The Best Classic Books of All Time

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    Jay Gatsby is the man who has everything. But one thing will always be out of his reach...Everybody who is anybody is seen at his glittering parties. Day and night his Long Island mansion buzzes with bright young things drinking, dancing and debating his mysterious character. For Gatsby - young, handsome, fabulously rich - always seems alone in the crowd, watching and waiting, though no one knows what for. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life he is hiding a secret: a silent longing that can never be fulfilled. And soon this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel.
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    "What do you think that is?' she asked me, again pointing with her stick; 'that, where those cobwebs are?" "I can't guess what it is, ma'am". "It's a great cake. A bride-cake. Mine"! Pip, a young orphan, has his life altered irrevocably by a strange chain of events - a terrifying graveside encounter with an escaped prisoner; a visit to a black-hearted old woman and a beautiful girl; an unexpected fortune from a secret donor. Escaping his poor background for London, however, he finds that he cannot run away from who he really is. Dickens' extraordinary late work, published in 1861, is a frightening, funny and tender portrayal of self-discovery and redemption. Its misguided hero, Pip, is one of the most moving and memorable characters in fiction.
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    The eagerly awaited BBC TV adaptation of Tolstoy's enthralling epic. War and Peace is due to appear on our screens. This is the official tie-in edition with an exclusive introduction written by Andrew Davies. Tolstoy's beguiling masterpiece entwines love, death and determinism with Russia's war with Napoleon and its effects on those swept up by the terror it brings. The lives of Pierre, Prince Andrei and Natasha are changed forever as conflict rages throughout the early nineteenth century. Following the rise and fall of some of society's most influential families, this truthful and poignant epic is as relevant today as ever. This six part adaptation has been written by Bafta-winning author Andrew Davies and will be directed by Tom Harper (Peaky Blinders, The Scouting Book for Boys, Woman in Black: Angel of Death). Accompanied by a stellar cast including Paul Dano (12 years a Slave, Prisoners, There Will be Blood) as the idealistic Pierre, James Norton (Happy Valley, Belle, Grantchester) as the ambitious Prince Andrei and Lily James (Cinderella, Downton Abbey) as the impulsive beauty Natasha. It also features the legendary Jim Broadbent (Moulin Rouge, Harry Potter, Longford), Gillian Anderson (The Fall, The X-Files), Greta Scacchi (White Mischief, Presumed Innocent) and many more.
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    Jane Austen's classic 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice has been adapted into an extremely popular BBC series starring Colin Firth, and an Oscar-nominated film starring Keira Knightley. Based in Longbourn in Hertfordshire, the story follows the provincial middle-class Bennet family and shows the folly of judging by first impressions. When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks he is arrogant and conceited, while he is indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she discovers Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever.

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    Harper Lee's acclaimed To Kill a Mockingbird won a Pulitzer Prize after its publication in 1960 and is hugely influential in its exposure of racial prejudice.

    Set in the American Deep South, the story is seen through the eyes of six-year-old Scout, whose lawyer father Atticus Finch defends a young black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman.

    As Scout's family deals with the hostility and prejudice as a result of the case, there's a dawning realisation for Scout of all the inequality and injustice in her world.

    Powerful and moving, this 'Great American Novel' is a must-have addition to every reader's bookshelf and with the publication of follow-up Go Set a Watchman already one of the biggest sellers of the year, now is the perfect time to rediscover the hugely important book.
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    Since it was first published in 1818, Mary Shelley's seminal novel has generated countless print, stage and screen adaptations, but none has ever matched the power and philosophical resonance of the original. Composed as part of a challenge with Byron and Shelley to conjure up the most terrifying ghost story, Frankenstein narrates the chilling tale of a being created by a bright young scientist and the catastrophic consequences that ensue. Considered by many to be the first science-fiction novel, the tragic tale of Victor Frankenstein and the tortured creation he rejects is a classic fable about the pursuit of knowledge, the nature of beauty and the monstrosity inherent to man.
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    One of the most famous anti-war books ever written, Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front is a harrowing and incredibly real portrayal of the horrors of frontline warfare. Written from his experiences of the First World War, Remarque's classic novel is driven by poetic and lyrical prose that describes the brutality and futility of war in a vivid way that no other author has achieved. Written through the eyes of young German soldier Paul Bauer, this allegorical account is a stark and unputdownable book of real historical significance.

