CHOICE CLASSICS – A pick from the enduring classics

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

A worthy winner of the ‘Booker of Bookers’,¬†Midnight‚Äôs Children¬†(1981) is a fantastic achievement in fiction by British Indian Salman Rushdie (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salman_Rushdie¬†and¬†http://www.salman-rushdie.com/¬†and ¬†http://www.nytimes.com/books/99/04/18/specials/rushdie.html), this is already deemed a classic. It is a sophisticated blend of magical realism and historical fiction setting before us the (un)reality of post-colonial India. The tale is delivered in gloriously witty and […]

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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Dickens) managed to conjure up in his fiction a world which is so quintessentially British that practically all subsequent literary works from these islands fall under his shadow. His characters are so memorable that they remain gloriously fixed in our imagination, whilst versions of his narratives are permanently being screened in cinema, performed on stage, or aired on television to this

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Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

There was a day and age¬†when rural peasants in England¬†scarcely journeyed outwith the sight of their local parish church spire. Young beauty Tess Durbeyfield’s village is Marlot in Dorset. In order to escape her rural poverty Tess (whom Hardy describes as ‘a pure woman’)¬†follows a clue that the family might be connected to nobility. In

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A Passage to India by E.M. Forster

A Passage to India (1924) concerns the ‘disconnects’ between Indian natives and British colonials played out around Chandrapore and the Marabar Caves in the days of the Raj. Forster (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._M._Forster)¬†delicately but resolutely sticks the knife into the whole idea of¬†colonial presence in India. The narrative is engaging and the characters memorable, particularly perhaps Miss Adela

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Hard Times by Charles Dickens

Meet school headmaster Mr. Thomas Gradgrind in¬†his grim Northern mill town, Coketown¬†(based on Preston). His mantra is strictly Utilitarian -‘In this life, we want nothing but Facts, sir; nothing but Facts!’ Gradgrind approves of nothing but what is ‘severely workful’. Predictably, this approach to life does not enrich or develop the lives of his daughter

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Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Conrad) introduces us to Charles Marlow, an ambitious and adventurous sailor who is employed by an English trading company and sent to an African colony. There he travels up the Congo, visiting the trading stations which barter for ivory with the natives. On his journey he is told about a man named Kurtz whose station is the

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Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust

Originally published as ‘A La Recherche du Temps Perdu‘ in 1913. In this opening volume of Proust’s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcel_Proust) masterpiece, the narrator seems at first to be launching a fairly traditional life-story. But after the prelude the narrator travels backwards rather than forwards in time, in order to tell the story of a love affair that

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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Bronte (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_Bront%C3%AB) gives us plain young governess Jane Eyre who is not long out the orphanage. Plain, perhaps, but spirited, moral, and fiercely independent of mind. How will she succeed in a world in which the odds are so heavily stacked against her? Employed at the remote Thornfield Hall, Jane has to unravel the secrets of her moody master

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Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon

The advent of the First World War brought about the end of¬†a whole way¬†of life in the Scottish countryside that had persisted for perhaps a thousand years. With technological change picking up pace as well,¬†the old patterns¬†were swept away. It was a ‘sunset song’ for a harsh yet beautiful existence. In this novel of 1932

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