwood. In time, the liaison between Mirabell and Mrs. Fainall ended (although this is not explicitly stated), and Mirabell found himself in love with Millamant, the niece and ward of Lady Wish-fort, and the cousin of his former mistress. Mirabell's servant is married to Foible, Lady Wishfort's servant. Waitwell pretends to be Sir Rowland and, on Mirabell's command, tries to trick Lady Wishfort into a false engagement. This play is widely regarded as one of the best Restoration comedies and is still occasionally performed.TYPE: Play, comedy
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Joseph Conrad A Polish author who wrote in English after settling in England. He was granted British nationality in 1886, but always considered himself a "Pole." NOTE: "pole" is the word used on Wikipedia. Heart of Darkness (1902)
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SUMMARY: Written as a frame narrative, about Charles Marlow's life as an ivory transporter down an unnamed river in Central Africa. The river is "a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depths of the land." In the course of his travel in central Africa, Marlow becomes obsessed with Mr. Kurtz. The story is a complex exploration of the attitudes people hold on what constitutes a barbarian versus a civilized society and the attitudes on colonialism and racism that were part and parcel of European imperialism. Originally published as a three-part serial story, in Blackwood's Magazine. TYPE: Short novel NARRATOR · There are two narrators: an anonymous passenger on a pleasure ship, who listens to Marlow's story, and Marlow himself, a middle-aged ship's captain. POINT OF VIEW · The first narrator speaks in the first-person plural, on behalf of four other passengers who listen to Marlow's tale. Marlow narrates his story in the first person, describing only what he witnessed and experienced, and providing his own commentary on the story. TONE · Ambivalent: Marlow is disgusted at the brutality of the Company and horrified by Kurtz's degeneration, but he claims that any thinking man would be tempted into similar behavior. TENSE · Past SETTING (TIME) · Latter part of the nineteenth century, probably sometime between 1876 and 1892 SETTING (PLACE) · Opens on the Thames River outside London, where Marlow is telling the story that makes up Heart of Darkness. Events of the story take place in Brussels, at the Company's offices, and in the Congo, then a Belgian territory. PROTAGONIST · Marlow MAJOR CONFLICT · Both Marlow and Kurtz confront a conflict between their images of themselves as "civilized" Europeans and the temptation to abandon morality completely once they leave the context of European society. RISING ACTION · The brutality Marlow witnesses in the Company's employees, the rumors he hears that Kurtz is a remarkable and humane man, and the numerous examples of Europeans breaking down mentally or physically in the environment of Africa.
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Noel Coward An English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, known for his wit, flamboyance, and what Time magazine called "a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise." Cavalcade (1931 -play)
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SUMMARY: Focuses on three decades in the life of the Marryotts, a quintessential British family, and their servants, beginning in 1900 and ends on New Year's Eve in 1929 and is set against major historical events of the period, including the Relief of Mafeking; the death of Queen Victoria; the sinking of the Titanic; and World War I. The popular songs of at the time of each event were interwoven into the score. TYPE: Play and Movie 1933
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Roald Dahl A British novelist, short story writer, poet, fighter pilot, and screenwriter. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964)
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SUMMARY: The story revolves around a poor young boy named Charlie Bucket born to a penniless, starving family. His two sets of grandparents reside in their children's dilapidated, tiny house and lead a bedridden existence, and Charlie is fascinated by the universally-celebrated chocolate factory located in his hometown owned by famous chocolatier Willy Wonka. His Grandpa Joe often narrates stories to him about the chocolate factory and about its mysterious proprietor, and the mysteries relating to the factory itself; how it had gone defunct for years until it mysteriously re-opened after Wonka's secret sweet recipes had been discovered (albeit no employees are ever seen leaving the factory). Soon after, an article in the newspaper reveals that Willy Wonka has hidden a Golden Ticket in five chocolate bars being distributed to anonymous locations worldwide, and that the discovery of a Golden Ticket would grant the owner with passage into Willy Wonka's factory and a lifetime supply of confectionery. Charlie longs for chocolate to satisfy his hunger and to find a Golden Ticket himself, but his chances are slim (his father has recently lost his job, leaving the family all but destitute) and word on the discovery of the tickets keeps appearing in various news articles read by the Bucket family, each one going to self-centred, bratty children: an obese, gluttonous boy named Augustus Gloop, a spoiled brat named Veruca Salt, a record-breaking gum chewer named Violet Beauregarde, and Mike Teavee, an aspiring gangster who is unhealthily obsessed with television. Eventually, Charlie finds a ticket of his own. The children, once at the factory, are taken to the Chocolate Room, where they are introduced to Oompa Loompas, from Loompaland, who have been helping Wonka operate the factory. While there, Augustus falls into the chocolate and is sucked up by a pipe and eliminated from the tour. They are soon taken to the Inventing Room, where Violet chews a piece of experimental gum, and blows up into a blueberry; she is the second child rejected from the tour. After an exhausting jog down a series of corridors, Wonka allows them to rest outside of the Nut Room, but refuses them entry. Veruca, seeing squirrels inside, demands one from Wonka, but when she is refused, she invades the Nut Room, where the squirrels attack her, judge her a bad nut and throw her down the garbage chute. Likewise with her parents, who go in to rescue her. They go on the Great Glass Elevator to the Television Room, where Mike accidentally shrinks himself to a few inches tall using a teleporter Wonka invented, and is the last to be eliminated from the tour. Charlie, being the last child left, wins the prize - the factory itself. Wonka had distributed the Golden Tickets to find an heir, and Charlie was the only one who passed the test. Together they go to Charlie's house in the glass elevator and take the whole family back to the chocolate factory to live out the rest of their lives. TYPE: Children's book
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Walter De la Mare An English poet, short story writer and novelist. He is probably best remembered for his works for children and for his poem "The Listeners." De la Mare's first book, "Songs of Childhood," was published under the name Walter Ramal. Songs of Childhood (1902)
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BACKGROUND: The Romantic poets rediscovered a pastoral and Biblical dream: that a child was the most innocent and the wisest of us all. Wordsworth hailed him as "Mighty Prophet! Seer blest!" And in the next generation Victorian novelists took that dream seriously enough to make children the heroes and heroines of their most searching fictions. There had been no "children's literature" to speak of before, except for the oral and "popular" tradition, including lullabies and Mother Goose, some of which go back as far as Tudor and even medieval times. The poetry of Walter de la Mare sings boldly and beautifully without any of these hedges and condescensions. His work has the honest candor of the border ballads and the fairy tales: as well as unmitigated joys, they are full of the dangers and horrors and sorrows that every child soon knows to be part of the world, however vainly parents try to veil them. A child's curiosity about the forbidden will insist on being satisfied; and better by verse than otherwise. This poetry is also musically astute and demanding; it may surprise and alert the parental reader; and it has its share of archaisms and poeticisms, which, contrary to adult surmise, bemuse and fascinate children. And it must be admitted that it is also relentlessly British; but then, so is much good children's literature. TYPE: Poems
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Daniel Defoe An English trader, writer, journalist, pamphleteer, and spy, now most famous for his novel Robinson Crusoe. Defoe is notable for being one of the earliest proponents of the novel, as he helped to popularise the form in Britain, and, along with others such as Samuel Richardson, is among the founders of the English novel. Robinson Crusoe (1719)
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Robinson Crusoe is an Englishman from the town of York in the seventeenth century, the youngest son of a merchant of German origin. Encouraged by his father to study law, Crusoe expresses his wish to go to sea instead. His family is against Crusoe going out to sea, and his father explains that it is better to seek a modest, secure life for oneself. Initially, Robinson is committed to obeying his father, but he eventually succumbs to temptation and embarks on a ship bound for London with a friend. When a storm causes the near deaths of Crusoe and his friend, the friend is dissuaded from sea travel, but Crusoe still goes on to set himself up as merchant on a ship leaving London. This trip is financially successful, and Crusoe plans another, leaving his early profits in the care of a friendly widow. The second voyage does not prove as fortunate: the ship is seized by Moorish pirates, and Crusoe is enslaved to a potentate in the North African town of Sallee. While on a fishing expedition, he and a slave boy break free and sail down the African coast. A kindly Portuguese captain picks them up, buys the slave boy from Crusoe, and takes Crusoe to Brazil. In Brazil, Crusoe establishes himself as a plantation owner and soon becomes successful. Eager for slave labor and its economic advantages, he embarks on a slave-gathering expedition to West Africa but ends up shipwrecked off of the coast of Trinidad. Crusoe soon learns he is the sole survivor of the expedition and seeks shelter and food for himself. He returns to the wreck's remains twelve times to salvage guns, powder, food, and other items. Onshore, he finds goats he can graze for meat and builds himself a shelter. He erects a cross that he inscribes with the date of his arrival, September 1, 1659, and makes a notch every day in order never to lose track of time. He also keeps a journal of his household activities, noting his attempts to make candles, his lucky discovery of sprouting grain, and his construction of a cellar, among other events. In June 1660, he falls ill and hallucinates that an angel visits, warning him to repent. Drinking tobacco-steeped rum, Crusoe experiences a religious illumination and realizes that God has delivered him from his earlier sins. After recovering, Crusoe makes a survey of the area and discovers he is on an island. He finds a pleasant valley abounding in grapes, where he builds a shady retreat. Crusoe begins to feel more optimistic about being on the island, describing himself as its "king." He trains a pet parrot, takes a goat as a pet, and develops skills in basket weaving, bread making, and pottery. He cuts down an enormous cedar tree and builds a huge canoe from its trunk, but he discovers that he cannot move it to the sea. After building a smaller boat, he rows around the island but nearly perishes when swept away by a powerful current. Reaching shore, he hears his parrot calling his name and is thankful for being saved once again. He spends several years in peace. One day Crusoe is shocked to discover a man's footprint on the beach. He first assumes the footprint is the devil's, then decides it must belong to one of the cannibals said to live in the region. Terrified, he arms himself and remains on the lookout for cannibals. He also builds an underground cellar in which to herd his goats at night and devises a way to cook underground. One evening he hears gunshots, and the next day he is able to see a ship wrecked on his coast. It is empty when he arrives on the scene to investigate. Crusoe once again thanks Providence for having been saved. Soon afterward, Crusoe discovers that the shore has been strewn with human carnage, apparently the remains of a cannibal feast. He is alarmed and continues to be vigilant. Later Crusoe catches sight of thirty cannibals heading for shore with their victims. One of the victims is killed. Another one, waiting to be slaughtered, suddenly breaks free and runs toward Crusoe's dwelling. Crusoe protects him, killing one of the pursuers and injuring the other, whom the victim finally kills. Well-armed, Crusoe defeats most of the cannibals onshore. The victim vows total submission to Crusoe in gratitude for his liberation. Crusoe names him Friday, to commemorate the day on which his life was saved, and takes him as his servant.
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Charles Dickens An English writer and social critic. He created some of the world's most memorable fictional characters and is generally regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period. Oliver Twist (1838)
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SUMMARY:The story is about an orphan, Oliver Twist, who endures a miserable existence in a workhouse and then is placed with an undertaker. He escapes and travels to London where he meets the Artful Dodger, leader of a gang of juvenile pickpockets. Naively unaware of their unlawful activities, Oliver is led to the lair of their elderly criminal trainer Fagin. Oliver Twist is notable for Dickens' unromantic portrayal of criminals and their sordid lives.[1] The book exposed the cruel treatment of the large number of orphans in London during the Dickensian era. The book's subtitle, "The Parish Boy's Progress," alludes to Bunyan's "The Pilgrim's Progress" and also to a pair of popular 18th-century caricature series by William Hogarth, "A Rake's Progress and A Harlot's Progress." TYPE: Novel
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Arthur Conan Doyle A Scottish physician and writer who is most noted for his fictional stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, which are generally considered milestones in the field of crime fiction. Micah Clarke (1889)
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SUMMARY: The book follows the exploits of Conan Doyle's fictional character Micah Clarke. It is a bildungsroman whose protagonist begins as a boy seeking adventure in a rather romantic and naive way, falls under the influence of an older and vastly experienced, world-weary soldier of fortune, and becomes a grown up after numerous experiences, some of them very harrowing. In the process the book also records much of the history of the Monmouth Rebellion, but from the point of view of someone living in 17th century England. Much of the focus is upon the religious dimension of the conflict. The Rebellion was prompted by the desire of many to replace the Catholic King James with a Protestant rival. Micah Clarke is the son of a committed Protestant father who sends of Micah to fight in the same cause which he himself had fought in during the English Civil War. Much is made of the role of Protestant ministers in recruiting the rebel army and in motivating its soldiers. Micah Clarke himself becomes increasingly disillusioned with religious extremism and ultimately expresses the view that toleration is a great good. Arthur Conan Doyle had himself been brought up as a Catholic and it is likely that Micah expresses his own thoughts on the subject. TYPE: Historical adventure novel
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Daphne Du Maurier Born in England in 1907, the daughter of a wealthy father who was one of the country's most famous actor-managers. Achieved literary fame as the author of traditional historical romances and gothic thrillers. Rebecca (1938)
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SUMMARY: Rebecca's narrative takes the form of a flashback. The heroine, who remains nameless, lives in Europe with her husband, Maxim de Winter, traveling from hotel to hotel, harboring memories of a beautiful home called Manderley, which, we learn, has been destroyed by fire. The story begins with her memories of how she and Maxim first met, in Monte Carlo, years before. n her flashback, the heroine is working as the young traveling companion to a wealthy American named Mrs. Van Hopper. In her flashback, Maxim is staying at the same hotel as the heroine and her employer, and after knowing the heroine for only a few weeks, he proposes marriage. She accepts, and he marries her and takes her back to his ancestral estate of Manderley. But a dark cloud hangs over their marriage: Maxim's first wife, Rebecca, drowned in a cove near Manderley the previous year, and her ghost haunts the newlyweds' home. Rebecca's devoted housekeeper, the sinister Mrs. Danvers, is still in charge of Manderley, and she frightens and intimidates her new mistress. Despite the encouragement of the house overseer, Frank Crawley, and Maxim's sister, Beatrice, the heroine struggles in her new life at Manderley. She feels that she can never compare favorably to Rebecca, who was beautiful, talented, and brilliant--or so everyone says--and soon she feels that Maxim is still in love with his dead wife. Manderley traditionally hosts a costume ball each year, and it is soon time for the gala to take place. Swept up in the preparations, the heroine's spirits begin to revive. But the ball ends in disaster: on Mrs. Danvers's suggestion she wears a costume that, it turns out, is the same dress that Rebecca wore at the last ball. Upon seeing the heroine, Maxim is horrified, and the heroine becomes convinced that he will never love her, that he is still devoted to Rebecca. The following day, Mrs. Danvers almost convinces her to kill herself, and she only breaks away from the old woman's spell when rockets go off over the cove, signaling that a ship has run aground. When divers swim near the grounded ship, they find the wreckage of Rebecca's sailboat, with Rebecca's dead body in the hold. This discovery prompts Maxim to tell the heroine the truth: Rebecca was a malevolent, wicked woman, who lived a secret life and carried on multiple affairs, including one with her cousin, Jack Favell. On the night of her death, Maxim had demanded a divorce, and she had refused, and told him that she was pregnant with Favell's child. Furious, he seized a gun and shot her, and then sailed out to the harbor in Rebecca's boat and sank it, with the body stowed safely inside. This revelation restores the heroine's marriage, and enables her to finally shake off the burden of Rebecca's ghost. it turns out that Rebecca was dying of cancer, and that furthermore she was infertile; she had lied to Maxim about her pregnancy. Her terminal illness now supplies a motive for Rebecca's supposed suicide, and Maxim is saved. He and the heroine drive all night back to Manderley, stopping only once, when Maxim calls home and learns that Mrs. Danvers has disappeared. As they crest the ridge near the mansion, they look down and find it in flames. TYPE: Novel
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George Eliot Mary Anne Evans, known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist, journalist, and translator and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. The Mill on the Floss (1860)
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BACKGROUND: The novel spans a period of 10 to 15 years and details the lives of Tom and Maggie Tulliver, siblings growing up at Dorlcote Mill on the River Floss at its junction with the more minor River Ripple near the village of St. Ogg's in Lincolnshire, England. Both the river and the village are fictional. SUMMARY: Maggie Tulliver is the central character of the book. The story begins when she is 9 years old, 13 years into her parents' marriage. Her relationship with her older brother Tom, and her romantic relationships with Philip Wakem, a hunchbacked, sensitive, and intellectual friend, and with Stephen Guest, a vivacious young socialite in St. Ogg's and assumed fiancé of Maggie's cousin Lucy Deane, constitute the most significant narrative threads. Tom and Maggie have a close yet complex bond, which continues throughout the novel. Their relationship is coloured by Maggie's desire to recapture the unconditional love her father provides before his death. Tom's pragmatic and reserved nature clashes with Maggie's idealism and fervor for intellectual gains and experience. Various family crises, including bankruptcy, Mr. Tulliver's rancorous relationship with Philip Wakem's father, which results in the loss of the mill, and Mr. Tulliver's untimely death, serve both to intensify Tom's and Maggie's differences and to highlight their love for each other. To help his father repay his debts, Tom leaves school to enter a life of business. He eventually finds a measure of success, restoring the family's former estate. Meanwhile, Maggie languishes in the impoverished Tulliver home, her intellectual aptitude wasted in her socially isolated state. She passes through a period of intense spirituality, during which she renounces the world. This renunciation is tested by a renewed friendship with Philip Wakem, with whom she had developed a friendship while he and Tom were students together. Against the wishes of Tom and her father, who both despise the Wakems, Maggie secretly meets with Philip, and together they go for long walks through the woods. The relationship they forge is founded partially in Maggie's heartfelt pity for broken and neglected human beings, but it also serves as an outlet for her intellectual romantic desires. Philip's and Maggie's attraction is, in any case, inconsequential because of the family antipathy. Philip manages to coax a pledge of love from Maggie. When Tom discovers the relationship between the two, however, he forces his sister to renounce Philip, and with him her hopes of experiencing the broader, more cultured world he represents. When Maggie and Stephen find themselves floating down the river, negligent of the distance they have covered, he proposes they board a passing boat to the next substantial city, Mudport, and get married. Maggie is too tired to argue about it. Stephen takes advantage of her weariness and hails the boat. They are taken on board the boat, and during the trip to Mudport, Maggie struggles between her love for Stephen and her duties to Philip and Lucy, which were established when she was poor, isolated, and dependent on them for what good her life contained. Upon arrival in Mudport she rejects Stephen and makes her way back to St. Ogg's, where she lives for a brief period as an outcast, Stephen having fled to Holland. Although she immediately goes to Tom for forgiveness and shelter, he roughly sends her away, telling her that she will never again be welcome under his roof. Both Lucy and Philip forgive her, in a moving reunion and an eloquent letter, respectively. Maggie's brief exile ends when the river floods. The flood has been criticised as a deus ex machina.[2] Those who do not support this view cite the frequent references to flood as foreshadowing, which makes this natural occurrence less contrived.[citation needed] Having struggled through the waters in a boat to find Tom at the old mill, she sets out with him to rescue Lucy Deane and her family. In a brief tender moment, the brother and sister are reconciled from all past differences. When their boat capsizes, the two drown in an embrace, thus giving the book its Biblical epigraph, "In their death they were not divided." TYPE: Novel
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T.S. Eliot An essayist, publisher, playwright, literary and social critic and "one of the twentieth century's major poets."Born in St. Louis, Missouri in the United States, he moved to the United Kingdom in 1914 (at age 25) and was naturalised as a British subject in 1927 at age 39. The Waste Land (1922)
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Breakdown of poem: http://poetry.rapgenius.com/Ts-eliot-the-waste-land-lyrics BACKGROUND: a long poem written by T.S. Eliot. It is widely regarded as "one of the most important poems of the 20th century" and a central text in Modernist poetry. The 434-line poem, draws on a wide range of cultural reference to depict a modern world that is in ruins yet somehow beautiful and deeply meaningful. Eliot uses techniques like pastiche and juxtaposition to make his points without having to argue them explicitly. SUMMARY: "The Waste Land Section I: The Burial of the Dead" -The first section of The Waste Land takes its title from a line in the Anglican burial service. It is made up of four vignettes, each seemingly from the perspective of a different speaker. The first is an autobiographical snippet from the childhood of an aristocratic woman. "The Waste Land Section II: A Game of Chess" -This section takes its title from two plays by the early 17th-century playwright Thomas Middleton, in one of which the moves in a game of chess denote stages in a seduction. This section focuses on two opposing scenes, one of high society and one of the lower classes. "The Waste Land Section III: The Fire Sermon" The title of this, the longest section of The Waste Land, is taken from a sermon given by Buddha in which he encourages his followers to give up earthly passion (symbolized by fire) and seek freedom from earthly things. "The Waste Land Section IV: Death by Water" The shortest section of the poem describes a man, Phlebas the Phoenician, who has died, apparently by drowning. In death he has forgotten his worldly cares as the creatures of the sea have picked his body apart. The narrator asks his reader to consider Phlebas and recall his or her own mortality. "The Waste Land Section V: What the Thunder Said" The final section of The Waste Land is dramatic in both its imagery and its events. The first half of the section builds to an apocalyptic climax, as suffering people become "hooded hordes swarming" and the "unreal" cities of Jerusalem, Athens, Alexandria, Vienna, and London are destroyed, rebuilt, and destroyed again. A decaying chapel is described, which suggests the chapel in the legend of the Holy Grail. Atop the chapel, a cock crows, and the rains come, relieving the drought and bringing life back to the land. Curiously, no heroic figure has appeared to claim the Grail; the renewal has come seemingly at random, gratuitously. TYPE: Poem
