He was "an egoist. Marius, fasting, fevered, having emerged in succession from all hope, and having been stranded in grief, the most sombre of shipwrecks, and saturated with violent emotions and conscious that the end was near, had plunged deeper and deeper into that visionary stupor which always precedes the fatal hour voluntarily accepted. A physiologist might have studied in him the growing symptoms of that febrile absorption known to, and classified by, science, and which is to suffering what voluptuousness is to pleasure.
Despair, also, has its ecstasy. Marius had reached this point. He looked on at everything as from without; as we have said, things which passed before him seemed far away; he made out the whole, but did not perceive the details. He beheld men going and coming as through a flame. He heard voices speaking as at the bottom of an abyss. But this moved him. There was in this scene a point which pierced and roused even him.
He had but one idea now, to die; and he did not wish to be turned aside from it, but he reflected, in his gloomy somnambulism, that while destroying himself, he was not prohibited from saving some one else. I join them, and you must make haste. Combeferre has said convincing things to you. There are some among you who have families, mothers, sisters, wives, children. Let such leave the ranks. His authority was great.
Enjolras was certainly the head of the barricade, but Marius was its savior. Then, touched by Combeferre's words, shaken by Enjolras' order, touched by Marius' entreaty, these heroic men began to denounce each other. Each struggled to determine which should not allow himself to be placed at the door of the tomb. Do you yourselves designate those who are to go. After the expiration of a few minutes, five were unanimously selected and stepped out of the ranks. And then a struggle arose as to who should remain, and who should find reasons for the others not remaining. The generous quarrel began afresh.
These great revolutionary barricades were assembling points for heroism. The improbable was simple there. These men did not astonish each other. Marius did not believe that he was capable of another emotion. Still, at this idea, that of choosing a man for death, his blood rushed back to his heart. He would have turned pale, had it been possible for him to become any paler. He advanced towards the five, who smiled upon him, and each, with his eyes full of that grand flame which one beholds in the depths of history hovering over Thermopylae, cried to him:. And Marius stupidly counted them; there were still five of them!
Then his glance dropped to the four uniforms. He had arrived by way of Mondetour lane, whither by dint of inquiries made, or by instinct, or chance. Thanks to his dress of a National Guardsman, he had made his way without difficulty. The sentinel stationed by the insurgents in the Rue Mondetour had no occasion to give the alarm for a single National Guardsman, and he had allowed the latter to entangle himself in the street, saying to himself: At the moment when Jean Valjean entered the redoubt, no one had noticed him, all eyes being fixed on the five chosen men and the four uniforms.
Jean Valjean also had seen and heard, and he had silently removed his coat and flung it on the pile with the rest. Jean Valjean, without replying, helped the insurgent whom he was saving to don his uniform. THE situation of all in that fatal hour and that pitiless place, had as result and culminating point Enjolras' supreme melancholy. Enjolras bore within him the plenitude of the revolution; he was incomplete, however, so far as the absolute can be so; he had too much of Saint-Just about him, and not enough of Anacharsis Cloots; still, his mind, in the society of the Friends of the A B C, had ended by undergoing a certain polarization from Combeferre's ideas; for some time past, he had been gradually emerging from the narrow form of dogma, and had allowed himself to incline to the broadening influence of progress, and he had come to accept, as a definitive and magnificent evolution, the transformation of the great French Republic, into the immense human republic.
As far as the immediate means were concerned, a violent situation being given, he wished to be violent; on that point, he never varied; and he remained of that epic and redoubtable school which is summed up in the words: He was engaged in Page 24 thought; he quivered, as at the passage of prophetic breaths; places where death is have these effects of tripods.
A sort of stifled fire darted from his eyes, which were filled with an inward look. All at once he threw back his head, his blond locks fell back like those of an angel on the sombre quadriga made of stars, they were like the mane of a startled lion in the flaming of an halo, and Enjolras cried:.
The streets of cities inundated with light, green branches on the thresholds, nations sisters, men just, old men blessing children, the past loving the present, thinkers entirely at liberty, believers on terms of full equality, for religion heaven, God the direct priest, human conscience become an altar, no more hatreds, the fraternity of the workshop and the school, for sole penalty and recompense fame, work for all, right for all, peace over all, no more bloodshed, no more wars, happy mothers! To conquer matter is the first step; to realize the ideal is the second.
Reflect on what progress has already accomplished. Formerly, the first human races beheld with terror the hydra pass before their eyes, breathing on the waters, the dragon which vomited flame, the griffin who was the monster of the air, and who flew with the wings of an eagle and the talons of a tiger; fearful beasts which were above man.
Man, nevertheless, spread his snares, consecrated by intelligence, and finally conquered these monsters. We have vanquished the hydra, and it is called the locomotive; we are on the point of vanquishing the griffin, we already grasp it, and it is called the balloon. On the day when this Promethean task shall be accomplished, and when man shall have definitely harnessed to his will the triple Chimaera of antiquity, the hydra, the dragon and the griffin, he will be the master of water, fire, and of air, and he will be for the rest of animated creation that which the ancient gods formerly were to him.
Citizens, whither are we going? To science made government, to the force of things become the sole public force, to the natural law, having in itself its sanction and its penalty and promulgating Page 25 itself by evidence, to a dawn of truth corresponding to a dawn of day. We are advancing to the union of peoples; we are advancing to the unity of man. No more fictions; no more parasites.
The real governed by the true, that is the goal. Civilization will hold its assizes at the summit of Europe, and, later on, at the centre of continents, in a grand parliament of the intelligence. Something similar has already been seen. The amphictyons had two sittings a year, one at Delphos the seat of the gods, the other at Thermopylae, the place of heroes.
Europe will have her amphictyons; the globe will have its amphictyons. France bears this sublime future in her breast. This is the gestation of the nineteenth century. That which Greece sketched out is worthy of being finished by France. Listen to me, you, Feuilly, valiant artisan, man of the people. Yes, you clearly behold the future, yes, you are right.
You had neither father nor mother, Feuilly; you adopted humanity for your mother and right for your father. You are about to die, that is to say to triumph, here. Citizens, whatever happens to-day, through our defeat as well as through our victory, it is a revolution that we are about to create. As conflagrations light up a whole city, so revolutions illuminate the whole human race. And what is the revolution that we shall cause? I have just told you, the Revolution of the True. From a political point of view, there is but a single principle; the sovereignty of man over himself.
This sovereignty of myself over myself is called Liberty. Where two or three of these sovereignties are combined, the state begins. But in that association there is no abdication. Each sovereignty concedes a certain quantity of itself, for the purpose of forming the common right. This quantity is the same for all of us. This identity of concession which each makes to all, is called Equality. Common right is nothing else than the protection of all beaming on the right of each. This protection of all over each is called Fraternity. The point of intersection of all these assembled sovereignties is called society.
This intersection being a junction, this point is a knot. Hence what is called the social Page 26 bond. Some say social contract; which is the same thing, the word contract being etymologically formed with the idea of a bond. Let us come to an understanding about equality; for, if liberty is the summit, equality is the base.
Equality, citizens, is not wholly a surface vegetation, a society of great blades of grass and tiny oaks; a proximity of jealousies which render each other null and void; legally speaking, it is all aptitudes possessed of the same opportunity; politically, it is all votes possessed of the same weight; religiously, it is all consciences possessed of the same right.
Equality has an organ: The right to the alphabet, that is where the beginning must be made. The primary school imposed on all, the secondary school offered to all, that is the law. From an identical school, an identical society will spring. Citizens, the nineteenth century is great, but the twentieth century will be happy. Then, there will be nothing more like the history of old, we shall no longer, as to-day, have to fear a conquest, an invasion, a usurpation, a rivalry of nations, arms in hand, an interruption of civilization depending on a marriage of kings, on a birth in hereditary tyrannies, a partition of peoples by a congress, a dismemberment because of the failure of a dynasty, a combat of two religions meeting face to face, like two bucks in the dark, on the bridge of the infinite; we shall no longer have to fear famine, farming out, prostitution arising from distress, misery from the failure of work and the scaffold and the sword, and battles and the ruffianism of chance in the forest of events.
One might almost say: There will be no more events. We shall be happy. The human race will accomplish its law, as the terrestrial globe accomplishes its law; harmony will be re-established between the soul and the star; the soul will gravitate around the truth, as the planet around the light. Friends, the present hour in which I am addressing you, is a gloomy hour; but these are terrible purchases of the future. A revolution is a toll.
We Page 27 affirm it on this barrier. Whence should proceed that cry of love, if not from the heights of sacrifice? Oh my brothers, this is the point of junction, of those who think and of those who suffer; this barricade is not made of paving-stones, nor of joists, nor of bits of iron; it is made of two heaps, a heap of ideas, and a heap of woes. Here misery meets the ideal.
The day embraces the night, and says to it: Sufferings bring hither their agony and ideas their immortality. This agony and this immortality are about to join and constitute our death. Brothers, he who dies here dies in the radiance of the future, and we are entering a tomb all flooded with the dawn. Enjolras paused rather than became silent; his lips continued to move silently, as though he were talking to himself, which caused them all to gaze attentively at him, in the endeavor to hear more. There was no applause; but they whispered together for a long time.
Speech being a breath, the rustling of intelligences resembles the rustling of leaves. Let the reader recall the state of his soul. We have just recalled it, everything was a vision to him now. His judgment was disturbed. Marius, let us insist on this point, was under the shadow of the great, dark wings which are spread over those in the death agony. He felt that he had entered the tomb, it seemed to him that he was already on the other side of the wall, and he no longer beheld the faces of the living except with the eyes of one dead. Why was he there?
What had be come there to do? Marius did not address all these questions to himself. Besides, since our despair has this Page 28 peculiarity, that it envelops others as well as ourselves, it seemed logical to him that all the world should come thither to die. Fauchelevent did not speak to him, did not look at him, and had not even the air of hearing him, when Marius raised his voice to say: As far as Marius was concerned, this attitude of M. Fauchelevent was comforting, and, if such a word can be used for such impressions, we should say that it pleased him.
