Wuthering Heights

    By Emily Brontë

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    The tale of Heathcliff and Cathy’s ungovernable love and suffering, and the havoc that their passion wreaks on the families of the Earnshaws and the Lintons, shocked the book’s first readers, with even Emily’s sister Charlotte wondering “whether it is right or advisable to create beings like Heathcl…

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    The Prince

    By Niccolò Machiavelli

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    At the end of an industrious political career in conflictriven Italy, the Florentine diplomat Niccolò Machiavelli composed his masterpiece The Prince, a classic study of power and politics, and a manual of ruthlessness for any ambitious ruler. Controversial in his own time, The Prince made Machiavel…

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    Madame Bovary

    By Gustave Flaubert

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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…

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    Praise of Folly

    By Desiderius Erasmus

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    The goddess Folly gives a speech, praising herself and explaining how much humanity benefits from her services, from politicians to philosophers, aristocrats, schoolteachers, poets, lawyers, theologians, monarchs and the clergy. At the same time, her discourse provides a satire of Erasmus’s world, p…

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    Inferno

    By Dante Alighieri

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    Dante’s dramatic journey through the circles of hell in search of redemption – and his encounter with devils, monsters and the souls of some of the greatest sinners who ever walked on earth – is one of the cornerstones of Western literature, the summit of medieval thinking and arguably the highest p…

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    Frankenstein

    By Mary Shelley

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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 terrifyi…

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    Jane Eyre

    By Charlotte Brontë

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    A novel of high romance and great intensity, Jane Eyre has enjoyed popular success and critical acclaim ever since its first publication in 1847. Jane’s journey from a troubled childhood to independence – and her turbulent love affair with the enigmatic Mr Rochester – electrified Victorian readers w…

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    Anna Karenina

    By Leo Tolstoy

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    Leo Tolstoy’s most personal novel, Anna Karenina scrutinizes fundamental ethical and theological questions through the tragic story of its eponymous heroine. Anna is desperately pursuing a good, “moral” life, standing for honesty and sincerity. Passion drives her to adultery, and this flies in the f…

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    Notes from Underground

    By Fyodor Dostoevsky

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    The unnamed narrator of the novel, a former government official, has decided to retire from the world and lead a life of inactivity and contemplation. His fiercely bitter, cynical and witty monologue ranges from general observations and philosophical musings to memorable scenes from his own life, in…

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    The Picture of Dorian Gray

    By Oscar Wilde

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    Dorian Gray is having his picture painted by Basil Hallward, who is charmed by his looks. But when Sir Henry Wotton visits and seduces Dorian into the worship of youthful beauty with an intoxicating speech, Dorian makes a wish he will live to regret: that all the marks of age will now be reflected i…

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    Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Stories

    By Robert Louis Stevenson

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    One of Stevenson’s most famous and enduringly popular works, the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde describes the mysterious relationship between a respectable and affable doctor and his brutal associate. Set in the grimy streets of Victorian London, this tale of murder, split personality and obs…

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    Don Quixote

    By Miguel de Cervantes

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    When an ageing, impoverished nobleman decides to style himself “Don Quixote” and embarks upon a series of daring endeavours, it is clear that his ability to distinguish between reality and the fantasy world of literary romance has broken down. His exploits turn into comic misadventures, in which eve…

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