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Giles Foden Journalist born to farmers in Warwickshire, England, in 1967, Foden moved to Africa when he was five years old. One of the countries they lived in was Uganda, the setting for Foden's first novel, The Last King of Scotland. The Last King of Scotland (1998)
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SUMMARY: Focuses on the rise of Ugandan President Idi Amin and his reign as dictator from 1971 to 1979. The novel is written as the memoir of a fictional Scottish doctor in Amin's employ. The protagonist is a fictional character named Nicholas Garrigan, a young Scottish doctor who goes to work in Uganda out of a sense of idealism and adventure. He relates how he came to be the personal physician and confidant of Amin, the president of Uganda from his coup d'état in 1971 until his deposition in 1979. The novel focuses on Garrigan's relationship and fascination with the president, who soon grows into a brutal and ruthless dictator. Garrigan acts repeatedly against his better judgment, remaining in Amin's employment until he is far past the point of easy escape physically or morally. He is gradually drawn into the corruption and paranoia of Amin's rule, including the expulsion of the Asians, with disastrous results for those around him. Drawing on his twenty years of living in Africa and his background as a journalist, Foden researched the events surrounding Amin's rise to power and downfall. He interviewed many of those who watched and participated in the Ugandan ruler's eight-year reign. The author evokes the form of a memoir by inserting fictional newspaper articles and journal entries, along with actual events. In a 1998 interview with the online magazine Boldtype, Foden said he based parts of Garrigan's character on an associate of Amin named Bob Astles.[1] As a British soldier who worked his way into Amin's favour, Astles was much more "proactive" than Garrigan, according to Foden. He paid the price by spending six and a half years in a Ugandan jail after the fall of his protector. Astles compromised himself by his direct association with Amin's security forces. While Amin was in power, Astles was alternately either favoured or punished; he was imprisoned and tortured on at least one occasion. Amin's personal physician was, in fact, a Ugandan doctor called Paul D'Arbela. The title of the book refers to Amin declaring himself as the King of Scotland. TYPE: Novel
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Ford Maddox Ford The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion (1915)
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GENRE · Pre-modernist novel. Written before the period of high modernism that most literary historians agree came after the First World War, The Good Soldier is nevertheless marked by a deliberate and radical break from the more traditional Victorian and Edwardian novel forms which preceded it. This is considered a book of the pre-war period. NARRATOR · Dowell, the naive and cuckolded husband who gradually pieces together the story of his time with Florence and the Ashburnhams CLIMAX · There are two major climaxes: Florence's suicide at the end of Part II and Edward's suicide at the end of Part IV. These deaths mark important moments in the plot of the story and the reflection of the narrator. PROTAGONIST · Although Dowell gives a first-person narration, there is no single protagonist. The two couples (Dowell and Florence, and Edward and Leonora) are the four main characters of the novel. ANTAGONIST · There is no one antagonist who is in direct opposition to the two couples. Rather, Dowell must confront a modern world devoid of moral certainties. The antagonistic force is Dowell's own reluctance to face reality. SETTING (TIME) · 1904-1913 SETTING (PLACE) · The majority of the events take place in the French countryside (somewhere between Nice and Bordighera during the winter), and Nauheim during the summer. Later in the novel, the setting is Branshaw Manor in Fordingbridge, England. POINT OF VIEW · First-person, limited. The novel is written through the eyes and mind of Dowell, the narrator. The narration is disorganized and disjointed, as the reader only learns the truth of the story as Dowell himself pieces it together. FALLING ACTION · After Edward kills himself with a small pen-knife, Leonora remarries a man named Rodney Bayham, has a child, and proceeds to have a very 'normal' life. Nancy Rufford goes crazy when she hears of Edward's death and Dowell becomes her permanent caretaker. Dowell ironically reflects that the "villains" have been punished by suicide and madness. TENSE · Past tense narration, present-tense reflection. Dowell narrates a story that happened in the past while commenting on his current understanding of those past events. FORESHADOWING · Florence's suicide foreshadows the suicide of Edward Ashburnham; the actions of the Hurlbirds foreshadows tragedy for Dowell and Florence. TONE · Confused, naive, and angry; the narrator's tone changes throughout the novel as he tells the story and reflects back on the events which have occurred; above all, he seems to be earnestly searching for meaning and simplicity, though he is utterly lost. THEMES · The Difference Between Appearance and Reality; The Moral Significance of Adultery; Definitions of Normality. TYPE: Novel
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Ian McEwan An English novelist and screenwriter. In 2008, The Times featured him on their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945." Atonement (2001)
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BACKGROUND: Written in three major parts. SUMMARY: PART ONE tells the story of one day/night in 1935 at the Tallis family estate north of London, England. It focuses on Briony Tallis, the thirteen-year-old youngest daughter of three, who aspires to be a writer. She has written a play to be performed at dinner for the homecoming of her brother, Leon, and put on by herself and her three cousins who are staying with the Tallises for the summer because of a divorce between their parents. Before the play can be properly rehearsed, Briony witnesses a scene between her older sister Cecilia and the son of the family charwoman Robbie Turner. What is an innocent act is greatly misunderstood by the young imagination, and this sets off a series of events with eternal consequences. Following the fountain scene, Briony intercepts a letter from Robbie to Cecilia and reads it. In it, she discovers perverse desires and sets out to protect her sister from this sex-craved maniac. Before she can do so, she witnesses the couple making love and mistakes it for assault, further confirming her assumption that Robbie is out to harm Cecilia. Before the night is through, her twin cousins run away from home triggering the rest of the dinner guests to search for them in the dark night. Briony, who is searching alone, witnesses a rape taking place of her older cousin Lola. Not one to miss her opportunity, Briony convinces everyone at the scene, including authorities, that the assailant was Robbie Turner, and he is taken to jail. PART TWO takes place five years later. It follows Robbie Turner as he retreats through France as a soldier during the war. The reader has learned he served three years in prison for his crime and is now able to exonerate himself by serving in the army. Separated from his battalion, Robbie is marching through the countryside with two other corporals trying to get to the evacuation town of Dunkirk. During his march, Robbie experiences the atrocities of war, and has plenty of time to consider his situation as soldier, criminal, and victim of Briony's false accusations. The three men make it to Dunkirk which is in a state of complete chaos. Robbie is severely wounded but is determined to make it home to Cecilia who is waiting for him. PART THREE picks up the eighteen-year-old Briony who has signed up as a nurse in London. Suffering from guilt for her crime as girl, Briony hopes nursing will act as a penance for her sin. Briony is also still writing. She submits a story to a London journal which is rejected, but in the rejection she is encouraged to develop the story further as it is quite good. When the soldiers return from Dunkirk, Briony experiences the horrors of war first hand, and is humiliated at her failure to perform her duty. At the end of Part Three, Briony seeks out her older sister. Before she does, she attends the wedding of Paul Marshall (whom she knows to be Lola's rapist) and Lola. Briony does nothing to stop the marriage. When she visits her sister, it is discovered that Robbie is still alive and living with Cecilia. This makes Briony happy to see. She does not so much as ask for forgiveness from the two lovers (who refuse it anyhow) as simply admit her guilt and seek counsel on what she can do to make it better. Robbie and Cecilia give Briony a list of instructions to follow that will help clear Robbie's name. Briony agrees to do each one, and heads back to work in London. The last we see of Robbie and Cecilia are on the tube station platform. The final section of the boo, London, 1999, is a letter from the author to the reader. It is revealed here that the author is Briony herself. She explains that she was able to write the war parts of the book with the aid of letters form the museum of archives and a pen-pal relationship with one of the corporals with whom Robbie marched. Briony attends a birthday party/family reunion at her old home, the original scene of the crime. She also reveals that she is dying. In a final twist, Briony informs her reader that she has made up the part about visiting Cecilia and Robbie in London and how both people died in the war. Her act to let their love last forever in the pages of her book will be her final atonement to her crime. TYPE: Novel
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John Milton An English poet, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell. He wrote at a time of religious flux and political upheaval, and is best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost. Paradise Lost (1667)
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BACKGROUND: A 17th century epic poem in blank verse. The poem concerns the Biblical story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Milton's purpose, stated in Book I, is to "justify the ways of God to men." SUMMARY: Milton's story has two narrative arcs: one is of Satan (Lucifer) and the other is of Adam and Eve. It begins after Satan and the other rebel angels have been defeated and banished to Hell, or, as it is also called in the poem, Tartarus. In Pandæmonium, Satan employs his rhetorical skill to organise his followers; he is aided by Mammon and Beelzebub. Belial and Moloch are also present. At the end of the debate, Satan volunteers to poison the newly created Earth and God's new and most favoured creation, Mankind. He braves the dangers of the Abyss alone in a manner reminiscent of Odysseus or Aeneas. After an arduous traverse of the Chaos outside Hell, he enters God's new material World, and later the Garden of Eden. At several points in the poem, an Angelic War over Heaven is recounted from different perspectives. Satan's rebellion follows the epic convention of large-scale warfare. The battles between the faithful angels and Satan's forces take place over three days. The final battle involves the Son of God single-handedly defeating the entire legion of angelic rebels and banishing them from Heaven. Following the purging of Heaven, God creates the World, culminating in his creation of Adam and Eve. While God gave Adam and Eve total freedom and power to rule over all creation, He gave them one explicit command: not to eat from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil on penalty of death. TYPE: Poem
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A.A. Milne An English author, best known for his books about the teddy bear Winnie-the-Pooh and for various children's poems. Milne was a noted writer, primarily as a playwright, before the huge success of Pooh overshadowed all his previous work. Winnie-the-Pooh (1925)
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SUMMARY: The Pooh books are a father's gift to his son, Christopher Robin. Written for a child, they reflect the concerns, the games, and the guidance of an ongoing early childhood. Though he was a professional writer, the elder Mr. Milne was not, until he began writing about Pooh, a children's author. In the course of two multi-chapter books, Christopher Robin and his boy animals, have one adventure after another ‚ÄĒeverything from filching honey from the angry bees to welcoming Tigger (a very bouncy animal), consoling Eeyore (the gloomy donkey), enduring a flood, and seeking out the South Pole. Everything is related in extremely childish (but by no means "cutesy" terms), including bursts of poetry, rudimentary logic, and a great deal of remarkably in-depth character study. Each animal has a district personality: impulsive Tigger, neurotic Eeyore, no-nonsense Kanga, self-important Rabbit and Owl, humble Piglet, and, of course, direct and simple Pooh. The animals might be any group of typical siblings or playmates and teach, through their adventures, many real life lessons. STRONG POINTS: The story reflects a good understanding of the way children think and play. Young children are gently guided into a rich world of child-sized experiences, observing cause and effect and non-magical solutions to problems which are play versions of situations they will encounter in real life. Desirable character traits are encouraged and undesirable ones are shown as silly. The book encourages active creativity on the part of the child. Real virtues are taught ‚ÄĒespecially charity and humility. TYPE: Children's literature
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Sir Thomas More An English lawyer, social philosopher, author, and statesman. An important counselor to Henry VIII and Lord Chancellor from October 1529 to 1532. More opposed the Protestant Reformation, in particular the theology of Martin Luther whose books he burned and whose followers he persecuted. Utopia (1516)
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SUMMARY: More travels to Antwerp as an ambassador for England and King Henry VIII. While not engaged in his official duties, More spends time conversing about intellectual matters with his friend, Peter Giles. One day, More sees Giles speaking to a bearded man whom More assumes to be a ship's captain. Giles soon introduces More to this new man, Raphael Hythloday, who turns out to be a philosopher and world traveler. The three men retire to Giles's house for supper and conversation, and Hythloday begins to speak about his travels. Hythloday has been on many voyages with the noted explorer Amerigo Vespucci, traveling to the New World, south of the Equator, through Asia, and eventually landing on the island of Utopia. He describes the societies through which he travels with such insight that Giles and More become convinced that Hythloday would make a terrific counselor to a king. Hythloday refuses even to consider such a notion. A disagreement follows, in which the three discuss Hythloday's reasons for his position. To make his point, Hythloday describes a dinner he once shared in England with Cardinal Morton and a number of others. During this dinner, Hythloday proposed alternatives to the many evil civil practices of England, such as the policy of capital punishment for the crime of theft. His proposals meet with derision, until they are given legitimate thought by the Cardinal, at which point they meet with great general approval. Hythloday uses this story to show how pointless it is to counsel a king when the king can always expect his other counselors to agree with his own beliefs or policies. Hythloday then goes on to make his point through a number of other examples, finally noting that no matter how good a proposed policy is, it will always look insane to a person used to a different way of seeing the world. Hythloday points out that the policies of the Utopians are clearly superior to those of Europeans, yet adds that Europeans would see as ludicrous the all-important Utopian policy of common property. More and Giles do disagree with the notion that common property is superior to private property, and the three agree that Hythloday should describe the Utopian society in more detail. First, however, they break for lunch. Back from lunch, Hythloday describes the geography and history of Utopia. He explains how the founder of Utopia, General Utopus, conquered the isthmus on which Utopia now stands and through a great public works effort cut away the land to make an island. Next, Hythloday moves to a discussion of Utopian society, portraying a nation based on rational thought, with communal property, great productivity, no rapacious love of gold, no real class distinctions, no poverty, little crime or immoral behavior, religious tolerance, and little inclination to war. It is a society that Hythloday believes is superior to any in Europe. Hythloday finishes his description and More explains that after so much talking, Giles, Hythloday, and he were too tired to discuss the particular points of Utopian society. More concludes that many of the Utopian customs described by Hythloday, such as their methods of making war and their belief in communal property, seem absurd. He does admit, however, that he would like to see some aspects of Utopian society put into practice in England, though he does not believe any such thing will happen. TYPE:
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Alan Moore An English writer primarily known for his work in comic books, a medium where he has produced series including "Watchmen," "V for Vendetta," and "From Hell." Frequently described as the best graphic novel writer in history. Watchmen (1987 -graphic novel)
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SUMMARY: Moore used the story as a means to reflect contemporary anxieties and to critique the superhero concept. Watchmen depicts an alternate history where superheroes emerged in the 1940s and 1960s, helping the United States to win the Vietnam War. The country is edging towards a nuclear war with the Soviet Union, freelance costumed vigilantes have been outlawed and most former superheroes are in retirement or working for the government. The story focuses on the personal development and struggles of the protagonists as an investigation into the murder of a government sponsored superhero pulls them out of retirement, and eventually leads them to confront a plot that would stave off nuclear war by killing millions of people. TYPE: Graphic novel
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W. Somerset Maugham A British playwright, novelist and short story writer. He was among the most popular writers of his era and reputedly the highest paid author during the 1930s. Of Human Bondage (1915)
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BACKGROUND: This book is generally agreed to be his masterpiece and to be strongly autobiographical in nature. SUMMARY: The story of a young man's struggle to find the meaning of life in a world that is cruel. Philip Carey has a club foot, making him the subject of cruelty at school and ridicule in the adult world. Philip allows this treatment to warp his personality, making him introspective and solitary. Due to this, Philip suffers greatly in silence, aching only to find someone to love him without condition. It is a desire that is universal, making this novel one that readers of all ages will identify with. Philip Carey is only five when his mother dies. Philip is taken to live with an aunt and uncle who are not used to children and do not know how to deal with him. Philip's uncle is self centered and strict, while Philip's aunt is unaccustomed to giving or receiving unconditional love. TYPE: Novel
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D.H. Lawrence An English novelist, poet, playwright, essayist, literary critic, and painter. His collected works represent an extended reflection upon the dehumanizing effects of modernity and industrialization. In them, Lawrence confronts issues relating to emotional health and vitality, spontaneity, and instinct. Women in Love (1920)
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BACKGROUND: follows the continuing loves and lives of the Brangwen sisters, Gudrun and Ursula. Gudrun Brangwen, an artist, pursues a destructive relationship with Gerald Crich, an industrialist. Lawrence contrasts this pair with the love that develops between Ursula and Rupert Birkin, an alienated intellectual who articulates many opinions associated with the author. The emotional relationships thus established are given further depth and tension by an intense psychological and physical attraction between Gerald and Rupert. SUMMARY: Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen are two sisters living in the Midlands of England in the 1910s. Ursula is a teacher, Gudrun an artist. They meet two men who live nearby, school inspector Rupert Birkin and coal-mine heir Gerald Crich. The four become friends. Ursula and Birkin become involved, and Gudrun eventually begins a love affair with Gerald. All four are deeply concerned with questions of society, politics, and the relationship between men and women. At a party at Gerald's estate, Gerald's sister Diana drowns. Gudrun becomes the teacher and mentor of his youngest sister. Soon Gerald's coal-mine-owning father dies as well, after a long illness. After the funeral, Gerald goes to Gudrun's house and spends the night with her, while her parents are asleep in another room. Birkin asks Ursula to marry him, and she agrees. Gerald and Gudrun's relationship, however, becomes stormy. The four vacation in the Alps. Gudrun begins an intense friendship with Loerke, a physically puny but emotionally commanding artist from Dresden. Gerald, enraged by Loerke and most of all by Gudrun's verbal abuse and rejection of his manhood, and driven by the internal violence of his own self, tries to strangle Gudrun. Before he has killed her, however, he realises that this is not what he wants‚ÄĒhe leaves Gudrun and Loerke and on his skis climbs ever upward on the mountains, eventually slipping into a snow valley where he falls asleep, a frozen sleep from which he never awakens. The impact on Birkin of Gerald's death is profound; the novel ends a few weeks after Gerald's death, with Birkin trying to explain to Ursula that he needs Gerald as he needs her‚ÄĒher for the perfect relationship with a woman, and Gerald for the perfect relationship with a man. TYPE: Novel
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Beatrix Potter An English author, illustrator, natural scientist and conservationist best known for her imaginative children's books featuring animals The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902 -children's book)
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SUMMARY: The story focuses on a family of anthropomorphic rabbits, the widowed mother rabbit cautioning her young against entering a vegetable garden grown by a man named Mr. McGregor, whose wife, named only as Mrs. McGregor, had baked her deceased husband into a pie. Whereas her three daughters obediently refrain from entering the garden, going down the lane to pick blackberries, her rebellious son Peter defies his mother by trespassing into the garden to snack on some vegetables. Peter ends up eating more than is good for him and goes looking parsley to cure his stomach ache. However, Peter is spotted by Mr. McGregor and loses his jacket and shoes while trying to escape. He hides in a watering can in a shed, but then has to run away again when Mr. McGregor finds him, and ends up completely lost. After sneaking past a cat, Peter sees the gate where he entered the garden from a distance and heads for it, despite being spotted and chased by Mr. McGregor again. He finds difficulties in wriggling beneath the gate, but manages to escape the garden, only to spot his abandoned clothing articles being used to dress Mr. McGregor's scarecrow. After returning home, a sickened Peter is bedridden by his mother whereas his well-behaved sisters receive a sumptuous dinner of milk and berries as opposed to Peter's supper of chamomile tea. TYPE: Children's book
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David Mitchell An English novelist. Cloud Atlas (2004)
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SUMMARY: Cloud Atlas consists of six nested stories that take the reader from the remote South Pacific in the nineteenth century to a distant, post-apocalyptic future. Each tale is revealed to be a story that is read (or observed) by the main character in the next. The first five stories are interrupted at a key moment. After the sixth story, the other five stories are returned to and closed, in reverse chronological order, and each ends with the main character reading or observing the chronologically previous work in the chain. Eventually, readers end where they started, with Adam Ewing in the nineteenth century South Pacific. Each story contains a document, movie or tradition that also appears in a previous story. It shows how history not only repeats itself, but also connects to people in all time periods and places. TYPE: Novel
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Zadie Smith A British novelist, essayist and short story writer. White Teeth (2000)
