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Rivka Galchen's Bookcase

Rivka Galchen (born April 19, 1976) is a Canadian-American writer. Her first novel, Atmospheric Disturbances, was published in 2008 and was awarded the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing.

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The Third Policeman is Flann O'Brien's brilliantly dark comic novel about the nature of time, death, and existence. Told by a narrator who has committed a botched robbery and brutal murder, the novel follows him and his adventures in a two-dimensional police station where, through the theories of the scientist/philosopher de Selby, he is introduced to "Atomic Theory" and its relation to bicycles, the existence of eternity (which turns out to be just down the road), and de Selby's view that the earth is not round but "sausage-shaped." With the help of his newly found soul named "Joe, " he grapples with the riddles and contradictions that three eccentric policeman present to him.

The last of O’Brien’s novels to be published, The Third Policeman joins O’Brien’s other fiction (At Swim-Two-Birds, The Poor Mouth, The Hard Life, The Best of Myles, and The Dalkey Archive) to ensure his place, along with James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, as one of Ireland’s great comic geniuses.

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Jaroslav Hašek's black satire, the inspiration for such works as Joseph Heller's Catch-22

Good-natured and garrulous, Švejk becomes the Austro-Hungarian army's most loyal Czech soldier when he is called up on the outbreak of the First World War - although his bumbling attempts to get to the front serve only to prevent him from reaching it. Playing cards, getting drunk and becoming a general nuisance, the resourceful Švejk uses all his natural cunning and genial subterfuge to deal with the doctors, police, clergy and officers who chivvy him towards battle. The story of a 'little man' caught in a vast bureaucratic machine, The Good Soldier Švejk combines dazzling wordplay and piercing satire to create a hilariously subversive depiction of the futility of war. Cecil Parrott's vibrant, unabridged and unbowdlerized translation is accompanied by an introduction discussing Hašek's turbulent life as an anarchist, communist and vagranty, and the Everyman character of Švejk. This edition also includes a guide to Czech names, maps and original illustrations by Josef Ladas.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

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This fiftieth-anniversary edition commemorates Joseph Heller’s masterpiece with a new introduction; critical essays and reviews by Norman Mailer, Alfred Kazin, Anthony Burgess, and others; rare papers and photos; and much more.

Fifty years after its original publication, Catch-22 remains a cornerstone of American literature and one of the funniest—and most celebrated—books of all time. In recent years it has been named to “best novels” lists by Time, Newsweek, the Modern Library, and the London Observer.

Set in Italy during World War II, this is the story of the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy—it is his own army, which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to excuse himself from the perilous missions he’s assigned, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.

This fiftieth-anniversary edition commemorates Joseph Heller’s masterpiece with a new introduction by Christopher Buckley; a wealth of critical essays and reviews by Norman Mailer, Alfred Kazin, Anthony Burgess, and others; rare papers and photos from Joseph Heller’s personal archive; and much more. Here, at last, is the definitive edition of a classic of world literature.

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"Long ago in 1945 all the nice people in England were poor, allowing for exceptions," begins The Girls of Slender Means, Dame Muriel Spark's tragic and rapier-witted portrait of a London ladies' hostel just emerging from the shadow of World War II.

Like the May of Teck Club itself―"three times window shattered since 1940 but never directly hit"―its lady inhabitants do their best to act as if the world were back to normal: practicing elocution, and jostling over suitors and a single Schiaparelli gown. The novel's harrowing ending reveals that the girls' giddy literary and amorous peregrinations are hiding some tragically painful war wounds.

Chosen by Anthony Burgess as one of the Best Modern Novels in the Sunday Times of London, The Girls of Slender Means is a taut and eerily perfect novel by an author The New York Times has called "one of this century's finest creators of comic-metaphysical entertainment."

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The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon is a fascinating, detailed account of Japanese court life in the eleventh century. Written by a lady of the court at the height of Heian culture, this book enthralls with its lively gossip, witty observations, and subtle impressions. Lady Shonagon was an erstwhile rival of Lady Murasaki, whose novel, The Tale of Genji, fictionalized the elite world Lady Shonagon so eloquently relates. Featuring reflections on royal and religious ceremonies, nature, conversation, poetry, and many other subjects, The Pillow Book is an intimate look at the experiences and outlook of the Heian upper class, further enriched by Ivan Morris's extensive notes and critical contextualization.

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Conflict between father and son is one of the oldest themes in literature, and in this open letter to his father—a letter that was never sent—Kafka tries to come to terms with one of the most deeply rooted obsessions of his troubled soul. Written as a long, tense, and dramatic confession in which writer and man are gathered together in front of an ambivalent figure of authority, Letter to My Father is a desperate attempt to retrace the origins of a turbulent and highly conflicted relationship between an unflinching parent and an extremely sensitive child. Kafka’s inspired work is both a merciless indictment of his father and an impassioned appeal to him.

