Leo Tolstoy's classic story of doomed love is one of the most admired novels in world literature. Generations of readers have been enthralled by his magnificent heroine, the unhappily married Anna Karenina, and her tragic affair with dashing Count Vronsky.
War and Peace is one of the greatest monuments in world literature. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, it examines the relationship between the individual and the relentless march of history. Here are the universal themes of love and hate, ambition and despair, youth and age, expressed with a swirling vitality which makes the book as accessible today as it was when it was first published in 1869.
On the eve of his marriage to the beautiful Mercedes, having that very day been made captain of his ship, the young sailor Edmond Dantès is arrested on a charge of treason, trumped up by jealous rivals. Incarcerated for many lonely years in the isolated and terrifying Chateau d'If near Marseille, he meticulously plans his brilliant escape and extraordinary revenge.
"my favorite book performed brilliantly"
The story is told by a young 'unknown soldier' in the trenches of Flanders during the First World War. Through his eyes we see all the realities of war; under fire, on patrol, waiting in the trenches, at home on leave, and in hospitals and dressing stations.
"amazing telling of a beautifully chilling story"
"... And then the sun came up (on finishing)"
A century after it first appeared, Crime and Punishment remains one of the most gripping psychological thrillers. A poverty-stricken young man, seeing his family making sacrifices for him, is faced with an opportunity to solve his financial problems with one simple but horrifying act: the murder of a pawnbroker. She is, he feels, just a parasite on society. But does the end justify the means? Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov makes his decision and then has to live with it.
Featuring a fictional version of himself - 'Marcel' - and a host of friends, acquaintances, and lovers, In Search of Lost Time is Proust's search for the key to the mysteries of memory, time, and consciousness. As he recalls his childhood days, the sad affair of Charles Swann and Odette de Crecy, his transition to manhood, the tortures of love and the ravages of war, he realises that the simplest of discoveries can lead to astonishing possibilities.
"In Search of Brilliance? Look no further!"
In this intense detective thriller instilled with philosophical, religious, and social commentary, Dostoevsky studies the psychological impact upon a desperate and impoverished student when he murders a despicable pawnbroker, transgressing moral law to ultimately "benefit humanity".
"a psychological thriller"
What is reality? Ask yourself whether you can actually know the answer, much less be sure that you can know it, and you've begun to grapple with the metaphysical and epistemological quandaries that have occupied, teased, and tormented modern philosophy's greatest intellects since the dawn of modern science and a century before the Enlightenment.
"Brilliant. Just brilliant."
Celebrated Irish author Padraic Colum dazzled audiences with his retellings of old Gaelic myths. In The King of Ireland's Son, he imbues seven favorite tales from the Emerald Isle with sly humor, whimsy, and imagination.
Germinal is one of the most striking novels in the French tradition. Widely regarded as Zola's masterpiece, the novel describes the working conditions of French coalminers in the 1860s in harsh and realistic terms. It is visceral, graphic, and unrelenting. Its strong socialist principles and vivid accounts of the miners' strikes meant that the novel became a key symbol in the workers' fight against oppression, with chants of "Germinal! Germinal!" resonating high above the author's funeral.
Harry Haller is a sad and lonely figure, a reclusive intellectual for whom life holds no joy. He struggles to reconcile the wild primeval wolf and the rational man within himself without surrendering to the bourgeois values he despises. His life changes dramatically when he meets a woman who is his opposite, the carefree and elusive Hermine.
Once upon a time, a teenaged Kate Winslet (The Reader, Titanic, Revolutionary Road) received a gift that would leave a lasting impression: a copy of Emile Zola’s classic Thérèse Raquin. Six Academy Award nominations and one Best Actress award later, she steps behind the microphone to perform this haunting classic of passion and disaster.
"Dark dark dark... but oh so good"
"It was the best of times and the worst of times." In one of the most famous openings of any novel, Dickens masterfully presents the turmoil of the French Revolution, which is the backdrop for a novel of love, patience, hope, and self-sacrifice. This version is read by Anton Lesser, whose award-winning Dickens recordings in their abridged form has now resulted in the opportunity to read the full unabridged text.