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SUMMARY: him, is attempting to commit suicide by gassing himself in his car when a chance interruption causes him to change his mind. Filled with a fresh enthusiasm for life, Archie flips a coin and then finds his way into the aftermath of a New Year's Eve party. There he meets the much-younger Clara Bowden, a Jamaican woman whose mother, Hortense, is a devout Jehovah's Witness. Clara had been interested in the unattractive, antisocial Ryan Topps, but their relationship falls apart after Ryan becomes a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Archie and Clara are soon married and have a daughter, Irie, who grows up to be intelligent but with low self-confidence. Also living in Willesden, London, is Archie's best friend is Samad Iqbal, a Bengali Muslim from Bangladesh; the two men spend much of their time at the O'Connell's pub. Archie and Samad met in 1945 when they were part of a tank crew inching through Europe in the final days of World War II, though they missed out on the action. Following the war, Samad emigrated to Britain and married Alsana Iqbal, née Begum, in a traditional arranged marriage. Samad is a downtrodden waiter in a West End curry house, and is obsessed by the history of his great-grandfather, Mangal Pandey, who allegedly fired the first shot of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 (and missed). Samad and Alsana have twin boys, Magid and Millat, who are the same age as Irie. Samad in particular finds it difficult to maintain his devotion to Islam in an English life; he is continually tormented by what he sees as the effects of this cultural conflict upon his own moral character - his Muslim values are corrupted by his masturbation, drinking, and his affair with his children's music teacher, Poppy Burt-Jones. In an attempt to preserves his traditional beliefs, he sends 10-year-old Magid to Bangladesh in the hope that he will grow up properly under the teachings of Islam. From then on, the lives of the two boys follow very different paths. Ironically, and to Samad's fury, Magid becomes an Anglicized atheist and devotes his life to science. Millat, meanwhile, pursues a rebellious path of womanizing and drinking - as well as harboring a love of mob movies such as The Godfather and Goodfellas. Angry his peoples' marginalization in English society Millat demonstrates against Salman Rushdie in 1989 and eventually pledges himself to a militant Muslim fundamentalist brotherhood known as "Keepers of the Eternal and Victorious Islamic Nation" (KEVIN). The lives of the Joneses and Iqbals intertwine with that of the white, middle-class Chalfens, a Jewish-Catholic family of Cambridge educated intellectuals who typify a distinctive strain of North London liberal trendiness. The father, Marcus Chalfen, is a university lecturer and geneticist working on a controversial 'FutureMouse' project in which he introduces chemical carcinogens into body of a mouse and is thus able to observe the progression of a tumor in living tissue. By re-engineering the actual genome and watching cancers progress at predetermined times, Marcus believes he is eliminating the random. The mother, Joyce Chalfen, is a horticulturist and part-time housewife with an often entirely misguided desire to mother and 'heal' Millat as if he were one of her plants. To some extent, the Chalfen family provides a safe haven as they (believe themselves to) accept and understand the turbulent lives of Irie, Magid, and Millat. However, this sympathy comes at the expense of their own son, Joshua, whose difficulties are ignored by his parents. Originally a well-moulded "Chalfenist", Joshua later rebels against his father and his background by joining the radical animal rights group "Fighting Animal Torture and Exploitation" (FATE). Meanwhile, after his return from Bangladesh, Magid works as Marcus' research assistant on the FutureMouse project, while Millat becomes further involved in KEVIN. Irie, who has been working for Marcus, briefly succeeds in her long-hidden attraction to Millat but is rejected under his KEVIN-inspired beliefs. Irie believes that Millat cannot love her, for he has always been "the second son" both symbolically and literally; Millat was born two minutes after Magid. Irie makes Magid the "second son" for a change by sleeping with him right after her romantic encounter of Millat. This causes her to become pregnant, and she is left unsure of the father of her child, as the brothers are identical twins. The strands of the narrative grow closer as Millat and KEVIN, Joshua and FATE, and Clara's mother Hortense and the Jehovah's Witnesses all plan to demonstrate their opposition to Marcus's FutureMouse - which they view as an evil interference with their own beliefs - at its exhibition on New Year's Eve 1992. At the Perret Institute, Hortense and the other Jehovah's Witnesses sing loudly in the hallway. Samad goes out to hush them, but when he arrives, doesn't have the heart to make them stop. When he returns, it suddenly strikes him that the founder of the Perret Institute and the oldest scientist on Marcus Chalfen's panel is Dr. Perret, the Nazi he captured during World War II. Enraged that Archie did not kill him all those years ago, Samad runs over and begins cursing Archie. Just then, Millat advances on the table of scientists with a gun. Without thinking, Archie jumps in front of him and takes a bullet in the thigh. As he falls, he knocks over the mouse's glass cage, and it escapes. At the novel's end, the narrator presents us with different "endgames" in the style of television. Magid and Millat both serve community service for Millat's crime, since witnesses identify both as the culprit. Joshua and Irie end up together and join Hortense in Jamaica in the year 2000. Mickey opens up the previously men's-only O'Connell's pub to women, and Archie and Samad finally invite their wives along with them. TYPE: Novel
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H.G. Wells An English writer, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing textbooks and rules for war games. Wells is sometimes called "The Father of Science Fiction." The War of the Worlds (1898)
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SUMMARY: After introductory remarks, the narrative opens in an astronomical observatory at Ottershaw where explosions are seen on the surface of the planet Mars, creating much interest in the scientific community. Later a "meteor" lands on Horsell Common, near the narrator's home in Woking, Surrey. He is among the first to discover that the object is an artificial cylinder that opens, disgorging Martians who are "big" and "greyish" with "oily brown skin," "the size, perhaps, of a bear," with "two large dark-coloured eyes," and a lipless "V-shaped mouth" surrounded by "Gorgon groups of tentacles." The narrator finds them "at once vital, intense, inhuman, crippled and monstrous."[7] They briefly emerge, have difficulty in coping with the Earth's atmosphere, and rapidly retreat into the cylinder. A human deputation (which includes the astronomer Ogilvy) approaches the cylinder with a white flag, but the Martians incinerate them and others nearby with a heat-ray before beginning to assemble their machinery. Military forces arrive that night to surround the common, including Maxim guns. The population of Woking and the surrounding villages are reassured by the presence of the military. A tense day begins, with much anticipation of military action by the narrator. After heavy firing from the common and damage to the town from the heat-ray which suddenly erupts in the late afternoon, the narrator takes his wife to safety in nearby Leatherhead, where his cousin lives, and then returns to Woking during a violent thunderstorm in the early hours of the morning. On the road during the height of the storm he has his first sight of a Martian War Machine. In panic, he crashes his borrowed carriage and barely escapes detection. He discovers the Martians have assembled towering three-legged "fighting-machines" (Tripods), each armed with a heat-ray and a chemical weapon: the so-called "black smoke". These Tripods have wiped out the army units positioned around the cylinder and attacked and destroyed most of Woking. Sheltering in his house, the narrator sees a fleeing artilleryman moving through the garden, who tells him his experiences and mentions that another cylinder has landed between Woking and Leatherhead, cutting the narrator off from his wife. The two try to escape via Byfleet just after dawn, but are separated at the Shepperton to Weybridge Ferry during a Martian attack on Shepperton in the afternoon. One of the Martian fighting machines is brought down in the River Thames by Artillery as the narrator and countless others try to cross the river into Middlesex, while the Martians retreat back to their original crater. This gives the authorities precious hours to form a defence-line covering London. After the Martian's temporary repulse, the narrator is able to float down the Thames toward London in a boat, stopping at Walton, where he first encounters the Curate, his companion for the next weeks. Towards dusk the Martians renew their offensive, and break through the defence-line of siege and field artillery centred on Richmond Hill and Kingston Hill by a widespread bombardment of the Black smoke, and a mass exodus of the population of London begins. This includes the narrator's brother, who flees to the Essex coast after the sudden panicked predawn order to evacuate London is given by the authorities, a terrifying and harrowing journey of three days, amongst millions of similar refugees streaming from London. The narrator's brother manages to buy passage to the continent from a small Paddle steamer, part of a vast throng of shipping gathered off the Essex coast to evacuate refugees. The torpedo ram HMS Thunder Child destroys two attacking tripods before being sunk by the Martians, though this allows the evacuation fleet, including the ship carrying the narrator's brother and his two female travelling companions to escape to the continent. Shortly after, all organised resistance has ceased, and the Martians roam the shattered landscape unhindered. TYPE: Sci fi novel
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John Keats An English Romantic poet. He was one of the main figures of the second generation of Romantic poets along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, despite his work only having been in publication for four years before his death.
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Terry Pratchette An English author of fantasy novels, especially comical works. Discworld Series (
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BACKGROUND: Set on the fictional Discworld, a flat disc balanced on the backs of four elephants which, in turn, stand on the back of a giant turtle, Great A'Tuin. The books frequently parody, or take inspiration from, J. R. R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft and William Shakespeare, as well as mythology, folklore and fairy tales, often using them for satirical parallels with current cultural, political and scientific issues. The series is popular with more than 70 million copies sold in 37 languages. SUMMARY: The Discworld novels contain common themes and motifs that run through the series. Fantasy clichés are parodied in many of the novels, as are various sub-genres of fantasy, such as fairy tales (notably Witches Abroad), witch and vampire stories (Carpe Jugulum) and so on. Analogies of real-world issues, such as religion (Small Gods), business and politics (Making Money), are recurring themes, as are music genres such as opera (Maskerade) or rock music (Soul Music). Parodies of non-Discworld fiction also occur frequently, including Shakespeare, Beatrix Potter and several movies. Major historical events, especially battles, are sometimes used as the basis for both trivial and key events in Discworld stories (Jingo, Pyramids), as are trends in science, technology, and pop culture (Moving Pictures, Men at Arms). There are also humanist themes in many of the Discworld novels, and a focus on critical thinking skills in the Witches and Tiffany Aching series. TYPE: novels
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Salman Rushdie A British Indian novelist and essayist. Midnight's Children (1980)
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BACKGROUND: Deals with India's transition from British colonialism to independence and the partition of British India. It is considered an example of postcolonial literature and magical realism. The story is told by its chief protagonist, Saleem Sinai, and is set in the context of actual historical events as with historical fiction. SUMMARY: The novel has a multitude of named characters; see the List of Midnight's Children characters. Midnight's Children is a loose allegory for events in India both before and, primarily, after the independence and partition of India. The protagonist and narrator of the story is Saleem Sinai, born at the exact moment when India became an independent country. He was born with telepathic powers, as well as an enormous and constantly dripping nose with an extremely sensitive sense of smell. The novel is divided into three books. The book begins with the story of the Sinai family, particularly with events leading up to India's Independence and Partition. Saleem is born precisely at midnight, August 15, 1947, therefore, exactly as old as the independent republic of India. He later discovers that all children born in India between 12 a.m. and 1 a.m. on that date are imbued with special powers. Saleem, using his telepathic powers, assembles a Midnight Children's Conference, reflective of the issues India faced in its early statehood concerning the cultural, linguistic, religious, and political differences faced by a vastly diverse nation. Saleem acts as a telepathic conduit, bringing hundreds of geographically disparate children into contact while also attempting to discover the meaning of their gifts. In particular, those children born closest to the stroke of midnight wield more powerful gifts than the others. Shiva "of the Knees", Saleem's nemesis, and Parvati, called "Parvati-the-witch," are two of these children with notable gifts and roles in Saleem's story. Meanwhile, Saleem's family begin a number of migrations and endure the numerous wars which plague the subcontinent. During this period he also suffers amnesia until he enters a quasi-mythological exile in the jungle of Sundarban, where he is re-endowed with his memory. In doing so, he reconnects with his childhood friends. Saleem later becomes involved with the Indira Gandhi-proclaimed Emergency and her son Sanjay's "cleansing" of the Jama Masjid slum. For a time Saleem is held as a political prisoner; these passages contain scathing criticisms of Indira Gandhi's overreach during the Emergency as well as a personal lust for power bordering on godhood. The Emergency signals the end of the potency of the Midnight Children, and there is little left for Saleem to do but pick up the few pieces of his life he may still find and write the chronicle that encompasses both his personal history and that of his still-young nation; a chronicle written for his son, who, like his father, is both chained and supernaturally endowed by history. TYPE: Novel
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C.S. Lewis A novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist. Born in Belfast, Ireland. The Screwtape Letters (1942)
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SUMMARY: The Screwtape Letters comprises thirty-one letters written by a senior demon named Screwtape to his nephew, Wormwood (named after a star in Revelation), a younger and less experienced demon, who is charged with guiding a man toward "Our Father Below" (Devil / Satan) and away from "the Enemy" (God). After the second letter, the Patient converts to Christianity, and Wormwood is chastised for allowing this to happen. Screwtape notes however, that they have the advantage of distraction, which could potentially dull his new faith. A striking contrast is formed between Wormwood and Screwtape during the rest of the book. Wormwood is depicted through Screwtape's letters as much closer to what conventional wisdom has said about demons, i.e., wanting to tempt his patient into extravagantly wicked and deplorable sins and constantly writing about the war that is going on for the latter half of the book. Screwtape, on the other hand, is not interested in getting the patient to commit anything spectacularly evil. In Letter VIII, Screwtape explains to his protégé the different agendas that God and the devils have for the human race: "We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons." With this end in mind, Screwtape urges Wormwood in Letter VI to promote passivity and irresponsibility in the Patient: "(God) wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them." Lewis's use of this "correspondence" is both varied and hard-hitting. With his own views on theology, Lewis covers areas as diverse as sex, love, pride, gluttony, and war. Lewis, an Oxford and Cambridge scholar himself, suggests in his work that even intellectuals are not impervious to the influence of such demons, especially being led towards placated acceptance of the "Historical Point of View" (Letter XXVII). In Letter XXII, after several weeks of attempts to find a licentious woman for the Patient, and when Screwtape receives a painful punishment for a secret he divulges to Wormwood about God's genuine love for humanity, the irate Screwtape notes that the Patient has fallen in love with a Christian girl, and he is enraged. Toward the end of this letter, Screwtape becomes so incensed that he turns into a large centipede, mimicking a similar transformation that John Milton included in Book X of Paradise Lost, where the demons found that they had been turned into snakes. In the last letter, it emerges that the Patient has been killed during an air raid (World War II having broken out between the fourth and fifth letters), and has gone to Heaven. Wormwood is to be punished for letting a soul 'slip through his fingers' by the consumption of his spiritual essence by the other demons. Screwtape responds to his nephew's desperate final letter by tauntingly assuring him that he may expect just as much assistance from his "increasingly and ravenously affectionate" uncle as Screwtape would expect from Wormwood were their situations reversed, paralleling the situation where Wormwood himself turned his uncle over to Satan for making a religiously positive remark that would offend him. TYPE: satirical novel
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E.M. Forster An English novelist, short story writer, essayist and librettist. He is known best for his ironic and well-plotted novels examining class difference and hypocrisy in early 20th-century British society. A Passage to India (1924)
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SUMMARY: A young British schoolmistress, Adela Quested, and her elderly friend, Mrs. Moore, visit the fictional city of Chandrapore, British India which is said to have been based on the city of Bankipur, a suburb of Patna in the state of Bihar. Adela is to decide if she wants to marry Mrs. Moore's son, Ronny Heaslop, the city magistrate. Meanwhile, Dr. Aziz, a young Indian Muslim physician, is dining with two of his Indian friends and conversing about whether it is possible to be a friend of an Englishman. During the meal, a summons arrives from Major Callendar, Aziz's unpleasant superior at the hospital. Aziz hastens to Callendar's bungalow as ordered, but is delayed by a flat tyre and difficulty in finding a tonga and the major has already left in a huff. Disconsolate, Aziz walks down the road toward the railway station. When he sees his favourite mosque, a rather ramshackle but beautiful structure, he enters on impulse. He sees a strange Englishwoman there, and angrily yells at her not to profane this sacred place. The woman, who turns out to be Mrs Moore, has respect for native customs (she had taken off her shoes before entering and she acknowledged that "God is here" in the mosque). This disarms Aziz, and the two chat and part as friends. Mrs. Moore returns to the British club down the road and relates her experience at the mosque. Ronny Heaslop, her son, initially thinks she is talking about an Englishman, and becomes indignant when he learns the facts. He thinks she should have indicated by her tone that it was a "Mohammedan" who was in question. Adela, however, is intrigued. Because the newcomers had expressed a desire to see Indians, Mr. Turton, the city tax collector, invites numerous Indian gentlemen to a party at his house. The party turns out to be an awkward business, thanks to the Indians' timidity and the Britons' bigotry, but Adela does meet Cyril Fielding, headmaster of Chandrapore's government-run college for Indians. Fielding invites Adela and Mrs. Moore to a tea party with him and a Hindu-Brahmin professor named Narayan Godbole. On Adela's request, he extends his invitation to Dr. Aziz. At Fielding's tea party, everyone has a good time conversing about India, and Fielding and Aziz even become great friends. Aziz buoyantly promises to take Mrs. Moore and Adela to see the Marabar Caves, a distant cave complex that everyone talks about but no one seems to actually visit. Aziz's Marabar invitation was one of those casual promises that people often make and never intend to keep. Ronny Heaslop arrives and rudely breaks up the party. Aziz mistakenly believes that the women are really offended that he has not followed through on his promise and arranges an outing to the caves at great expense to himself. Fielding and Godbole were supposed to accompany the little expedition, but they miss the train. Aziz and the women begin to explore the caves. In the first cave, however, Mrs. Moore is overcome with claustrophobia, for the cave is dark and Aziz's retinue has followed her in. The press of people nearly smothers her. But worse than the claustrophobia is the echo. No matter what sound one makes, the echo is always "Boum." Disturbed by the echo, Mrs. Moore declines to continue exploring. So Adela and Aziz, accompanied by a single guide, a local man, climb on up the hill to the next cluster of caves. As Aziz helps Adela up the hill, she innocently asks him whether he has more than one wife. Disconcerted by the bluntness of the remark, he ducks into a cave to compose himself. When he comes out, he finds the guide sitting alone outside the caves. The guide says Adela has gone into one of the caves by herself. Aziz looks for her in vain. Deciding she is lost, he angrily strikes the guide, who runs away. Aziz looks around again and discovers Adela's field glasses lying broken on the ground. He puts them in his pocket. Then Aziz looks down the hill and sees Adela speaking to another young Englishwoman, Miss Derek, who has arrived with Fielding in a car. Aziz runs down the hill and greets Fielding effusively, but Miss Derek and Adela have already driven off without a word of explanation. Fielding, Mrs. Moore, and Aziz return to Chandrapore on the train. Then the blow falls. At the train station, Dr. Aziz is arrested and charged with sexually assaulting Adela in a cave. She reports the alleged incident to the British authorities. The run-up to Aziz's trial for attempted sexual assault releases the racial tensions between the British and the Indians. Adela accuses Aziz only of trying to touch her. She says that he followed her into the cave and tried to grab her, and that she fended him off by swinging her field glasses at him. She remembers him grabbing the glasses and the strap breaking, which allowed her to get away. The only actual evidence the British have is the field glasses in the possession of Dr. Aziz. Despite this, the British colonists firmly believe that Aziz is guilty; at the back of all their minds is the conviction that all darker peoples lust after white women. They are stunned when Fielding proclaims his belief in Aziz's innocence. Fielding is ostracised and condemned as a blood-traitor. But the Indians, who consider the assault allegation a fraud aimed at ruining their community's reputation, welcome him. During the weeks before the trial, Mrs. Moore is unexpectedly apathetic and irritable. Her experience in the cave seems to have ruined her faith in humanity. Although she curtly professes her belief in Aziz's innocence, she does nothing to help him. Ronny, alarmed by his mother's assertion that Aziz is innocent, decides to arrange for her return by ship to England before she can testify to this effect at the trial. Mrs. Moore dies during the voyage. Her absence from India becomes a major issue at the trial, where Aziz's legal defenders assert that her testimony alone, had it been available, would have proven the accused's innocence. After an initial period of fever and weeping, Adela becomes confused as to Aziz's guilt. At the trial, she is asked point-blank whether Aziz sexually assaulted her. She asks for a moment to think before replying. She has a vision of the cave in that moment, and it turns out that Adela had, while in the cave, received a shock similar to Mrs. Moore's. The echo had disconcerted her so much that she temporarily became unhinged. She ran around the cave, fled down the hill, and finally sped off with Miss Derek. At the time, Adela mistakenly interpreted her shock as an assault by Aziz, who personifies the India that has stripped her of her psychological innocence, but he was never there. She admits that she was mistaken. The case is dismissed. (Note that in the 1913 draft of the novel EM Forster originally had Aziz guilty of the assault and found guilty in the court, but later changed this in the 1924 draft to create a more ambiguous ending.) All the English are shocked and infuriated by what they view as Adela's betrayal of the white race. Ronny Heaslop breaks off their engagement. Adela stays at Fielding's house until her passage on a boat to England is arranged. After explaining to Fielding that the echo was the cause of the whole business, she departs India, never to return. Although he is free and vindicated, Aziz is angry and bitter that his friend, Fielding, would befriend Adela after she nearly ruined his life. Believing it to be the gentlemanly thing to do, Fielding convinces Aziz not to seek monetary redress from her. The two men's friendship suffers in consequence, and Fielding soon departs for England. Aziz believes that he is leaving to marry Adela for her money. Bitter at his friend's perceived betrayal, he vows never again to befriend a white person. Aziz moves to the Hindu-ruled state of Mau and begins a new life. Two years later, Fielding returns to India and to Aziz. His wife is Stella, Mrs. Moore's daughter from a second marriage. Aziz, now the Raja's chief physician, at first persists in his anger against his old friend. But in time, he comes to respect and love Fielding again. However, he does not give up his dream of a free and united India. In the novel's last sentences, he explains that he and Fielding cannot be friends, at least not until India is free of the British Raj. Even the earth and the sky seem to say, "Not yet." TYPE: Novel
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John Fowles An English novelist, much influenced by both Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, and critically positioned between modernism and postmodernism. The Enigma of Stonehenge (1980)
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John Galsworthy An English novelist and playwright. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1932. Forsyte Saga (1922)
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BACKGROUND: A series of three novels and two interludes published between 1906 and 1921. SUMMARY: They chronicle the vicissitudes of the leading members of an upper class British family, similar to Galsworthy's own.[1] Only a few generations removed from their farmer ancestors, the family members are keenly aware of their status as "new money". The main character, Soames Forsyte, sees himself as a "man of property" by virtue of his ability to accumulate material possessions‚ÄĒbut this does not succeed in bringing him pleasure.
