From the master of spy thrillers, John le Carre's The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is a gripping story of love and betrayal at the height of the Cold War. This Penguin Modern Classics edition includes an afterword by the author and an introduction by William Boyd, author of Any Human Heart. Alec Leamas is tired. It's the 1960s, he's been out in the cold for years, spying in the shadow of the Berlin Wall for his British masters. He has seen too many good agents murdered for their troubles. Now Control wants to bring him in at last - but only after one final assignment. He must travel deep into the heart of Communist Germany and betray his country, a job that he will do with his usual cynical professionalism. But when George Smiley tries to help a young woman Leamas has befriended, Leamas's mission may prove to be the worst thing he could ever have done. In le Carre's breakthrough work of 1963, the spy story is reborn as a gritty and terrible tale of men who are caught up in politics beyond their imagining.
In The Outsider (1942), his classic existentialist novel, Camus explores the alienation of an individual who refuses to conform to social norms. Meursault, his anti-hero, will not lie. When his mother dies, he refuses to show his emotions simply to satisfy the expectations of others. And when he commits a random act of violence on a sun-drenched beach near Algiers, his lack of remorse compounds his guilt in the eyes of society and the law. Yet he is as much a victim as a criminal. Albert Camus' portrayal of a man confronting the absurd, and revolting against the injustice of society, depicts the paradox of man's joy in life when faced with the 'tender indifference' of the world. Sandra Smith's translation, based on close listening to a recording of Camus reading his work aloud on French radio in 1954, sensitively renders the subtleties and dream-like atmosphere of L'Etranger.
Poet and pervert, Humbert Humbert becomes obsessed by twelve-year-old Lolita and seeks to possess her, first carnally and then artistically, out of love, 'to fix once for all the perilous magic of nymphets'. Is he in love or insane? A silver-tongued poet or a pervert? A tortured soul or a monster? Or is he all of these? Humbert Humbert's seduction is one of many dimensions in Nabokov's dizzying masterpiece, which is suffused with a savage humour and rich, elaborate verbal textures. Filmed by Stanley Kubrick in 1962 starring James Mason and Peter Sellers, and again in 1997 by Adrian Lyne starring Jeremy Irons and Melanie Griffith, Lolita has lost none of its power to shock and awe.
Truman Capote's dazzling New York novel Breakfast at Tiffany's that inspired the classic 1961 film starring Audrey Hepburn is beautifully repackaged as part of the Penguin Essentials range. 'What I've found does the most good is just to get into a taxi and go to Tiffany's. It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there, not with those kind men in their nice suits...' Meet Holly Golightly - a free spirited, lop-sided romantic girl about town. With her tousled blond hair and upturned nose, dark glasses and chic black dresses, Holly is a style sensation wherever she goes. Her apartment rocks to Martini-soaked parties and she plays hostess to millionaires and gangsters alike. Yet Holly never loses sight of her ultimate dream - to find a real life place like Tiffany's that makes her feel at home. Full of sharp wit and exuberant, larger-than-life characters which vividly capture the restless, madcap era of 1940s New York, Breakfast at Tiffany's will make you fall in love, perhaps for the first time, with a book.
Bringing into harsh focus the daily struggle for existence in a Soviet gulag, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is translated by Ralph Parker in Penguin Modern Classics. This brutal, shattering glimpse of the fate of millions of Russians under Stalin shook Russia and shocked the world when it first appeared. Discover the importance of a piece of bread or an extra bowl of soup, the incredible luxury of a book, the ingenious possibilities of a nail, a piece of string or a single match in a world where survival is all. Here safety, warmth and food are the first objectives. Reading it, you enter a world of incarceration, brutality, hard manual labour and freezing cold - and participate in the struggle of men to survive both the terrible rigours of nature and the inhumanity of the system that defines their conditions of life. Though twice-decorated for his service at the front during the Second World War, Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) was arrested in 1945 for making derogatory remarks about Stalin, and sent to a series of brutal Soviet labour camps in the Arctic Circle, where he remained for eight years. Released after Stalin's death, he worked as a teacher, publishing his novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich with the approval of Nikita Khrushchev in 1962, to huge success. His 1967 novel Cancer Ward, as well as his magnum opus The Gulag Archipelago, were not as well-received by Soviet authorities, and not long after being awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1970, Solzhenitsyn was deported from the USSR. In 1994, after twenty years in exile, Solzhenitsyn made his long-awaited return to Russia.
