If you would like a free book that you can read on any e-reader or on your computer screen, follow the instructions below. Click "Update Cart". You will get a credit which equals the price of the book. Hence you will get the book for free. (Your total will be 0.00). Just click on Checkout, and provide your email address, and click on "Complete Free Checkout". Then on the next screen, click on "click here" to download the book immediately. You'll receive a zipped file with the book in four formats: epub, pdf, prc (for Kindle), and txt.
Please note that each discount code is only good for that book.
Suggestions and questions always welcome. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Free Ebook of the Week is "Early English Meals and Manners - 13 cook books, with some forewords on education in early England, Edited by Frederick J. Furnivall, which normally sells for $3.99 This collection, first published in 1868, includes: an extensive essay about education in early England, John Russell's Boke of Nurture, c. 1460 Wynkyn de Worde's Boke of Keruynge, 1513; The Boke of Curtasye, c. 1460; R. Weste's Booke of Demeanor, 1619; Seager's Schoole of Vertue, 1557; The Babees Book, 1475; Aristotle's ABC, 1430; Urbanitatis, c. 1460; Stans Puer ad Mensam; The Lytylle Childrenes Lytil Boke, c. 1480; For to serve a Lord; Symon's Lesson of Wysedome for all Maner Chyldryn; The Birched School-Boy, c. 1500; plus short related items.
For "Early English Meals and Manners" go to our Vintage Cook Books page: http://www.samizdat.com/quencheditions/chalkcookbooks.html
Click on Add to Cart next to the title, then enter the discount code e32
The Free Ebook of the Week is "The Complete Opera Book (Illustrated) by Gustav Kobbe. First published in 1919. The Stories of the Operas, together with 400 of the Leading Airs and Motives in Musical Notation. Illustrated with One Hundred Portraits in Costume and Scenes from Opera.
For "The Complete Opera Book", please go our "Books About Operas" chalkboard page
Click on Add to Cart next to the title, then enter the discount code
Click "Update Cart". You will get a credit which equals the price of the book. Hence you will get the book for free. (Your total will be 0.00). Just click on Checkout, and provide your email address, and click on "Complete Free Checkout". Then on the next screen, click on "click here" to download the book immediately. You'll receive a zipped file with the book in four formats: epub, pdf, prc (for Kindle), and txt.
The Free Ebook of the Week is "Love Affairs of Great Musicians" (both volumes) by Rupert Hughes. First published in 1903. Biographical chapters cover Liszt, Mozart, Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, Chopin, Purcell, Gluck, Wagner, Tschaikovski, Schumann, and others.
For "Love Affairs of Great Muscians", please go our "Notable Lives - Biographies of Musicians" chalkboard page
Click on Add to Cart next to the title, then enter the discount code
Click "Update Cart". You will get a credit which equals the price of the book. Hence you will get the book for free. (Your total will be 0.00). Just click on Checkout, and provide your email address, and click on "Complete Free Checkout". Then on the next screen, click on "click here" to download the book immediately. You'll receive a zipped file with the book in four formats: epub, pdf, prc (for Kindle), and txt.
The Free Ebook of the Week is Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, with illustrations by Gustave Dore (which normally sells for $2.99). The illustrations come from the 1880 edition of J. W. Clark, illustrated by Gustave Dore, rather than the original Ormsby translation. According to Wikipedia, "Don Quixote, fully titled El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha ("The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha") is an early novel written by Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Cervantes created a fictional origin for the story based upon a manuscript by the invented Moorish historian, Cide Hamete Benengeli. Published in two volumes a decade apart, Don Quixote is the most influential work of literature to emerge from the Spanish Golden Age and perhaps the entire Spanish literary canon. As a founding work of modern Western literature, it regularly appears at the top of lists of the greatest works of fiction ever published... John Ormsby (1829–1895) was a nineteenth-century British translator. He is most famous for his 1885 English translation of Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote de la Mancha, perhaps the most scholarly and accurate English translation of the novel up to that time."
For "Don Quixote" by Cervantes, illustrated, please go our "Illustrations by Gustave Dore" chalkboard page
Click on Add to Cart next to the title, then enter the discount code
Click "Update Cart". You will get a credit which equals the price of the book. Hence you will get the book for free. (Your total will be 0.00). Just click on Checkout, and provide your email address, and click on "Complete Free Checkout". Then on the next screen, click on "click here" to download the book immediately. You'll receive a zipped file with the book in four formats: epub, pdf, prc (for Kindle), and txt.
Please note that each discount code is only good for that book.
The Free Ebook of the Week is Six Travel Books and Memoirs by Mark Twain (which normally sells for $3.99). This book-collection file includes: The Innocents Abroad, Roughing It, Life on the Mississippi, A Tramp Abroad, Following the Equator, and Chapters from My Autobiography. It also includes the short pieces: A Burlesque Autobiography, Rambling Idle Excursions, and The Stolen White Elephant.
For "Six Travel Books and Memoirs" by Twain, please go our "Guide Books for Time Travelers" chalkboard page
Click on Add to Cart next to the title, then enter the discount code
Click "Update Cart". You will get a credit which equals the price of the book. Hence you will get the book for free. (Your total will be 0.00). Just click on Checkout, and provide your email address, and click on "Complete Free Checkout". Then on the next screen, click on "click here" to download the book immediately. You'll receive a zipped file with the book in four formats: epub, pdf, prc (for Kindle), and txt.
Please note that each discount code is only good for that book.
The Free Ebook of the Week is "The Wit of Women" by Kate Sanborn. A Humor collection first published in 1885. According to Wikipedia: "Katherine Abbott Sanborn (11 July 1839 - 9 July 1917) was an American author, teacher and lecturer. She was born in Hanover, New Hampshire, the daughter of educator Edwin David Sanborn and his wife Mary Ann. She taught English literature in several places, and was a professor at Smith College in that subject for several years, resigning in 1886 in order to follow literary pursuits in New York City. She lectured in public on literary history and allied subjects, and wrote on education. Her lecturing career began in the drawing room of her friend Anne Lynch Botta and later she gave talks for clubs and schools on current literature. For several years she was a newspaper correspondent in New York City. She also edited calendars and holiday books."
For "The Wit of Women", please go our "Women! Women! Women!" chalkboard page
Click on Add to Cart next to the title, then enter the discount code
Click "Update Cart". You will get a credit which equals the price of the book. Hence you will get the book for free. (Your total will be 0.00). Just click on Checkout, and provide your email address, and click on "Complete Free Checkout". Then on the next screen, click on "click here" to download the book immediately. You'll receive a zipped file with the book in four formats: epub, pdf, prc (for Kindle), and txt.
Please note that each discount code is only good for that book.
The Free Ebook of the Week is "Modern Marriage and How to Bear It by Maud Churton Braby". That's a book from this week's Chalkboard -- The War of the Sexes (Victorian Style). First published around 1900, it's packed with practical and humorous advice. The first few chapters are entitled: The Mutual Dissatisfaction of the Sexes, Why Men Don't Marry, Why Women Don't Marry, and The Tragedy of the Undesired.
For "Modern Marrage", please go our "War of the Sexes" chalkboard page
Click on Add to Cart next to the title, then enter the discount code
The Free Ebook of the Week is Apologia Pro Vita Sua by John Henry Newman. According to Wikipedia: "Apologia Pro Vita Sua (Latin: A defense of his life) is the classic defense by John Henry Newman of his religious opinions, published in 1864 in response to what he saw as an unwarranted attack on him, the Catholic priesthood, and Roman Catholic doctrine by Charles Kingsley [author of Water-Babies, this week's Kid's Free Ebook]. The work quickly became a bestseller and has remained in print to this day. The work was tremendously influential in turning public opinion for Newman, and in establishing him as one of the foremost exponents of Catholicism in England....Venerable John Henry Newman, CO (21 February 1801 – 11 August 1890) was a Roman Catholic priest and Cardinal who converted to Roman Catholicism from Anglicanism in October 1845. In early life, he was a major figure in the Oxford Movement to bring the Church of England back to its Catholic roots. Eventually his studies in history persuaded him to become a Roman Catholic. Both before and after becoming a Roman Catholic, he wrote a number of influential books, including Via Media, Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (1845), Apologia Pro Vita Sua (1865-66) and the Grammar of Assent (1870)."
For "Apologia", please go our "Varieties of Christian Revelation" chalkboard page
Click on Add to Cart next to the title, then enter the discount code
3/2/2014 -- The Free Ebook of the Week is The World as I Found It by Mary L. Day Arms. First published in 1878. Autobiography of a blind woman, followed by the essays: Help the Blind Help Themselves, Sight of the Blind, How do the Blind See, Invocation to Light, Is It More to Lose Eyes than the Ears? and Education of the Blind. It also includes a collection of poems by the blind. According to the Introduction: "Such a book as this has a value which, probably, has not occurred to its author. She has put on record the phenomena of her life as she has recollected them, with great simplicity, merely for the entertainment of her readers, without attaching any importance to the value which every such memoir has in the department of science. But it is just from the study of such phenomena as these that the students in mental and moral philosophy learn the laws of mind and the operations of a human soul under a divine, moral government."
For The World As I Found It, please go our "Blind" chalkboard page
Click on Add to Cart next to the title, then enter the discount code
2/10/2014 -- The Free Ebook of the Week is The Winning of the West by (President) Theodore Roosevelt, all four volumes. Volume 1 - from the Alleghanies to the Mississippi 1769-1776; Volume 2 - from the Alleghanies to the Mississippi 1777-1783; Volume 3 -- The Founding of the Trans-Alleghany Commonwealths 1784-1790; Volume 4 - Louisiana and the Northwest 1791-1807. According to Wikipedia: "Theodore Roosevelt (October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919), also known as T.R., and to the public (but never to friends and intimates) as Teddy, was the 26th President of the United States. A leader of the Republican Party and of the Progressive Party, he was a Governor of New York and a professional historian, naturalist, explorer, hunter, author, and soldier. He is most famous for his personality: his energy, his vast range of interests and achievements, his model of masculinity, and his "cowboy" image. Originating from a story from one of Roosevelt's hunting expeditions, teddy bears are named after him."
For The Winning of the West, please go our "US Presidents in Their Own Words" chalkboard page
Click on Add to Cart next to the title, then enter the discount code
2/3/2014 -- The Free Ebook of the Week is Malory's Morte Darthur. According to Wikipedia: "a compilation by Sir Thomas Malory of Romance tales about the legendary King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, and the Knights of the Round Table. Malory interprets existing French and English stories about these figures and adds original material (the Gareth story). First published in 1485 by William Caxton, Le Morte d'Arthur is today perhaps the best-known work of Arthurian literature in English. Many modern Arthurian writers have used Malory as their principal source, including T. H. White in his popular The Once and Future King and Tennyson in The Idylls of the King... Sir Thomas Malory (c. 1405 – 14 March 1471) was an English writer, the author or compiler of Le Morte d'Arthur. The antiquary John Leland (1506–1552) believed him to be Welsh, but most modern scholars, beginning with G.L. Kittridge in 1894, assume that he was Sir Thomas Malory of Newbold Revel in Warwickshire, who was a knight, land-owner and Member of Parliament. The surname appears in various spellings, including Maillorie, Mallory, Mallery, and Maleore. The name comes from the Old French adjective maleüré (from Latin male auguratus) meaning ill-omened or unfortunate."
For Malory's Morte Darthur, please go our "King Arthur, Camelot, and Knights of the Round Table" chalkboard page
Click on Add to Cart next to the title, then enter the discount code
1/26/2014 -- The Free Ebook of the Week is Livy's History of Rome plus Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy. Margaret Fuller Ossoli: Four Books. If you ever read The Blithedale Romance by Hawthorne, According to Wikipedia: "Titus Livius (59 BC – AD 17) — known as Livy in English — was a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people. Ab Urbe Condita Libri, "Books from the Foundation of the City," covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome well before the traditional foundation in 753 BC through the reign of Augustus in Livy's own time." "The Discourses on Livy (Italian: Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio, literally "Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livy") is a work of political history and philosophy written in the early 16th century (ca. 1517) by the Italian writer and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli, best known as the author of The Prince. Where the latter is nominally devoted to advising the ruler of a principality, in other words a type of monarchy, the Discourses purport to explain the structure and benefits of a republic, a form of government based on some level of popular consent and control."
For Livy plus Machiaveli, please go our "When in Rome" chalkboard page
Click on Add to Cart next to the title, then enter the discount code
1/20/2014 -- The Free Ebook of the Week is Margaret Fuller Ossoli: Four Books. If you ever read The Blithedale Romance by Hawthorne, she's the strong woman guiding the Brook Farm utopian experiment. This file includes: Woman in the Nineteenth Cenury, At Home and Abroad or Things and Thoughts in America and Europe, Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli, and Summer on the Lakes in 1843. According to Wikipedia: "Sarah Margaret Fuller Ossoli (May 23, 1810 – July 19, 1850), commonly known as Margaret Fuller, was an American journalist, critic, and women's rights advocate associated with the American transcendentalism movement. She was the first full-time American female book reviewer in journalism. Her book Woman in the Nineteenth Century is considered the first major feminist work in the United States."
For Margaret Fuller Ossoli please go our "Wild Eastern Women" chalkboard page http://www.samizdat.com/quencheditions/chalkwildeasternwomen.html
Click on Add to Cart next to the title, then enter the discount code
1/15/2014 -- The Free Ebook of the Week is The Wit and Humor in America series edited by Marshall P. Wilder All ten volumes. First published in 1907, this large collection includes short humorous prose and verse by such writers as Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Carolyn Wells, James Whitcomb Riley, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Bill Nye, Bret Harte, and John Philip Sousa.
For The Wit and Humor of America, please go our "Lots of Laughs" chalkboard page http://www.samizdat.com/quencheditions/chalklotsoflaughs.html
Click on Add to Cart next to the title, then enter the discount code
1/3/2014 -- The Free Ebook of the Week is The Mysteries of Paris by Eugene Sue, a popular 19th century French novel, in English translation. All six volumes in a single file. According to Wikipedia: "Joseph Marie Eugene Sue (20 January 1804 – 3 August 1857) was a French novelist… He was strongly affected by the Socialist ideas of the day, and these prompted his most famous works, the "anti-Catholic" novels: Les Mystères de Paris (10 vols., 1842-1843) and Le Juif errant (tr. "The Wandering Jew") (10 vols., 1844-1845), which were among the most popular specimens of the roman-feuilleton."
For the Mysteries of Paris, please go our "First Drafts" chalkboard page http://www.samizdat.com/quencheditions/chalkfirstdrafts.html Click on Add to Cart next to the title, then enter the discount code
9/25/2013 -- The Free Ebook of the Week is "News from Nowhere" by William Morris. According to Wikipedia: "News from Nowhere (1890) is a classic work combining utopian socialism and soft science fiction written by the artist, designer and socialist pioneer William Morris. In the book, the narrator, William Guest, falls asleep after returning from a meeting of the Socialist League and awakes to find himself in a future society based on common ownership and democratic control of the means of production. In this society there is no private property, no big cities, no authority, no monetary system, no divorce, no courts, no prisons, and no class systems. This agrarian society functions simply because the people find pleasure in nature, and therefore they find pleasure in their work."
For "News to Nowhere," please go our "Shape of Living" chalkboard page
Click on Add to Cart next to the title, then enter the discount code
Click "Update Cart". You will get a credit which equals the price of the book. Hence you will get the book for free. (Your total will be 0.00). Just click on Checkout, and provide your email address, and click on "Complete Free Checkout". Then on the next screen, click on "click here" to download the book immediately. You'll receive a zipped file with the book in three formats: epub, pdf, and prc (for Kindle).
Please note that each discount code is only good for that book.
9/13/2013 -- The Free Ebook of the Week is "Ramona" by Helen Hunt Jackson (H. H.) According to Wikipedia: "Ramona is an 1884 American novel written by Helen Hunt Jackson. Set in Southern California after the Mexican-American War, it portrays the life of a mixed-race Scots–Native American orphan girl, who suffers racial discrimination and hardship. Originally serialized in the Christian Union on a weekly basis, the novel became immensely popular. It has had more than 300 printings, and been adapted four times as a film. A play adaptation has been performed annually outdoors since 1923. The novel's influence on the culture and image of Southern California was considerable. Its sentimental portrayal of Mexican colonial life contributed to establishing a unique cultural identity for the region. As its publication coincided with the arrival of railroad lines in the region, countless tourists visited who wanted to see the locations of the novel."
9/4/2013 -- The Free Ebook of the Week is "Main-Travelled Roads" by Hamlin Garland. According to Wikipedia: "Main-Travelled Roads is a collection of short stories by the American author Hamlin Garland. First published in 1891, the stories are set in what the author refers to as the "Middle Border," the northwestern prairie states of Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota. In the book's eleven stories, Garland portrays the hardships of agrarian life, deconstructing the conventional myth of the American prairie while highlighting the economic and social conditions that characterized agricultural communities in the rural Midwest.
7/1/2013 -- The Free Ebook of the Week is The Decameron by Boccaccio. According to Wikipedia: "The Decameron ... is a collection of 100 novellas by Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio, probably begun in 1350 and finished in 1353. It is a medieval allegorical work best known for its bawdy tales of love, appearing in all its possibilities from the erotic to the tragic. Many notable writers such as Chaucer are said to have drawn inspiration from The Decameron... structured in a frame narrative, or frame tale. Boccaccio begins with a description of the Black Death and leads a group of seven women and three men who flee from plague-ridden Florence to a villa in the (then) countryside of Fiesole for two weeks. To pass the time, each member of the party tells one story for each one of the nights spent at the villa. Although fourteen days pass, two days each week are set aside: one day for chores and one holy day during which no work is done. In this manner, 100 stories are told by the end of the ten days."
For the Decameron, please go our "Tale Spins" chalkboard page http://www.samizdat.com/quencheditions/chalktale.html Click on Add to Cart next to the title, then enter the discount code
Click "Update Cart". You will get a credit which equals the price of the book. Hence you will get the book for free. (Your total will be 0.00). Just click on Checkout, and provide your email address, and click on "Complete Free Checkout". Then on the next screen, click on "click here" to download the book immediately. You'll receive a zipped file with the book in four formats: epub, pdf, prc (for Kindle), and txt. (NB -- Of course, the txt version of Ozma of Oz does not include the illustrations).
Please note that each discount code is only good for that book.
6/19/2013 -- The Free Ebook of the Week is Plutarch's Lives, the complete multi-volume Lives, in a single file. The Clough translation. According to Wikipedia: "Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus (c. AD 46 - 120 — commonly known in English as Plutarch — was a Roman historian (of Greek ethnicity), biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist. Plutarch was born to a prominent family in Chaeronea, Boeotia, a town about twenty miles east of Delphi. His known works consist of the Parallel Lives and the Moralia."
6/5/2013 -- The Free Ebook of the Week is Leonardo da Vinci, Illustrated, by Maurice Brockwell. Biography, illustrated with 8 color reproductions. "'Leonardo,' wrote an English critic as far back as 1721, 'was a Man so happy in his genius, so consummate in his Profession, so accomplished in the Arts, so knowing in the Sciences, and withal, so much esteemed by the Age wherein he lived, his Works so highly applauded by the Ages which have succeeded, and his Name and Memory still preserved with so much Veneration by the present Age—that, if anything could equal the Merit of the Man, it must be the Success he met with. Moreover, 'tis not in Painting alone, but in Philosophy, too, that Leonardo surpassed all his Brethren of the 'Pencil.' This admirable summary of the great Florentine painter's life's work still holds good to-day."
5/24/2013 -- The Free Ebook of the Week is Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. According to Wikipedia: "The Woman in White is an epistolary novel written by Wilkie Collins in 1859, serialized in 1859–1860, and first published in book form in 1860. It is considered to be among the first mystery novels and is widely regarded as one of the first (and finest) in the genre of 'sensation novels'. The story is considered an early example of detective fiction with the hero, Walter Hartright, employing many of the sleuthing techniques of later private detectives... According to Wikipedia: "William Wilkie Collins (8 January 1824 - 23 September 1889) was an English novelist, playwright, and writer of short stories. He was hugely popular in his time, and wrote 27 novels, more than 50 short stories, at least 15 plays, and over 100 pieces of non-fiction work. His best-known works are The Woman in White, The Moonstone, Armadale and No Name."
5/1/2013 -- The Free Ebook of the Week is Sherlock Holmes: 8 books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This file includes Sherlock Holmes books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: A Study in Scarlet, novel, 1887; The Sign of the Four, novel, 1890; The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, collection of stories originally published 1891-1892 (A Scandal in Bohemia, The Red-headed League, A Case of Identity, The Boscombe Valley Mystery, The Five Orange Pips, The Man with the Twisted Lip, The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle, The Adventure of the Speckled Band, The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb, The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor, The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet, The Adventure of the Copper Beeches), The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, collection of stories originally published 1892-1893 (Adventure 1 Silver Blaze, Adventure 2 The Yellow Face, Adventure 3 The Stock-Broker's Clerk, Adventure 4 The "Gloria Scott", Adventure 5 The Musgrave Ritual, Adventure 6 The Reigate Puzzle, Adventure 7 The Crooked Man, Adventure 9 The Greek Interpreter, Adventure 10 The Naval Treaty, Adventure 11 The Final Problem), The Hound of the Baskervilles, novel, 1901-1902; The Return of Sherlock Holmes, collection of stories originally published 1903-1904 (The Adventure of the Empty House, The Adventure of the Norwood Builder, The Adventure of the Dancing Men, The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist, The Adventure of the Priory School, The Adventure of Black Peter, The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton, The Adventure of the Six Napoleons, The Adventure of the Three Students, The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez, The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter, The Adventure of the Abbey Grange, The Adventure of the Second Stain); The Valley of Fear, novel, 1914- 1915; His Last Bow, collection of stories originally published 1908-1913 and 1917.
4/23/2013 -- The Free Ebook of the Week is "The Portrait of a Lady" by Henry James. According to Wikipedia: "The Portrait of a Lady is a novel by Henry James, first published as a serial in The Atlantic Monthly and Macmillan's Magazine in 1880–81 and then as a book in 1881. It is one of James's most popular long novels, and is regarded by critics as one of his finest. The Portrait of a Lady is the story of a spirited young American woman, Isabel Archer, who "affronts her destiny" and finds it overwhelming. She inherits a large amount of money and subsequently becomes the victim of Machiavellian scheming by two American expatriates. Like many of James's novels, it is set in Europe, mostly England and Italy. Generally regarded as the masterpiece of James's early period, this novel reflects James's continuing interest in the differences between the New World and the Old, often to the detriment of the former. It also treats in a profound way the themes of personal freedom, responsibility, and betrayal."
4/14/2013 -- The Free Ebook of the Week is "South Sea Tales" AKA "Island Nights' Entertainments" by Robert Louis Stevenson. According to Wikipedia: "Island Nights' Entertainments (also known as South Sea Tales) is a collection of short stories by Robert Louis Stevenson, first published in 1893. It would be some of his last finished works before he died in 1894. It contains three stories: The Beach of Falesá, The Bottle Imp, and The Isle of Voices... Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson (13 November 1850 – 3 December 1894) was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer. His most famous works are Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. A literary celebrity during his lifetime, Stevenson now ranks among the 26 most translated authors in the world. His works have been admired by many other writers, including Jorge Luis Borges, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling, Marcel Schwob, Vladimir Nabokov, J. M. Barrie, and G. K. Chesterton, who said of him that he "seemed to pick the right word up on the point of his pen, like a man playing spillikins."
3/14/2013 -- The Free Ebook of the Week is "The Last Man," all three volumes, by Mary Shelley According to Wikipedia: "The Last Man is an apocalyptic science fiction novel by Mary Shelley, which was first published in 1826. The book tells of a future world that has been ravaged by a plague. The novel was harshly reviewed at the time, and was virtually unknown until a scholarly revival beginning in the 1960s. It is notable in part for its semi-biographical portraits of Romantic figures in Shelley's circle, particularly Shelley's late husband Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron... Mary Shelley (née Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin; 30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851) was an English novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. Her father was the political philosopher William Godwin, and her mother was the philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. Mary Godwin's mother died when she was eleven days old; afterwards, she and her older half-sister, Fanny Imlay, were raised by her father. When Mary was four, Godwin married his neighbour, Mary Jane Clairmont. Godwin provided his daughter with a rich, if informal, education, encouraging her to adhere to his liberal political theories. In 1814, Mary Godwin began a romantic relationship with one of her father’s political followers, the married Percy Bysshe Shelley. Together with Mary's stepsister, Claire Clairmont, they left for France and travelled through Europe; upon their return to England, Mary was pregnant with Percy's child. Over the next two years, she and Percy faced ostracism, constant debt, and the death of their prematurely born daughter. They married in late 1816 after the suicide of Percy Shelley's first wife, Harriet. In 1816, the couple famously spent a summer with Lord Byron, John William Polidori, and Claire Clairmont near Geneva, Switzerland, where Mary conceived the idea for her novel Frankenstein. The Shelleys left Britain in 1818 for Italy, where their second and third children died before Mary Shelley gave birth to her last and only surviving child, Percy Florence. In 1822, her husband drowned when his sailing boat sank during a storm in the Bay of La Spezia. A year later, Mary Shelley returned to England and from then on devoted herself to the upbringing of her son and a career as a professional author."
3/3/2013 -- The Free Ebook of the Week is "Abraham Lincoln," a two-volume biography by John T. Morse. "According to Wikipedia: "Abraham Lincoln is a 2-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln written by John Torrey Morse (1840-1937). Originally published in 1893, the New York times found it to be "for its scope, admirable. It will even stand up and appear respectable in the most distinguished company of Lincoln biographies that might be assembled." The author is "a sane biographer, who brings to the task of writing about Lincoln a mind that aspires to see clear and think straight, instead of one held slavishly subject to a heart's desire to make Lincoln out a hero without fault or blemish." The Atlantic Monthly noted that Morse had "attempted a bit of scientific painting and not a portraiture to the life. The book is a criticism, consequently, rather than an appreciation." They also noted that Morse concentrates mostly on the five years that Lincoln was in office... In 1987, Gabor Boritt noted that Morse was the first biographer to have "fully exemplified as well as diagnosed the above ailment [the schism between the self-serving, not very admirable politician that Lincoln was up until 1860 versus the later "unparalleled greatness"]." Morse has written of "the insoluble problem of two men - two lives - one following the other with no visible link... we have physically one creature, morally and mentally two beings."
2/19/2013 -- The Free Ebook of the Week is Evelina by Fanny Burney, a forerunner of Jane Austen. According to Wikipedia: "Evelina or the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World is a novel written by English author Frances Burney and first published in 1778. It was first published anonymously, but its authorship was revealed by the poet George Huddesford in what Burney called a "vile poem. . In this 3-volume epistolary novel, title character Evelina is the unacknowledged but legitimate daughter of a dissipated English aristocrat, thus raised in rural seclusion until her 17th year. Through a series of humorous events that take place in London and the resort town of Hotwells, near Bristol, Evelina learns to navigate the complex layers of 18th-century society and earn the love of a distinguished nobleman. This sentimental novel, which has notions of sensibility and early romanticism, satirizes the society in which it is set and is a significant precursor to the work of Jane Austen and Maria Edgeworth, whose novels explore many of the same issues."
2/13/2013 -- The Free Ebook of the Week is "Eureka: a Prose Poem, an Essay on the Material and Spiritual Universe" by Edgar Allan Poe. Illustrated with the one diagram that appears in the original. According to Wikipedia: "Eureka (1848) is a lengthy non-fiction work by American author Edgar Allan Poe which he subtitled "A Prose Poem", though it has also been subtitled as "An Essay on the Material and Spiritual Universe". Adapted from a lecture he had presented, Eureka describes Poe's intuitive conception of the nature of the universe with no scientific work done to reach his conclusions. He also discusses man's relationship with God, whom he compares to an author. It is dedicated to the German naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt. Though it is generally considered a literary work, some of Poe's ideas anticipate discoveries of the 20th century. Indeed a critical analysis of the scientific content of Eureka reveals a non-causal correspondence with modern cosmology due to the assumption of an evolving Universe, but excludes the anachronistic anticipation of relativistic concepts such as black holes." (The plain text version [txt] does not include the illustration.)
1/28/2013 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is "The Wreck of the Titan or Futility, and Other Stories" by Morgan Robertson. According to Wikipedia: "Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan is an 1898 novella written by Morgan Robertson. The story features the ocean liner Titan, which sinks in the North Atlantic after striking an iceberg. The Titan and its sinking have been noted to be very similar to the real-life passenger ship RMS Titanic, which sank fourteen years later. Following the wreck the novel was reissued with some changes, particularly in the ship's gross tonnage, to make it closer to the Titanic... Morgan Andrew Robertson (September 30, 1861–March 24, 1915) was a well-known American author of short stories and novels, and the self-claimed inventor of the periscope."
1/24/2013 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is "Lord Savile's Crimes and Other Stories" by Oscar Wilde. According to Wikipedia: "Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and Other Stories is a collection of short semi-comic mystery stories that were written by Oscar Wilde and published in 1891... Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (1854 - 1900) was an Irish playwright, novelist, poet, and author of short stories. Known for his barbed wit, he was one of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day. As the result of a famous trial, he suffered a dramatic downfall and was imprisoned for two years of hard labour after being convicted of the offence of 'gross indecency.'"
1/16/2013 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde. The Preface begins: "The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things. The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all." According to Wikipedia: "Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (1854 - 1900) was an Irish playwright, novelist, poet, and author of short stories. Known for his barbed wit, he was one of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day. As the result of a famous trial, he suffered a dramatic downfall and was imprisoned for two years of hard labour after being convicted of the offence of 'gross indecency.'"
1/7/2013 -- The Free EBook of the Week is Gilbert and Sullivan: all 14 plays. This file includes: Gondoliers, Grand Duke, H.M.S Pinafore, Iolanthe, The Mikado, Pirates of Penzance, Ruddigore, The Sorcerer, Thespis, Trial by Jury, Utopia Limited, Yeomen of the Guard, and Patience. All of these plays/operettas were written 1871 to 1896. According to Wikipedia: "Gilbert and Sullivan refers to the Victorian era partnership of librettist W. S. Gilbert (1836–1911) and composer Arthur Sullivan (1842–1900). Together, they wrote fourteen comic operas between 1871 and 1896, of which H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado are among the best known. Gilbert, who wrote the words, created fanciful "topsy-turvy" worlds for these operas, where each absurdity is taken to its logical conclusion—fairies rub elbows with British lords, flirting is a capital offence, gondoliers ascend to the monarchy, and pirates turn out to be noblemen who have gone wrong. Sullivan, six years Gilbert's junior, composed the music, contributing memorable melodies that could convey both humour and pathos. Producer Richard D'Oyly Carte brought Gilbert and Sullivan together and nurtured their collaboration. He built the Savoy Theatre in 1881 to present their joint works—which came to be known as the Savoy Operas—and he founded the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, which performed and promoted their works for over a century. The Gilbert and Sullivan operas have enjoyed broad and enduring international success and are still performed frequently throughout the English-speaking world. The collaboration introduced innovations in content and form that directly influenced the development of musical theatre through the 20th century. The operas have also influenced political discourse, literature, film and television and have been widely parodied and pastiched by humorists."
12/30/2012 -- The Free Ebook of the Week is Twenty Years at Hull-House by Jane Addams. According to Wikipedia: "Jane Addams (September 6, 1860 – May 21, 1935) was a founder of the U.S. Settlement House movement, and one of the first American women to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize."
