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Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences

By: Mark Twain

Fenimore Cooper - author of The Deerslayer , The Last of the Mohicans , etc - has often been praised, but just as often been criticised for his writing. Mark Twain wrote a funny, vicious little essay on the subject, in which he states: In one place in 'Deerslayer,' and in the restricted space of two-thirds of a page, Cooper has scored 114 offences against literary art out of a possible 115. (Summary by Gesine)...

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Geschichte der Abderiten

By: Christoph Martin Wieland

Eine Geschichte über menschliche Schwächen und welch schweres Leben diejenigen wenigen Personen erdulden, die davon frei sind. 1774-1780 erschienen, zeitlos gültig. (Summary by redaer)...

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Nightmare Abbey

By: Thomas Love Peacock

Deep in the fens of the British coast sits the gloomy mansion that goes by the name Nightmare Abbey. It is inhabited by persons of very low opinion of the human race, and in fact they pride themselves in the depths of their detestation. Others of its denizens believe the ultimate exercise and product of the human mind ought to be chaos. Now let the young master of the house get snared by the wiles of a beautiful young lady. And for good measure, toss in another beautiful young lady. Now Scythrop (named in honor of an ancestor who became bored with life and hanged himself) is about to find that two such make too much of a good thing! Peacock wrote Nightmare Abbey as a satire, and he has folded in allusions to or quotations from literally dozens of other works. He makes use of many long, impressive-sounding words (some of which he very possibly made up!). Ignore these and his occasional Latin phrase, treat the rest as a farce, and you're on track for a fun listen!(Summary be Mark F. Smith)...

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Woe from Wit [Горе от ума]

By: Alexander Sergeyevich Griboedov ; Алекса́ндр Серге́евич Грибое́дов

Woe from Wit (Russian: Горе от ума, also translated as The Woes of Wit, Wit Works Woe and so forth) is Alexander Griboedov's comedy in verse, satirizing the society of post-Napoleonic Moscow, or, as a high official in the play styled it, a pasquinade on Moscow. The play, written in 1823 in the countryside and in Tiflis, was not passed by the censorship for the stage, and only portions of it were allowed to appear in an almanac for 1825. But it was read out by the author to all Moscow and to all Petersburg and circulated in innumerable copies, so it was as good as published in 1825; it was not, however, actually published until 1833, after the author's death, with significant cuts, and was not published in full until 1861. The play was a compulsory work in Russian literature lessons in Soviet schools, and is still considered a golden classic in modern Russia and other Russian-speaking countries. The play gave rise to numerous catch phrases in the Russian language, including the title itself. Many of them sound rather comic today because of their somewhat archaic language....

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Pickwick Papers, The

By: Charles Dickens

The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, better known as The Pickwick Papers, is the first novel by Charles Dickens. Written for publication as a serial, The Pickwick Papers consists of a sequence of loosely-related adventures. Its main literary value and appeal is formed by its numerous unforgettable heroes. Each personage in The Pickwick Papers (just as in many other Dickens' novels) is drawn comically, often with exaggerated features of character. (Wikipedia)...

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Crome Yellow

By: Aldous Huxley

Crome Yellow , published in 1921 was Aldous Huxley’s first novel. In it he satirizes the fads and fashions of the time. It is the witty story of a house party at ‘Crome’ where there is a gathering of bright young things. We hear some of the history of the house from Henry Wimbush, its owner and self appointed historian; Apocylapse is prophesied, virginity is lost, and inspirational aphorisms are gained in a trance. Our hero, Denis, tries to capture it all in poetry and is disappointed in love. The author, Aldous Huxley, was born in 1894 and began writing poetry and short stories in his early twenties; this was his first novel and established his literary reputation. (Summary by Martin Clifton)...

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Devil's Dictionary, The

By: Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Bierce (1842 - 1914?), satirist, critic, poet, short story writer and journalist. His fiction showed a clean economical style often sprinkled with subtle cynical comments on human behaviour. In the Devil's Dictionary, he let his sense of humour and his cynical outlook on life colour a collection of dictionary-like definitions. (Summary by Peter)...

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Vanity Fair

By: William Makepeace Thackeray

Vanity Fair: A Novel without a Hero is a novel by William Makepeace Thackeray that satirizes society in early 19th-century England. Like many novels of the time, Vanity Fair was published as a serial before being sold in book form; it was printed in 20 monthly parts between January 1847 and July 1848.Thackeray meant the book to be not only entertaining but also instructive; this is shown both by the narrator of the book and in Thackeray's private correspondence. The novel is now remembered as a classic of English literature, though some critics claim that it has structural problems; Thackeray sometimes lost track of the huge scope of his work, mixing up characters' names and minor plot details. The number of allusions and references it contains can make it difficult for modern readers to follow....

