Series details

Penguin 60s Classics

A Visitation Of The Plague

Author: Daniel Defoe

Publisher: Penguin (1995)

The tears and lamentations of a city under siege. In the months leading up to the outbreak of the Great Plague of 1665 panic spread over the city of London. Trapped by poverty, a gullible populace became prey to an army of astrologers, charlatans and quack doctors who offered false promises of hope in the face of the impending horror. A Journal of the Plague Year, from which this extract is taken, is Daniel Defoe’s vivid, imaginative reconstruction of the Great Plague of London. Regarded as one of the first great English novels.

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Confessions Of A Sinner

Author: Saint Augustine

Publisher: Penguin Books (1995)

An account of the search for truth by a sinner who became a great saint. Saint Augustine of Hippo, the great Doctor of the Latin Church, was born at Thagaste in North Africa in AD 354. Brought up as a Christian, he studied law and philosophy, was converted to the Manichean doctrine, and taught rhetoric in Rome and Milan. In 387, renouncing all his unorthodox beliefs, he was baptized and returned to Africa. He was ordained in 391. Until his death in 430, when invading Vandals were besieging Hippo, he lived in community with his cathedral clergy and wrote prolifically.

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Haiku

Author: Basho

Publisher: Penguin Books (1995)

Haiku by Bash?, one of the great Japanese masters By combining the ideals of karumi – lightness of touch – and oneness with nature, Bash? (1644-94) rose above the artificiality of previous haiku poets to become the master of the genre in his time. His exquisite compositions reflect the influence of Zen Buddhism and a life spent travelling, and reveal him to be an inspired perfectionist who sought to express himself in the purest possible form. These translations by Lucien Stryk are drawn from On Love and Barley, published in Penguin Classics.

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Letters From Italy

Author: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Publisher: Penguin Books (1995)

The great Romantic poet’s paean to the glories of Italy. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s account of his passage through Italy from 1786 to 1788 is one of the great travel chronicles of any era, as well as a candid self-portrait of a genius in the grip of spiritual crisis. Translated by W. H. Auden and Elizabeth Mayer.

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Lives Of Three Renaissance Artists

Author: Giorgio Vasari

Publisher: Penguin Books (1995)

A celebration of Leonardo, Raphael and Michelangelo In this study of three Italian masters, Giorgio Vasari (1511 – 74) vividly evokes their early years, influences, travels and achievements. Himself a talented artist and architect, Vasari details the grace and ingenuity of Leonardo, the antipathy between Leonardo and Michelangelo, and the tremendous change that Raphael’s style underwent after studying the Florentine masterpieces. Vasari’s Lives of the Artists is published in two volumes in Penguin Classics. Translated by George Bull.

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Mina Laury

Author: Charlotte Bronte

Publisher: Penguin Classics (1995)

MINA LAURY The quintessential romantic heroine - and the prototype of Jane Eyre Set in the imaginary kingdom of Angria, Charlotte Brontë’s early story of the Duke of Zamorna and his loyal mistress, Mina Laury, demonstrates the birth of her lifelong obsession with the degrees and forms of human passion. ‘Mina Laury’ is taken from The Juvenilia of Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë, which is published in Penguin Classics.

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Phaedrus

Author: Plato

Publisher: Penguin Books (1995)

Plato – the pupil of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle – rejected a career in politics to concentrate on philosophy. The dialogue between Phaedrus and Socrates encompasses many of Plato’s ideas. In an idyllic setting the philosophers discuss love, rhetoric and the ideas of beauty and goodness, Phaedrus employing the image of love as the driver of the chariot of souls.

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Reflections On The Fall Of Rome

Author: Edward Gibbon

Publisher: Penguin Books (1995)

Edward Gibbon first conceived his masterpiece The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in Rome in 1764, and it appeared in three instalments between 1776 and 1788. One of the greatest narratives in European literature, it is now published in three volumes in Penguin. Reflections on the Fall of Rome, taken from volumes I and II, discusses the Antonine era and the causes and effects of the Roman Empire’s decline in the West. (Edited by David Womersley)

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Song Of Myself

Author: Walt Whitman

Publisher: Penguin Books (1995)

A visionary poem that celebrates the miracle of nature and human life. Walt Whitman worked as a journeyman printer, journalist and newspaper editor before publishing his first book of poetry, Leaves of Grass. Whitman’s sprawling lines and cataloguing technique, as well as his belief that poetry should embrace the lowly and the profane, led some to call him the first truly American poet. Song of Myself, the opening poem from Leaves of Grass, which is published in Penguin Classics, is reprinted here from the original 1855 edition.

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Souls Belated

Author: Edith Wharton

Publisher: Penguin Group (1995)

'Souls Belated' is the story of a pair of American lovers abroad, caught up in the paradoxes of commitment and liberty, love and power.

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Ten Tales From The Decameron

Author: Giovanni Boccaccio

Publisher: Penguin (1995)

Boccaccio’s Decameron is a monumental work of medieval pre-Renaissance literature. When ten young Florentines take refuge outside their plague-ridden city they entertain themselves by telling each other stories. This selection contains one tale from each day and is a perfect demonstration of why it has been called the ‘human comedy’ in contrast to Dante’s Divine Comedy. Bawdy, outrageous, sometimes tragic or wise, these stories offer a tremendously entertaining view of society, religion and, above all, human nature. Translated by G H McWilliam.

