"The Man Who Was Almost a Man" also known as "Almos' a man", is a short story by Richard Wright. It was published in 1961 as part of Wright's compilation Eight Men. The story... More > centers on Dave, a young African American farm worker who is struggling to declare his identity in the atmosphere of the rural South.
While the story appears to be simply about a young boy's desire to have a gun, Wright's work includes underlying themes of racism and the struggles of an individual. This piece is filled with metaphors for life and the journey from boyhood to manhood.< Less
The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale is a novel by Joseph Conrad published in 1907. The story is set in London in 1886 and deals largely with the life of Mr. Verloc and his job as a spy. The Secret Agent... More > is also notable as it is one of Conrad's later political novels, which move away from his typical tales of seafaring. The novel deals broadly with the notions of anarchism, espionage, and terrorism. It portrays anarchist or revolutionary groups before many of the social uprisings of the twentieth century. However, it also deals with exploitation, particularly with regard to Verloc's relationship with his brother-in-law Stevie.< Less
The Magic Skin or The Wild Ass's Skin is an 1831 novel by French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850). Set in early 19th-century Paris, it tells the story of a young man... More > who finds a magic piece of shagreen that fulfills his every desire. For each wish granted, however, the skin shrinks and consumes a portion of his physical energy. La Peau de chagrin belongs to the Études philosophiques group of Balzac's sequence of novels, La Comédie humaine.
Before the book was completed, Balzac created excitement about it by publishing a series of articles and story fragments in several Parisian journals. Although he was five months late in delivering the manuscript, he succeeded in generating sufficient interest that the novel sold out instantly upon its publication. A second edition, which included a series of twelve other "philosophical tales", was released one month later.< Less
Old Goriot or Father Goriot is an 1835 novel by French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850), included in the Scènes de la vie Parisienne section of his novel... More > sequence La Comédie humaine. Set in Paris in 1819, it follows the intertwined lives of three characters: the elderly doting Goriot; a mysterious criminal-in-hiding named Vautrin; and a naive law student named Eugène de Rastignac.
Originally published in serial form during the winter of 1834/35, Le Père Goriot is widely considered Balzac's most important novel. It marks the first serious use by the author of characters who had appeared in other books, a technique that distinguishes Balzac's fiction. The novel is also noted as an example of his realist style, using minute details to create character and subtext.< Less
The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (also known as The Pickwick Papers) is the first novel by Charles Dickens. After the publication, the widow of the illustrator Robert Seymour claimed that... More > the idea for the novel was originally her husband's; however, in his preface to the 1867 edition, Dickens strenuously denied any specific input, writing that "Mr Seymour never originated or suggested an incident, a phrase, or a word, to be found in the book."
Dickens was asked to contribute to the project as an up and coming writer following the success of Sketches by Boz, published in 1836 (most of Dickens' novels were issued in shilling instalments before being published in the complete volume). Dickens (still writing under the pseudonym of Boz) increasingly took over the unsuccessful monthly publication after Seymour had committed suicide.< Less
Nicholas Nickleby; or, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby is a novel by Charles Dickens. Originally published as a serial from 1838 to 1839, it was Dickens' third novel.
The novel centers... More > on the life and adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, a young man who must support his mother and sister after his father dies. His Uncle Ralph, who thinks Nicholas will never amount to anything, plays the role of principal antagonist.< Less
The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells that Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year In, a short novel by Charles Dickens, was written and published in 1844, one year after A Christmas Carol and one... More > year before The Cricket on the Hearth. It is the second in his series of "Christmas books": five short books with strong social and moral messages that he published during the 1840s.< Less
The Gambler treated a subject Fyodor Dostoyevsky himself was familiar with—gambling. Fyodor Dostoyevsky gambled for the first time at the gaming tables at Wiesbaden in 1863. From that time till... More > 1871, when his passion for gambling subsided, he played at Baden-Baden, Homburg, and Saxon-les-Bains frequently, often beginning by winning a small amount of money and losing far more in the end.< Less
The story begins with Dr. Elwin Ransom, a professor of philology at a college of the University of Cambridge, on a hiking trip in the English Midlands. Being refused lodging in the village of... More > Nadderby he must travel into the night the six miles to Sterk. He comes to a small, isolated cottage, the home of a woman and her mentally subnormal son, Harry. The anxious woman thinks Ransom is Harry and runs into him as he comes toward the cottage. She implicitly declines to accommodate Ransom, but tells him about where Harry works, the Rise, the small estate of Professor Weston. She also speaks of a gentleman from London staying there, Mr. Devine, whom Ransom discovers to be his former schoolfellow, a person whom he "cordially disliked." Despite the woman's doubt that Ransom would find lodging, he decides to go there anyway, assuring the woman that he will see to it that Harry is sent home.< Less