He had always felt the absolute impossibility of addressing that enigmatical man, who was, in his eyes, both equivocal and imposing. Moreover, it had been a long time since he had seen him; and this still further augmented the impossibility for Marius' timid and reserved nature. The five chosen men left the barricade by way of Mondetour lane; they bore a perfect resemblance to members of the National Guard. One of them wept as he took his leave. Before setting out, they embraced those who remained. When the five men sent back to life had taken their departure, Enjolras thought of the man who had been condemned to death.
He entered the tap-room. Javert, still bound to the post, was engaged in meditation. Enjolras himself offered him a glass of water, and, as Javert was pinioned, he helped him to drink. Bind me as you please, but you surely might lay me out on a table like that other man. And with a motion of the head, he indicated the body of M. There was, as the reader will remember, a long, broad table at the end of the room, on which they had been running bullets and making cartridges. All the cartridges having been made, and all the powder used, this table was free.
At Enjolras' command, four insurgents unbound Javert from the post. While they were loosing him, a fifth held a bayonet against his breast. Leaving his arms tied behind his back, they placed about his feet a slender but stout whip-cord, as is done to men on the point of mounting the scaffold, which allowed him to take steps about fifteen inches in length, and made him walk to the table at the end of the room, where they laid him down, closely bound about the middle of the body. By way of further security, and by means of a rope fastened to his neck, they added to the system of ligatures which rendered every attempt at escape impossible, that sort of bond which is called in prisons a martingale, which, starting at the neck, forks on the stomach, and meets the hands, after passing between the legs.
While they were binding Javert, a man standing on the threshold was surveying him with singular attention. The shadow cast by this man made Javert turn his head. He raised his eyes, and recognized Jean Valjean. He did not even start, but dropped his lids proudly and confined himself to the remark: THE daylight was increasing rapidly. Not a window was opened, not a door stood ajar; it was the dawn but not the awaking. The end of the Rue de la Chanvrerie, opposite the barricade, had been evacuated by the troops, as we have stated it seemed to be free, and presented itself to passersby with a sinister tranquillity.
Not a living being in the cross-roads, which gleamed white in the light of the sun. Nothing is so mournful as this light in deserted streets. Nothing was to be seen, but there was something to be heard. A mysterious movement was going on at a certain distance. It was evident that the critical moment was approaching. As on the previous evening, the sentinels had come in; but this time all had come. The barricade was stronger than on the occasion of the first attack. Since the departure of the five, they had increased its height still further.
On the advice of the sentinel who had examined the region of the Halles, Enjolras, for fear of a surprise in the rear, came to a serious decision. He had the small gut of the Mondetour lane, which had been left open up to that time, barricaded. For this purpose, they tore up the pavement for the length of several houses more. In this manner, the barricade, walled on three streets, in front on the Rue de la Chanvrerie, to the left on the Rues du Cygne and de la Petite Truanderie, to the right on the Rue Mondetour, was really almost impregnable; it is true that they were fatally hemmed in there.
It had three fronts, but no exit. Enjolras had about thirty paving-stones "torn up in excess," said Bossuet, piled up near the door of the wine-shop. The silence was now so profound in the quarter whence the attack must needs come, that Enjolras had each man resume his post of battle.
Nothing is more curious than a barricade preparing for an assault. Each man selects his place as though at the theatre. They jostle, and elbow and crowd each other. There are some who make stalls of paving-stones. Here is a corner of the wall which is in the way, it is removed; here is a redan which may afford protection, they take shelter behind it. Left- handed men are precious; they take the places that are inconvenient to the rest.
Many arrange to fight in a sitting posture.
You are here
Page 31 They wish to be at ease to kill, and to die comfortably. In the sad war of June, , an insurgent who was a formidable marksman, and who was firing from the top of a terrace upon a roof, had a reclining-chair brought there for his use; a charge of grape-shot found him out there. As soon as the leader has given the order to clear the decks for action, all disorderly movements cease; there is no more pulling from one another; there are no more coteries; no more asides, there is no more holding aloof; everything in their spirits converges in, and changes into, a waiting for the assailants.
A barricade before the arrival of danger is chaos; in danger, it is discipline itself. As soon as Enjolras had seized his double-barrelled rifle, and had placed himself in a sort of embrasure which he had reserved for himself, all the rest held their peace. A series of faint, sharp noises resounded confusedly along the wall of paving-stones. It was the men cocking their guns. Moreover, their attitudes were prouder, more confident than ever; the excess of sacrifice strengthens; they no longer cherished any hope, but they had despair, despair, -- the last weapon, which sometimes gives victory; Virgil has said so.
Supreme resources spring from extreme resolutions. To embark in death is sometimes the means of escaping a shipwreck; and the lid of the coffin becomes a plank of safety. As on the preceding evening, the attention of all was directed, we might almost say leaned upon, the end of the street, now lighted up and visible.
They had not long to wait. A stir began distinctly in the Saint-Leu quarter, but it did not resemble the movement of the first attack. A clashing of chains, the uneasy jolting of a mass, the click of brass skipping along the pavement, a sort of solemn uproar, announced that some sinister construction of iron was approaching. There arose a tremor in the bosoms of these peaceful old streets, pierced and built for the fertile circulation of interests and ideas, and which are not made for the horrible rumble of the wheels of war. The fixity of eye in all the combatants upon the extremity of the street became ferocious.
Artillery-men were pushing the piece; it was in firing trim; the fore-carriage had been detached; two upheld the gun- carriage, four were at the wheels; others followed with the caisson. They could see the smoke of the burning lint-stock.
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The whole barricade fired, the report was terrible; an avalanche of smoke covered and effaced both cannon and men; after a few seconds, the cloud dispersed, and the cannon and men re-appeared; the gun-crew had just finished rolling it slowly, correctly, without haste, into position facing the barricade.
Not one of them had been struck. Then the captain of the piece, bearing down upon the breech in order to raise the muzzle, began to point the cannon with the gravity of an astronomer levelling a telescope. A moment later, squarely planted in the very middle of the street, astride of the gutter, the piece was ready for action. A formidable pair of jaws yawned on the barricade.
After the fillip on the nose, the blow from the fist. The army is reaching out its big paw to us. The barricade is going to be severely shaken up. The fusillade tries, the cannon takes. The excess of tin renders them too tender. Then it comes to pass that they have caves and chambers when looked at from the vent hole. In order to obviate this danger, and to render it possible to force the charge, it may become necessary to return to the process of the fourteenth century, hooping, and to encircle the piece on the outside with a series of unwelded Page 33 steel bands, from the breech to the trunnions.
In the meantime, they remedy this defect as best they may; they manage to discover where the holes are located in the vent of a cannon, by means of a searcher. But there is a better method, with Gribeauval's movable star. In firing at short range, the trajectory is not as rigid as could be desired, the parabola is exaggerated, the line of the projectile is no longer sufficiently rectilinear to allow of its striking intervening objects, which is, nevertheless, a necessity of battle, the importance of which increases with the proximity of the enemy and the precipitation of the discharge.
This defect of the tension of the curve of the projectile in the rifled cannon of the sixteenth century arose from the smallness of the charge; small charges for that sort of engine are imposed by the ballistic necessities, such, for instance, as the preservation of the gun-carriage. In short, that despot, the cannon, cannot do all that it desires; force is a great weakness. A cannon- ball only travels six hundred leagues an hour; light travels seventy thousand leagues a second.
Such is the superiority of Jesus Christ over Napoleon. How was the casing of the barricade going to behave under the cannon-balls? Would they effect a breach? That was the question. While the insurgents were reloading their guns, the artillery-men were loading the cannon. And Gavroche flung himself into the barricade just as the ball dashed against it. He came from the direction of the Rue du Cygne, and he had nimbly climbed over the auxiliary barricade which fronted on the labyrinth of the Rue de la Petite Truanderie.
The ball buried itself in the mass of rubbish. At the most there was an omnibus wheel broken, and the old Anceau cart was demolished. On seeing this, the barricade burst into a laugh. THEY flocked round Gavroche. But he had no time to tell anything. Marius drew him aside with a shudder. And he stared at Marius intently with his epic effrontery. His eyes grew larger with the proud light within them.
Gavroche was not without some compunctions in the matter of that letter. In his haste to return to the barricade, he had got rid of it rather than delivered it. He was forced to acknowledge to himself that he had confided it rather lightly to that stranger whose face he had not been able to make out. It is true that the man was bareheaded, but that was not sufficient. In short, he had been administering to himself little inward remonstrances and he feared Marius' reproaches.
In order to extricate himself from the predicament, he took the simplest course; he lied abominably. The lady was asleep. She will have the letter when she wakes up. Marius had had two objects in sending that letter: He was obliged to content himself with the half of his desire. The despatch of his letter and the presence of M. Fauchelevent in the barricade, was a coincidence which occurred to him.
He pointed out M. Gavroche had, in fact, as we have just mentioned, seen Jean Valjean only at night. The troubled and unhealthy conjectures which had outlined themselves in Marius' mind were dissipated. Did he know M. Fauchelevent was a republican. Hence his very natural presence in this combat. In the meanwhile, Gavroche was shouting, at the other end of the barricade: Gavroche warned "his comrades" as he called them, that the barricade was blocked.
He had had great difficulty in reaching it. A battalion of the line whose arms were piled in the Rue de la Petite Truanderie was on the watch on the side of the Rue du Cygne; on the opposite side, the municipal guard occupied the Rue des Precheurs. The bulk of the army was facing them in front. A company of infantry of the line had come up and occupied the end of the street behind the piece of ordnance. The soldiers were tearing up the pavement and constructing with the stones a small, low wall, a sort of side-work not more than eighteen inches high, and facing the barricade. In the angle at the left of this epaulement, there was visible the head of Page 36 the column of a battalion from the suburbs massed in the Rue Saint-Denis.
Enjolras, on the watch, thought he distinguished the peculiar sound which is produced when the shells of grape- shot are drawn from the caissons, and he saw the commander of the piece change the elevation and incline the mouth of the cannon slightly to the left. Then the cannoneers began to load the piece.
