Émile Zola's The Kill is one part of the French author's 20-volume series about the fictitious Rougon-Macquart family during the Second French Empire, and it is rich with symbolism. Paris is awakening to unprecedented expansion, the future intoxicating, and in keeping with its penchant for excess, the aristocracy is caught up in the mad dash to devour as much of it as it can.
Guy de Maupassant is widely regarded as the father of the modern short story. As his 13 volumes of short stories attest, he was a prolific writer of this form. He had a simple, efficient style of writing and, like Anton Chekhov, found inspiration for his stories in the day-to-day lives of characters, in which their hidden natures are often revealed. Many of his works also centerd on the Franco-Prussian War, in which he served.
One of Canada's most cherished writers, British-born Stephen Leacock was probably best known and loved for his works of light humor. First published in 1912, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town is one of his most popular and enduring pieces of fiction. This collection of short stories describes the people that comprise a typical but fictional small town in Ontario - Mariposa. The book's appeal lies in the universality of the characters Leacock describes so eloquently, they live out their 'large' lives in the little town.
Over a 25-year period, author Maurice Leblanc wrote of the exploits of gentleman thief and master of disguise Arsène Lupin, to the delight of readers on the continent and elsewhere. Often referred to as France's version of Sherlock Holmes, Lupin in this early appearance is wrongfully accused of the death of a prominent German millionaire with nefarious plans. The thief and the mysterious killer find themselves in a race to find an incriminating bundle of letters that, in the wrong hands, could change the political map of the world.
"Performance creates the experience"
At the center of each of the four great Shakespearean tragedies - Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, and Othello - is a powerful figure who is led to destruction by a fatal character flaw. In the case of Macbeth it is ambition. Initially a valiant warrior, and staunch servant of his regal overlord Duncan, Macbeth succumbs to the lure of absolute political domination, which leads to murder, revolt, and comprehensive defeat.
Guy de Maupassant is widely regarded as the father of the modern short story. As his 13 volumes of short stories attest, he was a prolific writer of this form. He had a simple, efficient style of writing and, like Anton Chekhov, found inspiration for his stories in the daily lives of humans, which often reveal our darker nature. His years of service in the Franco-Prussian War provided him with rich material for his work.
The invisible man of the title is Griffin, a scientist who has devoted himself to research into optics and invents a way to change a body's refractive index to that of air so that it neither absorbs nor reflects light and thus becomes invisible. He successfully carries out this procedure on himself, but fails in his attempt to reverse it.
Nonsense Novels was first published in 1920 yet a century later remains a huge favorite among Stephen Leacock fans. The British-born Canadian writer was renowned for his humor, and Nonsense Novels epitomizes both this skill and his mastery of the ridiculous. From an ill-fated Middle Ages romance to the dubious skills of a pitiful private eye and the happy outcome of a generations-old Scottish feud, Nonsense Novels is a tremendous listen.
The premier Russian dramatist before Chekov, Alexander Ostrovsky was one of the first masters of realistic theatre. A typical example of his approach to drama, A Protégée of the Mistress is almost cinematic in its presentation. The action is represented by a series of vivid snapshots, in which Ostrovsky quickly and subtly illustrates the foibles and weaknesses of each character, and shows how they are forced into a hostile dependence on each other.