'"After all," he said, "you're only a monkey spirit. How can you delude yourself into supposing that you can seize the Jade Emperor's throne?"' Featuring the adventures of the irrepressible, cloud-riding trickster Monkey and his band of unruly disciples, this centuries-old Chinese fantasy blends beauty with absurdity, nonsense with profundity.
Life in pre-revolutionary Cuba is not easy and James Wormold, a failing vacuum cleaner salesman, is struggling to fund the increasingly lavish lifestyle of his manipulative sixteen year-old daughter, Milly. So when an enigmatic Englishman offers him an extra income in return for a little spying, he is sorely tempted . . . But when the fake reports he's been sending to London start to come true, Havana suddenly becomes a very dangerous place indeed. Both a brilliant Cold War thriller and hilarious work of satire, Our Man in Havana is Graham Greene's classic tale of an accidental spy, and a truly gripping read.
Generally considered to be F. Scott Fitzgerald's finest novel, The Great Gatsby is a consummate summary of the "roaring twenties", and a devastating expose of the "Jazz Age". Through the narration of Nick Carraway, the reader is taken into the superficially glittering world of the mansions which lined the Long Island shore in the 1920s, to encounter Nick's cousin Daisy, her brash but wealthy husband Tom Buchanan, Jay Gatsby and the mystery that surrounds him.
Cry the Beloved Country is the deeply moving story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son Absalom, set against the background of a land and a people riven by racial injustice. Remarkable for its contemporaneity, unforgettable for character and incident, Cry the Beloved Country is a classic work of love and hope, courage and endurance, born of the dignity of man.
With his trademark dry wit, Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle is an inventive science fiction satire that preys on our deepest fears of witnessing Armageddon - and, worse still, surviving it. This Penguin Modern Classics edition includes an introduction by Benjamin Kunkel. Dr Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding 'fathers' of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy to humanity. For he is the inventor of ice-nine, a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. Writer Jonah's search for his whereabouts leads him to Hoenikker's three eccentric children, to an island republic in the Caribbean where the absurd religion of Bokononism is practised, to love and to insanity. Told with deadpan humour and bitter irony, Kurt Vonnegut's cult tale of global destruction is a frightening and funny satire on the end of the world and the madness of mankind. Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) was born in Indianapolis. During the Second World War he was a prisoner in Germany and present at the bombing of Dresden, an experience he recounted in his famous novel Slaughterhouse Five (1969). His first novel, Player Piano, was published in 1951 and since then he has written many novels, including The Sirens of Titan, Jailbird, Deadeye Dick, Galapagos and Hocus Pocus.
In the bitter winter of 1847, from an Ireland torn by injustice and natural disaster, the Star of the Sea sets sail for New York. On board are hundreds of fleeing refugees. Among them are a maidservant with a devastating secret, bankrupt Lord Merridith and his family, an aspiring novelist and a maker of revolutionary ballads, all braving the Atlantic in search of a new home. Each is connected more deeply than they can possibly know. But a camouflaged killer is stalking the decks, hungry for the vengeance that will bring absolution.
One of Evelyn Waugh's most exuberant comedies, Scoop is a brilliantly irreverent satire of Fleet Street and its hectic pursuit of hot news. Lord Copper, newspaper magnate and proprietor of The Daily Beast, has always prided himself on his intuitive flair for spotting ace reporters. That is not to say he has not made the odd blunder, however, and may in a moment of weakness make another. Acting on a dinner party tip from Mrs Algernon Stitch, he feels convinced that he has hit on just the chap to cover a promising little war in the African Republic of Ishmaelia. But for, pale, ineffectual William Boot, editor of the Daily Beast's 'nature notes' column, being mistaken for a competent journalist may prove to be a fatal error...
Molloy is Samuel Beckett's best-known novel, and his first published work to be written in French, ushering in a period of concentrated creativity in the late 1940s which included the companion novels Malone Dies and The Unnamable. The narrative of Molloy, old and ill, remembering and forgetting, scarcely human, begets a parallel tale of the spinsterish Moran, a private detective sent in search of him, whose own deterioration during the quest joins in with the catalogue of Molloy's woes. Molloy brings a world into existence with finicking certainties, at the tip of whoever is holding the pencil, and trades larger uncertainties with the reader. Then I went back into the house and wrote, It is midnight. The rain is beating on the windows. It was not midnight. It was not raining.