The chief seized the lint-stock himself and lowered it to the vent. The insurgents who were straggling in front of the wine- shop, and who had quitted their posts of combat on Gavroche's arrival, rushed pell-mell towards the barricade; but before Enjolras' order could be executed, the discharge took place with the terrifying rattle of a round of grape-shot. This is what it was, in fact. The charge had been aimed at the cut in the redoubt, and had there rebounded from the wall; and this terrible rebound had produced two dead and three wounded. If this were continued, the barricade was no longer tenable.
The grape-shot made its way in. And, lowering his rifle, he took aim at the captain of the gun, who, at that moment, was bearing down on the breach of his gun and rectifying and definitely fixing its pointing. The captain of the piece was a handsome sergeant of artillery, very young, blond, with a very gentle face, and the intelligent air peculiar to that predestined and redoubtable weapon which, by dint of perfecting itself in horror, must end in killing war.
Come, when there are no more kings, there will be no more war. Enjolras, you are taking aim at Page 37 that sergeant, you are not looking at him. Fancy, he is a charming young man; he is intrepid; it is evident that he is thoughtful; those young artillery-men are very well educated; he has a father, a mother, a family; he is probably in love; he is not more than five and twenty at the most; he might be your brother.
At the same moment, he pressed the trigger of his rifle. The flame leaped forth. The artillery-man turned round twice, his arms extended in front of him, his head uplifted, as though for breath, then he fell with his side on the gun, and lay there motionless. They could see his back, from the centre of which there flowed directly a stream of blood.
The ball had traversed his breast from side to side. He had to be carried away and replaced by another. Several minutes were thus gained, in fact. The firing from the gun was about to begin again. Against that grape- shot, they could not hold out a quarter of an hour longer. It was absolutely necessary to deaden the blows. Jean Valjean, who was seated apart on a stone post, at the Page 38 corner of the tavern, with his gun between his knees, had, up to that moment, taken no part in anything that was going on.
He did not appear to hear the combatants saying around him: It will be remembered that, on the arrival of the rabble in the Rue de la Chanvrerie, an old woman, foreseeing the bullets, had placed her mattress in front of her window. This window, an attic window, was on the roof of a six-story house situated a little beyond the barricade. The mattress, placed cross-wise, supported at the bottom on two poles for drying linen, was upheld at the top by two ropes, which, at that distance, looked like two threads, and which were attached to two nails planted in the window frames.
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These ropes were distinctly visible, like hairs, against the sky. Jean Valjean fired the second charge. The second rope lashed the panes of the attic window. The mattress slipped between the two poles and fell into the street. The mattress had, in fact, fallen outside the barricade, between besiegers and besieged. Now, the death of the sergeant of artillery having exasperated the troop, the soldiers had, for several minutes, been lying flat on their stomachs behind the line of paving-stones which they had erected, and, in order to supply the forced silence of the piece, which was quiet while its service was in course of reorganization, they had opened fire on the barricade.
The insurgents did not reply to this musketry, in order to spare their ammunition Page 39 The fusillade broke against the barricade; but the street, which it filled, was terrible. Jean Valjean stepped out of the cut, entered the street, traversed the storm of bullets, walked up to the mattress, hoisted it upon his back, and returned to the barricade.
He placed the mattress in the cut with his own hands. He fixed it there against the wall in such a manner that the artillery-men should not see it. The cannon vomited forth its package of buck-shot with a roar. But there was no rebound. The effect which they had foreseen had been attained. The barricade was saved. Triumph of that which yields over that which strikes with lightning.
But never mind, glory to the mattress which annuls a cannon! Her chamber was narrow, neat, unobtrusive, with a long sash-window, facing the East on the back court-yard of the house. Cosette knew nothing of what was going on in Paris. She had not been there on the preceding evening, and she had already retired to her chamber when Toussaint had said:.
Cosette had slept only a few hours, but soundly. She had had sweet dreams, which possibly arose from the fact that her little bed was very white. Some one, who was Marius, had appeared to her in the light. She awoke with the sun Page 40 in her eyes, which, at first, produced on her the effect of being a continuation of her dream. Her first thought on emerging from this dream was a smiling one. Cosette felt herself thoroughly reassured.
Like Jean Valjean, she had, a few hours previously, passed through that reaction of the soul which absolutely will not hear of unhappiness. She began to cherish hope, with all her might, without knowing why. Then she felt a pang at her heart. It was three days since she had seen Marius. But she said to herself that he must have received her letter, that he knew where she was, and that he was so clever that he would find means of reaching her. She felt that she could not live without Marius, and that, consequently, that was sufficient and that Marius would come.
No objection was valid. All this was certain. It was monstrous enough already to have suffered for three days. Marius absent three days, this was horrible on the part of the good God. Now, this cruel teasing from on high had been gone through with. Marius was about to arrive, and he would bring good news. Youth is made thus; it quickly dries its eyes; it finds sorrow useless and does not accept it.
Youth is the smile of the future in the presence of an unknown quantity, which is itself. It is natural to it to be happy. It seems as though its respiration were made of hope. Moreover, Cosette could not remember what Marius had said to her on the subject of this absence which was to last only one day, and what explanation of it he had given her. Every one has noticed with what nimbleness a coin which one has dropped on the ground rolls away and hides, and with what art it renders itself undiscoverable.
There are thoughts which play us the same trick; they nestle away in a corner of our brain; that is the end of them; they are lost; it is impossible to lay the memory on them. Cosette was somewhat vexed at the useless little effort made by her memory. She Page 41 told herself, that it was very naughty and very wicked of her, to have forgotten the words uttered by Marius. She sprang out of bed and accomplished the two ablutions of soul and body, her prayers and her toilet. One may, in a case of exigency, introduce the reader into a nuptial chamber, not into a virginal chamber. Verse would hardly venture it, prose must not.
It is the interior of a flower that is not yet unfolded, it is whiteness in the dark, it is the private cell of a closed lily, which must not be gazed upon by man so long as the sun has not gazed upon it. Woman in the bud is sacred. That innocent bud which opens, that adorable half-nudity which is afraid of itself, that white foot which takes refuge in a slipper, that throat which veils itself before a mirror as though a mirror were an eye, that chemise which makes haste to rise up and conceal the shoulder for a creaking bit of furniture or a passing vehicle, those cords tied, those clasps fastened, those laces drawn, those tremors, those shivers of cold and modesty, that exquisite affright in every movement, that almost winged uneasiness where there is no cause for alarm, the successive phases of dressing, as charming as the clouds of dawn, -- it is not fitting that all this should be narrated, and it is too much to have even called attention to it.
The eye of man must be more religious in the presence of the rising of a young girl than in the presence of the rising of a star. The possibility of hurting should inspire an augmentation of respect. The down on the peach, the bloom on the plum, the radiated crystal of the snow, the wing of the butterfly powdered with feathers, are coarse compared to that chastity which does not even know that it is chaste.
The young girl is only the flash of a dream, and is not yet a statue. Her bed-chamber is hidden in the sombre part of the ideal. The indiscreet touch of a glance brutalizes this vague penumbra. Here, contemplation is profanation. We shall, therefore, show nothing of that sweet little flutter of Cosette's rising. An oriental tale relates how the rose was made white by Page 42 God, but that Adam looked upon her when she was unfolding, and she was ashamed and turned crimson. We are of the number who fall speechless in the presence of young girls and flowers, since we think them worthy of veneration.
Cosette dressed herself very hastily, combed and dressed her hair, which was a very simple matter in those days, when women did not swell out their curls and bands with cushions and puffs, and did not put crinoline in their locks. Then she opened the window and cast her eyes around her in every direction, hoping to descry some bit of the street, an angle of the house, an edge of pavement, so that she might be able to watch for Marius there.
But no view of the outside was to be had. The back court was surrounded by tolerably high walls, and the outlook was only on several gardens. Cosette pronounced these gardens hideous: The smallest scrap of the gutter of the street would have met her wishes better. She decided to gaze at the sky, as though she thought that Marius might come from that quarter. All at once, she burst into tears. Not that this was fickleness of soul; but hopes cut in twain by dejection -- that was her case.
She had a confused consciousness of something horrible. Thoughts were rife in the air, in fact. She told herself that she was not sure of anything, that to withdraw herself from sight was to be lost; and the idea that Marius could return to her from heaven appeared to her no longer charming but mournful.
Then, as is the nature of these clouds, calm returned to her, and hope and a sort of unconscious smile, which yet indicated trust in God. Every one in the house was still asleep. A country-like silence reigned. Not a shutter had been opened. The porter's lodge was closed. Toussaint had not risen, and Cosette, naturally, thought that her father was asleep. She must have suffered much, and she must have still been suffering greatly, for she said to herself, that her father had been unkind; but she counted on Marius.
The eclipse of such a light was Page 43 decidedly impossible. Now and then, she heard sharp shocks in the distance, and she said: A few feet below Cosette's window, in the ancient and perfectly black cornice of the wall, there was a martin's nest; the curve of this nest formed a little projection beyond the cornice, so that from above it was possible to look into this little paradise.
The mother was there, spreading her wings like a fan over her brood; the father fluttered about, flew away, then came back, bearing in his beak food and kisses. The dawning day gilded this happy thing, the great law, "Multiply," lay there smiling and august, and that sweet mystery unfolded in the glory of the morning. Cosette, with her hair in the sunlight, her soul absorbed in chimeras, illuminated by love within and by the dawn without, bent over mechanically, and almost without daring to avow to herself that she was thinking at the same time of Marius, began to gaze at these birds, at this family, at that male and female, that mother and her little ones, with the profound trouble which a nest produces on a virgin.
THE assailants' fire continued. Musketry and grape-shot alternated, but without committing great ravages, to tell the truth. The top alone of the Corinthe facade suffered; the window on the first floor, and the attic window in the roof, riddled with buck-shot and biscaiens, were slowly losing their shape. The combatants who had been posted there had been obliged to withdraw. However, this is according to the tactics of barricades; to fire for a long while, in order to exhaust the insurgents' ammunition, if they commit the mistake of replying.
When it is perceived, from the slackening of their Page 44 fire, that they have no more powder and ball, the assault is made. Enjolras had not fallen into this trap; the barricade did not reply. At every discharge by platoons, Gavroche puffed out his cheek with his tongue, a sign of supreme disdain. Courfeyrac called the grape-shot to order for the little effect which it produced, and said to the cannon:.
