"The Black Sheep" (Balzac)
It tells the story of the Bridau family (Phillipe and Joseph), trying to regain their lost inheritance after a series of unfortunate mishaps.
"Eugenie Grandet" (Balzac)
A novel about miserliness, and how it is bequeathed from the father to the daughter through her unsatisfying love attachment with her cousin.
"Lost Illusions" (Balzac)
Concerns a young poet trying to make a name for himself, who becomes trapped in the morass of society's darkest contradiction.
"The Fall" (Camus)
Set in Amsterdam, it consists of a series of second-person dramatic monologues of a penitent judge.
The narrator of Camus' "The Fall." A wealthy lawyer who often speaks of his love for high, open places.
"The Fall" (Camus)
Contains several parallels with Dante's Inferno, the last circle of Hell being a bar called "Mexico City."
"The Fall" (Camus)
"God is not needed to create guilt or to punish. Our fellow men suffice, aided by ourselves...Do not wait for the Last Judgment. It takes place every day."
Tells of a mother's love for her step-son during her husband's absence. She drinks poison at the end.
Wrote exclusively in Alexandrine. His dramaturgy is marked by his psychological insight, the prevailing passion of his characters, a strong Jansensist sense of fate, and the nakedness of both the plot and stage.
Concerns the son of the Roman emperor Claudius, whose succession to the imperial throne is usurped by Lucius, later known as Nero, and the son of Claudius' wife Agrippina the Younger.
The protagonist and "misanthrope" of the title. He is quick to criticize the flaws of everyone around him, including himself. He cannot help but love Célimène though he loathes her behaviour.
Celimene ("The Misanthrope")
A flirtatious, witty, young socialite who sends identical love letters to Alceste, Oronte, Acaste, and Clitandre.
"The School for Wives" (Moliere)
Concerns a man who is so intimidated by femininity that he resolves to marry his young, naïve ward and proceeds to make clumsy advances to this purpose.
"The School for Wives" (Moliere)
The final act introduces a powerful irony as Oronte and Enrique arrive on the scene and announce that Horace is to marry Enrique's daughter.
"Le Cid" (Corneille)
The play focuses on Don Rodrigue and Chimène. Rodrigue's father, Don Diègue, is the old upstart general of medieval Spain and past his prime, whereas Chimène's father is the successful current general, Comte de Gormas. Rodrigue and Chimène love each other, but any chance of marriage is brutally disturbed when Chimène's father insults Rodrigue's father. Torn between his love for Chimène and his duty to avenge his father's honour, Rodrigue chooses the latter and faces the general in a duel in which Don Gormas is killed. Without denying her love, Chimène asks the King for Rodrigue's head.
The Kafka-influenced novel concerns a dejected researcher who becomes convinced that inanimate objects and situations encroach on his ability to define himself, on his intellectual and spiritual freedom.
Wrote "The Roads to Freedom," a WWII triology about Mathieu, a socialist teacher of philosophy and somewhat of a stand-in for the author.
"The Red and the Black" (Stendhal)
A historical psychological novel in two volumes, chronicling an aesthete carpenter's son and his attempts to socially rise beyond his plebeian upbringing with a combination of talent and hard work, deception and hypocrisy — yet who ultimately allows his passions to betray him.
"The Red and the Black" (Stendhal)
A sociological satire of the French social order under the Bourbon Restoration
"The Charterhouse of Parma" (Stendhal)
Tells the story of a young Italian nobleman from birth to death, including Napoleon's invasions.
"The Charterhouse of Parma" (Stendhal)
The hero falls in love with Clélia while imprisoned in Farnese Tower.
Known for his combination of realism and romanticism and his dedication to finding "le mot juste" ("the right word"), which he considered has the key mean to achieve quality in literary art.
"Madame Bovary" (Flaubert)
The story focuses on a doctor's wife who has adulterous affairs and lives beyond her means in order to escape the banalities and emptiness of provincial life.
Emma Bovary (Roualt)
She has a highly romanticized view of the world and craves beauty, wealth, passion, and high society. It is the disparity between these romantic ideals and the realities of her country life that impels her to commit adultery and accrue an insurmountable amount of debt that eventually leads to her suicide.
