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Dubliners

James Joyce (Author)

The Penguin English Library Edition of Dubliners by James Joyce

'Every night as I gazed up at the window I said softly to myself the word paralysis. It had always sounded strangely in my ears ... But now it sounded to me like the name of some maleficent and sinful being. It filled me with fear, and yet I longed to be nearer to it and to look upon its deadly work'

From a child grappling with the death of a fallen priest, to a young woman's dilemma over whether to elope to Argentina with her lover, to the dance party at which a man discovers just how little he really knows about his wife, these fifteen stories bring the gritty realism of existence in Joyce's native Dublin to life. With Dubliners, James Joyce reinvented the art of fiction, using a scrupulous, deadpan realism to convey truths that were at once blasphemous and sacramental.

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 Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde (Author)

The Penguin English Library Edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

'I am jealous of everything whose beauty does not die. I am jealous of the portrait you have painted of me ... Why did you paint it? It will mock me some day - mock me horribly!'

A story of evil, debauchery and scandal, Oscar Wilde's only novel tells of Dorian Gray, a beautiful yet corrupt man. When he wishes that a perfect portrait of himself would bear the signs of ageing in his place, the picture becomes his hideous secret, as it follows Dorian's own downward spiral into cruelty and depravity. The Picture of Dorian Gray is a masterpiece of the evil in men's hearts, and is as controversial and alluring as Wilde himself.

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 Sign of Four

Arthur Conan Doyle (Author)

The Penguin English Library edition

A dense yellow miasma swirls in the streets of London as Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson accompany a beautiful young woman to a sinister assignation.

For Mary Marston has received several large pearls - one a year for the last six years - and now a mystery letter telling her she is a wronged woman. If she would seek justice she is to meet her unknown benefactor, bringing with her two companions.

But unbeknownst to them all, others stalk London's fog-enshrouded streets: a one-legged ruffian with revenge on his mind - and his companion, who places no value on human life . . .

The Adventure of the Six Napoleons and Other Cases

Arthur Conan Doyle (Author)

The Penguin English Library edition

Many readers would claim that The Adventure of the Copper Beeches or The Man with the Twisted Lip was their favourite Sherlock Holmes story - but then that would be doing an injustice to The Adventure of the Yellow Face and The Problem of Thor Bridge. It is just as well that in the end we do not have to choose - as if we did then there would be no doubt it should be The Adventure of the Six Napoleons.

Humphry Clinker

Tobias Smollett (Author)

The Penguin English Library Edition of Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett

'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.

The Invisible Man

H. G. Wells (Author)

The Penguin English Library Edition of The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells

'People screamed. People sprang off the pavement ... "The Invisible Man is coming! The Invisible Man!"'

With his face swaddled in bandages, his eyes hidden behind dark glasses and his hands covered even indoors, Griffin - the new guest at The Coach and Horses - is at first assumed to be a shy accident-victim. But the true reason for his disguise is far more chilling: he has developed a process that has made him invisible, and is locked in a struggle to discover the antidote. Forced from the village, and driven to murder, he seeks the aid of an old friend, Kemp. The horror of his fate has affected his mind, however - and when Kemp refuse to help, he resolves to wreak his revenge.

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.

Moby-Dick

Herman Melville (Author)

The Penguin English Library Edition of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

'The frail gunwales bent in, collapsed, and snapped, as both jaws, like an enormous shears, sliding further aft, bit the craft completely in twain...'

Moby-Dick is one of the most expansive feats of imagination in the whole of literature: the mad, raging, Shakespearean tale of Captain Ahab's insane quest to kill a giant white whale that has taken his leg, and upon which he has sworn vengeance, at any cost. A creation unlike any other, this is an epic story of fatal monomania and the deepest dreams and obsessions of mankind.

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.

Frankenstein

Mary Shelley (Author)

The Penguin English Library Edition of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

'Never did I behold a vision so horrible as his face, of such loathsome, yet appalling hideousness'

A twisted, upside-down creation myth, Mary Shelley's chilling Gothic tale lays bare the dark side of science, and the horror within us all. It tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, who plunders graveyards to create a new being from the bodies of the dead - but whose botched creature causes nothing but murder and destruction. Written after a nightmare when its author was only eighteen, Frankenstein gave birth to the modern science fiction novel.