11/23/2012 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is Democracy, a Novel by Henry Adams. According to Wikipedia: "Henry Brooks Adams (February 16, 1838 – March 27, 1918; normally called Henry Adams) was an American journalist, historian, academic and novelist. He is best known for his autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams. He was a member of the Adams political family... In the 1880s, Adams also wrote two novels. He is credited as the author of Democracy, which was published anonymously in 1880 and immediately became popular. (Only after Adams's death did his publisher reveal Adams's authorship.) His other novel, published under the nom de plume of Frances Snow Compton, was Esther, whose eponymous heroine was believed to be modeled after his wife."
11/12/2012 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is "Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres" by Henry Adams. According to Wikipedia: "Henry Brooks Adams (February 16, 1838 – March 27, 1918) was an American novelist, journalist, historian and academic. He is best-known for his autobiographical book, The Education of Henry Adams. He was a member of the Adams political family... In 1904, Adams privately published a copy of his "Mont Saint-Michel and Chartres", a pastiche of history, travel, and poetry, that celebrated the unity of medieval society, especially as represented in the great cathedrals of France. Originally meant as a diversion for his nieces and "nieces-in-wish", it was publicly released in 1913 at the request of Ralph Adams Cram, an important American architect, and published with support of the American Institute of Architects."
11/2/2012 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is "The Education of Henry Adams" by Henry Adams. According to Wikipedia: "The Education of Henry Adams records the struggle of Bostonian Henry Adams (1838–1918), in his later years, to come to terms with the dawning 20th century, so different from the world of his youth. It is also a sharp critique of 19th century educational theory and practice. In 1907, Adams began privately circulating copies of a limited edition printed at his own expense. Commercial publication had to await its author's 1918 death, whereupon it won the 1919 Pulitzer Prize. The Modern Library placed it 1st in a list of the top 100 English-language nonfiction books of the twentieth century."
10/26/2012 -- Thanks to Mitch Borden, this week's Free Ebook of the Week is From Ritual to Romance by Jessie Weston. According to Wikipedia: Jessie Laidlay Weston (1850-1928) was an independent scholar and folklorist, working mainly on mediaeval Arthurian texts. Her best-known work is From Ritual to Romance (1920); this book is now available as an online text, as are others of hers. In it she brought to bear an analysis harking back to James George Frazer on the Grail legend, arguing for origins earlier than the Christian or Celtic sources conventionally discussed at the time. It was cited by T. S. Eliot in his notes to The Waste Land. (He later claimed that the notes as a whole were ironic in intention, and the extent of Weston's actual influence on the poem is unclear. Eliot also indicated that the notes were requested by the publisher to bulk out the length of the poem in book form, calling them "bogus scholarship".) It also caused her to be dismissed as a theosophist by F. L. Lucas, in a hostile review of Eliot's poem. The interpretation of the Grail quest as mystical and connected to self-realisation, which she added to the anthropological layer of reading, was to become increasingly popular during the 1920s. According to Richard Barber in The Holy Grail: Imagination and Belief, the Wasteland as theme in the Grail romances is of minor importance until the last works of the cycle, and the emphasis on fertility is "an interpretation which has haunted twentieth-century literature to a degree quite disproportionate to its basis in fact". The book appears in the film Apocalypse Now amongst those kept by the character Kurtz, along with The Golden Bough."
10/18/2012 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is "Count Robert of Paris". This is our fourth and last selection related to the Crusades. This week's Free Ebook of the Week is "Count Robert of Paris". This is our fourth and last selection related to the Crusades. According to Wikipedia: "Count Robert of Paris (1832) was the second-last novel by Walter Scott. It is part of Tales of My Landlord, 4th series. Set in Constantinople at the time of the First Crusade, Count Robert of Paris portrays the impact of Western medieval values and attitudes on the sophisticated Romano-Greek classical society of the Byzantine Empire. The two main characters are Count Robert, a Frankish knight, and Hereward, an Anglo-Saxon refugee from the Norman conquest of England, serving as a mercenary soldier in the Varangian Guard of the Emperor Alexios I Komnenos. Count Robert was an actual but minor historical figure who disrupted negotiations between the Crusader leaders and the Emperor by occupying the latter's throne when it was temporarily vacated."
I was particularly interested in this book because by a Byzantine twisted genealogical path revealed through Wikipedia, I'm apparently descended from two of the main characters: Emperor Aexius I Comnenus and the Crusader Bohemond I of Antioch. Keep in mind that that many generations back -- 34 -- we all have over 2 billion ancestors. Hence it is probable that everyone of European descent alive today has these same ancestors. But it's fun to track down the names and lives of such ancestors, giving a feeling of connection to what otherwise would seem irrelevant history. If you are curious about such matters, please check my genealogy page at http://www.samizdat.com/ancestorsurfing.html
10/8/2012 -- This week's Ebook of the Week is "The Talisman" by Sir Walter Scott. According to Wikipedia: "The Talisman is a novel by Sir Walter Scott. It was published in 1825 as the second of his Tales of the Crusaders, the first being The Betrothed. The Talisman takes place at the end of the Third Crusade, mostly in the camp of the Crusaders in Palestine. Scheming and partisan politics, as well as the illness of King Richard the Lionheart, are placing the Crusade in danger. The main characters are the Scottish knight Kenneth, who is a fictional character version of David Earl of Huntingdon, who did in fact return from the third Crusade in 1190, Richard the Lionheart, Saladin, and Edith Plantagenet, a relative of Richard... 2005 epic film Kingdom of Heaven, directed by Sir Ridley Scott and starring Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson and Edward Norton, while set in an earlier period, took part of its plot from The Talisman."
9/28/2012 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is "The Betrothed" by Sir Walter Scott. This is the first of a two-book sequence set during the Crusades. The "Talisman" is the better book, but I decided to send them out in historical sequence. Then I'll send a third Scott Crusade book "Count Robert of Paris".
According to Wikipedia: "The Betrothed is an 1825 novel by Sir Walter Scott. It is the first of two Tales of the Crusaders, the second being The Talisman. The action takes place in the Welsh Marches during the latter part of the reign of Henry II, after 1187. Eveline, the 16-year-old daughter of Sir Raymond Berenger, is rescued from a Welsh siege by the forces of Damian Lacy. She is betrothed to his uncle Sir Hugo, who leaves on a crusade. Rebels led by Ranald Lacy attempt to kidnap her, and Damian fights them off, but a confused sequence of events convinces the King that she and her beloved are in league against him."
9/19/2012 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is Jerusalem Delivered, an epic poem about the Crusades by Torquato Tasso (1544-1595), translated from the Italian by Edward Fairfax (1560-1635). According to Wikipedia: "Jerusalem Delivered (La Gerusalemme liberata) is an epic poem by the Italian poet Torquato Tasso first published in 1581, which tells a largely mythified version of the First Crusade in which Catholic knights, led by Godfrey of Bouillon, battle Muslims in order to take Jerusalem. The poem is composed of eight line stanzas grouped into 20 cantos of varying length. The work belongs to the Renaissance tradition of the Italian romantic epic poem, and Tasso frequently borrows plot elements and character types directly from Ariosto's Orlando furioso. Tasso's poem also has elements inspired by the classical epics of Homer and Virgil (especially in those sections of their works that tell of sieges and warfare). One of the most characteristic literary devices in Tasso's poem is the emotional conundrum endured by characters torn between their heart and their duty; the depiction of love at odds with martial valour or honor is a central source of lyrical passion in the poem. Tasso's choice of subject matter, an actual historic conflict between Christians and Muslims (albeit with fantastical elements added), had a historical grounding, and created compositional implications (the narrative subject matter had a fixed endpoint and could not be endlessly spun out in multiple volumes) that are lacking in other Renaissance epics. Like other works of the period which portray conflicts between Christians and Muslims, this subject matter had a topical resonance to readers of the period, as the Ottoman Empire was advancing through Eastern Europe... The fame of Tasso's poem quickly spread throughout the European continent. In England, Sidney, Daniel and Drayton seem to have admired it, and, most importantly, Edmund Spenser described Tasso as an "excellente poete" and made use of elements from Gerusalemme liberata in The Faerie Queene. The description of Redcrosse's vision of the Heavenly Jerusalem in the First Book owes something to Rinaldo's morning vision in Canto 18 of "Gerusalemme". In the twelfth canto of Book Two, Spenser's enchantress Acrasia is partly modelled on Tasso's Armida and the English poet directly imitated two stanzas from the Italian The portrayal of Satan and the demons in the first two books of Milton's Paradise Lost is also indebted to Tasso's poem. The first attempt to translate Gerusalemme liberata was made by Richard Carew, who published his version of the first five cantos as Godfrey of Bulloigne or the recoverie of Hierusalem in 1594. More significant was the complete rendering by Edward Fairfax which appeared in 1600 and has been acclaimed as one of the finest English verse translations. (There is also an eighteenth-century translation by John Hoole, and modern versions by Anthony Esolen and Max Wickert.) Tasso's poem remained popular among educated English readers and was, at least until the end of the 19th century, considered one of the supreme achievements of Western literature. Somewhat eclipsed in the Modernist period, its fame is showing signs of recovering."
9/14/2012 -- This week's Ebook of the Week is "Erewhon Revisited" by Samuel Butler.
According to Wikipedia: Erewhon Revisited Twenty Years Later, Both by the Original Discoverer of the Country and by His Son (1901) is a satirical novel by Samuel Butler, forming a belated sequel to his Erewhon (1872). The Cambridge History of English and American Literature judges that it "has less of the free imaginative play of its predecessor…but, in sharp brilliance of wit and criticism, in intellectual unity and coherence, it surpasses Erewhon". Erewhon, set in a thinly disguised New Zealand, ended with the escape of its unnamed protagonist from the native Erewhonians by balloon. In the sequel, narrated by his son John, we are told that our hero's name is Higgs. Higgs returns to Erewhon and meets his former lover Yram, who is now the mother of his son George. He discovers that he is now worshipped as "the Sunchild", his escape having been interpreted as an ascension into heaven, and that a church of Sunchildism has sprung up. He finds himself in danger from the villainous Professors Hanky and Panky, who are determined to protect Sunchildism from him. With George's help Higgs escapes from their clutches and returns to England. The Swiftian device of setting his satire in a fictional culture enabled Butler, as the critic Elinor Shaffer has written, "to analyse the phenomena of religion from their point of genesis, while disclaiming all responsibility for their uncanny parallels to certain known religions." It did not however make the road to publication any easier. When Butler submitted the manuscript to the respectable and long-established house of Longman, who had in recent years become his regular publishers, they rejected it for fear of offending their High Church clientele, even when Butler offered to pay the costs himself. On 24 March, 1901 he wrote to George Bernard Shaw, conceding that the book was "far more wicked than Erewhon", and asking for his advice.  Shaw replied recommending his own publisher, Grant Richards, and lost no time introducing Butler to him. The book duly came out under the Grant Richards imprint."
9/4/2012 -- This week's Ebook of the Week is "Bill Nye's Comic History of England. According to Wikipedia: "Edgar Wilson "Bill" Nye (August 25, 1850 – February 22, 1896) was a distinguished American journalist, who later became widely known as a humorist. He was also the founder and editor of the Laramie Boomerang... The Boomerang was founded while Nye was the postmaster of Laramie City, Wyoming Territory. It launched him to national fame, gaining subscribers in every state and some foreign countries. His humor was uniquely American... Some of his works include Bill Nye's Comic History of the United States, Baled Hay, Remarks, Bill Nye and Boomerang, Bill Nye's History of England, and Bill Nye's Red Book."
8/28/2012 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is "Erewhon" by Samuel Butler. According to Wikipedia: "Erewhon: or, Over the Range is a novel by Samuel Butler, published anonymously in 1872. The title is also the name of a country, supposedly discovered by the protagonist. In the novel, it is not revealed in which part of the world Erewhon is, but it is clear that it is a fictional country. Butler meant the title to be read as the word Nowhere backwards, even though the letters "h" and "w" are transposed, therefore Erewhon is an anagram of nowhere. The first few chapters of the novel, dealing with the discovery of Erewhon, are in fact based on Butler's own experiences in New Zealand where, as a young man, he worked as a sheep farmer on Mesopotamia Station for about four years (1860–1864) and explored parts of the interior of the South Island..."
8/21/2012 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is "Comic History of the United States" by Bill Nye. According to Wikipedia: "Edgar Wilson "Bill" Nye (August 25, 1850 – February 22, 1896) was a distinguished American journalist, who later became widely known as a humorist. He was also the founder and editor of the Laramie Boomerang... The Boomerang was founded while Nye was the postmaster of Laramie City, Wyoming Territory. It launched him to national fame, gaining subscribers in every state and some foreign countries. His humor was uniquely American... Some of his works include Bill Nye's Comic History of the United States, Baled Hay, Remarks, Bill Nye and Boomerang, Bill Nye's History of England, and Bill Nye's Red Book."
8/13/2012 -- This week's Ebook of the Week is "Looking Backward" by Edward Bellamy. According to Wikipedia: "Looking Backward: 2000-1887 is a utopian science fiction novel by Edward Bellamy, a lawyer and writer from Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts; it was first published in 1887. According to Erich Fromm, Looking Backward is "one of the most remarkable books ever published in America". It was the third-largest bestseller of its time, after Uncle Tom's Cabin and Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. It influenced a large number of intellectuals, and appears by title in many of the major Marxist writings of the day. "It is one of the few books ever published that created almost immediately on its appearance a political mass movement". In the United States alone, over 162 "Bellamy Clubs" sprang up to discuss and propagate the book's ideas. Owing to its commitment to the nationalization of private property, this political movement came to be known as Nationalism, not to be confused with the political concept of nationalism. The novel also inspired several utopian communities."
7/26/2012 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is "The Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith. This seminal work of economics was first published at the time of the American Revolution. It is surprisingly clear -- based on comnon sense (rather than math.) It is well-expressed and convincing. It provides insight into history and, by extension, literature of the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. I found it fascinating too because those same insights highlight what is different about the eoonomics of today -- when digital products have no "supply" factor, being infinitely reproducible and distributable at negligible cost, when value and labor are dissociated, and when specialization often proves disastrous for individuals and companies, because of the rapidity of change.
According to Wikipedia: " An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, generally referred to by its shortened title The Wealth of Nations, is the magnum opus of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith. First published in 1776, it is a reflection on economics at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and argues that free market economies are more productive and beneficial to their societies. The book is a fundamental work in classical economics."
6/28/2012 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is the mock epic poem "Don Juan" by Lord Byron. According to Wikipedia: "Don Juan is a satiric poem by Lord Byron, based on the legend of Don Juan, which Byron reverses, portraying Juan not as a womanizer but as someone easily seduced by women. It is a variation on the epic form. Byron himself called it an "Epic Satire". Modern critics generally consider it Byron's masterpiece, with a total of over sixteen thousand individual lines of verse. Byron completed 16 cantos, leaving an unfinished 17th canto before his death in 1824. Byron claimed he had no ideas in his mind as to what would happen in subsequent cantos as he wrote his work. When the first two cantos were published anonymously in 1819, the poem was criticized for its 'immoral content', though it was also immensely popular."
6/17/2012 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is "The White Peacock" by D. H. Lawrence. According to Wikipedia: "The White Peacock is a novel by D. H. Lawrence published in 1911. Lawrence started the novel in 1906 and then rewrote it three times. The early versions had the working title of Laetitia. Lawrence's first novel is set in the Eastwood area of his youth and is narrated in the first person by a character named Cyril Beardsall. It involves themes such as the damage associated with mismatched marriages, and the border country between town and country. A misanthropic gamekeeper makes an appearance, in some ways the prototype of Mellors in Lawrence's last novel, Lady Chatterley's Lover. The book includes some notable description of nature and the impact of industrialisation on the countryside and the town. Its provincialism may be compared with the novels of George Eliot and Thomas Hardy."
6/5/2012 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is "Jacob's Room" by Virginia Woolf.
According to Wikipedia: "Jacob's Room is the third novel by Virginia Woolf, first published on 26 October 1922. The novel centers, in a very ambiguous way, around the life story of the protagonist Jacob Flanders, and is presented entirely by the impressions other characters have of Jacob [except for those times when we do indeed get Jacob's perspective]. Thus, although it could be said that the book is primarily a character study and has little in the way of plot or background, the narrative is constructed as a void in place of the central character, if indeed the novel can be said to have a 'protagonist' in conventional terms. Motifs of emptiness and absence haunt the novel and establish its elegiac feel. Jacob is described to us, but in such indirect terms that it would seem better to view him as an amalgamation of the different perceptions of the characters and narrator. He does not exist as a concrete reality, but rather as a collection of memories and sensations."
5/22/2012 -- This week's Ebook of the Week is A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. According to Wikipedia: "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a semi-autobiographical novel by James Joyce, first serialised in the magazine The Egoist from 1914 to 1915, and published first in book format in 1916 by B. W. Huebsch, New York. The first English edition was published by the Egoist Press in February 1917. The story describes the formative years of the life of Stephen Dedalus, a fictional alter ego of Joyce and an allusion to the consummate craftsman of Greek mythology, Daedalus. A novel written in Joyce's characteristic free indirect speech style, A Portrait is a major example of the Künstlerroman (an artist's Bildungsroman) in English literature. Joyce's novel traces the intellectual and religio-philosophical awakening of young Stephen Dedalus as he begins to question and rebel against the Catholic and Irish conventions with which he has been raised. He finally leaves for abroad to pursue his ambitions as an artist. The work is an early example of some of Joyce's modernist techniques that would later be represented in a more developed manner by Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. The novel, which has had a "huge influence on novelists across the world", was ranked by Modern Library as the third greatest English-language novel of the 20th century."
5/14/2012 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is "Ulysses" by James Joyce. According to Wikipedia: "Ulysses is a novel by the Irish author James Joyce. It was first serialised in parts in the American journal The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920, and then published in its entirety by Sylvia Beach on 2 February 1922, in Paris. One of the most important works of Modernist literature, it has been called "a demonstration and summation of the entire movement". "Before Joyce, no writer of fiction had so foregrounded the process of thinking."
Update on our Quench Editions download store http://www.samizdat.com/quencheditions
One week after we opened, we now have 143 books and book collections (single files with multiple books) in our store, and plan to add 10-20 more every day, for the forseeable future. Each day we post a list of the new books in our blog http://www.samizdat.com/blog
We are not set up like the monster on-line stores that have millions of titles and are totally automated, depending on search engines and data bases. If you know exactly the title you want, that's probably the best kind of store for you to go. But if you'd prefer to browse through a personally selected set of great books, organized like the shelves of a library, with similar books found near one another to prompt you to check titles and authors you may not have heard of before, then you'd probably enjoy a leisurely stroll through our store.
As we grow, we will continuously expand and refine our organization. For instance, American Literature and History, Religion, and Portuguese Literature just grew large enough to warrant their own separate Web pages. But you will always be able to go click to all categoies. from our home page href="http://www.samizdat.com/quencheditions">http://www.samizdat.com/quencheditions
Do you have any author and/or titles that you would like us to include? We have a library of over 23,000 classics. If what you want is in our collections, we'll make it a priority to put those books in the store within the next two days. email@example.com
5/8/2012 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is "Dubliners" By James Joyce. According to Wikipedia: "Dubliners is a collection of 15 short stories by James Joyce, first published in 1914. They were meant to be a naturalistic depiction of Irish middle class life in and around Dublin in the early years of the 20th century.
The stories were written when Irish nationalism was at its peak, and a search for a national identity and purpose was raging; at a crossroads of history and culture, Ireland was jolted by various converging ideas and influences. They centre on Joyce's idea of an epiphany: a moment where a character experiences self-understanding or illumination. Many of the characters in Dubliners later appear in minor roles in Joyce's novel Ulysses. The initial stories in the collection are narrated by child protagonists, and as the stories continue, they deal with the lives and concerns of progressively older people. This is in line with Joyce's tripartite division of the collection into childhood, adolescence, and maturity."
4/21/2012 -- Thanks to a suggestion from Aruni Sharma, this week's Ebook of the Week is "Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo, in English translation. According to Wikipedia: "Les Misérables is an 1862 French novel by author Victor Hugo that is widely considered one of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century. The title is variously translated from the French as The Miserable, The Wretched, The Poor Ones, The Wretched Poor, or The Victims. Beginning in 1815 and culminating in the 1832 June Rebellion, the novel follows the lives and interactions of several French characters, focusing on the struggles of ex-convict Jean Valjean and his experience of redemption. Examining the nature of law and grace, the novel expatiates upon the history of France, architecture of Paris, politics, moral philosophy, antimonarchism, justice, religion, and the types and nature of romantic and familial love. The story is historical fiction because it contains factual and historic events. Contrary to what some believe, it does not use the French Revolution as a backdrop. The French Revolution took place in the eighteenth century; Les Misérables takes place in the nineteenth century. The only "revolution" depicted is the June Rebellion, a student uprising. Les Misérables is known to many through its numerous stage and screen adaptations, most notably the stage musical of the same name."
4/12/2012 -- Thanks to Michael Bowman-Jones, this week's book is "With Fire and Sword: an historical novel of Poland and Russia" by Henryk Sienkiewicz. According to Wikipedia: "With Fire and Sword is a historical novel by the Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz, published in 1884... The novel has been adapted as a film several times, most recently in 1999. With Fire and Sword is a historical fiction novel, set in the 17th century in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth during the Khmelnytsky Uprising. It was initially serialized in several Polish newspapers, chapters appearing in weekly instalments. It gained enormous popularity in Poland, and by the turn of the 20th century had become one of the most popular Polish books ever. It became obligatory reading in Polish schools, and has been translated into English and most European languages."
3/30/2012 -- Thanks to a suggestion from Michael Bowman-Jones, this week's Free Ebook of the week is Quo Vadis, A Narrative of the Time of Nero by Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz. According to Wikipedi: "Quo Vadis: A Narrative of the Time of Nero, commonly known as Quo Vadis, is a historical novel written by Henryk Sienkiewicz in Polish. Quo vadis is Latin for "Where are you going?" and alludes to the apocryphal Acts of Peter, in which Peter flees Rome but on his way meets Jesus and asks him why he is going to Rome. Jesus says "I am going back to be crucified again", which makes Peter go back to Rome and accept martyrdom. The novel Quo Vadis tells of a love that develops between a young Christian woman, Ligia (or Lygia), and Marcus Vinicius, a Roman patrician. It takes place in the city of Rome under the rule of emperor Nero around AD 64. Sienkiewicz studied the Roman Empire extensively prior to writing the novel, with the aim of getting historical details correct. As such, several historical figures appear in the book. As a whole, the novel carries an outspoken pro-Christian message. Published in installments in three Polish dailies in 1895, it came out in book form in 1896 and has since been translated into more than 50 languages. This novel contributed to Sienkiewicz's Nobel Prize for literature in 1905."
3/19/2012 -- Thanks to a suggestion from Michael Bowman-Jones, this week's Free Ebook of the Week consists of the essay "Tolstoy on Shakespeare" and the book "A Short History of Russia by Mary Platt Parmele.
The Tolstoy on Shakespeare file also includes the essay "Shakespeare's Attitude to the Working Classes" by Ernest Crosby.
The Russian history was first published in 1907. According to the Preface: "If this book seems to have departed from the proper ideal of historic narrative--if it is the history of a Power, and not of a People--it is because the Russian people have had no history yet. There has been no evolution of a Russian nation, but only of a vast governing system; and the words "Russian Empire" stand for a majestic world-power in which the mass of its people have no part. A splendidly embroidered robe of Europeanism is worn over a chaotic, undeveloped mass of semi-barbarism. The reasons for this incongruity--the natural obstacles with which Russia has had to contend; the strange ethnic problems with which it has had to deal; its triumphant entry into the family of great nations; and the circumstances leading to the disastrous conflict recently concluded, and the changed conditions resulting from it--such is the story this book has tried to tell."
3/11/2012 -- I'm behind schedule again. Sorry about that. To make up for it I'm sending you two books this time.
First, thanks to a suggestion from Michael Bowman-Jones, "A Hero of Our Time" by Lermontov. According to Wikipedia: "Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov (October 15, 1814 – July 27, 1841), a Russian Romantic writer, poet and painter, sometimes called "the poet of the Caucasus", became the most important Russian poet after Alexander Pushkin's death in 1837. Lermontov is considered the supreme poet of Russian literature alongside Pushkin and the greatest figure in Russian Romanticism. His influence on later Russian literature is still felt in modern times, not only through his poetry, but also through his prose, which founded the tradition of the Russian psychological novel...A Hero of Our Time is a novel by Mikhail Lermontov, written in 1839 and revised in 1841. It is an example of the superfluous man novel, noted for its compelling Byronic hero (or anti-hero) Pechorin and for the beautiful descriptions of the Caucasus. There are several English translations, including one by Vladimir Nabokov and Dmitri Nabokov in 1958.The book is divided into five short stories or novellas, plus (in the second edition) an authorial preface. There are three major narrators: an unnamed young travel writer who has received Pechorin's diaries after he bequeaths them to captain Maxim Maximych and who is implied to be Lermontov himself; Maxim Maximych, an old staff-captain who served with Pechorin for some time during the Caucasian War; and Pechorin himself via his diaries. The stories depict Pechorin as impulsive, emotionally distant and manipulative, capable of extreme bravery but generally bored by his life. In the longest novella, Princess Mary, Pechorin flirts with the Princess of the title, while conducting an affair with his ex-lover Vera, and kills his friend Grushnitsky (of whom he is secretly contemptuous) in a duel in which the participants stand in turn on the edge of a cliff so that the loser's death can be explained as an accidental fall. Eventually he rejects one woman only to be abandoned by the other.* Claude Sautet's film A Heart in Winter (Un Coeur en Hiver) was based on "his memories of" the Princess Mary section. The preface explains the author's idea of his character: "A Hero of Our Time, my dear readers, is indeed a portrait, but not of one man. It is a portrait built up of all our generation's vices in full bloom. You will again tell me that a human being cannot be so wicked, and I will reply that if you can believe in the existence of all the villains of tragedy and romance, why wouldn't believe that there was a Pechorin? If you could admire far more terrifying and repulsive types, why aren't you more merciful to this character, even if it is fictitious? Isn't it because there's more truth in it than you might wish?"
Second, thanks to a suggestion from both Vasant Nadpara and Betty Bandy, is a book by the Indian Nobel laureate Tagore, "The Hunger Stones and Other Stories". According to Wikipedia: "Rabindranath Tagore (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941), sobriquet Gurudev,?[›] was an Indian-Bengali polymath who reshaped his region's literature and music. Author of Gitanjali and its "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse", he became the first non-European Nobel laureate by earning the 1913 Prize in Literature. Known mostly for his poetry, Tagore wrote novels, essays, short stories, travelogues, dramas, and thousands of songs. Of Tagore's prose, his short stories are perhaps most highly regarded; he is indeed credited with originating the Bengali-language version of the genre. His works are frequently noted for their rhythmic, optimistic, and lyrical nature. Such stories mostly borrow from deceptively simple subject matter: commoners.
2/23/2012 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is "Creatures that Once Were Men and Other Stories" by Maxim Gorky. According to Wikipedia: "Alexei Maximovich Peshkov (28 March – 18 June 1936), primarily known as Maxim Gorky, was a Russian and Soviet author, a founder of the Socialist Realism literary method and a political activist... Gorky’s reputation as a unique literary voice from the bottom strata of society and as a fervent advocate of Russia's social, political, and cultural transformation grew. By 1899, he was openly associating with the emerging Marxist social-democratic movement which helped make him a celebrity among both the intelligentsia and the growing numbers of "conscious" workers. At the heart of all his work was a belief in the inherent worth and potential of the human person. In his writing, he counterposed individuals, aware of their natural dignity, and inspired by energy and will, with people who succumb to the degrading conditions of life around them. Both his writings and his letters reveal a "restless man" (a frequent self-description) struggling to resolve contradictory feelings of faith and skepticism, love of life and disgust at the vulgarity and pettiness of the human world. He publicly opposed the Tsarist regime and was arrested many times. Gorky befriended many revolutionaries and became Lenin's personal friend after they met in 1902."
2/13/2012 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is "The Precipice by Ivan Goncharov. According to Wikipedia: "Ivan Alexandrovich Goncharov (18 June 1812 – 27 September 1891) was a Russian novelist best known as the author of Oblomov (1859)... In 1867, Goncharov retired from his post as a government censor and devoted all of his time to working on his third novel. The Precipice, a book he once called "my heart's child", took him twenty years to finish. Towards the end of this tormenting process Goncharov was despairing of ever finishing it, speaking of the novel as a "burden", and "insurmountable task" that totally blocked his development and made him unable to move any further as a writer. In a letter to Turgenev he confessed that, having finished part 3, entertained the idea of abandoning the whole thing altogether. In 1869 The Precipice was published in Vestnik Evropy (##1-5), the story of a romantic rivalry among three men, which provided a condemnation of nihilism in defence of the religious and moral values of old Russia. Later critics came to see it as final part of the trilogy, each book introducing a character typical to a Russian high society of a certain decade: first Aduev, then Oblomov and finally Raisky, a gifted man, aborted in his artistic development by the "lack of direction". According to scholar S.Mashinsky, as a social epic, The Precipice was superior to both A Common Story and Oblomov. The novel was highly successful, but this time the left press turned against its author."
2/3/2012 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is "Liza or A Nest of Nobles" by Ivan Turgenev. According to Wikipedia: "Home of the Gentry [another translation of this title] is a novel by Ivan Turgenev published in the January 1859 issue of Sovremennik. It was enthusiastically received by the Russian society and remained his least controversial and most widely-read novel until the end of the 19th century. It was turned into a movie by Andrey Konchalovsky in 1969... Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev (October 28] 1818 – September 3, 1883) was a Russian novelist, short story writer, and playwright. His first major publication, a short story collection entitled A Sportsman's Sketches, is a milestone of Russian Realism, and his novel Fathers and Sons is regarded as one of the major works of 19th-century fiction."
1/25/2012 -- Thanks to a request from Michael Bowman-Jones, this week's Free Ebook of the Week is more Russian fiction -- "The Mantle and Other Stories". "The Mantle" is known as "The Cloak" in other translations. This collection also includes The Nose, Memoirs of a Madman, A May Night, and The Viy (a horror story). According to Wikipedia: "Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol (19 March 1809 – 21 February 1852) was a Ukrainian-born Russian dramatist and novelist. Considered by his contemporaries one of the preeminent figures of the natural school of Russian literary realism, later critics have found in Gogol's work a fundamentally romantic sensibility, with strains of Surrealism and the grotesque ("The Nose", "Viy", "The Overcoat," "Nevsky Prospekt"). His early works, such as Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka, were influenced by his Ukrainian upbringing, Ukrainian culture and folklore. His later writing satirised political corruption in the Russian Empire (The Government Inspector, Dead Souls), leading to his eventual exile. The novel Taras Bulba (1835) and the play Marriage (1842), along with the short stories "Diary of a Madman", "The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich", "The Portrait" and "The Carriage", round out the tally of his best-known works."
In future weeks, I'm considering sending out more Russian works -- Liza by Turgenev, Precipice by Goncharov, Creatures that Once Were Men by Gorky, A Hero of Our Time by Lermontov, Tolstoy on Shakespeare, and A Short History of Russia (1907) by Mary Platt Parmele. Please let me know if any or all of these interest you.