He is a pompous speechmaker, endlessly rattling on about medical techniques and theories that he really knows nothing about. His presence serves, in part, to heighten our sense of Emma's frustration with her life.
A young law student who seems to share Emma's appreciation for the finer things in life, and who returns her admiration
A rich and rakish landowner who seduces Emma as one more addition to a long string of mistresses. Though occasionally charmed by Emma, he feels little true emotion towards her.
Tolstoy ("What is Art?")
Among other artists, he specifically condemns Wagner and Beethoven as examples of overly cerebral artists, who lack real emotion. Furthermore, the Symphony No. 9 (Beethoven), cannot claim to be able to "infect" their audience—as it pretends—with the feeling of unity and therefore cannot be considered good art.
The illegitimate son of a wealthy count, who upon receiving an unexpected inheritance is suddenly burdened with responsibility and conflict. His former carefree behavior vanishes and he enters upon a philosophical quest of how one should live a moral life in an imperfect world. He attempts to free his peasants and improve his estate, but ultimately achieves nothing. Many identify him with Tolstoy himself.
(Prince) Andrei Bolkonski ("War and Peace")
Highly intelligent, rational, and analytical, he is devoted to his country, returning to active duty even after nearly being killed at Austerlitz, and spending months helping Speranski write a new civil code for Russia. Though often detached, he is emotionally honest and willing to examine mysteries in himself. His sister is Maria.
(Countess) Natasha Rostov ("War and Peace")
Beautiful, accomplished, lively, spontaneous, and charming, she begins the novel as a willful and exuberant teenager and ends it as a happily married to Pierre. Her crush on Anatole costs her a chance with Andrew, who cannot forgive her lapse. Her brother is is Nikolai.
Platon (Karataev) ("War and Peace")
Saintly character who represents the ideal of the simple, life-affirming philosophy of the Russian peasantry
Helene (Kuragin) ("War and Peace")
Vasili's cold, imperious, and beautiful daughter, who seduces Pierre into marriage, only to take up with another man immediately. She has affairs with many men, including her brother Anatole. Though known in social circles as a witty woman, she is quite stupid and shallow.
A beautiful, aristocratic married woman whose pursuit of love and emotional honesty makes her an outcast from society. Her adulterous affair catapults her into social exile, misery, and finally suicide.
Anna Karenina's husband. Formal, duty-bound, and cowed by social convention, he constantly presents a flawless facade of a cultivated and capable man.
The independent-minded and socially awkward co-protagonist of "Anna Karenina." Whereas Anna's pursuit of love ends in tragedy, his long courtship of Kitty Shcherbatskaya ultimately ends in a happy marriage.
A wealthy and dashing military officer whose love for Anna prompts her to desert her husband and son. He accidentally destroys his beautiful racehorse Frou-Frou, a symbol of Anna.
Kitty (Ekaterina) ("Anna Karenina")
A beautiful young woman who is courted by both Levin and Vronsky, and who ultimately marries Levin. Modeled on Tolstoy's real-life wife, she is sensitive and perhaps a bit overprotected, shocked by some of the crude realities of life.
"The Trial" (Kafka)
Begins: "Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested."
"Lord Jim" (Conrad)
Begins: "Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed."
"To the Lighthouse"
Ends: "Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision."
Ends: "The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs."
"Midnight's Children" (Rushdie)
Ends: "Yes, they will trample me underfoot, the numbers marching one two three, four hundred million five hundred six, reducing me to specks of voiceless dust, just as, in all good time, they will trample my son who is not my son, and his son who will not be his, and his who will not be his, until the thousand and first generation."
Ends: "I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth."
"Crime and Punishment"
Ends: "But that is the beginning of a new story—the story of the gradual renewal of a man, the story of his gradual regeneration, of his passing from one world into another, of his initiation into a new unknown life. That might be the subject of a new story, but our present story is ended."
Raskolnikov's love who is forced to prostitute herself to support herself and the rest of her family. She is meek and easily embarrassed, but she maintains a strong religious faith.