One gets puzzled in battle, as at a ball. It is probable that this silence on the part of the redoubt began to render the besiegers uneasy, and to make them fear some unexpected incident, and that they felt the necessity of getting a clear view behind that heap of paving-stones, and of knowing what was going on behind that impassable wall which received blows without retorting. The insurgents suddenly perceived a helmet glittering in the sun on a neighboring roof.
A fireman had placed his back against a tall chimney, and seemed to be acting as sentinel. His glance fell directly down into the barricade. Without saying a word, he took aim at the fireman, and, a second later, the helmet, smashed by a bullet, rattled noisily into the street. The terrified soldier made haste to disappear.
A second observer took his place. This one was an officer. Jean Valjean, who had re-loaded his gun, took aim at the newcomer and sent the officer's casque to join the soldier's. The officer did not persist, and retired speedily. This time the warning was understood. No one made his appearance thereafter on that roof; and the idea of spying on the barricade was abandoned.
Those who have preserved some memory of this already distant epoch know that the National Guard from the suburbs was valiant against insurrections. It was particularly zealous and intrepid in the days of June, A certain good dram-shop keeper of Pantin des Vertus or la Cunette, whose "establishment" had been closed by the riots, became leonine at the sight of his deserted dance-hall, and got himself killed to preserve the order represented by a tea-garden.
In that bourgeois and heroic time, in the presence of ideas which had their knights, interests had their paladins. The prosiness of the originators detracted nothing from the bravery of the movement. The diminution of a pile of crowns made bankers sing the Marseillaise. They shed their blood lyrically for the counting-house; and they defended the shop, that immense diminutive of the fatherland, with Lacedaemonian enthusiasm.
At bottom, we will observe, there was nothing in all this that was not extremely serious. It was social elements entering into strife, while awaiting the day when they should enter into equilibrium. Another sign of the times was the anarchy mingled with governmentalism [the barbarous name of the correct party]. People were for order in combination with lack of discipline. The drum suddenly beat capricious calls, at the command of such or such a Colonel of the National Guard; such and such a captain went into action through inspiration; such and such National Guardsmen fought, "for an idea," and on their own account.
At critical moments, on "days" they took Page 46 counsel less of their leaders than of their instincts. There existed in the army of order, veritable guerilleros, some of the sword, like Fannicot, others of the pen, like Henri Fonfrede. Civilization, unfortunately, represented at this epoch rather by an aggregation of interests than by a group of principles, was or thought itself, in peril; it set up the cry of alarm; each, constituting himself a centre, defended it, succored it, and protected it with his own head; and the first comer took it upon himself to save society.
Zeal sometimes proceeded to extermination. A platoon of the National Guard would constitute itself on its own authority a private council of war, and judge and execute a captured insurgent in five minutes. It was an improvisation of this sort that had slain Jean Prouvaire. Fierce Lynch law, with which no one party had any right to reproach the rest, for it has been applied by the Republic in America, as well as by the monarchy in Europe. This Lynch law was complicated with mistakes.
On one day of rioting, a young poet, named Paul Aime Garnier, was pursued in the Place Royale, with a bayonet at his loins, and only escaped by taking refuge under the porte-cochere of No. Now, he had under his arm a volume of the memoirs of the Duc de Saint-Simon. A National Guard had read the words Saint-Simon on the book, and had shouted: On the 6th of June, , a company of the National Guards from the suburbs, commanded by the Captain Fannicot, above mentioned, had itself decimated in the Rue de la Chanvrerie out of caprice and its own good pleasure.
This fact, singular though it may seem, was proved at the judicial investigation opened in consequence of the insurrection of Captain Fannicot, a bold and impatient bourgeois, a sort of condottiere of the order of those whom we have just characterized, a fanatical and intractable governmentalist, could not resist the temptation to fire prematurely, and the ambition of capturing the barricade alone and unaided, that Page 47 is to say, with his company.
Exasperated by the successive apparition of the red flag and the old coat which he took for the black flag, he loudly blamed the generals and chiefs of the corps, who were holding council and did not think that the moment for the decisive assault had arrived, and who were allowing "the insurrection to fry in its own fat," to use the celebrated expression of one of them.
For his part, he thought the barricade ripe, and as that which is ripe ought to fall, he made the attempt. He commanded men as resolute as himself, "raging fellows," as a witness said. His company, the same which had shot Jean Prouvaire the poet, was the first of the battalion posted at the angle of the street.
At the moment when they were least expecting it, the captain launched his men against the barricade. This movement, executed with more good will than strategy, cost the Fannicot company dear. Before it had traversed two thirds of the street it was received by a general discharge from the barricade. Four, the most audacious, who were running on in front, were mown down point- blank at the very foot of the redoubt, and this courageous throng of National Guards, very brave men but lacking in military tenacity, were forced to fall back, after some hesitation, leaving fifteen corpses on the pavement.
This momentary hesitation gave the insurgents time to re-load their weapons, and a second and very destructive discharge struck the company before it could regain the corner of the street, its shelter. A moment more, and it was caught between two fires, and it received the volley from the battery piece which, not having received the order, had not discontinued its firing.
The intrepid and imprudent Fannicot was one of the dead from this grape-shot. He was killed by the cannon, that is to say, by order. This attack, which was more furious than serious, irritated Enjolras. Enjolras spoke like the real general of insurrection which Page 48 he was. Insurrection and repression do not fight with equal weapons. Insurrection, which is speedily exhausted, has only a certain number of shots to fire and a certain number of combatants to expend.
An empty cartridge-box, a man killed, cannot be replaced. As repression has the army, it does not count its men, and, as it has Vincennes, it does not count its shots. Repression has as many regiments as the barricade has men, and as many arsenals as the barricade has cartridge- boxes. Thus they are struggles of one against a hundred, which always end in crushing the barricade; unless the revolution, uprising suddenly, flings into the balance its flaming archangel's sword. This does happen sometimes.
Then everything rises, the pavements begin to seethe, popular redoubts abound. Paris quivers supremely, the quid divinum is given forth, a 10th of August is in the air, a 29th of July is in the air, a wonderful light appears, the yawning maw of force draws back, and the army, that lion, sees before it, erect and tranquil, that prophet, France. IN the chaos of sentiments and passions which defend a barricade, there is a little of everything; there is bravery, there is youth, honor, enthusiasm, the ideal, conviction, the rage of the gambler, and, above all, intermittences of hope.
One of these intermittences, one of these vague quivers of hope suddenly traversed the barricade of the Rue de la Chanvrerie at the moment when it was least expected. It is certain that, on the morning of the 6th of June, the insurrection broke out afresh for an hour or two, to a certain extent. The obstinacy of the alarm peal of Saint-Merry reanimated some fancies. In front of the Porte Saint-Martin, a young man, armed with a rifle, attacked alone a squadron of cavalry. In plain sight, on the open boulevard, he placed one knee on the ground, shouldered his weapon, fired, killed the commander of the squadron, and turned away, saying: He was put to the sword.
The slats of the blind could be seen to tremble at every shot. A child fourteen years of age was arrested in the Rue de la Cossonerie, with his pockets full of cartridges. Many posts were attacked. At the entrance to the Rue Bertin- Poiree, a very lively and utterly unexpected fusillade welcomed a regiment of cuirrassiers, at whose head marched Marshal General Cavaignac de Barague. In the Rue Planche- Mibray, they threw old pieces of pottery and household utensils down on the soldiers from the roofs; a bad sign; and when this matter was reported to Marshal Soult, Napoleon's old lieutenant grew thoughtful, as he recalled Suchet's saying at Saragossa: These general symptoms which presented themselves at the moment when it was thought that the uprising had been rendered local, this fever of wrath, these sparks which flew hither and thither above those deep masses of combustibles which are called the faubourgs of Paris, -- all this, taken together, disturbed the military chiefs.
They made haste to stamp out these beginnings of conflagration. They delayed the attack on the barricades Maubuee, de la Chanvrerie and Saint-Merry until these sparks had been extinguished, in order that they might have to deal with the barricades only and be able to finish them at one blow. Columns were thrown into the streets where there was fermentation, sweeping the large, sounding the small, right and left, now slowly and cautiously, now at full charge. The troops broke in the doors of houses whence shots had been fired; at Page 50 the same time, manoeuvres by the cavalry dispersed the groups on the boulevards.
This repression was not effected without some commotion, and without that tumultuous uproar peculiar to collisions between the army and the people. This was what Enjolras had caught in the intervals of the cannonade and the musketry. Moreover, he had seen wounded men passing the end of the street in litters, and he said to Courfeyrac: Their hope did not last long; the gleam was quickly eclipsed. In less than half an hour, what was in the air vanished, it was a flash of lightning unaccompanied by thunder, and the insurgents felt that sort of leaden cope, which the indifference of the people casts over obstinate and deserted men, fall over them once more.
The general movement, which seemed to have assumed a vague outline, had miscarried; and the attention of the minister of war and the strategy of the generals could now be concentrated on the three or four barricades which still remained standing. Are we really going to die like this, without anything to eat? Enjolras, who was still leaning on his elbows at his embrasure, made an affirmative sign with his head, but without taking his eyes from the end of the street. That's not thunder, it's a cough. Courfeyrac and Bossuet, whose brave good humor increased with the peril, like Madame Scarron, replaced nourishment with pleasantry, and, as wine was lacking, they poured out gayety to all.
He lives alone, which renders him a little sad, perhaps; Enjolras complains of his greatness, which binds him to widowhood. The rest of us have mistresses, more or less, who make us crazy, that is to say, brave. When a man is as much in love as a tiger, the least that he can do is to fight like a lion. That is one way of taking our revenge for the capers that mesdames our grisettes play on us. Roland gets himself killed for Angelique; all our heroism comes from our women. A man without a woman is a pistol without a trigger; it is the woman that sets the man off.
Well, Enjolras has no woman. He is not in love, and yet he manages to be intrepid. It is a thing unheard of that a man should be as cold as ice and as bold as fire. Enjolras did not appear to be listening, but had any one been near him, that person would have heard him mutter in a low voice: In fact, a new personage had entered on the scene.