1/17/2012 -- Thanks to a suggestion from Owen Lowe, this week's Ebook of the Week is "The House of the Dead or Prison Life in Siberia" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. According to Wikipedia: "The House of the Dead is a novel published in 1861 in the journal Vremya by Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky, which portrays the life of convicts in a Siberian prison camp. The novel has also been published under the titles Memoirs from the House of The Dead and Notes from the Dead House. The book is a loosely-knit collection of facts and events connected to life in a Siberian prison, organised by "theme" rather than as a continuous story. Dostoyevsky himself spent four years in exile in such a camp following his conviction for involvement in the Petrashevsky Circle. This experience allowed him to describe with great authenticity the conditions of prison life and the characters of the convicts. After his mock execution on the 22nd of December 1849, Dostoevsky was spared his life in exchange for 4 years of servitude in one of Siberia’s prison labour camps. Though he was often met with hostility from the other prisoners due to his status of “gentleman,” his views on life had changed and this precious gift, he did not take for granted. Ten years later, Dostoevsky returned to Russia to write, The House of the Dead. This novel mirrors several of the horrifying experiences he witnessed while in prison. He recalls the guards’ brutality and relish in performing unspeakably cruel acts, the crimes that the convicted criminals committed, and the fact that tousled amongst these great brutes were good and decent individuals. However, he also displays admiration for the convicts’ abilities to commit murders without the slightest change in conscience. It was a stark contrast to himself and his high sensitivity levels. It was during his time in prison that he first began experiencing his epileptic seizures. House of the Dead led Dostoevsky to include the theme of murder in his later works, a theme not found in any of his works preceding House of the Dead."
1/9/2012 -- This week's book is The Red Acorn, a Civil War novel by John McElroy. According to Wikipedia: "John McElroy was born to Robert and Mary Henderson McElroy in Greenup County, Kentucky. When his father died, he traveled to St. Louis to become an apprentice in the printing business. As a sixteen year old in 1863, McElroy enlisted in the Union Army as a private in Company L of the 16th Illinois Cavalry regiment, having earlier served with local Union troops in operations near St. Louis. In January 1864, he was among dozens of men captured in a skirmish near Jonesville, Virginia, by Confederate cavalrymen under William E. Jones. McElroy sent to a variety of camps before being assigned to Andersonville prison, where he remained for the rest of the war. After the war ended, McElroy was released from captivity and transported back to the North. He settled in Chicago and resumed the printer's trade. He became a local reporter and newspaperman before moving to Toledo, Ohio, to become an editor of the Toledo Blade. He married Elsie Pomeroy of Ottawa, Ohio, and raised a family. In 1879, he wrote Andersonville: A Story of Rebel Military Prisons, a non-fiction work based on his experiences during his fifteen-month incarceration. It quickly became a bestseller and remained popular for the next twenty years. In 1884, he moved from Toledo to Washington, D.C. to take over as editor and co-owner of the National Tribune. He was active in the local Grand Army of the Republic, serving as commander of the Department of the Potomac in 1896. In 1908, McElroy wrote The Economic Functions of Vice. The following year, he published Struggle for Missouri, a history of the bitter division over slavery that split the state's loyalties and led to armed conflict within its borders. In 1910, he wrote a Civil War novel entitled Si Klegg: His Transformation from a Raw Recruit to a Veteran."
12/31/2011 -- Thanks to a suggestion from Grace Ensz, this week's Free Ebook of the Week is Si Klegg, a Civil War novel by John McElroy, author of Andersonville, last week's selection. According to Wikipedia: "John McElroy was born to Robert and Mary Henderson McElroy in Greenup County, Kentucky. When his father died, he traveled to St. Louis to become an apprentice in the printing business. As a sixteen year old in 1863, McElroy enlisted in the Union Army as a private in Company L of the 16th Illinois Cavalry regiment, having earlier served with local Union troops in operations near St. Louis. In January 1864, he was among dozens of men captured in a skirmish near Jonesville, Virginia, by Confederate cavalrymen under William E. Jones. McElroy sent to a variety of camps before being assigned to Andersonville prison, where he remained for the rest of the war. After the war ended, McElroy was released from captivity and transported back to the North. He settled in Chicago and resumed the printer's trade. He became a local reporter and newspaperman before moving to Toledo, Ohio, to become an editor of the Toledo Blade. He married Elsie Pomeroy of Ottawa, Ohio, and raised a family. In 1879, he wrote Andersonville: A Story of Rebel Military Prisons, a non-fiction work based on his experiences during his fifteen-month incarceration. It quickly became a bestseller and remained popular for the next twenty years. In 1884, he moved from Toledo to Washington, D.C. to take over as editor and co-owner of the National Tribune. He was active in the local Grand Army of the Republic, serving as commander of the Department of the Potomac in 1896. In 1908, McElroy wrote The Economic Functions of Vice. The following year, he published Struggle for Missouri, a history of the bitter division over slavery that split the state's loyalties and led to armed conflict within its borders. In 1910, he wrote a Civil War novel entitled Si Klegg: His Transformation from a Raw Recruit to a Veteran."
12/19/2011 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is "Andersonville, a Story of Rebel Military Prisons, Fifteen Months a Guest of the So-Called Southern Confederacy, a Private Soldier's Expreience in Richmond, Andersonville, Savannah, Millen, Blackshear and Florence" by John McElroy. According to Wikipedia: "John McElroy was born to Robert and Mary Henderson McElroy in Greenup County, Kentucky. When his father died, he traveled to St. Louis to become an apprentice in the printing business. As a sixteen year old in 1863, McElroy enlisted in the Union Army as a private in Company L of the 16th Illinois Cavalry regiment, having earlier served with local Union troops in operations near St. Louis. In January 1864, he was among dozens of men captured in a skirmish near Jonesville, Virginia, by Confederate cavalrymen under William E. Jones. McElroy sent to a variety of camps before being assigned to Andersonville prison, where he remained for the rest of the war. After the war ended, McElroy was released from captivity and transported back to the North. He settled in Chicago and resumed the printer's trade. He became a local reporter and newspaperman before moving to Toledo, Ohio, to become an editor of the Toledo Blade. He married Elsie Pomeroy of Ottawa, Ohio, and raised a family. In 1879, he wrote Andersonville: A Story of Rebel Military Prisons, a non-fiction work based on his experiences during his fifteen-month incarceration. It quickly became a bestseller and remained popular for the next twenty years. In 1884, he moved from Toledo to Washington, D.C. to take over as editor and co-owner of the National Tribune. He was active in the local Grand Army of the Republic, serving as commander of the Department of the Potomac in 1896. In 1908, McElroy wrote The Economic Functions of Vice. The following year, he published Struggle for Missouri, a history of the bitter division over slavery that split the state's loyalties and led to armed conflict within its borders. In 1910, he wrote a Civil War novel entitled Si Klegg: His Transformation from a Raw Recruit to a Veteran."
12/14/2011 -- This week's Ebook of the Week is "Famous Adventures and Prison Escapes of The Civil War" edited by G. W. Cable. It includes: War Diary of a Union Woman in the South, The Locomotive Chase in Georgia, A Romance of Morgan's Rough-Riders, Colonel Rose's Tunnel at Libby Prison, A Hard Road to Travel Out of Dixie, and Escape of General Breckinridge.
12/6/2011 -- This week's book is "Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant", both volumes in a single file. According to Wikipedia: "The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant is an autobiography of American President Ulysses S. Grant, focused mainly on the general's actions during the American Civil War. Written as Grant was dying of throat cancer in 1885, the two-volume set was published by Mark Twain shortly after Grant's death. The memoirs were a financial and critical success and are still praised for their high literary qualities... That fall, the former president was diagnosed with terminal throat cancer. Facing his mortality, Grant struck a publishing deal with his friend Mark Twain and began working on his memoirs, hoping they would provide for his family after his death. Grant suffered greatly in his final year. He was in constant pain from his illness and sometimes had the feeling he was choking. Despite his condition, he wrote at a furious pace, sometimes finishing 25 to 50 pages a day. In June 1885, as the cancer spread through his body, the family moved to Mount MacGregor, New York, to make Grant more comfortable. Propped up on chairs, and too weak to walk, Grant worked to finish the book. Friends, admirers and even a few former Confederate opponents made their way to Mount MacGregor to pay their respects. Grant finished the manuscript on July 18; he died five days later."
11/26/2011 -- This week's Ebook of the Week is Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. According to Wikipedia: "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is a memoir and treatise on abolition written by famous orator and ex-slave, Frederick Douglass. It is generally held to be the most famous of a number of narratives written by former slaves during the same period. In factual detail, the text describes the events of his life and is considered to be one of the most influential pieces of literature to fuel the abolitionist movement of the early 19th century in the United States... Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, February 1818 – February 20, 1895) was an American social reformer, orator, writer and statesman. After escaping from slavery, he became a leader of the abolitionist movement, gaining note for his dazzling oratory and incisive antislavery writing. He stood as a living counter-example to slaveholders' arguments that slaves did not have the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens. Many Northerners also found it hard to believe that such a great orator had been a slave. Douglass wrote several autobiographies, eloquently describing his experiences in slavery in his 1845 autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, which became influential in its support for abolition. He wrote two more autobiographies, with his last, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, published in 1881 and covering events through and after the Civil War. After the Civil War, Douglass remained active in the United States' struggle to reach its potential as a "land of the free". Douglass actively supported women's suffrage. Without his approval he became the first African American nominated for Vice President of the United States as the running mate of Victoria Woodhull on the impracticable and small Equal Rights Party ticket. Douglass held multiple public offices. Douglass was a firm believer in the equality of all people, whether black, female, Native American, or recent immigrant, famously quoted as saying, "I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong."
11/21/2011 -- Thanks to a suggestion from Solomon S., this week's ebook of the week is Uncle Tom's Cabin. According to Wikipedia: "Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly is an anti-slavery novel by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Published in 1852, the novel "helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War", according to Will Kaufman. Stowe, a Connecticut-born teacher at the Hartford Female Academy and an active abolitionist, featured the character of Uncle Tom, a long-suffering black slave around whom the stories of other characters—both fellow slaves and slave owners—revolve. The sentimental novel depicts the reality of slavery while also asserting that Christian love can overcome something as destructive as enslavement of fellow human beings. Uncle Tom's Cabin was the best-selling novel of the 19th century, and the second best-selling book of that century, following the Bible. It is credited with helping fuel the abolitionist cause in the 1850s. In the first year after it was published, 300,000 copies of the book were sold in the United States alone. In 1855, three years after it was published, it was called "the most popular novel of our day." One million copies of the book were sold in Great Britain. The impact attributed to the book is great, reinforced by a story that when Abraham Lincoln met Stowe at the start of the Civil War, Lincoln declared, "So this is the little lady who started this great war." The quote is apocryphal; it did not appear in print until 1896, and it has been argued that "The long-term durability of Lincoln's greeting as an anecdote in literary studies and Stowe scholarship can perhaps be explained in part by the desire among many contemporary intellectuals ... to affirm the role of literature as an agent of social change." The book, and the plays it inspired, also helped popularize a number of stereotypes about black people, many of which endure to this day. These include the affectionate, dark-skinned "mammy"; the "pickaninny" stereotype of black children; and the 'Uncle Tom', or dutiful, long-suffering servant faithful to his white master or mistress. In recent years, the negative associations with Uncle Tom's Cabin have, to an extent, overshadowed the historical impact of the book as a "vital antislavery tool."
11/11/2011 -- This week's ebook is Incidents int he Life of a Slave Girl, Seven Years Concealed. Written by Herself. Linda Brent. According to Wikipedia: "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is a book that was published in 1861 by Harriet Jacobs, using the pen name "Linda Brent". While on one level it chronicles the experiences of Harriet Jacobs as a slave, and the various humiliations she had to endure in that unhappy state, it also deals with the particular tortures visited on women at her station. Often in the book, she will point to a particular punishment that a male slave will endure at the hands of slave holders, and comment that, although she finds the punishment brutal in the extreme, it cannot compare to the abuse that a young woman must face while still on the cusp of girlhood. Incidents in the Life of Slave Girl is considered a slave narrative. Portions of it were first published in serial form before being published as a complete work in 1861, after some difficulty finding a publisher. It is also considered an example of feminist literature. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl was published in 1861, the start of the Civil War. At this time, the federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 had been in effect for 10 years. This act required the states to observe Art. IV Sec. 2 of the Constitution of the United States and return any escaped slaves to their masters. The Underground Railroad was organized as a system of houses of abolitionists that helped slaves on their way to the North in defiance of the Constitution and of the Fugitive Slave Acts. At this time, it was very dangerous for slaves to try to escape. In 1857 The Dred Scott Decision stated that people of African descent imported into the United States and held as slaves (or their descendants, whether or not they were slaves) were not protected by the Constitution and could never be U.S. citizens. Another book of dealing with similar themes is Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. This novel, published in 1852, was claimed to have "laid the groundwork for the civil war."
7/8/2011 -- This week's ebook of the week is "The Prince" by Machiavelli. You can enjoy this book for its history (laced with anecdotal examples from the life of Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI, brother of Lucretia Borgia, and main character of the series on Showtime; or you can appreciate the insights into human nature and consider this one of the classic of political science. His recommendations are based entirely on utility, with no moral considerations. (He presumes that the end justifies the means.)
9/14/2011 -- Back after a long break, this week's Ebook of the Week is "Memories: a Record of Personal Experience and Adventure During Four Years of War" by Fanny Beers. This is a first-hand account of the Civil War from the perspective of a Confederate woman. According to the Preface: For several years my friends among Confederate soldiers have been urging me to "write up" and publish what I know of the war. By personal solicitation and by letter this subject has been brought before me and placed in the light of a duty which I owe to posterity. Taking this view of it, I willingly comply, glad that I am permitted to stand among the many "witnesses" who shall establish "the truth," proud to write myself as one who faithfully served the defenders of the Cause which had and has my heart's devotion."
According to Wikipedia: "The Prince (Italian: Il Principe) is a political treatise by the Italian diplomat, historian and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli. From correspondence a version appears to have been distributed in 1513, using a Latin title, De Principatibus (About Principalities). But the printed version was not published until 1532, five years after Machiavelli's death. This was done with the permission of the Medici pope Clement VII, but "long before then, in fact since the first appearance of the Prince in manuscript, controversy had swirled about his writings" Although it was written as if it were a traditional work in the Mirror of Princes style, it is generally agreed that it was especially innovative. This is only partly because it was written in the Vernacular (Italian) rather than Latin, a practice which had become increasingly popular since the publication of Dante's Divine Comedy and other works of Renaissance literature. The Prince is sometimes claimed to be one of the first works of modern philosophy, especially modern political philosophy, in which the effective truth is taken to be more important than any abstract ideal. It was also in direct conflict with the dominant Catholic and scholastic doctrines of the time concerning how to consider politics and ethics. Although it is relatively short, the treatise is the most remembered of his works and the one most responsible for bringing the word "Machiavellian" into wide usage as a pejorative term. It also helped make "Old Nick" an English term for the devil, and even contributed to the modern negative connotations of the words "politics" and "politician" in western countries. In terms of subject matter it overlaps with the much longer Discourses on Livy, which was written a few years later. In its use of near contemporary Italians as examples of people who perpetrated criminal deeds for politics, another lesser-known work by Machiavelli which The Prince has been compared to is the Life of Castruccio Castracani. The descriptions within The Prince have the general theme of accepting that the aims of princes, such as glory, and indeed survival, can justify the use of immoral means to achieve those ends."
6/28/2011 -- This week's ebook of the week is "The Enormous Room" and autobiographical novel by the poet e. e. cummings. According to Wikipedia: "The Enormous Room is a 1922 autobiographical novel by the poet and novelist E. E. Cummings about his temporary imprisonment in France during World War I. Cummings served as an ambulance driver during the war. In late August 1917 his friend and colleague, William Slater Brown (known in the book only as B.), was arrested by French authorities as a result of anti-war sentiments B. had expressed in some letters. When questioned, Cummings stood by his friend and was also arrested. While Cummings was in captivity at La Ferté-Macé, his father received an erroneous letter to the effect that his son had been lost at sea. The cable was later rescinded, but the subsequent lack of information on his son's whereabouts left the elder Cummings distraught. Meanwhile, Cummings and B. had the bad luck to be transported to La Ferté only five days after the local commissioners in charge of reviewing cases for trial and pardon had left - and the commissioners were not expected back until November. When they finally did arrive, they agreed to allow Cummings, as an official "suspect", a supervised release in the remote commune of Oloron-Sainte-Marie. B. was ordered to be transferred to a prison in Précigné. Before Cummings was to depart, he was unconditionally released from La Ferté due to U.S. diplomatic intervention. He arrived in New York City on January 1, 1918. Cummings thus spent over four months in the prison. He met a number of interesting characters and had many picaresque adventures, which he compiled into The Enormous Room. The book is written as a mix between Cummings' well-known unconventional grammar and diction and the witty voice of a young Harvard-educated intellectual in an absurd situation. The title of the book refers to the large room where Cummings slept beside thirty or so other prisoners. However, it also serves as an allegory for Cummings' mind and his memories of the prison - such that when he describes the many residents of his shared cell, they still live in the "enormous room" of his mind... Edward Estlin Cummings (October 14, 1894 – September 3, 1962), popularly known as E. E. Cummings, with the abbreviated form of his name often written by others in lowercase letters as e.e. cummings (in the style of some of his poems), was an American poet, painter, essayist, author, and playwright. His body of work encompasses approximately 2,900 poems, two autobiographical novels, four plays and several essays, as well as numerous drawings and paintings. He is remembered as a preeminent voice of 20th century poetry, as well as one of the most popular."
Please let me know if you'd prefer to receive these books in .prc format (for the Kindle) or .epub format (from Nook, Sony, etc.) instead of the standard .txt (plain text).
FYI -- after seeing and greatly enjoying the Woody Allen movie "Midnight in Paris", I've been reading books about Americans in Paris in the 1920, and books by those Americans (including Hemingway, Cummings, and Fitzgerald). Here's a recent blog post of mine (from http://www.samizdat.com/blog/?p=477 ):
In Just-spring and Hemingway
One of my favorite poems is “In Just-spring…” by e.e. cummings, which ends:
High-school footnotes connected “goat-footed” with the Pan of Greek mythology. But for so spontaneous, so immediate a poem, that felt like a stretch.
Having recently seen Woody Allen’s new flick “Midnight in Paris” (great fun), I read several books about Americans in Paris in the 1920s, and reread “The Sun Also Rises” and “A Moveable Feast”. I was surprised to learn that e. e. cummings was in Paris when Hemingway was there. And in “A Moveable Feast” I stumbled upon the following evocation of spring:
“In the spring mornings I would work early while my wife still slept. The windows were open wide and the cobbles of the street were drying after the rain. The sun was drying the wet faces of the houses that faced the window. The shops were all shuttered. The goat-heard came up the street blowing his pipes and a woman who lived on the floor above us cam out onto the sidewalk with a big pot. The goatherd chose one of the heavy-bagged, black milk-goats and milked her into the pot while his dog pushed the others onto the sidewalk. The goats looked around, turning their necks like sight-seers. The goatherd took the money from the woman and thanked her and went on up the street piping and the dog herded the goats on ahead, their horns bobbing. I went back to writing and the woman came up the stairs with the goat milk. She wore her felt-soled cleaning shoes and I only heard her breathing as she stopped on the stairs outside our door and the the shutting of her door. She was the only customer for goat milk in our building.”
For me, that passage gives the cumming’s poem a fresh tactile immediacy.
6/14/2011 -- A Miscellany of Men by G. K. Chesterton.
5/26/2011 -- This week's ebook is "What's Wrong With the World?" a collection of essays by G. K. Chesterton. I'm addicted to his witty, ironic style.
5/9/2011 -- The Free Ebook of the Week is "All Things Considered" by G.K. Chesterton.
(By the way, in all probability, you haven't missed any of these mailings. They've become far more irregular as the demands of work eat up more of my time. I'll continue to send these out whenever I can. Please be patient. Thank you.)
This collection of essays includes: THE CASE FOR THE EPHEMERAL, COCKNEYS AND THEIR JOKES, THE FALLACY OF SUCCESS, ON RUNNING AFTER ONE'S HAT, THE VOTE AND THE HOUSE, CONCEIT AND CARICATURE, PATRIOTISM AND SPORT, AN ESSAY ON TWO CITIES, FRENCH AND ENGLISH, THE ZOLA CONTROVERSY, OXFORD FROM WITHOUT, WOMAN, THE MODERN MARTYR, ON POLITICAL SECRECY, EDWARD VII. AND SCOTLAND, THOUGHTS AROUND KOEPENICK, THE BOY, LIMERICKS AND COUNSELS OF PERFECTION, ANONYMITY AND FURTHER COUNSELS, ON THE CRYPTIC AND THE ELLIPTIC, THE WORSHIP OF THE WEALTHY, SCIENCE AND RELIGION, THE METHUSELAHITE, SPIRITUALISM, THE ERROR OF IMPARTIALITY, PHONETIC SPELLING, HUMANITARIANISM AND STRENGTH, WINE WHEN IT IS RED, DEMAGOGUES AND MYSTAGOGUES, THE "EATANSWILL GAZETTE", FAIRY TALES, TOM JONES AND MORALITY, THE MAID OF ORLEANS, A DEAD POET, and CHRISTMAS CONSIDERED.
According to Wikipedia: "Gilbert Keith Chesterton (29 May 1874 – 14 June 1936) was an English writer. His prolific and diverse output included philosophy, ontology, poetry, play writing, journalism, public lecturing and debating, literary and art criticism, biography, Christian apologetics, and fiction, including fantasy and detective fiction. Chesterton has been called the "prince of paradox". Time magazine, in a review of a biography of Chesterton, observed of his writing style: "Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories—first carefully turning them inside out." For example, Chesterton wrote "Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it." Chesterton is well known for his reasoned apologetics and even some of those who disagree with him have recognized the universal appeal of such works as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. Chesterton, as a political thinker, cast aspersions on both liberalism and conservatism, saying, "The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected." Chesterton routinely referred to himself as an "orthodox" Christian, and came to identify such a position with Catholicism more and more, eventually converting to Roman Catholicism from Anglicanism. George Bernard Shaw, Chesterton's "friendly enemy" according to Time, said of him, "He was a man of colossal genius".
4/6/2011 -- "A Short History of England" by G.K. Chesterton. With his style, wit, and insight, he could and did make any subject interesting. According to Wikipedia: "Gilbert Keith Chesterton (29 May 1874 – 14 June 1936) was an English writer. His prolific and diverse output included philosophy, ontology, poetry, play writing, journalism, public lecturing and debating, literary and art criticism, biography, Christian apologetics, and fiction, including fantasy and detective fiction. Chesterton has been called the "prince of paradox". Time magazine, in a review of a biography of Chesterton, observed of his writing style: "Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories—first carefully turning them inside out." For example, Chesterton wrote "Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it." ] Chesterton is well known for his reasoned apologetics and even some of those who disagree with him have recognized the universal appeal of such works as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. Chesterton, as a political thinker, cast aspersions on both liberalism and conservatism, saying, "The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected." Chesterton routinely referred to himself as an "orthodox" Christian, and came to identify such a position with Catholicism more and more, eventually converting to Roman Catholicism from Anglicanism. George Bernard Shaw, Chesterton's "friendly enemy" according to Time, said of him, "He was a man of colossal genius"
3/24/2011 -- "Some Short Stories" by Henry James, including Brooksmith, The REal Thing, The Story of It, Flickerbridge, and Mrs. Medwin.
3/4/2011 -- "Whirligigs" by O. Henry
1/25/2011 -- "Cabbages and Kings" by O. Henry. According to Wikipedia: "O. Henry's stories are famous for their surprise endings, to the point that such an ending is often referred to as an "O. Henry ending." He was called the American answer to Guy de Maupassant. Both authors wrote twist endings, but O. Henry stories were much more playful and optimistic. His stories are also well known for witty narration. Most of O. Henry's stories are set in his own time, the early years of the 20th century. Many take place in New York City and deal for the most part with ordinary people: clerks, policemen, waitresses. Fundamentally a product of his time, O. Henry's work provides one of the best examples of catching the entire flavor of an age written in the English language. Whether roaming the cattle-lands of Texas, exploring the art of the "gentle grafter," or investigating the tensions of class and wealth in turn-of-the-century New York, O. Henry had an inimitable hand for isolating some element of society and describing it with an incredible economy and grace of language. Some of his best and least-known work resides in the collection Cabbages and Kings, a series of stories which each explore some individual aspect of life in a paralytically sleepy Central American town while each advancing some aspect of the larger plot and relating back one to another in a complex structure which slowly explicates its own background even as it painstakingly erects a town which is one of the most detailed literary creations of the period."
12/16/2010 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is "The Four Million", a collection of short stories by O. Henry that includes the Christmas classic "The Gift of the Magi". According to Wikipedia: ""The Gift of the Magi" is a short story written by O. Henry (a pen name for William Sydney Porter), about a young married couple and how they deal with the challenge of buying secret Christmas gifts for each other with very little money. As a sentimental story with a moral lesson about gift-giving, it has been a popular one for adaptation, especially for presentation during the Christmas season. The plot and its "twist ending" are well-known, and the story and its lesson are sometimes subverted for the sake of irony or humor. It was allegedly written at Pete's Tavern on Irving Place in New York City." "O. Henry was the pseudonym of the American writer William Sydney Porter (September 11, 1862 – June 5, 1910). O. Henry's short stories are well known for their wit, wordplay, warm characterization and clever twist endings... The Four Million was his first collection of stories. It opens with a reference to Ward McAllister's "assertion that there were only 'Four Hundred' people in New York City who were really worth noticing. But a wiser man has arisen—the census taker—and his larger estimate of human interest has been preferred in marking out the field of these little stories of the 'Four Million.'" To O. Henry, everyone in New York counted. He had an obvious affection for the city, which he called "Bagdad-on-the-Subway,"and many of his stories are set there—but others are set in small towns and in other cities.
11/29/2010 -- This week’s Free Ebook of the Week is volume 5 of “The Life of George Washington” by John Marshall. Volume 5 covers 1793 (Washington’s second term as president) up until his death in 1799. This is the last volume of the series.
11/2/2010 -- "The Life of George Washington" by John Marshall, volume 4
10/26/2010 -- "The Life of George Washington" by John Marshall, volume 3
9/28/2010 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is volume 2 of "The Life of George Washington" by John Marshall. In volume 1, Marshall, writing a decade or two before the first publication of the Communist manifesto, inerpreted colonial American history as a series of lessons illustrating the effectiveness of private ownership/free enterprise and the repeated failures of communal ownership. Volume 2 covers Washington's life from his birth up through Valley Forge.
9/21/2010 -- This Week's Free Ebook of the Week is volume 1 of "The Life of George Washington" by John Marshall. I plan to send out the other four volumes in future weeks. This volume is actually a detailed history of the Colonial America, up until the Revolution. According to Wikipedia: "John Marshall (September 24, 1755 – July 6, 1835) was an American jurist and statesman who shaped American constitutional law and made the Supreme Court a center of power. Marshall was Chief Justice of the United States, serving from January 31, 1801, until his death in 1835. He served in the United States House of Representatives from March 4, 1799, to June 7, 1800, and was Secretary of State under President John Adams from June 6, 1800, to March 4, 1801. Marshall was from the Commonwealth of Virginia and a leader of the Federalist Party. The longest serving Chief Justice in Supreme Court history, Marshall dominated the Court for over three decades (a term outliving his own Federalist Party) and played a significant role in the development of the American legal system. Most notably, he established that the courts are entitled to exercise judicial review, the power to strike down laws that violate the Constitution. Thus, Marshall has been credited with cementing the position of the American judiciary as an independent and influential branch of government. Furthermore, the Marshall Court made several important decisions relating to federalism, shaping the balance of power between the federal government and the states during the early years of the republic. In particular, he repeatedly confirmed the supremacy of federal law over state law and supported an expansive reading of the enumerated powers." He was also an excellent historian.
9/14/2010 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is LOUISIANA AND THE NORTHWEST 1791-1807, the fourth and final volume of Teddy Roosevelt's Winning of the West.
9/7/2010 -- THE FOUNDING OF THE TRANS-ALLEGHANY COMMONWEALTHS 1784-1790, volume 3 of Teddy Roosevelt's Winning of the West.
8/31/2010 -- FROM THE ALLEGHANIES TO THE MISSISSIPPI 1777-1783, volume 2 of Teddy Roosevelt's Winning of the West.
8/24/2010 -- Volume one of Theodore Roosevelt's four-volume historical work "The Winning of the West", covering "From the Alleghanies to the Mississippi 1769-1776. Please let me know if you'd like me to send out the other volumes of this series.
7/27/2010 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is "The Rough Riders" by Theodore Roosevelt, first published in 1899. This is his first-hand account of fighting in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. According to Wikipedia: "Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt (October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919) was the 26th President of the United States. He is famous for his energetic personality, range of interests and achievements, leadership of the Progressive Movement, model of masculinity, and his "cowboy" image. He was a leader of the Republican Party and founder of the short-lived Progressive ("Bull Moose") Party of 1912. Before becoming President (1901–1909) he held offices at the municipal, state, and federal level of government. Roosevelt's achievements as a naturalist, explorer, hunter, author, and soldier are as much a part of his fame as any office he held as a politician... He was effectively running the US Department of the Navy when the Spanish American War broke out; he resigned and led a small regiment in Cuba known as the Rough Riders, earning himself a nomination for the Medal of Honor (which was received posthumously on his behalf on January 16, 2001). After the war, he returned to New York and was elected Governor; two years later he was nominated for and elected Vice President of the United States."
6/29/2010 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is A Straight Deal or The Ancient Grudge by Owen Wister. According to Wikipedia: "Owen Wister (July 14,
6/22/2010 -- This week's book is The Virginian by Owen Wister. According to Wikipedia: "The Virginian ... was dedicated to Theodore Roosevelt, a good friend of Owen Wister... "Structurally, the story is less a novel than an anthology of previously published stories about the central character, with, e.g., the point of view shifting from one chapter to the next. The Virginian, both the character and the book, are considered to be first of their kind. The character is seen as the first real cowboy character that has set the standard for the cowboy character stereotype. The book is seen as one of the first great western novels about cowboys." It was the basis for four movies, a made-for-TV-movie, and a TV series. "Owen Wister (July 14, 1860 – July 21, 1938) was an American writer and "Father" of western fiction... Wister had spent several summers out in the American West, making his first trip to Wyoming in 1885. Like his friend Teddy Roosevelt, Wister was fascinated with the culture, lore and terrain of the region. On an 1893 visit to Yellowstone, Wister met the western artist Frederic Remington; who remained a lifelong friend. When he started writing, he naturally inclined towards fiction set on the western frontier. Wister's most famous work remains the 1902 novel The Virginian, the loosely constructed story of a cowboy who is a natural aristocrat, set against a highly mythologized version of the Johnson County War and taking the side of the large land owners. This is widely regarded as being the first cowboy novel and was reprinted fourteen times in eight months"
6/15/2010 -- Wit and Humor of America, volume 10 (the last volume).
6/8/2010 -- Wit and Humor of America, volume 9.
6/1/2010 -- Wit and Humor of America, volume 8.
5/25/2010 -- Wit and Humor of America, volume 7.
5/18/2010 -- Wit and Humor of America, volume 6.
