It’s so satisfying to look at the colourful and stripy spines of the Penguin English Library classics lined on my shelves that I’m always eager to add more copies to my collection. I obviously have to be interested in the story as well. I don’t buy them solely for the covers and overall design by Coralie Bickford-Smith.
Since I revealed the classics that I had in these editions almost four years ago, I bought a few more. I have now sixteen in total. Most of my latest acquisitions were written by Charles Dickens, but there are other authors amongst the seven books mentioned in this post.
Despite being full of unpleasant characters, Wuthering Heights is a gripping and convincing novel, which explores obsession and revenge in a believable way. Mr Earnshaw found Heathcliff on the streets of Liverpool when he was just a boy and took him to Wuthering Heights to live with him and his children. While he was looked down on by Hindley, he grew very close to Catherine. His unhealthy fascination with her led him to seek revenge.
Although the pacing of this epistolary novel is not always perfect, it is compelling thanks to its fleshed-out characters. Gilbert Markham writes a letter to a friend to tell him how he met a young widowed woman called Mrs Helen Graham, how he fell in love with her, and how he learnt about her mistreatment by her husband. Helen’s initial behaviour becomes more understandable as we learn more about her past predicaments.
This novella by H.P. Lovecraft, which mixes elements of sci-fi and horror, reveals great imagination. At first, it’s even thrilling and unsettling. However, as the story unfolds, it becomes progressively duller. The narrator was part of an expedition to Antarctica, where they discovered an unknown species.
George Orwell had a significant knowledge about totalitarian regimes and that is obvious while reading Nineteen Eighty-Four. It portrays a dystopian society where war was everlasting, houses were monitored by telescreens, information was continuously changed to fit the interests of the Party, whose face was the Big Brother, and gaslighting and mob mentality were widespread. The main character in this crucial and stimulating novel is Winston, whose job was to reconstruct the past. His life changed when he started to believe that O’Brien shared his contempt for the Party and he became involved with Julia.
Although it is not an easy novel to get immersed in at first, A Tale of Two Cities soon becomes engaging. Set in London and Paris during the 18th century, it explores how those who fought against tyranny can become despots themselves. Around the time of the French Revolution, Lucie Manette discovers that her father is not dead after all. With the help of Mr Jarvis Lorry, she manages to take him from France to England. During their journey, they meet Charles Darnay, who years later falls in love with Lucie. Their love story develops in the background as social unrest takes over France.
The purpose of this novel (my least favourite by Charles Dickens so far) is to unmistakably criticise utilitarianism. Mr Gradgrind, the headmaster of Coketown School, wanted his pupils to only learn facts. The same principle was the backbone of his children’s, Louisa and Thomas, upbringing, which has consequences later on in their lives. Sadly, the book only engrossed me near the end. The plot is too meandering and it takes an excessive amount of time for the characters to feel realistic.
At the beginning of this little book about the essence of Christmas, Scrooge is a bitter man. In order for him to learn about compassion, Marley’s spirit guides him through Christmas past, present and future.
Have you read any of these books? Which classics do you own in the Penguin English Library editions? Tell me in the comments!