Ulysses, James Joyce (1922)
The greatest and most Irish book ever written. Credited with the invention of stream of consciousness prose and widely considered the most important work of the 20th century. “Ulysses will immortalize its author with the same certainty that Gargantuaimmortalized Rabelais, and The Brothers Karamazov James Joyce, the twentieth century’s most influential novelist, was born in Dublin on February 2, 1882. After receiving a rigorous Jesuit education, twenty-year-old Joyce renounced his Catholicism and left Dublin in 1902 to spend most of his life as a writer in exile in Paris, Trieste, Rome, and Zurich. His writings include Chamber Music (1907), Dubliners (1914), A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), Exiles (1918), Ulysses (1922), Pomes Penyeach (1927), and Finnegan’s Wake (1939). Ulysses required seven years to complete and Finnegan’s Wake, took seventeen. Both works revolutionized the form, structure, and content of the novel. Joyce died in Zurich in 1941.immortalized Dostoyevsky…. It comes nearer to being the perfect revelation of a personality than any book in existence.”
–The New York Times
“To my mind one of the most significant and beautiful books of our time.”
-Gilbert Seldes, in The Nation
“Talk about understanding “feminine psychology”– I have never read anything to surpass it, and I doubt if I have ever read anything to equal it.”
“In the last pages of the book, Joyce soars to such rhapsodies of beauty as have probably never been equaled in English prose fiction.”
-Edmund Wilson, in The New Republic
Oscar Wilde – “The Picture of Dorian Gray” (1890)
Dorian Gray is the subject of a full-length portrait in oil by Basil Hallward, an artist who is impressed and infatuated by Dorian’s beauty; he believes that Dorian’s beauty is responsible for the new mode in his art as a painter. Through Basil, Dorian meets Lord Henry Wotton, and he soon is enthralled by the aristocrat’s hedonistic worldview: that beauty and sensual fulfilment are the only things worth pursuing in life. Newly understanding that his beauty will fade, Dorian expresses the desire to sell his soul, to ensure that the picture, rather than he, will age and fade. The wish is granted, and Dorian pursues a libertine life of varied and amoral experiences; all the while his portrait ages and records every soul-corrupting sin. This cloth-bound book includes a Victorian inspired dust-jacket, and is limited to 100 copies.
C. S. Lewis – “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” (1950)
Four adventurous siblings–Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie–step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice. Journey into the land beyond the wardrobe The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the second book in C. S. Lewis’s classic fantasy series, which has been captivating readers of all ages for over sixty years. This is a stand-alone novel, but if you would like journey back to Narnia, read The Horse and His Boy, the third book in The Chronicles of Narnia.
James Joyce – “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” (1916)
His family name is derived from a Greek craftsman who created the Labyrinth and designed wings for himself and his son to fly away from the island they were imprisoned in. But Stephen Dedalus, the young hero of James Joyce’s first novel, is a young man who rises above his baser instincts and seeks a life devoted to the arts. This quintessential coming of age novel describes the early life of Stephen Dedalus. It is set in Ireland during the nineteenth century which was a time of emerging Irish nationalism and conservative Catholicism. Highly autobiographical in nature, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man draws heavily on real events and characters from Joyce’s own life, though he adopts an ironical and often satirical tone. The book is also notable for its being the first one in which Joyce uses innovative “Stream of Consciousness” writing style. A Portrait… follows Stephen Dedalus from his babyhood into early adulthood. One of the most remarkable things about Joyce’s style is that the early chapters are expressed in child like language. For instance, the famous opening lines of the book are, “Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down the road….” These are lines from a story that Stephen’s father tells him as a baby. The final lines “Welcome, O Life I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience…”
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