Originally published in 1836.Sheppard Lee, Written By Himself is a work of dark satire from the early years of the American Republic. Published as an autobiography and praised by Edgar Allan Poe, this is the story of a young idler who goes in search of buried treasure and finds instead the power to transfer his soul into other men's bodies. What follows is one increasingly practiced body snatcher's picaresque journey through early American pursuits of happiness, as each new form Sheppard Lee assumes disappoints him anew while making him want more and more. When Lee's metempsychosis draws him into the marriage market, the money market, and the slave market, Bird's fable of American upward mobility takes a more sinister turn. Lee learns that everything in America, even virtue and vice, are interchangeable; everything is an object and has its price. Looking forward to Melville's The Confidence-Man and beyond that to William Burroughs's Naked Lunch, this strange and compelling story is a penetrating critique of American life and values as well as a crucial addition to the canon of American literature.
Initially serialized in the Pictorial Review in 1920, The Age of Innocence is a stylistic and intimate portrayal of upper class life in New York City during the Gilded Age.
Lawyer and socialite Newland Archer is about to enter a loveless marriage with a well-to-do bride, when her cousin, the exotic Ellen Olenska, enters the picture. Olenska is stuck in a bad marriage with a Polish count, and Archer finds himself in the awkward position of persuading her to save her family's reputation by staying with her husband, even though Archer himself has fallen in love with her.
Combining a romantic tragedy with artful descriptions of aristocratic life in New York City, Edith Wharton's twelfth novel is now available as an elegantly designed clothbound edition with an elastic closure and a new introduction.
The three novels in this Library of America volume from Henry James's middle period explore some historical and social dilemmas that belong as much to our time as to his own. The Princess Casamassima was published in 1886, a year that saw riots of the unemployed in London. It is a political novel in which anarchists and terrorists conspire within a fin de si cle world of opulence and glamour. The action ranges from palaces to slums, from London to Paris to Venice and back again. The novel's hero, Hyacinth Robinson, is torn between his loyalty to revolutionary causes--for which he is about to commit an act of violence that may cost him his life--and his taste for the artistic side of aristocratic culture, represented in part by the beautiful, wealthy, compassionate, and yet deceptive Princess of the title. Possibly to save Hyacinth, she becomes romantically involved with his fellow conspirator Paul Muniment, a calculating political operative, idealistic and treacherous by turns. Assassination plots, sexual betrayals, murder, suicide, and the fierce play of conflicting loyalties--all these bring into play an intricate abundance of attendant figures, like the rakish Captain Sholto and the appealing but faithless Millicent Henning.The Reverberator (1888) is a swiftly paced comic novel named after a newspaper that caters to the American public's appetite for the "society news of every quarter of the globe." Francie Dosson, the free-spirited daughter of a wealthy Boston family, innocently provides gossip to George Flack, a "young commercial American" who writes for the paper. His published report imperils her engagement to Gaston Probert, whose family is outraged by the airing of its secrets. James portrays the collision of easily shocked Old World propriety and self-assured New World naivet with benevolent affection and spirited delight. The Tragic Muse (1890) explores with a topical realism not usually found in James the conflicts between art and politics, society and the Bohemian life. It does so with dazzling glimpses of Parisian theater and of London aestheticism, as articulated by the flamboyant and idealistic Gabriel Nash. At its center are four superbly drawn characters. The fascinating Miriam Rooth is an actress of overwhelming egotistic vitality and dedication to her art. Her suitor, the diplomat Peter Sherringham, is impassioned by her theatrical talent even while asking her to sacrifice it for his career. Nick Dormer faces a similar predicament in his engagement to the rich Julia Dallow, who wants him to forgo his painting so as to make use of her fortune in pursuit of his career in Parliament. Full of witty talk and vividly dramatic scenes, the novel includes a vast array of characters such as the impressive political matriarch Lady Dormer. Perhaps more than any of his novels, it attests to James's recognition of the costs of any dedication, like his own, to creative achievement. LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation's literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America's best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
Mark Twain is perhaps the most widely read and enjoyed of all our national writers. This Library of America collection presents his best-known works, together for the first time in one volume.
Tom Sawyer "is simply a hymn," said its author, "put into prose form to give it a worldly air," a book where nostalgia is so strong that it dissolves the tensions and perplexities that assert themselves in the later works. Twain began Huckleberry Finn the same year Tom Sawyer was published, but he was unable to complete it for several more. It was during this period of uncertainty that Twain made a pilgrimage to the scenes of his childhood in Hannibal, Missouri, a trip that led eventually to Life on the Mississippi. The river in Twain's descriptions is a bewitching mixture of beauty and power, seductive calms and treacherous shoals, pleasure and terror, an image of the societies it touches and transports.
"Whatever came, she had resolved never again to belong to another than herself." With its forthright treatment of sex and depression, The Awakening, first published in 1899, was so shocking to turn-of-the-century readers that it was neglected for decades. Rediscovered in the 1960s, this brief, beautiful novel is considered a landmark of early feminism. It is the story of Edna Pontellier, a twenty-eight-year-old wife and mother of two who--with devastating consequences--rejects her conventional married life for a transgressive path of self-discovery. Edna is vacationing with her husband and children on the Louisiana Gulf Coast when she meets and falls in love with the passionate, impulsive Robert Lebrun. Afterward, Edna can no longer find meaning and satisfaction in her comfortable domestic life and moves out, alone. Her tragic quest for personal, creative, and erotic freedom is at the heart of this now-classic novel which captures women's desires with extraordinary frankness, sympathy, and intensity.
The Modern Library Torchbearers series features women who wrote on their own terms, with boldness, creativity, and a spirit of resistance.
"Melville at his best invariably wrote from a sort of dream self, so that events which he relates as actual fact have indeed a far deeper reference to his own soul, his own inner life." - D.H. Lawrence.
Here are ten stories that represent some of the best short work of American master Herman Melville, including "Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street," "The Happy Failure," and "The Paradise of Bachelors and The Tartarus of Maids."
Alongside THE HAPPY FAILURE, Harper Perennial will publish the short fiction of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Willa Cather, Stephen Crane, and Oscar Wilde to be packaged in a beautifully designed, boldly colorful boxset in the aim to attract contemporary fans of short fiction to these revered masters of the form. Also, in each of these selections will appear a story from one of the new collections being published in the "Summer of the Short Story." A story from Alex Burrett's forthcoming collection, MY GOAT ATE ITS OWN LEGS, will be printed at the back of this volume.
A deluxe Harper Perennial Legacy Edition, with an introduction from John Swansburg, Deputy Editor at Slate
One of the best-selling books of all time, Lew Wallace's enduring epic is a tale of revenge, betrayal, honor, compassion and the power of forgiveness, set during the life of Christ.
At the beginning of the first century, Judah Ben-Hur lived as a prince, descended from the royal line of Judea and one of Jerusalem's most prosperous merchant families. But his world falls apart when he is betrayed by his best friend, Messala, who falsely accuses him of an attempt to assassinate the Roman governor.
Convicted without trial, Judah is sentenced to slavery on a Roman galley, while his mother and sister are imprisoned and his family's assets are seized. All seems lost, but just before boarding the ship, Ben-Hur has his first interaction with the Christ, who offers him water and hope. Their lives continue to intersect as Ben-Hur miraculously survives his time as a slave to become a charioteer, confront his betrayer, Messala, in an epic race, fall in love with the beautiful Esther, avenge his family, and become a follower of the Christ.
A true epic, Ben-Hur weaves biblical history and a rich adventure plot into a timeless tale certain to entertain a new generation of readers.