Set in the 23rd century, The Glass Bead Game is the story of Joseph Knecht, who has been raised in Castalia, which has provided for the intellectual elite to grow and flourish. Since childhood, Knecht has been consumed with mastering the Glass Bead Game, which requires a synthesis of aesthetics and scientific arts, such as mathematics, music, logic, and philosophy, which he achieves in adulthood, becoming a Magister Ludi (Master of the Game).
A father and three of his seven children work brutal hours in a mine, facing hazards such as landslides, fire, and poisoned air, to scrape together enough money for food. When their lodger, Étienne, shares ideas about a workers' revolt, the family gradually embraces his plans. Soon the settlement is aflame with resolve to strike for better wages and working conditions. Savage and horrifying events ensue as miners clash with management and with each other.
Heidi is sent to live with her embittered grandfather high in the Swiss Alps. Heidi's innocent joy of life and genuine concern and love for all living things become the old man's salvation. From the goat - herder Peter and his family to the sickly girl Clara and her desperate father, Heidi's special charm enriches everyone she meets. Unselfish to the core, Heidi's goodness overcomes all obstacles - even those seemingly insurmountable.
In an attempt to appeal to the Medici family during the Italian Renaissance, Machiavelli outlines the way to acquire and retain political power, and how great men should behave in a princely government. The book is divided into four parts - types of principalities and state, proper conduct of a prince as military leader, personal conduct of a prince, and the disparity of Italy's political situation. Many listeners will be able to see principals that Machiavelli advocates for are still used in many political systems today.
Les Misérables is set in Paris after the French Revolution. In the sewers and backstreets, we encounter "the wolf-like tread of crime", and assassination for a few sous is all in a day's work. We weep with the unlucky and heart-broken Fantine, and we exult with the heroic revolutionaries of the barricades; but above all we thrill to the steadfast courage and nobility of soul of ex-convict Jean Valjean, always in danger from the relentless pursuit of the diabolical Inspector Javert.
Often called the greatest novel ever written, War and Peace is at once an epic of the Napoleonic wars, a philosophical study, and a celebration of the Russian spirit. Tolstoy's genius is clearly seen in the multitude of characters in this massive chronicle, all of them fully realized and equally memorable.
"Great for what it is. Not very climatic."
The Talisman revolves around the Third Crusader's camp in the Holy Land whereby there exists a truce between the Christians and the Muslims. The camp, which is led by King Richard I of England (the Lion-heart) who is grievously ill, is being torn apart by tensions between rival leaders.
'I had begun, God knows why, tearing a corner off of everyday truth, begun seeing myself in another kind of mirror, and now the whole of the old, more or less comfortable truth was falling to pieces.' Confident and successful, New York advertising executive Ray Sanders takes what he wants from life. When he goes missing in a snowstorm in Connecticut one evening, his closest friend begins to reassess his loyalties, gambling with Ray's fate and his own future.
The adventure begins in London on Tuesday, October 1st, 1872, when rich British gentleman Phileas Fogg gets in an argument with a group of friends. He enters a wager that sets him on a race to make it around the world in 80 days. Although the trip begins as planned with his valet Jean Passepartout, he is quickly mistaken as a bank robber by Scotland Yard detective Fix. Now being pursued on his journey, Fogg must quickly travel in order to win the wager, see the world, and avoid being apprehended for a crime he did not commit in the ultimate adventure story.
"In the Penal Colony" ("In der Strafkolonie") (also translated as "In the Penal Settlement") is a short story by Franz Kafka written in German in October 1914, revised in November 1918, and first published in October 1919. The story is set in an unnamed penal colony. Internal clues and the setting on an island suggest Octave Mirbeau's "The Torture Garden" as an influence
Phileas Fogg, a gentleman of stringent and inflexible habits, proposes that he can circumvent the globe in 80 days. He wagers half of his fortune to this effect. But when a high profile bank robbery occurs, the dogged Detective Fix is convinced that Mr. Fogg is an audacious bank robber and that his entire "gentleman's wager" is a charade. Thus begins a wild battle of cat and mouse that takes the clever combatants around the world.
