Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Classics: Little Black Classics

Hello guys, it's time to talk classics! Specifically Penguin's classics!
Penguin bring us a lot of classics, and they have loads of different versions of them, but today we're going to be looking at Penguin's Little Black Classics! I was lucky enough to be sent a couple of them to review, and they're brilliant books! I don't know what it is about the Penguin books that look like the old classics, with each colour meaning something different, but I really find myself loving them! 

The Little Black Classics are now numbering over 100, with the original 80, costing just 80p each, first released being joined by many, many more. The choices are overwhelming, and with the newer ones at £1/£2 it's kind of hard to just limit yourself to buying one! The range of different works in this particular range are mind blowing and I found myself wondering how the people over at Penguin actually chose which works would be made in to an LBC! 

There's poetry, there's short stories from some of the well known authors we love, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Shakespeare and so on, most taken from larger volumes. There's a selection from Samuel Pepys diary concerning the Great Fire of London, there's a selection from Darwin's journey and so on. There's also offerings from authors that are perhaps lesser known, or at least, lesser known to me! The choices are endless and there's bound to be more than one that catches your eye, whether fiction or non-fiction. The size of the books, makes them fairly noticeable, but what really makes them standout are the titles. Some authors have been given some very eye catching titles, "Is This A Dagger Which I See Before Me?" being a collection of Shakespeare's soliloquies. "It Was Snowing Butterflies" is the eye catching title for Darwin's selection, that I previously mentioned. The design may be simple, but it's clean and manages to still catch the eye. 

Penguin very kindly sent me five LBC's to review, and I was excited to see which ones they chose for me! As you can see, I was sent a nice mix, and I actually only didn't know one of the authors! 
While there are no introductions to the book, I did notice little bits of information inside the book. Information about the author, birth and death and so on, where the text was taken from, and some more information in a couple of cases. Not much, but enough for context, Oroonoko actually had some notes throughout the text with word meanings. 

As you open the front cover of the book, you're greeted by a large quote from the text, which was immediately intriguing and was nicely laid out. Adding a little taste of the text to get you ready! Like I've said, they may be small/short books, but there's actually a lot in them, the quotes, the little bits of extra information that some of them have, the text itself...it all comes together to make a series of brilliant little books for your collection. They're brilliantly crafted, and put together and they're a very affordable price to collect! Whether you want to collect them all or perhaps just want the odd Austen or Bronte to fill out the works of theirs that you already have. For instance, I've never read any other Bronte or Dickens short works, so these two volumes will be brilliant to add to the collection of works I already have by the authors! Penguin have really done a brilliant job! 

I for one, am definitely going to be collecting these! Thank God Penguin have included a list in the back of these! 

Stancliffe's Hotel is a set of Vignettes set in the imaginary kingdom of Angria, a kingdom that she created with her brother Branwell! After reading The Madwoman Upstairs, I immediately clocked on to the fact this was the "fantasy world" mentioned in the book, that Charlotte and her brother created to rival Anne and Emily's! I find Bronte's writing a lot easier to get on with than Austen's and having read and loved Jane Eyre, I found myself surprised by the imagination Bronte lets run free in this little book. Charlotte writes beautifully, and this book is a fine example of her wit. She writes from the perspective of Charles, and I found myself surprised at the choice! Stancliffe's Hotel is a very well written, elegant and imaginative collection of mini vignettes, each well linked and moving from one to the other smoothly. It's a witty read, full or irony and it's entertaining throughout. I enjoyed Charles addressing the reader, and how the book ended in particular! It's interesting to think, that if this was something she wrote to entertain her siblings, and I'm assuming, never be seen by the public. I would leave to read more stories from this world! 

This little volume is a selection of poetry by Emily Dickinson. Despite knowing who Dickinson is, this was the first time I'd actually read some of her poems fully. There were a couple of her poems in here, that I recognised the odd line from, that I'd heard or seen in other books and so on. I think this book has now sparked off an interest in her works! This little volume is a wonderful collection of poems, it's a mix of ones that are perhaps more well known than others, and some lesser known ones. Each is beautifully written, atmospheric, a lot of them are dark, and there's some mythology mentioned a few times which immediately piqued my interest! I enjoyed reading the poems, they invoked certain imagery as I was reading, and gave off a certain feel to them. They where mostly short and to the point as well, which made them even more interesting to me! 

Much like Dickinson, where Pushkin is concerned, I have heard of him and stumbled across him before, but I've never actually read him, and I think this, like each of the other volumes I'm reviewing here...is a nice way to get in to the authors other works! The Queen of Spades is about a card player and his obsession with winning, that swiftly turns in to a curse. I enjoyed this book immensely, it was very well written, and neatly wrapped up at the end. It sent a shiver up my spine, both because of the writing and because ghosts creep me out in general! I can't really say the guy didn't get what's coming to him...because he did! I liked the authors way of phrasing things, and I liked the ending to the story and the message within. 

Oroonoko is all about an African prince sold in to slavery and it was an incredibly interesting read. Oroonoko was published in 1688 and I'm not going to pretend the way of speech didn't take some getting used to, because it did! I was fascinated by this book, especially after it mentioned the author being a spy! What interested me about the book is that it is fiction, yet the author portrays herself as having been there, she even writes a letter at the beginning claiming that the following story is all true. The story was very intriguing, all the little intricacies of it coming together. It was a fascinating look in to the time period, and slave trading and writing at the time. The story actually broke my heart a little bit, because it was such a sad ending, dramatic as it was. I found myself looking in to the author more, after reading and it just made the book all the more fascinating! 

I've read Dickens before, and perhaps surprisingly to some of you, of my own free will. We never studied Dickens at school, but I remember collecting these fancy editions from the newspaper when I was younger. I actually started to read Great Expectations, I just never finished it because I was a teen and it wasn't cool to read at school. To Be Read At Dusk features works of Dickens that I've not come across before, it contains three rather chilling ghost stories. While not terrifying to us in this day and age, at the time I imagine they would have caused quite a stir. I actually really quite like Dickens writing, and he certainly chills you with these tales, even if he doesn't outright terrify you. Each story is well written, and rather creepy, mostly down to the atmosphere to each of the stories. The narratives are gripping and you will be left wondering! Perfect Halloween reading, best read at...well....dusk! 

1 comment:

  1. Ahh I really want to start collecting these! They look so pretty and SOUND so good! Great review! :)


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