Roughing It

Roughing It by Mark Twain

Roughing It by Mark Twain

Roughing It is semi-autobiographical travel literature written by American humorist Mark Twain. It was authored as a sequel to his first book Innocents Abroad. This book tells of Twain’s adventures prior to his pleasure cruise related in Innocents Abroad.

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William the Conqueror

William the Conqueror by Jacob Abbott

William the Conqueror by Jacob Abbott

William I, also known as William the Conqueror was the first Norman King of England from Christmas 1066 until his death. This volume is dedicated to William the Conqueror.

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Demian

Demian by Hermann Hesse

Demian by Hermann Hesse

Somewhat autobiographical, this “coming of age” novel unfolds an introspective boy’s formative years in pre-World War 1 Germany, from grade school through college. Hesse likens this confusing process to a giant bird struggling to break out of its egg (the protective shell of home, family, social norms), to be reborn as an individuated adult with his own goals, ideas and ideals. Much importance is given to dreams and their interpretation, Fate vs individual choice, Gnosticism (particularly the god Abraxas), opening up to one’s unconsciousness, all showing the influence of Carl Jung’s psychology. One of the book’s major themes is the existence of opposing forces (good vs evil, society vs individualism, God vs Devil, etc.) and the idea that both are natural and necessary parts of the Whole. Adjacent themes are about puberty, sexuality, bullying, loneliness, mentorship, the divine feminine, psychic connections, questioning religious dogma, and the herd mentality. It is also a story of one soldier’s experience on the battlefield of WWI, feeling part of and being willing to die for a cause outside ones own control. Due to its controversial themes, Demian was first published under the pseudonym “Emil Sinclair” (the narrator of the story) but Hesse was later revealed to be the author.

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The Fall River Tragedy

The Fall River Tragedy by Edwin H. Porter

The Fall River Tragedy by Edwin H. Porter

The story of how Lizzie Borden supposedly murdered her parents has passed into American folklore, partly thanks to the albeit inaccurate playground rhyme, “Lizzie Borden took an axe, and gave her mother 40 whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41.” Here we have the ‘true’ story, as reported by the local police reporter who attended the trial and lived only streets away from the Borden home with his young wife. After the trial, Porter ‘disappeared’ and it was widely speculated he had either been murdered or bribed to disappear in order to suppress the book. His reappearance some time later put paid to the first theory. After his death at age 39 from tuberculosis, a new theory emerged, that he had been away for treatment while keeping his illness secret. Meanwhile, the trial itself was noteworthy for several reasons: it was one of the first to be followed by nationwide press, providing a template for today’s tabloid and cable coverage of major trials; it also had some distinguished personnel: one of the prosecutors, Frank Moody, later became the attorney general of the United States and was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Theodore Roosevelt; and Borden’s defense attorney, George Robinson, was the former governor of Massachusetts. The appearance of Professor Wood of Harvard University was an early use of an expert witness at trial.

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The Borgias

The Borgias by Alexandre Dumas

The Borgias by Alexandre Dumas

Dumas’s ‘Celebrated Crimes’ was not written for children. The novelist has spared no language — has minced no words — to describe the violent scenes of a violent time.

In some instances facts appear distorted out of their true perspective, and in others the author makes unwarranted charges. The careful, mature reader, for whom the books are intended, will recognize, and allow for, this fact.

The first volume comprises the annals of the Borgias. The name of the noted and notorious Florentine family has become a synonym for intrigue and violence, and yet the Borgias have not been without stanch defenders in history.

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Being a Boy

Being a Boy by Charles Dudley Warner

Being a Boy by Charles Dudley Warner

Warner’s thoughtful and often humorous memoir of his life as a young farm-boy in Charlemont, Massachusetts.

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The History of Henry Esmond, Esq.

The History of Henry Esmond, Esq. by William Makepeace Thackeray

The History of Henry Esmond, Esq. by William Makepeace Thackeray

A classic Victorian novel and a historical novel rolled into one! Read about court and army life during the reign of Queen Anne – a story of Catholic – Protestant intrigue, and the party which aspired to the restoration of Bonny Prince Charlie. And, a good love story as well.

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Two Years in the Forbidden City

Two Years in the Forbidden City by Princess Der Ling

Two Years in the Forbidden City by Princess Der Ling

The author of the following narrative has peculiar qualifications for her task. She is a daughter of Lord Yu Keng, a member of the Manchu White Banner Corps, and one of the most advanced and progressive Chinese officials of his generation. she became First Lady-in-Waiting to the Empress Dowager, and while serving at the Court in that capacity she received the impressions which provide the subject-matter of this book. Her opportunity to observe and estimate the characteristics of the remarkable woman who ruled China for so long was unique, and her narrative throws a new light on one of the most extraordinary personalities of modern times. Yielding to the urgent solicitation of friends, she consented to put some of her experiences into literary form, and the following chronicle, in which the most famous of Chinese women, the customs and atmosphere of her Court are portrayed by an intimate of the same race, is a result.

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The Thirteenth: Greatest of Centuries

The Thirteenth: Greatest of Centuries by James J. Walsh

The Thirteenth: Greatest of Centuries by James J. Walsh

All the great issues, forces, and institutions of the thirteenth century are reviewed at generous length-the rise and character, the curricula, and the influences of the early universities; the steps taken towards popular education, both literary and technical; the development of letters; the great books and the great writers of the period; the Latin hymns of the church; Thomas Aquinas, Dante, the Golden Legend, the Romance of the Rose, Jocelyn de Brakelond, Matthew Paris, and Vincent of Beauvais; hospitals; famous women; Marco Polo and the story of geographical exploration; the systematization of law; and the beginnings of modern commerce.

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The Life of Cicero, Vol. 2

The Life of Cicero, Vol. 2 by Anthony Trollope

The Life of Cicero, Vol. 2 by Anthony Trollope

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43BC) was an orator, statesman, philosopher and prolific correspondent, who rose as a ‘new man’ in Rome in the turbulent last years of its republican government. Anthony Trollope, best known as a novelist, admired Cicero greatly and wrote this biography late in life in order to argue his virtues against authors who had granted him literary greatness but questioned his strength as a politician and as a man. He takes a personal approach, affording us an insight into his own mind and times as well as those of his subject.

This second volume of two covers his last years, BC 57-43 and the personal and political upheavals that surrounded them: the civil war between Caesar and Pompey, the death of his daughter Tullia, Caesar’s dictatorship and assassination, Cicero’s antagonism against Antony in the Philippics and his final struggle for the republic. Having used Cicero’s letters and speeches to guide his biography, Trollope treats his other works (what he terms ‘moral essays’, and works on philosophy and rhetoric), and his religious beliefs, in separate chapters at the end of this volume, to which is also appended his own translation of Cicero’s ‘Dream of Scipio’ from the De re publica.

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