5/11/2010 -- Back again by popular demand, this week's book is volume 5 of The Wit and Humor of America. Please let me know if you'd like still another of these next week.
Also, please let me know if you would prefer to receive these books in .prc (MobiPocket Reader format), which works better than plain text for reading on the Kindle. I'm building a separate mailing list for Kindle users. FYI -- I just learned a technique that let's me add "metadata" to these files, for the title and author work on the Kindle (from the Menu and when sorting).
Meanwhile, I'm building a new online store, where you will be able to buy "portable" ebooks by download for your ebook readers (Kindle, Sony, Barnes & Noble Nook, Borders, etc.) This is in addition to (not instead of), waht we've been doing -- making book collection CDs and DVDs, with books in plain text (.txt) format.
The store is currently "under construction". We plan to officially launch it in about a week. But you can take a look now at http://www.samizdat.com/store/
5/4/2010 -- In honor of Mother's Day, this week's book is "The Mother" by Gorky, which Wikipedia calls "his famous novel of revolutionary conversion and struggle," first published in 1907. (By popular demand I'll return to the Wit and Humor of America series next week).
According to Wikipedia: "Aleksey Maksimovich Peshkov (28 March, 1 868 â€“ 18 June 1936), better known as Maxim Gorky, was a Russian/Soviet author, a founder of the socialist realism literary method and a political activist. ...Gorky wrote incessantly, viewing literature less as an aesthetic practice (though he worked hard on style and form) than as a moral and political act that could change the world. He described the lives of people in the lowest strata and on the margins of society, revealing their hardships, humiliations, and brutalization, but also their inward spark of humanity. Gorkyâ€™s reputation as a unique literary voice from the bottom strata of society and as a fervent advocate of Russia's social, political, and cultural transformation (by 1899, he was openly associating with the emerging Marxist social-democratic movement) helped make him a celebrity among both the intelligentsia and the growing numbers of "conscious" workers. At the heart of all his work was a belief in the inherent worth and potential of the human person. He counterposed vital individuals, aware of their natural dignity, and inspired by energy and will, to people who succumb to the degrading conditions of life around them. Still, both his writings and his letters reveal a "restless man" (a frequent self-description) struggling to resolve contradictory feelings of faith and skepticism, love of life and disgust at the vulgarity and pettiness of the human world."
4/27/2010 -- Back by popular demand, this week's book is volume 4 of The Wit and Humor of America. Please let me know if you'd like yet another of these next week.
4/20/2010 -- This week's book is volume 2 of The Wit and Humor of America volume 3.
4/13/2010 -- Sorry for the delay. I missed four weeks, bogged down in a big project with a tight deadline. Now my wife, Barbara, will be working with me full-time, so this will no longer be a one-man-band; and you should get these books far more regularly. We'll also be able to devote more time to CD/DVD updates and publishing new books for the Kindle. Suggestions always welcome. (By the way, you can reach Barbara at firstname.lastname@example.org)
This week's book is volume 2 of The Wit and Humor of America.
3/9/2010 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week consists of "Roger-Isms: The Cowboy Philosopher on the Peace Conference" by Will Rogers, a piece about the Versailles Peace Conference. Since that is so short, I'm also including volume 1 of The Wit and Humor of America (with contents too long to list).
3/2/2010 -- This week's book is "Lincoln's Yarns and Stories: A Complete Collection of the Funny and Witty Anecdotes that Made Abraham Lincoln Famous as America's Greatest Story Teller". According to the Preface: "Dean Swift said that the man who makes two blades of grass grow where one grew before serves well of his kind. Considering how much grass there is in the world and comparatively how little fun, we think that a still more deserving person is the man who makes many laughs grow where none grew before. Sometimes it happens that the biggest crop of laugh is produced by a man who ranks among the greatest and wisest. Such a man was Abraham Lincoln whose wholesome fun mixed with true philosophy made thousands laugh and think at the same time. He was a firm believer in the saying, "Laugh and the world laughs with you." Whenever Abraham Lincoln wanted to make a strong point he usually began by saying, "Now, that reminds me of a story." And when he had told a story every one saw the point and was put into a good humor. The ancients had Aesop and his fables. The moderns had Abraham
Lincoln and his stories."
2/23/2010 -- Continuing our celebration of copyright freedom, this week's Eboo of the Week is two books of poetry by Yeats (who died in 1939) -- "Green Helmet and Other Poems" and "In the Seven Woods. According to Wikipedia: "William Butler Yeats (pronounced /?je?ts/; 13 June 1865 ï¿½ 28 January 1939) was an Irish poet, dramatist, and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years Yeats served as an Irish Senator for two terms. He was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival, and along with Lady Gregory and Edward Martyn founded the Abbey Theatre, serving as its chief during its early years. In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for what the Nobel Committee described as "inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation." He was the first Irishman so honored. Yeats is generally considered one of the few writers whose greatest works were completed after being awarded the Nobel Prize; such works include The Tower (1928) and The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1929). Yeats was born and educated in Dublin but spent his childhood in County Sligo. He studied poetry in his youth, and from an early age was fascinated by both Irish legends and the occult. Those topics feature in the first phase of his work, which lasted roughly until the turn of the century. His earliest volume of verse was published in 1889, and those slowly paced and lyrical poems display debts to Edmund Spenser and Percy Bysshe Shelley, as well as to the lyricism of the Pre-Raphaelite poets. From 1900, Yeats' poetry grew more physical and realistic. He largely renounced the transcendental beliefs of his youth, though he remained preoccupied with physical and spiritual masks, as well as with cyclical theories of life. Over the years, Yeats adopted many different ideological positions, including, in the words of the critic Michael Valdez Moses, "those of radical nationalist, classical liberal, reactionary conservative and millenarian nihilist"
2/16/2010 -- Continuing our celebration of copyright freedom, this week's Ebook of the Week is "Dream Psychology" by Sigmund Freud (who died in 1939). According to Wikipedia: "Sigmund Freud ... (May 6, 1856 ï¿½ September 23, 1939), was a Jewish-Austrian neurologist who founded the psychoanalytic school of psychiatry. Freud is best known for his theories of the unconscious mind and the defense mechanism of repression and for creating the clinical practice of psychoanalysis for treating psychopathology through dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst. Freud is also renowned for his redefinition of sexual desire as the primary motivational energy of human life, as well as his therapeutic techniques, including the use of free association, his theory of transference in the therapeutic relationship, and the interpretation of dreams as sources of insight into unconscious desires. He was also an early neurological researcher into cerebral palsy. Freud was also a prolific essayist, drawing on psychoanalysis to contribute to the history, interpretation and critique of culture. While some of Freud's ideas have fallen out of favor or have been modified by Neo-Freudians, and modern advances in the field of psychology have shown flaws in some of his theories, Freud's work remains seminal in humans' quest for self understanding, especially in the history of clinical approaches. In academia, his ideas continue to influence the humanities and social sciences. He is considered one of the most prominent thinkers of the first half of the 20th century, in originality, intellectual influence and popular resonance on par with Einstein and Keynes."
2/2/2010 -- This week we continue our celebration of "copyright freedom" with "The Good Solider" by Ford Madox Ford. According to Wikipedia: "The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion is a 1915 novel by English novelist Ford Madox Ford. It is set just before World War I and chronicles the tragedies of the lives of two seemingly perfect couples. The novel is told using a series of flashbacks in non-chronological order, a literary technique pioneered by Ford. It also makes use of the device of the unreliable narrator, as the main character gradually reveals a version of events that is quite different from what the introduction leads you to believe. The novel was loosely based on two incidents of adultery and on Ford's messy personal life. The novelï¿½s original title was The Saddest Story, but after the onset of World War I, the publishers asked Ford for a new title. Ford suggested (perhaps sarcastically) The Good Soldier, and the name stuck." Also according to Wikipedia: "Ford Madox Ford (December 17, 1873 ï¿½ June 26, 1939) was an English novelist, poet, critic and editor whose journals, The English Review and The Transatlantic Review, were instrumental in the development of early 20th-century English literature. He is now best remembered for The Good Soldier (1915) and the Parade's End tetralogy... In 1908, he founded The English Review, in which he published Thomas Hardy, H. G. Wells, Joseph Conrad, Henry James, John Galsworthy and William Butler Yeats, and gave debuts to Wyndham Lewis, D. H. Lawrence and Norman Douglas. In 1924, he founded The Transatlantic Review, a journal with great influence on modern literature. Staying with the artistic community in the Latin Quarter of Paris, France, he made friends with James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound and Jean Rhys, all of whom he would publish (Ford is the model for the character Braddocks in Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises). Known in his role as critic for the statement "Open the book to page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you." In a later sojourn in the United States, he was involved with Allen Tate, Caroline Gordon, Katherine Anne Porter and Robert Lowell (who was then a student). Despite his deep Victorian roots, Ford was always a champion of new literature and literary experimentation."
1/26/2010 -- Continuing our copyright freedom celebration, and based on a suggestion from Betty Bandy, this week's book is "The Cossacks: a Tale of 1852" by Leo Tolstoy, translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude. According to Wikipedia: "The Cossacks is a short novel by Leo Tolstoy, published in 1863. The novel was acclaimed by Ivan Bunin as one of the finest in the language."
1/12/2010 -- Continuing our celebration of copyright independence month, this week's offering is "Master and Man", another story by Tolstoy translated by Aylmer and Louise Maude. According to Wikipedia: "Master and Man is a short story by Leo Tolstoy (1895). In this short story, a land owner named Vasili Andreevich Brekhunov takes along one of his peasants, Nikita, for a short journey to the house of the owner of a forest. He is impatient and wishes to get to the town more quickly 'for business' (purchasing the forest before other contenders can get there). They find themselves in the middle of a blizzard, but the master in his avarice wishes to press on. They eventually get lost off the road and they try to camp. The master's peasant soon finds himself about to die from hypothermia. The master attains a spiritual/moral revelation, and Tolstoy once again repeats one of his famous themes: that the only true happiness in life is found by living for others. The master then lies on top of the peasant to keep him warm through the cold night. Vasili is too exposed to the cold though and dies. His peasant's life is saved. Then Vasili is allowed into Heaven for his sacrifice."
I'd also be happy to send the Maude translation of War and Peace to anyone requesting it. (I'm reluctant to send it to all because the size (3 Mbytes) might be a bit much for some mailboxes.)
1/5/2010 -- January is copyright independence month. In the European Union the term for copyright protection is the date of the author's death plus 70 years. That means that on Jan. 1, 2010, works by authors who died in 1939 finally entered the public domain. So we will celebrate by sending out works by Ford Madox Ford, Havelock Ellis, Sigmund Freud, William Butler Yeats, and Aylmer & Louise Maude (translators of Tolstoy). This week, the selection is six plays by Tolstoy, translated by Maude. These include: The Cause of It All, The First Distiller, Fruits of Culture, The Light Shines in Darkness, The Live Corpse, and
The Power of Darkness.
According to Wikipedia: "Leo Tolstoy, or Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (September 9 [O.S. August 28] 1828 ï¿½ November 20 [O.S. November 7] 1910), was a Russian writer widely regarded as among the greatest of novelists. His masterpieces War and Peace and Anna Karenina represent in their scope, breadth and vivid depiction of 19th-century Russian life and attitudes, the peak of realist fiction. Tolstoy's further talents as essayist, dramatist, and educational reformer made him the most influential member of the aristocratic Tolstoy family. His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus, centering on the Sermon on the Mount, caused him in later life to become a fervent Christian anarchist and pacifist. His ideas on nonviolent resistance, expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God Is Within You, were to have a profound impact on such pivotal twentieth-century figures as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr." Also according to Wikipedia: "Aylmer Maude (28 March 1858 ï¿½ 25 August 1938) and Louise Maude (1855ï¿½1939) were English translators of Tolstoy's works, and Aylmer Maude also wrote his friend Tolstoy's biography. After living many years in Russia the Maudes spent the rest of their life in England translating Tolstoy's writing and promoting public interest in his work. Aylmer Maude was also involved in a number of early 20th century progressive and idealistic causes."
12/29/2009 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is "Old Christmas" by Washington Irving (from The Sketch Book of Washington Irving). According to Wikipedia: "Washington Irving (April 3, 1783 ï¿½ November 28, 1859) was an American author, essayist, biographer and historian of the early 19th century. He was best known for his short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle", both of which appear in his book The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. His historical works include biographies of George Washington, Oliver Goldsmith and Muhammad, and several histories of 15th-century Spain dealing with subjects such as Christopher Columbus, the Moors, and the Alhambra. Irving also served as the U.S. minister to Spain from 1842 to 1846. He made his literary debut in 1802 with a series of observational letters to the Morning Chronicle, written under the pseudonym Jonathan Oldstyle. After moving to England for the family business in 1815, he achieved international fame with the publication of The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. in 1819. He continued to publish regularlyï¿½and almost always successfullyï¿½throughout his life, and completed a five-volume biography of George Washington just eight months before his death, at age 76, in Tarrytown, New York. Irving, along with James Fenimore Cooper, was among the first American writers to earn acclaim in Europe, and Irving encouraged American authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Edgar Allan Poe. Irving was also admired by some European writers, including Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron, Thomas Campbell, Francis Jeffrey, and Charles Dickens."
12/22/2009 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is "The Christmas Books of Mr. M.A. Titmarsh" by William Makepeace Thackeray. According to Wikipedia: "William Makepeace Thackeray (18 July 1811 â€“ 24 December 1863) was an English novelist of the 19th century. He was famous for his satirical works, particularly Vanity Fair, a panoramic portrait of English society... Thackeray began as a satirist and parodist, with a sneaking fondness for roguish upstarts like Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair, Barry Lyndon in The Luck of Barry Lyndon and Catherine in Catherine. In his earliest works, writing under such pseudonyms as Charles James Yellowplush, Michael Angelo Titmarsh and George Savage Fitz-Boodle, he tended towards the savage in his attacks on high society, military prowess, the institution of marriage and hypocrisy."
12/15/2009 -- This week's ebook of the week is Mardi: and a Voyage Thither by Herman Melville (both volumes). According to Wikipedia: "Mardi is Melville's first pure fiction work (while featuring fictional narrators, his previous novels were heavily autobiographical). It details (much like Typee and Omoo) the travelings of an American sailor who abandons his whaling vessel to explore the South Pacific. Unlike the first two, however, Mardi is highly philosophical and said to be the first work to show Melville's true potential. The tale begins as a simple narrative, but quickly focuses upon discourse between the main characters and their interactions with the different symbolic countries they encounter. While not as cohesive or lengthy as Moby-Dick, it shares a similar writing style as well as many of the same themes. As a preface to Mardi, Melville wrote somewhat ironically that his first two books were nonfiction but disbelieved; by the same pattern he hoped the fiction book would be accepted as fact... Mardi was a critical failure. One reviewer said the book contained "ideas in so thick a haze that we are unable to perceive distinctly which is which". Nevertheless, Nathaniel Parker Willis found the work "exquisite"."
12/8/2009 -- This week's book is Piazza Tales by Herman Melville, first published in 1856. It includes The Piazza, Bartleby, Benito Cereno, The Lightning-Road Man, The Encantadas, and The Bell Tower. According to Wikipedia: "The Piazza Tales is a collection of short stories by Herman Melville, which he published with Dix & Edwards in 1856 in the United States. A British edition followed shortly afterward. Except for the title story, "The Piazza," all of the stories had appeared in Putnam's Monthly over the years before. It was the only such collection published during Melville's lifetime. Originally, Melville had intended to entitle the volume Benito Cereno and Other Sketches, but it was The Encantadas, his sketches of the Galï¿½pagos Islands, that garnered the most attention from critics. Even though The Piazza Tales received largely favorable reviews, it did not sell well enough to get Melville out of his financial straits."
12/1/2009 -- This week's Ebook of the Week is a collection of all 14 Gilbert and Sullivan plays/operettas: GONDOLIERS, GRAND DUKE, H.M.S. PINAFORE, IOLANTHE, THE MIKADO,
PIRATES OF PENZANCE, PRINCESS IDA, RUDDIGORE, THE SORCERER, THESPIS, TRIAL BY JURY, UTOPIA LIMITED, YEOMEN OF THE GUARD, and PATIENCE.
11/24/2009 -- This week's book is "Tancred" a political novel by Benjamin Disraeli. According to Wikipedia: "Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, (21 December 1804 ï¿½ 19 April 1881) was a British Prime Minister, parliamentarian, Conservative statesman and literary figure. He served in government for three decades, twice as Prime Minister. A teenage convert to Anglicanism, he was nonetheless the country's first and thus far only Prime Minister of Jewish heritage. He played an instrumental role in the creation of the modern Conservative Party after the Corn Laws schism of 1846. Although a major figure in the protectionist wing of the Conservative Party after 1844, Disraeli's relations with the other leading figures in the party, particularly Lord Derby, the overall leader, were often strained. Not until the 1860s would Derby and Disraeli be on easy terms, and the latter's succession of the former assured. From 1852 onwards, Disraeli's career would also be marked by his often intense rivalry with William Gladstone, who eventually rose to become leader of the Liberal Party. In this feud, Disraeli was aided by his warm friendship with Queen Victoria, who came to detest Gladstone during the latter's first premiership in the 1870s. In 1876 Disraeli was raised to the peerage as the Earl of Beaconsfield, capping nearly four decades in the House of Commons. Before and during his political career, Disraeli was well-known as a literary and social figure, although his novels are not generally regarded as a part of the Victorian literary canon. He mainly wrote romances, of which Sybil and Vivian Grey are perhaps the best-known today. He is exceptional among British Prime Ministers for having gained equal social and political renown. He was twice successful as the Glasgow University Conservative Association's candidate for Rector of the University, holding the post for two full terms between 1871 and 1877. ... Sybil, or The Two Nations is an 1845 novel by Benjamin Disraeli. Published in the same year as Friedrich Engels's The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844, Sybil traces the plight of the working classes of England. As the title suggests, Disraeli is interested in dealing with the horrific conditions in which the majority of England's working classes lived ï¿½ or, what is generally called the Condition of England question. The book is a roman ï¿½ thï¿½se, or a novel with a thesis ï¿½ which was meant to create a propagandistic furor over the squalor that was plaguing England's working class cities."
11/17/2009 -- This week's book is "Sybil or The Two Nations" a political novel by Benjamin Disraeli. According to Wikipedia: "Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, (21 December 1804 â€“ 19 April 1881) was a British Prime Minister, parliamentarian, Conservative statesman and literary figure. He served in government for three decades, twice as Prime Minister. A teenage convert to Anglicanism, he was nonetheless the country's first and thus far only Prime Minister of Jewish heritage. He played an instrumental role in the creation of the modern Conservative Party after the Corn Laws schism of 1846. Although a major figure in the protectionist wing of the Conservative Party after 1844, Disraeli's relations with the other leading figures in the party, particularly Lord Derby, the overall leader, were often strained. Not until the 1860s would Derby and Disraeli be on easy terms, and the latter's succession of the former assured. From 1852 onwards, Disraeli's career would also be marked by his often intense rivalry with William Gladstone, who eventually rose to become leader of the Liberal Party. In this feud, Disraeli was aided by his warm friendship with Queen Victoria, who came to detest Gladstone during the latter's first premiership in the 1870s. In 1876 Disraeli was raised to the peerage as the Earl of Beaconsfield, capping nearly four decades in the House of Commons. Before and during his political career, Disraeli was well-known as a literary and social figure, although his novels are not generally regarded as a part of the Victorian literary canon. He mainly wrote romances, of which Sybil and Vivian Grey are perhaps the best-known today. He is exceptional among British Prime Ministers for having gained equal social and political renown. He was twice successful as the Glasgow University Conservative Association's candidate for Rector of the University, holding the post for two full terms between 1871 and 1877. ... Sybil, or The Two Nations is an 1845 novel by Benjamin Disraeli. Published in the same year as Friedrich Engels's The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844, Sybil traces the plight of the working classes of England. As the title suggests, Disraeli is interested in dealing with the horrific conditions in which the majority of England's working classes lived â€” or, what is generally called the Condition of England question. The book is a roman ï¿½ thÃ¨se, or a novel with a thesis â€” which was meant to create a propagandistic furor over the squalor that was plaguing England's working class cities."
11/3/2009 -- This week's book is "Coningsby" a political novel by Benjamin Disraeli. According to Wikipedia: "Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, (21 December 1804 â€“ 19 April 1881) was a British Prime Minister, parliamentarian, Conservative statesman and literary figure. He served in government for three decades, twice as Prime Minister. A teenage convert to Anglicanism, he was nonetheless the country's first and thus far only Prime Minister of Jewish heritage. He played an instrumental role in the creation of the modern Conservative Party after the Corn Laws schism of 1846. Although a major figure in the protectionist wing of the Conservative Party after 1844, Disraeli's relations with the other leading figures in the party, particularly Lord Derby, the overall leader, were often strained. Not until the 1860s would Derby and Disraeli be on easy terms, and the latter's succession of the former assured. From 1852 onwards, Disraeli's career would also be marked by his often intense rivalry with William Gladstone, who eventually rose to become leader of the Liberal Party. In this feud, Disraeli was aided by his warm friendship with Queen Victoria, who came to detest Gladstone during the latter's first premiership in the 1870s. In 1876 Disraeli was raised to the peerage as the Earl of Beaconsfield, capping nearly four decades in the House of Commons. Before and during his political career, Disraeli was well-known as a literary and social figure, although his novels are not generally regarded as a part of the Victorian literary canon. He mainly wrote romances, of which Sybil and Vivian Grey are perhaps the best-known today. He is exceptional among British Prime Ministers for having gained equal social and political renown. He was twice successful as the Glasgow University Conservative Association's candidate for Rector of the University, holding the post for two full terms between 1871 and 1877." Coningsby "... is set against a background of the real political events of the 1830s in England that followed the enactment of the Reform Bill of 1832. In describing these events Disraeli sets out his own beliefs including his opposition to Robert Peel, his dislikes of both the British Whig Party and the ideals of Utilitarianism, and the need for social justice in a newly industrialized society. He portrays the self-serving politician in the character of Rigby (based on John Wilson Croker) and the malicious party insiders in the characters of Taper and Tadpole."
10/27/2009 -- The History of a Crime by Hugo. According to Wikipedia: "The History of a Crime (French: Histoire d'un crime, 1877) is a novel by Victor Hugo about Napoleon III's takeover of France."
10/20/2009 -- This week's book is Notre-Dame de Paris (AKA The Hunchback of Notre Dame). According to Wikipedia: "Victor-Marie Hugo (6 February 1802 ï¿½ 22 May 1885) was a French poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France. In France, Hugo's literary fame comes first from his poetry but also rests upon his novels and his dramatic achievements. Among many volumes of poetry, Les Contemplations and La Lï¿½gende des siï¿½cles stand particularly high in critical esteem, and Hugo is sometimes identified as the greatest French poet. Outside France, his best-known works are the novels Les Misï¿½rables and Notre-Dame de Paris (known in English also as The Hunchback of Notre Dame). Though a committed conservative royalist when he was young, Hugo grew more liberal as the decades passed; he became a passionate supporter of republicanism, and his work touches upon most of the political and social issues and artistic trends of his time. He is buried in the Panthï¿½on... Hugo began to write Hunchback in 1829. The agreement with his original publisher, Gosselin, was that the book would be finished that same year. However, Hugo was constantly delayed due to the demands of other projects. By the summer of 1830, Gosselin demanded the book to be completed by February 1831. And so beginning in September 1830, Hugo worked non-stop on the project; he bought a new bottle of ink, a woolen cloak, and cloistered himself in his room refusing to be bothered or to leave his house (except for nightly visits to the cathedral). The book was finished six months later... The enormous popularity of the book in France spurred the nascent historical preservation movement in that country and strongly encouraged Gothic revival architecture. Ultimately it led to major renovations at Notre-Dame in the 19th century led by Eugï¿½ne Viollet-le-Duc. Much of the cathedral's present appearance is a result of this renovation."
10/13/2009 -- This week's Free Ebook of the Week is "The Man Who Laughs" by Victor Hugo. According to Wikipedia: "The Man Who Laughs is a novel by Victor Hugo, originally published in April 1869 under the French title L'Homme qui rit. Although among Hugo's most obscure works, it was adapted into a popular 1928 film, directed by Paul Leni and starring Conrad Veidt, Mary Philbin and Olga Baclanova... Hugo wrote The Man Who Laughs, or the Laughing Man, over a period of fifteen months while he was living in the Channel Islands, having been exiled from his native France due to the controversial political content of his previous novels. Hugo's working title for this book was On the King's Command, but a friend suggested The Man Who Laughs... Victor-Marie Hugo (French pronunciation: [viktɔʁ maʁi yˈɡo]) (26 February 1802 ï¿½ 22 May 1885) was a French poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France. In France, Hugo's literary fame rests not only upon his novels, but also upon his poetic and dramatic achievements. Among many volumes of poetry, Les Contemplations and La Lï¿½gende des siï¿½cles stand particularly high in critical esteem, and Hugo is sometimes identified as the greatest French poet. Outside France, his best-known works are the novels Les Misï¿½rables and Notre-Dame de Paris (known in English also as The Hunchback of Notre Dame). Though a committed conservative royalist when he was young, Hugo grew more liberal as the decades passed; he became a passionate supporter of republicanism, and his work touches upon most of the political and social issues and artistic trends of his time."
10/6/2009 -- This week's book is my favorite George Eliot novel "Middlemarch". According to Wikipedia: "Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life is a novel by George Eliot, the pen name of Mary Anne Evans, later Marian Evans. It is her seventh novel, begun in 1869 and then put aside during the final illness of Thornton Lewes, the son of her partner George Henry Lewes. During the following year Eliot resumed work, fusing together several stories into a coherent whole, and during 1871ï¿½72 the novel appeared in serial form. The first one-volume edition was published in 1874, and attracted large sales. Subtitled "A Study of Provincial Life", the novel is set in the fictitious Midlands town of Middlemarch during the period 1830ï¿½32. It has a multiple plot with a large cast of characters, and in addition to its distinct though interlocking narratives it pursues a number of underlying themes, including the status of women, the nature of marriage, idealism and self-interest, religion and hypocrisy, political reform, and education. The pace is leisurely, the tone is mildly didactic (with an authorial voice that occasionally bursts through the narrative), and the canvas is very broad. Despite the fact that it has some comical characters (Mr. Brooke, the "tiny aunt" Miss Noble) and comically-named characters (Mrs. Dollop), Middlemarch is a work of realism. Through the voices and opinions of different characters we become aware of various broad issues of the day ï¿½ the Great Reform Bill, the beginnings of the railways, the death of King George IV and the succession of his brother, the Duke of Clarence. We learn something of the state of contemporary medical science. We also encounter the deeply reactionary mindset within a settled community facing the prospect of what to many is unwelcome change. The eight "books" which comprise the novel are not autonomous entities, but merely reflect the form of the original serialisation. A short prelude introduces the idea of the latter-day St. Theresa, presaging the character Dorothea; a postscript or "finale" after the eighth book gives the post-history of the main characters. In general Middlemarch has retained its popularity and its status as one of the masterpieces of English fiction, although some reviewers have expressed dissatisfaction at the destiny recorded for Dorothea. From separate centuries Florence Nightingale and Kate Millet both remark on the eventual subordination of Dorothea's own dreams to those of her admirer, Ladislaw. However, Virginia Woolf gave the book unstinting praise, describing Middlemarch as ï¿½the magnificent book that, with all its imperfections, is one of the few English novels written for grown-up peopleï¿½
9/29/2009 -- This week's book is "The Mill on the Floss" by George Eliot. According to Wikipedia: "The Mill on the Floss is a novel by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), first published in three volumes in 1860. The novel details the lives of Tom and Maggie Tulliver, a brother and sister growing up on the River Floss near the village of St. Oggs in the United Kingdom, evidently in the 1820s after the Napoleonic Wars but prior to the Reform Act of 1832. Both the river and the village are fictional. The novel spans a period of 10-15 years, from Tom and Maggieï¿½s childhood up until their deaths in a flood on the Floss. The book is fictional autobiography in part, reflecting the disgrace that George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) herself had while in a lengthy relationship with a married man, George Henry Lewes... Like other of George Eliotï¿½s novels, The Mill on the Floss articulates the tension between circumstances and the spiritual energies of individuals struggling against those circumstances. A certain determinism is at play throughout the novel, from Mr. Tulliverï¿½s grossly imprudent inability to keep himself from ï¿½going to law,ï¿½ and thereby losing his patrimony and bankrupting his family, to the series of events which sets Maggie and Stephen down the river and past the point of no return. Individuals such as Mr. Tulliver, are presented as unable to determine their own course rationally, and forces, be it the drift of the river or the force of a flood, are presented as determining the courses of individuals for them. On the other hand, Maggieï¿½s ultimate choice not to marry Stephen, and to suffer both the privation of his love and the ignominy of their botched elopement demonstrates a final triumph of free will."
9/22/2009 -- George Eliot's "Silas Marner". According to Wikipedia: "Mary Anne (Mary Ann, Marian) Evans (22 November 1819 ï¿½ 22 December 1880), better known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist. She was one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. Her novels, largely set in provincial England, are well known for their realism and psychological insight. She used a male pen name, she said, to ensure that her works were taken seriously. Female authors were published under their own names, but Eliot wanted to ensure that she was not seen as merely a writer of romances. An additional factor may have been a desire to shield her private life from public scrutiny and to prevent scandals attending her relationship with the married George Henry Lewes... Throughout her career, Eliot wrote with a politically astute pen. From Adam Bede to The Mill on the Floss and Silas Marner, Eliot presented the cases of social outsiders and small-town persecution. No author since Jane Austen had been as socially conscious and as sharp in pointing out the hypocrisy of the country squires. Felix Holt, the Radical and The Legend of Jubal were overtly political, and political crisis is at the heart of Middlemarch. Readers in the Victorian era particularly praised her books for their depictions of rural society, for which she drew on her own early experiences, and she shared with Wordsworth the belief that there was much interest and importance in the mundane details of ordinary country lives."
9/15/2009 -- This week's book is the long story/short novel Father Sergius by Tolstoy. According to Wikipedia: "Father Sergius is a short story written by Leo Tolstoy in 1890 and first published in 1898. The story begins with the childhood and exceptional and accomplished youth of Prince Stepan Kasatsky. The young man is destined for great things. He discovers on the eve of his wedding that his fiancï¿½e Countess Mary Korotkova has had an affair with his beloved Tsar Nicholas I. The blow to his pride is massive, and he retreats to the arms of the Russian Orthodoxy and becomes a monk. Many years of humility and doubt follow. He is ordered to become a hermit. Despite his being removed from the world, he is still remembered for having so remarkably transformed his life. One winter night, a group of merry-makers decide to visit him, and one of them, a divorced woman named Makovkina, spends the night in his cell, with the intention to seduce him. Father Sergius discovers he is still weak and in order to protect himself, cuts off his own finger. Makovkina is stunned by this act, and leaves the next morning, having vowed to change her life. A year later she has joined a convent. Father Sergius' reputation for holiness grows. He becomes known as a healer, and pilgrims come from far and wide. Yet Father Sergius is profoundly aware of his inability to attain a true faith. He is still tortured by boredom, pride, and lust. He fails a new test, when the young daughter of a merchant successfully beds him. The morning after, he leaves the monastery and seeks out his cousin Pashenka (Praskovya Mikhaylovna), whom he, with a group of other boys, had tormented many years ago. He finds her, now in all the conventional senses a failure in life, yet imbued with a sense of service towards her family. His path is now clearer. He begins to wander, until eight months later he is arrested. He is sent to Siberia, where he now works as the hired man of a well-to-do peasant."
