The Awakening and Selected Stories


Kate Chopin - 1899
    11 stories: The AwakeningBeyond the BayouMa'ame PelagieDesiree's BabyA Respectable WomanThe KissA Pair of Silk StockingsThe LocketA ReflectionAt the 'Cadian BallThe Storm

The Coquette


Hannah Webster Foster - 1797
    Eliza Wharton (as Whitman is called in the novel) wavers between Major Sanford, a charming but insincere man, and the Reverend Boyer, a bore who wants to marry her. When, in her mid-30s, Wharton finds herself suddenly abandoned when both men marry other women, she willfully enters into an adulterous relationship with Sanford and becomes pregnant. Alone and dejected, she dies in childbirth at a roadside inn. Eliza Wharton, whose real-life counterpart was distantly related to Hannah Foster's husband, was one of the first women in American fiction to emerge as a real person facing a dilemma in her life. In her Introduction, Davidson discusses the parallels between Elizabeth Whitman and the fictional Eliza Wharton. She shows the limitations placed on women in the 18th century and the attempts of one woman to rebel against those limitations.

Maggie: A Girl of the Streets


Stephen Crane - 1893
    Considered at the time to be immature, it was a failure. Since that time it has come to be considered one of the earliest American realistic novels. Maggie is the story of a pretty child of the Bowery which is written with the same intensity and vivid scenes of his masterpiece -- The Red Badge of Courage. In her short life, Maggie "blossomed in a mud puddle", was driven to prostitution, and died by her own hand while still a teenager.Crane, who worked as a free lance reporter, was in many ways addicted to the low life of the cities. He died at the age of 29.

Daisy Miller


Henry James - 1878
    The young Daisy Miller, an American on holiday with her mother on the shores of Switzerland’s Lac Leman, is one of James’s most vivid and tragic characters. Daisy’s friendship with an American gentleman, Mr. Winterbourne, and her subsequent infatuation with a passionate but impoverished Italian bring to life the great Jamesian themes of Americans abroad, innocence versus experience, and the grip of fate. As Elizabeth Hardwick writes in her Introduction, Daisy Miller “lives on, a figure out of literature who has entered history as a name, a vision.”

A Tale of Two Cities / Great Expectations


Charles Dickens - 1859
    A TALE OF TWO CITIES After eighteen years as a political prisoner in the Bastille, the ageing Doctor Manette is finally released and reunited with his daughter in England. There the lives of the two very different men, Charles Darnay, an exiled French aristocrat, and Sydney Carton, a disreputable but brilliant English lawyer, become enmeshed through their love for Lucie Manette. From the tranquil roads of London, they are drawn against their will to the vengeful, bloodstained streets of Paris at the height of the Reign of Terror, and they soon fall under the lethal shadow of the guillotine.GREAT EXPECTATIONS A terrifying encounter with an escaped convict in a graveyard on the wild Kent marshes; a summons to meet the bitter, decaying Miss Havisham and her beautiful, cold-hearted ward Estella; the sudden generosity of a mysterious benefactor- these form a series of events that changes the orphaned Pip's life forever, and he eagerly abandons his humble origins to begin a new life as a gentleman. Dickens's haunting late novel depicts Pip's education and development through adversity as he discovers the true nature of his "great expectations."This deluxe paperback edition features *French flaps *rough-cut high-quality paper *complimentary front- and back-cover designs highlighting each novel and including foil and debossing

McTeague


Frank Norris - 1899
    I never took off the hat to Fashion and held it out for pennies. I told them the truth. They liked it or they didn't like it. What had that to do with me? I told them the truth," declared Frank Norris, shortly before his death at the age of thirty-two. Of his novels, none have shocked the reading public more than McTeague, and few works since have captured the seamy side of American urban life with such graphic immediacy as does this portrayal of human degradation in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. Its protagonists, men and women alike, are shown as both products and victims of a debasing social order. Heredity and environment play the role of fate in a tale that moves toward its harrowing conclusion with the grim power and inevitablity of classic tragedy.

Prokleta avlija


Ivo Andrić - 1954
    Ćamil, a wealthy young man of Smyrna living in the last years of the Ottoman Empire, is fascinated by the story of Džem, ill-fated brother of the Sultan Bajazet, who ruled Turkey in the fifteenth century. Ćamil, in his isolation, comes to believe that he is Džem, and that he shares his evil destiny: he is born to be a victim of the State. Because of his stories about Džem’s ambitions to overthrow his brother, Ćamil is arrested under suspicion of plotting against the Sultan. He is taken to a prison in Istanbul, where he tells his story, to Petar, a monk.Out of these exotic materials, Andrić has constructed a book of great clarity, brevity and interest. No doubt it will be read by some as a political parable about the tyranny of the State, but also as a quite simply story about ill-fortune and human misunderstanding, fear and ignorance. Džem and Ćamil are doomed – and the certainty of their persecution is sometimes relieved, sometimes intensified by the stupidity and fright of the people who cross their ill-starred lives.Construction takes up most of the book’s space: the central story of Džem as related by Ćamil lasts only a chapter or two. For the rest of the time the reader strips layer off layer, as one narrator passes him on the next. There is an interesting passage that helps to explain this method, at the moment when Ćamil starts narrating Džem’s story in the first person. “I” is a word, we are told, which fixes the position of the speaker in such a way that the exercise of will is no longer possible, and the speaker strength is exceeded – strength, presumably, to break out of the identification that all his past actions and thoughts force upon him when he uses the word. “I” is both a confession and an imprisonment. The fact that the novel passes the reader on from one narrator to the next rather suggests that the author is taking constant evasive action, lest he betray himself or his reader into the kind of “personal confession” which seals the fate of Ćamil. What exactly this game of form flirting with meaning signifies, must be left to the individual reader.The movement is centripetal, towards Džem’s story, and then disperses. Details within the story are made to mimic this form. Thus when Peter receives the message telling him of his impending release:“Two younger prisoners...were chasing around using him as the centerpoint of ever narrowing circles. Annoyed, he tried to break away from these exuberant youths when one of them brushed against him and he felt a folded scrap of paper thrust into his hand. The youths continued their chase but now in widening circles...”The reader is led on just such a chase in the course of the novel. The effect of this is to make the plot seem more like a poetic image than an ordinary plot: capable, therefore, of as many meanings as are the images of an allusive poem. Yet the language is simple and direct, not at all “poetic”. The characters are remarkable alive, even in conversation. Karađoz, the governor of the goal, is a spidery authoritarian, who loves to torment the charges he loves. The prisoners “complained about the way one complains about one’s life and curses one’s destiny...it would have been hard for them to imagine life without him”.“The Devil’s Yard” is justified, as all symbolic and figurative novels must be, by the extent to which it touches the emotions. It is extremely moving. Fear, horror, despair, amusement at times – all these indicate that the threat of the meaning has been recognized.