This was a second piece of ordnance. The artillery-men rapidly performed their manoeuvres in force and placed this second piece in line with the first. A few minutes later, the two pieces, rapidly served, were firing point-blank at the redoubt; the platoon firing of the Page 52 line and of the soldiers from the suburbs sustained the artillery.
Another cannonade was audible at some distance. At the same time that the two guns were furiously attacking the redoubt from the Rue de la Chanvrerie, two other cannons, trained one from the Rue Saint-Denis, the other from the Rue Aubry-le-Boucher, were riddling the Saint-Merry barricade. This novel is a congery of appallingly funny, logical, logistical, and mortal horrors. Part science fiction, part war story, this is the story of Billy Pilgrim, a former World War II prisoner of war who survived the firebombing of Dresden, as did Vonnegut himself.
Written at the height of the Vietnam War, this muscular satire reveals the absurdity and brutality of modern war. The poem extends our understanding of Christian myth in lush and challenging language. Like Achilles and Odysseus before him, Aeneas makes sacrifices for friendship and descends into the world of the dead, but he never finds peace or a true home. Aeneas does find support and love from the Queen of Carthage, Dido, but he flees in the night, abandoning her to suicide, overthrowing comfort and home to remain true to his quest and the spell of the gods to found the city of Rome.
Hans Castorp visits his cousin at a sanatorium in the mountains of Switzerland. Soon he too becomes ill maybe and checks into the hospital—for seven years. A meditation on time, an inquiry into how life ought to be lived, and an unflinching look at evil, Mann considered the ideas in his monumental novel so challenging that he said it must be read at least twice.
Whitman spent half his life writing, revising, and republishing this collection, which is, at heart, a love song to the idea of America. At first glance, the people Eudora Welty usually writes about seem unremarkable, as are the mostly Mississippi towns, cities, and countryside they live in.
Through them you enter the realm of the extraordinary, as revealed in the commonplace. There is plenty of high comedy. Few authors can match her eye for the incongruous, the hilarious response, the bemused quality of the way her people go about their lives. There is also pathos, veering sometimes into tragedy, and beyond that, awareness of what is unknowable and inscrutable. Her most stunning fiction is the group of interconnected stories published in as The Golden Apples.
These center on the citizenry of Morgana, Mississippi, over the course of some four decades. The dialogue her characters talk at rather than to one another , the shading of Greek mythology and W. Bulgakov reshaped his experience of Stalinist censorship into a surreal fable featuring three characters: While returning home, John Harmon appears to be murdered. He survives and goes undercover. Clever coincidences and revelations follow in this novel notable for its wickedly funny treatment of middle-class society.
Now in old age, Stevens faces a sense of loss without the emotional acuity to comprehend it. Like planets moving across the sky—always the same yet always changing—this sumptuously written novel follows the lives of two orphaned sisters who leave Australia in the s to begin new lives in England.
While Grace turns to marriage for a safe transit through life, Caro charts a riskier course, one that brings her love and betrayal over the decades. The Big Chill meets the Black Death when a group of seven women and three men leave Florence to escape the plague of Have you heard the one about the monk who seduced a woman by claiming to be the angel Gabriel?
The political satire throbs with urgency, but Dostoevsky raises this work to the level of art through rich characterizations of his combative principals: In her protagonist, Macon Dead, Morrison created one of her greatest characters, and his reluctant coming of age becomes a comic, mythic, eloquent analysis of self-knowledge and community—how those things can save us, and what happens when they do not.
A master of the small epiphany, the moment of clarity, Alice Munro writes of men and women who struggle to reconcile the lives they have made with their sometimes confused longings. Though this novel is semiautobiographical, Stead transforms personal revenge against her own outsized father into revelation. Opening The Charterhouse of Parma is like stepping into the path of a benevolent cyclone that will pick you up and set you down, gently but firmly, somewhere else.
Stendhal marks the boundaries of the more traditional nineteenth-century novel, and then proceeds to explode them. The result is a huge canvas on which every detail is painted with astonishing realism and psychological verisimilitude. One can only imagine how Tolstoy would have punished Gina, who is not only among the most memorable women in literature, but who is also scheming, casually adulterous, and madly in love with her own nephew.
Each time I finish the book, I feel as if the world has been washed clean and polished while I was reading, and as if everything around me is shining a little more brightly. An old man recalls a story of murder and adultery in his childhood Illinois town, and how he came to betray the friend who witnessed them. Instead, this beautifully elegiac novel offers an unsentimental paean to the prairie, to domesticity, and to memory itself. Grounded in their relationship, this rueful modernist epic dissects the intricacies of Edwardian England and the forces unleashed by World War I that would, inevitably and necessarily, slay that genteel world.
Instead Tess suffers cruel mistreatment and becomes pregnant. Love and war, childhood and adolescence, and initiation and experience are recurring themes in these journalistically spare, often autobiographical stories. This is an antihero for whom readers will find themselves cheering. In Becky Sharp, we find one of the most delicious heroines of all time. Sexy, resourceful, and duplicitous, Becky schemes her way through society, always with an eye toward catching a richer man. Cynical Thackeray, whose cutting portraits of society are hilarious, resists the usual punishments doled out to bad Victorian women and allows that the vain may find as much happiness in their success as the good do in their virtue.
Lisbeth Bette Fischer, a seamstress for the demimonde of actresses and courtesans and the poor relation of Baron Hulot, has a secret: Bette then unleashes an underhanded stratagem dictated by her implacably vengeful heart: Scary and psychologically acute. Byron was a gentleman, a womanizer, a cad, and a liberator. He poured a lifetime of observations into this seventeen canto poem. Thus Byron transformed his greatest masterpiece—his life—into art. Beautiful and high-spirited Janie Crawford wants love and adventure. But, as Hurston shows in her finest novel, living in an all-black town is no shield against the sexism that dictates her young life.
Forced to marry one controlling old geezer, she deserts him only to end up with another. When she marries Tea Cake, Janie finally enjoys the essence of a true relationship. Her happiness is short-lived when disaster strikes, but it becomes the catalyst for ultimate self-discovery. PCle 8 ED The few survivors, spread out across the barren United States, are visited in their dreams by a kindly old woman in Nebraska and a sinister man in the West. They begin making their way toward these separate camps for what will prove to be a last stand between the forces of good and evil.
DFW 9 JW 9. Through the services of his two servants, the base Caliban, to whom the island had originally belonged, and the sprite Ariel, Prospero exacts revenge upon his stranded enemies while engineering the marriage of his daughter to a young nobleman. A collection of short stories about the inhabitants of a town whose physical isolation mirrors their psychological distance.
With compassion and sadness, Anderson evokes small-town life and thought through a wide range of characters who are not visited by any tragedies save their own inability to forge a bit of happiness in their lives of quiet desperation. This rollicking yet existential adventure with deep religious undertones begins with fatherly advice: But the wastrel son denies his father because he is tempted by the sea. This salty path gets young Robinson kidnapped by Moorish pirates, sold into slavery, and shipwrecked on a remote island filled with cannibals.
JC 7 AG The form of this novel, about two Native American families, reenacts that of a traditional Chippewa Indian story cycle—fourteen stories told by seven characters, forming a collage that forces the reader to sift through and weigh voice against voice, truth against truth. Squire Allworthy provides a loving home to his bad nephew Blifil and the bastard orphan Tom.
Lusty Tom is sent away after an affair with a local girl whom Blifil desires, and he begins his picaresque adventures on the way to London, including love affairs, duels, and imprisonment. Comic, ribald, and highly entertaining, Tom Jones reminds us just how rowdy the eighteenth century got before the nineteenth came and stopped the fun. This long epistolary novel—full of sexual tension, violence, and psychic conflict—tells the tale of the virtuous Clarissa Harlowe and her rakish suitor, Robert Lovelace.
Disowned by her family, confined in a brothel and raped, Clarissa pays a high price for her morality. Yet she accepts her fate with a moving acceptance in this landmark of English realistic fiction. EDon 10 VV 7. Caught up in the web of old New York society, Lily Bart angles for a wealthy husband. Though presented with ample opportunity, the beautiful and well-connected Lily rejects one man after another as not rich enough, including her true love, Laurence Stern.
When she becomes a hapless victim of her own ambition—blackmailed and wrongly accused of adultery—Lily is cast out of high society before making one final attempt to redeem herself. Simultaneously philosophical and nightmarish, this collection of short stories, parables, and essays popularized both Latin American magic realism as well as metafiction. Borges, a blind Argentine librarian and polymath, here provides almost mathematically concise miniatures—of a man who remembers literally everything, for instance—that read like episodes of The Twilight Zone as written by a metaphysician.
Bridge and Mr. Bridge by Evan S. This his and hers pairing, like twinned guest towels, reveals dirty fingerprints on the underside of a tidy looking s Midwestern, middle-class marriage. The novels, set a decade apart, reveal two dimensions of the troubled family, which includes three children.
He squanders what little money he earns. All he desires is literary glory, so that even when he nearly drowns, he thinks: His stories range from the slightest fragments, parables, and epigrams to the novella-length classic, The Metamorphosis. JCO 6 APhil In this landscape, Winston Smith is a man in danger simply because his memory works. Gulliver towers over six-inch Lilliputians and cowers under the giants in Brobdingnag.
He witnesses a flying island and a country where horses are civilized and people are brutes. Lou Ford is the boy next door—a deputy sheriff in his Texas hometown. ABrav 7 WK 9. There was a copy in the library of my Scottish school; after all, the novel sold 40, copies in , the year it was published.
I finally succumbed only a few years ago at the urging of a dear friend. Some books, much lauded on publication, rapidly gather dust, but luckily for me The Fountain Overflows remains as lustrous and passionate as when West penned the last page. The novel tells the story of the Aubrey family living in Edwardian London. Aubrey is a charismatic and unreliable journalist; Mrs. Aubrey, a former pianist, is an awkward woman of immense moral intelligence.
Around these two orbit the Aubrey children: The story is told by Rose. A man comes to complain to Mrs. Aubrey about her husband having an affair with his wife. After she has done her best to cheer him up, Mrs. Aubrey takes refuge in Madame Bovary and, by the time her husband arrives home, is absorbed in the novel. Together they praise and criticize Flaubert. Only then does she recall what brought herto pick up the novel in the first place. Some art is much more real than some life, I mean. And this is exactly how I feel about The Fountain Overflows; it is more real, and more pleasurable, than most life.