9/8/2009 -- This week's book is Tolstoy's three-part autobiography "Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth" According to Wikipedia: "Leo Tolstoy, or Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (September 9 [O.S. August 28] 1828 â€“ November 20 [O.S. November 7] 1910), was a Russian writer widely regarded as among the greatest of novelists. His masterpieces War and Peace and Anna Karenina represent in their scope, breadth and vivid depiction of 19th-century Russian life and attitudes, the peak of realist fiction. Tolstoy's further talents as essayist, dramatist, and educational reformer made him the most influential member of the aristocratic Tolstoy family. His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus, centering on the Sermon on the Mount, caused him in later life to become a fervent Christian anarchist and pacifist. His ideas on nonviolent resistance, expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God Is Within You, were to have a profound impact on such pivotal twentieth-century figures as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr."
9/1/2009 -- This week's Ebook of the Week is "Relativity" by Einstein.
8/25/2009 -- This week's Ebook of the Week is Salammbo by Gustave Flaubert. According to Wikipedia: "Salammbo (1862) is a historical novel by Gustave Flaubert that interweaves historical and fictional characters. The action takes place immediately before and during the Mercenary Revolt against Carthage in the third century BC. Flaubert's main source was Book I of Polybius's Histories. It was not a particularly well-studied period of history and required a great deal of work from the author, who enthusiastically left behind the realism of his masterpiece Madame Bovary for this tale of blood-and-thunder. The book, which Flaubert researched painstakingly, is largely an exercise in sensuous and violent exoticism. Following the success of Madame Bovary, it was another best-seller and sealed his reputation. The Carthaginian costumes described therein even left traces on the fashions of the time. Nevertheless, in spite of its classic status in France, it is practically unknown today among English-speakers."
8/18/2009 -- This week's book is Madame Bovary.
According to Wikipedia: "Gustave Flaubert (1821 ï¿½ 1880) was a French writer who is counted among the greatest Western novelists. He is known especially for his first published novel, Madame Bovary (1857), and for his scrupulous devotion to his art and style... In 1850, after returning from Egypt, Flaubert began work on Madame Bovary. The novel, which took five years to write, was serialized in the Revue de Paris in 1856. The government brought an action against the publisher and author on the charge of immorality, which was heard during the following year, but both were acquitted. When Madame Bovary appeared in book form, it met with a warm reception... More than perhaps any other writer, not only of France, but of modern Europe, Flaubert scrupulously avoids the inexact, the abstract, the vaguely inapt expression which is the bane of ordinary methods of composition. As a writer, Flaubert was nearly equal parts romantic, realist, and pure stylist. Hence, members of various schools, especially realists and formalists, have traced their origins to his work. The exactitude with which he adapts his expressions to his purpose can be seen in all parts of his work, especially in the portraits he draws of the figures in his principal romances. The degree to which Flaubert's fame has extended since his death presents an interesting chapter of literary history in itself. He is also accredited with spreading the popularity of the colour Tuscany Cypress, a colour often mentioned in his chef-d'oeuvre Madame Bovary. Flaubert was fastidious in his devotion to finding the right word ("le mot juste"), and his mode of composition reflected that. He worked in sullen solitude - sometimes occupying a week in the completion of one page - never satisfied with what he had composed, violently tormenting his brain for the best turn of a phrase, the final adjective. His private letters indeed show that he was not one of those to whom correct, flowing language came naturally. His style was achieved through the unceasing sweat of his brow. Flaubertï¿½s just reward, then, is that many critics consider his best works to be exemplary models of style."
8/11/2009 -- This week's Ebook of the Week is "Under Two Flags" by Ouida and the Kid's Book of the Week (thanks to a suggestion from Penny Golden) is "Bimbi" a collection of children's stories by Ouida. According to Wikipedia: "Ouida (January 1, 1839 ï¿½ January 25, 1908) was the pen name of the English novelist Maria Louise Ramï¿½ (although she preferred to be known as Marie Louise de la Ramï¿½e)... During her career, she wrote more than 40 novels, children's books and collections of short stories and essays. She was an animal rights activist and animal rescuer, and at times owned as many as thirty dogs. For many years she lived in London, but about 1874 she went to Italy, where she died. Ouida's work went through several phases during her career. In her early period, her novels were a hybrid of the sensationalism of the 1860s and the proto-adventure novels dubbed "muscular fiction" that were emerging in part as a romanticization of imperial expansion. Later her work was more along the lines of historical romance, though she never stopped comment on contemporary society. She also wrote several stories for children. One of her most famous novels, Under Two Flags, described the British in Algeria in the most extravagant of terms, while nonetheless also expressing sympathy for the French--with whom Ouida deeply identified--and, to some extent, the Arabs. This book went on to be staged in plays, and subsequently to be turned into at least three movies, transitioning Ouida in the 20th century."
8/4/2009 -- This week's Ebook of the Week is "Elia" and "Last Essays of Elia" by Charles Lamb (in a single file).
According to Wikipedia: "Charles Lamb (London, 10 February 1775 ï¿½ Edmonton, 27 December 1834) was an English/Welsh essayist, best known for his Essays of Elia and for the children's book Tales from Shakespeare, which he produced with his sister, Mary Lamb (1764ï¿½1847). Lamb has been referred to by E.V. Lucas, his principal biographer, as the most lovable figure in English literature, and his influence on the English essay form surely cannot be overestimated."
Charles Lamb was brought to my attention by the recent best-seller "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" , which mentioned his family tragedy (quite unexpected for a brother and sister renowned for their children's version of Shakespeare). As Wikipedia relates: "Charles and his sister Mary both suffered periods of mental illness. Charles spent six weeks in a psychiatric hospital during 1795. He was, however, already making his name as a poet. On 22 September 1796, a terrible event occurred: Mary, "worn down to a state of extreme nervous misery by attention to needlework by day and to her mother at night," was seized with acute mania and stabbed her mother to the heart with a table knife. Although there was no legal status of 'insanity' at the time, a jury returned a verdict of 'Lunacy' and therefore freed her from guilt of willful murder. With the help of friends Lamb succeeded in obtaining his sister's release from what would otherwise have been lifelong imprisonment, on the condition that he take personal responsibility for her safekeeping." (That gives a new twist to the old rhyme "Mary had a little lamb...")
Wikipedia continues: "Lamb used a large part of his relatively meagre income to keep his beloved sister in a private 'madhouse' in Islington called Fisher House. The 1799 death of John Lamb was something of a relief to Charles because his father had been mentally incapacitated for a number of years since suffering a stroke. The death of his father also meant that Mary could come to live again with him in Pentonville, and in 1800 they set up a shared home at Mitre Court Buildings in the Temple, where they lived until 1809. Despite Lamb's bouts of melancholia, both he and his sister enjoyed an active and rich social life. Their London quarters became a kind of weekly salon for many of the most outstanding theatrical and literary figures of the day. Charles Lamb, having been to school with Samuel Coleridge, counted Coleridge as perhaps his closest, and certainly his oldest, friend. On his deathbed, Coleridge had a mourning ring sent to Lamb and his sister. Fortuitously, Lamb's first publication was in 1796, when four sonnets by "Mr. Charles Lamb of the India House" appeared in Coleridge's Poems on Various Subjects. In 1797 he contributed additional blank verse to the second edition, and met the Wordsworths, William and Dorothy, on his short summer holiday with Coleridge at Nether Stowey, thereby also striking up a lifelong friendship with William. In London, Lamb became familiar with a group of young writers who favoured political reform, including Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Hazlitt, and Leigh Hunt. Lamb continued to clerk for the East India Company and doubled as a writer in various genres, his tragedy, John Woodvil, being published in 1802. His farce, Mr H, was performed at Drury Lane in 1807, where it was roundly booed. In the same year, Tales from Shakespeare (Charles handled the tragedies; his sister Mary, the comedies) was published, and became a best seller for William Godwin's "Children's Library." In 1819, at age 44, Lamb, who, because of family commitments, had never married, fell in love with an actress, Fanny Kelly, of Covent Garden, and proposed marriage. She refused him, and he died a bachelor. His collected essays, under the title Essays of Elia, were published in 1823 ("Elia" being the pen name Lamb used as a contributor to the London Magazine). A further collection was published ten years or so later, shortly before Lamb's death. He died of an infection, erysipelas, contracted from a cut on his face, on December 27, 1834, just a few months after Coleridge."
7/28/2009 -- This week's book is Amelia by Henry Fielding (author of Tom Jones). According to Wikipedia: "Amelia, published in December 1751 is a sentimental novel by Henry Fielding. It was the fourth and final novel written by Fielding. The novel follows the life of Amelia and Captain William Booth after they get married. Although it received praise from many writers and critics, it received more criticism from Fielding's competition, possibly resulting from the "paper war" that the author was involved in. The work was printed in only one edition while the author was alive, although 5,000 copies were published in that first printing. No major publishers currently include Amelia in their catalogues."
7/21/2009 -- This week's selection is another Fielding book: "The Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon." Fielding travelled to Lisbon in 1754 for his health, and died there in October, a year before the devastating earthquake that inspired Voltaire's "Candide". According to Wikipedia: "Henry Fielding (22 April 1707 ï¿½ 8 October 1754) was an English novelist and dramatist known for his rich earthy humour and satirical prowess, and as the author of the novel Tom Jones. Aside from his literary achievements, he has a significant place in the history of law-enforcement, having founded (with his half-brother John) what some have called London's first police force, the Bow Street Runners, using his authority as a magistrate." I'm also sending Candide, in English translation. According to Wikipedia: "Candide, ou l'Optimisme (1759) is a French satire by the Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire, English translations of which have been titled Candide: Or, All for the Best (1759); Candide: Or, The Optimist (1762); and Candide: Or, Optimism (1947). The novella begins with a young man, Candide, who is living a sheltered life in an Edenic paradise and being indoctrinated with Leibnizian optimism (or simply optimism) by his tutor, Pangloss. The work describes the abrupt cessation of this existence, followed by Candide's slow, painful disillusionment as he witnesses and experiences great hardships in the world. Voltaire concludes with Candide, if not outright rejecting optimism, advocating an enigmatic precept, "we must cultivate our garden", in lieu of the Leibnizian mantra of Pangloss, "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds"."
7/14/2009 -- This week's ebook of the week is Fielding's "Joseph Andrews", written in the same delightful style and tone as "Tom Jones". According to Wikipedia: "Joseph Andrews, or The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews and of his Friend Mr. Abraham Adams, was the first published full-length novel of the English author and magistrate Henry Fielding, and indeed among the first novels in the English language. Published in 1742 and defined by Fielding as a ï¿½comic romanceï¿½, it is the story of a good-natured footman's adventures on the road home from London with his friend and mentor, the absent-minded parson Abraham Adams. The novel represents the coming together of the two competing aesthetics of eighteenth-century literature: the mock-heroic and neoclassical (and, by extension, aristocratic) approach of Augustans such as Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift; and the popular, domestic prose fiction of novelists such as Daniel Defoe and Samuel Richardson. The novel draws on a variety of inspirations. Written "in imitation of the manner of Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote" (see title page on right), the work owes much of its humour to the techniques developed by Cervantes, and its subject-matter to the seemingly loose arrangement of events, digressions and lower-class characters to the genre of writing known as picaresque. In deference to the literary tastes and recurring tropes of the period, it relies on bawdy humour, an impending marriage and a mystery surrounding unknown parentage, but conversely is rich in philosophical digressions, classical erudition and social purpose."
Next week I plan to send out another Fielding book: "The Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon." Fielding travelled to Lisbon in 1754 for his health, and died there in October, a year before the devastating earthquake that inspired Voltaire's "Candide". So I'll also send "Candide".
For future week's I'm considering "Essays of Elia" by Charles Lamb (brought to my attention by the recent best-seller "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" ), Madame Bovary, and Anna Karenina.
7/7/2009 -- "Tom Jones" by Henry Fielding, first published in 1749. Acording to Wikipedia: "Tom Jones is considered one of the founding novels of the realism genre, which would dominate English literature into the 19th century. The novel is important to Ian Watt's famed analysis, The Rise of the Novel in this respect. Doreen Roberts wrote of the novel in her Introduction to the Wordsworth Classics edition of Tom Jones: 'In his third and greatest novel, which was published in 1749, Fielding made a crucial contribution to the development of the novel as a unified narrative structure held together by a coherent authorial vision, and ordered by a consistent and intelligible system of values to which the characters and the actions could be referred.'"
6/30/2009 -- The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky. According to Wikipedia: "The Brothers Karamazov is the final novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and is generally considered the culmination of his life's work. Dostoyevsky spent nearly two years writing The Brothers Karamazov, which was published as a serial in The Russian Messenger and completed in November 1880. Dostoyevsky intended it to be the first part in an epic story titled The Life of a Great Sinner, but he died less than four months after its publication. The book portrays a patricide in which each of the murdered man's sons share varying degrees of complicity. On a deeper level, it is a spiritual drama of moral struggles concerning faith, doubt, reason, free will and modern Russia....Since its publication, it has been acclaimed all over the world by thinkers as diverse as Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein as one of the supreme achievements in literature."
6/23/2009 -- Cousin Betty by Balzac
6/16/2009 -- Cousin Pons by Balzac
6/9/2009 -- This week's ebook of the week is "Droll Storiest" by Honore de Balzac, delightul bawdy stories, set in medieval/renaissance France, in the mode of The Decameron and The Arabian Nights. According to Wikipedia: "Honorï¿½ de Balzac (20 May 1799 ï¿½ 18 August 1850) was a French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of almost 100 novels and plays collectively entitled La Comï¿½die humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the fall of Napolï¿½on Bonaparte in 1815. Due to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature. He is renowned for his multi-faceted characters; even his lesser characters are complex, morally ambiguous and fully human. Inanimate objects are imbued with character as well; the city of Paris, a backdrop for much of his writing, takes on many human qualities. His writing influenced many famous authors, including the novelists Marcel Proust, ï¿½mile Zola, Charles Dickens, Gustave Flaubert, Marie Corelli, Henry James, Jack Kerouac, and Italo Calvino as well as important philosophers such as Friedrich Engels. Many of Balzac's works have been made into films, and they continue to inspire other writers."
6/2/2009 -- This week's ebook is "New Grub Street" by George Gissing. Struggling to make a living from writing in late 19th century London. The characters come alive, and you feel their conflicts, frustrations, and hopes, as if you lived in the same world. According to Wikipedia: "George Robert Gissing ( November 22, 1857 ï¿½ December 28, 1903) was an English novelist who wrote twenty-three novels between 1880 and 1903. From his early naturalistic works, he developed into one of the most accomplished realists of the late-Victorian era...New Grub Street is a novel by George Gissing published in 1891, which is set in the literary and journalistic circles of 1880s London... The story deals with the literary world that Gissing himself had experienced. Its title refers to the London street, Grub Street, which in the 18th century became synomynous with hack literature; as an institution, Grub Street itself no longer existed in Gissing's time. Its two central characters are a sharply contrasted pair of writers: Edwin Reardon, a novelist of some talent but limited commercial prospects, and a shy, cerebral man; and Jasper Milvain, a young journalist, hard-working and capable of generosity, but cynical and unscrupulous about writing and its purpose in the modern (i.e. late Victorian) world."
5/26/2009 -- This week's ebook is "Chancellorsville and Gettysburg" by Abner Doubleday, an account of two crucial Civil War battles by a Union general who participated in them. This is the same Abner Doubleday who is reputed to have invented baseball. According to Wikipedia: "Abner Doubleday (June 26, 1819 ï¿½ January 26, 1893) was a career United States Army officer and Union general in the American Civil War. He fired the first shot in defense of Fort Sumter, the opening battle of the war, and had a pivotal role in the early fighting at the Battle of Gettysburg. Gettysburg was his finest hour, but his relief by Maj. Gen. George G. Meade caused lasting enmity between the two men. In San Francisco, after the war, he obtained a patent on the cable car railway that still runs there. In his final years in New Jersey, he was a prominent member and later president of the Theosophical Society. In addition, he is known for a popular myth that he invented baseball, which has been debunked by almost all sports historians. Moreover, Doubleday himself never made such a claim."
5/19/2009 -- This week's book is Don Quixote by Cervantes (in English translation). According to Wikipedia: "Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (October 9, 1547 â€“ April 23, 1616) was a Spanish novelist, poet, and playwright. His magnum opus, Don Quixote, considered the first modern novel by many, is a classic of Western literature and is regularly regarded among the best novels ever written. His work is considered among the most important in all of literature. His influence on the Spanish language has been so great, that Spanish is often called la lengua de Cervantes (The language of Cervantes). He has been dubbed el PrÃncipe de los Ingenios - the Prince of Wits."
5/12/2009 -- This week's book is "$30,000 Bequest and Other Stories" by Mark Twain. This collection includes: $30,000 Bequest, A Dog's Tale, Was It Heaven or Hell? A Cure for the Blues, The Enemy Conquered, A Californian's Tale, A Helpless Situation, A Telephonic Conversation, Edward Mills and George Benton, The Five Boons of Life, The First Writing-Machines, Italian Without a Master, Italian With Grammar, A Burlesque Biography, How to Tell a Story, General Washington's Negro Body-servant, Wit Inspirations of the Two-Year Olds, An Entertaining Article, A Letter to the Secretary of the Treasury, Amended Obituaries, A Monument to Adam, A Humane Word from Satan, Introduction to the New Guide of the Conversation in Portuguese and English, Advice to Little Girls, Post-mortem Poetry, The Danger of Lying in Bed, Portrait of King William III, Does the Race of Man Love a Lord? Extracts from Adam's Diary, and Eve's Diary.
5/5/2009 -- "Dream of the Red Chamber" by Cao Xueqin. This is a highly revered Chinese classic that is little-known in the West.
According to Wikipedia: "Dream of the Red Chamber (also Red Chamber Dream, Hung Lou Meng or A Dream of Red Mansions) originally The Story of the Stone is a masterpiece of Chinese literature and one of the Chinese Four Great Classical Novels. It was composed in the mid 18th century during the Qing Dynasty, attributed to Cao Xueqin . The work has brought about the field of Redology [see explanation below] and is generally acknowledged as the highest peak of the classical Chinese novels. The novel is believed to be semi-autobiographical, mirroring the fortunes of Cao's own family. As the author details in the first chapter, it is intended to be a memorial to the women he knew in his youth: friends, relatives and servants. The novel is remarkable not only for its huge cast of characters (most of them female) and psychological scope, but also for its precise and detailed observation of the life and social structures typical of 18th-century Chinese aristocracy. This novel was published anonymously (but later revealed to be by Cao Xueqin). This is because of the literary inquisition prevalent in the Ming and Qing Dynasties."
Also according to Wikipedia: "Redology is the study of the novel Dream of the Red Chamber, one of the Four Classics of China. There are many researchers in this field, most can be divided into four general groups. The first group is the commentators, such as Zhou Chun, Xu Fengyi, Chen Yupi, and others. The second group is the index group, which mainly includes Wang Mengruan and Cai Yuanpei. The third group is the textual critics, including Hu Shi and Yu Pingbo. The final group is the literary thought group. There are quite a few researchers in this group, most notably Zhou Ruchang."
4/28/2009 -- This week's book is "The Mysterious Stranger and Other Stories" by Mark Twain. This book includes: The Mysterious Stranger, A Fable, Hunting the Deceitful Turkey, and The McWilliamss and the Burglar Alarm.
4/21/2009 --The Ebook of the Week is another Jane Austen -- Northanger Abbey. According to Wikipedia: "Northanger Abbey follows Catherine Morland and family friends Mr. and Mrs. Allen as they visit Bath, England. Seventeen year-old Catherine spends her time visiting newly-made friends, such as Isabella Thorpe, and going to balls. Catherine finds herself pursued by Isabella's brother John Thorpe (Catherine's brother James's friend from university), and by Henry Tilney. She also becomes friends with Eleanor Tilney, Henry's younger sister. Henry captivates her with his view on novels and his knowledge of history and the world. General Tilney (Henry and Eleanor's father) invites Catherine to visit their estate, Northanger Abbey, which, because she has been reading Ann Radcliffe's gothic novel The Mysteries of Udolpho, Catherine expects to be dark, ancient and full of fantastical mystery." ... "Northanger Abbey was the first of Jane Austen's novels to be completed for publication, though she had previously made a start on Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. According to Cassandra Austen's Memorandum, Susan (as it was first called) was written about the years 1798-1799. It was revised by Austen for the press in 1803, and sold in the same year for ï¿½10 to a London bookseller, Crosby & Co., who decided against publishing. The bookseller was content to sell it back to the novelist's brother, Henry Austen, for the exact sum that he had paid for it at the beginning, not knowing that the writer was already the author of four popular novels. The novel was further revised before being brought out posthumously in late December 1817 (1818 given on the title-page), as the first two volumes of a four-volume set with Persuasion."
4/14/2009 -- This week's selection is "Life on the Mississippi". According to Wikipedia: "Life on the Mississippi is a memoir by Mark Twain detailing his days as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River before and after the American Civil War. The book begins with a brief history of the river from its discovery by Hernando de Soto in 1542. It continues with anecdotes of Twain's training as a steamboat pilot, as the 'cub' of an experienced pilot. He describes, with great affection, the science of navigating the ever-changing Mississippi River. In the second half, the book describes Twain's return, many years later, to travel on a steamboat from St. Louis to New Orleans. He describes the competition from railroads, the new, large cities, and his observations on greed, gullibility, tragedy, and bad architecture. He also tells some stories that are most likely tall tales. Simultaneously published in 1883 in the U.S. and in England, it is said to be the first book composed on a typewriter."
4/7/2009 -- "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" by Charles Dickens. According to Wikipedia: "The Mystery of Edwin Drood is the final novel by Charles Dickens. The novel was left unfinished at the time of Dickens' death and thus how it might have ended remains unknown. The novel is named after Edwin Drood but it mostly tells the story of his uncle, a choirmaster named John Jasper, who is in love with his pupil, Rosa Bud. Miss Bud is Drood's fiancï¿½e, and has also caught the eye of the high-spirited and hot-tempered Neville Landless, who comes from Ceylon with his twin sister, Helena. Neville Landless and Drood take a dislike to one another the moment they meet. The story is set in Cloisterham, a lightly fictionalised Rochester, and feelingly evokes the atmosphere of the town as much as its streets and buildings."
3/31/2009 -- "Roughing It" by Mark Twain. According to Wikipedia: "Roughing It is a book of semi-autobiographical travel literature written by American humorist Mark Twain. It was written during 1870ï¿½71 and published in 1872 as a prequel to his first book Innocents Abroad. This book tells of Twain's adventures prior to his pleasure cruise related in Innocents Abroad. Roughing It follows the travels of young Mark Twain through the Wild West during the years 1861ï¿½1867. After a brief stint as a Confederate cavalry militiaman, he joined his brother Orion Clemens, who had been appointed Secretary of the Nevada Territory, on a stagecoach journey west. Twain consulted his brother's diary to refresh his memory and borrowed heavily from his active imagination for many stories in the novel. Roughing It illustrates many of Twain's early adventures, including a visit to Salt Lake City, gold and silver prospecting, real-estate speculation, and his beginnings as a writer. In this memoir, readers can see examples of Twain's rough-hewn humor, which would become a staple of his writing in his later books, such as Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court."
3/24/2009 -- /24/2009 -- "A Tramp Abroad" by Mark Twain. "Tramp" in the title means a walk, a hike, not a hobo. Mark Twain and a friend set out, purportedly, to walk across Europe. The narrative is uneven, sometimes rambling and trying too hard to be funny. But time and again, I couldn't help laughing out loud. According to Wikipedia: "A Tramp Abroad is a work of non-fiction travel literature by American author Mark Twain, published in 1880. The book details a journey by the author, with his friend Harris (a character created for the book, and based on his closest friend, Joseph Twichell), through central and southern Europe. While the stated goal of the journey is to walk most of the way, the men find themselves using other forms of transport as they traverse the continent. The book is often thought to be an unofficial sequel to an earlier Twain travel book, The Innocents Abroad. As the two men make their way through Germany, the Alps, and Italy, they encounter situations made all the more humorous by their reactions to them. The narrator (Twain) plays the part of the American tourist of the time, believing that he understands all that he sees, but in reality understanding none of it." (FYI -- there a passage here about riding a raft down a river/canal in Germany that reminded me of Stevenson's Inland Voyage).
3/17/2009 -- This week's Ebook of the Week is "Lady Susan" by Jane Austen. According to Wikipedia: "Jane Austen (16 December 1775 - 18 July 1817) was an English novelist whose realism, biting social commentary and masterful use of free indirect speech, burlesque, and irony have earned her a place as one of the most widely read and most beloved writers in English literature... During the period between 1793 and 1795, Austen wrote Lady Susan, a short epistolary novel, usually described as her most ambitious and sophisticated early work. It is unlike any of Austen's other works. Austen biographer Claire Tomalin describes the heroine of the novella as a sexual predator who uses her intelligence and charm to manipulate, betray, and abuse her victims, whether lovers, friends or family. Tomalin writes: "Told in letters, it is as neatly plotted as a play, and as cynical in tone as any of the most outrageous of the Restoration dramatists who may have provided some of her inspiration....It stands alone in Austen's work as a study of an adult woman whose intelligence and force of character are greater than those of anyone she encounters."
3/10/2009 -- "The Phantom of the Opera" by Gaston Leroux.
3/3/2009 -- The ebook for the week is "The Mystery of the Yellow Room" by Gaston Leroux (author of The Phantom of the Opera), originally published in 1907. An attempted murder in a room totally locked from the inside. Sound familiar? Leroux deliberately invites you to compare his tale to those Sherlock Holmes and Poe's Murders in the Rue Morgue. It's wordy and lengthy, but will hold your interest and surprise you.
2/24/2009 -- The ebook of the week is "An Inland Voyage" by Robert Louis Stevenson, a travelogue of a canoe trip through the canals of Belgium and north-eastern France.
2/17/2009 -- This week's Ebook of the Week is The Story of an African Farm by Oliver Schreiner (writing under the pseudonum of "Ralph Iron"). This is a coming-of-age story set in South Africa in the middle of the 19th century. Dramatically, portraying the plight of women at that time, it reminds me of the early novels of another South African novelist, Doris Lessing. According to Wikipedia: "Olive Schreiner (24 March 1855 - December 11, 1920), was a South African author, pacifist and political activist. She is best known for her novel The Story of an African Farm, which has been acclaimed for the manner it tackled the issues of its day, ranging from agnosticism to the treatment of women."
2/10/2009 -- This week's book of the week is Other People's Money by Emile Gaboriau, in English translation. (Please let me know if you'd like a copy in the original French.) According to Wikipedia, Gaboriau (1832-1873) was a very popular mystery writer before the days of Sherlock Holmes. In reading this book, I was struck by the similarities between late 19th century Paris and present-day America. Many of the characters have no conscience, no sense of wrong doing when dealing with 'other people's money'. Along the way, the author describes a Ponzi scheme and also a business that today we would label "trading toxic assets". Enjoy.
For future week's, I'm considering 'The Story of an African Farm' by Olive Schreiner (which reminds me of Doris Lessing's early fiction, set in South Africa and dramatically presenting the plight of women), also Daisy Miller by Henry James. Suggestions always welcome. And please spread the word.
Meanwhile, Amazon announced the new version of their Kindle. Reportedly, it can hold 1500 books, as opposed to the 150 that the first version held. But while the original let you expand the memory with SD cards, the new one does not. If you figure out a workaround for that limitation, please let me know. Also, if you get one before me, please let me know if they have done anything to improve the content management. With the first version all the books went into the same folder, and you couldn't create your own folders (build your own organization), so it became difficult to get to the book you wanted when you wanted it. I'd like to know if they solved that problem with version 2.
On the plus side, the new Kindle comes with text-to-voice conversion built in. (It already had audio capability). This means that the device can "read" to you. Of course, it's a robotic voice, but still this is a very interesting capability. I'd like to know how well it works while jogging, and if you need to use earplugs. Most important, I'd like to know if the overall device is accessible for the blind. The voice capability could be very important for the blind (finally a portable book reader), but only if the designers considered the needs of the blind when putting the whole package together. Please let me know if you learn anything about it in this regard.
2/3/2009 -- For a change of pace, this week's ebook is "The Book of Three Hundred Anecdotes: Historical, Literary, and Humorous" (thanks to a suggestion from Penny Golden). This book appears on our Humor and Comedy CD.
1/27/2009 -- The Wisdom of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton
1/20/2009 -- Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton, the "sequel" to Heretics.
1/13/2009 -- This week's free ebook of the week is Heretics by G.K. Chesterton, a collection of essays packed with paradoxical irony. One machine-gun burst of epigrams after another. The style is so delightful that the choice of subject doesn't matter. I even found myself enjoying critiques of obsolete theories and people and movements that I had never heard of or knew only by name before. Some chunks of witty text are immediately satisfying, though completely unexpected. Others take a while to decipher, like puzzles. It's all inspired by a love of ordinary life and common sense.
1/6/2009 -- This week it's "Castle Dangerous," another by Sir Walter Scott, probably the last novel that he wrote (published in 1832, the year he died). (Only one person requested more Zane Grey, so I'm heading in another direction.)
This time I'm prompted by bizarre coincidence. About a year ago, thanks to the Web, I stumbled on a genealogical line that leads back to King James IV of Scotland. Because of the intermarriage among noble families in the Middle Ages, and thanks to such resources as Wikipedia, thepeerage.com, and ancestry.com, I was able to uncover a multitude of fascinating ancestors. If you are curious, you can see details at www.samizdat.com/ancestorsurfing.html
The number of our ancestors doubles with every generation. Back around 1300, about 26 generations back, we each have over 67 million ancestors; and the total population of Europe then is estimated to have been around 70 to 100 million. In other words, many of us are distant cousins with common ancestors, though we don't know it. Uncovering information about my ancestry gives me a sense of connection with the past as well as the present, and adds a new dimension to my reading.
"Castle Dangerous" is an historical novel set in Scotland in the early 14th century -- the time of Robert the Bruce (the hero of Braveheart) and his doomed battle for Scottish independence. It turns out that both Robert the Bruce and his antagonist King Edward I of England are ancestors of mine.
The castle that the novel centers around is Douglas Castle, the ancestral home of Sir James (the Black) Douglas (1286-1330). He was Robert the Bruce's second in command, and at Bruce's request, after Bruce was executed, James took Bruce's heart to the Holy Land. Archibald Douglas, James' half-brother and companion-in-arms, known as "Guardian of Scotland", was another ancestor of mine.
To top off the coincidences, near the end of the novel a nun recounts the story of her love for Malcolm Fleming of Biggar. He too is an historical figure (1312-1382), and he too is an ancestor of mine...
12/30/2008 -- The Lone Star Ranger by Zane Grey
12/23/2008 -- The Abbott's Ghost or Maurice Treherne's Temptation: a Christmas Story by Louisa May Alcott (writing under the pen name of A.M. Barnard), plus a bonus of Chrismas: Its Origin and Associatiosn by W.f. Dawson.