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    William Stoner enters the University of Missouri at nineteen to study agriculture. A seminar on English literature changes his life, and he never returns to work on his father's farm. Stoner becomes a teacher. He marries the wrong woman. His life is quiet, and after his death his colleagues remember him rarely. Yet with truthfulness, compassion and intense power, this novel uncovers a story of universal value. "Stoner" tells of the conflicts, defeats and victories of the human race that pass unrecorded by history, and reclaims the significance of an individual life. A reading experience like no other, itself a paean to the power of literature, it is a novel to be savoured.
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    Jean Rhys' late, literary masterpiece "Wide Sargasso Sea" was inspired by Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre", and is set in the lush, beguiling landscape of Jamaica in the 1830s. Born into an oppressive, colonialist society, Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway meets a young Englishman who is drawn to her innocent sensuality and beauty. After their marriage the rumours begin, poisoning her husband against her. Caught between his demands and her own precarious sense of belonging, Antoinette is driven towards madness.
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    George Orwell
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    A famous novel that covers many questions that are still relevant today, it is easy to see why George Orwell's 1984 has been applauded and acclaimed by so many. Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth in London, where Big Brother stares out from every poster and the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When he finds love with Julia, he discovers life does not have to be dull and mundane, and opens up to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party and are drawn towards conspiracy theories. But Big Brother will not tolerate dissent, even in the mind. A terrifying vision of a totalitarian future in which everything and everyone is slave to a tyrannical regime. This is a classic story that just has to be read!