ML 7 DMcF 9. Martin Scorsese called his movie of this novel the most violent film he had made—quite a statement from the director of Raging Bull. Starting with the real-life psychiatric treatment of poet and British officer Sigfried Sassoon for shellshock, Barker shows how the war ruined but failed to replace nineteenth-century norms of gender, class, sexuality, and honor.
DMcF 6 AWald 9. SA 8 JCO 7. DMcF 8 TP 7. But as his world narrows and he must make life or death choices, his life becomes a complicated display of salvation. The story of star-crossed Veronese lovers, this early romantic tragedy painfully depicts the fatal course of young lovers ruined by circumstances beyond their control, belonging as they do to two families who hate each other for long forgotten reasons. The intense violence at the heart of the play is matched only by the intense passion of Romeo and Juliet, who pay the ultimate price for the brief, intense, and pure love they shared.
Built mosaic-like from many intimate, seemingly inconsequential encounters and scenes, the narrative moves with the pace, prismatic glitter, and cumulative force of a glacier, sweeping along sex, art, business, politics, and values in its wake. To find out if there was still copper underground and how much the rest of it was true, the width of the sky, the depth of the stars, the air like new wine, the harsh noons and long, slow dusks. SC 8 KHarr 6. Chilling and absurd, teeming with black comedy and dark insights into the human soul, The Tin Drum is both an artistic triumph and an act of reclamation.
- Ready to rock ! (Wiz) (French Edition)?
- GABON - viaggi e pensieri (SeBookGO Vol. 3) (Italian Edition).
Two French missionaries come to the vast and untamed deserts of New Mexico in Through a series of often symbolic stories about their shared and personal experiences over forty years, Cather depicts both vanished landscapes and timeless themes of faith, loneliness, and our relationships with one another and the natural world. Ingratiating Uriah Heep, talented Mr.
Micawber, devoted nurse Peggoty, and willing Barkis are some of the most memorable characters in the entire Dickens canon. KHarr 7 JI 6. Ambitious farm girl Carrie Meeber comes to Chicago, gaining the favor of a wealthy bar manager named Hurstwood to avoid the sweatshops. The smitten man ditches his family, absconds with company funds, and moves to New York with Carrie. Beginning with his first trip at age ten, we watch him master the art of hunting, learning the ways of men and the woods.
RBP 10 ST 3. In her epic fusion of structural experiment and exhaustive realism, Lessing lays bare the splintered state of modern womanhood. In four separate notebooks, Anna Wulf records different aspects of her life: MD 3 JE Like an existential sadist, Sophocles explores the tragic complexities of fate by hurling his characters into situations in which they are simultaneously guilty and innocent, forced to choose between right and right or wrong and wrong—or some painfully imprecise combination of the two.
In Oedipus the King, Oedipus is desperate to escape his fate—that he will murder his father and marry his mother—yet inexorably fulfills it with devastating effect. In Oedipus at Colonus, the blind, self-exiled ruler moves toward faith and goodness as his sons battle for his throne. In the third play, Antigone, his loving and upright daughter is forced to choose with climactic consequence between equally worthy goals as Sophocles depicts our struggles to explain a world we can scarcely comprehend.
SMK 4 AW 9. Still, they produce twin boys, but Cathy, driven by undeniable demons, forsakes the newborns for her old life. Adam tells his rivalrous sons—Caleb, the bad penny, and sweet Aron—their mother is dead. MB 7 GDG 6. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson This novel might easily have become a victim of its own surpassing fame, which has removed all suspense from its central riddle: What is the relationship between Dr.
Yet as our narrator plumbs Dr. ALK 9 IR 4. Trying to avoid the conformity of their suburban neighbors on Revolutionary Road, Frank and April Wheeler talk of moving to France where Frank might write the great book or think the great thoughts April believes he is capable of.
However, infidelity and alcohol abuse dissolve their dreams as Frank and April lose faith in each other and themselves in this exquisitely painful novel. The golden age of comics and the Holocaust power this Pulitzer Prize—winning saga about two Jewish cousins in Brooklyn who create the Nazi-bashing superhero, the Escapist.
Through the tragic, comic, often superhuman adventures of Joe Kavalier—a refugee determined to rescue the relatives he left behind in Nazi-controlled Czechoslovakia—and Sammy Clay, Chabon weaves a lyrical and magical tale about war and mysticism; the connections between love, fear, hope, and art; and the nature of escape. He is a man of ideas; she is an egotistical, spoiled girl.
Can Daniel redeem her? Another character who needs saving is Mirah Cohen, yet through her, Daniel finds a form of salvation by discovering his hidden Jewish heritage in this novel that exposes the deeply rooted anti-Semitism of Victorian England. After the enraged widow rejects him, he redoubles his efforts. Set on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, this wise, steamy, and playful novel jumps between past and present, encompassing decades of unrest and war, recurring cholera epidemics, and the environmental ravages of development.
In this, the third book of The Chronicles of Narnia, King Caspian sets sail to the end of the world to rescue the seven lost lords of Narnia. Along with three English children—who have come to Narnia this time by stepping into a painting—and other companions such as the brave, sword-wielding mouse Reepicheep, Caspian has numerous adventures that resonate with Christian and classical mythology. LG 4 LMill 8. The son of a Russian aristocrat who was assassinated for his belief in democracy, Nabokov had a preposterously privileged childhood, including teams of governesses and servants and sojourns along the Riviera.
When the Bolsheviks arrived, the family was forced to flee amid a hail of bullets. Later, as a student at Cambridge, Nabokov confronted those who romanticized the politics that exiled him. AG 7 AWald 5. The man Brendan Gill credited with inventing The New Yorker short story also wrote nicely observed novels of cynical slumming and sexual frankness.
Appointment in Samarra relates the long weekend in which a Cadillac dealer gleefully destroys his life; BUtterfield 8 follows a cheap-date actress through the ferocious demimonde of speakeasy New York. JGil 4 MM 8. Middle-aged Lambert Strethers is sent to Paris to retrieve a young American whose wealthy parents fear he has taken up with an inappropriate woman, but Strethers sees that the young man is truly happy. Salinger gave his story collection the title Nine Stories, and that simple, enumerative title is just right, for the stories can be counted off like beads on a string: The pitch-perfect voices Salinger provides his characters make their dead-serious search for meaning taste like candy.
It is, instead, an examination of Roman Catholic faith as it is used, abused, embraced, and rejected by the Flytes, an aristocratic English family visited by alcoholism, adultery, and homoeroticism. Set in Chicago in the s, this novel tells the story of Bigger Thomas, an African American twisted and trapped by penury and racism. In this highly charged, deeply influential novel, Wright portrays a black man squeezed by crushing circumstances who comes to understand his own identity. BMC 9 KK 2. The two discuss the true self that is not destroyed in death and states of release from the human realm of suffering.
As a cornerstone of Hindu faith and yogic philosophy, the Bhagavadgita has had a profound impact on philosophical and religious traditions in both the East and West. Stories by Lee K. One day in August a man disappeared. The man was an entomologist and had set out into the desert with a canteen of water and a pack filled with the tools he used to collect specimens. It was his hope to discover an as yet unknown species of insect that lived in the sand dunes. Were he to find one, then he would be promised a kind of immortality: Shifting sands, isolation, a quixotic attempt to defy mortal limits: Abe, trained as a medical doctor, writes as a clinician, dispassionately and with exactitude.
In the dunes his hero, Niki Jumpei, falls captive to the enigmatic woman from whom he seeks shelter for a night. Every day Jumpei must join the inhabitants in their necessary work: The Woman in the Dunes transcends the form of allegory—often lifeless and didactic—to engage its readers to the point of discomfort. Two years before Nigeria won its independence from Britain, Achebe published this clear-eyed novel set in the years leading up to colonial rule. Loosely based on the life of Cambridge spy Anthony F. Irishman and Englishman, lover of women and men, betrayer and betrayed. Snappy puns, clever palindromes, stream of consciousness insights, and brilliant non sequiturs fill the dialogue bubbles of this surreal collection of comic strips that chronicle the epistemological adventures of a faceless baby named Leviathan, his wise pet Cat, and his favorite toy Bunny.
Sigmund Freud, Emily Dickinson, and St. Also a poet, Brand wrote sensitively about mental illness when the topic was still taboo. Bitchiness, bile, and sexual braggadocio vie in this gossipy, literary vivisection of high society. Cartmell and Charles Grayson At that time I only had four dollars, and spending over half of it on one book, even a hardcover, was a tough decision.
Yet the house, a symbol of the past, keeps beckoning Godfrey St. Peter, a professor in his mid-fifties whose outward success at work and home mask a passionless heart. But it had never occurred to him that he might have to live like that. PCam 9 ES 1. A terribly shocking book in its day, The Awakening tells the story of an artistic, twenty-eight-year-old New Orleans woman who finds life with her husband and two children unfulfilling. On summer holiday, she has an affair with a younger man. Revived, she leaves her family. But her happiness is short lived as she is punished by a society that has little tolerance for such independent women.
Fifty-two years old and twice divorced, Professor David Lurie thought the affair with his student might bring passion back to his life. Instead, it costs him his job and his friends when he refuses to repent his sin. But his tranquil oasis is shattered by racial violence in this uncompromising novel by the South African Nobel laureate. A magistrate for an unspecified empire finds himself thrust into a growing conflict on the frontier. Clyde Griffiths wants to be more than just the son of a Midwestern preacher. Leaving home, he follows a path toward the American Dream that is littered with greed, adultery, and hypocrisy.
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In this disquieting social novel, Clyde faces a moral dilemma that reveals the corruption of his soul and the materialistic culture that seduces him. BMC 2 EF 8. In this wild, oddball novel, Lily and Art Binewski purposely create a family of freaks and geeks by procreating under the influence of experimental drugs. This formally unique, dense, National Book Award—winning novel is composed almost entirely of dialogue and reads like a stream of conversation. Here is everything you could want in a novel about ancient Rome: It is soap opera on an epic scale, dramatizing the fall of Roman republican ideals.