12/16/2008 -- This Week's Ebook of the Week is "Tarzan the Terrible" the last of the public domain Tarzan books. As a bonus, for those tired of Edgar Rice Burroughs, thanks to a suggestion from Betty Bandy, I'm including "A Voyage Round the World, Volume 1, including travels in Africa, Asia, Australasia, American, etc. from 1827 to 1832" by James Holman.
Betty explains, "I was reading a small article on bats and came across the following: 'The first well-known practitioner of echolocation was James Holman, born in 1786 with normal vision. James was only 12 years old when he enlisted in the British navy, rising to lieutenant by his 20s. Then, after an illness involving severe joint pain, Holman lost his vision at 25. Holman decided to travel the world, using a walking stick and listening for resounding clicks as he trekked through Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America. The books he wrote about his sometimes-perilous journeys were bestsellers in the 1800s. After his death in 1857, the so-called "Blind Traveler" was gradually forgotten. His story is recounted in the book "A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler," by Jason Roberts. For more on Holman, listen to an interview with Roberts
12/9/2008 -- Tarzan the Untamed by Edgar Rice Burroughs, with a bonus of "The Turn of the Screw" by Henry James
12/2/2008 -- This week's book of the week is Jungle Tales of Tarzan, #6 of the series. (I'm hooked, so I figure others must be, and it would be cruel to stop short. Two more to go after this one, before we exhaust the public domain ones -- Tarzan the Untamed and Tarzan the Terrible). This week's bonus, for those who have had enough of Edgar Rice Burroughs, is Black Caesar's Clan by Albert Payson Terhune. (Thanks to Mitch Borden for suggesting Terhune.)
11/25/2008 -- Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar by Edgar Rice Burroughs, plus The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne
11/18/2008 -- Son of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs, plus Topsy-Turvy by Jules Verne
11/11/2008 -- Beasts of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs, plus Off On Comet by Jules Verne
11/4/2008 -- Return of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs, plus 800 Leagues on the Amazon
10/28/2008 -- Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, book 1 of the Tarzan series, plus Michael Strogoff by Jules Verne
10/21/2008 -- Chessmen of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, book 5 of the Barsoom (Mars) series, plus The Underground City by Jules Verne
10/14/2008 -- Thuvia, Maid of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, book 4 of the Barsoom (Mars) series
10/7/2008 -- The Warlord of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, book 3 of the Barsoom (Mars) series
9/30/2008 -- The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, book 2 of the Barsoom (Mars) series
9/23/2008 -- This week's book is A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the first of his Barsoom (Mars) series. Who would expect a sci fi novel to begin in the Wild West shortly after the Civil War?
9/16/2008 -- The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
9/9/2008 -- The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
9/2/2008 -- Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
8/26/2008 -- Crime and Punishment. The Constance Garnett translation of the Dostoyevsky classic.
8/19/2008 -- This week's book is Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott. Once again, you should skip the introduction and go straight to the story. This is the last Scott I'll be sending unless I get many requests for more.
8/12/2008 -- This week's book is another by Sir Walter Scott -- Ivanhoe, his first non-Scottish book. Skip the introduction, which is ponderous and boring. Go straight to the story, which is great.
8/5/2008 -- This week's book is the Sir Walter Scott novel The Heart of Midlothian (one of the Waverley novels).
7/29/2008 -- This week try the Sir Walter Scott classic "Old Mortality", one of the most popular books of the 19th century. Skip the lengthy introductions and go straight to the story, which is a great one.
7/22/2008 -- Following up on our theme from the last couple weeks, these two historical novels by G.A. Henty take place during the 30 Years' War. The Lion of the North focuses on King Gustavus Adolphus, the main figure of the first phase of the war when it was mainly Protestant against Catholic. Won by the Sword is from the final stage of the way, after many German principalities had at one time or another fought on both sides of the war, and when King Louis XIV of France was the main support of the "Protestant" forces.
7/15/2008 -- As a followup to last week's History of the Thirty Years War, here are two plays by Schiller about that war. Read "Piccolomini" first, then "The Death of Wallenstein." Actually, you need to read both to get the whole story, and you have to have read the history to understand what's happening (since schools in the US tend to skip this crucial period of history). Wallenstein is a larger-than-life totally bizarre character. It's amazing that Hollywood hasn't done something with him yet. These plays were both translated to English by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (the poet, Kubla Khan, Rime of the Ancient Mariner, etc.) At their best, they will remind you Shakespeare's historical plays. The setting is the same as Berthold Brecht's "Mother Courage".
7/8/2008 -- This week's ebook of the week is Schiller's History of the 30 Years' War.
That war which is typically skipped over in high school history courses, reshaped Germany and Europe. It was one of the most horrible experiences ever, leading to extended severe starvation as well as extreme brutality. It began as a religion conflict -- Catholics vs. Protestants, but ended with Catholic France financing and leading the Protestant forces. Principalities and duchies would switch sides from one season to the next. Both sides depended heavily on mercenaries, typically from Scotland, Ireland, and Scandinavia. G.A. Henty wrote a couple of excellent historical novels with this setting, Lion of the North and Won by the Sword. And Schiller wrote a couple of plays about the most amazing figure from this bizarre time -- Wallenstein. I'll send those plays out (in a translation by Samuel Taylor Coleridge) next week. (You really need to read the history first to enjoy the plays)
7/1/2008 -- This week's book covers in detail the first stage of the Dutch revolution, providing novel-like analyses of the personalities of the main characters (like William the Silent, Prince of Orange). The struggle continued long after this narrative ends. In all, it took 80 years for the Netherlands to achieve independence from the Spanish Empire. The full story is told in the multi-volume History of the Netherlands by Motley.
This is the prequel to the American Revolution, which, strangely, goes unmentioned in high school US history classes. The American founding fathers looked back on this struggle for political and religious freedom as a precedent for their own decisions (including the Dutch declaration of independence, written in 1581). The Pilgrims planned to settle in the Netherlands, before sailing to Plymouth. And, of course, New York was originally settled by the Dutch Republic.
6/24/2008 -- "Sons and Lovers" by D.H. Lawrence. I just read this classic for the first time, and was impressed by how Lawrence takes you into the minds of the characters, and how what they think and feel is more interesting and more important than what they do and what happens around them. Their emotional growth rings true and has a universality to it, while an account of the facts of their lives would simply be boring.
I generally presume that human nature is unchanging, and hence the work of Homer and Sophocles and Shakespeare still resonates. But the sexual inhibition and repression that Lawrence took for granted as part of human nature, now seems a social artifact from a distant age. It is still easy to empathize with the characters, but over and over again you come across passages and situations and decisions that simply wouldn't make sense today. So at some level, human nature has changed.
According to Wikipedia: "The third published novel of D. H. Lawrence, taken by many to be his earliest masterpiece, tells the story of Paul Morel, a young man and a budding artist. Richard Aldington explains the semi-autobiographical nature of his masterpiece: 'When you have experienced Sons and Lovers you have lived through the agonies of the young Lawrence striving to win free from his old life'. Generally, it is not only considered as an evocative portrayal of working-class life in a mining community, but also an intense study of family, class and early sexual relationships."
6/17/2008 -- "The Victorian Age in Literature" by G.K. Chesterton
6/10/2008 -- "The Rise of the New West" by Frederick Jackson Turner
6/3/2008 -- "The Frontier in American History" by Frederick Jackson Turner
5/27/2008 -- "John Knox and His Relations With Women", a chapter from Robert Louis Stevensons' "Familiar Studies of Men and Books", tires to makes sense of a bizarre but important book by Knox "The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women". (Read the Stevenson first). Knox seems to be arguing that women should never be rulers, as a matter of religious principle. But in historical context, it turns out that he was opposed to Queen Mary ("Bloody Mary"), and when Elizabeth became queen and reestablished the Protestantism in England, Knox did a quick about face. An obscure book like that can give insight into patterns of thought that that at one time were commonplace and that today seem totally outrageous. I'm also including a biography of Knox by Andrew Lang.
5/20/2008 -- Thoreau's Walden and Robert Louis Stevenson's essay about Thoreau (from "Familiar Studies of Men and Books").
5/13/2008 -- Samuel Pepys Diary and Robert Louis Stevenson's essay about it, from "Familiar Studies of Men and Books", both of which are on our British Literature 3-CD set. The Diary dates from the reign of Charles II, after the fall of Cromwell, and includes the plague and fire that devastated London. Pepys was an important functionary in the Naval department, and was responsible for some important decisions that led to Britain's command of the seas. His diary is unique for its candor -- written in code and not deciphered until many years later. It's a seventeenth century version of The Truman Show or EdTV -- "real life" exposed to public view.
5/6/2008 -- "Toilers of the Sea" by Victor Hugo, together with essays from Robert Louis Stevenson's "Familiar Studies of Men and Books". P
4/29/2008 -- THE YOUNGER EDDA: also called SNORRE'S EDDA, OR THE PROSE EDDA
4/22/2008 -- Another Norse saga -- "Burnt Njal" or "Njal's Saga".
4/15/2008 -- Continuing our series of Norse sagas, this week's ebook of the week is the Elder Eddas of Saemund Sigfusson. Next week I plan the Younger Edda. Then, if you aren't sick of sagas by then, Njal's Saga, followed by Erik the Red's Saga, and maybe even The Death of Balder. Then back to Robert Louis Stevenson for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, followed by The Black Arrow. Then on to the Chinese classic The Red Chamber, then the Spanish classic The Cid.
4/8/2008 -- This week's book is "The Story of Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the Niblungs" by William Morris.
4/1/2008 -- Betty Bandy suggested Norse sagas, and I'll be sending out a few of those over the next few weeks. For starters here's Thomas Carlyle's retelling of tales about the Early Kings of Norway.
3/25/2008 -- Master of Ballantrae by Robert Louis Stevenson
3/18/2008 -- Catriona or David Balfour by Robert Louis Stevenson (sequel to Kidnapped), plus The Forme of Currie, a cook book compiled, about A.D. 1390, by the Master-Cooks of King RICHARD II.
3/11/2008 -- Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
3/4/2008 -- This week's ebook of the week is "Island Nights' Entertainments" by Robert Louis Stevenson. That includes "The Beach of Falesa", "The Bottle Imp", and "The Isle of Voices".
2/26/2008 -- This week's offering is based on a suggestion from Betty Bandy -- "readers who like the Hogg book would also be interested in Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown and in Stevenson's Markheim." According to Wikipedia " Wieland or The Transformation: An American Tale is a Gothic novel by Charles Brockden Brown, first published in 1798... It recounts the terrifying story of how Theodore Wieland is driven to madness and murder by a malign ventriloquist called Carwin." "Markheim is a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson usually found in the collection The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables (1887). It was first published in 1885 in The Broken Shaft: Tales of Mid-Ocean... The story opens in an antique store, where the proprietor (called a "dealer") is complaining that his customer, a shifty man named Markheim, is bothering him on Christmas day.
2/19/2008 -- Thanks to a suggestion from Betty Bandy, this week's ebook is "The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner" by James Hogg, a contemporary and fellow countryman of Sir Walter Scott.
First published in 1824, according to Wikipedia, this novel was "considered in turn a Gothic novel, a psychological case study of an unreliable narrator, and an examination of totalitarian thought." It is "the ultimately unclassifiable novel, set in a pseudo-Christian world of angels, devils, and demonic possession. ... It has received wide acclaim for its probing quest into the nature of religious fanaticism and Calvinist predestination. It is written in a mixture of Scots and English, with Scots mainly appearing in dialogue. On the surface, this novel is a simple tale of a young man who encounters a shape-shifting devil, an early manifestation of a doppelganger, and the various misadventures that follow."
2/12/2008 -- Poems and Songs by Robert Burns
2/5/2008 -- Rob Roy, another Sir Walter Scott novel.
1/29/2008 -- The Antiquary, another of Sir Walter Scott's Waverley novels.
1/22/2008 -- This week's ebook is Guy Mannering, the second of Sir Walter Scott's "Waverley novels".
1/15/2008 -- As a change of pace, after so many Dumas books, this week's selection is Waverley, the first of the Waverley novels by Sir Walter Scott (a contemporary of Dumas). The Waverley novels were probably the biggest best sellers of the 19th century. Please let me know if you'd like me to send out more of them.
1/8/2008 -- The sixth and last of the six Musketeers novels -- "The Man in the Iron Mask" -- plus an essay with the same title from Dumas' collection of historical gossip "Celebrated Crimes". In the essay, Dumas discusses the history and rumors behind the story.
1/1/2008 -- "Louise de la Valliere" by Dumas, the fifth of the six Musketeers books.
12/25/2007 -- Continuing our Three Musketeers series, this week's ebook of the week is "Ten Years Later".
12/18/2007 -- This week's free ebook of the week is the "Vicomte de Bragelonne" by Alexandre Dumas, the third of the six Three Musketeers books, (in which, of course, the fourth musketeer is the main character :-)
12/11/2007 -- This week's ebook of the week is "Twenty Years After" by Alexandre Dumas, the second of the six Three Musketeers books. FYI -- you can see a brief review of mine about that series at www.samizdat.com/isyn/dumas.html
I'll send out the Vicomte de Bragelone next week.
12/4/2007 -- This week's ebook of the week is "The Three Musketeers" by Alexandre Dumas.
That's the first and best known of a series of six novels --
o The Three Musketeers (covering 1625-1628)
o Twenty Years After (covering 1648-49)
o The Vicomte de Bragelonne (covering 1660)
o Ten Years Later (covering 1660-1661)
o Louise de la Valliere (covering 1661)
o The Man in the Iron Mask (covering 1661-1673)
Please let me know if you'd like me to send out the rest of the series, over the coming weeks. By the way, D'Artagnan, the fourth and most important musketeer is based on an historical figure, who was eventually promoted to commander of the musketeers. You can read about him at Wikipedia
11/28/2007 -- This week's free ebook is The Forty-Five Guardsmen by Dumas, the third (but self-contained) novel of an historical novel trilogy covering the period of the Huguenot conflicts (from the St. Bartholemew's Day Massacre up to the accession of Henry IV (of Navarre). One of the main characters of that trilogy is Marguerite de Navarre (nicknamed "Margot") (1553-1615), the great-niece of the author of The Heptameron. The Marguerite de Navarre was the granddaughter of King Francis I of France, the wife of King Henry IV (of Navarre and France), and the sister of three other kinds of France.
11/21/2007 -- Part 5 of The Heptameron.
11/14/2007 -- Part 4 of The Heptameron.
11/7/2007 -- Part 3 of The Heptameron.
10/30/2007 -- This week's free ebook is part 2 of The Heptameron by Marguerite de Navarre.
10/23/2007 -- As a followup to the Decameron, this week's free ebook is part 1 of The Heptameron by Marguerite de Navarre. Sister of King Francis I of France and husband of King Henri II of Navarre, she lived 1492-1549. According to Wikipedia, literary scholar Samuel Putnam called her "the first modern woman". The Heptameron is a framed collection of stories in the tradition of The Decameron. (seven days [hept] instead of ten; apparently she intended 100 stories/10 days, but died only having completed 72). I plan to send out the other four parts in future weeks.
And as a bonus, I'm also including "The Cook's Decameron: A Study In Taste, Containing Over Two Hundred Recipes For Italian Dishes" By Mrs. W. G. Waters.
10/16/2007 -- This week's ebook of the week is volume 2 of Boccaccio's Decameron (followup to volume 1 last week).
I am tempted to send out next The Hemptameron by Marguerite de Navarre (in five parts). Sister of King Francis I of France and husband of King Henri II of Navarre, she lived 1492-1549. According to Wikipedia, literary scholar Samuel Putnam called her "the first modern woman". The Heptameron is a framed collection of stories in the tradition of The Decameron. (seven days [hept] instead of ten; apparently she intended 100 stories/10 days, but died only having completed 72).
10/9/2007 -- This week's ebook of the week is volume 1 of The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375). (See Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giovanni_Boccaccio). If there's sufficient interest, I'll send out the second and last volume next week.
The Decameron is a framed story collection. Having fled the city during the plague, friends gather at a country estate and, over the course of ten days, pass the time by telling one another stories, some of which today would be R-rated. (I remember, as a teenager, reading it in a Victorian edition that, much to my dismay, left the raciest of the stories untranslated...)
I'm prompted to send out this one because I just finished reading "Ten Days in the Hills", the latest novel by Pulitzer-winner (and DVD-collection customer) Jane Smiley. That novel is meant to hearken back to Boccaccio, with a group of family and friends isolated for ten days from contemporary concerns (like the Iraq War). You can see my brief review at http://www.samizdat.com/isyn/tendays.html
or at my blog http://www.samizdat.com/blog/
The Boccaccio appears on several of our CDs --
World Literature, Italian, Short Stories, and
10/2/2007 -- Thanks to a suggestion from Ken Wilson, this week's free ebook is "Saved from the Sea, by W.H.G. Kingston." He notes that this is "a fairly well written tale which took place off the African coast. I have it as an audio book and it is quite informative."
9/25/2007 -- Today, in belated honor of the Jewish holidays, I'm sending out as our free ebook of the week "For the Temple" by G.A. Henty (an historical novel about the fall of Jerusalem) and "Coningsby" by Benjamin Disraeli, a gifted novelist and a statesman/politician of such extraordinary talent that he became head of the Consrvative Party and prime minister of England, despite the strong prejudice against the Jewish people in that place and time.
9/18/2007 -- "Dombey and Son" by Charles Dickens
9/11/2007 -- This week I'm sending out two books (a symptom of indecision):
King -- of the Khyber Rifles by Talbot Mundy and
On the Irrawaddy a Story of the First Burmese War by G.A. Henty
I had previously promised the Khyber Rifles as part of a series of books set in Afghanistan. I'll soon be adding that one to our American Lit, British Lit, and Historical Novels CDs. (Mundy was born in London, and immigrated to the US before he started publishing).
I chose On the Irrawaddy because of the recent flare up of protests in Burma/Myanamar, and remembering messages from a subscriber to this list who until recently was a teacher in Myanamar, and also because I'm a fan of Henty. That book appears on our British Literature, Historical Novels, and G.A. Henty CDs.
9/4/2007 -- Suggested by Ken Wilson, this week's free ebook of the week is The Albert N'Yanza, Great Basin of the Nile And Explorations of the Nile Sources by Samuel White Baker.
8/28/2007 -- This week's ebook is "Kim" by Rudyard Kipling.
8/21/2007 -- This week's ebook is "For Name and Fame or Through Afghan Passes" by G.A. Henty. Author of nearly a hundred historical novels, Henty knows how to tell a good story. (I'll soon be adding that book to British Literature, Historical Novels, and G.A. Henty CDs.
I picked this one because I'm in an Afghan mood, having recently read The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. (You might want to check my review of Splendid Suns at my blog http://www.samizdat.com/blog/?p=222
8/14/2007 -- Suggested by Professor DPM Weerakkody in Sri Lanka, this week's ebook of the week is "Five Lectures on Blindness by Kate M. Foley. (FYI -- I just added that book to our Blindness CD http://samizdat.stores.yahoo.net/blindness.html
8/7/2007 -- This week's ebook of the week, "The Consolation of Philosophy" by Boethius is the last of our current series of philosophy books (inspired by Alain de Boton's recent "The Consolations of Philosophy").
This book inspired my Fuzzy Thought #2 -- Getting Personal
Sometimes ï¿½inspirationï¿½ isnï¿½t a matter of stimulating new ideas, so much as confirming and clarifying thoughts you had before. In my eclectic reading, I stumble upon a passage that feels ï¿½rightï¿½ not as a discovery of something totally unexpected, but rather as a clear and cogent expression of what I already believed, but hadnï¿½t paid enough attention to.
Such was the case recently with a passage from Boethius. Who reads sixth century Latin philosophers? Well, sending out a ï¿½free ebook of the weekï¿½ motivates me to be on the look out for little known/little appreciated works from long ago. In prison, awaiting execution at the random whim of King Theodoric of Italy, Boethius tries to make sense of life. Infinity, eternity, and chance reduce everything we might do to total insignficance.
Those thoughts didnï¿½t strike me as new ï¿½ rather his starting point toward religious faith, seemed very similar to the world view of Ecclesiastes or of Camus in ï¿½The Myth of Sisyphusï¿½, and from which Camus went in a totally different direction, valuing the heroism of continuing to live and do what you feel is ï¿½rightï¿½ even if you believe life is meaningless.
But at this stage of my life (having passed 60), that starting point triggered another kind of response.
The endeavor to try to understand the nature of everything is unending. Thatï¿½s just another aspect of infinity/eternity ï¿½ no single breakthrough, no individual contribution matters in the long run, because the process of discovery never ends. Thereï¿½s never a moment when ï¿½THE ANSWERï¿½ is found. Every answer gives rise to new questions, which lead to new insights.
Yes, part of why we exist (presuming there is a ï¿½whyï¿½) must be to participate in some way in such overall human endeavors ï¿½ trying to make the world a better place than we found it, trying to advance knowledge, or trying to help those who might some day do so.
But another very important role (one which becomes all the more important the older we get) is personal ï¿½ striving to make personal sense of the world that we live in and our role in it. I will never understand the absolute nature of anything, but I can arrive at a personal undersanding ï¿½ building context through reading and experience, making personal mind maps to help me recognize interrelationships and potential directions, arriving at personal answers to the ï¿½big questionsï¿½, answers that help me deal with day-to-day reality and arrive at a sense of fulfillment, so the ordinary tasks and challenges of life make sense to me in a self-built context.
From this personal perspective, infinity and eternity are positive, not negative. Every moment in time is the middle of all of time. And every point in space is in the middle of all of space. I, just like everyone else who has ever lived, stand at the center of the universe. Truth and meaning arenï¿½t outside somewhere to be discovered. Rather one of your goals should be to build and find truth and meaning, in the fabric and context of your life.
In practical terms, this means that I need not read and strive to understand the works of every major philosopher and scientist and novelist. Rather (after having sampled widely) I read particular authors because their perspective and style feel right to me. Their thoughts make sense to me and stimulte similar follow-on thoughts of my own.
Yes, learning is important, but not in the sense of struggling through everything written by the great names, in hopes of catching a glimmer of what they discovered; but rather in the sense of a very personal quest, following your natural path toward an understanding of what really matters to you.
Please send me email if you have a comment/reaction or if youï¿½d like me to add you to an email distribution list for such thoughts. I post these thoughts and responses to them at my blog at http://www.samizdat.com/blog
and at the Web page http://www.samizdat.com/fuzzy.html
7/31/2007 -- Continuing our philosophy series, this week's book is Human Nature by Schopenhauer.
7/24/2007 -- Continuing our philosophoy series, this week's book of "On Benefits" by Seneca.
7/17/2007 -- Continuing our series of philosophy books, this week's free ebook of the week is volume 2 of The Essays of Montaigne. Montaigne (1533-1592) lived a century before the Three Musketeers and Louis XIV, during a time of bloody conflict between Protestants and Catholics in France. He wrote his essays during a ten year period of self-imposed isolation (from age 38 to 48). According to the brief bio in Wikipedia, "Montaigne's stated goal is to describe man, and especially himself, with utter frankness. He finds the great variety and volatility of human nature to be its most basic features. He describes his own poor memory, his ability to solve problems and mediate conflicts without truly getting emotionally involved, his disdain for man's pursuit of lasting fame..."
(This French work is also a token acknowledgement of the recent July 14 Celebration).
7/10/2007 -- This week's free ebook of the week is "Beyond Good and Evil" by Nietzsche. This is the second in a series of philosophy books I'll be sending out, based on the subject matter in Alain de Botton's "Consolations of Philosophy". (Plato's "Symposium" last week and in coming weeks "On Benefits" by Seneca, "Essays" volume 1 by Montaigne, and "On Human Nature" by Schopenhauer. Then I'll send the book that he based his title on -- "The Consolation of Philosophy" by Boethius.)
7/3/2007 -- This week's free ebook of the week is The Symposium by Plato (the Jowett translation). That's the dialogue where he explains true love in terms of your need to find your "other half".
For the next few weeks, I'm going to take my clues from a recent book "The Consolations of Philosophy" by Alain de Botton. He has a unique style, looking at little-read texts in a low-key sensible way and extracting intriguing and helpful advice. An alternative title for that book might be "All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Plato and Epicurus and Seneca and Nietzsche and Schopenhauer and Montaigne".
So this week I'm sending out a Plato, over the next few weeks I'll send:
"On Benefits" by Seneca, "Essays" volume 1 by Montaigne, "On Human Nature" by Schopenhauer, and "Beyond Good and Evil" by Nietzsche. (I don't yet have an Epicurus text.) Then I'll send the book that he based his title on -- "The Consolation of Philosophy" by Boethius.
6/26/2007 -- This week's ebook of the week is my translation (from the Russian) of "With the Armies of Menelik II" by Alexander Bulatovich. This is a unique and detailed first-hand account of Ethiopia in 1896-98 -- at the change of an era -- by a Russian officer with remarkable understanding for the many varied people who lived there and keen insight into their destiny. It was published a few years ago by Red Sea Press, together with my translation of another Bulatovich book as a single volume entitled "Ethiopia Through Russian Eyes."
Emperor Menelik of Ethiopia was contending with France and England, trying to conquer new territory in central Africa. Bulatovich chanced on an opportunity to accompany one of Menelik's armies into land and among peoples that had previously been unknown by Europeans.
This book appears together with 145 books other books (history and fiction) and 16 Library of Congress Country Studies on our Africa CD (which I just updated, adding 50 books). You can see the complete table of contents of that CD at http://samizdat.stores.yahoo.net/africa.html
6/19/2007 -- This week's ebook of the week is The Three Lieutenants by William Henry Giles Kingston (1814 - 1880).
I just updated our Children's Book CD, adding 454 books, for a total of 1531 books. The new version includes many adventure and historical novels (of the ilk of Treasure Island) by Kingston and such other British authors as Fenn, Marryat, and Collingwood. If enough of you are interested, I could send out a sequel to this book -- The Three Admirals -- week. Also, if enough of you express interest, I could make new CDs dedicated to each of those authors.
You can see the complete table of contents of the Children's Book CD at http://samizdat.stores.yahoo.net/chilbookcd.html
6/12/2007 -- This week's book is "The Handy Cyclopedia of Things Worth Knowing: a manual of ready reference covering especially such information of everyday use as is often hardest to find when most needed", first published in 1911. Some of the info might still be of practical use; other items (such as matters of etiquette), are fun and informative because they show how much has changed since then, and how much hasn't.
For current practical answers to questions your kids keep asking or that may have been nagging you for years, try the Web site How Stuff Works
6/5/2007 -- This week's book is Jefferson Davis' account of the American Civil War -- "The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government". I'll soon be adding this
book to our Non-Fiction, US History, and Civil War CDs.
5/29/2007 -- Thanks to a suggestion from Willard Guerrero, this week's ebook The Grizzly King : a Romance of the Wild by James Oliver Curwood.
5/22/2007 -- Thanks to suggestions from Michael Bowman-Jones and Andrew Falk, this week's ebook is "Hosts of the Air", a World War I historical novel by Joseph Altsheler.
5/15/2007 -- Thanks to a suggestion from Michael Bowman-Jones, this week's ebook is "The Alaskan" by James Oliver Curwood. It appears on several of our CDs:
American West http://samizdat.stores.yahoo.net/amwesinfican.html
American Literature http://samizdat.stores.yahoo.net/amlitcd.html
Historical Novels http://samizdat.stores.yahoo.net/historical.html
Old Midwest http://samizdat.stores.yahoo.net/midwest.html
5/8/2007 -- Eureka, a prose poem by Edgar Allan Poe. The first I heard of it was in "Parallel Worlds" by Macho Kaka ("professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York and cofounder of string field theory", p. 28:
"Similarly, one might suppose that the farther a star is, the fainter it is. This is true, but this also cannot be the answer. If we look at a portion of the night sky, the very distant stars are indeed faint, but there are also more stars the farther you look. These two effects would exactly cancel in a uniform universe, leaving the night sky white. (This is because the intensity of starlight decreases as the square of the distance, which is canceled by the fact that the number of stars goes up as the square of the distance.)
"Oddly enough, the first person in history to solve the paradox as the American mystery writer Edgar Allan Poe, who had a long-term interest in astronomy. Just before he died, he published many of his observations in a rambling, philosophical poem called Eureka: A Prose Poem. In a remarkable passage, he wrote:
"'Were the succession of stars endless, then the background of the sky would present us an uniform luminosity, like that displayed by the Galaxy -- since there could be absolutely no point, in all that background, at which would not exist a star. The only mode, therefore, in which, under such a state of affairs, we could comprehend the voids which our telescopes find in innumerable directions, would be by supposing that the distance of the invisible background [is] so immense that no ray from it has yet been able to reach us at all.'
"He concluded by noting that the idea 'is by far too beautiful not to possess Truth as its essentiality.'
"This is the key to the correct answer. The universe is not infinitely old. There was a Genesis. There is a finite cutoff to the light that reaches our eye. Light from the most distant stars has not yet had time to reach us. cosmologist Edward Harrison, who was the first to discover that Poe had solved Lobbers' paradox, has written, 'When I first read Poe's words I was astounded: How could a poet, at best an amateur scientist, have perceived the right explanation 40 years ago when in our colleges the wrong explanation... is still being taught.'"
5/1/2007 -- Thanks to Betty Bandy, this week's book is Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson. Penny Golden seconded that recommendation, saying, " I couldn't put Ramona down. I read it in journalism class--a braille book; and the poor teacher thought I was being so studious. I just loved that book."
4/24/2007 -- At the request of Betty Bandy, this week's selection is another book by Gertrude Atherton -- Rezanov. Apparently, this novel is a better example of her writing skill, and, like most of her work, is set in California.
4/17/2007 -- "What Dreams May Come" by Gertrude Atherton. When I first saw the title of this book, I thought of the Robin Williams movie of the same name and presumed that the movie was based on the book. But no. The title is a quote from "Hamlet's soliloquy in Act 3, scene 1 ("To be, or not to be..."), namely,
"For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil."
Atherton's novel has nothing to do with the movie.
I was checking out Atherton because she appeared in a character in a recently published historical mystery ("Ambrose Bierce and the Trey of Pearls" by Oakley Hall), in which she and Ambrose Bierce are reporters/columnists for a San Francisco newspaper.
Keep in mind that this novel is not great literature. It's a period piece, a ghost story that has potential far greater than the sometimes disappointing book. But I find the mistakes and unexpected twists intriguing. And I hope you will enjoy it as well.
Gertrude Atherton lived 1857-1948. This was her first novel, published in 1888. You can read her bio at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gertrude_Atherton
If the book were rewritten and published today, the blurb on the back cover would probably read "A young man falls in love with his fiancï¿½e's grandmother's ghost."
4/10/2007 -- As requested, here is a collection of all the Mowgli stories by Rudyard Kipling. These come from The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book where they are mixed in with a variety of other animal-related stories (including ones about seals and Eskimos near the North Pole). The original books appear on our Rudyard Kipling CD
as well as British Literature
4/3/2007 -- For lover's of language and irony -- The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. (If you like that, you might want to try a series of recently published mystery stories by Oakley Hall, set in San Francisco at the end of the 19th century, with Ambrose Bierce as the central figure (in the role of reporter/detective.) For instance, "Ambrose Bierce and the Trey of Pearls" and "Ambrose Bierce and the Ace of Shoots". They're not great literature, but they are a fun read (with brief excerpts from The Devil's Dictionary as epigraphs at the beginnings of chapters.)