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John Gay An English poet and dramatist and member of the Scriblerus Club. The Beggar's Opera (1728)
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BACKGROUND: The original idea of the opera came from Jonathan Swift, who wrote to Alexander Pope on 30 August 1716 asking "...what think you, of a Newgate pastoral among the thieves and whores there?" Their friend, Gay, decided that it would be a satire rather than a pastoral opera. SUMMARY: a ballad opera in three acts written in 1728 by John Gay with music arranged by Johann Christoph Pepusch. It is one of the watershed plays in Augustan drama and is the only example of the once thriving genre of satirical ballad opera to remain popular today. Ballad operas were satiric musical plays that used some of the conventions of opera, but without recitative. The lyrics of the airs in the piece are set to popular broadsheet ballads, opera arias, church hymns and folk tunes of the time. The Beggar's Opera premiered at the Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre on 29 January 1728[2] and ran for 62 consecutive performances, the longest run in theatre history up to that time.[3] The work became Gay's greatest success and has been played ever since. In 1920, The Beggar's Opera began an astonishing revival run of 1,463 performances at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith, London, which was one of the longest runs in history for any piece of musical theatre at that time.[4] The piece satirised Italian opera, which had become popular in London. According to The New York Times: "Gay wrote the work more as an anti-opera than an opera, one of its attractions to its 18th-century London public being its lampooning of the Italian opera style and the English public's fascination with it."[5][6] Instead of the grand music and themes of opera, the work uses familiar tunes and characters that were ordinary people. Some of the songs were by opera composers like Handel, but only the most popular of these were used. The audience could hum along with the music and identify with the characters. The story satirised politics, poverty and injustice, focusing on the theme of corruption at all levels of society. Lavinia Fenton, the first Polly Peachum, became an overnight success. Her pictures were in great demand, verses were written to her and books published about her. After appearing in several comedies, and then in numerous repetitions of The Beggars Opera, she ran away with her married lover, Charles Paulet, 3rd Duke of Bolton. TYPE: Play
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Elizabeth Gaskell Often referred to simply as Mrs Gaskell, was a British novelist and short story writer during the Victorian era. North and South (1855)
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SUMMARY: Margaret Hale, 19, happily returns home from London to the idyllic southern village of Helstone after her cousin Edith marries Captain Lennox. She lived nearly 10 years in the city with Edith and wealthy Aunt Shaw to learn to be an accomplished young lady. Margaret, herself, has refused a marriage offer from the captain's brother, Henry, a rising barrister. But her life is turned upside down when her father, the pastor, leaves the Church of England and the rectory of Helstone as a matter of conscience‚ÄĒhis intellectual honesty having made him a dissenter. On the suggestion of his old friend from Oxford, Mr. Bell, he settles with his wife and daughter in Milton-Northern, where Mr. Bell was born and owns property. An industrial town in Darkshire (the Black Country), a textile-producing region, it is engaged in cotton-manufacturing and is smack in the middle of the industrial revolution where masters and workers clash in the first organised strikes. Margaret finds the bustling, smoky town of Milton harsh and strange and she is upset by the poverty all around. Mr. Hale, in reduced financial circumstances, works as a tutor and counts as his pupil the rich and influential manufacturer, Mr. John Thornton, master of Marlborough Mills. From the outset, Margaret and Thornton are at odds with each other: She sees him as coarse and unfeeling; he sees her as haughty. But he is attracted to her beauty and self-assurance and she begins to admire how he has lifted himself from poverty. During the 18 months she spends in Milton, Margaret gradually learns to appreciate the city and its hard-working people, especially Nicholas Higgins, a Workers' Union representative, and his daughter Bessy with whom she develops a friendship. Bessy is consumptive from inhalation of cotton dust and she eventually dies from it. Meantime, Margaret's mother is growing more seriously ill and a workers' strike is brewing. Masters and hands (workers) do not reach a resolution on the strike and an incensed mob of workers threatens Thornton and his factory with violence after he brought Irish workers into his mill. Margaret implores Thornton to intervene and talk to the mob but he manages merely to fuel their anger. Margaret intervenes too and is struck down by a stone. Soldiers arrive, the mob disperses and Thornton carries Margaret indoors, professing his love to her unconscious prostrate figure. Thornton proposes; Margaret declines, wholly unprepared for his declarations of love and offended by assumptions that her action in front of the mob meant she cared for him. Mrs. Thornton, who was wary of Margaret's southern haughty ways, is galled by Margaret's rejection of her son. Margaret's long-absent brother, Frederick, wanted for naval mutiny, secretly visits their mother as she is dying. Thornton sees Margaret and Frederick together and assumes he is her lover. Later, Leonards, a man from Helstone, recognises Frederick at the train station. An argument ensues and Frederick pushes Leonards away. Leonards dies shortly after. The police question Margaret about the scuffle: she lies and says she was not there. As the magistrate investigating Leonards's death, Thornton knows Margaret lied but declares the case closed to save Margaret from the humiliation of possible perjury. Margaret knows his deed on her behalf and is greatly humbled. She no longer looks down upon Thornton but begins to recognise the depth of his noble character. Nicholas, on Margaret's prodding, approaches Thornton for a job which he eventually gets. Thornton and Higgins learn to appreciate and understand each other better. Mr. Hale visits his oldest friend Mr. Bell in Oxford. There, Mr. Hale also dies and Margaret must go back to live in London with Aunt Shaw. She visits Helstone with Mr. Bell and requests him to tell Thornton about Frederick. But Mr. Bell dies before he can do so and leaves Margaret a considerable legacy that includes Marlborough Mills and the Thornton house. Thornton is forced to stop production as a result of market fluctuations and the strike. He learns the truth about Margaret's brother from Nicholas Higgins and comes to London to settle his business affairs with Margaret. While Margaret presents Thornton with her business proposal, Thornton recognises that Margaret is no longer indifferent to him. They realise that they are both in love and decide to marry. TYPE: novel
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William Golding An English novelist, playwright, and poet who won a Nobel Prize in Literature laureate. Lord of the Flies (1954)
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SUMMARY: In the midst of a wartime evacuation, a British plane crashes on or near an isolated island in a remote region of the Pacific Ocean. The only survivors are boys in their middle childhood or preadolescence. Two boys‚ÄĒthe fair-haired Ralph and an overweight, bespectacled boy reluctantly nicknamed "Piggy"‚ÄĒfind a conch, which Ralph uses as a horn to call all the survivors to one area. Due largely to the fact that Ralph appears responsible for bringing all the survivors together, he is quickly elected their "chief", though he does not receive the votes of the members of a boys' choir, led by the red-headed Jack Merridew. Ralph asserts two primary goals: to have fun and to maintain a smoke signal that could alert passing ships to their presence on the island. The boys declare that whoever holds the conch shall also be able to speak at their formal gatherings and receive the attentive silence of the larger group. Jack organises his choir group into a hunting party responsible for discovering a food source; Ralph, Jack, and a quiet, dreamy boy named Simon soon form a loose troika of leaders. Though he is Ralph's only confidant, Piggy is quickly made an outcast by his fellow "biguns" (older boys) and becomes an unwilling source of laughs for the other children. Simon, in addition to supervising the project of constructing shelters, feels an instinctive need to protect the "littluns" (younger boys). The semblance of order quickly deteriorates as the majority of the boys turn idle, giving little aid in building shelters, for example, and begin to develop paranoias about the island, referring to a supposed monster, the "beast", which they believe to exist on the island. Ralph insists that no such beast exists, but Jack, who has started a power struggle with Ralph, gains control of the discussion by boldly promising to kill the beast. At one point, Jack summons all of his hunters to hunt down a wild pig, drawing away those assigned to maintain the signal fire. A ship travels by the island, but without the boys' smoke signal to alert the ship's crew, the ship continues by without stopping. Angered by the failure of the boys to attract potential rescuers, Ralph considers relinquishing his position, but is convinced not to do so by Piggy. While Jack schemes against Ralph, twins Sam and Eric, now assigned to the maintenance of the signal fire, see the corpse of a fighter pilot and his parachute in the dark. Mistaking the corpse for the beast, they run to the cluster of shelters that Ralph and Simon have erected and warn the others. This unexpected meeting again raises tensions between Jack and Ralph. Shortly thereafter, Jack decides to lead a party to the other side of the island, where a mountain of stones, later called Castle Rock, forms a place where he claims the beast resides. Only Ralph and Jack's sadistic supporter Roger agree to go; Ralph turns back shortly before the other two boys. When they arrive at the shelters, Jack calls an assembly and tries to turn the others against Ralph, asking for them to remove him from his position. Receiving little support, Jack, Roger, and another boy leave the shelters to form their own tribe. This tribe lures in recruits from the main group by providing a feast of cooked pig and its members begin to paint their faces and enact bizarre rituals including sacrifices to the beast. Simon, likely an epileptic,[5][6] wanders off on his own to think and finds a severed pig head, left by Jack as an offering to the beast. Simon envisions the pig head, now swarming with scavenging flies, as the "Lord of the Flies" and believes that it is talking to him. The pig's head tells Simon that the boys themselves "created" the beast and claims that the real beast is inside them all. Simon also locates the dead parachutist who had been mistaken for the beast, and is the sole member of the group to recognise that the "monster" is merely a human corpse. Simon, hoping to tell others of the discovery, finds Jack's tribe in the island's interior during a ritual dance and, mistaken for the beast, is killed by the frenzied boys. Ralph, Piggy, Sam, and Eric feel guilty that they, too, participated in this murderous "dance." Jack and his band of "savages" decide that they should possess Piggy's glasses, the only means of starting a fire on the island, so they raid Ralph's camp, confiscate the glasses, and return to their abode on Castle Rock. Ralph, now deserted by most of his supporters, journeys to Castle Rock to confront Jack and secure the glasses. Taking the conch and accompanied only by Piggy, Sam, and Eric, Ralph finds the tribe and demands that they return the valuable object. Turning against Ralph, the tribe takes Sam and Eric captive while Roger drops a boulder from his vantage point above, killing Piggy and shattering the conch. Ralph manages to escape, but Sam and Eric are tortured until they agree to join Jack's tribe. The following morning, Jack orders his tribe to begin a manhunt for Ralph. Jack's savages set fire to the forest while Ralph desperately weighs his options for survival. Following a long chase, most of the island is consumed in flames, drawing the attention of a passing naval vessel. Ralph suddenly runs into an officer from the warship and bursts into tears over the death of Piggy and the end of innocence. The other children arrive and, now realizing what they have done, also spontaneously erupt into sobs. The officer awkwardly turns away to give them a moment to pull themselves together. TYPE: dystopian novel
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Kenneth Grahame A Scottish writer. The Wind in the Willows (1908)
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SUMMARY: With the arrival of spring and fine weather outside, the good-natured Mole loses patience with spring cleaning. He flees his underground home, emerging to take in the air and ends up at the river, which he has never seen before. Here he meets Ratty (a water rat), who at this time of year spends all his days in, on and close by the river. Rat takes Mole for a ride in his rowing boat. They get along well and spend many more days boating, with Rat teaching Mole the ways of the river. One summer day, Rat and Mole disembark near the grand Toad Hall and pay a visit to Toad. Toad is rich, jovial, friendly and kind-hearted, but aimless and conceited; he regularly becomes obsessed with current fads, only to abandon them as quickly as he took them up. Having recently given up boating, Toad's current craze is his horse-drawn caravan. He persuades the reluctant Rat and willing Mole to join him on a trip. Toad soon tires of the realities of camp life and sleeps-in the following day to avoid chores. Later that day, a passing motorcar scares the horse, causing the caravan to overturn into a ditch. Rat threatens to have the law on the motorcar drivers while Mole calms the horse, but this marks the immediate end of Toad's craze for caravan travel, to be replaced with an obsession for motorcars. Mole wants to meet the respected but elusive Badger, who lives deep in the Wild Wood, but Rat‚ÄĒknowing that Badger does not appreciate visits‚ÄĒtells Mole to be patient and wait and Badger will pay them a visit himself. Nevertheless, on a snowy winter's day, whilst the seasonally somnolent Ratty dozes, Mole impulsively goes to the Wild Wood to explore, hoping to meet Badger. He gets lost in the woods, sees many "evil faces" among the wood's less-welcoming denizens, succumbs to fright and panic and hides, trying to stay warm, amongst the sheltering roots of a tree. Rat, finding Mole gone, guesses his mission from the direction of Mole's tracks and, equipping himself with a pistol and a stout stick, goes in search, finding him as snow begins to fall in earnest. Attempting to find their way home, Rat and Mole quite literally stumble across Badger's home‚ÄĒMole barks his shin upon the boot scraper on Badger's doorstep. Badger‚ÄĒen route to bed in his dressing-gown and slippers‚ÄĒnonetheless warmly welcomes Rat and Mole to his large and cosy underground home, providing them hot food and dry clothes. Badger learns from his visitors that Toad has crashed six cars, has been hospitalised three times, and has spent a fortune on fines. Though nothing can be done at the moment (it being winter), they resolve that once spring arrives they will make a plan to protect Toad from himself; they are, after all, his friends and are worried for his well-being. With the arrival of spring, Badger visits Mole and Rat to take action over Toad's self-destructive obsession. The three of them go to Toad Hall, and Badger tries talking Toad out of his behaviour, to no avail. They put Toad under house arrest, with themselves as the guards, until Toad changes his mind. Feigning illness, Toad bamboozles the Water Rat (who is on guard duty at the time) and escapes. He steals a car, drives it recklessly and is caught by the police. He is sent to prison on a twenty-year sentence. Badger and Mole are cross with Rat for his gullibility, but draw comfort from the fact that they need no longer waste their summer guarding Toad. However, Badger and Mole continue to live in Toad Hall in the hope that Toad may return. Meanwhile in prison, Toad gains the sympathy of the gaoler's daughter who helps him to escape disguised as a washerwoman. Though free again, Toad is without money or possessions other than the clothes upon his back, and is pursued by the police. After catching a lift on a train, Toad, still disguised as a washerwoman, comes across a horse-drawn barge. The barge's owner offers him a lift in exchange for Toad's services as a washerwoman. After botching the wash, Toad gets into a fight with the barge-woman, who tosses him into the canal. In revenge, Toad makes off with the barge horse, which he then sells to a gypsy. Toad subsequently flags down a passing car, which happens to be the very one which he stole earlier. The car owners, not recognizing Toad in his disguise, permit him to drive their car. Once behind the wheel, he is repossessed by his former passion and drives furiously, declaring his true identity to the passengers who try to seize him. This leads to an accident, after which Toad flees once more. Pursued by police, he runs accidentally into a river, which carries him by sheer chance to the house of the Water Rat. Toad now hears from Rat that Toad Hall has been taken over by weasels, stoats and ferrets from the Wild Wood, who have driven out Mole and Badger. Although upset at the loss of his house, Toad realises what good friends he has and how badly he has behaved. Badger then arrives and announces that he knows of a secret tunnel into Toad Hall through which the enemies may be attacked. Armed to the teeth, Rat, Mole and Toad enter via the tunnel and pounce upon the unsuspecting weasels who are holding a party in honour of their leader. Having driven away the intruders, Toad holds a banquet to mark his return, during which (for a change) he behaves both quietly and humbly. He makes up for his earlier wrongdoings by seeking out and compensating those he has wronged, and the four friends live out their lives happily ever after. In addition to the main narrative, the book contains several independent short-stories featuring Rat and Mole. These appear for the most part between the chapters chronicling Toad's adventures, and are often omitted from abridgements and dramatizations. The chapter "Dulce Domum" describes Mole's return to his home, accompanied by Rat, in which, despite finding it in a terrible mess, after his abortive spring clean he rediscovers, with Rat's help, a familiar comfort. "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" tells how Mole and Rat search for Otter's missing son Portly, whom they find in the care of the god Pan. (Pan removes their memories of this meeting "lest the awful remembrance should remain and grow, and overshadow mirth and pleasure".) Finally in "Wayfarers All", Ratty shows a restless side to his character when he is sorely tempted to join a Sea Rat on his travelling adventures. TYPE: children's literature
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Robert Graves An English poet, scholar/translator/writer of antiquity specializing in Classical Greece and Rome, and novelist. I, Claudius (1934)
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SUMMARY: written in the form of an autobiography of the Roman Emperor Claudius. Accordingly, it includes history of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty and Roman Empire, from Julius Caesar's assassination in 44 BC to Caligula's assassination in 41 AD. Claudius was the fourth Emperor of Rome (r. 41-54 AD). Historically, Claudius' family kept him out of public life until his sudden coronation at the age of forty nine. This was due to his being perceived as being a dolt due to his stammering, limp and other nervous tics. This made others see him as mentally deficient and also therefore not a threat to his ambitious relatives. This is how he was defined by scholars for most of history, and Graves uses these peculiarities to develop a sympathetic character whose survival in a murderous dynasty depends upon his family's incorrect assumption that he is a harmless idiot. Graves's interpretation of the story owes much to the histories of Gaius Cornelius Tacitus, Plutarch, and (especially) Suetonius (Lives of the Twelve Caesars). Graves translated Suetonius before writing the novels. Graves claimed that after he read Suetonius, Claudius came to him in a dream one night and demanded that his real story be told. The life of Claudius provided Graves with a way to write about the first four Emperors of Rome (Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius) from an intimate point of view. In addition, the real Claudius was a trained historian and is known to have written an autobiography (now lost) in eight books that covered the same time period. I, Claudius is a first-person narrative of Roman history from the reigns of Augustus to Caligula; Claudius the God is written as a later addition documenting Claudius' own reign. Graves provides a theme for the story by having the fictionalised Claudius describe a visit to Cumae, where he receives a prophecy in verse from the Sibyl, and an additional prophecy contained in a book of "Sibylline Curiosities". The latter concerns the fates of the "hairy ones" (i.e. The Caesars - from the Latin word "caesar", meaning "a fine head of hair") who are to rule Rome. The penultimate verse concerns his own reign, and Claudius assumes that he can tell the identity of the last emperor described. From the outset, then, Graves establishes a fatalistic tone that plays out at the end of Claudius the God, Claudius predicts his own assassination and succession by Nero. At Cumae, the Sibyl tells Claudius that he will "speak clear." Claudius believes this means that his secret memoirs will be one day found, and that he, having therein written the truth, will speak clearly, while his contemporaries, who had to distort their histories to appease the ruling family, will seem like stammerers. Since he wishes to record his life for posterity, Claudius chooses to write in Greek, since he believes that it will remain "the chief literary language of the world." This enables Graves to offer explanations of Latin wordplay or etymologies that would be unnecessary for native Latin speakers. The novels also focus upon the nature of freedom and security inherent in a republic and a monarchy. As Livia sees it the Republican freedom leads to civil war and Rome must be a monarchy for its own good. While Claudius believes in a Republic he is convinced to remain Emperor, and leads a benevolent reign which he views as worse than being a cruel monarch as it made monarchy acceptable to the Roman people. TYPE: Novel
