"I’ve always written short stories, I’ve always been interested in the form being dictated by the concept, rather than the other way round." Jon McGregor
Posts tagged "Penguin Classics"
Pennyfeather is sent down

Pennyfeather is sent down

Evelyn Waugh’s sparkling college satire Decline and Fall has been made into a three-part BBC One series starring Jack Whitehall, David Suchet and Eva Longoria, adapted by James Wood. As Penguin Classics publishes a special tie-in edition, we’re delighted to present an extract from the beginning of the book to remind readers why it’s remained...
All the women I ever imagined

All the women I ever imagined

I had been in Germany for almost a year by now. One dark and rainy day in November – how clearly I remember it – I was skimming the newspaper when I noticed an article about an exhibition of new painters. In truth, I did not know what to make of this new generation. Perhaps...
Dalliances at the dacha

Dalliances at the dacha

On rereading Pushkin’s fictional fragment ‘The guests were arriving at the dacha’ for about the seventh time in 1873, Leo Tolstoy found himself transported and inspired. “Despite myself,” he noted, “not knowing where or what it would lead to, I imagined characters and events, which I developed, then naturally modified, and suddenly it all came...
Be a writer

Be a writer

In Ancient Egypt, or at least in the New Kingdom, writing was taught in scribal schools. Young boys (there is little evidence for girls’ schooling) were taught to read and write by dictation and by copying existing texts. Various compositions, of different genres and from different periods, were deemed suitable for teaching purposes. Classics of...
Matteo Garrone: Bigger than life

Matteo Garrone: Bigger than life

Matteo Garrone’s latest film, Tale of Tales, is a flamboyantly grisly retelling of three little-known fairy tales collected in the seventeenth century by Neapolitan poet and courtier Giambattista Basile. From the 50 tales in the collection, which includes the earliest – and bawdiest – recorded versions of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Hansel and Gretel, the...
An assignation

An assignation

The Tale of Tales by Giambattista Basile is the first authored collection of literary fairy tales in the Western European canon, predating the work of Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. An inspiration for storytellers from Shakespeare to Calvino, the long-overlooked 17th-century collection includes the oldest known written versions of some of...
A fortunate tyranny

A fortunate tyranny

A monstrous pride and an incessant affectation spoil Napoleon’s character. At the time of his supremacy, what need had he to exaggerate his stature? He took after his Italian ancestors: his nature was complex: great men, a very small family on earth, can unfortunately find no one but themselves to imitate them. At once a...
Father Brown takes a bow

Father Brown takes a bow

This is the opening of ‘The Blue Cross’, Chesterton’s first Father Brown mystery, which is unique among the stories in that it does not follow Father Brown as the central character. First published in June 1910, as ‘Valentin Follows a Curious Trail’ in Philadelphia’s Saturday Evening Post, it was retitled as ‘The Blue Cross’ for...
Italo Calvino's granular eye

Italo Calvino’s granular eye

Collection of Sand was published in Italian as Collezione di sabbia in October 1984. It was the last organic volume of new work put together by Italo Calvino in his lifetime (the only book to appear after it and before the author’s death in 1985 was the final anthology of cosmicomic stories which largely reproduced...
A state of affairs worth fighting for

A state of affairs worth fighting for

Homage to Catalonia chronicles George Orwell’s experiences as a militiaman in the Spanish Civil War. He brings to bear all the force of his humanity, passion and clarity as he describes the bright hopes and cynical betrayals of that chaotic time: the revolutionary euphoria of Barcelona, the courage of ordinary Spanish men and women he...