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    Lockwood, the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange on the bleak Yorkshire moors, is forced to seek shelter one night at Wuthering Heights, the home of his landlord. There he discovers the history of the tempestuous events that took place years before: of the intense passion between the foundling Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and her betrayal of him. As Heathcliff's bitterness and vengeance is visited upon the next generation, their innocent heirs must struggle to escape the legacy of the past.
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    Jane Austen
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    Emma is young, rich and independent. She has decided not to get married and instead spends her time organising her acquaintances' love affairs. Her plans for the matrimonial success of her new friend Harriet, however, lead her into complications that ultimately test her own detachment from the world of romance.
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    This book is with an introduction by Will Self. The devil makes a personal appearance in Moscow accompanied by various demons, including a naked girl and a huge black cat. When he leaves, the asylums are full and the forces of law and order in disarray. Only the Master, a man devoted to truth, and Margarita, the woman he loves, can resist the devil's onslaught.
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    Beautiful Emma Rouault yearns for the life of wealth, passion and romance she has encountered in popular sentimental fiction, and when her doctor, the well-meaning but awkward and unremarkable Charles Bovary, begins to pay her attention, she imagines that she may be granted her wish. However, after their marriage, Emma soon becomes frustrated with the boredom of provincial life and finds herself seeking escape and contemplating adultery. As Emma's efforts to make a reality of her fantasies become more dangerous, both she and those around her must face the shattering consequences of her actions. Causing widespread scandal when it was published in 1857, Madame Bovary is Gustave Flaubert's masterpiece and one of the landmark works of nineteenth-century realist fiction.
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    "I would be content, ay, glad, to live with you as your servant, if I may not as your wife; so that I could only be near you, and get glimpses of you, and think of you as mine...I long for only one thing in heaven or earth or under the earth, to meet you, my own dear! Come to me - come to me, and save me from what threatens me"! When Tess Durbeyfield is driven by family poverty to claim kinship with the wealthy D'Urbervilles and seek a portion of their family fortune, meeting her 'cousin' Alec proves to be her downfall. A very different man, Angel Clare, seems to offer her love and salvation, but Tess must choose whether to reveal her past or remain silent in the hope of a peaceful future. With its sensitive depiction of the wronged Tess and powerful criticism of social convention, "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" is one of the most moving and poetic of Hardy's novels. The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.
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    This is the "Penguin English Library Edition" of "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen. 'No sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she had hardly a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes...' When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited; he is indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships, gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life. "The Penguin English Library" - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.
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    Catherine Morland is a young girl with a very active imagination. Her naivety and love of sensational novels lead her to approach the fashionable social scene in Bath and her stay at nearby Northanger Abbey with preconceptions that have embarrassing and entertaining consequences.
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    'Liberty, equality, fraternity, or death; - the last, much the easiest to bestow, O Guillotine!' Described by Dickens as 'the best story I have written', "A Tale of Two Cities" interweaves thrilling historical drama with heartbreaking personal tragedy. It vividly depicts a revolutionary Paris running red with blood, and a London where the poor starve. In the midst of the chaos two men - an exiled French aristocrat and a dissolute English lawyer - are both redeemed and condemned by their love for the same woman, as the shadow of La Guillotine draws closer...This is the Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.
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    'Here's to alcohol, the rose coloured glasses of life.' Anthony Patch has told his wealthy grandfather that he is writing a medieval history. But he isn't. Instead he's living a life of lazy decadence among the cafe society of early 1920s New York, oscillating between boredom and recklessness. When he meets Gloria, he finds a kindred spirit, and the young couple quickly fall in love. But together, they're more destructive than they were apart. Easily bored, they throw money into a glamorous and lavish lifestyle. One they can't sustain. And as they wait on Anthony's delayed inheritance, their heady world spins out of control. Because life is only a party for as long as you can afford it ...
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    This title comes with an introduction by Lynne Truss. The Vintage Classics Austen series is designed by the writer and illustrator Leanne Shapton and introduced by some of our finest contemporary writers and Austen fans: Alexander McCall Smith, Lynne Truss, Amanda Vickery, Francesca Segal, P.D. James and Andrew Motion. "It is a sort of private novel. In the heroine Anne Elliot, we have glimpses of Austen and what happened to her; the lost romance and the lost youth". (Julian Fellowes). Eight years ago Anne Elliot bowed to pressure from her family and made the decision not to marry the man she loved, Captain Wentworth. Now circumstances have conspired to bring him back into her social circle and Anne finds her old feelings for him reignited. However, when they meet again Wentworth behaves as if they are strangers and seems more interested in her friend Louisa. In this, her final novel, Jane Austen tells the story of a love that endures the tests of time and society with humour, insight and tenderness.
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    'it was butcher work...the horrid screeching as the stake drove home; the plunging of writhing form, and lips of bloody foam' Bram Stoker's 1897 Gothic shocker introduced Count Dracula to the world, an ancient creature bent on bringing his contagion to London, the very heart of the British Empire. Only a handful of men and women stand between Dracula and his long-cherished goal, but they are vulnerable and weak against the cunning and supernatural powers of the Count and his legions. As the horrifying story unfolds in the diaries and letters of young Jonathan Harker, Lucy, Mina, and Dr Seward, Dracula will be victorious unless his nemesis Professor Van Helsing can persuade them that monsters still lurk in the era of electric light. The most famous of all vampire stories, Dracula is a mirror of its age, its underlying themes of race, religion, science, superstition, and sexuality never far from the surface. A compelling read, rattling along at break-neck speed, it is a modern classic. This new edition includes Stoker's companion piece, 'Dracula's Guest'.
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    'I am jealous of everything whose beauty does not die. I am jealous of the portrait you have painted of me...Why did you paint it? It will mock me some day - mock me horribly!' A story of evil, debauchery, and scandal, Oscar Wilde's only novel tells of Dorian Gray, a beautiful yet corrupt man. When he wishes that a perfect portrait of himself would bear the signs of ageing in his place, the picture becomes his hideous secret, as it follows Dorian's own downward spiral into cruelty and depravity. "The Picture of Dorian Gray" is a masterpiece of the evil in men's hearts, and is as controversial and alluring as Wilde himself. This is the Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.
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    A plane crashes on a desert island and the only survivors, a group of schoolboys, assemble on the beach and wait to be rescued. By day they inhabit a land of bright fantastic birds and dark blue seas, but at night their dreams are haunted by the image of a terrifying beast. As the boys' delicate sense of order fades, so their childish dreams are transformed into something more primitive, and their behaviour starts to take on a murderous, savage significance. First published in 1954, "Lord of the Flies" is one of the most celebrated and widely read of modern classics.
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    'Love...it means too much to me, far more than you can understand.' Anna Karenina is a beautiful and intelligent woman, whose passionate love for a handsome officer sweeps aside all other ties - to her marriage and to the network of relationships and moral values that bind the society around her. Her love affair with Vronsky is played out alongside the developing romance between Kitty and Levin, and in the character of Levin, closely based on Tolstoy himself, the search for happiness takes on a deeper philosophical significance. One of the greatest novels ever written, Anna Karenina combines penetrating psychological insight with an encyclopedic depiction of Russian life in the 1870s. From high society St Petersburg to the threshing fields on Levin's estate, the novel's intricate labyrinth of connections is deeply involving. Rosamund Bartlett's new translation conveys Tolstoy's precision of meaning and emotional accuracy in an English version that is vivid, nuanced, and compelling. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.