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Power, corruption and betrayal are at the heart of Shakespeare's most well-known historical and political drama. As Julius Caesar moves closer to securing power for himself and is perceived by some as a threat to Roman citizens, his senators plot to bring about his downfall. Caesar's assassination leads to civil war rather than peace and the play explores...

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Jay Gatsby is a self-made man, famed for his decadent champagne-drenched parties. Despite being surrounded by Long Island's bright and beautiful, he longs only for Daisy Buchanan. In shimmering prose, Fitzgerald shows Gatsby pursue his dream to its tragic conclusion. 

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'My life looks as if it had been wasted for want of chances! When I see what you know, what you have read, and seen, and thought, I feel what a nothing I am!' Challenging the hypocrisy and social conventions of the rural Victorian world, Tess of the D'Urbervilles follows the story of Tess Durbeyfield as she attempts to escape the poverty of her...

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`The real evils, indeed, of Emma's situation were the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself...'Beautiful, rich, self-assured and witty, Emma Woodhouse delights in matchmaking those around her, with no apparent care for her own romantic life. Taking young Harriet Smith under her wing, Emma sets...

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`We are in Transylvania; and Transylvania is not England. Our ways are not your ways, and there shall be to you many strange things.'Earnest and naive solicitor Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania to organise the estate of the infamous Count Dracula at his crumbling castle in the ominous Carpathian Mountains. Through notes and diary entries, Harker...

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`It was a town of red brick, or of brick that would have been red if the smoke and ashes had allowed it; but as matters stood, it was a town of unnatural red and black like the painted face of a savage.'Set in fictitious Coketown, England during the Industrial Revolution of the 1850s, Dickens wished to expose the enormous gulf between the rich and poor...

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`One by one they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.'Revealing the truths and realities about Irish society in the early 20th century, Joyce's Dubliners challenged the prevailing image of Dublin at the time. A group portrait made up of 15 short...

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`I do not cling to life sufficiently to fear death.' Adventurous and spirited in tone, The Three Musketeers is considered one of the greatest historical French novels. When Athos, Porthos and Aramis befriend a young and determined country boy d'Artagnan, together they confront the scheming King's Minister, Cardinal Richelieu and the female spy Milady who...

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LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER was banned on its publication in 1928, creating a storm of controversy. Lawrence tells the story of Constance Chatterley's marriage to Sir Clifford, an aristocratic and an intellectual who is paralyzed from the waist down after the First World War. Desperate for an heir and embarrassed by his inability to satisfy his wife, Clifford...

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`The rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open...'Victor Frankenstein's monster is stitched together from the limbs of the dead, taken from `the dissecting room and the slaughter-house'. The result is a grotesque being...

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'...we call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us how they feel, but they do not suffer less because they have no words.' When his beloved owners are forced to sell him, Black Beauty leaves his life as a young, care-free colt behind him and embarks on a working life of misery. Cruelly treated by his new masters, Anna Sewell rails...

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`They all agreed that it was a huge creature, luminous, ghastly and spectral.' Originally serialised in The Strand Magazine, Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles follows the infamous Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson as they investigate the mysterious death of Sir Charles Baskerville, whose dead body is found on the misty and desolate Devon moors. The...

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`Love is like a tree, it grows of its own accord, it puts down deep roots into our whole being.' Set in medieval Paris, against the backdrop of the brooding Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Hugo's take on the classic story of Beauty and the Beast tells of the hunchbacked, grotesque bellringer, Quasimodo. Rejected by Parisian society because of his appearance,...

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`Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee...' Few literary masterpieces cast quite as awesome a shadow as Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Captain Ahab's quest for the white whale is a timeless epic - a thrilling tale of...

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`How fleeting are the wishes and efforts of man! how short his time! and consequently how poor will his products be, compared with those accumulated by nature during whole geological periods.'Still considered one of the most important and groundbreaking works of science ever written, Darwin's eminently readable exploration of the evolutionary process...

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`When I am king, they shall not have bread and shelter only, but also teachings out of books; for a full belly is little worth where the mind is starved, and the heart.'Set in 16th-Century England and following the lives of two young boys, The Prince and the Pauper is a classic and timeless tale. Tom Canty, the lowly pauper is almost identical in...

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'I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.' Shipwrecked on the high seas, Lemuel Gulliver finds himself washed up on the strange island of Lilliput, a land inhabited by quarrelsome miniature people. On his travels he continues to...

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`Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!' Epic and tragic in its scope, King Lear explores a king's demise into madness and insanity when he is betrayed by two of his manipulative and scheming daughters. It is Cordelia, the third and only daughter who refuses to flatter her father to deceive, who is banished from the kingdom, leading to dramatic...

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`Northanger Abbey! These were thrilling words, and wound up Catherine's feelings to the highest point of ecstasy.'Considered the most light-hearted and satirical of Austen's novels, Northanger Abbey tells the story of an unlikely young heroine Catherine Morland. While staying in Bath, Catherine meets Henry Tilney and his sister Eleanor who invite her to...

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`Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.'Autobiographical in tone, Joyce's tale of Stephen Dedalus' journey into adulthood explores the intellectual and moral development of an artist as he struggles to overcome the ingrained Catholic...