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Aldous Huxley An English writer and a prominent member of the famous Huxley family. Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel writing, film stories and scripts. He spent the later part of his life in the United States, living in Los Angeles from 1937 until his death. Brave New World (1932)
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The novel opens in the Central London Hatching and Conditioning Centre, where the Director of the Hatchery and one of his assistants, Henry Foster, are giving a tour to a group of boys. The boys learn about the Bokanovsky and Podsnap Processes that allow the Hatchery to produce thousands of nearly identical human embryos. During the gestation period the embryos travel in bottles along a conveyor belt through a factorylike building, and are conditioned to belong to one of five castes: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, or Epsilon. The Alpha embryos are destined to become the leaders and thinkers of the World State. Each of the succeeding castes is conditioned to be slightly less physically and intellectually impressive. The Epsilons, stunted and stupefied by oxygen deprivation and chemical treatments, are destined to perform menial labor. Lenina Crowne, an employee at the factory, describes to the boys how she vaccinates embryos destined for tropical climates. The Director then leads the boys to the Nursery, where they observe a group of Delta infants being reprogrammed to dislike books and flowers. The Director explains that this conditioning helps to make Deltas docile and eager consumers. He then tells the boys about the "hypnopaedic" (sleep-teaching) methods used to teach children the morals of the World State. In a room where older children are napping, a whispering voice is heard repeating a lesson in "Elementary Class Consciousness." Outside, the Director shows the boys hundreds of naked children engaged in sexual play and games like "Centrifugal Bumble-puppy." Mustapha Mond, one of the ten World Controllers, introduces himself to the boys and begins to explain the history of the World State, focusing on the State's successful efforts to remove strong emotions, desires, and human relationships from society. Meanwhile, inside the Hatchery, Lenina chats in the bathroom with Fanny Crowne about her relationship with Henry Foster. Fanny chides Lenina for going out with Henry almost exclusively for four months, and Lenina admits she is attracted to the strange, somewhat funny-looking Bernard Marx. In another part of the Hatchery, Bernard is enraged when he overhears a conversation between Henry and the Assistant Predestinator about "having" Lenina. After work, Lenina tells Bernard that she would be happy to accompany him on the trip to the Savage Reservation in New Mexico to which he had invited her. Bernard, overjoyed but embarrassed, flies a helicopter to meet a friend of his, Helmholtz Watson. He and Helmholtz discuss their dissatisfaction with the World State. Bernard is primarily disgruntled because he is too small and weak for his caste; Helmholtz is unhappy because he is too intelligent for his job writing hypnopaedic phrases. In the next few days, Bernard asks his superior, the Director, for permission to visit the Reservation. The Director launches into a story about a visit to the Reservation he had made with a woman twenty years earlier. During a storm, he tells Bernard, the woman was lost and never recovered. Finally, he gives Bernard the permit, and Bernard and Lenina depart for the Reservation, where they get another permit from the Warden. Before heading into the Reservation, Bernard calls Helmholtz and learns that the Director has grown weary of what he sees as Bernard's difficult and unsocial behavior and is planning to exile Bernard to Iceland when he returns. Bernard is angry and distraught, but decides to head into the Reservation anyway. On the Reservation, Lenina and Bernard are shocked to see its aged and ill residents; no one in the World State has visible signs of aging. They witness a religious ritual in which a young man is whipped, and find it abhorrent. After the ritual they meet John, a fair-skinned young man who is isolated from the rest of the village. John tells Bernard about his childhood as the son of a woman named Linda who was rescued by the villagers some twenty years ago. Bernard realizes that Linda is almost certainly the woman mentioned by the Director. Talking to John, he learns that Linda was ostracized because of her willingness to sleep with all the men in the village, and that as a result John was raised in isolation from the rest of the village. John explains that he learned to read using a book called The Chemical and Bacteriological Conditioning of the Embryo and The Complete Works of Shakespeare, the latter given to Linda by one of her lovers, Pop√©. John tells Bernard that he is eager to see the "Other Place"‚ÄĒthe "brave new world" that his mother has told him so much about. Bernard invites him to return to the World State with him. John agrees but insists that Linda be allowed to come as well. While Lenina, disgusted with the Reservation, takes enough soma to knock her out for eighteen hours, Bernard flies to Santa Fe where he calls Mustapha Mond and receives permission to bring John and Linda back to the World State. Meanwhile, John breaks into the house where Lenina is lying intoxicated and unconscious, and barely suppresses his desire to touch her. Bernard, Lenina, John, and Linda fly to the World State, where the Director is waiting to exile Bernard in front of his Alpha coworkers. But Bernard turns the tables by introducing John and Linda. The shame of being a "father"‚ÄĒthe very word makes the onlookers laugh nervously‚ÄĒcauses the Director to resign, leaving Bernard free to remain in London. John becomes a hit with London society because of his strange life led on the Reservation. But while touring the factories and schools of the World State, John becomes increasingly disturbed by the society that he sees. His sexual attraction to Lenina remains, but he desires more than simple lust, and he finds himself terribly confused. In the process, he also confuses Lenina, who wonders why John does not wish to have sex with her. As the discoverer and guardian of the "Savage," Bernard also becomes popular. He quickly takes advantage of his new status, sleeping with many women and hosting dinner parties with important guests, most of whom dislike Bernard but are willing to placate him if it means they get to meet John. One night John refuses to meet the guests, including the Arch-Community Songster, and Bernard's social standing plummets. After Bernard introduces them, John and Helmholtz quickly take to each other. John reads Helmholtz parts of Romeo and Juliet, but Helmholtz cannot keep himself from laughing at a serious passage about love, marriage, and parents‚ÄĒideas that are ridiculous, almost scatological in World State culture. Fueled by his strange behavior, Lenina becomes obsessed with John, refusing Henry's invitation to see a feely. She takes soma and visits John at Bernard's apartment, where she hopes to seduce him. But John responds to her advances with curses, blows, and lines from Shakespeare. She retreats to the bathroom while he fields a phone call in which he learns that Linda, who has been on permanent soma-holiday since her return, is about to die. At the Hospital for the Dying he watches her die while a group of lower-caste boys receiving their "death conditioning" wonder why she is so unattractive. The boys are simply curious, but John becomes enraged. After Linda dies, John meets a group of Delta clones who are receiving their soma ration. He tries to convince them to revolt, throwing the soma out the window, and a riot results. Bernard and Helmholtz, hearing of the riot, rush to the scene and come to John's aid. After the riot is calmed by police with soma vapor, John, Helmholtz, and Bernard are arrested and brought to the office of Mustapha Mond. John and Mond debate the value of the World State's policies, John arguing that they dehumanize the residents of the World State and Mond arguing that stability and happiness are more important than humanity. Mond explains that social stability has required the sacrifice of art, science, and religion. John protests that, without these things, human life is not worth living. Bernard reacts wildly when Mond says that he and Helmholtz will be exiled to distant islands, and he is carried from the room. Helmholtz accepts the exile readily, thinking it will give him a chance to write, and soon follows Bernard out of the room. John and Mond continue their conversation. They discuss religion and the use of soma to control negative emotions and social harmony. John bids Helmholtz and Bernard good-bye. Refused the option of following them to the islands by Mond, he retreats to a lighthouse in the countryside where he gardens and attempts to purify himself by self-flagellation. Curious World State citizens soon catch him in the act, and reporters descend on the lighthouse to film news reports and a feely. After the feely, hordes of people descend on the lighthouse and demand that John whip himself. Lenina comes and approaches John with her arms open. John reacts by brandishing his whip and screaming "Kill it! Kill it!" The intensity of the scene causes an orgy in which John takes part. The next morning he wakes up and, overcome with anger and sadness at his submission to World State society, hangs himself.
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Henry James An American-born British writer, regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism. The Golden Bowl
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Ben Jonson The Alchemist (1610)
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In The Alchemist, Jonson unashamedly satirises the follies, vanities and vices of mankind, most notably greed-induced credulity. People of all social classes are subject to Jonson's ruthless, satirical wit. He mocks human weakness and gullibility to advertising and to "miracle cures" with the character of Sir Epicure Mammon, who dreams of drinking the elixir of youth and enjoying fantastic sexual conquests. The Alchemist focuses on what happens when one human being seeks advantage over another. In a big city like London, this process of advantage-seeking is rife. The trio of con-artists - Subtle, Face and Dol - are self-deluding small-timers, ultimately undone by the same human weaknesses they exploit in their victims. Their fate is foreshadowed in the play's opening scene, which features them together in the house of Lovewit, Face's master. In a metaphor which runs through the play, the dialogue shows them to exist in uneasy imbalance, like alchemical elements that will create an unstable reaction. Barely ten lines into the text, Face and Subtle's quarrelling forces Dol to quell their raised voices: "Will you have the neighbours hear you? Will you betray all?" The con-artists' vanities and aspirations are revealed by the very personae they assume as part of their plan. The lowly housekeeper, Face, casts himself as a sea captain (a man accustomed to giving orders, instead of taking them), the egotistical Subtle casts himself as an alchemist (as one who can do what no one else can; turn base metal into gold), and Dol Common casts herself as an aristocratic lady. Their incessant bickering is fuelled by vanity, envy and jealousy, the root of which is Subtle's conviction that he is the key element in the 'venture tripartite':
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Rudyard Kipling Just So Stories
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Christopher Marlowe Doctor Faustus
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John Osborne Look Back in Anger
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George Orwell Animal Farm
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Harold Pinter The Room
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Samuel Richardson Clarissa
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H.H. Munro Saki Toys of Peace
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George Bernard Shaw Pygmalion
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THIS IS "MY FAIR LADY"Two old gentlemen meet in the train one night at Covent Garden. Professor Higgins is a scientist of phonetics, and Colonel Pickering is a linguist of Indian dialects. The first bets the other that he can, with his knowledge of phonetics, convince high London society that, in a matter of months, he will be able to transform the cockney speaking Covent Garden flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, into a woman as poised and well-spoken as a duchess. The next morning, the girl appears at his laboratory on Wimpole Street to ask for speech lessons, offering to pay a shilling, so that she may speak properly enough to work in a flower shop. Higgins makes merciless fun of her, but is seduced by the idea of working his magic on her. Pickering goads him on by agreeing to cover the costs of the experiment if Higgins can pass Eliza off as a duchess at an ambassador's garden party. The challenge is taken, and Higgins starts by having his housekeeper bathe Eliza and give her new clothes. Then Eliza's father Alfred Doolittle comes to demand the return of his daughter, though his real intention is to hit Higgins up for some money. The professor, amused by Doolittle's unusual rhetoric, gives him five pounds. On his way out, the dustman fails to recognize the now clean, pretty flower girl as his daughter.
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Anna Sewell An English novelist, and Quaker. Black Beauty (1877)
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SUMMARY:The story is narrated in the first person as an autobiographical memoir told by the titular horse named Black Beauty‚ÄĒbeginning with his carefree days as a colt on an English farm with his mother, to his difficult life pulling cabs in London, to his happy retirement in the country. Along the way, he meets with many hardships and recounts many tales of cruelty and kindness. Each short chapter recounts an incident in Black Beauty's life containing a lesson or moral typically related to the kindness, sympathy, and understanding treatment of horses, with Sewell's detailed observations and extensive descriptions of horse behaviour lending the novel a good deal of verisimilitude.[1] The book describes conditions among London horse-drawn taxicab drivers, including the financial hardship caused to them by high licence fees and low, legally fixed fares. A page footnote in some editions says that soon after the book was published, the difference between 6-day taxicab licences (not allowed to trade on Sundays) and 7-day taxicab licences (allowed to trade on Sundays) was abolished and the taxicab licence fee was much reduced. TYPE: Novel
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William Shakespeare Hamlet (1603)
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Mary W. Shelley Frankenstein
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Robert Louis Stevenson Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1886)
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Graham Swift Waterland
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Jonathan Swift Gulliver's Travels (1726)
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Gulliver's Travels recounts the story of Lemuel Gulliver, a practical-minded Englishman trained as a surgeon who takes to the seas when his business fails. In a deadpan first-person narrative that rarely shows any signs of self-reflection or deep emotional response, Gulliver narrates the adventures that befall him on these travels.Gulliver's adventure in Lilliput begins when he wakes after his shipwreck to find himself bound by innumerable tiny threads and addressed by tiny captors who are in awe of him but fiercely protective of their kingdom. They are not afraid to use violence against Gulliver, though their arrows are little more than pinpricks. But overall, they are hospitable, risking famine in their land by feeding Gulliver, who consumes more food than a thousand Lilliputians combined could. Gulliver is taken into the capital city by a vast wagon the Lilliputians have specially built. He is presented to the emperor, who is entertained by Gulliver, just as Gulliver is flattered by the attention of royalty. Eventually Gulliver becomes a national resource, used by the army in its war against the people of Blefuscu, whom the Lilliputians hate for doctrinal differences concerning the proper way to crack eggs. But things change when Gulliver is convicted of treason for putting out a fire in the royal palace with his urine and is condemned to be shot in the eyes and starved to death. Gulliver escapes to Blefuscu, where he is able to repair a boat he finds and set sail for England. After staying in England with his wife and family for two months, Gulliver undertakes his next sea voyage, which takes him to a land of giants called Brobdingnag. Here, a field worker discovers him. The farmer initially treats him as little more than an animal, keeping him for amusement. The farmer eventually sells Gulliver to the queen, who makes him a courtly diversion and is entertained by his musical talents. Social life is easy for Gulliver after his discovery by the court, but not particularly enjoyable. Gulliver is often repulsed by the physicality of the Brobdingnagians, whose ordinary flaws are many times magnified by their huge size. Thus, when a couple of courtly ladies let him play on their naked bodies, he is not attracted to them but rather disgusted by their enormous skin pores and the sound of their torrential urination. He is generally startled by the ignorance of the people here‚ÄĒeven the king knows nothing about politics. More unsettling findings in Brobdingnag come in the form of various animals of the realm that endanger his life. Even Brobdingnagian insects leave slimy trails on his food that make eating difficult. On a trip to the frontier, accompanying the royal couple, Gulliver leaves Brobdingnag when his cage is plucked up by an eagle and dropped into the sea. Next, Gulliver sets sail again and, after an attack by pirates, ends up in Laputa, where a floating island inhabited by theoreticians and academics oppresses the land below, called Balnibarbi. The scientific research undertaken in Laputa and in Balnibarbi seems totally inane and impractical, and its residents too appear wholly out of touch with reality. Taking a short side trip to Glubbdubdrib, Gulliver is able to witness the conjuring up of figures from history, such as Julius Caesar and other military leaders, whom he finds much less impressive than in books. After visiting the Luggnaggians and the Struldbrugs, the latter of which are senile immortals who prove that age does not bring wisdom, he is able to sail to Japan and from there back to England. Finally, on his fourth journey, Gulliver sets out as captain of a ship, but after the mutiny of his crew and a long confinement in his cabin, he arrives in an unknown land. This land is populated by Houyhnhnms, rational-thinking horses who rule, and by Yahoos, brutish humanlike creatures who serve the Houyhnhnms. Gulliver sets about learning their language, and when he can speak he narrates his voyages to them and explains the constitution of England. He is treated with great courtesy and kindness by the horses and is enlightened by his many conversations with them and by his exposure to their noble culture. He wants to stay with the Houyhnhnms, but his bared body reveals to the horses that he is very much like a Yahoo, and he is banished. Gulliver is grief-stricken but agrees to leave. He fashions a canoe and makes his way to a nearby island, where he is picked up by a Portuguese ship captain who treats him well, though Gulliver cannot help now seeing the captain‚ÄĒand all humans‚ÄĒas shamefully Yahoolike. Gulliver then concludes his narrative with a claim that the lands he has visited belong by rights to England, as her colonies, even though he questions the whole idea of colonialism. ...