Raskolinikov's sister, she is decisive and brave, ending her engagement with Luzhin when he insults her family and fending off Svidrigailov with gunfire.
"The Seagull" (Chekhov)
It concerns the romantic and artistic conflicts between four characters: an ingenue, a fading actress, her son the symbolist playwright, and a famous middlebrow story writer.
"The Cherry Orchard'" (Chekhov)
The play concerns an aristocratic Russian woman and her family as they return to the family's estate just before it is auctioned to pay the mortgage. While presented with options to save the estate, the family essentially does nothing and the play ends with the estate being sold to the son of a former serf.
"Three Sisters" (Chekhov)
The characters identify Moscow with their happiness, and thus to them it represents the perfect life. However as the play develops Moscow never materializes and they all see their dreams recede further and further.
"The Darling" (Chekhov)
The protagonist, Olga, has always been in love with someone—starting with her father as a young child—and that she inspires mutual affection from most of the people she meets. She marries Kukin and, after his death, Vasily.
"The Cherry Orchard" (Lopakhin)
She brought me over to the wash-stand here in this very room, the nursery as it was. 'Don't cry, little peasant,' she said. "You'll soon be as right as rain." [Pause]. Little peasant. It's true my father was a peasant, but here am I in my white waistcoat and brown boots, barging in like a bull in a china shop. The only thing is, I am rich.
"Age of Iron" (Coetzee)
The novel depicts the inward journey of Mrs. Curren, an old classics professor. She lives in the Cape Town of the Apartheid era, where she is slowly dying of cancer. She has been philosophically opposed to the Apartheid regime her entire life, but has never taken an active stance against it.
David Lurie is a professor of English at a technical university in Cape Town who seduces a student and loses everything: his reputation, his job, his peace of mind, his good looks, his dreams of artistic success, and finally even his ability to protect his own daughter.
Alyosha ("The Brothers Karamazov")
The narrator describes him as the "hero" of novel and claims that the book is his "biography." A young, handsome man of about twenty, he is remarkable for his extraordinarily mature religious faith, his selflessness, and his innate love of humankind. The youngest son.
Ivan ("The Brothers Karamazov")
A brilliant student with an incisively analytical mind, and his intelligence is directly to blame for his descent into despair. Unable to reconcile the horror of unjust human suffering—particularly the suffering of children—with the idea of a loving God, he is consumed with doubt and argues that even if God does exist, he is malicious and hostile, and loves to torture mankind.
Dmitri ("The Brothers Karamazov")
The oldest brother. Passionate and intemperate, easily swept away by emotions and enthusiasms, as he demonstrates when he loses interest in his fiancée Katerina and falls madly in love with Grushenka. Cursed with a violent temper, Dmitri is plagued with the burden of sin and struggles throughout the novel to overcome his own flawed nature and to attain spiritual redemption.
"Barn Burning" (Faulkner)
Opens opens in a country store, which is doubling as a Justice of the Peace Court. A hungry boy named Sarty Snopes craves the meat and cheese in the store.
"Death in Venice" (Mann)
Concerns a writer who becomes ill and confronts the duality of life: follow the path of logic and reason (Apollo) or follow the path of passion (Dionysus). He becomes obsessed with a young boy who he believes represents the latter.
"The Sorrows of Young Werther" (Goethe)
Epistolary novel (letters sent to Wilhelm) set in the fictional village of Wahlheim
"Under the Volcano" (Lowry)
A semi-autobiographical novel which tells the story of Geoffrey Firmin, an alcoholic British consul in the small Mexican town of Quauhnahuac on the Day of the Dead.
"Darkness at Noon" (Koestler)
Tells the tale of Rubashov, an Old Bolshevik and October Revolutionary who is cast out, imprisoned, and tried for treason against the very Soviet Union he once helped to create.
The story documents the troubles of Tayo, a Native American World War II veteran who strives to overcome PTSD and end the drought that is devastating his Laguna Pueblo people.