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Hard Times

By: Charles Dickens

Hard Times, the shortest of Dickens's full-length novels, is set in the fictitious Victorian-England city of Coketown, where facts are the rule and all fancy is to be stamped out. The plot centers around the men and women of the town, some of whom are beaten down by the city's utilitarian ideals and some of whom manage to rise above it. The novel was written in 1854 and was a scathing attack on then-current ideas of utilitarianism, which Dickens viewed as a selfish and at times oppressive philosophy. Perhaps the novel's best features are its clever, ironic narration and the larger-than-life characters that push the plot forward, such as the upper-class banker and hypocritical braggart, Josiah Bounderby, and the fact-driven schoolmaster, Thomas Gradgrind. (Summary by Rosalind Wills)....

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Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit

By: Charles Dickens

Old Martin Chuzzlewit has heaps of money that has never brought him anything but misery. Estranged from his grandson and namesake, when word gets out that he is ill, he finds himself surrounded by a throng of relatives that he despises, all hoping to get a piece of the pie. He allows himself to be taken under the wing of his obsequious and hypocritical cousin, Seth Pecksniff, who is more than happy to shelter him and kowtow to him and to keep all other relatives away. Will this vulture be the one to inherit the old man’s fortune, or is there more going on than meets the eye?Treachery, mayhem, and possibly murder, along with some genuine love and compassion are skillfully intertwined in this book, along with Dickens’ classic wit and brilliantly created characters. His villains are odious, his good guys are delightful, and those that fall in between truly deserve to be called “Characters.” (summary by Debra Lynn)...

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Way We Live Now, The

By: Anthony Trollope

The Way We Live Now is a scathing satirical novel published in London in 1875 by Anthony Trollope, after a popular serialization. It was regarded by many of Trollope's contemporaries as his finest work. One of his longest novels (it contains a hundred chapters), The Way We Live Now is particularly rich in sub-plot. It was inspired by the financial scandals of the early 1870s, and lashes at the pervading dishonesty of the age, commercial, political, moral, and intellectual. It is one of the last memorable Victorian novels to have been published in monthly parts. –from Wikipedia...

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Penguin Island

By: Anatole France

The novel (original French title -- L'Île des Pingouins) is a satire on human nature. The first publication was in 1908. These penguins are mistaken for humans by the 97-year-old priest, Father Mael, because of his bad eyesight. He baptizes them, and once baptized, they have no choice but to become human. They take on human traits (build civilizations, go to war, etc.). The book is very funny and powerful. (Summary by Michael)...

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Diablo Cojuelo, El

By: Luis Vélez de Guevara

Un estudiante que huye de la justicia, don Cleofás, entra en una buhardilla de un astrólogo y allí libera a un diablo encerrado en una redoma, quien en agradecimiento, levanta los tejados de Madrid y le enseña todas las miserias, trapacerías y engaños de sus habitantes. El Diablo Cojuelo es un diablo que, lejos de ser una forma maligna, se le representa como el espíritu más travieso del infierno», trayendo de cabeza a sus propios congéneres demoníacos. Se dice así mismo como inventor de danzas, música y literatura de carácter picaresco y satírico. Siendo uno de los primeros ángeles en levantarse en celestial rebelión, fue el primero en caer a los infiernos, aterrizando el resto de sus hermanos sobre él, dejándole estropeado y más que todos señalado de la mano de Dios». De ahí viene su sobrenombre de Cojuelo». Pero no por cojo es menos veloz y ágil. (Adaptación de Wikipedia)...

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The Unconventional Life of Jenna Jaghe

By: Ms. Victoria Jane Ward

What's better than a comedy about an unhinged woman, kidnapping a man with dementia, bestiality, friends, family and the tribulations of relationships? A book about all of those things set in Yorkshire of course! Jenna Jaghe, an unmarried bridal shop owner, has spent the best part of the last year attempting to conform to the 50’s good housewife guide that has been rammed down her throat by her uppity boyfriend, James Flannigan and his bourgeois mother. Her Saturday evening’s have been reduced to sitting correctly, surrounded by an ensemble of the Flannigan’s uptight dinner guests, at one of their ostentatious dinner parties, donning a Mrs Flannigan pre-approved two-piece with matching pearl accessories. Which is precisely why one night at a social convention, Jenna Jaghe comes spectacularly undone. Her life will never be quite the same again. Follow Jenna Jaghe on her quest to take her life back. The only problem is life has more than a few surprises in store for her. Will Jenna find what it takes to get her life back on track or will she end up sectioned with her best friend’s murderess mother? It is definitely hit and miss bu...

Wine o’clock – Best night ever again until it no longer was. Sod off James – the millstone around my neck – was the general consensus amongst mi mates and it didn’t take much coercing for me to adopt their way of thinking (well deindividuation is a real problem amongst group members) and on that note I cannot really be held responsible for the catastrophe that happened next. So after telling James to simmer darn when he reprimanded me again for going OTT during happy hour, and after being urged to sup it darn by mi mates, I started to loosen up; that is I found the girl that had been stifled for the last year. I guess it’s on a par with an animal that has been locked up for way too long and is then released into the wild. My skirt hitched up to my boobs as I dared to show some leg (because even if I do say so myself I have a lovely set of pins), my sensible, scissor sharp hair ruffled into a messy doo by Sarah who had used the greying, cracked block of soap from the loo to give it ‘some oomph’, my blouse unbuttoned, again by Sarah, to reveal my pert D cups, I was getting back to me. I was having the best time. Flannigan’s attempt...