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William Makepeace Thackeray Vanity Fair (1843)
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J. R.R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings
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Anthony Trollope One of the most successful, prolific and respected English novelists of the Victorian era. Some of his best-loved works, collectively known as "The Chronicles of Barsetshire," revolve around the imaginary county of Barsetshire. He also wrote perceptive novels on political, social, and gender issues, and on other topical matters. Barchester Towers (1857)
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SUMMARY: Barchester Towers concerns the leading clergy of the imaginary cathedral city of Barchester. The much loved bishop having died, all expectations are that his son, Archdeacon Grantly, will succeed him. Instead, owing to the passage of the power of patronage to a new Prime Minister, a newcomer, the far more Evangelical Bishop Proudie, gains the see. His wife, Mrs Proudie, exercises an undue influence over the new bishop, making herself as well as the bishop unpopular with most of the clergy of the diocese. Her interference to veto the reappointment of the universally popular Mr Septimus Harding (protagonist of Trollope's earlier novel, The Warden) as warden of Hiram's Hospital is not well received, even though she gives the position to a needy clergyman, Mr Quiverful, with 14 children to support. Even less popular than Mrs Proudie is the bishop's newly appointed chaplain, the hypocritical and sycophantic Mr Obadiah Slope, who decides it would be expedient to marry Harding's wealthy widowed daughter, Eleanor Bold, and hopes to win her favour by interfering in the controversy over the wardenship. The Bishop, or rather Mr Slope under the orders of Mrs Proudie, also orders the return of the prebendary Dr Vesey Stanhope from Italy. Dr Stanhope has been there, recovering from a sore throat, for 12 years and has spent his time catching butterflies. With him to the Cathedral Close come his wife and his three adult children. The younger of Dr Stanhope's two daughters causes consternation in the Palace and threatens the plans of Mr Slope: Signora Madeline Vesey Neroni is a crippled serial flirt with a young daughter and a mysterious Italian husband whom she has left. Mrs Proudie is appalled by her and considers her an unsafe influence on her daughters, her servants and Mr Slope. Mr Slope is drawn like a moth to a flame and cannot keep away. Dr Stanhope's son Bertie is skilled at spending money but not at making it: his two sisters think marriage to rich Eleanor Bold will provide financial security for him. Summoned by Archdeacon Grantly to assist in the war against the Proudies and Mr Slope is the brilliant Reverend Francis Arabin. Mr Arabin is a considerable scholar, Fellow of Lazarus College at Oxford, who nearly followed his mentor John Henry Newman into the Roman Catholic Church. A massive misunderstanding occurs between Eleanor and her father, brother-in-law, sister and Mr Arabin: they all believe she intends to marry the oily chaplain Mr Slope. Mr Arabin is attracted to Eleanor but the efforts of Grantly and his wife to stop her marrying Slope also interfere with any relationship that might develop. At the Ullathorne garden party of the Thornes, matters come to a head. Mr Slope proposes to Mrs Bold and is slapped for his presumption; Bertie goes through the motions of a proposal to Eleanor and is refused with good grace, and the Signora has a chat with Mr Arabin. Mr Slope's double-dealings are now revealed and he is dismissed by Mrs Proudie and the Signora. The Signora drops a delicate word in several ears and with the removal of their misunderstanding Mr Arabin and Eleanor become engaged. The old Dean of the Cathedral having died, Mr Slope campaigns to become Dean, but Mr Harding is offered the preferment, with a beautiful house in the Close and 15 acres (61,000 m2) of garden. However Mr Harding considers himself unsuitable and, with the help of the archdeacon, arranges that Mr Arabin be made Dean. With the Stanhopes' return to Italy, life in the Cathedral Close returns to its previous quiet and settled ways and Mr Harding continues his life of gentleness and music. SOURCE: www.wikipedia.com
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John Webster The White Devil (1612)
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John Webster's The White Devil (1612) is a Jacobean revenge tragedy, replete with adultery, murder, ghosts, and violence. The Duke of Brachiano and Vittoria Corombona decide to kill their spouses, Isabella and Camillo, in order to be together, aided by the crafty and ambitious Flamineo, Vittoria's brother. Their actions prompt vows of revenge from Isabella's brother Francisco, the Duke of Florence, and Count Lodovico, who was secretly in love with her. The title refers to the early modern proverb that "the white devil is worse than the black," indicating the hypocrisy practiced by many of the characters in the play. (Summary by Elizabeth Klett). https://librivox.org/the-white-devil-by-john-webster/
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Evelyn Waugh Brideshead Revisited
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H.G. Wells The Invisible Man
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Virginia Woolf To the Lighthouse (1927)
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Oscar Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
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J. K. Rowling Harry Potter (1997)
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C.S. Lewis The Chronicles of Narnia
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Bram Stoker Dracula (1898)
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Jonathan Harker, a young English lawyer, travels to Castle Dracula in the Eastern European country of Transylvania to conclude a real estate transaction with a nobleman named Count Dracula. As Harker wends his way through the picturesque countryside, the local peasants warn him about his destination, giving him crucifixes and other charms against evil and uttering strange words that Harker later translates into "vampire."Frightened but no less determined, Harker meets the count's carriage as planned. The journey to the castle is harrowing, and the carriage is nearly attacked by angry wolves along the way. Upon arriving at the crumbling old castle, Harker finds that the elderly Dracula is a well educated and hospitable gentleman. After only a few days, however, Harker realizes that he is effectively a prisoner in the castle. The more Harker investigates the nature of his confinement, the more uneasy he becomes. He realizes that the count possesses supernatural powers and diabolical ambitions. One evening, Harker is nearly attacked by three beautiful and seductive female vampires, but the count staves them off, telling the vampires that Harker belongs to him. Fearing for his life, Harker attempts to escape from the castle by climbing down the walls. Meanwhile, in England, Harker's fianc√©e, Mina Murray, corresponds with her friend Lucy Westenra. Lucy has received marriage proposals from three men‚ÄĒDr. John Seward, Arthur Holmwood, and an American named Quincey Morris. Though saddened by the fact that she must reject two of these suitors, Lucy accepts Holmwood's proposal. Mina visits Lucy at the seaside town of Whitby. A Russian ship is wrecked on the shore near the town with all its crew missing and its captain dead. The only sign of life aboard is a large dog that bounds ashore and disappears into the countryside; the only cargo is a set of fifty boxes of earth shipped from Castle Dracula. Not long after, Lucy suddenly begins sleepwalking. One night, Mina finds Lucy in the town cemetery and believes she sees a dark form with glowing red eyes bending over Lucy. Lucy becomes pale and ill, and she bears two tiny red marks at her throat, for which -neither Dr. Seward nor Mina can account. Unable to arrive at a satisfactory diagnosis, Dr. Seward sends for his old mentor, Professor Van Helsing. Suffering from brain fever, Harker reappears in the city of Buda-Pest. Mina goes to join him. Van Helsing arrives in Whitby, and, after his initial examination of Lucy, orders that her chambers be covered with garlic‚ÄĒa traditional charm against vampires. For a time, this effort seems to stave off Lucy's illness. She begins to recover, but her mother, unaware of the garlic's power, unwittingly removes the odiferous plants from the room, leaving Lucy vulnerable to further attack. Seward and Van Helsing spend several days trying to revive Lucy, performing four blood transfusions. Their efforts ultimately come to nothing. One night, the men momentarily let down their guard, and a wolf breaks into the Westenra house. The shock gives Lucy's mother a fatal heart attack, and the wolf attacks Lucy, killing her. After Lucy's death, Van Helsing leads Holmwood, Seward, and Quincey Morris to her tomb. Van Helsing convinces the other men that Lucy belongs to the "Un-Dead"‚ÄĒin other words, she has been transformed into a vampire like Dracula. The men remain unconvinced until they see Lucy preying on a defenseless child, which convinces them that she must be destroyed. They agree to follow the ritual of vampire slaying to ensure that Lucy's soul will return to eternal rest. While the undead Lucy sleeps, Holmwood plunges a stake through her heart. The men then cut off her head and stuff her mouth with garlic. After this deed is done, they pledge to destroy Dracula himself. ...
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Philip Pullman The Golden Compass (1995)
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Geoffrey Chaucer The Canterbury Tales (1475)
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At the Tabard Inn, a tavern in Southwark, near London, the narrator joins a company of twenty-nine pilgrims. The pilgrims, like the narrator, are traveling to the shrine of the martyr Saint Thomas Becket in Canterbury. The narrator gives a descriptive account of twenty-seven of these pilgrims, including a Knight, Squire, Yeoman, Prioress, Monk, Friar, Merchant, Clerk, Man of Law, Franklin, Haberdasher, Carpenter, Weaver, Dyer, Tapestry-Weaver, Cook, Shipman, Physician, Wife, Parson, Plowman, Miller, Manciple, Reeve, Summoner, Pardoner, and Host. (He does not describe the Second Nun or the Nun's Priest, although both characters appear later in the book.) The Host, whose name, we find out in the Prologue to the Cook's Tale, is Harry Bailey, suggests that the group ride together and entertain one another with stories. He decides that each pilgrim will tell two stories on the way to Canterbury and two on the way back. Whomever he judges to be the best storyteller will receive a meal at Bailey's tavern, courtesy of the other pilgrims. The pilgrims draw lots and determine that the Knight will tell the first tale....http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/canterbury/summary.html
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Unknown Beowolf
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King Hrothgar of Denmark, a descendant of the great king Shield Sheafson, enjoys a prosperous and successful reign. He builds a great mead-hall, called Heorot, where his warriors can gather to drink, receive gifts from their lord, and listen to stories sung by the scops, or bards. But the jubilant noise from Heorot angers Grendel, a horrible demon who lives in the swamplands of Hrothgar's kingdom. Grendel terrorizes the Danes every night, killing them and defeating their efforts to fight back. The Danes suffer many years of fear, danger, and death at the hands of Grendel. Eventually, however, a young Geatish warrior named Beowulf hears of Hrothgar's plight. Inspired by the challenge, Beowulf sails to Denmark with a small company of men, determined to defeat Grendel.Hrothgar, who had once done a great favor for Beowulf's father Ecgtheow, accepts Beowulf's offer to fight Grendel and holds a feast in the hero's honor. During the feast, an envious Dane named Unferth taunts Beowulf and accuses him of being unworthy of his reputation. Beowulf responds with a boastful description of some of his past accomplishments. His confidence cheers the Danish warriors, and the feast lasts merrily into the night. At last, however, Grendel arrives. Beowulf fights him unarmed, proving himself stronger than the demon, who is terrified. As Grendel struggles to escape, Beowulf tears the monster's arm off. Mortally wounded, Grendel slinks back into the swamp to die. The severed arm is hung high in the mead-hall as a trophy of victory. Overjoyed, Hrothgar showers Beowulf with gifts and treasure at a feast in his honor. Songs are sung in praise of Beowulf, and the celebration lasts late into the night. But another threat is approaching. Grendel's mother, a swamp-hag who lives in a desolate lake, comes to Heorot seeking revenge for her son's death. She murders Aeschere, one of Hrothgar's most trusted advisers, before slinking away. To avenge Aeschere's death, the company travels to the murky swamp, where Beowulf dives into the water and fights Grendel's mother in her underwater lair. He kills her with a sword forged for a giant, then, finding Grendel's corpse, decapitates it and brings the head as a prize to Hrothgar. The Danish countryside is now purged of its treacherous monsters. The Danes are again overjoyed, and Beowulf's fame spreads across the kingdom. Beowulf departs after a sorrowful goodbye to Hrothgar, who has treated him like a son. He returns to Geatland, where he and his men are reunited with their king and queen, Hygelac and Hygd, to whom Beowulf recounts his adventures in Denmark. Beowulf then hands over most of his treasure to Hygelac, who, in turn, rewards him. In time, Hygelac is killed in a war against the Shylfings, and, after Hygelac's son dies, Beowulf ascends to the throne of the Geats. He rules wisely for fifty years, bringing prosperity to Geatland. When Beowulf is an old man, however, a thief disturbs a barrow, or mound, where a great dragon lies guarding a horde of treasure. Enraged, the dragon emerges from the barrow and begins unleashing fiery destruction upon the Geats. Sensing his own death approaching, Beowulf goes to fight the dragon. With the aid of Wiglaf, he succeeds in killing the beast, but at a heavy cost. The dragon bites Beowulf in the neck, and its fiery venom kills him moments after their encounter. The Geats fear that their enemies will attack them now that Beowulf is dead. According to Beowulf's wishes, they burn their departed king's body on a huge funeral pyre and then bury him with a massive treasure in a barrow overlooking the sea. ...
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Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice (1813)
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The news that a wealthy young gentleman named Charles Bingley has rented the manor of Netherfield Park causes a great stir in the nearby village of Longbourn, especially in the Bennet household. The Bennets have five unmarried daughters‚ÄĒfrom oldest to youngest, Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia‚ÄĒand Mrs. Bennet is desperate to see them all married. After Mr. Bennet pays a social visit to Mr. Bingley, the Bennets attend a ball at which Mr. Bingley is present. He is taken with Jane and spends much of the evening dancing with her. His close friend, Mr. Darcy, is less pleased with the evening and haughtily refuses to dance with Elizabeth, which makes everyone view him as arrogant and obnoxious. At social functions over subsequent weeks, however, Mr. Darcy finds himself increasingly attracted to Elizabeth's charm and intelligence. Jane's friendship with Mr. Bingley also continues to burgeon, and Jane pays a visit to the Bingley mansion. On her journey to the house she is caught in a downpour and catches ill, forcing her to stay at Netherfield for several days. In order to tend to Jane, Elizabeth hikes through muddy fields and arrives with a spattered dress, much to the disdain of the snobbish Miss Bingley, Charles Bingley's sister. Miss Bingley's spite only increases when she notices that Darcy, whom she is pursuing, pays quite a bit of attention to Elizabeth. When Elizabeth and Jane return home, they find Mr. Collins visiting their household. Mr. Collins is a young clergyman who stands to inherit Mr. Bennet's property, which has been "entailed," meaning that it can only be passed down to male heirs. Mr. Collins is a pompous fool, though he is quite enthralled by the Bennet girls. Shortly after his arrival, he makes a proposal of marriage to Elizabeth. She turns him down, wounding his pride. Meanwhile, the Bennet girls have become friendly with militia officers stationed in a nearby town. Among them is Wickham, a handsome young soldier who is friendly toward Elizabeth and tells her how Darcy cruelly cheated him out of an inheritance. At the beginning of winter, the Bingleys and Darcy leave Netherfield and return to London, much to Jane's dismay. A further shock arrives with the news that Mr. Collins has become engaged to Charlotte Lucas, Elizabeth's best friend and the poor daughter of a local knight. Charlotte explains to Elizabeth that she is getting older and needs the match for financial reasons. Charlotte and Mr. Collins get married and Elizabeth promises to visit them at their new home. As winter progresses, Jane visits the city to see friends (hoping also that she might see Mr. Bingley). However, Miss Bingley visits her and behaves rudely, while Mr. Bingley fails to visit her at all. The marriage prospects for the Bennet girls appear bleak. That spring, Elizabeth visits Charlotte, who now lives near the home of Mr. Collins's patron, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who is also Darcy's aunt. Darcy calls on Lady Catherine and encounters Elizabeth, whose presence leads him to make a number of visits to the Collins's home, where she is staying. One day, he makes a shocking proposal of marriage, which Elizabeth quickly refuses. She tells Darcy that she considers him arrogant and unpleasant, then scolds him for steering Bingley away from Jane and disinheriting Wickham. Darcy leaves her but shortly thereafter delivers a letter to her. In this letter, he admits that he urged Bingley to distance himself from Jane, but claims he did so only because he thought their romance was not serious. As for Wickham, he informs Elizabeth that the young officer is a liar and that the real cause of their disagreement was Wickham's attempt to elope with his young sister, Georgiana Darcy. This letter causes Elizabeth to reevaluate her feelings about Darcy. She returns home and acts coldly toward Wickham. The militia is leaving town, which makes the younger, rather man-crazy Bennet girls distraught. Lydia manages to obtain permission from her father to spend the summer with an old colonel in Brighton, where Wickham's regiment will be stationed. With the arrival of June, Elizabeth goes on another journey, this time with the Gardiners, who are relatives of the Bennets. The trip takes her to the North and eventually to the neighborhood of Pemberley, Darcy's estate. She visits Pemberley, after making sure that Darcy is away, and delights in the building and grounds, while hearing from Darcy's servants that he is a wonderful, generous master. Suddenly, Darcy arrives and behaves cordially toward her. Making no mention of his proposal, he entertains the Gardiners and invites Elizabeth to meet his sister. Shortly thereafter, however, a letter arrives from home, telling Elizabeth that Lydia has eloped with Wickham and that the couple is nowhere to be found, which suggests that they may be living together out of wedlock. Fearful of the disgrace such a situation would bring on her entire family, Elizabeth hastens home. Mr. Gardiner and Mr. Bennet go off to search for Lydia, but Mr. Bennet eventually returns home empty-handed. Just when all hope seems lost, a letter comes from Mr. Gardiner saying that the couple has been found and that Wickham has agreed to marry Lydia in exchange for an annual income. The Bennets are convinced that Mr. Gardiner has paid off Wickham, but Elizabeth learns that the source of the money, and of her family's salvation, was none other than Darcy. Now married, Wickham and Lydia return to Longbourn briefly, where Mr. Bennet treats them coldly. They then depart for Wickham's new assignment in the North of England. Shortly thereafter, Bingley returns to Netherfield and resumes his courtship of Jane. Darcy goes to stay with him and pays visits to the Bennets but makes no mention of his desire to marry Elizabeth. Bingley, on the other hand, presses his suit and proposes to Jane, to the delight of everyone but Bingley's haughty sister. While the family celebrates, Lady Catherine de Bourgh pays a visit to Longbourn. She corners Elizabeth and says that she has heard that Darcy, her nephew, is planning to marry her. Since she considers a Bennet an unsuitable match for a Darcy, Lady Catherine demands that Elizabeth promise to refuse him. Elizabeth spiritedly refuses, saying she is not engaged to Darcy, but she will not promise anything against her own happiness. A little later, Elizabeth and Darcy go out walking together and he tells her that his feelings have not altered since the spring. She tenderly accepts his proposal, and both Jane and Elizabeth are married....