The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories


Sarah Orne Jewett - 1925
    Returning to the women and men of small New England towns for the accompanying collection of short fiction, this remarkable volume weaves a colorful and moving tapestry of the grand complexities, joys, and beauties of life.

The Lamplighter


Maria Susanna Cummins - 1854
    But her sudden popularity left her quite unspoiled. A singular modesty, a childlike simplicity, a deep and beauti ful religious faith, were the qualities that endeared her to her friends and that are still evidenced by what was written of her at her death, which occurred in Dorchester October 1, 1866. As her pastor, Rev. Nathaniel Hall, declared in his memorial discourse, She received her success with a simple gladness, less that she was famous than that she might be useful; less that she had gained the public's applause than that she had touched, to issues human and philanthropic, the public's heart, and caused her poor 'lamplighter' to be the means of illumining other and direr darkness than that of night.

Moods


Louisa May Alcott - 1864
    The novel unconventionally presents a "little woman," a true-hearted abolitionist spinster, and a fallen Cuban beauty, their lives intersecting in Alcott's first major depiction of the "woman problem."Sylvia Yule, the heroine of Moods, is a passionate tomboy who yearns for adventure. The novel opens as she embarks on a river camping trip with her brother and his two friends, both of whom fall in love with her. These rival suitors, close friends, are modeled on Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Daniel Thoreau. Aroused, but still "moody" and inexperienced, Sylvia marries the wrong man. In the rest of the novel, Alcott attempts to resolve the dilemma she has created and leave her readers asking whether, in fact, there is a place for a woman such as Sylvia in a man's world. In 1882, eighteen years after the original publication, Alcott revised and republished the novel. Her own literary success and the changes she helped forge in women's lives now allowed her heroine to meet, as Alcott said, "a wiser if less romantic fate than in the former edition."

Bartleby the Scrivener


Herman Melville - 1853
    Set in the mid-19th century on New York City's Wall Street, it was also, perhaps, Herman Melville's most prescient story: what if a young man caught up in the rat race of commerce finally just said, "I would prefer not to"?The tale is one of the final works of fiction published by Melville before, slipping into despair over the continuing critical dismissal of his work after Moby-Dick, he abandoned publishing fiction. The work is presented here exactly as it was originally published in Putnam's magazine—to, sadly, critical disdain.

Shane


Jack Schaefer - 1949
    It was Shane, who appeared on the horizon and became a friend and guardian to the Starrett family at a time when homesteaders and cattle rangers battled for territory and survival. Jack Schaefer’s classic novel illuminates the spirit of the West through the eyes of a young boy and a hero who changes the lives of everyone around him. Renowned artist Wendell Minor provides stunning images and a moving introduction to this new edition of Shane, the ultimate tale of the Western landscape.

Pudd'nhead Wilson


Mark Twain - 1893
    At the beginning of Pudd'nhead Wilson a young slave woman, fearing for her infant son's life, exchanges her light-skinned child with her master's.  From this rather simple premise Mark Twain fashioned one of his most entertaining, funny, yet biting novels.  On its surface, Pudd'nhead Wilson possesses all the elements of an engrossing nineteenth-century mystery:  reversed identities, a horrible crime, an eccentric detective, a suspenseful courtroom drama, and a surprising, unusual solution.  Yet it is not a mystery novel.  Seething with the undercurrents of antebellum southern culture, the book is a savage indictment in which the real criminal is society, and racial prejudice and slavery are the crimes.  Written in 1894, Pudd'nhead Wilson glistens with characteristic Twain humor, with suspense, and with pointed irony:  a gem among the author's later works.

Ethan Frome


Edith Wharton - 1911
    But when Zeena's vivacious cousin enters their household as a hired girl, Ethan finds himself obsessed with her and with the possibilities for happiness she comes to represent.In one of American fiction's finest and most intense narratives, Edith Wharton moves this ill-starred trio toward their tragic destinies. Different in both tone and theme from Wharton's other works, Ethan Frome has become perhaps her most enduring and most widely read book.

The Rise of Silas Lapham


William Dean Howells - 1885
    William Dean Howells' richly humorous characterization of a self-made millionaire in Boston society provides a paradigm of American culture in the Gilded Age.After establishing a fortune in the paint business, Silas Lapham moves his family from their Vermont farm to the city of Boston, where they awkwardly attempt to break into Brahmin society.