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The novel tells the story of Tess whose fate is changed when her ne'er-do-well father tries to improve the family fortune via a misguided association with a local well to do family. Hardy's writing produces such empathy for Tess that one is compelled to continue reading even though it is unbearable to imagine where the story will go.
When first published in 1899 the work received a mixed critical reception; praise for its outstanding writing style and condemnation for it's frank presentation of the limits of a woman's role and its sexual openness. At the time the book only had one printing. After it's rediscovery in 1969 the book has been praised for its treatment of issues facing women and its wonderful style.
Historical fiction novel. The story begins with an actual historical tragedy - the 1672 lynching of the Dutch Grand Pensionary (roughly equivalent to a modern Prime Minister) Johan de Witt and his brother Cornelis, by a wild mob of their own countrymen - one of the most painful episodes in Dutch history, described by Dumas with a dramatic intensity.
The Bleak House is Dickens' satire of a decaying society. Its story draws together a group of disparate people through the interminable suit of Jarndyce vs Jarndyce at the Court of Chancery. Often described as a savage, though also comic, critique of Victorian society.
The Golden Ass relates the ludicrous adventures of Lucius, a virile young man obsessed with magic. In his enthusiasm to see the use of magic he is accidentally transformed into an ass and thus forced to witness and experience the lives of slaves and the destitute. This is the only surviving work of Greco-Roman literature to give a first person perspective of the abhorrent condition of the lower classes. T. E. Lawrence carried a small copy of the book in his saddlebags throughout the Arab Revolt.
The Iliad is one of the two major ancient Greek epic poems of Homer and the first and greatest achievement of Classical Greek civilization. It tells of the last years of the siege of the city of Ilion (Troy) by the Greeks under King Agamemnon. It explores the conflict between love and honour, rage and control, a long life and a glorious life; all under the watchful and meddling Gods.
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