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Jane Austen Emma (1815)
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C. Arthur Clarke 2001: A Space Odessey (1968)
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William Congreve Love for Love (1695)
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Daniel Defoe Adventures of Famous Moll (1722)
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Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol (1843)
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Charles Dickens David Copperfield (1850
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Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities (1859)
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Charles Dickens Great Expectations (1860)
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Arthur Conan Doyle The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892)
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George Eliot Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life (1874)
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Henry Fielding The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (1749)
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a comic novel by the English playwright and novelist Henry Fielding. The novel is both a Bildungsroman and Picaresque novel. om Jones is among the earliest English prose works describable as a novel,[1] and is the earliest novel mentioned by Somerset Maugham in his 1948 book "Great Novelists and Their Novels" among the ten best novels of the world.
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Alan Moore V for Vendetta (1982-85 - graphic novel)
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SUMMARY: The story depicts a future history of the United Kingdom in the 1990s preceded by a nuclear war in the 1980s, which has left much of the world destroyed, though most of the damage to the country is indirect, via floods and crop failures. In this future, a fascist party called Norsefire has exterminated its opponents in concentration camps and now rules the country as a police state. V, an anarchist revolutionary dressed in a Guy Fawkes mask, begins an elaborate, violent, and intentionally theatrical campaign to murder his former captors, bring down the government, and convince the people to rule themselves. SOURCR: www.wikipedia.com
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Salman Rushdie The Satanic Verses (1988)
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Robert Louis Stevenson Treasure Island (1883)
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E.M. Forster Howard's End (1910)
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After Helen Schlegel's brief romance with Paul Wilcox ends badly, the cultured, idealistic Schlegel family thinks it they will have nothing further to do with the materialistic, commerce-obsessed Wilcoxes. The Schlegels continue with their intellectual lives. At a performance of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, they meet an impoverished insurance clerk named Leonard Bast, who regards them with general suspicion when Helen accidentally steals his umbrella. The Schlegels are shocked when the Wilcoxes move from their country estate of Howards End to a London flat opposite their home on Wickham Place in London. But Paul has left to win his fortune in Nigeria, and Helen is vacationing with her cousin Frieda in Germany, so there is little danger of an unpleasant scene. Margaret, Helen's older sister and the head of the family, even befriends Mrs. Wilcox; they go Christmas shopping together, and Margaret throws a luncheon for the ethereal, selfless Mrs. Wilcox. When Mrs. Wilcox dies not long afterward, she leaves a handwritten note behind asking that Howards End be given to Margaret. But her pragmatic husband, Henry, a prominent businessman, and her greedy son Charles, a struggling businessman, refuse to act on the matter and never mention it to Margaret. One night, Margaret and Helen run into Henry, and they discuss the case of Leonard Bast; Henry warns them that Leonard's insurance company is doomed to failure, and they advise him to find a new job. But poor Leonard, who associates the Schlegels with all things cultural and romantic--he reads constantly, hoping to better himself--resents this intrusion into his business life and accuses them of trying to profit from his knowledge of the insurance industry. Margaret and Henry develop a halting, gradual friendship. When the lease expires at Wickham Place, the Schlegels begin looking for another house (their landlord wants to follow the general trend and replace their house with a more profitable apartment building). Henry offers to rent them a house he owns in London, and when he shows it to Margaret, he suddenly proposes to her. She is surprised by her happiness, and after considering the proposal, she accepts. Shortly before Margaret and Henry are scheduled to be married, Henry's daughter Evie marries a man named Percy Cahill; the wedding is held at a Wilcox estate near Wales. After the party, which Margaret finds quite unpleasant, Helen arrives in a disheveled state, with the Basts in tow. She declares indignantly that Leonard has left his old company, found a new job, and been summarily fired; he is now without an income. Helen angrily blames Henry for his ill-considered advice. Margaret asks Henry to give Leonard a job, but when he sees Jacky Bast, he realizes that he had an affair with her 10 years ago, when she was a prostitute in Cyprus. Margaret forgives him for the indiscretion--it was before they even met--but she writes to Helen that there will be no job for Leonard. Helen and the Basts have retired to a hotel in town, and after Jacky goes to sleep, Helen and Leonard stay up discussing Helen's philosophical observations about life. After Margaret's note arrives, a feeling of tragedy descends on their conversation, and they make love--an unwelcome development for both of them: Leonard is wracked with guilt, and Helen becomes pregnant. She leaves for Germany the following morning, and both she and Leonard recede from Margaret's life. Margaret and Henry are married, and plan to build a new home in Sussex.
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Graham Greene The Power and the Glory (1940)
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Graham Greene The End of the Affair (1951)
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Thomas Hardy An English novelist and poet. A Victorian realist in the tradition of George Eliot, he was influenced both in his novels and in his poetry by Romanticism. Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891)
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SUMMARY of part I: The novel is set in impoverished rural Wessex during the Long Depression. Tess is the oldest child of John and Joan Durbeyfield, uneducated rural peasants; however, John is given the impression by Parson Tringham that he may have noble blood, since "Durbeyfield" is a corruption of "D'Urberville", the surname of a noble Norman family, now extinct. The news immediately goes to John's head. That same day, Tess participates in the village May Dance, where she meets Angel Clare, youngest son of Reverend James Clare, who is on a walking tour with his two brothers. He stops to join the dance, and partners several other girls. Angel notices Tess too late to dance with her, as he is already late for a promised meeting with his brothers. Tess feels slighted. Tess's father gets too drunk to drive to market that night, so Tess undertakes the journey herself. However, she falls asleep at the reins, and the family's only horse encounters a speeding wagon and is fatally wounded. The blood spreads over her white dress, a symbol of forthcoming events. Tess feels so guilty over the horse's death that she agrees, against her better judgement, to visit Mrs d'Urberville, a wealthy widow who lives in the nearby town of Trantridge, and "claim kin", unaware that in reality, Mrs d'Urberville's husband, Simon Stoke, purchased the baronial title and adopted the surname though unrelated to the real d'Urbervilles. Tess does not succeed in meeting Mrs. d'Urberville, but chances to meet her libertine son, Alec, who takes a fancy to Tess and secures her a position as poultry keeper on the estate. Tess dislikes Alec, but endures his persistent unwanted attention to earn enough to replace her family's horse. The threat that Alec presents to Tess's virtue is obscured for Tess by her inexperience and almost daily commonplace interactions with him. He calls her "coz" (cousin), indicating a male protector, but, late one night, walking home from town with some other Trantridge villagers, Tess inadvertently antagonises Car Darch, Alec's most recently discarded favourite, and finds herself in physical danger. When Alec rides up and offers to "rescue" her from the situation, she accepts. Instead of taking her home, he rides through the fog until they reach an ancient grove called "The Chase", where he informs her that he is lost and leaves on foot to get his bearings. Tess stays behind and falls asleep on a coat he lent her. Alec returns and rapes her. The rape is also alluded to in another chapter, with reference to the "sobbing [heard] in The Chase" during the season Tess was at Trantridge, and Alec is later referred to as "the seducer." TYPE: Novel
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P.D. James Phyllis Dorothy James is an English crime writer and a life peer in the House of Lords. She is most famous for a series of detective novels starring policeman and poet Adam Dalgliesh. Children of Men (1992)
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SUMMARY: a dystopian novel by P. D. James that was published in 1992. Set in England in 2021, it centres on the results of mass infertility. James describes a United Kingdom that is steadily depopulating and focuses on a small group of resisters who do not share the disillusionment of the masses. The novel opens with the first entry in Theo's diary. It is the year 2021, but the novel's events have their origin in 1995, which is referred to as "Year Omega". In 1994, the sperm counts of human males plummeted to zero and mankind now faces imminent extinction. The last people to be born are now called "Omegas". "A race apart," they enjoy various prerogatives. Theo writes that the last human being to be born on Earth has been killed in a pub brawl. In 2006, a man called Xan Lyppiatt, Theo's rich and charismatic cousin, appointed himself Warden of England in the last general election. As people have lost all interest in politics, Lyppiatt abolishes democracy. He is called a despot and a tyrant by his opponents, but officially the new society is referred to as egalitarian. Theo is approached by a woman called Julian, a member of a group of dissidents calling themselves the Five Fishes. He meets with them at an isolated church. Rolf, their leader and Julian's husband, is hostile, but the others - Miriam (a former midwife), Gascoigne (a man from a military family), Luke (a former priest), and Julian - are more personable. The group wants Theo to approach Xan on their behalf and ask for various reforms, including a return to a more democratic system. During their discussions, and as Theo prepares to meet with Xan, the reader learns how the UK is in 2021: TYPE: Novel
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Ben Jonson A playwright, poet, and literary critic of the seventeenth century, whose artistry exerted a lasting impact upon English poetry and stage comedy. Every Man in His Humour (1598)
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BACKGROUND: The play belongs to the subgenre of the "humours comedy," in which each major character is dominated by an overriding humour or obsession. SUMMARY: In the main plot, a gentleman named Kno'well, concerned for his son's moral development, attempts to spy on his son, a typical city gallant; however, his espionage is continually subverted by the servant, Brainworm, whom he employs for this purpose. These types are clearly slightly Anglicized versions of ancient types of Greek New Comedy, namely the senex, the son, and the slave. In the subplot, a merchant named Kitely suffers intense jealousy, fearing that his wife is cuckolding him with some of the wastrels brought to his home by his brother-in-law, Wellbred. The characters of these two plots are surrounded by various "humorous" characters, all in familiar English types: the irascible soldier, country gull, pretentious pot-poets, surly water-bearer, and avuncular judge all make an appearance. The play works through a series of complications which culminate when the justice, Clement, hears and decides all of the characters' various grievances, exposing each of them as based in humour, misperception, or deceit. The details of the plot, are, however, less important than the style of the play. Jonson's purpose is delineated in the prologue he wrote for the folio version. These lines, which have justly been taken as applying to Jonson's comic theory in general, are especially appropriate to this play. He promises to present "deeds, and language, such as men do use:/ And persons, such as comedy would choose,/ When she would show an Image of the times,/ And sport with human follies, not with crimes." The play follows out this implicit rejection of the romantic comedy of his peers. It sticks quite carefully to the Aristotelian unities; the plot is a tightly woven mesh of act and reaction; the scenes a genial collection of depictions of everyday life in a large Renaissance city. TYPE: Play
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Rudyard Kipling An English short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He is chiefly remembered for his tales and poems of British soldiers in India and his tales for children. Jungle Books (1894)
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SUMMARY: The tales in the book (and also those in The Second Jungle Book which followed in 1895, and which includes five further stories about Mowgli) are fables, using animals in an anthropomorphic manner to give moral lessons. The verses of The Law of the Jungle, for example, lay down rules for the safety of individuals, families and communities. Kipling put in them nearly everything he knew or "heard or dreamed about the Indian jungle."[3] Other readers have interpreted the work as allegories of the politics and society of the time.[4] The best-known of them are the three stories revolving around the adventures of an abandoned "man cub" Mowgli who is raised by wolves in the Indian jungle. The most famous of the other stories are probably "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", the story of a heroic mongoose, and "Toomai of the Elephants", the tale of a young elephant-handler. As with much of Kipling's work, each of the stories is preceded by a piece of verse, and succeeded by another. The Jungle Book, because of its moral tone, came to be used as a motivational book by the Cub Scouts, a junior element of the Scouting movement. TYPE: Children's book
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Christopher Marlowe An English dramatist, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. Marlowe was the foremost Elizabethan tragedian of his day. He greatly influenced William Shakespeare, who was born in the same year as Marlowe and who rose to become the pre-eminent Elizabethan playwright after Marlowe's mysterious early death. Tamburlaine the Great
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BACKGROUND: It is loosely based on the life of the Central Asian emperor, Timur "the lame". Written in 1587 or 1588, the play is a milestone in Elizabethan public drama; it marks a turning away from the clumsy language and loose plotting of the earlier Tudor dramatists, and a new interest in fresh and vivid language, memorable action, and intellectual complexity. SUMMARY: Part 1 opens in Persepolis. The Persian emperor, Mycetes, dispatches troops to dispose of Tamburlaine, a Scythian shepherd and at that point a nomadic bandit. In the same scene, Mycetes' brother Cosroe plots to overthrow Mycetes and assume the throne. The scene shifts to Scythia, where Tamburlaine is shown wooing, capturing, and winning Zenocrate, the daughter of the Egyptian king. Confronted by Mycetes' soldiers, he persuades first the soldiers and then Cosroe to join him in a fight against Mycetes. Although he promises Cosroe the Persian throne, Tamburlaine reneges on this promise and, after defeating Mycetes, takes personal control of the Persian Empire. Now a powerful figure, Tamburlaine turns his attention to Bajazeth, Emperor of the Turks. He defeats Bajazeth and his tributary kings, capturing the Emperor and his wife Zabina. The victorious Tamburlaine keeps the defeated ruler in a cage and feeds him scraps from his table, releasing Bajazeth only to use him as a footstool. Bajazeth later kills himself onstage by bashing his head against the bars upon hearing of Tamburlaine's next victory, and upon finding his body Zabina does likewise. After conquering Africa and naming himself emperor of that continent, Tamburlaine sets his eyes on Damascus; this target places the Egyptian Sultan, his father-in-law, directly in his path. Zenocrate pleads with her husband to spare her father. He complies, instead making the Sultan a tributary king. The play ends with the wedding of Zenocrate and Tamburlaine, and the crowning of the former as Empress of Persia. In Part 2, Tamburlaine grooms his sons to be conquerors in his wake as he continues to conquer his neighbouring kingdoms. His oldest son, Calyphas, preferring to stay by his mother's side and not risk death, incurs Tamburlaine's wrath. Meanwhile, the son of Bajazeth, Callapine, escapes from Tamburlaine's jail and gathers a group of tributary kings to his side, planning to avenge his father. Callapine and Tamburlaine meet in battle, where Tamburlaine is victorious. But finding Calyphas remained in his tent during the battle, Tamburlaine kills him in anger. Tamburlaine then forces the defeated kings to pull his chariot to his next battlefield, declaring, Holla ye pampered jades of Asia! What, can ye draw but twenty miles a day? Upon reaching Babylon, which holds out against him, Tamburlaine displays further acts of extravagant savagery. When the Governor of the city attempts to save his life in return for revealing the city treasury, Tamburlaine has him hung from the city walls and orders his men to shoot him to death. He orders the inhabitants‚ÄĒmen, women, and children‚ÄĒbound and thrown into a nearby lake. Lastly, Tamburlaine scornfully burns a copy of the Qur'an and claims to be greater than God. In the final act, he is struck ill but manages to defeat one more foe before he dies. He bids his remaining sons to conquer the remainder of the earth as he departs life.
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Christopher Marlowe An English dramatist, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. Marlowe was the foremost Elizabethan tragedian of his day.[2] He greatly influenced William Shakespeare, who was born in the same year as Marlowe and who rose to become the pre-eminent Elizabethan playwright after Marlowe's mysterious early death. Edward II
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SUMMARY: An English history play about the deposition of King Edward II by his barons and the Queen, who resent the undue influence the king's favourites have in court and state affairs. The play was entered into the Stationers' Register on 6 July 1593, five weeks after Marlowe's death. The full title of the earliest extant edition, of 1594, is The troublesome reigne and lamentable death of Edward the second, King of England, with the tragicall fall of proud Mortimer. TYPE: Play
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John Osborne An English playwright, screenwriter, actor and critic of the Establishment. Look Back in Anger (1956)
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BACKGROUND: Look Back in Anger was a strongly autobiographical piece based on Osborne's unhappy marriage to actress Pamela Lane and their life in cramped accommodation in Derby. While Osborne aspired towards a career in theatre, Lane was of a more practical and materialistic persuasion, not taking Osborne's ambitions seriously while cuckolding him with a local dentist. It also contains much of Osborne's earlier life, the wrenching speech of seeing a loved one die being, for example, a replay of the death of Thomas, Osborne's father. What it is best remembered for, though, are Jimmy's tirades. Some of these are directed against generalised British middle-class smugness in the post-atomic world. Many are directed against the female characters, and this is a very distinct echo of the playwright's profoundly uneasy relations with women, starting with his mother Nellie Beatrice, described by Osborne in his autobiography A Better Class of Person as "hypocritical, self-absorbed, calculating and indifferent". Madeline, the lost love Jimmy pines for, is based on Stella Linden, an older rep-company actress who first encouraged Osborne to write. After the first production in London, Osborne began a relationship with Mary Ure, who played Alison, and divorced his wife to marry Ure in 1957.SUMMARY: A love triangle involving an intelligent and educated but disaffected young man of working class origin (Jimmy Porter), his upper-middle-class, impassive wife (Alison), and her haughty best friend (Helena Charles). Cliff, an amiable Welsh lodger, attempts to keep the peace. TYPE: Play
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George Orwell Eric Arthur Blair, known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic. His work is marked by lucid prose, awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and commitment to democratic socialism. Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)
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SUMMARY: Set in Airstrip One (formerly known as Great Britain), a province of the supserstate Oceania in a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public mind control, dictated by a political system euphemistically named English Socialism (or, in the government's invented language, Newspeak, called Ingsoc) under the control of a privileged Inner Party elite that persecutes all individualism and independent thinking as "thoughtcrimes".[2] The tyranny is epitomised by Big Brother, the quasi-divine Party leader who enjoys an intense cult of personality, but who may not even exist. Big Brother and the Party justify their oppressive rule in the name of a supposed greater good.[1] The protagonist of the novel, Winston Smith, is a member of the Outer Party who works for the Ministry of Truth (or Minitrue), which is responsible for propaganda and historical revisionism. His job is to re-write past newspaper articles so that the historical record always supports the current party line.[3] Smith is a diligent and skillful worker, but he secretly hates the Party and dreams of rebellion against Big Brother.
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Harold Pinter A Nobel Prize-winning English playwright, screenwriter, director and actor. One of the most influential modern British dramatists. The Birthday Party (1957)
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SUMMARY: The Birthday Party is about Stanley Webber, an erstwhile piano player in his 30s, who lives in a rundown boarding house, run by Meg and Petey Boles, in an English seaside town, "probably on the south coast, not too far from London".[11][12] Two sinister strangers, Goldberg and McCann, who arrive supposedly on his birthday and who appear to have come looking for him, turn Stanley's apparently innocuous birthday party organized by Meg into a nightmare. TYPE: Play
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Samuel Richardson An 18th-century English writer and printer. He is best known for his three epistolary novels: Pamela: Or, Virtue Rewarded (1740), Clarissa: Or the History of a Young Lady (1748) and The History of Sir Charles Grandison The History of Sir Charles Grandison (1753).