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The Atheist's Mass

Author: Honoré Balzac

Publisher: Penguin Books (1995)

Three stories of the power of love and endurance In addition to Balzac’s many masterful novels, his Comedie Humaine encompasses nearly fifty short stories. ‘The Atheist’s Mass’ explores a ritual of thanksgiving that surpasses conventional religion; ‘The Conscript’ tells the story of a devoted mother fearing for her son in tumultuous eighteenth-century France; and in ‘The Purse’ a painter is overcome with doubt when his lover’s actions challenge his perceptions of her. Many of Balzac’s novels, as well as his Selected Short Stories, are published in Penguin Classics.

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The Education Of Frederick Douglass

Author: Frederick Douglass

Publisher: Penguin (1995)

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was born into slavery in 1818 in Tuckahoe, Maryland. He changed his surname to Douglass to conceal his identity after escaping slavery in 1838 and making his way to Philadelphia and New York. Having been taught to read by the wife of one of his former owners, Douglass wrote later that literacy was his 'pathway from slavery to freedom', and in 1845 he published his instantly bestselling Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Renowned as the foremost African American advocate against slavery and segregation of his time, he repeatedly risked his own freedom as an antislavery lecturer, writer and publisher. He died in Washington, D.C., in 1895, and after lying in state in the nation's capital, was buried in the Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York.

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The Escape And Other Stories

Author: Katherine Mansfield

Publisher: Penguin (1995)

THE ESCAPE AND OTHER STORIES Five exquisite, evocative stories of human behaviour Katherine Mansfield was born in Wellington, New Zealand, in 1888, and a number of her stories evoke her New Zealand childhood. A passionate admirer of Chekhov’s works, she concentrated on the short-story form, usually capturing a brief but significant moment in the lives of her characters. After several unhappy relationships she married John Middleton Murry in 1918, but she was already suffering from tuberculosis and was to die five years later. Her best-known works are Bliss and The Garden-party.

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The Galapagos Islands

Author: Charles Darwin

Publisher: Penguin Books (1995)

The Galapagos Islands, in the Pacific Ocean, offered Charles Darwin a wealth of specimens to catalogue and study. He encountered ‘a little world within itself’: birds that were unafraid of man; a volcanic landscape; a striking contingent of reptiles; a scarcity of insects. Sailing on to the South Sea, Darwin found himself welcomed by the friendly and temperate people of Tahiti. Voyage of the ‘Beagle’, his diary of the five-year journey begun in 1831, is published in Penguin Classics.

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The History Of England

Author: Jane Austen

Publisher: Penguin Books (1995)

‘The History of England’, written when Jane Austen was in her late teens, is a lively and somewhat disrespectful overview of the history of England’s monarchy. She sees nothing too reprehensible in Richard III, yet burns with contempt for Elizabeth I, and documents several reigns with breezy nonchalance. This volume also contains ‘Lesley Castle’, a delightful and often hilarious correspondence detailing the mishaps and misapprehensions that befall five young ladies.

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The Marquise Of O—

Author: Heinrich von Kleist

Publisher: Penguin Books (1995)

The story of a woman made pregnant without her knowledge. Between 1799, when he left the Prussian Army, and his suicide in 1811, Kleist developed into a writer of unprecedented and tragically isolated genius. His stories are those of a man swimming against the tide of German Enlightenment, unable to believe in the idealistic humanism of his day, and who sees human nature as irrational, ambiguous, and baffling. The Marquise of O— and Other Stories is published in Penguin Classics.

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The Pleasures And Pains Of Opium

Author: De Quincey Thomas

Publisher: Penguin Classics (1995)

Revelations of ecstasy and torment. Thomas De Quincey began taking opium in 1804. For him it was the key to Paradise, as he experienced visions of the utmost beauty and an exquisite heightening of the senses and intellect. Nine years later addiction loomed, causing intense depression, lethargy and terrifying nightmares. Yet, when Confessions of an English Opium Eater, from which this extract is taken, first appeared in 1821, many were tempted into experimenting with opium, so vivid and fascinating were De Quincey’s descriptions of his dreams.

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The Portrait Of Mr W. H.

Author: Oscar Wilde

Publisher: Penguin Group (1995)

Two examples of Wilde’s literary brilliance. In ‘The Portrait of Mr W. H.’ Oscar Wilde tells the intriguing and tragic story of a young man’s quest to prove the identity of ‘the onlie Begetter’ of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’, which was Wilde’s last work, was written as a result of his imprisonment after losing a libel case against the Marquess of Queensbury in 1895.

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Three Sketches From A Hunter's Album

Author: Ivan Turgenev

Publisher: Penguin Books (1995)

When first published in book form in 1852, Turgenev’s remarkable vignettes of Russian provincial life and the tyranny of serfdom led to his arrest and forced exile. Powerful social documents that helped lead to the emancipation of the serfs, they are, moreover, beautiful stories, the early masterpieces of one of the giants of Russian literature. Sketches from a Hunter’s Album, including all twenty-five stories, is published in Penguin Classics.

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Zarathustra's Discourses

Author: Friedrich Nietzsche

Publisher: Penguin Books (1995)

An intense spiritual odyssey Nietzsche’s bleak assertion that all human action is motivated by the desire for power forms the basis of Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883-5). Yet, he argues, there is hope. Mastery of oneself, achieved through inner power, leads to joy, which requires no justification. In this extract Zarathustra announces the death of God and birth of a successor, the Superman, and describes his views on a variety of subjects. Deeply influential and the work of a brilliantly original thinker, Thus Spoke Zarathustra is published in Penguin Classics.

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