Search: The Penguin English Library

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Confessions of a Sinner

Saint Augustine (Author)

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.

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.

The Years

Virginia Woolf (Author) , Jeri Johnson (Edited by) , Jeri Johnson (Introducer)

THE MOST POPULAR OF WOOLF'S NOVELS DURING HER LIFETIME, THE YEARS IS AT ONCE THESTORY OF THREE GENERATIONS OF A FAMILY, THE PARGITERS, AND A SAVAGE INDICTMENT OF BRITISH SOCIETY AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY. A WORK OF FLUID AND DAZZLING LUCIDITY, THE NOVEL DOES NOT FOLLOW A SIMPLE LINE OF DEVELOPMENT BUT IS VARIED AND CONSTANTLY CHANGING, EMPHASIZING ITS NARRATIVE DISCONTINUITY. AS THE CHARACTERS FOLLOW THEIR DAILY RITUALS THEY STRUGGLE TO UNDERSTAND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THEIR OWN LIVES AND EXPERIENCES IN RELATION TO EACH OTHER AND TOTHE HISTORICAL EVENTS GOING ON AROUND THEM. THERE IS OFTEN FAILURE YET THERE IS ALSO HOPE IN THE RECOGNITION THAT THE FUTURE CAN BE DIFFERENT FROM THE PAST.

The Lair of the White Worm

Bram Stoker (Author)

An ancient evil walks among them.

When Adam Salton arrives at his grand-uncle’s Derbyshire estate he quickly senses that a macabre and malevolent force is at work. In his attempts to uncover the grisly mystery he encounters the chilling Lady Arabella and the obsessive Edgar Caswall, each harbouring their own dark and dreadful desires.

To his horror, Adam discovers that something hideous is living in the grounds of nearby Castra Regis, something that feeds on the flesh of humans. And so begins a terrifying quest to destroy the evil lurking in their midst ...

All the Little Live Things

Wallace Stegner (Author)

'Timely and timeless ... Will hold any reader to its last haunting page' Chicago Tribune

The early life of Joe Allston, the retired literary agent of Stegner's National Book Award-winning novel, The Spectator Bird, features in this disquieting and keenly observed novel. Scarred by the senseless death of their son and baffled by the engulfing chaos of the 1960s, Allston and his wife, Ruth, have left the coast for a California retreat. And although their new home looks like Eden, it also has serpents: Jim Peck, a messianic exponent of drugs, yoga and sex; and Marian Catlin, an attractive young woman whose otherworldly innocence is far more appealing - and far more dangerous.

'The Great Gatsby captures the twenties and yet transcends them. All the Little Live Things is a comparable achievement for the sixties ... Stegner's craft is here at an apex' Virginia Quarterly Review

Eugenie Grandet

Honore de Balzac (Author) , Marion Crawford (Translator)

In a gloomy house in provincial Saumur lives the miser Grandet with his wife and daughter, Eugénie, whose lives are stifled and overshadowed by his obsession with gold. Guarding his piles of glittering treasures and his only child equally closely, he will let no one near them. But when the arrival of her handsome cousin, Charles, awakens Eugénie's own desires, her passion brings her into a violent collision with her father that results in tragedy for all. Eugénie Grandet is one of the earliest and finest works in Balzac's Comédie humaine cycle, his magnificent panorama of post-Revolutionary French life, which portrays a society consumed by the struggle to amass wealth and achieve power. Here Grandet embodies both the passionate pursuit of money, and the human cost of avarice.

The Pickwick Papers

Charles Dickens (Author)

'The fat boy rose, opened his eyes, swallowed the huge piece of pie he had been in the act of masticating when he last fell asleep, and slowly obeyed his master's orders'

Few first novels have created as much popular excitement as The Pickwick Papers. Readers were immediately captivated by the adventures of the poet Snodgrass, the lover Tupman, the sportsman Winkle and, above all, by that quintessentially English Quixote, Mr Pickwick, and his cockney Sancho Panza, Sam Weller. From the hallowed turf of Dingley Dell Cricket Club to the unholy fracas of the Eatanswill election, via the Fleet debtor's prison, characters and incidents sprang to life from Dickens's pen, to form an enduringly popular work of ebullient humour and literary invention.

The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.

The Secret Agent

Joseph Conrad (Author)

With a note by the author.

'Madness and despair! Give me that for a lever, and I'll move the world'

In the only novel Conrad set in London, The Secret Agent communicates a profoundly ironic view of human affairs. The story is woven around an attack on the Greenwich Observatory in 1894 masterminded by Verloc, a Russian spy working for the police, and ostensibly a member of an anarchist group in Soho. His masters instruct him to discredit the anarchists in a humiliating fashion, and when his evil plan goes horribly awry, Verlac must deal with the repercussions of his actions.

The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction written in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels, to the beginning of the First World War.