"The Five-Forty-Eight" (Cheever)
The story is about a businessman called Blake, who is accosted on a train at gunpoint by his former secretary, named Miss Dent. The woman is mentally ill, and is particularly upset with how Blake left her after a one-night stand and then fired her. The story is noteworthy because its focus is primarily on Blake's perception of those around him, from which stems an anti-social history.
"A Doll's House" (Nora)
I have been performing tricks for you. That's how I've survived. You wanted it like that. You and Papa have done me a great wrong. It's because of you I've made nothing of my life.
(Ursula) Le Guin
Her sci-fi novels explore Taoist, anarchist, ethnographic, feminist, queer theory, psychological and sociological themes.
(Ursula) Le Guin
Wrote the Hainish cycle, including "The Left Hand of Darkness" and "The Dispossessed"
It tells the story of Ezekiel Farragut, a university professor and drug addict who is serving time in a State Prison for the murder of his brother. Farragut struggles to retain his humanity in the prison environment, and begins an affair with a fellow prisoner.
His main themes include the duality of human nature: sometimes dramatized as the disparity between a character's decorous social persona and inner corruption, and sometimes as a conflict between two characters (often brothers) who embody the salient aspects of both - light and dark, flesh and spirit. Many of his works also express a nostalgia for a vanishing way of life, characterized by abiding cultural traditions and a profound sense of community, as opposed to the alienating nomadism of modern suburbia.
"A Death in the Family" (Agee)
Semi-autobiographical novel that provides a portrait of life in Knoxville, Tennessee, showing how the sudden death of a father affects a young widow, her two children, her atheistic father and the dead man's alcoholic brother.
"The Rose Tattoo" (Williams)
It tells the story of an Italian-American widow in Louisiana who has allowed herself to withdraw from the world after her husband's death, and expects her daughter to do the same.
"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (Williams)
Set in the sitting room of a plantation home in the Mississippi Delta of Big Daddy Pollitt, a wealthy cotton tycoon
"The Night of the Iguana" (Williams)
In 1940s Mexico, an ex-minister, Reverend T. Lawrence Shannon, has been locked out of his church after characterizing the Occidental image of God as a "senile delinquent", during one of his sermons
"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (Albee)
Two married couples, one twenty years older and bitterer than the other, engage in an evening of merciless personal attack.
"The Zoo Story" (Albee)
A one-act play which explores themes of isolation, miscommunication , social disparity, and dehumanization in a commercial world. The main characters are Peter and Jerry.
He influenced a whole generation of poets with his highly original style of prose-poetry, and even coined the term "modernity."
Wrote "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences" and "Speech and Phenomena"
"The Balcony" (Genet)
Most of the action takes place in an upmarket brothel that functions as a microcosm of the regime of the establishment under threat outside. Includes meta-theatricality and role-playing consisting of two central strands: a political conflict between revolution and counter-revolution and a philosophical one between reality and illusion.
"The Hairy Ape" (O'Neil)
The play tells the story of a brutish, unthinking laborer known as Yank, as he searches for a sense of belonging in a world controlled by the rich. At first Yank feels secure as he stokes the engines of an oceanliner, and is highly confident in his physical power over the ship's engines.
"Miss Julie" (Strindberg)
A young woman, attempting to escape an existence cramped by social mores and have a little fun, dances at the servants' annual midsummer party, where she is drawn to a senior servant, a footman named Jean, who is particularly well-traveled, well-mannered and well-read
"the House of Bernarda Alba" (Lorca)
After the death of her second husband an imperious mother imposes a period of mourning on her five daughters to last eight years, as has been traditional in her family.
The play tells the story of a childless woman living in rural Spain. Her desperate desire for motherhood becomes an obsession that eventually drives her to commit a horrific crime. Her desperation is driven by the social norms of her culture, and the work functions as a critique of those norms.
"The Lower Depths" (Maxim Gorki)
It was criticized for its pessimism and ambiguous ethical message. The presentation of the lower classes was viewed as overly dark and unredemptive, and the playwright was clearly more interested in creating memorable characters than in advancing a formal plot. The theme of harsh truth versus the comforting lie pervades the play from start to finish, as most of the characters choose to deceive themselves from the bleak reality of their condition.