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SUMMARY: The book was a response to Henry Fielding's The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, which parodied the morals presented in Richardson's previous novels.[1][page needed] The novel follows the story of Harriet Byron who is pursued by Sir Hargrave Pollexfen. After she rejects Pollexfen, he kidnaps her, and she is only freed when Sir Charles Grandison comes to her rescue. After his appearance, the novel focuses on his history and life, and he becomes its central figure. The novel incorporates an epistolary format similar to Richardson's previous novels, Clarissa and Pamela. Unlike those novels, Charles Grandison, the leading male character, is a morally good man and lacks the villainous intent that is manifested by the Lovelace or Mr. B (characters of Clarissa and Pamela respectively). Richardson was motivated to create such a male figure because of the prompting of his many female friends who wanted a counterpart to the virtues exhibited by Richardson's female characters. TYPE: Novel
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H.H. Munro Better known by the pen name Saki, and also frequently as H. H. Munro, was a British writer whose witty, mischievous and sometimes macabre stories satirised Edwardian society and culture. He was a master of the short story often compared to O. Henry and Dorothy Parker. The Open Window
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SUMMARY: In Saki's best-known and characteristically brief vignette, set in the drawing-room of an upper-class village house, a self-possessed girl of fifteen unfolds a tale of eerie family tragedy for the highly strung visitor, who receives something of a shock.Vera, the niece of Mrs. Sappleton cooked up a story in front of Framton Nuttel and his reaction to this is the core of the story.Romance at short notice was Vera's specialty. Framton Nuttel has presented himself at the Sappleton house to pay a visit. He is in the country undergoing a rest cure for his nerves and is calling on Mrs. Sappleton at the request of his sister. Though she does not know Mrs. Sappleton well, she worries that her brother will suffer if he keeps himself in total seclusion, as he is likely to do. Fifteen-year-old Vera keeps Nuttel company while they wait for her aunt. After a short silence, Vera asks if Nuttel knows many people in the area. Nuttel replies in the negative, admitting that of Mrs. Sappleton he only knows her name and address. Vera then informs him that her aunt's "great tragedy" happened after his sister was acquainted with her. Vera indicates the large window that opened on to the lawn. Exactly three years ago, Vera recounts, Mrs. Sappleton's husband and two younger brothers...TYPE: Short story
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William Shakespeare An English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. Romeo & Juliet (1597)
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CLIMAX · The deaths of Romeo and Juliet in the Capulet tomb (5.3) PROTAGONISTS · Romeo; Juliet ANTAGONISTS · The feuding Montagues and Capulets; Tybalt; the Prince and citizens of Verona; fate SETTINGS (TIME) · Renaissance (fourteenth or fifteenth century) SETTINGS (PLACE) · Verona and Mantua (cities in northern Italy) POINT OF VIEW · Insofar as a play has a point of view, that of Romeo and Juliet; occasionally the play uses the point of view of the Montague and Capulet servants to illuminate the actions of their masters. FALLING ACTION · The end of Act 5, scene 3, when the Prince and the parents discover the bodies of Romeo and Juliet, and agree to put aside their feud in the interest of peace. TENSE · Present FORESHADOWING · The Chorus's first speech declaring that Romeo and Juliet are doomed to die and "star-crossed." The lovers' frequent thoughts of death: "My grave is like to be my wedding bed" (Juliet, 1.5.132). The lovers' thoughts of suicide, as when Romeo threatens to kill himself after killing Tybalt. Friar Lawrence's warnings to behave moderately if Romeo and Juliet wish to avoid tragedy: "These violent delights have violent ends . . . Therefore love moderately" (2.5.9-14). The lovers' mutual impression that the other looks pale and deathlike after their wedding night (3.5). Juliet's faked death by Friar Lawrence's potion. Romeo's dream-vision of Juliet kissing his lips while he is dead (5.1). Romeo's outbursts against fate: "O, I am fortune's fool!" (3.1.131) and "Then I defy you, stars" (5.1.24). TONES · Passionate, romantic, intense, rhapsodic, violent, prone to extremes of emotion (ecstasy, rage, misery, etc.) THEMES · The forcefulness of love; love as a cause of violence; the individual versus society; the inevitability of fate MOTIFS · Light/dark imagery; opposite points of view SYMBOLS · Poison; thumb-biting; Queen Mab TYPE: Play
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William Shakespeare An English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. Macbeth (1611)
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TONE · Dark and ominous, suggestive of a world turned topsy-turvy by foul and unnatural crimes TENSE · Not applicable (drama) SETTING (TIME) · The Middle Ages, specifically the eleventh century SETTING (PLACE) · Various locations in Scotland; also England, briefly PROTAGONIST · Macbeth MAJOR CONFLICTS · The struggle within Macbeth between his ambition and his sense of right and wrong; the struggle between the murderous evil represented by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth and the best interests of the nation, represented by Malcolm and Macduff RISING ACTION · Macbeth and Banquo's encounter with the witches initiates both conflicts; Lady Macbeth's speeches goad Macbeth into murdering Duncan and seizing the crown. CLIMAX · Macbeth's murder of Duncan in Act 2 represents the point of no return, after which Macbeth is forced to continue butchering his subjects to avoid the consequences of his crime. FALLING ACTION · Macbeth's increasingly brutal murders (of Duncan's servants, Banquo, Lady Macduff and her son); Macbeth's second meeting with the witches; Macbeth's final confrontation with Macduff and the opposing armies THEMES · The corrupting nature of unchecked ambition; the relationship between cruelty and masculinity; the difference between kingship and tyranny MOTIFS · The supernatural, hallucinations, violence, prophecy SYMBOLS · Blood; the dagger that Macbeth sees just before he kills Duncan in Act 2; the weather FORESHADOWING · The bloody battle in Act 1 foreshadows the bloody murders later on; when Macbeth thinks he hears a voice while killing Duncan, it foreshadows the insomnia that plagues Macbeth and his wife; Macduff's suspicions of Macbeth after Duncan's murder foreshadow his later opposition to Macbeth; all of the witches' prophecies foreshadow later events. TYPE: Play
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Jonathan Swift An Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer. A Modest Proposal (1729)
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BACKGROUND: a Juvenalian satirical essay written and published anonymously by Jonathan Swift in 1729. Swift suggests that the impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies.[2] This satirical hyperbole mocks heartless attitudes towards the poor, as well as Irish policy in general. SUMMARY: This essay is widely held to be one of the greatest examples of sustained irony in the history of the English language. Much of its shock value derives from the fact that the first portion of the essay describes the plight of starving beggars in Ireland, so that the reader is unprepared for the surprise of Swift's solution when he states, "A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or a ragout."[1] Readers unacquainted with its reputation as a satirical work often do not immediately realise that Swift was not seriously proposing cannibalism and infanticide, nor would readers unfamiliar with the satires of Horace and Juvenal recognise that Swift's essay follows the rules and structure of Latin satires. The satirical element of the pamphlet is often only understood after the reader notes the allusions made by Swift to the attitudes of landlords, such as the following: "I grant this food may be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for Landlords, who as they have already devoured most of the Parents, seem to have the best Title to the Children." Swift extends the conceit to get in a few jibes at England's mistreatment of Ireland, noting that "For this kind of commodity will not bear exportation, and flesh being of too tender a consistence, to admit a long continuance in salt, although perhaps I could name a country, which would be glad to eat up our whole nation without it." TYPE: Satirical essay
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J. R.R. Tolkien The Hobbit (1937)
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SUMMARY: follows the quest of home-loving hobbit Bilbo Baggins to win a share of the treasure guarded by the dragon, Smaug. Bilbo's journey takes him from light-hearted, rural surroundings into more sinister territory.[2] The story is told in the form of an episodic quest, and most chapters introduce a specific creature, or type of creature, of Tolkien's Wilderland. By accepting the disreputable, romantic, fey and adventurous side of his nature and applying his wits and common sense, Bilbo gains a new level of maturity, competence and wisdom.[3] The story reaches its climax in the Battle of Five Armies, where many of the characters and creatures from earlier chapters re-emerge to engage in conflict. Personal growth and forms of heroism are central themes of the story. TYPE: Fantasy novel and Children's book
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Anthony Trollope The Warden (1855)
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SUMMARY: The Warden concerns Mr Septimus Harding, the meek, elderly warden of Hiram's Hospital and precentor of Barchester Cathedral, in the fictional county of Barsetshire. Hiram's Hospital is an almshouse supported by a medieval charitable bequest to the Diocese of Barchester. The income maintains the almshouse itself, supports its twelve bedesmen, and, in addition, provides a comfortable abode and living for its warden. Mr Harding was appointed to this position through the patronage of his old friend the Bishop of Barchester, who is also the father of Archdeacon Grantly to whom Harding's older daughter, Susan, is married. The warden, who lives with his remaining child, an unmarried younger daughter Eleanor, performs his duties conscientiously. The story concerns the impact upon Harding and his circle when a zealous young reformer, John Bold, launches a campaign to expose the disparity in the apportionment of the charity's income between its object, the bedesmen, and its officer, Mr Harding. John Bold embarks on this campaign in a spirit of public duty despite his romantic involvement with Eleanor and previously cordial relations with Mr Harding. Bold starts a lawsuit and Mr Harding is advised by the indomitable Dr Grantly, his son-in-law, to stand his ground. Bold attempts to enlist the support of the press and engages the interest of The Jupiter (a newspaper representing The Times) whose editor, Tom Towers, pens editorials supporting reform of the charity, and presenting a portrait of Mr Harding as selfish and derelict in his conduct of his office. This image is taken up by commentators Dr Pessimist Anticant, and Mr Popular Sentiment, who have been seen as caricatures of Thomas Carlyle and Charles Dickens respectively.[2] Ultimately, despite much browbeating by his son-in-law, the Archdeacon, and the legal opinion solicited from the barrister, Sir Abraham Haphazard, Mr Harding concludes that he cannot in good conscience continue to accept such generous remuneration and resigns the office. John Bold, who has appealed in vain to Tom Towers to redress the injury to Mr Harding, returns to Barchester where he marries Eleanor after halting legal proceedings. Those of the bedesmen of the hospital who have allowed their appetite for greater income to estrange them from the warden are reproved by their senior member, Bunce, who has been constantly loyal to Harding whose good care and understanding heart are now lost to them. At the end of the novel the bishop decides that the wardenship of Hiram's Hospital be left vacant, and none of the bedesmen are offered the extra money despite vacancy of the post. Mr Harding, on the other hand, becomes Rector of St. Cuthbert's, a small parish near the Cathedral Close, drawing a much lesser income than before. SOURCE: www.wikipedia.com
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John Webster an English Jacobean dramatist best known for his tragedies The White Devil and The Duchess of Malfi, which are often regarded as masterpieces of the early 17th-century English stage. The Duchess of Malfi (1612)
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Jacobean drama continued the trend of stage violence and horror set by Elizabethan tragedy, under the influence of Seneca, and there is a great deal of all that in the later scenes of the play.[3] The complexity of some of its characters, particularly Bosola and the Duchess, plus Webster's poetic language, ensure the play is often considered among the greatest tragedies of Englishrenaissance. drama. SUMMARY: BACKGROUND: The play begins as a love story, with a Duchess who marries beneath her class, and ends as a nightmarish tragedy as her two brothers exact their revenge, destroying themselves in the process. The play is set in the court of Malfi (Amalfi), Italy 1504 to 1510. The recently widowed Duchess falls in love with Antonio, a lowly steward, but her brothers, not wishing her to share their inheritance, forbid her from remarrying. She marries Antonio in secret and bears him three children. The Duchess's lunatic and incestuously obsessed brother Ferdinand threatens and disowns her. In an attempt to escape, she and Antonio concoct a story that he has swindled her out of her fortune and has to flee into exile. She takes Bosola into her confidence, not knowing that he is Ferdinand's spy, and arranges that he will deliver her jewellery to Antonio at his hiding-place in Ancona. She will join them later, whilst pretending to make a pilgrimage to a town nearby. The Cardinal hears of the plan, instructs Bosola to banish the two lovers, and sends soldiers to capture them. Antonio escapes with their eldest son, but the Duchess, her maid, and her two younger children are returned to Malfi and, under instructions from Ferdinand, die at the hands of Bosola's executioners. This experience, combined with a long-standing sense of injustice and his own feeling of a lack of identity, turns Bosola against the Cardinal and his brother, deciding to take up the cause of "Revenge for the Duchess of Malfi" (V.2). The Cardinal confesses to his mistress Julia his part in the killing of the Duchess and then murders her to silence her, using a poisoned Bible. Next, Bosola overhears the Cardinal plotting to kill him (though he accepts what he sees as punishment for his actions) and so visits the darkened chapel to kill the Cardinal at his prayers. Instead, he mistakenly kills Antonio, who has just returned to Malfi to attempt a reconciliation with the Cardinal. Bosola stabs the Cardinal, who dies. In the brawl that follows, Ferdinand and Bosola stab each other to death. Antonio's elder son by the Duchess appears in the final scene and takes his place as the heir to the Malfi fortune, despite his father's explicit wish that he "fly the court of princes", a corrupt and increasingly deadly environment. TYPE: Play
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Evelyn Waugh an English writer of novels, biographies and travel books. He was also a prolific journalist and reviewer. His best-known works include his early satires Decline and Fall. Decline and Fall (1928)
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SUMMARY: The novel tells the story of Paul Pennyfeather, student at the fictional Scone College, Oxford, who is sent down for running through the college grounds without his trousers, having become, inadvertently, immersed in the activities of the Bollinger Club. Having defaulted on the conditions of his inheritance, he is forced to take a job teaching at an obscure public school in Wales called Llanabba, run by Dr Fagan. Attracted to the wealthy mother of one of his pupils, Pennyfeather becomes private tutor to her boy, Peter, and then engaged to be married to her - the Honourable Mrs Margot Beste-Chetwynde (who later becomes "Lady Metroland," and appears in Waugh's other novels.)[4] Pennyfeather, however, is unaware that the source of her income is a number of high-class brothels in South America. Arrested on the morning of the wedding, after running an errand for Margot related to her business, Pennyfeather takes the fall to protect his fiancée's honour and is sentenced to seven years in prison for traffic in prostitution. Margot marries another man with government ties and he arranges for Paul to fake his own death and escape. In the end he returns to where he started at Scone. He studies under his own name, having convinced the college that he is the distant cousin of the Paul Pennyfeather who was sent down previously. The novel ends as it started, with Paul sitting in his room listening to the distant shouts of the Bollinger Club. TYPE: Novel
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H.G. Wells An English writer, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. Wells is sometimes called "The Father of Science Fiction" The Time Machine
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SUMMARY: A group of men, including the narrator, is listening to the Time Traveller discuss his theory that time is the fourth dimension. The Time Traveller produces a miniature time machine and makes it disappear into thin air. The next week, the guests return, to find their host stumble in, looking disheveled and tired. They sit down after dinner, and the Time Traveller begins his story.The Time Traveller had finally finished work on his time machine, and it rocketed him into the future. When the machine stops, in the year 802,701 AD, he finds himself in a paradisiacal world of small humanoid creatures called Eloi. They are frail and peaceful, and give him fruit to eat. He explores the area, but when he returns he finds that his time machine is gone. He decides that it has been put inside the pedestal of a nearby statue. He tries to pry it open but cannot. In the night, he begins to catch glimpses of strange white ape-like creatures the Eloi call Morlocks. He decides that the Morlocks live below ground, down the wells that dot the landscape. Meanwhile, he saves one of the Eloi from drowning, and she befriends him. Her name is Weena. The Time Traveller finally works up enough courage to go down into the world of Morlocks to try to retrieve his time machine. He finds that matches are a good defense against the Morlocks, but ultimately they chase him out of their realm. Frightened by the Morlocks, he takes Weena to try to find a place where they will be safe from the Morlocks' nocturnal hunting. He goes to what he calls the Palace of Green Porcelain, which turns out to be a museum. There, he finds more matches, some camphor, and a lever he can use as a weapon. That night, retreating from the Morlocks through a giant wood, he accidentally starts a fire. Many Morlocks die in the fire and the battle that ensues, and Weena is killed. The exhausted Time Traveller returns to the pedestal to find that it has already been pried open. He strides in confidently, and just when the Morlocks think that they have trapped him, he springs onto the machine and whizzes into the future. The Time Traveller makes several more stops. In a distant time he stops on a beach where he is attacked by giant crabs. The bloated red sun sits motionless in the sky. He then travels thirty million years into the future. The air is very thin, and the only sign of life is a black blob with tentacles. He sees a planet eclipse the sun. He then returns, exhausted, to the present time. The next day, he leaves again, but never returns. TYPE: Science fiction novella
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Virginia Woolf An English writer, and one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century. Mrs. Dalloway (1925)
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GENRE · Modernist; formalist; feminist NARRATOR · Anonymous. The omniscient narrator is a commenting voice who knows everything about the characters. This voice appears occasionally among the subjective thoughts of characters. The critique of Sir William Bradshaw's reverence of proportion and conversion is the narrator's most sustained appearance. POINT OF VIEW · Point of view changes constantly, often shifting from one character's stream of consciousness (subjective interior thoughts) to another's within a single paragraph. Woolf most often uses free indirect discourse, a literary technique that describes the interior thoughts of characters using third-person singular pronouns (he and she). This technique ensures that transitions between the thoughts of a large number of characters are subtle and smooth. TONE · The narrator is against the oppression of the human soul and for the celebration of diversity, as are the book's major characters. Sometimes the mood is humorous, but an underlying sadness is always present. TENSE · Though mainly in the immediate past, Peter's dream of the solitary traveler is in the present tense. SETTING (TIME) · A day in mid-June, 1923. There are many flashbacks to a summer at Bourton in the early 1890s, when Clarissa was eighteen. SETTING (PLACE) · London, England. The novel takes place largely in the affluent neighborhood of Westminster, where the Dalloways live. PROTAGONIST · Clarissa Dalloway MAJOR CONFLICT · Clarissa and other characters try to preserve their souls and communicate in an oppressive and fragmentary post-World War I England. RISING ACTION · Clarissa spends the day organizing a party that will bring people together, while her double, Septimus Warren Smith, eventually commits suicide due to the social pressures that oppress his soul. CLIMAX · At her party, Clarissa goes to a small room to contemplate Septimus's suicide. She identifies with him and is glad he did it, believing that he preserved his soul. FALLING ACTION · Clarissa returns to her party and is viewed from the outside. We do not know whether she will change due to her moment of clarity, but we do know that she will endure. THEMES · Communication vs. privacy; disillusionment with the British Empire; the fear of death; the threat of oppression TYPE: Novel
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Oscar Wilde An Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. Today he is remembered for his epigrams, his only novel (The Picture of Dorian Gray), his plays, and the circumstances of his imprisonment and early death. The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivila Comedy for Serious People (1895)
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GENRE · Social comedy; comedy of manners; satire; intellectual farce TONE · Light, scintillating, effervescent, deceptively flippant SETTING (TIME) · 1890s SETTING (PLACE) · London (Act I) and Hertfordshire, a rural county not far from London (Acts II and III) PROTAGONIST · John Worthing, known as "Ernest" by his friends in town (i.e., London) and as "Jack" by his friends and relations in the country MAJOR CONFLICT · Jack faces many obstacles to his romantic union with Gwendolen. One obstacle is presented by Lady Bracknell, who objects to what she refers to as Jack's "origins" (i.e. his inability to define his family background). Another obstacle is Gwendolen's obsession with the name "Ernest," since she does not know Jack's real name. RISING ACTION · Algernon discovers that Jack is leading a double life and that he has a pretty young ward named Cecily. The revelation of Jack's origins causes Lady Bracknell to forbid his union with Gwendolen. Identifying himself as "Ernest," Algernon visits Jack's house in the country and falls in love with Cecily. CLIMAX · Gwendolen and Cecily discover that both Jack and Algernon have been lying to them and that neither is really named "Ernest." FALLING ACTION · Miss Prism is revealed to be the governess who mistakenly abandoned Jack as a baby and Jack is discovered to be Algernon's elder brother. THEMES · The nature of marriage; the constraints of morality; hypocrisy vs. inventiveness; the importance of not being "earnest" TYPE: Play
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