Penguin Classics

New and forthcoming

The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem

Jeremy Noel-Tod

The last decades have seen an explosion of the prose poem. More and more writers are turning to this peculiarly rich and flexible form; it defines Claudia Rankine's Citizen, one of the most talked-about books of recent years, and many others, such as Sarah Howe's Loop of Jade and Vahni Capildeo's Measures of Expatriation, make extensive use of it. Yet this fertile mode which in its time has drawn the likes of Charles Baudelaire, Oscar Wilde, T. S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein and Seamus Heaney remains, for many contemporary readers, something of a mystery.

The history of the prose poem is a long and fascinating one. Here, Jeremy Noel-Tod reconstructs it for us by selecting the essential pieces of writing - by turns luminous, brooding, lamentatory and comic - which have defined and developed the form at each stage, from its beginnings in nineteenth-century France, through the twentieth-century traditions of Britain and America and beyond the English language, to the great wealth of material written internationally since 2000. Comprehensively told, it yields one of the most original and genre-changing anthologies to be published for some years, and offers readers the chance to discover a diverse range of new poets and new kinds of poem, while also meeting famous names in an unfamiliar guise.

Territory of Light

Yuko Tsushima

'Wonderfully poetic ... extraordinary freshness ... a Virginia Woolf quality' Margaret Drabble

Territory of Light is the luminous story of a young woman, living alone in Tokyo with her three-year-old daughter. Its twelve, stand-alone fragments follow the first year of the narrator's separation from her husband. The novel is full of light, sometimes comforting and sometimes dangerous: sunlight streaming through windows, dappled light in the park, distant fireworks, dazzling floodwater, desaturated streetlamps and mysterious explosions. The seemingly artless prose is beautifully patterned: the cumulative effect is disarmingly powerful, and bright after-images remain in your mind for a long time afterwards.

Anne of Green Gables

L. M. Montgomery

A classic coming-of-age tale of a spirited heroine named Anne

Anne Shirley is an eleven-year-old orphan who is mistakenly sent to a pair of siblings who had wanted to adopt a boy to help with the work on their farm in Prince Edward Island. Anne's quirky personality and good-natured spirit cause the siblings to grow to love her anyway and soon the entire town falls for the precocious little girl with bright red hair. Beloved by both children and adults, Anne of Green Gables is a celebration of fierce individualism and the families we create, rather than the ones we are born into.

The Adventures of Simplicius Simplicissimus

Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen (and others)

First published in 1668, Simplicissimus tells the picaresque, brilliantly described adventures of a boy swept up in the Thirty Years War and the terrible things that he experiences. Some of it is realistic, some fantastical but the overall effect is an unmatched picture of Europe torn apart by an endless, sadistic, futile war from which nobody can escape.

Simplicissimus was rediscovered in 20th century Germany where the book's grim message resonated and the book is now established as one of the essential works of German literature.

As Thomas Mann wrote: 'It is a story of the most basic kind of grandeur - gaudy, wild, raw, amusing, rollicking and ragged, boiling with life, on intimate terms with death and evil - but in the end, contrite and fully tired of a world wasting itself in blood, pillage and lust, but immortal in the miserable spendour of its sins.'

My Life

Marc Chagall

Chagall was born in Witebsk in White Russia, the son of a herring merchant who lived opposite a laundress and a chimney sweep. After the Revolution, while waiting for emigration papers, he wrote his autobiography at the age of 34.

My Life reads like one of Chagall's paintings: emotional, fragmentary, humorous, colourful and dream-like, soaked in nostalgia for Jewish small-town society, familiar to us from The Fiddler on the Roof. It combines a colourist's eye for detail, an artist's passion for life, a satirical sense of humour with a backdrop of Belle Époque Paris and revolutionary Russia. The character sketches are magnificent.

Chagall produced 50 illustrations which accompany the text. The first English translation of My Life was published in 1965 and it has been in print ever since.

Hadrian the Seventh

Frederick Rolfe

The titlular character of Hadrian the Seventh is inextricably intertwined with his creator, Frederick Rolfe, the self-titled Baron Corvo. Both were Catholic converts and unsuccessful candidates for priesthood, who led bitter, misunderstood lives, betrayed (they thought) by friends, bishops and prelates. Both were at times struggling writers and failed inventors, their brilliance (they believed) insufficiently recognized, who lived alternately extravagantly and in squalor. Rolfe put all his obsessions, all his hate and suffering, his dreams and fantasies into George Arthur Rose, the outcast who through a bizarre sequence of events is elected Pope. Hadrian VII, the first English pontiff in five centuries, is a mass of contradictions: infallible and petulant, ascetic and corrupt, humble and despotic, he empties the Vatican's coffers to feed the poor and reshapes nations in a bid for world peace. With this blend of satire and self-knowledge which runs through the pages of this, his finest novel, Rolfe both vindicates and condemns himself.

A new introduction by Richard Davenport-Hines untangles the many deceptions of this most autobiographical of fictions, and those which surround its author.

Works and Days

Hesiod (and others)

A new verse translation of one of the foundational ancient Greek works by the award-winning poet Alicia Stallings.

The ancient Greeks revered Hesiod, believing he had beaten Homer in a singing contest and that after his dead body was thrown to sea, it was brought back by dolphins. His Works and Days is one of the most important early works of Greek poetry. Ostensibly written by the poet to chide his lazy brother, it recounts the story of Pandora's box and humanity's decline since the Golden Age, and can be read as a celebration of rural life and a hymn to work.

Maigret's Doubts

Georges Simenon (and others)

An unusually quiet day for Maigret at the Quai des Orfèvres is disturbed by a visit from mild-mannered toy salesman, Xavier Manton. Maigret is puzzled by Manton's admission that he suspects his wife of plotting to poison him and when he receives a visit from Mme Manton later that day he is not sure who to trust. Maigret heeds the advice of his seniors and investigates the couple and when a body is discovered everyone, including Maigret, is surprised.

Penguin is publishing the entire series of Maigret novels in new translations. This novel has been published in a previous translation as Maigret Has Scruples.

'His artistry is supreme' John Banville

'One of the greatest writers of the twentieth century . . . Simenon was unequalled at making us look inside, though the ability was masked by his brilliance at absorbing us obsessively in his stories' Guardian

Berlin Alexanderplatz

Alfred Döblin (and others)

New to Penguin Classics, a crackling new translation by Michael Hofmann of the great novel of 1920s Berlin life.

The subject of this book is the life of the former cement-worker and haulier Franz Biberkopf in Berlin. As our story begins, he has just been released from prison, where he did time for some stupid stuff, and now he is back in Berlin, determined to go straight.

To begin with, he succeeds. But then he gets involved in a set-to with an unpredictable external agency that looks an awful lot like fate.

To see and hear this will be worthwhile for many readers who, like Franz Biberkopf, fill out a human skin, but, again like Franz Biberkopf, happen to want more from life than a piece of bread...

The Penguin Book of Haiku

Adam L. Kern (and others)

The first Penguin anthology of Japanese haiku, in vivid new translations by Adam L. Kern.

Now a global poetry, the haiku was originally a Japanese verse form that flourished from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. Although renowned for its brevity, usually running over three lines in seventeen syllables, and by its use of natural imagery to make Zen-like observations about reality, in fact the haiku is much more: it can be erotic, funny, crude and mischievous. Presenting over a thousand exemplars in vivid and engaging translations, this anthology offers an illuminating introduction to this widely celebrated, if misunderstood, art form.

Adam L. Kern's new translations are accompanied here by the original Japanese and short commentaries on the poems, as well as an introduction and illustrations from the period.

Classics you can read in one sitting