Born at the stroke of midnight, at the precise moment of India's independence, Saleem Sinai is destined from birth to be special. For he is one of 1,001 children born in the midnight hour, children who all have special gifts, children with whom Saleem is telepathically linked. But there has been a terrible mix up at birth, and Saleem's life takes some unexpected twists and turns. As he grows up amidst a whirlwind of triumphs and disasters, Saleem must learn the ominous consequences of his gift, for the course of his life is inseparably linked to that of his motherland, and his every act is mirrored and magnified in the events that shape the newborn nation of India. It is a great gift, and a terrible burden.
'It would be a dull world if we all thought alike.' After seven years of marriage, the beautiful Lady Brenda Last is bored with life at Hetton Abbey, the Gothic mansion that is the pride and joy of her husband, Tony. She drifts into an affair with the shallow socialite John Beaver and forsakes Tony for the Belgravia set. Brilliantly combining tragedy, comedy and savage irony, A Handful of Dust captures the irresponsible mood of the 'crazy and sterile generation' between the wars.
'Surround yourself with human beings, my dear James. They are easier to fight for than principles.' In "Casino Royale", the first of Fleming's 007 adventures, a game of cards is James Bond's only chance to bring down the desperate SMERSH agent Le Chiffre. But Bond soon discovers that there is far more at stake than money.
Pitching an extraordinary battle between cruel authority and a rebellious free spirit, Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a novel that epitomises the spirit of the sixties. This Penguin Classics edition includes a preface, never-before published illustrations by the author, and an introduction by Robert Faggen. Tyrannical Nurse Ratched rules her ward in an Oregon State mental hospital with a strict and unbending routine, unopposed by her patients, who remain cowed by mind-numbing medication and the threat of electroshock therapy. But her regime is disrupted by the arrival of McMurphy - the swaggering, fun-loving trickster with a devilish grin who resolves to oppose her rules on behalf of his fellow inmates. His struggle is seen through the eyes of Chief Bromden, a seemingly mute half-Indian patient who understands McMurphy's heroic attempt to do battle with the powers that keep them imprisoned. The subject of an Oscar-winning film starring Jack Nicholson, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest an exuberant, ribald and devastatingly honest portrayal of the boundaries between sanity and madness. If you enjoyed One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, you might like Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange .
Therese Raquin is a clinically observed, sinister tale of adultery and murder among the lower orders in nineteenth-century Paris. Zola's dispassionate dissection of the motivations of his characters, mere `human beasts' who kill in order to satisfy their lust, is much more than an atmospheric Second Empire period-piece. Many readers were scandalized by an approach to character-drawing which seemed to undermine not only the moral values of a deeply conservative society, but also the whole code of psychological description on which the realist novel was based.
On a trip to the South of France, the shy heroine of Rebecca falls in love with Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower. Although his proposal comes as a surprise, she happily agrees to marry him. But as they arrive at her husband's home, Manderley, a change comes over Maxim, and the young bride is filled with dread. Friendless in the isolated mansion, she realises that she barely knows him. In every corner of every room is the phantom of his beautiful first wife, Rebecca, and the new Mrs de Winter walks in her shadow.
Nana opens in 1867, the year of the World Fair, when Paris, thronged by a cosmopolitan elite, was la Ville Lumiere, a perfect victim for Zola's scathing denunciation of hypocrisy and fin-de-siecle moral corruption. The fate of Nana, the Helen of Troy of the Second Empire, and daughter of the laundress in L'Assommoir, reduced Flaubert to almost inarticulate gasps of admiration. Boulevard society is presented with painstaking attention to detail, and Zola's documentation of the contemporary theatrical scene comes directly from his own experience - it was his own failure as a playwright which sent him back to novel-writing and Nana itself
Renowned urban artist Shepard Fairey's new look for Orwell's classic dystopian tale 1984 is George Orwell's terrifying vision of a totalitarian future in which everything and everyone is slave to a tyrannical regime. Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent - even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101. . .
Set in Paris and attracting comparisons with Franz Kafka and Edgar Allan Poe, The Pigeon is Patrick Suskind's tense, disturbing follow-up to the bestselling Perfume. The novella tells the story of a day in the meticulously ordered life of bank security guard Jonathan Noel, who has been hiding from life since his wife left him for her Tunisian lover. When Jonathan opens his front door on a day he believes will be just like any other, he encounters not the desired empty hallway but an unwelcome, diabolical intruder . . .