The Battle of the Books

    By Jonathan Swift

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    Inspired by Boileau’s Lutrin and illustrating the debate within European intellectual circles between the “Ancients”, who argued that all essential knowledge was to be found in classical texts, and the “Moderns”, who claimed that contemporary learning superseded the old sources, The Battle of the Bo…

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    The Benefit of Farting

    By Jonathan Swift

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    What is the nature, essence and definition of a fart? What are the consequences and disadvantages of suppressing one? Why is farting considered to be taboo? Swift’s The Benefit of Farting argues eloquently, in a forceful a posteriori fashion, that most of the distempers thought to affect the fairer…

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    The Crocodile

    By Fyodor Dostoevsky

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    The civil servant Ivan Matveich and his wife Yelena Ivanovna are spectators of an exhibition – in a shopping arcade – of a crocodile owned by a German, when Ivan is suddenly swallowed alive by the animal. Unsuccessful in his attempts to be freed from his prison, due to the German’s concern for his c…

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    The Decay of Lying

    By Oscar Wilde

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    In the library of a country house in Nottinghamshire, Vivian is writing an article about the importance of lying, when he is interrupted by Cyril, who tries to tempt him away, but instead is drawn into a discussion about art, nature, literature and imagination. The Decay of Lying sees Wilde explore…

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    Dictionary of Received Ideas

    By Gustave Flaubert

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    A spoof encyclopedia of contemporary accepted wisdom and commonplaces, the Dictionary of Received Ideas sees Flaubert at his witty and satirical best. Perhaps intended as a companion to his final, unfinished novel Bouvard and Pécuchet, this compilation was the result of a lifetime of collecting the…

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    The Life of Our Lord

    By Charles Dickens

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    Never published in its author’s lifetime and intended solely for his own children, to whom he read it every Christmas, The Life of Our Lord is an accessible and gently humorous take on the life of Jesus Christ and his teachings. Far removed from the sharp satire and social dimension of his more famo…

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    On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts

    By Thomas De Quincey

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    In this dispassionate analysis of the act of murder, De Quincey’s innovative, idio­syncratic artistic vision found space for gruesome reportage, satire, aesthetic and literary criticism, in a work strewn with examples ranging from antiquity to his own time, including the urban serial-killer John Wil…

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    The Death of a Civil Servant

    By Anton Chekhov

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    In ‘The Death of a Civil Servant’, an administrative clerk accidentally sneezes on a hierarchical superior at the opera, which results in great embarrassment and hilarious and futile attempts at atonement. The other short stories included in this volume, ‘A Calculated Marriage’, ‘The Culprit’, ‘The…

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    The Wonderful Wonder of Wonders

    By Jonathan Swift

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    A glorious exercise in cheeky punmanship, The Wonderful Wonder of Wonders sees Jonathan Swift in fine scatological form. Flying by the seat of his pants, the great author treats us to a condensed biography of his posterior, enlivened by some inspired wordplay. Most famous for his celebrated masterpi…

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    The Quirky Classics Collection

    By various authors

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    The full collection of all ten wonderfully different Quirky Classics – lesser-known humorous works by authors on everyone’s bookcase.   Includes: Napoleon Bonaparte’s Aphorisms Jonathan Swift’s The Battle of the Books Jonathan Swift’s The Benefit of Farting Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Crocodile Osc…

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    Aphorisms

    By Napoleon Bonaparte

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    Spurred by a lifelong fascination with the great emperor, French novelist Honoré de Balzac set himself the pains­taking task of collecting a selection of Napoleon’s aphorisms from his public speeches and the gazettes of the time. Arranged into four themes (covering social life, the military arts, th…

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    Directions to Servants

    By Jonathan Swift

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    A tongue-in-cheek manual on how servants should cope with the demands of their masters and perform their tasks in ways that will best satisfy their indolence, wastefulness and greed, Directions to Servants takes a caustic and irreverent look at master-servant relations. Written towards the end of hi…

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