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 Warden

Anthony Trollope (Author)

The Penguin English Library Edition of The Warden by Anthony Trollope

'It was so hard that the pleasant waters of his little stream should be disturbed and muddied ... that his quiet paths should be made a battlefield: that the unobtrusive corner of the world which been allotted to him ... made miserable and unsound'

Trollope's witty, satirical story of a quiet cathedral town shaken by scandal - as the traditional values of Septimus Harding are attacked by zealous reformers and ruthless newspapers - is a drama of conscience that pits individual integrity against worldly ambition. In The Warden Anthony Trollope brought the fictional county of Barsetshire to life, peopled by a cast of brilliantly realised characters that have made him among the supreme chroniclers of the minutiae of Victorian England.

The first book in the Chronicles of Barsetshire.

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.

Dracula

Bram Stoker (Author)

The Penguin English Library Edition of Dracula by Bram Stoker

'Alone with the dead! I dare not go out, for I can hear the low howl of the wolf through the broken window'

A chilling masterpiece of the horror genre, Dracula also illuminated dark corners of Victorian sexuality. When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to advise Count Dracula on a London home, he makes a horrifying discovery. Soon afterwards, a number of disturbing incidents unfold in England: an unmanned ship is wrecked at Whitby; strange puncture marks appear on a young woman's neck; and the inmate of a lunatic asylum raves about the arrival of his 'Master', while a determined group of adversaries prepares to face the terrifying Count.

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.

Jane Eyre

Charlotte Brontë (Author)

The Penguin English Library Edition of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

'The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself'

Passionate, poetic and revolutionary, Jane Eyre is a novel of naked emotional power. Its story of a defiant, fiercely intelligent woman who refuses to accept her appointed place in society - and instead finds love on her own terms - has become famous as one of the greatest romances ever written, but it is also a brooding Gothic mystery, a profound depiction of character and a transformative work of the imagination.

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.

Daisy Miller and The Turn of the Screw

Henry James (Author)

The Penguin English Library Edition of Daisy Miller and The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

"I'm a fearful, frightful flirt! Did you ever hear of a nice girl that was not?"

This edition contains two of Henry James's most popular short works.

Travelling in Europe with her family, Daisy Miller, an exquisitely beautiful young American woman, presents her fellow-countryman Winterbourne with a dilemma he cannot resolve. Is she deliberately flouting social convention in the outspoken way she talks and acts, or is she simply ignorant of those conventions? In Daisy Miller Henry James created his first great portrait of the enigmatic and dangerously independent American woman, a figure who would come to dominate his later masterpieces.

Oscar Wilde called James's chilling The Turn of the Screw 'a most wonderful, lurid poisonous little tale'. It tells of a young governess sent to a country house to take charge of two orphans, Miles and Flora. Unsettled by a sense of intense evil within the houses, she soon becomes obsessed with the belief that malevolent forces are stalking the children in her care.

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.

Little Dorrit

Charles Dickens (Author)

The Penguin English Library Edition of Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens

'You talk very easily of hours, sir! How long do you suppose, sir, that an hour is to a man who is choking for want of air?'

A masterly evocation of the state and psychology of imprisonment, Little Dorrit is one of the supreme works of Dickens's maturity. When Arthur Clennam returns to England after many years abroad, he takes a kindly interest in Amy Dorrit, his mother's seamstress, and in the affairs of Amy's father, a man of shabby grandeur, long imprisoned for debt in the Marshalsea. As Arthur discovers, the dark shadow of the prison stretches far beyond its walls to affect many lives, from Mr Panks, the reluctant rent-collector of Bleeding Heart Yard, to Merdle, an unscrupulous financier.

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.

Two on a Tower

Thomas Hardy (Author)

The Penguin English Library Edition of Two on a Tower by Thomas Hardy

'Then they proceeded to scan the sky, roving from planet to star, from single stars to double stars, from double to coloured stars...'

Hardy's atmospheric, moving story of star-crossed lovers shows human beings at the mercy of forces far beyond their control, setting a tragic drama of human passion and conflict against a background of vast stellar space and scientific discovery. Two on a Tower tells the story of Lady Constantine, who breaks all the rules of decorum when she falls in love with the beautiful youth Swithin St Cleeve, her social inferior and ten years her junior. Together, in an ancient monument converted into an astronomical observation tower, they create their own private universe - until the pressures of the outside world threaten to destroy it.