The Monk

Matthew Lewis (Author)

With an essay by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

'He now saw himself stained with the most loathed and monstrous sins, the object of universal execration ... doomed to perish in tortures the most severe'

Shocking, erotic and violent, The Monk is the story of Ambrosio, torn between his spiritual vows and the temptations of physical pleasure. His internal battle leads to sexual obsession, rape and murder, yet this book also contains knowing parody of its own excesses as well as social comedy. Written by Matthew Lewis when he was only nineteen, it was a ground-breaking novel in the Gothic Horror genre and spawned hundreds of imitators, drawn in by its mixture of bloodshed, sex and scandal.

The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.

Humphry Clinker

Tobias Smollett (Author)

With an essay by Harold Bloom.

'What is the society of London, that I should be tempted, for its sake, to mortify my senses, and compound with such uncleanness as my soul abhors?'

Smollett's savage, boisterously funny lambasting of eighteenth-century British society charts the unfortunate journey of the gout-ridden and irascible squire Matthew Bramble across Britain, who finds himself everywhere surrounded by decadents, pimps, con-men, raucousness and degeneracy - until the arrival of the trusty manservant Humphry Clinker promises to improve his fortunes. Populated with unforgettable grotesques and written with a relish for earthy humour and wordplay, and a ferocious pessimism, Humphry Clinker is Smollett's masterpiece.

The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.

Dombey and Son

Charles Dickens (Author)

'The earth was made for Dombey and Son to trade in, and the sun and moon were made to give them light'

Dombey and Son is both a firm and a family and the ambiguous connection between public and private life lies at the heart of Dickens' novel. Paul Dombey is a man who runs his domestic affairs as he runs his business: calculatingly, callously, coldly and commercially. Through his dysfunctional relationships with his son, his two wives, and his neglected daughter Florence, Dickens paints a vivid picture of the limitations of a society dominated by commercial values and the drive for profit and explores the possibility of moral and emotional redemption through familial love.

The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.

The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner

James Hogg (Author)

With an essay by David Groves.

'He was constantly harassed with the idea, that the next time he lifted his eyes, he would to a certainty see that face, the most repulsive to all his feelings of aught the earth contained'

A nightmarish tale of religious fanaticism and darkness, this chilling classic of the macabre tells the tale of Robert Wringhim, drawn in his moral confusion into committing the most monstrous acts by an evil doppelganger. James Hogg's masterpiece is as troublingly duplicitous as Wringhim himself, and was ignored and bowdlerized before becoming a hugely influential work of Scottish literature.

The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Charles Dickens (Author)

'In the wakeful misery of the night, girded by sordid realities, or wandering through Paradises and Hells of visions ... I loved you madly'

Dickens' last novel is a mystery built around a presumed crime - the murder of a nephew by his uncle. Dickens died before completing the story, leaving the mystery unsolved and encouraging successive generations of readers to turn detective. Beyond the preoccupying fact of this intriguing crime, however, the novel also offers readers a characteristically Dickensian mix of the fantastical world of the imagination and a vibrantly journalistic depiction of gritty reality.

The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.

Nostromo

Joseph Conrad (Author)

'There is something in a treasure that fastens upon a man's mind. He will pray and blaspheme and still persevere, and will curse the day he ever heard of it, and will let his last hour come upon him unawares, still believing that he missed it only by a foot. He will see it every time he closes his eyes. He will never forget it till he is dead - and even then ...'

In the exotic South American republic of Costaguana, the San Tomé silver mine provides opportunities for untold wealth and power. Yet amid the turbulence and brutality of Latin American politics, everyone associated with it - from the compromised English mine-owner Gould to the grasping businessman Holroyd, from the revolutionary Montero to the loyal and seemingly incorruptible worker Nostromo - becomes somehow irrevocably tainted. Nostromo is a grandiose epic, startlingly modern in its technique and political sophistication - and a masterpiece of tension, adventure and mystery.

The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.

Nicholas Nickleby

Charles Dickens (Author)

'"I may grow rich!" repeated Nicholas, with a mournful smile, "ay, and I may grow old. But rich or poor, or old or young, we shall ever be the same to each other, and in that our comfort lies"'

The work of a young novelist at the height of his powers, Nicholas Nickleby is one of the touchstones of the English comic novel. Around the central story of Nicholas Nickleby and the misfortunes of his family, Dickens created some of his most wonderful characters: the muddle-headed Mrs Nickleby, the gloriously theatrical Crummles, their protege Miss Petowker, the pretentious Mantalinis and the mindlessly cruel Squeers and his wife. Nicholas Nickleby's loose, haphazard progress harks back to the picaresque novels of the 18th century - particularly those of Smollett and Fielding. Yet the novel's exuberant atmosphere of romance, adventure and freedom is overshadowed by Dickens' awareness of social ills and financial and class insecurity.

The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.

Joseph Andrews

Henry Fielding (Author)

With an essay by Mark Spilka.