Barry Hannah can make readers laugh about the grimmest subject while never for a second losing sight of the essential horror. In this story collection, the Mississippi writer creates a cast of scarred, hyperkinetic characters—including a Confederate soldier recalling the tragedy and glory of war to a contemporary man obsessed with his estranged wife—who are stumbling toward illumination.
Great chess players used to test their skills by playing several matches at once. James examines one of his signature themes—the terrible vulnerability of love to betrayal—in this vertiginous, psychologically acute work. TM 4 RPri 6. This sexually ambiguous, daring archaeologist fascinates us for the same reason we still read The Iliad: Henrik, a nobleman of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Konrad, a humble man with ambition, became best friends in military school. Then, one night, their relationship ruptured.
Forty-one years pass until they meet again before the embers of a fading fire, where they probe their relationship and their lives. His Masquerade by Herman Melville Truth, trust, and hope serve as plot and protagonist in this often comic, philosophical novel that anticipated postmodernism by a century.
Many sagas novels have been written about the Civil War and its aftermath. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of love and war creates haunting scenes and thrilling portraits of remarkably vivid characters. Through the white-shouldered, irresistible Scarlett and the flashy, contemptuous Rhett, Mitchell not only conveyed a timeless story of survival under the harshest of circumstances, she also created two of the most famous lovers in the English-speaking world since Romeo and Juliet.
The Third Policeman is that rare and lovely thing—a truly hallucinatory novel, shot through with fierce logic and intellectual rigor. It is a lyrical, amoral, funny nightmare: His sins grow with him, making a logical progression from book theft to burglary and murder—all this against a heightened version of poor, rural Ireland: He then stumbles into a potentially fatal alternative reality: And there is always the dark humor that both excuses and condemns us.
His imprisonment and threatened execution seem even more troubling because they are nonsensical, perhaps even kind. Slowly it becomes clear that, among other things, this novel is about hell—a much-deserved, amusing, irrational, and entirely inescapable hell. Beyond this, The Third Policeman is genuinely indescribable: Which will be the truth. ALK 8 AO 2. The Nobel Prize—winning master of menacing understatement subtly links exfoliating, abstract power struggles with banal domestic situations in two of his finest plays. The interrogation and abduction of a helpless and perhaps guiltless tenant makes The Birthday Party simultaneously celebrated as an ironic mockery of the phenomena of survival and continuity.
The result is opaque, disturbing, enthralling drama. The author uses a stream of consciousness technique to describe the fraught experiences and often choked-off feelings of a Spanish shopkeeper during the s and s as her nation becomes gripped by civil war and fascism. The play has a kind of baroque richness to both plot and language as Antony and Cleopatra delight in seclusion while the Roman forces opposing them, led by the sober and ambitious Octavius Caesar, close in on the lovers.
Cornered, the emperor and queen bring the play to a suicidal climax that exquisitely fuses sexual pleasure and death. Serialized during wartime, this epic novel chronicles the decline of the Osaka family and the transformation of traditional Japanese society. As their fortunes wither, elder sisters Tsuruko and Sachiko try to preserve the family name and marry off the talented, sensitive Yukiko.
Tanizaki uses detailed descriptions of Japanese traditions, such as the tea ceremony, to underscore their fleetingness in an era of rapid modernization. The desperate alcoholism of Gervaise Lantier and her husband held a mirror to the shocking moral condition of the urban poor. Nana is a low-born courtesan who succeeds among the French elite.
Zola meant his heroine to represent the corruption of the Second Empire under the twin stresses of hedonism and capitalism. But like some uncontrollable genie uncorked from a bottle, she becomes the greatest femme fatale since Helen of Troy. The most explicit of the classic nineteenth-century novels, Nana exists in the vital midpoint between Anna Karenina and Valley of the Dolls.
Though their origins are vague—Aesop may have been born a slave in Asia Minor in b. Its core narrative relates the clashes between two groups of royal Indian cousins—one descended from gods, the other from demons. War, disguises, asceticism, drunken brawls, and the god Dharma as a dog swirl through this magical panorama of ancient India, which also includes the famous sermon Bhagavadgita, the Hindu equivalent to the New Testament. In The American Dream he lambasts that concept in a one-act farce featuring an over-the-top dysfunctional family and a murder.
In The Zoo Story, a psychotic loner cannily provokes a complacent bourgeois into killing him. A profound story of Christian faith constructed of the thoughts, half-thoughts, jottings, and observations, the joys and disappointments, of a priest in provincial France. The protagonist suffers through the novel—he is a martyr to a dark, often wicked world. But as he declines, the grace he receives builds. One of the great critiques of Victorian society and morality, this autobiographical novel charts the Pontifex family over several generations.
In conversations with a chance acquaintance, a once-successful Paris lawyer recounts his fall into psychological self-destruction after ignoring a woman drowning in the Seine. Ultimately, this existential antihero persuades himself that all good works are motivated by self-interest, all virtue merely a ploy for success or popularity.
With no hope of redemption, he descends into debauchery and profligacy, impatient for the relative simplicity of death. Dermout was sixty-seven years old when she debuted with this semiautobiographical novel about a Dutch woman named Felicia raising her son in the Spice Islands of Indonesia. Her love of life and nature is challenged by violence and murder that bring sadness and summon the courage of resilience.
Myshkin a scarcely disguised self-portrait of the author tries again and again to help the people he encounters, only to have his efforts mocked or misunderstood. On the surface a love story, the novel is a contemplation of goodness in the world, and while its conclusions are dark, the portrait of this simple, good man endures. LShriv 3 BU 6. His stories are shot through with brutal violence and alcohol, characters whoalternate between sanctity and transgression, and tough moral choices.
Familial duty has seldom been so sadly rendered, and Eliot drew much from her own childhood in creating Maggie Tulliver and her self-righteous brother Tom. Passionate Maggie gives up her lover out of propriety and deference to Tom, but the character was thought so wicked that many nineteenth-century girls were forbidden to read this book. Despite having lived with a married man herself, Eliot dealt Maggie a harsh fate. What would you do if the man who promised you love, children, and a throne, after convincing you to slay your brother and exile yourself from your home, decided to marry a richer woman instead?
That she is not punished for this deed is a stunning conclusion to this riveting play. The title poem is considered the signature poem of the Beat generation. What can be seen as a manifesto against the conformist society of America in the s can also be read as a love poem for the promising idea of America. In a fleabag Scottish motel, divorced and depressed, Jock McLeish once again seeks consolation and strength through massive doses of alcohol and sadomasochistic sexual fantasies some starring a woman named Janine.
Through frank, complex language Gray takes us inside the addled mind of a powerless man seeking to impose some control over his life. In the first chapter Michael Henchard sells his wife and child at a country fair. When he meets his forsaken wife Susan and daughter Elizabeth-Jane years later, he is no longer a drunken hay-trusser but mayor of his town.
Henchard has improved his position in life but not his disposition, and this tragedy of misplaced pride, torturous guilt, and immense bitterness is vintage Hardy. Nick Guest is a young gay man desperate for love, the son of a modest antiques dealer who wants to climb the social ladder. The original desperate housewife, pampered Nora Helmer commits forgery for the money she needs to take her sick husband on a lifesaving trip. When her husband discovers her deceit, he is appalled.
A brilliant literary colorist, adept with rich jewel tones, earthy pigments, and deep chiaroscuro alike, Mann recalls the Dutch Masters in his painterly command of bourgeois interiors and intimate domestic scenes. In equally lucid detail, often with tongue in cheek, he probes the psychological depths of his characters as they follow the arc from Enlightenment vigor to Romantic decadence in this sprawling family saga bristling with comedy and pathos. Mann probes the complex tensions between aesthetics and morality, culture and politics, in his trademark dense, precise, endlessly qualified prose.
JB 7 RPri 2. Tartuffe, for example, the Christian hypocrite who attempts to seduce a young virgin, inhabits the same plane of immortality as Falstaff or Don Quixote. A novel built from a strictly limited construction—the description of one single moment in a Paris apartment building—blossoms into an encyclopedia of stories and life spanning centuries, the globe, the history of literature. A moving, humane novel composed of implausible, even impossible parts. Published in , Life is infinitely entertaining, but it also can change how you see your surroundings; the wall between novel and world leaks.
If Perec can imagine four paintings and their histories reproduced inside yet another painting, and the wallpaper against which that work hangs, and the life of the man who selected the wallpaper, then suddenly the world outside the book more proudly displays its own wondrous plumage, imagined by some creator even more ingenious than Perec. Joe Hackett wanted to be a saint. Her peculiar genius is to make these unpromising creatures the centerpieces of her work. PCam 4 CS 5. KHarr 2 AWald 7. Henry thus construed is a great national hero.
But the play actually subverts, or at least compromises, such a reading. We see Henry collude with the church to prosecute a vicious campaign for nationalistic, rather than necessary, reasons. The brave king broods on the burdens of kingship and the righteousness of his cause, but then casually orders the slaughter of French prisoners. The epilogue looks forward to the reign of Henry VI, who lost all that Henry V gained and more, as if to question the worth of all this killing. Othello centers on the black general of the Venetian army and his white wife, Desdemona, daughter of a Venetian senator.
A brave and successful warrior essential to the security of Venice, Othello is extremely susceptible to jealousy, a weakness exploited by the villain Iago, whom Othello passes over for a lieutenancy in favor of another. Young John Hawkins was told to beware a man with one leg. But after discovering a treasure map, he acquires a ship and hires—you guessed it—one-legged Long John Silver to cook for his ship and hire the crew, a band of villainous pirates.
After writing this thrilling tale of adventure for his stepson, Stevenson remarked: In beautiful, perceptive prose suggestive of its subject, this novel brings readers inside the conflicted mind and soul of Henry James. Set between and , when a mid-career James was reassessing his life, the novel flows with memories of his youth and accomplished family members.
What emerges is the portrait of a man determined to avoid complications—especially those posed by homosexuality; who wrestles with his need to turn his life into art, and his desire to push away life so he can create his art. DMcF 4 AS 5. The energy of the Icelandic sagas blends with an immensely detailed panorama of fourteenth-century life. Hollywood is not alluring in this savage, apocalyptic novel about fame and its perversions.
