«Once when I was six years old I saw a magnificent picture in a book, called True Stories from Nature, about the primeval forest. It was a picture of a boa constrictor in the act of swallowing an animal...» The Little Prince, first published in 1943, is a novella and the most famous work of the French aristocrat, writer, poet and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944). Is a poetic tale, with watercolour illustrations by the author, in which a pilot stranded in the desert meets a young prince fallen to Earth from a tiny asteroid. The story is philosophical and includes social criticism, remarking on the strangeness of the adult world.
It was written during a period when Saint-Exupéry fled to North America subsequent to the Fall of France during the Second World War, witnessed first hand by the author and captured in his memoir. The adult fable, according to one review, is actually "...an allegory of Saint-Exupéry's own life-his search for childhood certainties and interior peace, his mysticism, his belief in human courage and brotherhood, and his deep love for his wife Consuelo but also an allusion to the tortured nature of their relationship."
«In old times when wishing still helped one, there lived a king whose daughters were all beautiful, but the youngest was so beautiful that the sun itself, which has seen so much, was astonished whenever it shone in her face...» Household Tales is a collection of German fairy tales first published in 1812 by the Grimm brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm.
The work of the Brothers Grimm influenced other collectors, both inspiring them to collect tales and leading them to similarly believe, in a spirit of romantic nationalism, that the fairy tales of a country were particularly representative of it, to the neglect of cross-cultural influence.
The first volumes were much criticized because, although they were called "Children's Tales", they were not regarded as suitable for children, both for the scholarly information included and the subject matter.
«No había nada muy extraordinario en esto, ni tampoco le pareció a Alicia muy extraño oír que el conejo se decía a sí mismo: «¡Dios mío! ¡Dios mío! ¡Voy a llegar tarde!» (...). Pero cuando el conejo se sacó un reloj de bolsillo del chaleco, lo miró y echó a correr, Alicia se levantó de un salto, porque comprendió de golpe que ella nunca había visto un conejo con chaleco, ni con reloj que sacarse de él, y, ardiendo de curiosidad, se puso a correr tras el conejo por la pradera, y llegó justo a tiempo para ver cómo se precipitaba en una madriguera que se abría al pie del seto.» Alicia en el país de las maravillas es una sátira sobre la política y la educación inglesas de la época.
Su autor nos presenta a unos personajes que se han instalado, de forma permanente, en el imaginario colectivo, tanto de niños como de adultos.
Cumbres borrascosas es la única novela que escribió su autora, Emily Brontë (1818-1848). Se trata de una novela tempestuosa y apasionada cuya sensibilidad se adelantó a su tiempo. Los brumosos y sombríos páramos de Yorkshire son el singular escenario donde se desarrolla, con fuerza arrebatadora, esta historia de amor y de venganza, de locura y odio, de vida y muerte, en la que sus dos protagonistas desarrollan una relación de dependencia mutua a lo largo de toda su vida, desde la infancia hasta más allá de la muerte. Nos narra una relación arrebatadora y romántica, una venganza que se prolonga hasta el final y un amor que irá aún más lejos. Una relación entre un hombre violento, burdo, inadaptado, y profundamente enamorado, y una mujer frágil, caprichosa, histérica, y profundamente enamorada.
La divina comedia de Dante es una obra alegórica que el autor nos plantea como un viaje iniciático estructurado en tres «paisajes» (el Infierno, el Purgatorio y el Paraíso), que suman un total de 100 cantos. Sin que se conozca una fecha exacta de su composición, se cree que ésta pudo empezar hacia 1304-1307 y prolongarse hasta el año de su muerte (1321).
Se trata de una obra llena de complejidad, extraña, a la vez que nos presenta algunos textos sublimes.
Dante utiliza su capacidad de fabulación, su fantasía, para llevarnos por los paisajes oscuros y lóbregos del Infierno, o lo más delicados del Purgatorio, o aquéllos luminosos y resplandecientes del Paraíso.