3/27/2007 -- This week we honor Longfellowï¿½s 200th birthday (as suggested by Shelley Rhodes) with Evangeline and Hiawatha. Longfellowï¿½s works appear on our American Lit 2-CD set
as well as Poetry
3/20/2007 -- In honor of St. Patrick's Day, today's selection is:
"The High Deeds of Finn and Other Bardic Romances of Ancient Ireland" edited by T. W. Rolleston, and
"A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden on Their Parents or Country and for Making them Beneficial to the Public" by Jonathan Swift (1729)
(Both appear on
our Irish CD)
3/13/2007 -- In remembrance of the Ides of March, this week's selection consists of the biographies of Julius Caesar by Plutarch (from his "Lives") and Seutonius (from "The Twelve Caesars"), together with Shakespeare's play "Julius Caesar".
3/6/2007 -- As a follow-up to last week's selection (suggested by Kathy Hester), this week we're sending out the sequel "The Pursuit of the House-Boat" by John Kendrick Bangs.
If you have enjoyed these two satires, you might also like the classic model of this genre "Dialogues of the Dead" by Lucian of Samosata (which appears on our World Literature and Ancient World CDs in volume 1 of his works). In a similar vein, I'd recommend the Riverworld series of scifi novels by Phillip Jose Farmer. Don't judge his work based on the botched made-for-tv movie. The first volume is great fun; the others are less so, but still enjoyable. And you might also want to check chapters 10 and 11 of my book "The Lizard of Oz", written long before I had read Bangs or Lucian or Farmer. You can read or listen to (if you have RealPlayer) those for free online at http://www.samizdat.com/liz/liz11.html
2/27/2007 -- Thanks to a suggestion from Kathy Hester, this week's selection is A House-Boat on the Styx by John Kendrick Bangs. Kathy notes, "I think most readers will really enjoy that book. It is delightful."
Bangs (1862-1922) was an American satirist. According to Wikipedia he was the "creator of modern Bangsian fantasy, the school of fantasy writing that sets the plot wholly or partially in the afterlife." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Kendrick_Bangs
2/20/2007 -- Today's ebook is Chapter 21 of The Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution Interspersed with Biographical, Political, and Moral Observations by Mercy Otis Warren, originally published in 1805. I typed the text of the entire 1317-page book and have posted it on the web (http://www.samizdat.com/warren )as well as including it on our US History http://samizdat.stores.yahoo.net/ushistory.html and American Revolution CDs http://samizdat.stores.yahoo.net/amrevandearr.html .
This chapter highlights the brilliance of Washington -- tricking Sir Henry Clinton into believing that the rebel forces were preparing to attack New York City, when in fact, Washington's army was making the long march to Virginia, where he took Cornwallis by surprise.
Basically, Washington lost every battle he fought, except this one decisive one.
2/13/2007 -- For Valentine's Day, my wife suggested "Pride and Prejudice"; but you all probably read that long ago. So instead, I decided to send "Daphnis and Chloe" by Longus, which was written around 200 AD. It's been a long time since I read it, and the details have faded. But I remember it as a delightful tale of young love. I hope you enjoy it.
2/6/2007 -- For this week's selection, I return to Kipling, with his Second Jungle Book. The tales from the original Jungle Book have been disneyfied to the point that it's hard to appreciate the original (the cartoon images keep getting in the way). But these stories still feel "new."
1/30/2007 -- Continuing our "copyright liberation" celebration, for this week I'm sending the play "Six Characters in Search of an Author" by Pirandello, another author who died in 1936. (I'll be adding this to our World Literature, Italian, and Drama CDs in the next round of updates).
1/23/2007 -- Continuing our "copyright liberation" celebration, for this week I'm sending a collection of short stories by Gorky (Twenty-Six and One and Other Stories).
1/16/2007 -- Continuing our "copyright liberation" celebration, for this week I'm sending two short books of poetry by A.E. Housman, A Shropshire Lad and Last Poems. (He lived in England and died in 1936; hence his works just entered the public domain). I'll soon be adding these to our British Literature and Poetry CDs.
1/9/2007 -- Continuing our copyright liberation celebration, this week's free ebook is G.K. Chesterton's "The Innocence of Father Brown", together with the final part of Richard Burton's Arabian Nights.
1/2/2007 -- In celebration of Rudyard Kipling's copyright liberation, this week's free ebook is his novel "The Light that Failed", a little known book of his I chanced upon and enjoyed many years ago. I'm also including the long short story "The Man Who Would Be King" (you may remember the 1975 movie starring Sean Connery, Michael Caine, and Christopher Plummer). I remember that one from a creative writing class with Robert Penn Warren. He typically spent the beginning of class reading a story aloud. After reading and discussing this one, he concluded something to the effect that to become a god, first you must truly become a man. It was that discussion that I had in mind when I decided on the titles of my trilogy of books about Russian officer/explorer/monk Alexander Bulatovich -- The Name of Hero, The Name of Man, and The Name of God. Hero was published a long, long time ago, and I still haven't finished the other two (finally finishing them is my number one New Year's resolution). If you are curious you can read Hero online at http://www.samizdat.com/readers.html#name
Also, the fifth "supplemental volume" of Richard Burton's Arabian Nights.
12/26/2006 -- The sociology classic "The Theory of the Leisure Class" by Veblen. Also, the fourth "supplemental volume" of Richard Burton's Arabian Nights.
12/19/2006 -- Little-known Christmas stories by Louisa May Alcott: "A Country Christmas" and "The Abbott's Ghost or Maurice Treherne's Temptation" (which she wrote under the pen name of A.M. Barnard). Also, the third "supplemental volume" of Richard Burton's Arabian Nights.
12/12/2006 -- Four Christas short stories by Henry Van Dyke: "The First Christmas Tree", "The Lost Word", " The Spirit of Christmas", and "The Story of the Other Wise Man". Also, the second "supplemental volume" of Richard Burton's Arabian Nights.
12/5/2006 -- I want to finish up the Richard Burton Arabian Nights, because I got so many requests for the whole thing. But it has been too long since I sent anything else out. So this week, in addition to the first "supplemental" Arabian Nights volume (five more to go after this), I'm sending a couple of Christmas stories that I suspect few of you have ever read: "The Christmas Tree and the Wedding" by Dostoyevksy, and "The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus" by Frank Baum (author of The Wizard of Oz).
11/28/2006 -- Volume 10 of Burton's Arabian Nights.
11/21/2006 -- Volume 9 of Burton's Arabian Nights.
11/14/2006 -- Volume 8 of Burton's Arabian Nights.
11/7/2006 -- Volume 7 of Burton's Arabian Nights.
10/31/2006 -- Volume 6 of Burton's Arabian Nights.
10/24/2006 -- Volume 5 of Burton's Arabian Nights.
10/17/2006 -- Volume 4 of Burton's Arabian Nights.
10/10/2006 -- Volume 3 of Burton's Arabian Nights.
10/3/2006 -- Volume 2 of Richard Burton's Arabian Nights.
9/26/2006 -- This week's free ebook is volume 1 of Richard Burton's monumental translation of the 1001 Arabian Nights. Burton's complete Arabian Nights appears on several of our CDs -- Richard Burton and Victorian Books of Exploration, The Middle East, and World Literature.
9/19/2006 -- At the suggestion of Betty Bandy, this week's ebook is the two volumes of "Personal Narratives of a Pilgrimage to Al Madinah and Meccah" by Richard
Burton. (I'm planning to send out volume 1 of Burton's translation of the "Arabian Nights" Those books appear on our Middle East CD and also
Richard Burton and Victorian Books of Exploration
9/12/2006 -- Due to an overwhelming number of requests, this week's offering is volume 2 of Wars of the Jews.
9/5/2006 -- As a followup to our series of Middle East country studies, this week's ebook of the week is the first volume of Wars of the Jews by Josephus.
8/29/2006 -- We concluded our Middle East series with Iran: a Country Study
8/22/2006 -- We continued our Middle East series wtih Israel: a Country Study
8/15/2006 -- We continued our Middle East series with Afghanistan: a Country Study.
8/8/2006 -- Because many of you liked last week's selection -- Lebanon: a Country Study -- I decided to continue in the same vein, with Iraq this week and Afghanistan next week. Iraq was published by Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress, based on research completed in May 1988. It provides historical background to help you better understand the events of today. This Country Study appears on our Middle East CD as well as on our World Reference CD.
8/1/2006 -- Thanks to a suggestion from Michael Bowman-Jones, this week's selection is "Lebanon: a Country Study", compiled by the Frederal Research Division of the Library of Congress in 1987. This book provides background to help you understand complex conflicts that keep flaring up again and again...
This Country Study appears on our Middle East CD as well as on our World Reference CD.
7/25/2006 -- In honor of Pirates of the Carribean II (which is great fun) and on the suggestion of Betty Bandy (thanks again), this week's selection is:
The Life, Adventures, and Piracies of the Famous Captain Singleton by Daniel Defoe
The Book of Pirates by Howard Pyle.
Defoe appears on our British Literature CD set, and Pyle appears on our Children's Book CD.
7/18/2006 -- Thanks again to Betty Bandy, this week's selection is two collections of stories about the Napoleonnic Wars by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (best known as the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories) -- The Adventures of Gerard and Exploits of Brigadier Gerard. If you happen to be a Doyle fan, don't miss "Arthur and George" a recent best-seller by Julian Barnes.
7/11/2006 -- Thanks again to Betty Bandy, for the 14th of July (Bastille Day), our selection is -- Carlyle's French Revolution volume 1 and Dicken's Tale of Two Cities.
7/4/2006 -- Thanks to numerous helpful suggestions from Betty Bandy, for the Fourth of July our selection is --
The Declaration of Independence
Articles of Confederation
Burke's Speech on Conciliation with America
The Life of General Francis Marion (The "Swamp Fox") by Mason Weems
and four chapters from The Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution by Mercy Otis Warren
Chapt 9 -- which covers the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence
Chapter 21 -- the Battle of Yorktown (as you've never seen it described before)
Chapters 30 and 31 -- the conclusion
I'm a fan of Mercy Otis Warren. Her history, written shortly after the Revolution, wasn't published until about 1805 and was never widely circulated. The only printed copies you can find in libraries today are in the old Black Forest script, which is very hard to read and impossible to scan. I typed the whole thing in (over 1000 pages) and posted it on my Web site a few years ago and now include it in my American Revolution CD, US History CD, and Non-Fiction CD-set. I also typed in and posted her plays and other related writings http://www.samizdat.com/warren/
6/27/2006 -- I can't think of a better warm-up to the Fourth of July than Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.
6/20/2006 -- Thanks to a suggestion from Penny Golden, this week's free ebook is The Belgian Cook Book edited by Mrs. Brian Luck, and originally published in 1915. Penny explains, "I found one of your books just such fun and so practical, though it's older than the hills. It's the belgian cookbook on the cookbooks CD --what a fun book to read; and for the cook who has a little flair, she or he could adapt those old recipes to today's home. Very interesting and, if you're like me, you just gain the pounds reading about good potato or cheese or mushroom or veal recipes."
6/13/2006 -- This weekï¿½s free ebook of the week is ï¿½Inca Land: Exploration in the Highlands of Peruï¿½ by Hiram Bingham. Bingham was the archaelogist credited with the discovery of the Incan ruins at Machu Picchu. He is purported to be a model for the movie character Indiana Jones.
6/6/2006 -- This week's ebook of the week, the Lizard of Oz, was written by me, and published back in 1973. Unlike the other books I send out, this one is still protected by copyright. And it is a Word document, as opposed to our usual plain text files. You can see the illustrations at ttp://www.samizdat.com/lizard/frog.htm
and you can hear a RealAudio version of it at http://www.samizdat.com/liz
5/30/2006 -- I'm now reading/enjoying Matthew Pearl's new novel "The Poe Shadow" in which the characters try to unravel the mystery of Poe's death. (I loved his first novel The Dante Club, and hence pre-ordered the new one from Amazon). So this week's ebook of the week is volume 1 of the works of Edgar Allan Poe (the Raven Edition). This includes:
- Edgar Allan Poe, An Appreciation
- Life of Poe, by James Russell Lowell
- Death of Poe, by N. P. Willis
- The Unparalled Adventures of One Hans Pfall
- The Gold Bug
- Four Beasts in One
- The Murders in the Rue Morgue
- The Mystery of Marie Rogï¿½t
- The Balloon Hoax
- MS. Found in a Bottle
- The Oval Portrait
I appears (with the other four volumes of the Raven Edition), on our American Literature CD
and on our Short Story CD
5/23/2006 -- This week's ebook of the week, suggested by Penny Golden, is "A Man from Glengarry" by Ralph Connor, sequel to Glengarry School Days" which I sent out a couple weeks ago. It appears on our Canadian CD.
5/16/2006 -- This week's ebook is "Winesburg Ohio" by Sherwood Anderson, a classic set of interrelated short stories. You probably read excerpts in anthologies back in high school. Now you can check out how it works as a whole.
5/9/2006 -- Thanks to a suggestion from Penny Golden, this week's selection is "Glengarry Schooldays: a Story of the Early Days in Glengarry" by Ralph Connor, from our Canadian CD.
5/2/2006 -- The second and final volume of Le Mort Darthur by Sir Thomas Malory, in English.
4/24/2006 -- Thanks to a suggestion from Wafa Ramadan, this week's ebook of the week is volume 1 of Le Mort Darthur: Sir Thomas Malory's Book of King Arthur and of his Noble Knights of the Round Table (in English). If enough of you express interest, I send the second and final volume next week. FYI -- if you are in an Arthurian mood, try the extraordinary current best seller "Arthur and George" by Julian Barnes. (That's "Arthur" in the generalized sense of someone with a chivalric bent, but primarily in the sense of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories). You can see my review of that book at http://www.samizdat.com/isyn/arthurandgeorge.html
or at my blog (Blogging About Books) at http;//www.samizdat.com/blog
4/17/2006 -- This week's free ebook is "Secret Chambers and Hiding-Places: Historic, Romantic, and Legendary Stories and Traditions about Hiding-Holes, Secret Champters, Etc. by Allan Flea (from our Non-Fiction 2-CD set). As a change of pace after a lot of well-known classics, this is a bizarre collection of tales that very few (if any) of you would have ever heard of.
The contents includes:
* A Great Deviser of "Priest's Holes"
Priest-Hunting at Braddocks
The Gunpowder Plot-Conspirators
Harvington, Ufton, and Ingatestone
Cmpton Winyates, Salford Prior, Sawston, Oxburgh, Parham, Paxhill, Etc.
King-Hunting: Boscobel, Moseley, Trent, and Heale
James II's Escapes
Mystgerious Rooms, Deadly Pits, Etc.
Hiding-Places in Jacobite Dwellings and in Scottish Castles and Mansions
Concealed Doros, Subterranean Passages, Etc.
Miniature Hiding-Holes for Valuables, Etc.
Hiding-Places of Smugglers and Thieves
The Scottish Hiding-Places of Prince Charles Edward
4/11/2006 -- This week's book is Wordsworth's autobiographical poem The Prelude, from volume 3 of the Complete Works of Wordsworth.
This appears on our British Lit 2-CD set as well as our Poetry CD.
4/4/2006 -- This weekï¿½s selection is an excerpt from the Midrash, a medieval Hebrew work. I picked it because of two intriguing sentences:ï¿½The Torah was to God, when he created the world, what the plan is to an architect when he erects a building.ï¿½
which, for me, resonates interestingly with the opening lines of the Gospel According to John ï¿½ ï¿½In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.ï¿½
ï¿½The nose is the most important feature in manï¿½s face, so much so that there is no legal identification of man, in Jewish law, without the identification of the nose.ï¿½which, for me, gives new meaning to Gogolï¿½s short story ï¿½The Noseï¿½, which describes the bizarre reactions of a man who wakes up without a nose.
The book ï¿½Medieval Hebrew, featuring the Midrash and medieval collections of Jewish Biblical lore and legendï¿½ appears on our Religion CD, our Jewish Religion CDï¿½, and also our ï¿½Medieval/Renaissanceï¿½ CD.
3/28/2006 -- Thanks to a suggestion from Ivan Cribb (in Australia), this weekï¿½s free ebook is a series of excerpts from Tolstoyï¿½s War and Peace. These chapters and epilogues could stand on their own as ï¿½Tolstoyï¿½s theory of historyï¿½. Of the few people who read this great book (probably the greatest novel ever written), still fewer read these chapters. They in no way affect the plot, so you could easily skip them. But to me they are the most important part of the book ï¿½ provocative ruminations on why hundreds of thousands of men marched from one end of Europe to another.
The excerpts include: Book 9 chapter 1, Book 10 chapter 1, Book 11 chapters 1 and 2, Book 13 chapter 1, Book 14 chapters 1 and 2, First Epilogue chapters 1 to 4, and Second Epilogueï¿½If you want me to send this selection to you by email, just send me email at email@example.com
If you like this, then run out and buy and read ï¿½Guns, Germs, and Steelï¿½ by Jared Diamond ï¿½ a totally different approach to the same major question: how did the history of the world wind up in its present shape?
3/21/2006 -- This week's selection, "The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus" is quite short. It's a bizarre excerpt from volume 3 of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, a work so long that few ever read it, and hence many fascinating nuggets, like this one are missed. If you know of any novels or movies based on this legend, please let me know.
3/14/2006 -- This week's selection is another Irish book, in honor of St. Patrick's Day -- Ghostly Tales by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1814-1873), volume 1 -- Schalken the Painter (1851) and An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street (1853). This book appears on our Irish CD, on our British Literature 2-CD set, and also on our Detective/Mystery/Crime/Horror CD.
3/7/2006 -- Since so many readers let me know that they enjoyed last week's Greek and Roman Ghost Stories, and because St. Patrick's Day is coming up soon, this week's book is "True Irish Ghost Stories" by St. John Seymour. It appears on our Irish CD and also on our Detective/Mystery/Horror CD and our British Literature 2-CD set.
2/28/2006 -- This week's book is a bizarre and interesting item that I just chanced upon -- GREEK AND ROMAN GHOST STORIES by LACY COLLISON-MORLEY. It Includes chapters on:
THE POWER OF THE DEAD TO RETURN TO EARTH
THE BELIEF IN GHOSTS IN GREECE AND ROME
STORIES OF HAUNTING
VISIONS OF THE DEAD IN SLEEP
APPARITIONS OF THE DEAD
Next week, in honor of St. Patrick's Day, I plan to send an Irish book.
2/21/2006 -- Thanks to a suggestion from Bruce Blanchard, this week's ebook (in honor of Black History Month), is The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.
2/14/2006 -- This week, in honor of Valentine's Day, we are sending two texts: The Golden Ass by Apuleius (which includes "Cupid and Psyche") and "Sonnets from the Portuguese" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Apuleius appears on our World Literature CD and also our Ancient World CD. Elizabeth Barrett Browning appears on our British Literature 2-CD set and on our Poetry CD and also on our Browning CD
2/7/2006 --This week's free ebook is Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey. I was prompted to pick this classic western because one of the characters in "The Brooklyn Follies" by Paul Auster was reading it, and I loved the Auster book (almost as much as I loved his "Illusions").
1/31/2006 -- This week's ebook is Montaigne's Essays, volume 1 (of 10). A contemporary of Nostradamus and of Shakespeare, Montaigne (1533-1592) eloquently pondered the meaning of life, the universe, and everything, often using classical sources for examples and inspiration. (This book appears on our Non-Fiction and Essays CDs). According to Wikepedia (http://www.wikipedia.org), "Friedrich Nietzsche was moved to judge of Montaigne: 'That such a man wrote has truly augmented the joy of living on this Earth.'"
To put this work in historical and philosophical context, check Alain de Botton's recent and brilliant "The Consolations of Philosophy" (published by Pantheon Books).
And please visit my new blog at http://www.samizdat.com/blog
and post your reactions to this book and related matters by posting comments there. If there is enough interest, that blog could become a center for book discussion, like a library reading group.
FYI -- The rights to my book Web Business Bootcamp recently reverted to me from Wiley. So I have posted the complete text of that book on the Web. You can read it at http://www.samizdat.com/bootcamp.html
and can discuss it at that same blog of mine.
(If you haven't "blogged" before, have no fear. I'm new to it, too; and it's ridiculously easy. The word is short for "Web log." It's just a Web page consisting of relatively short items, which gets frequently updated with new material, and where readers can easily add their reactions. It's a Web space to come back to again and again, like a favorite TV show you tune in often. I try to post at least one new item a day. The main topics are books, Internet business, and "off-the-wall" ideas of mine.)
1/24/2006 -- Lyrical Ballads by Wordsworth and Coleridge.
1/17/2006 -- This week's free ebook is Emerson's Essays First Series. This includes History, Self-Reliance, Comensation, Spiritual Laws, Love, Friendship, Prudence, Heroism, The Over-Soul, Circles, Intellect, and Art.
For me, Emerson's prose has a hypnotic quallity -- what he says sounds so good, so authoritative, that I'm inclined to suspend disbelief, as if I were reading a poem, like Wordsworth's Prelude, as if all I
wanted was to catch a glimpse of this eternal oneness that the author believes so fervently in.
William James, whose works we sampled for the last two weeks, was certainly influenced by Emerson; but headed in a different direction. James took a no-nonsense practical look at the world around him,
and had great faith in common sense. James rejected Emerson's mystic oneness of all things, for an everyday matter-of-fact plurallism. But to me their approaches seem not irreconcilable opposites but rather
two sides of the same coin.
FYI -- I just started a blog at http://www.samizdat.com/blog
"Blogging About Books". Each week I'll start an item for that week's book, so you can leave your comments/share your reactions there. Please join in
1/10/2006 -- I'm in a William James mood again this week.
In "Varieties of Religious Experience" James starts from the fact that most of mankind believes in some form of God. From his no-nonsense practical perspective -- part philosophy, part psychology -- he examines the tangible
evidence of religious belief, in all its forms, rather than getting tangled up in abstract questions about the existence and nature of God.
1/3/2006 -- This week's ebook, "Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking" by William James (brother of Henry James) is one of my favorite books. Today's specialist philosophers who tend to focus on questions that seem to have little or no relationship to everyday life and tend to write in a precise academic style that is dull and uninspiring, when it can be understood at all. James was a generalist. He was as much a psychologist (in a broad sense) as he was a philosopher. He didn't hestitate to write about God and religion and the meaning of life, as well as matters related to physics and the nature of being. His arguments are often based on "common sense" and are often very readable and understandable and applicable to everyday life. And his style has a lot more in common with Emerson's essays than with Hegel or Kant. (He seems to enjoy debunking the systems and deflating the pretensions of the classic German philososphers.)
12/27/2005 -- As a change of pace, this week's ebook is a reference book (that appears on our Reference Book CD) -- Bartlett's Familiar Quotations.
12/20/2005 -- Ten Days that Shook the World, a first hand account of the opening days of the Russian Revolution in St. Petersburg/Petrograd/Leningrad. Warren Beatty based his movie "Reds" on this book. Reed, a reporter, captures the immediacy, the excitement of the moment.
12/13/2005 -- Christmas Entertainments by Alice Kellogg. Here's a Victorian collection of Christmas songs and activities to get you in the holiday mood.
It appears on our Christmas CD, which I just updated http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/christmas.html
12/6/2005 -- An early Hanukkah treat, suggested by Betty Bandy, this week's free ebook is "The Guide for the Perplexed", by Moses Maimonides (1135-1204), purportedly "the most influential Jewish thinker since the Moses of the Bible or Torah" (http://mosesmaimonides.com/) This version was translated from Arabic to English by M. Friedlander.
11/29/2005 -- Suggested by Mukesh Shamar, this week's free ebook is the 17th century political science classic Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes. While the Romantics and their precursors (a hundred years later) believed in that man in his natural state is good and noble, Hobbes (writing during the English Civil War and Cromwell Interregnum) believed that force and government are needed to maintain law and order and prevent chaos. (I ought to reread that now myself, in light of events in Iraq).This book appears on our Non-Fiction 2-CD set, which I just updated, and which now contains 2604 books.
11/22/2005 -- Thanks to a suggestion from Betty Bandy, this week's "free ebook" is a collection of texts related to Thanksgiving. A Brief History of the United States by Barnes and Company; First Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1676;
The May Flower and Her Log by Azel Ames; The Mayflower Compact; The Women Who Came on the mayflower by Annie Russiel Marble. These texts appear on our Non-Fiction 2-CD set (which I am now updating), and also on our US History CD.
11/15/2005 -- This week's free ebook of the week is "Medieval Hebrew, featuring Midrash and medieval collections of Jewish biblical lore and legend." If you take the time to read, you'll uncover numerous nuggets of wisdom, that resonate interestingly with Christian beliefs and traditions. This book appears on our Religion CD, which I just updated today, and which now contains 589 books, about all the major religions of the world. See http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/religioncd.html
11/8/2005 -- Thanks to Betty Bandy, who has sent some excellent suggestions, this week's ebook selection is a set of belated Halloween texts:
Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow;
Le Fanu's Ghostly Tales (volume 1 of 5) and Carmilla; and
Keats' vampire poem "Lamia".
11/1/2005 -- Today our free ebook is Goethe's Faust, Part 1, translated by Charles Brooks. The relationship of parts 1 and 2 of Faust reminds me of the relationship of the beginning and the end of 2001: a Space Odessey. The beginning is a clear and interesting story and readily engages you. The end is more ambitious, provcative, complex and metaphysical. Nor surprisingly, Part 1 of Faust is read and enjoyed far more often than Part 2; and Part 2 is the favorite of graduate students.
This translation, plus one by Bayard Taylor, plus both Parts 1 and 2 in German appear on our World Literature CD http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/worlitcd.html>/a>, and our German CD http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/german.html
, and our Goethe CD http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/goethe.html
. I don't have Part 2 in English translation. If you would like Faust in the original German, please let me know by email and I'll send it to you.
10/25/2005 -- This week's free ebook is Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. This is the play with the famous line "Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships". (If I hear back from enough of you that you'd like it, I'll do Goethe's Faust next week.) Dr. Faustus appears on our recently expanded "Shakespeare, his sources, and his contemporaries" http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/shakespeare.html
as well as Drama http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/drama1.html
and British Literature http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/britlitcd.html
10/18/2005 -- One of our subscribers, Bruce Alexander, suggested more Twain -- Letters from the Earth, in particular. Unfortunately, that book is still under copyright, having been published (posthumously, or posthumorously as Twain would have said) in 1952. So instead, I'm sending out a collection of other Twain books as this week's ebook of the week: The Mysterious Stranger and Other Stories, The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories, and Pudd'nhead Wilson (which includes an early use of fingerprints to solve a crime). These books appear on our American Literature CD http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/amlitcd.html
with 1313 books and also on Mark Twain http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/twain.html
10/11/2005 -- This week's free ebook is Biographia Literaria by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. There's something magical about his Kublai Khan, as if it were a window to a hidden world inside us. Coleridge's rambling biography includes his ruminations on all matters of interest to him. This book appears in our British Literature 2-CD set http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/britlitcd.html
and also in Poetry http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/poetry.html
10/4/2005 -- The History of Herodotus, translated by G.C. Macaulay. You may remember the frequent references to Herodotus in the 1996 movie The English Patient (with Ralph Fienes and Juliette Binoche) and in the book on which that was based, by Michael Ondaatje. This is not only the oldest history book to have survived (perhaps the first written), it is also the oldest travel book. One might even say that it is the oldest amateur anthropology book as well. For me, his descriptions of the places and culures of his time are far more fascinating than his account of the wars between Greece and Persia.
9/28/2005 -- This week's free ebook is The Gold Bag by Carolyn Wells, A Mystery/Detective novel (recommended by Ken Wilson). Wells (1862-1942) was born in Rahway, NJ, where she worked as a librarian before she became a professional writer. She published 170 books. The Gold Bag appears on our Detective/Mystery/Crime/Horror CD http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/detmyscriman.html
9/20/2005 -- This week's free ebook (suggested by Bruce Blanchard) is "The Tao Teh King or the Tao and its Characteristics" by Lao-Tse, translated by James Legge. This book appears on our Religion CD http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/religioncd.html
and also on East Asia http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/eastasia.html
and also on Philosophy http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/philosophy.html
As a bonus, I'm also including a short piece entitled "San Francisco During the Eventful Days of April, 1906" by James B. Stetson, personal recollections of the San Francisco earthquake, which remind me a bit of the New Orleans disaster. That book appears on Non-Fiction http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/nonfictioncd.html
US History http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/ushistory.html
and California http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/california.html
9/13/2005 -- Ths week's ebook is Captain Bligh's version of the Mutiny on the Bounty. (His survived to tell the tale). "A Voyage to the South Sea by William Bligh. "A voyage undertaken by command of His Majesty for the purpose of conveying the bread-fruit tree to the West Indies, in His Majesty's Ship the Bounty, Commanded by Lieutenant William Bligh, including an account of the mutiny on board the said ship, and the subsequent voyage of part of the crew in the ship's boat from Tofoa, one of the Friendly Islands, to Timor, a Dutch settlement in the East Indies." First published in 1792. This book appears on our Non-Fiction CD http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/nonfictioncd.html
9/6/2005 -- This week's free ebook is "In Time of Emergency: a Citizen's Handbook on Nuclear Attack and National Disaster" -- from the days when America had a Civil Defense organization that focused on public preparedness for disasters of all kinds. That's one of the books just added to the Non-Fiction CD set, which now contains 2490 books, and sells for just $29. You can see the details (including the complete table of contents) at http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/nonfictioncd.html
8/30/2005 -- This week's book is "Une Vie, a Piece of String, and Other Stories" by Guy de Maupassant, translated to English by McMaster, Henderson, and others.
Maupassant is a master of the short story, often using ironic first person narrative, having the narrator unintentionally reveal him or herself. You come to know his characters well and believe in their reality in just a few pages. And he often provides a surprising twist. With Joyce and Chekhov you might read a story (even a very good one) and miss the point, and have to reread it. Maupassant is more in the vein of Poe -- the climax will never slip by unnoticed. These are stories to be told and heard and enjoyed.
This book appears on our World Literature CD (along with 1536 other books, including one monstrous "book", far too long to email, with all 180 of Maupassant's stories, in English), You can see details of that CD (which sells for $29) at http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/worlitcd.html
As an experiment, I'm offering a $5 discount on that CD for "free ebook" readers. Just order from our online store at http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/worlitcd.html
and in the order form, enter the coupon code "maupassant". This offer is good until next Tuesday, Sept. 6. If enough people show an interest, I'll make similar discount offers in future weeks.
8/23/2005 -- This week's ebook includes The Kreutzer Sonata, Ivan the Fool, A Lost Opportunity, Polikushka, and The Candle, by Leo Tolstoy. It appears on our World Literature CD, which I recently updated (and which now contains 1537 books) http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/worlit.html
and also on our Tolstoy CD http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/tolstoy.html
8/16/2005 -- Having just returned from vacation in the Southwest, I picked Roughing It by Mark Twain as this week's ebook. That's an autobiographical piece, recounting Twain's journey to Nevada and what he found/learned there, during the silver-rush days.
We often get caught up in the hype about how fast things change these days, and forget that folks in the mid-19-hundreds had to deal with change that was at least as radical and fast. The famed Pony Express only lasted six months. The completion of the transcontinental rail line vastly reduced the time, cost, and trouble of travelling from one coast to the other. (Hundreds of Mormons answering Brigham Young's call walked 1400 miles all the way from Iowa to Salt Lake City, pushing wheelbarrows and pushing handcarts, and the very next year the train was available, making such hardship totally unnecessary). In a few short decades the American west went from wild lands controlled by Native Americans and explored by a handful of hunters, trappers, and adventurers, to the home of farmers and ranchers (with the Native Americans contained and controlled and guarded in reservations). Not to mention the revolution in man's image of himself with the theory of evolution.