Painter Tod Hackett comes to Hollywood to design sets and find success. Instead, he finds a population of the physically and psychically maimed crouching at the edges of the film industry, desperately believing that only luck and time separate them from stardom. At the end, their disappointment explodes into violence and Tod sums up his despair with his single great painting: The Burning of Los Angeles.
Set in the once working-class French Quarter of New Orleans, Williams tells the story of Blanche DuBois, an alcoholic relic of the waning genteel South, and her brother-in-law, the sensuous working-class brute Stanley Kowalski. Their mutual attraction and repulsion drive the conflict in this sexually frank, lyrical melodrama about the boundaries between illusion and reality and the changing South.
The tension becomes almost unbearable as Rastignac wrestles with his conscience and readers confront Vautrin, whose contempt for conventional morality prefigures every existential hero since. The first great love story in English, this epic poem tells the story of what befell two lovers, Criseyde and Troilus, during the Trojan war. Criseyde is a stunner: Her pledge of eternal fidelity to Troilus is broken when she is seduced by the Greek warrior Diomedes.
Is she a tramp or a victim of circumstances? Happily married with one child, Eliot Nailles is a chemist working to make better mouthwash. Chekhov helped transform the theater through his pioneering use of indirect action—the gunshot fired offstage—and his ability to develop themes not just through dialogue but by creating a mood or atmosphere on stage. He was also a master of characterization.
These skills are apparent in this wonderfully complex play, set on an estate in nineteenth-century Russia, which details the relationships among family members who look back on their lives with regret. A retarded, nearly mute, harelipped man goes native in a South Africa torn by civil war, living off the land before being picked up and passed among institutions. Michael K is caught in a fundamental life trap, embodying both the yearning to be free of language and politics and the impossibility of doing so. However, Jim violates the code one life-defining night when, in a panic, he abandons his sinking ship while the passengers sleep.
Often now misread as a condemnation of terrorism, The Secret Agent is really an ironic critique of abstract ideology and careerist bureaucracy—both forces that use and crush the individual. Instead he hits Mary Dempster, who soon gives birth, prematurely, to a boy with birth defects. In the humorless martinet Gradgrind, who preaches and practices uncompromising logic and efficiency, Dickens lampoons the soulless utilitarianism of Victorian philosopher John Stuart Mill.
Here she uses Anthony Keating, a former BBC official turned failed real estate developer, to explore the gloomy interregnum between the go-go s and the more seriously materialistic Thatcher era, when the cozy values of old England were growing increasingly shabby without any new values to replace them. Dionysus seduces Pentheus into witnessing a Bacchanalian orgy, where he is torn to pieces by the revelers, including his own mother. The comic trouble starts when a naive footman rejects the advances of his employer, Lady Booby, and her servant, Slipslop. Like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, the world rewards their goodness with violent complication.
The year is and, it seems, reason is finally giving the heave-ho to faith. Though he has made a pledge of celibacy, he is now in love and so must puzzle the questions of chaos and order, fate, chance, and the wonders of the soul in this funny, sharp novel of ideas. Here, Glasgow depicts the declining fortunes of two tradition-bound Virginia families, the Archibalds and the Birdsongs.
Through young Jenny Blair Archibald, she represents the possibility of feminine independence in this penetrating account of southerners being forced into the modern era. In this bleak but moving novel, class barriers stymie Jude, a self-educated stonemason and would-be scholar, while convention damns his lover Sue, a pagan protofeminist. TM 6 LShriv 2. Imitation is the most annoying form of flattery for archfiend Dr. Hannibal Lecter in this terrifying predecessor to The Silence of the Lambs.
Red Dragon describes the original capture of cannibalistic serial killer Lecter and his subsequent indignation on hearing that another monster is imitating his sadistic methods. Harris skillfully leaves open who is manipulating whom when Lecter agrees to help the FBI track down the copycat, who matches Lecter eye for eye—literally. Set before and during World War II, Shining Through mixes romance with espionage as a poor girl from Queens marries the most handsome lawyer on Wall Street and eventually is sent on a secret mission to wartime Berlin.
After a nuclear war devastates the planet, residents of what had been the Florida Keys try to rebuild their lives and communities in a landscape where shards from the obliterated past—religious stories, Jimi Hendrix records, parking decks—remain but are barely understood. Gregor is not dreaming; he really has become a bug who hides under the sofa to keep from horrifying his mother, and who is pummeled with apples and cursed by his father.
The strange magic of the story is the way Kafka sustains our empathy with this creature, such that the bizarre and claustrophobic scenes intensify, and even haunt, our awareness of human vulnerability. A pastiche that deliberately recalls the narrative games of Tristram Shandy, this novel uses seven thematically linked tales as well as forays into philosophy, musicology, literary criticism, and autobiography to explore the permeable borders between Eastern and Western Europe, eroticism and banal libertinism, and the public versus the private, which Kundera sees as the shrinking, doomed cradle of civilization.
It shows the planning and politics of the insurrection, the street battles that accompanied it, and the successful, remorselessly cruel nationalist counterattack the nationalist general throws captured communists in the furnaces of a train. When the book was published in , the Chinese revolution looked kaput. When the communists triumphed in , it seemed prophetic. Like a late nineteenth-century Tom Wolfe, Maupassant reveals the codes and rivalries of social success by chronicling the rise of Georges Duroy, a handsome, down on his heels ex-soldier. Georges rewards his friend by coveting his wife, Madeleine, a smart, energetic free spirit who seems like Madame Bovary—after successful therapy.
When her husband dies, Georges proposes literally over his corpse. But soon he is looking even higher. Seeking escape, Norwood decides to find an old Marine buddy who owes him seventy dollars. His trip to Manhattan and then Memphis is filled with quirky characters a midget, an educated chicken , strange situations, and homespun wisdom: After terrorists blow up their plane, two Indian actors fall from the sky.
When they land, one has a halo, the other horns. This lush, lyric, sensual, and surreal novel then follows two main interrelated plots that skate along the blurry lines between good and evil, love and betrayal, knowledge and ignorance. The tension mounts when Moreau learns his adversary hopes to wed his beloved. During decades of travels through Europe, a nameless architectural historian accidentally keeps meeting Austerlitz, a neurasthenic architect who is incrementally confronting his buried connection to the Holocaust. Incantatory and almost vertiginous in its repetitiveness, this one-paragraph novel depicts the struggle of a personal narrative to melt the frozen memory of collective trauma.
This parable about the parent—child bond features an apple tree that gives and gives and a boy who takes and takes. As the boy matures, his needs become harder to meet. But the tree never fails, ultimately sacrificing life and limb. Comic and tragic, the story moves with symphonic grace toward its final denouement. These beautifully structured stories are vast in range, moving from supernatural tales to historical stories of love. Tagore, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in , is especially good at portraying the little moments of daily life and creating vivid characters—often the poor and dispossessed in his native India—that continue to haunt us.
Tom even manages to eavesdrop on his own funeral. The way he convinces his friends to pay him for the privilege of whitewashing his fence proves that he is a trickster for the ages. And white lies are even more complicated, as two young Englishmen of leisure learn when they try to avoid undesirable social obligations by claiming their noble services are required by needy and imaginary friends. This searing story of two sisters, both destined for unhappiness, and their unfolding lives, is riveting.
The novel follows the sisters, children of divorce, over four decades. Sarah settles into an unhappy marriage while Emily is torn by one love affair after another, and her burgeoning job success begins to fade out along with her romantic prospects. The ending, as Emily begins her slow spiral down is shocking and somehow inevitable. Gorgeously written, this book deserves to find a new audience. These tales of medieval chivalry, romance, and high adventure composed primarily from the twelfth through fifteenth centuries feature a host of iconic characters: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy: Readers get their pick of heroines: Cared for by their saintly mother, Marmee, while their father is away fighting in the Civil War, the sisters get into scrapes, go on larks, find love, and suffer loss.
TBiss 6 RW 1. Austen doubled her heroines here, giving us the down-on-their-luck Dashwood sisters. Following the painful end of an eight-year lesbian relationship, Barnes crafted this avant-garde novel that explores love, desire, and obsession in rich lyric prose. Set mostly in Paris during the years between the world wars, Nightwood revolves around the mysterious Robin Vote and the two lovers she abandoned: Heartbroken and confused, the spurned lovers seek advice from a most unlikely source, an alcoholic transvestite named Dr. Moses Herzog has two problems: This is the first novel featuring hard-boiled Los Angeles private eye Philip Marlowe, a tough guy with a fast gun and a quick wit.
CH 4 RBP 3. In this gloomy Russian drama, the youthful hopes of siblings Olga, Masha, and Irina Prozorov curdle with time into the desperate sins and bitter resentments of later life. Often called a play in which nothing happens, The Three Sisters—one of four major dramas written by Chekhov at the end of his life—is actually a masterly study in dramatic texture, its voices and themes counterpointing each other as if they were notes in an orchestral piece.
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The trilogy moves outward: The first novel creates a series of characters that are real grotesques, offering vignettes of adultery, drunkenness, and destroyed dreams. Life gets no easier in the second novel, but Big Lucien Letourneau, who runs an automobile junkyard, displays a rare and generous compassion. The third novel, which has the most political overtones, echoes the legend of Robin Hood to suggest how Egypt, Maine, and her people have been exploited. Infused with the radical politics of the s and s and littered with newspaper excerpts, stream of consciousness prose, and biography, this triptych weaves an epic American narrative tapestry.
Mixing newspaper reportage with fiction long before the word postmodern gave academics something to write about, U. NM 5 RBP 2. While the title suggests a rational universe, this novel focuses on the jarring dislocations of three women who meet at Cambridge in the s. Expatriate experience and cultural contrasts energize the knowing, roomy fiction of the native Canadian, sometime Parisian, master. The comedians—who hide their true identities behind masks—include Mr.
Brown, a failed art swindler and now inheritor of a waning imperial hotel, Mr. Jones, a con man, and the oblivious Mr. Smith, who dreams of establishing a vegetarian center on the troubled island.
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