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The UglyBeautiful Tale of a Stupid, Stupid Heart : When Mother Hen Eats her Grownup Chicks

By: Levi Cheptora Cheruo

This is not a love story; neither is it a story about love... The UglyBeautiful Tale of a Stupid, Stupid Heart is a story, fictitious and real yet imaginatively recounted and recreated anew, about living a lie, a day at a time until death suddenly, fiercely shuts its dark door of mercy, and tramples one upon the vast emptiness. This is especially the case when David and Wairimu, apparently engaged in a forbidden passion, unfortunately finds themselves in the unforgivable, cruel and menacing jaws of death in Runyenjes thanks to a bloodthirsty mob that is on a killing spree and eager to avenge the deaths of their fellow tribesmen butchered earlier in Rift Valley, Kisumu and the Coast. David is a dynamic character whose emotions, attitudes, and temperaments are unfathomable. After betraying his childhood sweetheart, Chebet, and subsequently abandoning her in her most needy hour to face an accusing world after an unexpected pregnancy all by herself, he discreetly falls in love with Wairimu. Wairimu is an exceedingly beautiful, gorgeous, exquisite, marvelous and amazing young woman whose irresistible charms, wit and affection takes his l...

Still, people laughed, others cried. Some married. As a man with sweet food before him, nobody expected the powers that were to fathom the bitterness of famine! David was getting used to the drama. Nothing was exciting anymore. His past envy for Onyango was much alive now. Perhaps the man was passing some good time in the hereafter. So much was happening...So much for his soul to bear. Learning institutions across the country had to open its gates to tens of thousands of hopeless students very late, and Shiro had no otherwise other than wait for another very long week. David always prayed for his kids not to succumb to the overwhelming wave of disillusionment. Wairimu was yet to return from her rural home in Runyenjes. She had gone back to her rural village to vote and had heard of the chaos targeting the people from her community. He hated politics. He hated politicians. He hated religious leaders. He hated Christians. He hated Muslims. He hated atheists. He hated news people. He hated PNU. He hated ODM. He hated all the hypocrisies, lies, betrayals, tribalism, negative ethnicity, propaganda, and the insatiable appetite for abso...

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Charitable Getting

By: Sam Starbuck

Charity in the twenty-first century is a game. The players are artists, salesmen, and idealists, all working together to get something for nothing. At the center of the game stands Bo Sparks, charismatic CEO of SparkVISION Consulting, which runs campaigns for the charities under its care. Surrounded by the wealthy and the desperate, Sparks just wants to do a little good in the world. But this holiday season he has more than his fair share of worries, between a secretive blogger who might be one of his staff, a journalist determined to uncover who it is, and a client who not only doesn’t want to pay their fee, but wants to sue Sparks for telling the truth. Sex scandals, embezzlement, gossip, clandestine love affairs, and one misplaced cake: it’s all in a day’s work for SparkVISION. Also available for sale in hardcopy at http://http://extribulum.wordpress.com/charitablegetting/...

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Help Yourself : With answers to the meaning of life thrown in at no extra cost

By: Caspar Addyman

John Smith just died as a comedian but may have been reborn as a prophet of the present moment. Dr Hazel Cole has written a self-help book so good that it might even work on daytime TV presenters. Behind the scenes, billionaire press baron Eric Hayle seems to be pressing all the buttons. But will this mysterious man spoil everything? God only knows. And what happens if you ask 644 professional philosophers about the meaning of life, the universe and everything? Caspar knows because he tried it. The results are included in this edition at no extra cost to you. But knowledge comes with its own price. You will have to put up with some of Caspar's ranting at the universe....

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Gulliver's Travels

By: Jonathan Swift

Gulliver's Travels (1726, amended 1735), officially Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, is a novel by Jonathan Swift that is both a satire on human nature and a parody of the travelers' tales literary sub-genre. It is widely considered Swift's magnum opus and is his most celebrated work, as well as one of the indisputable classics of English literature. (Summary from Wikipedia)...

Satire, Fantasy, Adventure

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In these days . . .

By: Ebenezer Elliott

volunteers bring you 10 recordings of In these days . . . by Ebenezer Elliott. This was the Fortnightly Poetry project for May 23rd, 2010.

Humor, Satire, Poetry

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Idiot, The

By: John Kendrick Bangs

The Idiot is anything but, yet his fellow boarders at Mrs. Smithers-Pedagog’s home for single gentlemen see him as such. His brand of creative thought is dismissed as foolishness yet it continues to get under their skin, because when you’re beneath contempt you can say what you please. – This is the first of John Kendrick Bang’s “Idiot” books and was published by Harper and Brothers in 1895. (Summary by Gregg Margarite)...

Humor, Satire, Comedy

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