Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives - and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization, and helped make us who we are.
The Stoic writings of the philosopher Seneca offer powerful insights into the art of living, the importance of reason and morality, and continue to provide profound guidance to many through their eloquence, lucidity and timeless wisdom.
The Meditations of the great Roman Philosopher-Emperor Marcus Aurelius are simple yet profound works of stoic philosophy.
Aprofound influence not only on Christian theology but on the psychology and political philosophy of the West since the Dark Ages. One of the greatest explorations of sin, epiphany and redemption ever written, the Confessions of Saint Augustine continue to shape our ideas with their passionate declaration of the life-changing power of faith.
We are all frail; consider none more frail than yourself.'
Thomas à Kempis - The Inner Life
One must be a fox in order to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves' Machiavelli, The Prince
Michel de Montaigne was the originator of the modern essay form; in these diverse pieces he expresses his views on relationships, contemplates the idea that man is no different from any animal, argues that all cultures should be respected, and attempts, by an exploration of himself, to understand the nature of humanity.
Swift's exuberant, bawdy fable is a unique satire on politics, religion, fashion, madness and on writing itself.
Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains'
Gibbon's subversive and iconoclastic description of the rise of Christianity inspired outrage upon publication, and remains one of the most eloquent and damning indictments of the delusory nature of faith.
The book that created the modern United States, Paine's incendiary call for Americans to revolt against British rule converted millions to the cause of independence and set out a vision of a just society.
Apassionate declaration of female independence from the founder of modern feminism.
Love turns, with a little indulgence, to indifference or disgust: hatred alone is immortal' William Hazlitt
The work that changed the face of the twentieth century beyond recognition.
Asearing vision of the human condition - Schopenhauer's perception of the importance of art, morality and self-awareness in a blind struggle against a Godless, meaningless world.
Ruskin's treatise on the need for individual artistic freedom remains powerfully relevant to our ideas of beauty today.
Charles Darwin's seismic theory of evolution turned the Victorian world upside down, utterly rewrote our notions of life on earth, and is still attacked by religious creationists today.
Woolf's blazing polemic on female creativity, the role of the writer, and the silent fate of Shakespeare's imaginary sister remains a powerful reminder of a woman's need for financial independence and intellectual freedom.
Freud's epoch-making insights revolutionized our perception of the self, and founded the theories of psychoanalysis.
Anyone who wants to understand the twentieth century will still have to read Orwell'
Timothy Garton Ash, New York Review of Books
Whether puncturing the lies of politicians, wittily dissecting the English character or telling unpalatable truths about war, Orwell's timeless, uncompromising essays are more relevant, entertaining and essential than ever in today's era of spin.