The ‘divine right of kings’ may sound obsolete, but it has resonances today. Richard II asks what it means to have power, to take power – and what we’re left with when it’s gone.
In Thomas Hardy’s novel The Woodlanders, the trees sing. Hardy’s exploration of the relationship between humans and trees resonates in an epoch of environmental catastrophe.
First published in 1897, Dracula is the best-known vampire story in English. It has been endlessly adapted for screen, but today’s stories tend to dilute the horror at the novel’s heart.
A UK university has attached a trigger warning to Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen’s biting satire, for ‘toxic relationships’. Ironically, Jodi McAlister loves it for the gentle romance at its centre.
Published in 1821, Thomas De Quincey’s book created the archetype of the drug addict as cultural figure. Part story, part memoir, part essay, it mines the highs and lows of addiction.
North and South is a sensitive, complex, and controversial account of the many tensions that were tearing Britain apart in the heart of the 19th century.
Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic forces us to confront uncomfortable questions about morality and responsibility. Do the best of us have a repressed bad side, just waiting to get out?
The possibilities of ‘more human than human’ artificial intelligence and the dangers of playing God and are not new – they’re the subjects of one of the world’s first science-fiction novels.
The tragedy of Macbeth issues a warning for our times about the harm that is done when the desire for power drowns out the inner voice of conscience.
It is one of Dickens’ best loved novels and an exposé of the class system, but the book’s depiction of women has proved divisive.
Hamlet, the tormented prince of Denmark, embodies our own struggles: between reason and violence, courage and inaction. He is a modern character in an endlessly quotable play.
Why is a medieval Tibetan text about death so enduringly popular?
Written more than 200 years ago, Kant’s Toward Perpetual Peace sets out a plan for peace we can still aspire to achieve.
The Trojan Women is a genocide narrative. In this play, the great Athenian dramatist Euripides explores the enslavement of women, human sacrifice, rape and infanticide.
From the author of The Yellow Wallpaper, Herland is a feminist classic: darkly comic and rich with irony.
Shamefully under-read in English yet a giant of Spanish literature, Nada is unsentimental but deeply human.
Samuel Beckett’s first play was once most notorious for the audible yawns, walkouts (and fights) during interval. But it is a play of great insight into the condition of waiting.
Addressed to a ‘fair youth’ and later, ‘a dark lady’, the sonnets are less well known than Shakespeare’s plays. A journey into them is an unsettling and beguiling literary adventure.
In this influential novel, two Persians travel to Paris and report their bemusement at its customs. Questions such as the dilemmas of tolerance and the social nature of our identities are explored.
A gem of restrained outrage, Voltaire’s novella speaks powerfully to us in this time of pandemics, floods, conspiracy theories and growing incivility.