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.

Mary Barton

Elizabeth Gaskell (Author)

The Penguin English Library Edition of Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell

"The rich know nothing of the trials of the poor; I say, if they don't know, they ought to know. We're their slaves as long as we can work; we pile up their fortunes with the sweat of our brows, and yet we are to live as separate as if we were in two worlds"

Mary Barton, the heroine of Elizabeth Gaskell's novel, is beautiful but has been born poor. Her father fights for the rights of his fellow workers, but Mary wants to make a better life for them both. She rashly decides to reject her lover Jem, a struggling engineer, in the hope of marrying the rich mill-owner's son Henry Carson and securing a safe future. But when Henry is shot down in the street and Jem becomes the main suspect, Mary finds herself hopelessly torn between them. She also discovers an unpleasant truth - one that could bring tragedy upon everyone, and threatens to destroy her.

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 Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb and Other Cases

Arthur Conan Doyle (Author)

The Penguin English Library edition

As usual with the Sherlock Holmes stories it is very hard to say which are the best - but there are many stories here which would get the vote - ranging from The Boscombe Valley Mystery to the wonderful Adventure of Silver Blaze, from the Adventure of the Norwood Builder to A Case of Identity, but above to the uniquely strange and macabre Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb.

The Man Who Was Thursday

G K Chesterton (Author)

The Penguin English Library Edition of The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton

'"A man's brain is a bomb," he cried out, loosening suddenly his strange passion and striking his own skull with violence. "My brain feels like a bomb, night and day. It must expand! It must expand! A man's brain must expand, if it breaks up the universe"'

In a park in London, secret policeman Gabriel Syme strikes up a conversation with an anarchist. Sworn to do his duty, Syme uses his new acquaintance to go undercover in Europe's Central Anarchist Council and infiltrate their deadly mission, even managing to have himself voted to the position of 'Thursday'. When Syme discovers another undercover policeman on the Council, however, he starts to question his role in their operations. And as a desperate chase across Europe begins, his confusion grows, as well as his confidence in his ability to outwit his enemies. But he has still to face the greatest terror that the Council has: a man named Sunday, whose true nature is worse than Syme could ever have imagined ...

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.

Mansfield Park

Jane Austen (Author)

The Penguin English Library Edition of Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

'We have all been more or less to blame ... every one of us, excepting Fanny'

Taken from the poverty of her parents' home in Portsmouth, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with her cousin Edmund as her sole ally. During her uncle's absence in Antigua, the Crawford's arrive in the neighbourhood bringing with them the glamour of London life and a reckless taste for flirtation. Mansfield Park is considered Jane Austen's first mature work and, with its quiet heroine and subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, one of her most profound.

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.

Sons and Lovers

D. H. Lawrence (Author)

The Penguin English Library Edition of Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence

'"She was a brazen hussy."
"She wasn't. - And she was pretty, wasn't she?"
"I didn't look ... And tell your girls, my son, that when they're running after you, they're not to come and ask your mother for you - tell them that - brazen baggages you meet at dancing classes"'

The marriage of Gertrude and Walter Morel has become a battleground. Repelled by her uneducated and sometimes violent husband, delicate Gertrude devotes her life to her children, especially to her sons, William and Paul - determined they will not follow their father into working down the coal mines. But conflict is evitable when Paul seeks to escape his mother's suffocating grasp through relationships with women his own age. Set in Lawrence's native Nottinghamshire, Sons and Lovers is a highly autobiographical and compelling portrayal of childhood, adolescence and the clash of generations.

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 Scarlet Letter

Nathaniel Hawthorne (Author)

The Penguin English Library Edition of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

'Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, - stern and wild ones, - and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss'

Fiercely romantic and hugely influential, The Scarlet Letter is the tale of Hester Prynne, imprisoned, publicly shamed, and forced to wear a scarlet 'A' for committing adultery and bearing an illegitimate child, Pearl. In their small, Puritan village, Hester and her daughter struggle to survive, but in this searing study of the tension between private and public existence, Hester Prynne's inner strength and quiet dignity means she has frequently been seen as one of the first great heroines of American fiction.

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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