'Kissing, Joseph, is but a prologue to a Play. Can I believe a young fellow of your Age and Complexion will be content with Kissing?'

Henry Fielding's riotous tale of innocents in a corrupt world was one of the earliest English novels, blending bawdy slapstick, philosophical musing and pointed social satire to create a work of moral complexity and generous, life-affirming humanity. Published in 1742, it tells the story of the chaste servant Joseph Andrews who, after being sacked for spurning the advances of the lascivious Lady Booby, takes to the road, accompanied by his beloved Fanny Goodwill and the absent-minded, much put-upon Parson Adams. There they encounter robbers, tricksters, seducers, mishaps and strange twists of fortune, in a series of adventures filled with exuberant comedy.

The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.

Jude the Obscure

Thomas Hardy (Author)

'As you got older, ... you were seized with a sort of shuddering, he perceived. All around you there seemed to be something glaring, garish, rattling, and the noises and glares hit upon the little cell called your life, and shook it, and scorched it.

If he could only prevent himself growing up! He did not want to be a man'

Jude Fawley, the stonemason excluded not by his wits but by poverty from the world of Christminster privilege, finds fulfilment in his relationship with Sue Bridehead. Both have left earlier marriages. Ironically, when tragedy tests their union it is Sue, the modern emancipated woman, who proves unequal to the challenge. Hardy's fearless exploration of sexual and social relationships and his prophetic critique of marriage scandalised the late Victorian establishment and marked the end of his career as a novelist.

The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.

Tom Jones

Henry Fielding (Author)

'"Sir, I am concerned at the Trouble I give you; nay indeed my Nakedness may well make me ashamed to look you in the Face ..." Jones offered her his Coat; but, I know not for what Reason, she absolutely refused the most earnest Solicitations to accept it'

A foundling of mysterious parentage brought up by Mr Allworthy on his country estate, Tom Jones is deeply in love with the seemingly unattainable Sophia Western, the beautiful daughter of the neighbouring squire - though he sometimes succumbs to the charms of the local girls. But when his amorous escapades earn the disapproval of his benefactor, Tom is banished to make his own fortune. Sophia, meanwhile, is determined to avoid an arranged marriage to Allworthy's scheming nephew and escapes from her rambunctious father to follow Tom to London.

Henry Fielding's vivid Hogarthian panorama of eighteenth-century life is spiced with danger and intrigue, bawdy exuberance and good-natured authorial interjections.

The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.

Daniel Deronda

George Eliot (Author)

With an essay by Barbara Hardy.

'What can I do? ... I must get up in the morning and do what every one else does. It is all like a dance set beforehand. I seem to see all that can be - and I am tired and sick of it. And the world is all confusion to me'

George Eliot's last, most controversial novel opens as the spoiled Gwendolen Harleth, poised at a roulette table about to throw away a small fortune, captivates Daniel Deronda. As their lives become intertwined, they are also transformed by suffering, misfortune, revelations and Daniel's fascination with the Jewish singer Mirah. Daniel Deronda shocked Victorian readers with its portrayal of the Jewish experience in British society, and remains a moving and epic portrayal of human passions.

The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.

Under the Greenwood Tree

Thomas Hardy (Author)

'At sight of him had the pink of her cheeks increased, lessened, or did it continue to cover its normal area of ground? It was a question meditated several hundreds of times by her visitor in after-hours - the meditation, after wearying involutions, always ending in one way, that it was impossible to say'

The arrival of two newcomers in the quiet village of Mellstock arouses a bitter feud and leaves a convoluted love affair in its wake. While the Reverend Maybold creates a furore among the village's musicians with his decision to abolish the church's traditional 'string choir' and replace it with a modern mechanical organ, the new schoolteacher, Fancy Day, causes an upheaval of a more romantic nature, winning the hearts of three very different men - a local farmer, a church musician and Maybold himself. Under the Greenwood Tree follows the ensuing maze of intrigue and passion with gentle humour and sympathy, deftly evoking the richness of village life, yet tinged with melancholy for a rural world that Hardy saw fast disappearing.

The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.

Barnaby Rudge

Charles Dickens (Author)

"I dreamed ... I dreamed just now that something - it was in the shape of a man - followed me - came softly to me - wouldn't let me be - but was always hiding and crouching, like a cat in dark corners, waiting till I should pass; when it crept out and came softly after me ..."

Set against the backdrop of the Gordon Riots of 1780, Charles Dickens's novel Barnaby Rudge is a story of mystery and suspense which begins with an unsolved double murder and goes on to involve conspiracy, blackmail, abduction and retribution. Through the course of the novel fathers and sons become opposed, apprentices plot against their masters and Protestants clash with Catholics on the streets. And, as London erupts into riot, Barnaby Rudge himself struggles to escape the curse of his own past. With its dramatic descriptions of public violence and private horror, its strange secrets and ghostly doublings, Barnaby Rudge is a powerful, disturbing blend of historical realism and Gothic melodrama.

The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.

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