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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 Praise of Folly is considered one of the most influential works of literature in Western civilization and one of the catalysts of the Protestant Reformation. It starts as a piece of virtuoso foolery but then moves into some darker orations praising self-deception and madness. Published in 1511, Folly's influence echoed down the subsequent centuries and in part spawned the art of adoxography, the praise of worthless subjects.
The novel opens with Guy Mannering casting the horoscope for the newborn heir to the Laird of Ellengowan. Unfortunately Guy's predictions were correct, and Henry Bertram is kidnapped at age five and eventually adopted by a Dutch merchant. Amidst the chaos of the time Harry must find his rightful place or lose his inheritance forever. The novel is also notable for its vividly portrayed minor characters, including Meg Merrilies who was based on the real life 'queen of the gypsies'.
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