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'Look! You want to see! See! Feast your eyes, glut your soul on my cursed ugliness! Look at Erik's face! Now you know the face of the voice!'Living secretly beneath the Paris Opera House, 'The Phantom of the Opera', Erik has haunted those who work there with his demands and shrouded the opera house in fear with the legend of his disfigured face. When...

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`I have seen wicked men and fools, a great many of both; and I believe they both get paid in the end; but the fools first.'Orphaned as a young teenager, Lowlander David Balfour's only relative is his guardian and uncle, Ebenezer. Ill-thought of and disliked by many, it's not long before Ebenezer betrays his nephew and David finds himself trapped aboard a...

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`I shall do one thing in this life - one thing certain - that is, love you, and long for you, and keep wanting you till I die'Independent and spirited, Bathsheba Everdene owns the hearts of three men. Striving to win her love in different ways, their relationships with Bathsheba complicate her life in bucolic Wessex - and cast shadows over their own. With...

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'Sherlock Holmes was transformed when he was hot upon such a scent as this. Men who had only known the quiet thinker and logician of Baker Street would have failed to recognize him. His face flushed and darkened. His brows were drawn into two hard black lines, while his eyes shone out from beneath them with a steely glitter.' Set against the foggy,...

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'Oh! Mama, how spiritless, how tame was Edward's manner in reading to us last night! I felt for my sister most severely. Yet she bore it with so much composure, she seemed scarcely to notice it. I could hardly keep my seat.'Spirited and impulsive, Marianne Dashwood is the complete opposite to her controlled and sensible sister, Elinor. When it comes to...

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`If music be the food of love, play on; Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, The appetite may sicken, and so die.' A comedic romance of mistaken identity, Twelfth Night begins with a shipwreck, splitting up Viola and her twin brother, Sebastian. Alone in a strange land, Viola disguises herself as a male servant, Cesario, in order to work for the Duke...

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`The wolf thought to himself, "What a tender young creature! what a nice plump mouthful - she will be better to eat than the old woman. I must act craftily, so as to catch both."' Collected by the German Grimm brothers, these folk tales have captured the imaginations of children and adults alike since they were first published in 1812. The best-known...

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`O, beware, my lord, of jealousy! It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock The meat it feeds on.' Dramatic and powerful in its scope, Othello explores the perils of suspicion and jealousy and the ensuing breakdown of relationships and disaster that can arise from such emotions. Othello, a revered soldier, secretly marries Desdemona, the daughter of a...

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`I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn't give myself.'Heralded as one of the first instances of feminist literature and rejected at its time of publication by the literary set on grounds of moral distaste, Kate Chopin's The Awakening caused consternation in 1899.Constrained and confined...

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'Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There's no better rule.' Living with his sister and her husband, Pip is an orphan without any expectations. It is only when he begins to visit a rich old woman, Miss Havisham and her adopted niece that he begins to hope for something better. When it is revealed that Pip has inherited a large sum of...

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`All the world's a stage,And all the men and women merely players.'Featuring Rosalind, one of Shakespeare's most likable and strong female protagonists, As You Like It is a comedic play centred around concealed identity, love, exile and artifice. Banished from the court by her uncle, Rosalind flees to the forest with her cousin Celia and her jester,...

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Considered one of Shakespeare's most haunting tragic-comedies, The Winter's Tale is an in-depth analysis of the psychology of family and friendship, jealousy and love, art and nature, all illustrated in rich poetry.Based on Robert Greene's story Pandosto, the play tells the story of Leontes, king of Sicilia, and his childhood friend, Polixenes, king of...

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`One thing is certain, - that there is a mustering among the masses, the world over; and there is a dis irae coming on, sooner or later.'Viewed by many as fuelling the abolitionist movement of the 1850s and laying the groundwork for the Civil War, Harriet Beecher Stowe's sentimental and moral tale of slaves attempting to secure their freedom was one of...

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From the author of The Great Gatsby, a tale of marriage and disappointment in the Roaring Twenties.Fitzgerald's rich and detailed novel of the decadent Jazz Era follows the beautiful and vibrant Anthony Patch and his wife Gloria as they navigate the heady lifestyle of the young and wealthy in 1920s New York. Patch is the presumptive heir to his...

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`My Oberon! what visions have I seen! Methought I was enamoured of an ass.' When four young lovers flee from Athens and become lost in an enchanted wood, they stumble into a fairy world where King Oberon, and Queen Titania, are feuding over ownership of a young Indian prince. Seeking his revenge on Titania, Oberon and his servant Puck begin a magical, yet...

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`Greedily she engorged without restraint, And knew not eating death;' Milton's Paradise Lost is a poem of epic proportions that tells of Satan's attempts to mislead Eve into disobeying God in the Garden of Eden, by eating from the tree of knowledge. His interpretation of the biblical story of Genesis is vivid and intense in its language, justifying the...

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`It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.'Austen's best-loved tale of love, marriage and society in class-conscious Georgian England still delights modern readers today with its comedy and characters. It follows the feisty, quick-witted Elizabeth Bennet as her parents seek to...

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Considered one of the greatest medieval poems written in the common vernacular of the time, Dante's Inferno begins on Good Friday in the year 1300. As he wanders through a dark forest, Dante loses his way and stumbles across the ghost of the poet Virgil. Virgil promises to lead him back to the top of the mountain, but to do so, they must pass through...

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