Articles on Guide to the Classics

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Linen Market, Dominica, oil painting by Agostino Brunias, circa 1780. Wikimedia Commons

Guide to the classics: Wide Sargasso Sea

Jean Rhys's prequel to Jane Eyre explores the monstrous figure of Rochester's mad wife Bertha, prompting readers to think about the racialised legacies of colonialism.
Li Kui (李逵), one of the characters in The Water Margin, battles tigers after they killed his mother. Utagawa Kuniyoshi, between between 1845 and 1850. Wikimedia

Guide to the classics: The Water Margin, China’s outlaw novel

In The Water Margin, first put to paper in the 14th century, local injustice is the rule, and defence against cruel local authority is a matter of vengeance, stratagem, and violence
One important reason for the Spartans’ obsession with fighting was the constant possibility they would need these skills in war and also at home, in Sparta itself. Shutterstock

Curious Kids: who were the Spartans?

From about age seven, Spartan children learned to fight and practise obeying orders. They also staged pretend battles. Boys and girls were trained separately.
Kahlil Gibran, The Divine World (1923), Illustration for The Prophet, Charcoal. Gibran Museum

Guide To The Classics: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

After Shakespeare and Laozi, Kahlil Gibran is the highest selling poet ever, largely thanks to The Prophet, a set of 26 prose poems.
Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, attributed to Pieter Bruegel the Elder, c. 1555. Rosemary Dobson addressed the painting in her poem Painter of Antwerp. Wikimedia

Guide to the Classics: the poetry of Rosemary Dobson

Across her long career, Dobson was celebrated as a poet who could take the reader beyond the immediate image to another insight.
Gregory Peck and Harper Lee on the set of To Kill a Mockingbird. Universal Pictures/IMDB

How the moral lessons of To Kill a Mockingbird endure today

To Kill a Mockingbird is no sermon. Its lessons are presented in effortless style, tackling the complexity of race issues with startling clarity and a strong sense of reality.
Kaya Scodelario as Catherine Earnshaw in the 2011 film adaptation of Wuthering Heights. Film 4 and UK Film Council/IMDB

Why Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights is a cult classic

This week is the 200th anniversary of Emily Bronte's birth. If reading Wuthering Heights - her only published novel - feels like a suspension in a state of waking nightmare, what a richly-hued vision of the fantastical it is.
William Faulkner’s novel depicts a poor rural family from Mississippi struggling to find their place in the modernising society of the 1930s. US Library of Congress

William Faulkner diagnosed modern ills in As I Lay Dying

William Faulkner began writing As I Lay Dying the day after the 1929 Wall Street crash. It documents, through the voices of 15 characters, the emergence of a poor white family into the modern world.
A stick insect in Borneo: variation and natural selection has resulted in insects with the astonishing ability to mimic features in their natural environment. Shutterstock

Guide to the classics: Darwin’s On the Origin of Species

In this age of the pseudo-factual, its more important than ever to acquaint ourselves with the foundations of the scientific tradition, such as Darwin's Origin of Species.
Fresco showing a woman called Sappho holding writing implements from Pompeii Naples National Archaeological Museum. Wikimedia Commons

Guide to the classics: Sappho, a poet in fragments

Sappho sang of desire, passion and love – mostly directed towards women. As new fragments of her work are found, a fuller picture of her is emerging, but she remains the most mysterious of ancient poets.
An illustration from a 1914 edition of Anna Karenina. Zahar Pichugin/Shutterstock.com

Guide to the Classics: Anna Karenina

Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina is often acclaimed as the best novel ever written. The enthralling narrative explores love and family through intertwining plot lines, with Anna and her desire at the centre.

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