"The Lower Depths" (Maxim Gorki)
A landmark of socialist realism, it concerns a group of impoverished Russians living in a shelter near the Volga.
"Mother Courage and Her Children" (Brecht)
Set during the 30 Years' War, it concerns the dreadfulness of war and the idea that virtues are not rewarded in corrupt times. He used an epic structure so that the audience focuses on the issues being displayed rather than getting involved with the characters and emotions.
Her novels are more notable for their style and characterisation than for their plots. A superficial reading gives the impression that they are sketches of village or suburban life, and comedies of manners, studying the social activities connected with the Anglican church
It describes the exploits of a discharged U.S. Navy sailor named Benny Profane, his reconnection in New York with a group of pseudo-bohemian artists known as the Whole Sick Crew, and the quest of an aging traveller named Herbert Stencil to identify and locate a mysterious entity.
"The Crying of Lot 49"
Concerns a woman, Oedipa Maas, possibly unearthing the centuries-old conflict between two mail distribution companies, Thurn und Taxis and the Trystero
Proposed that when we attribute motives to others, we tend to rely on ratios between 5 elements: act, scene, agent, agency, and purpose. This has become known as the dramatistic pentad.
metaphysics of presence (Derrida)
The assumption that the physical presence of a speaker authenticates his speech. Speaking would then precede writing (the sign of a sign), since the writer is not present at the reading of his text toauthenticate it.
Wrote "Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature" and "Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity"
Best known for his analysis of interpretive communities — an offshoot of reader-response criticism.
"The Outcasts of Poker Flat" (Harte)
Tells the story of a town with serious financial and moral problems. In an effort to save what is left of the town and reestablish it as a virtuous place to be, a secret committee is created and it is decided whom ought to be exiled and whom ought to be killed altogether.
"The Land of Little Rain" (Mary Austin)
Aside from presenting a detailed account of the life and land of the Mojave desert, each story and essay includes at least one of three themes: the supremacy and divinity of nature, the negative consequences of the disconnect between humans and nature, and the positive consequences of the harmony between humans and nature. Most chapters end with a direct moralizing paragraph emphasizing the theme, but several are less obvious and use allegories to illustrate the argument.
"The Sea-Wolf" (London)
Concerns intellectual man named Humphrey van Weyden, who is forced to become tough and self-reliant by exposure to cruelty and brutality. The story starts with him aboard a San Francisco ferry, called Martinez, which collides with another ship in the fog, The Ghost, and sinks.
"It Can't Happen Here" (Lewis)
It describes the rise of a populist politician who calls his movement "patriotic" and creates his own militia (the Minute Men or "MM", paralleling Hitler's "SS") and takes unconstitutional power after winning election — mirroring what Hitler was doing in Germany at the time of writing. Its plot centers around newspaperman Doremus Jessup's belated realization of what is happening, and his subsequent struggle against the fascist regime of President Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip.
"Juno and the Paycock" (O'Casey)
Set in the working class tenements of Dublin in the early 1920s, during the Irish Civil War period, it concerns the Boyle family.
"The Good Soldier" (Ford)
Chronicles the tragedy of Edward Ashburnham and his own seemingly perfect marriage and that of two American friends. The novel employs a series of flashbacks in non-chronological order, as well as an unreliable narrator.
"Parade's End" (Ford, a tetralogy)
The novels chronicle the life of Christopher Tietjens, "the last Tory," a brilliant government statistician from a wealthy land-owning family who is serving in the British Army during World War I.
"U.S.A." (Dos Passos)
"The Camera Eye" sections are written in stream of consciousness technique and add up to an autobiographical Künstlerroman .
"A Handful of Dust" (Waugh)
It satirizes the British landed gentry and mercantile class. The novel is set in the 1930s, and focuses on the breakdown of the marriage of Tony and Brenda Last
"Loving" (Henry Green)
It describes life above and below stairs in an Irish country house during the Second World War. In the absence of their employers the Tennants, the servants enact their own battles and conflict amid rumors about the war in Europe; invading one another's provinces of authority to create an anarchic environment of self-seeking behavior, pilfering, gossip and love.