Twain was keenly aware of how fast the world was changing. (That's his main theme in Life on the Mississippi, as well). In Roughing It he recounts the damage to the environment done by prospectors and miners; he tells of the ghost towns; he laments how much of nature as been lost, never to return. As is usual in Twain's autobiographical fiction, the writing is uneven, with brilliant memorable passages buried among pages you might just as well skip. Give it a try, and if you haven't been there before, consider making a trip to the Southwest.
FYI -- I just posted a travelogue of my trip at http://www.samizdat.com/southwest.html
And I'll be adding that to our Southwest CD, which also includes Roughing It. http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/sw.html
8/9/2005 (sent out late due to vacation) -- Plato's Republic, translated by Jowett. Probably Plato's best-known work, The Republic includes his vision of the ideal state (modelled to some degree on Sparta), and his myth of the cave. It appears on several of our CDs: Non-Fiction, Philosophy, and Ancient World.
8/2/2005 (sent out late due to vacation) -- Uncle Remus His Songs and His Sayings by Joel Chandler Harris. I thought you might enjoy comparing this original (about Br'er Rabbit and his friends and enemies) with the Disney version (Song of the South). It appears on our Children's Book CD.
7/26/2005 (posted late due to vacation) -- Another suggestion by Ken Wilson -- "The Diary of a U-Boat Commander by Anonymous", which is included in our Ships and Sea CD and also our War CD.
7/19/2005 -- Suggested by Ken Wilson, this week's free ebook is "The Hoosier Schoolmaster: a story of backwoods life", a novel by Edward Eggleston (1837-1902). This book is included in our American Literature CD http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/amlitcd.html
7/12/2005 -- This week's free ebook is "Naturalist on the River Amazons" by Henry Walter Bates (1825-1892). I was totally unaware of this gem (which appears on Non-Fiction and also on our Evolution CD). I first learned of it yesterday when reading 'Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo' by Sean Carroll, a recent hardcover book that explains for the non-scientist the latest developments in biology (a set of insights and discoveries that go beyond RNA/DNA, just as that breakthrough went beyond Darwin). Unfortunately, that book suffers from Scientific American syndrome -- great beginning, stimulating your appetite to the point that you will make the time to read it through to the end; but soon rocketing beyond the background of the typical reader, so the further you read the less you understand; and you are left in the end with appetite even stronger, but frustrated and lost. But at least I could enjoy the historical interludes along the way, such as in chapter 8, when Carroll introduces Bates, "After eleven years in the Amerazon, having collected 14,712 different animal speicies (8000 of which were new to science), his body wracked by tropical disease, poor nutrition, and prolonged exposure ot sun and heat, and having endured robbery, abandonment by servants, and other deprivations, Henry Walter Bates left the jungle for England in June 1859. His timing was fortuante -- in just a few months Darwin's 'The Origin of Species' would appear... Bates received great encouragement form Darwin, especially to write and publish a narrative of his travels. Not only did Bates draw upon Darwin's views, but Darwin even reviewed, edited, and wrote an 'appeciation' for the one book Bates produced in his entire career, 'Naturalist on the River Amazons' (1863). Darwin had predicted it to be a great sucess and he was right, for Bates's writing proved to be superior to either Darwin or his original companion in the Amazon, Alfred Russel Wallace. Bates's book is till a terrific read today."
For our Evolution CD see http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/1evolution.html
For our Non-Fiction 2-CD set see Non-Fiction 2-CD set see http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/chilbookcd.html
(which I'm updating now -- should finish by Thursday), and also on our Baum CD http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/baum.html
If you are curious, you might also want to check my book The Lizard of Oz,a satiric fantasy intended for adults as well as children: "When an elementary class sets out on a quest to save the world from disenchantment, their adventures reveal paradoxes of the human mind and ways of awakening the magic within us." This Lizard is online as both text and as audio (RealAudio, with my voice) at http://www.samizdat.com/liz
I'd be happy to send that by email as a plain-text file to anyone who requests it. You can also buy it on CD with other children's stories of mine at http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/lizofoznowan.html
or as a printed book (with illustrations) at http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/lizardofoz.html
6/28/2005 -- In case you are planning an outdoor vacation this summer, this week's ebook is "Steep Trails: California-Utah-Nevada-Washington-Oregon-The Grand Canyon" by John Muir, from our Classic Travel CD http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/travel.html
6/21/2005 -- This week's ebook is THE LIFE, CRIME, AND CAPTURE OF JOHN WILKES BOOTH, WITH A FULL SKETCH OF THE
Conspiracy of which he was the Leader, AND THE PURSUIT, TRIAL AND EXECUTION OF HIS ACCOMPLICES.
BY GEORGE ALFRED TOWNSEND, A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.
It appears on our Civil War CD http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/civilwar.html
as well as US History http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/ushistory.html
and Non-Fiction http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/nonfictioncd.html
6/14/2005 -- This week's ebook of the week is
ENGLISH TRAVELLERS OF THE RENAISSANCE BY CLARE HOWARD
The chapter titles are:
THE BEGINNINGS OF TRAVEL FOR CULTURE
THE HIGH PURPOSE OF THE ELIZABETHAN TRAVELLER
SOME CYNICAL ASPERSIONS UPON THE BENEFITS OF TRAVEL
PERILS FOR PROTESTANT TRAVELLERS
THE INFLUENCE OF THE FRENCH ACADEMIES
THE GRAND TOUR
THE DECADENCE OF THE GRAND TOUR
You can find this book on our CD "Time Travel: Classic Travel and Tourism Books", which I am now updating. You can see the current contents at http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/travel.html
6/7/2005 -- This week's free ebook of the week is The Great English Short-Story Writers, Volume 1, 1910, which inicludes:
APPARITION OF MRS. VEAL. By Daniel Defoe (1661-1731)
THE MYSTERIOUS BRIDE. By James Hogg (1770-1835)
THE DEVIL AND TOM WALKER. By Washington Irving (1783-1859)
DR. HEIDEGGER'S EXPERIMENT. By Nathaniel Hawthorne (1807-1864)
THE PURLOINED LETTER. By Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)
RAB AND HIS FRIENDS. By Dr. John Brown (1810-1882)
THE BOOTS AT THE HOLLY-TREE INN. By Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
A STORY OF SEVEN DEVILS. By Frank R. Stockton. (1834-1902)
A DOG'S TALE. By Mark Twain (1835)
THE OUTCASTS OF POKER FLAT. By Bret Harte (1839-1902)
THE THREE STRANGERS. By Thomas Hardy (1840)
JULIA BRIDE. By Henry James (1843)
A LODGING FOR THE NIGHT. By Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
It appears on our Short Story CD, which I updated today.
5/31/2005 -- This week's ebook is A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) (wife of the essayist William Godwin and mother of Mary Shelley [who was wife of the poety Percy Bysshe Shelley and author of Frankenstein). It appears on our 18th Century CD, also British Literature, and Women
5/24/2005 -- This week's free ebook is "The Chemical History of a Candle" by Faraday. I just saw a reference to it in "Wittgenstein's Poker" by Edmonds and Eidinow, an intriguing account of a confrontation in 1946 between the philosophers Wittgenstein and Popper. The authors note that Faraday's book was one of Wittgenstein's favorites "an illustration of fine popular science."
"The Chemical History of a Candle" appears on our Non-Fiction CD and also on Victorican Science and Technology.
5/17/2005 -- Because of the popularity of last week's selection (Things to Make), we're doing The Boy Mechanic Volume 1 this week. "700 THINGS FOR BOYS TO DO, HOW TO CONSTRUCT WIRELESS OUTFITS, BOATS, CAMP EQUIPMENT, AERIAL GLIDERS, KITES, SELF-PROPELLED VEHICLES ENGINES, MOTORS, ELECTRICAL APPARATUS, CAMERAS AND HUNDREDS OF OTHER THINGS WHICH DELIGHT EVERY BOY". It's one of the books from our Children's Book CD (which contains 678 books). We sent out the plain text version by email. There is also a .pdf version with illustrations, which is too large to send by email; but which we include on our Children's Book CD.
5/10/2005 -- This week's book is "Things to Make" by Archibald Williams, with detailed instructions for building such things as a ladder, a poultry house, a bicycle shed, cabinets, telegaphic apparatus, an electric alarm clock, model steam turbines, quick-boiling kettles, pumps, kites, and paper gliders. We sent out the plain text version by email. There is also a .pdf version with illustrations, which is too large to send by email; but which we include on our Children's Book CD.
5/3/2005 -- Elizabethan Demonology by Thomas Spalding, 1880.
4/26/2005 -- This week's ebook of the week is "The Discovery of Witches: in answer to severall queries, lately delivered to the judges of the asssize for the county of Norfolk" by Matthew Hopkings, Witch-finder, 1647. This will be one of the books that I'll be adding to our Occult CD in the next update (in the next day or two). http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/occult.html
4/19/2005 -- This week's free ebook is The Prince of India (1893) by Lew Wallace (1827-1905). During the Civil War, Wallace served in the Union army and rose to the rank of major general. He was a member of the court that tried those accused of conspiring to assinate Lincoln. 1878-1881 he was governor of New Mexico Territory, and 1881-1885 he was ambassador to Turkey (the Ottoman Empire). His best-known novel is Ben-Hur (1880), which, along with The Prince of India, is included in our American Literature CD http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/amlitcd.html
4/12/2005 -- This week's ebook of the week is the best known novel by George Sand ((pseudonym of Lucile Amandine Aurore Dupin, the Baronne Dudevant) (1804-1876) -- a woman who today is probably better known for her life style and personal adventures than for her books. This version of Mauprat is in English translation. It appears on our George Sand CD, together with 43 other books by her, and 4 books about her. (NB -- most of the books on the CD are in the original French). It also appears on on our World Literature CD and our French CD and our CD of books by and about women
Next week's book will be The Prince of Inida, a wild adventure tale by Lew Wallace (author of Ben-Hur, and sometime governor of wild-west territory and ambassador to the Ottoman Empire).
4/5/2005 -- This week's book is a classic collection of detective stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle -- The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. This book, along with other Sherlock Holmes stories, appears on our Detective/Mystery/Crime/Horror CD
3/29/2005 -- This week's ebook was suggested by Kurt Yount, who writes:
"In the International Miscellany October 1, 1850 there is a really interesting examination of Poe. It presents a lot of biographical and literary fragmens that I for one didn't know existed and it makes me wonder if somewhere there is more information, not poems or stories, that could be scanned in the future. This is very fascinating stuff to me, since I think I have read all his stories, but I don't care much for the poetry. Anyway, just something I ran into looking through those magazines on your disk. Also a couple issues before that there was something on Margaret Fuller, whose name is familiar, but on whom Gutenberg apparently has nothing."
That issue of the International Miscellany (volume 1, number 3) appears on our American Literature CD http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/amlitcd.html (in the Periodicals folder), and also on our new Edgar Allan Poe CD http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/poe.html. In addition, I'll be adding it to our Magazine CD ("When Dickens Was News") http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/magazines.html at the next update (in about a month).
As for Margaret Fuller (Ossoli), her two-volume volume memoirs appear on our Brook Farm CD http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/brookfarm.html (She was a Brook Farm participant and figures prominently in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Blithedale Romance, a novel about Brook Farm.)
3/22/2005 -- Yesterdays with Authors by James T. Fields, (husband of Annie Fields from our 3/1 selection). James Fields was a Boston publisher (Ticknor Fields) and also editor of the Atlantic Monthly. He "discovered" Nathaniel Hawthorne. It appears on our Fields CD (a Theme CD)
3/15/2005 -- Tales of Old Japan by Lord Redesdale, from our World Literature CD.
3/1/2005 -- This week's ebook (thanks to a recommendation from Mark Schorr) is Authors and Friends by Annie Fields. This book contains bios of Lonfellow, Emerson, Holmes, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Celia Thacter, Whittier, Tennyson, and Lady Tennyson, based largely on personal experience and acquaintance. It appears on our American Literature CD and also on our Fields CD (a Theme CD).
2/22/2005 -- This week's ebook of the week is "Inspector General" a play by Nikolai Gogol. You may remember the 1949 movie based on it, starring Danny Kaye. Or
perhaps you read Nabokov's amazing book about Gogol (a New Directions paperback). Or perhaps you read the recent best seller The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, which tells the story of an Indian boy named after the Russian author.
This play appears on several of our Countries of the Former Soviet Union, Cold War, Drama, World Literature, and World Literature in English. But if you love
Russian literature and/or Gogol, you really should read Gogol's Art by Laszlo Tikos on the CD of that name, together with works by Gogol and other Russian greats.
2/15/2005 -- Shakespeare's Mid-Summer Night's Dream, for Valentine's and also to help forget about the snow and ice.
2/8/2005 -- With a major snow storm about to hit New England today, and baseball's spring training just a few weeks away, it seems appropriate to celebrate
spring with Ivan Turgenev's "Torrents of Spring." And with Valentine's day just a few days away, I feels right to celebrate with Turgenev's "First Love." It so happens that those two novellas, plus a third -- Mumu -- are
all in the same file, which appears on our World Literature CD, which I am now updating, adding another 200+ books. I hope to finish that today.
Think spring. Think summer. Enjoy.
2/1/2005 -- Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser, which appears on our American Literature CD.
1/25/2005 -- Thanks to a suggestion from Penny Golden, this week's free ebook is A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain. That book appears on our American Literature and Mark
1/18/2005 --At the suggestion of Patty Nash, this week's ebook consists of two novels by
Edith Wharton. Patty wrote: "As we have finished reading Ethan Frome, I
would also recommend SUMMER and GLIMPSES OF THE MOON, also by Edith Wharton.
Her descriptions of nature and location are beautiful, and she keeps you
thinking and feeling long after you have finished her books, and they are
definitely worth reading again."
Those books appear on our American Lit CD and also on our Edith Wharton CD
and our Women CD.
1/11/2005 -- This week's free ebook consists of two short works by Gustave Flaubert -- "A Simple Soul" and "Herodias" -- both in English translation. These appear on our World Literature CD and also our French CD.
1/4/2005 -- This week's ebook, suggested by Kurt Yount, is Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. Kurt says, "I have been rereading Ethan Frome which I last read years ago... This is a relatively short piece, but it is really worth reading again. It is emotionally naked, but understated. I was not especially impressed by Age Of Innocence, but this piece is different, it is not artificial. Anybody who read it before when you were single, go back and re-read it as a married man. You will see it through different eyes."
This book appears on our American Lit CD and also our Edith Wharton CD.
12/28/2004 -- At the request of Ken Wilson, this week's free ebook is Bram Stoker's Dracula.
As a bonus, I'm also including another Bram Stoker novel "Lair of the White Worm."
Both appear on our Detective/Mystery/Crime/Horror CD. See
http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/detmyscriman.html for details.
12/21/2004 -- This week's free ebook consists of a novel (Dickens' Christmas Carol) and a
short story (The Gift of the Magi). While everyone has probably seen several
different movies of A Christmas Carol dozens or even hundreds of times, few
of us have read the book. As for "Magi", it's simply a delightful feel-good
Christmas story. Both appear on our Christmas CD, which was just reviewed in Large Print Reviews at http://www.largeprintreviews.com/xmascd.html
12/14/2004 -- Suggested by Bill Gaughan, this week's free ebook of the week
is "Narrative of the Captivity and
REsotration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson" by Mary White Rowlandson. Bill noted
"Saturday evening I also heard a program from the series from New Hampshire
Public Radio called "Storylines New England". This program dealt with two
perspectives of King Philip's War. One was from the book by the puritan
Mary Rowlandson... Here is a description of the program from
the website... 'a page-turning best-seller about her 10-week ordeal during
the Indian War of 1675-76 (King Philip's War).'"
12/7/2004 -- This week's ebook is "What Men Live By and Other Tales" by Leo Tolstoy. This book appears on our World Literature CD.
11/30/2004 -- This week's ebook is volume 1 of A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, compiled by James Richardson and first published in 1897. This volume includes basic documents of the early days of the Republic (begining with the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederaton, and Constitution), and just about all official documents and speeches of George Washington as president, including his Farewell Address. This book (and succeeding volumes in that series) is found on our US History CD and also our American Revolution CD.
11/23/2004 -- This week's ebook consists of two documents:
-- the relatively short LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF CALAMITY JANE BY HERSELF, which appears on several of our CDs: Non-Fiction Women, West, and Biography.
-- the book length AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF BUFFALO BIll. (which appears on Non-Fiction, West, and Biography).
11/16/2004 -- This week's free ebook of the week consists of a short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" and a utopian/feminist novel "Herland" both by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935). "The Yellow Wallpaper" appears on our Short Story CD (which I just updated, adding 992 stories, including this one), American Literature, and Detective/Mystery/Horror. "Herland" appears on American Literature.
11/9/2004 -- In honor of Thanksgiving, this week's ebook is a cook book from shortly after the American Revolution -- "American Cookery or the Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry and Vegetables, and the Best Modes of Making Pastes, Puffs, Pies, Tarts, Puddings, Custard and Preserves, and All Kinds of Cakes, from the Imperial Plumb to Plain Cake. Adapted to This Country, and All Grades of Life" by Amelia Simmons "an American orphan", 1796. That book is available on our Cook Book CD.
10/25/2004 -- This week's ebook is "Schoolmistress and other stories" by Anton Chekhov. That book appears on our World Literature and our Short Story CDs.
10/18/2004 -- This week's free ebook of the week includes the transcript of the last Kerry-Bush debate (from Oct. 13), plus The Story of My Life by Helen Keller and the poem "Song of the Stone Wall" by Helen Keller.
The Helen Keller pieces appear on our American Literature CD which includes 992 books and sells for $29.
10/11/2004 -- Attached are two "books" -- The transcript of the second Bush-Kerry debate, and fragments from "Ossian" one of the greatest literary frauds of all time. In the 1760's James MacPherson published in several volumes what he purported to be translations of a legendary third-century Scottish poet named "Ossian".
Ossian became extremely popular and inspired other poets for nearly a hundred years. As explained in the introduction to this first collection of Ossian "fragments", they were actually the work of MacPherson. It is truly bizarre that a work deemed great when considered the work of a third century poet is deemed mediocre and not worthy of study when considered the work of a relative contemporary. Judge for yourself... This Ossian text appears on our British Literature 2-CD set, which includes 1856 books and sells for $29.
10/4/2004 -- Following up on suggestions received from several of you, this week's "ebook" consists of two files -- one the transcript of last week's Bush-Kerry debate and the other the transcript of last night's Edwards-Cheney debate. If you are interested in the historical context of US History, you might want to check our US History CD, with 305 books, which sells for $19.
9/28/2004 -- Of course, you all know the story of Robinson Crusoe (though few have actually read the book). But who among you knows the Further Adventures of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (1660-1731), this week's ebook of the week. ((Yes, even in 1700 sequels of popular stories were considered sure-fire money-makers.) We have this book plus seven other books by Defoe on our 2-CD British Literature collection, which sells for $29. I could also put those books on a "Great Authors" CD (selling for $12), if there's demand. Please let me know if you are interested.
9/21/2004 -- This week's ebook is The Lion of the North by G.A. Henty, an excellent historical novel, set during the 30 Years War.
Since you have a hotmail address, I'm presuming you might have problems with an attachment, so I'm embedding the book in the body of the email message, at the end. If you'd like to receive your free weekly ebooks as attachments in the future, please let me know and I'll put you on the other list.
Henty has a remarkable technique for making you feel present at that time. And the circumstances of this novel are extraordinary -- a young Scottish mercenary in the army of King Adolphus Gustavus of Sweden. I always wondered how Sweden suddenly became a major conquering power. It turns out that most of his soldiers were mercenaries, and they were mainly paid for by allies.
If you like this one, you might also want to try his "sequel" Won by the Sword. In Won by the Sword, the fictitious characters are different (another young soldier to identify with), but the historical situation continues. At this stage of the 30 Years War, King Louis XIV has come out of hiding, as the major supporter of the "Protestant" armies fighting against the Holy Roman Emperor. Things had gotten very mixed up -- so the whole concept of a religious war (Protestant vs. Catholic) has become bogus. It's simply a power struggle.
If these whet your appetite for more information about the 30 Years War, consider reading Schiller's History of the 30 Years War on our Non-Fiction 2-CD set. Or check out what Will Durant has to say about it in his Story of Civilization (which we don't have on CD). This war, little-known by Americans today, in the early 17th century totally devastated the territory that later became Germany. In terms of human suffering it seems to have been far more terrible than WWI and WWII. According to Durant, starvation became so acute in some areas, that when criminals were hung, the crowd of spectators immediately tore down the bodies and devoured them, raw. And starvaton became so widespread toward the end, that a victorious "Protestant" army, rather than attack the enemy, suddenly invaded an allied state and pillaged there, simply to cope with the extreme hunger of the troops.
Both the Henty books are found on our British Literature 2-CD set, on our War CD, and also on our G.A. Henty CD.
9/14/2004 -- At the request of one of our customers, this week's book is The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope.
9/7/2004 -- This week's book is MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA de SEINGALT 1725-1798 TO PARIS AND PRISON, Volume 2e--UNDER THE LEADS, which recounts Casanova's imprisionment in Venice and his escape. It's probably the most entertaining part of his voluminous memoirs (all of which appear on our World Literature CD). Keep in mind that Casanova is a storyteller, not an historian. Presume that this tale was told and retold hundreds of times over many years before, as an old man, he put it on paper. But as with the rest of his Memoirs, expect, too, interesting insights into the everyday life of a professional gambler, con artist, and man of leisure in 18th century Europe.
8/31/2004 -- "Is Mars Habitable? a Critical Examination of Professor Percival Lowell's Book 'Mars and Its Canals', with an Alternative Explanation" by Alfred Russel Wallace.
Published in 1907, this book refuted the contention that the "canals" of Mars were constructed by intelligent beings. Wallace as a rival of Darwin's, who developed a theory of evolution in parallel with Darwin and before Darwin made his conclusions public. This book appears on our Non-Fiction CD set.
8/24/2004 -- Prompted by another request from Bill Gaughan, I checked for books that describe the ancient Olympic Games. The closest I could come was Athens by Bulwer-Lytton (who also wrote the historical novel The Last Days of Pompeii). It appears on our Non-Fiction and Ancient World CDs.
8/17/2004 -- This week's (actually last week's) book, Tom Swift and his Photo Telephone was suggested by Bill Gaughan. He explains: "In this modern age of cell phones and digital cameras and scanners, and even cell phones that can now send images to another cell phone, Tom Swift and his Photo Telephone is a look into the future of today from back in the 19 teens; science fiction of yesteryear becoming today's electronic gadgets." You can find that book and dozens of other Tom Swift books (by Victor Appleton) on our Children's Book CD.
8/10/2004 -- This week's free ebook is THE SOTWEED FACTOR or A VOYAGE TO MARYLAND(3), A SATYR By Ebenezer Cook, originally published in 1707. A "sotweed factor" is a merchant who deals in tobacco. This poem was the basis for John Barth's novel of the same name. It appears on our British Literature CD set.
8/3/2004 -- This week's ebook is a poem about biology, originaly published in 1788 -- The Botanic Garden by Erasmus Darwin (grandfather of Charles Darwin) (1731-1802). Based on intuition, it seems to foreshadow some of the principles that Charles later supported with scientific evidence. You can find this book in our 2-CD Non-Fiction set (in the Biology section)
7/27/2004 -- This week's ebook, The Malay Archipelago (in two volumes) was written by Alfred Wallace, rival to Darwin for credit for the theory of evolution. For details on their rivalry, along with fascinating insights into evolution on islands and related matters, see The Song of the Dodo by David Quammen (a recent printed book).
The Malay Archipelago appears on our Non-Fiction 2-CD set, as well as Victorian Science and also Richard Burton's Arabian Nights and Victorian Books of Exploration and Travel.
7/14/2004 -- This week's ebook, The Voyage of the Beagle, is Darwin's autobiographical account of the voyage around the world (starting in 1832) on which he got his inspiration for and gathered his evidence for the theory of evolution. (Cf. the recent movie Master and Commander with Russell Crowe, which covered much of the same territory 30 years earlier, with a ship's surgeon interested in the same kind of natural phenomena as Darwin (especially in the Galapogos Islands).
Next week, I'll send the two volumes of the Malay Archipelago by Alfred Wallace, Darwin's rival. Wallace came up with a very similar theory at about the same time, and got very little recognition.
Both those works are available on our Non-fiction 2-CD set and also on Victorian Science.
7/7/2004 -- Ozma of Oz by Frank Baum, one of about a dozen sequels to The Wizard of Oz. In this one the main character, a young boy discovers that he is really a girl/princess under the spell of a wicked witch.
6/29/2004 -- This week's ebook, Persuasion, was first published after the death of the author, Jane Austen. I recently read "The Jane Austen Book Club" by Karen Joy Fowler, a current best seller, and an excellent novel about novels, in which you enjoy a good story and at the same time get reintroduced to the works of a great novelist from the past. You can also view the entire text of Persuasion in AbookReader format at http://www.samizdat.com/persuasion.htm This book appears in plain text form on our Jane Austen CD http://store.yahoo.com/samizdat/austen.html and also on our British Literature and Women CDs.
6/22/2004 -- This week's ebook of the week is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I was prompted to choose this well-known but little-read classic because I recently read two of Jasper Fforde's intriguing and amusing scifi/alternate-world spoofs -- "The Eyre Affair" and "Lost in a Good Book", in which human beings can become characters is novels and characters in novels can move into the "real" world and pretend to be human beings. You can also view it in AbookReader format at http://www.samizdat.com/janeeyre.htm (NB -- we have a Bronte Sisters CD with this book and other works by and about Charlotte and her sisters Emily and Anne, with all the books in both plain text and AbookReader format).
6/15/2004 -- This week's ebook, The Guns of Bull Run, is the first book of Joseph Altsheler's Civil War series of historical novels. Before I began making CDs, I had never heard of Altsheler. But I got numerous requests for his works, and our CD, with 12 of his novels, is now one of our most popular. I just added our new AbookReader format to all those novels (in addition to the usual plain text, as in the attachment). You can also view this entire book in AbookReader format at http://www.samizdat.com/gunsofbullrun.htm
6/8/2004 -- In his best-known work, The Prince, Machiavelli presumes that the ends justify the means, and provides a handbook for would-be dictators, in the hope some unscrupulous leader in the mold of Cesare Borgia (the Pope's son) would conquer all of Italy, finally uniting it. In the Discourses, this week's free ebook selection, we see another side of Machiavelli. Here through detailed anecdotal commentaries on the first 10 books of Livy's History of Rome, with frequent comparisons to what was contemporary history in about 1500, Machiavelli derives principles of human behavior that could help guide the decisions of a wise and just ruler or military leader. This book appears on our Non-Fiction 2-CD set and also on Italian.
All our books are available in plain text form. We are also beginning to provide select books in an alternative format -- AbookReader. You can read this same book in that format at http://www.samizdat.com/discourses.htm
You don't need to download or install any software to use AbookReader. Just use a recent version (5 or 6) of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser.
The AbookReader version makes it easy for you to read. The plain text version makes it easy for you to copy, edit, print, and generate voice or braille output.
You can view other samples of ours in this format at http://www.samizdat.com/hamlet.htm
6/1/2004 -- Trips to the Moon by Lucian, written in the second century AD, consists of selections from several of Lucian's satirical works (such as "The True History"). The introduction indicates that this "account of a trip to the moon...must have been enjoyed by Rabelais, which suggested to Cyrano de Bergerac his Voyages to the Moon and to the Sun, and insensibly contributed, perhaps, directly or through Bergerac, to the conception of Gulliver's Travels." (Yes, Cyrano de Bergerac, whose nose was made famous by Rostand's play about him, was also an author.)
5/25/2004 -- Atlantis: The Antediluvian World by Ignatius Donnelly purports to solve the mystery of Atlantis by creatively tying together myths and legends from around the world. At times it is very convincing (like The Da Vinci Code) -- enough so that it's likely to motivate you to read many other books to try to distinguish between gossip that's thousands of years old and credible science. In any case it's a fun and provocative read. (FYI -- the author ran for vice president on the Green Back ticket back in the 1880s.) If you read nothing else, check the beginning of the first chapter where the author lays out the 11 propositions that he intends to demonstrate. This book appears on our 2-CD Non-Fiction set (under Anthropology and Myths).
5/18/2004 -- From Ritual to Romance by Jessie Weston might interest you in a variety of ways. I first came across it in the footnotes to T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland." It pieces together legend, myth, religion, esoteric knowledge, and history in interesting ways, providing insights into the stories of the Holy Grail (cf. Indiana Jones and the Crusade for the Holy Grail), medieval heresies (cf. Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code). And its main thrust is explanining the origins of our concept of romantic love.
5/11/2004 -- "Martin Guerre", like the last two ebooks of the week, is an extract from Alexandre Dumas' multi-volume Celebrated Crimes. This is the "true" story that served as the basis for two great movies: Le Retour de Martin Guerre starring Gerard Depardieu, and Sommersby starring Jody Foster and Richard Gere.
5/4/2004 -- "The Man in the Iron Mask", extracted from Alexandre Dumas' multi-volume history "Celebrated Crimes". This is an "historical essay", a different work from his novel of the same name, which is part of his Three Musketeers Saga. A delightful blend of rumor and history.
4/27/2004 -- Extracted from Alexandre Dumas' multi-volume history "Celebrated Crimes" (which appears on our World Literature CD, as well as French, and Dumas), "The Borgias" provides lots of nasty and fascinating details about Cesare Borgia (the model for Machiavelli's model ruthless dictator in The Prince), his father Pope Alexander VI, and his beloved sister Lucrezia (world champion poisoner); if you enjoy Dumas, you'd also enjoy Club Dumas, a recent novel by Arturo Perez-Reverte.
4/20/2004 -- "Taras Bulba and Other Tales" by Nikolai Gogol.
This choice was prompted by my reading the current best seller "The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, in which a boy born to Indian parents is given the name Gogol, because of his father's obsession with the Russian author and other special circumstances. The story "The Cloak" which is frequently mentioned in "The Namesake" is included in this story collection. This book and other works of Gogol appear on our Gogol CD, a "books in context" CD which is built around the contemporary work of literary criticism, "Gogol's Art: a Search for Identity" by Laszlo Tikos.
4/13/2004 -- The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table by Oliver Wendell Holmes (a character in Matthew Pearl's The Dante Club)
4/6/2004 Longfellow's translation of Dante's Divine Comedy. This translation project of Longfellow's is at the heart of the best-selling literary mystery "The Dante Club" by Matthew Pearl, a book which I highly recommend.
3/31/2004 -- The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, from the Meditations of Anne Catherine Emmerich, an obscure 19th century book that reportedly was a major inspiration for Mel Gibson's controversial movie. The following week, (because I'm now reading and greatly enjoying the literary mystery "The Dante Club" by Matthew Pearl.
3/24/2004 -- The Whole History of Grandfather's Chair or True Stories from New England History, 1620-1808 by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
3/17/2004 -- The Awakening and Other Stories by Kate Chopin.
3/10/2004 -- Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne.
3/3/2004 -- The Luck of Roaring Camp and Other Stories by Bret Harte.