Estamos ante un texto fundamental en la transición del pensamiento medieval (más centrado en la figura de Dios) al renacentista (más dirigido a la figura del hombre).
«All satates, all powers, that have held and hold rule over men have been and are either republics or principalities...» The Prince is a 16th-century political treatise by the Italian diplomat and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli.
The Prince is sometimes claimed to be one of the first works of modern philosophy, especially modern political philosophy, in which the effective truth is taken to be more important than any abstract ideal. It was also in direct conflict with the dominant Catholic and scholastic doctrines of the time concerning how to consider politics and ethics.
Although it was written as if it were a traditional work in the mirrors for princes style, it is generally agreed that it was especially innovative. This is only partly because it was written in the vernacular Italian rather than Latin, a practice which had become increasingly popular since the publication of Dante's Divine Comedy and other works of Renaissance literature.
«Far out in the ocean, where the water is as blue as the prettiest cornflower, and as clear as crystal, it is very, very deep; so deep, indeed, that no cable could fathom it: many church steeples, piled one upon another, would not reach from the ground beneath to the surface of the water above...» Hans Christian Andersen, often referred to in Scandinavia as H. C. Andersen was a Danish author. Although a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, Andersen is best remembered for his fairy tales.
Andersen's popularity is not limited to children; his stories, called eventyr in Danish or "fairy-tales" in English, express themes that transcend age and nationality.
Andersen's fairy tales, which have been translated into more than 125 languages, have become culturally embedded in the West's collective consciousness, readily accessible to children, but presenting lessons of virtue and resilience in the face of adversity for mature readers as well.
His stories have inspired ballets, both animated and live-action films, and plays.
«One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin...» The Metamorphosis is a novella first published in 1915. It has been cited as one of the seminal works of fiction of the 20th century and is studied in colleges and universities across the Western world. The story begins with a traveling salesman, Gregor Samsa, waking to find himself transformed (metamorphosed) into a large, monstrous insect-like creature. The cause of Gregor's transformation is never revealed, and Kafka himself never gave an explanation. The rest of Kafka's novella deals with Gregor's attempts to adjust to his new condition as he deals with being burdensome to his parents and sister, who are repelled by the horrible, verminous creature Gregor has become.
During 1914, Kafka began the novel The Trial, the story of a man arrested and prosecuted by a remote, inaccessible authority, with the nature of his crime revealed neither to him nor to the reader.
«A spectre is haunting Europe -- the spectre of Communism. All the Powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Czar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German policespies...» The Manifesto of the Communist Party is an 1848 political pamphlet by German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Commissioned by the Communist League and originally published in London (in the German language as Manifest der kommunistischen Partei) just as the revolutions of 1848 began to erupt, the Manifesto was later recognised as one of the world's most influential political manuscripts. It presents an analytical approach to the class struggle (historical and present) and the problems of capitalism and the capitalist mode of production, rather than a prediction of communism's potential future forms.
The Communist Manifesto summarises Marx and Engels' theories about the nature of society and politics, that in their own words, "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles".
«You two, who oft a helping hand Have lent, in need and tribulation.
Come, let me know your expectation Of this, our enterprise, in German land!...» Faust is a tragic play, is Goethe's magnum opus and considered by many to be one of the greatest works of German literature.
Faust Part One takes place in multiple settings, the first of which is heaven. Mephistopheles makes a bet with God: he says that he can lure God's favourite human being (Faust), who is striving to learn everything that can be known, away from righteous pursuits. The next scene takes place in Faust's study where Faust, despairing at the vanity of scientific, humanitarian and religious learning, turns to magic for the showering of infinite knowledge. He suspects, however, that his attempts are failing. Frustrated, he ponders suicide, but rejects it as he hears the echo of nearby Easter celebrations begin. He goes for a walk with his assistant Wagner and is followed home by a stray poodle (the term then meant a medium-to-big-size dog, similar to a sheep dog).