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One of the most popular and most quoted books in English, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was the creation of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832–1898), a distinguished scholar, mathematician, and author who wrote under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. Written for young readers but enjoyed equally by adults, the wonderfully fantastic tale is credited with revolutionizing children's literature and liberating it from didactic constraints. The story is deeply but gently satiric, enlivened with an imaginative plot and brilliant use of nonsense, as it relates Alice's adventures in a bizarre, topsy-turvy land underground. There she encounters a cast of strange characters and fanciful beasts, including the White Rabbit, March Hare, Mad Hatter, the sleepy Dormouse and grinning Cheshire Cat, the Mock Turtle, the dreadful Queen of Hearts, and a host of other unusual creatures. A selection of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

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Taking readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family and the struggle that ensues when a cousin arrives at their estate. This edition features a new introduction by Jonathan Lethem.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

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The Unconsoled is at once a gripping psychological mystery, a wicked satire of the cult of art, and a poignant character study of a man whose public life has accelerated beyond his control. The setting is a nameless Central European city where Ryder, a renowned pianist, has come to give the most important performance of his life. Instead, he finds himself diverted on a series of cryptic and infuriating errands that nevertheless provide him with vital clues to his own past. In The Unconsoled Ishiguro creates a work that is itself a virtuoso performance, strange, haunting, and resonant with humanity and wit.

"A work of great interest and originality.... Ishiguro has mapped out an aesthetic territory that is all his own...frankly fantastic [and] fiercer and funnier than before."--The New Yorker

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Collected Poems, 1956-1987

With this volume, The Library of America inaugurates a collected edition of the works of America?s preeminent living poet. Beginning with Some Trees in 1956, John Ashbery has charted a profoundly original and individual course that has opened up pathways for subsequent generations of poets. At once hermetic and exuberantly curious, meditative and unnervingly funny, dreamlike and steeped in everyday realities, and alive to every nuance of American speech, these are poems that constantly discover new worlds within language. This first volume of the collected Ashbery includes the complete texts of his first twelve books, including such groundbreaking collections as Rivers and Mountains, Three Poems, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (which won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1975), and Houseboat Days. It also features an unprecedented gathering of more than sixty previously uncollected poems written over a period of four decades, a rare treasure trove for poetry lovers. This volume is a landmark portrait of a modern master.

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Charts the rise and fall of an ambitious young social climber in a cruel, monarchical society

Handsome, ambitious Julien Sorel is determined to rise above his humble provincial origins. Soon realizing that success can only be achieved by adopting the subtle code of hypocrisy by which society operates, he begins to achieve advancement through deceit and self-interest. His triumphant career takes him into the heart of glamorous Parisian society, along the way conquering the gentle, married Madame de Rênal, and the haughty Mathilde. But then Julien commits an unexpected, devastating crime—and brings about his own downfall. The Red and the Black is a lively, satirical portrayal of French society after Waterloo, riddled with corruption, greed and ennui, and Julien—the cold exploiter whose Machiavellian campaign is undercut by his own emotions—is one of the most intriguing characters in European literature.

Roger Gard's fine translation remains faithful to the natural, conversational tone of the original, while his introduction elucidates the complexities of Julien's character. This edition also contains a chronology, further reading and an appendix on Stendhal's use of epigraphs.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Also recommended by

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In these memoirs, Braz Cubas, a wealthy nineteenth-century Brazilian, examines (from beyond the grave) his rather undistinguished life in 160 short chapters that are filled with philosophical digressions and exuberant insights. A clear forerunner of Gabriel García Márquez and Jorge Luis Borges, Epitaph for a Small Winner, first published in 1880, is one of the wittiest self-portraits in literary history as well as "one of the masterpieces of Brazilian literature" (Salman Rushdie).

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In Either/Or, using the voices of two characters—the aesthetic young man of part one, called simply "A," and the ethical Judge Vilhelm of the second section—Kierkegaard reflects upon the search for a meaningful existence, contemplating subjects as diverse as Mozart, drama, boredom, and, in the famous Seducer's Diary, the cynical seduction and ultimate rejection of a young, beautiful woman. A masterpiece of duality, Either/Or is a brilliant exploration of the conflict between the aesthetic and the ethical - both meditating ironically and seductively upon Epicurean pleasures, and eloquently expounding the noble virtues of a morally upstanding life.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

Eleven of the papers in this volume were originally published from 1972 to 1981; misprints apart, they are reprinted in their original form. In some cases, where retractions or additions seemed urgently needed, I have appended postscripts. Two other papers appear here for the first time. The papers in this volume deal with topics concerning counterfactuals, causation, and related matters. Papers in ontology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language have appeared in Volume I. I have left out papers which are rejoinders, or which are primarily technical interest, or which overlap too much with the papers I have included. Abstracts of the omitted papers may be found here, in the bibliography of my writings.

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