Beowulf is an epic poem that has withstood the test of time. It has been translated and studied for centuries and is a hallmark of academic curricula. It is both an adventure and a tragedy and despite some difficult language is a beautiful story of loyalty and courage in the midst of danger.
Siddhartha, the ninth book written by Herman Hesse, is about a young Indian boy who leaves his home in hopes of finding enlightenment with the wise "Goutama", which in this story is the Buddha. After learning what he can from Goutama, he decides to go off into the busy city, and leads a life of greed and lust. When he realizes that the lifestyle is not fulfilling, and he reflects on his life, he goes to a river and contemplates suicide.
Rasselas and his companions escape the pleasures of the "happy valley" in order to make their "choice of life". By witnessing the misfortunes and miseries of others they come to understand the nature of happiness and value it more highly. Their travels and enquiries raise important practical and philosophical questions concerning many aspects of the human condition, including the business of a poet, the stability of reason, the immortality of the soul, and how to find contentment.
The Brothers Karamazov is a tale of a complicated and broken family headed by a father, Fyodor Karamazov, who becomes entangled with his three sons, whom he neglected, after both mothers died.
The Metamorphosis (German: Die Verwandlung, also sometimes translated as The Transformation) is a novella by Franz Kafka, first published in 1915. It has been cited as one of the seminal works of fiction of the 20th century and is studied in colleges and universities across the western world. The story begins with a traveling salesman, Gregor Samsa, waking to find himself transformed (metamorphosed) into a large, monstrous insect-like creature.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is the first novel of Irish writer James Joyce. A Künstlerroman in a modernist style, it traces the intellectual and religious philosophical awakening of young Stephen Dedalus, a fictional alter ego of Joyce and an allusion to Daedalus, the consummate craftsman of Greek mythology. Stephen questions and rebels against the Catholic and Irish conventions under which he has grown up, culminating in his self-exile from Ireland to Europe.
In Denmark, a very prosperous and popular ruler, King Hrothgar, has built a large mead hall and encouraged all of his soldiers to be jubilant and merry. The commotion from the festivities has greatly upset a horrible demon, Grendel, who lives in the swamp. Every night the demon terrorizes the community forcing the Danes to suffer at the hand of the beast for many years until a young Geatish warrior, Beowulf, hears of the plight King Hrothgar has endured.
As travelling salesman Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. He was lying on his hard - as if it were armor-plated - back, and when he lifted his head a little he could see his domelike brown belly divided into stiff arched segments, on top of which the bed quilt could hardly stay in place and was about to slide off completely. His numerous legs, which were pitifully thin compared to the rest of his bulk, waved helplessly before his eyes.
Le Grand Meaulnes is one of the great classics of French literature, a mysterious, even impressionistic tale of adolescence in the French countryside in the dying years of the 19th century. A teenager, Agustin Meaulnes, arrives in a country school, and his strong personality immediately affects its rural atmosphere, especially in the eyes of his younger school companion, the 15 year old François.
First published in 1752, "Micromegas" is one of Voltaire’s best-known works. It is a tale of mordant irony, and actually the original science-fiction short story. Arriving on Earth from the star Sirius, the gigantic explorer Micromegas discovers the people of Earth, so small compared to him that he first believes that no creature this size can hope to achieve any degree of intelligence; he will soon discover the ways and thoughts of these diminutive people, who clearly have an over-inflated idea of their own importance in the universe. Voltaire's extrapolations of sun-powered interstellar flight, alien civilizations, and the two moons of Mars, are designed to make us see ourselves in a new light and laugh at what we find.
Here is a grotesque and carnivalesque collection of exuberant, fantastical stories that takes us from the ancient world through to the European Renaissance. At the heart of these tall tales are the giant Gargantua and his equally seismic son, Pantagruel. Containing magical adventures, maniacal punning, slapstick humor, erudite allusions, and just about any bodily function one can think of, here is quite possibly the zaniest, most risqué book ever written.