Penguin Little Black Classics

One stocking filler I received this Christmas was a neat super-slim (approx 50pp) book excerpting entries from Samuel PepysDiary pertinent to The Great Fire Of London.

Last year to celebrate 80 years of publishing, Penguin produced 80 different books like this priced at 80p a piece – their Little Black Classics. Many are excerpts from larger works, some are poems, others are noteworthy short stories or essays. Amazon appears to have plenty in stock, so with #47 Pepys already in hand I’ll definitely be ordering other dinky little must-haves, such as De Quincy‘s “On Murder Considered As One Of The Fine Arts” (available online in his Miscellaneous Essays), Charlotte Perkins Gilman‘s short psychological horror The Yellow Wallpaper and maybe Antigone. (One word of warning, the books are presented with barely a page of commentary and context, i.e. no proper forewords or anything).

Waterstones apparently have/had a rather clever “promotion” technique of hiding individual books from the series around their shops’ various sections, intended as something that might catch a browser’s eye. Clever bit of shelving that. The ideal way to find and try an author you might otherwise never given a second glance at. Keep ’em peeled, fellow readers!

The full list is below, taken from The Guardian’s review of the set:

1. Boccaccio Mrs Rosie and the Priest

2. Gerard Manley Hopkins As Kingfishers Catch Fire

3. The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-tongue

4. Thomas de Quincey On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts

5. Friedrich Nietzsche Aphorisms on Love and Hate

6. John Ruskin Traffic

7. Pu Songling Wailing Ghosts

8. Jonathan Swift A Modest Proposal

9. Three Tang Dynasty Poets

10. Walt Whitman Alone on the Beach at Night

11. Kenko A Cup of Sake Beneath the Cherry Trees

12. Baltasar Gracian How to Use Your Enemies

13. John Keats The Eve of St Agnes

14. Thomas Hardy Woman Much Missed

15. Guy de Maupassant Femme Fatale

16. Marco Polo Travels in the Land of Serpents and Pearls

17. Suetonius Caligula

18. Apollonius of Rhodes Jason and Medea

19. Robert Louis Stevenson Olalla

20. Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx The Communist Manifesto

21. Petronius Trimalchio’s Feast

22. Johann Peter Hebel How a Ghastly Story Was Brought to Light by a Common or Garden Butcher’s Dog

23. Hans Christian Andersen The Tinder Box

24. Rudyard Kipling The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows

25. Dante Circles of Hell

26. Henry Mayhew Of Street Piemen

27. Hafez The nightingales Are Drunk

28. Geoffrey Chaucer The Wife of Bath

29. Michel de Montaigne How We Weep and Laugh at the Same Thing

30. Thomas Nashe The Terrors of the Night

31. Edgar Allan Poe The Tell-Tale Heart

32. Mary Kingsley A Hippo Banquet

33. Jane Austen The Beautifull Cassandra

34. Anton Chekhov Gooseberries

35. Samuel Taylor Coleridge Well, They Are Gone, and Here Must I Remain

36. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Sketchy, Doubtful, Incomplete Jottings

37. Charles Dickens The Great Winglebury Duel

38. Herman Melville The Maldive Shark

39. Elizabeth Gaskell The Old Nurse’s Story

40. Nikolai Leskov The Steel Flea

41. Honore de Balzac The Atheist’s Mass

42. Charlotte Perkins Gilman The Yellow Wall-Paper

43. CP Cavafy Remember, Body…

44. Fyodor Dostoevsky The Meek One

45. Gustave Flaubert A Simple Heart

46. Nikolai Gogol The Nose

47. Samuel Pepys The Great Fire of London

48. Edith Wharton The Reckoning

49. Henry James The Figure in the Carpet

50. Wilfred Owen Anthem for Doomed Youth

51. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart My Dearest Father

52. Plato Socrates’ Defence

53. Christina Rossetti Goblin Market

54. Sindbad the Sailor

55. Sophocles Antigone

56. Ryūnosuke Akutagawa The Life of a Stupid Man

57. Leo Tolstoy How Much Land Does a Man Need?

58. Giorgio Vasari Leonardo da Vinci

59. Oscar Wilde Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime

60. Shen Fu The Old Man of the Moon

61. Aesop The Dolphins, the Whales and the Gudgeon

62. Matsuo Bashō Lips Too Chilled

63. Emily Bronte The Night Is Darkening Round Me

64. Joseph Conrad To-morrow

65. Richard Hakluyt The Voyage of Sir Francis Drake Around the Whole Globe

66. Kate Chopin A Pair of Silk Stockings

67. Charles Darwin It Was Snowing Butterflies

68. Brothers Grimm The Robber Bridegroom

69. Catullus I Hate and I Love

70. Homer Circe and the Cyclops

71. DH Lawrence Il Duro

72. Katherine Mansfield Miss Brill

73. Ovid The Fall of Icarus

74. Sappho Come Close

75. Ivan Turgenev Kasyan from the Beautiful Lands

76. Virgil O Cruel Alexis

77. HG Wells A Slip under the Microscope

78. Herodotus The Madness of Cambyses

79. Speaking of Śiva

80. The Dhammapada


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Da22 says:

    Is it bad that I haven’t read any of those cover to cover?


  2. stevenger says:

    Ha! Not at all, the selection is partly intended to showcase the regular Penguin range’s breadth. Most people have probably read something by a few of the authors included. Think I’ve mostly only read portions, short works and fragments from about 30 of them, and that’s despite my deliberate forays into capital-L Literature.


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