Robert Louis Stevenson’s charming account of a twelve-day hike he made on foot in 1878, accompanied by his stubborn and self-willed donkey Modestine, across the wild country of the Cévennes in south-central France, stopping for four days at a secluded Trappist monastery where the monks were sworn to silence – except to talk with visitors when they were very voluble indeed – and continuing, almost always sleeping in the wild, through the mountainous area of the Cévennes that had been a (...)
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"Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes" by Robert Louis Stevenson (1879)
27 June, by Robert Louis Stevenson
"Discourse on Voluntary Servitude" by Étienne de la Boétie (1548)
6 October 2022, by Étienne de la Boétie
Étienne de la Boétie (1530-1563) was a shooting star in the firmament of 16th-century France, a poet, jurist, essayist and philologist who graduated from the University of Orleans at the age of 22, was appointed court magistrate also at the age of 22 and became a member of Parliament the following year, two years before the legal minimum age, for which he was granted special dispensation by the King of France, Henry II.
He was appointed by the French crown as a member of the special (...)
"Anabasis, or The Retreat of the Ten Thousand", by Xenophon
21 March 2022, by Xenophon
The dramatic account by Xenophon (430-355 BC), an Athenian philosopher, author, soldier and student of Socrates, of the expedition – that he participated in and eventually led – of an elite force of Greek soldiers into the heart of Persia on behalf of one of the contestants to the throne there, and how after the failure of their intervention they passed through the heartland of that Empire through the mountains of Armenia and along the Black Sea to return to their homeland, fighting (...)
"Commentaries on the Gallic War" by Julius Caesar
14 February 2022, by Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar’s account of his military campaign from 58-52 B.C. that integrated Gaul – and Britain – into the Roman Empire. A remarkably vivid, dramatic and on the whole accurate account of a particularly important episode in European history, written with the clarity, style and forcefulness that has established this text as one of the most famous historical documents of all time.
A monument of Roman and world literature.
Translated and extensively annotated by the distinguished (...)
English is a wordy language!
1 December 2021, by Ray
We have compared the word-counts of the considerable number of translations into English from other languages on our site – 473 at latest count – with the following results: - ALL OF THE TRANSLATIONS INTO ENGLISH OF RUSSIAN AND GERMAN TEXTS HAVE WITHOUT EXCEPTION SIGNIFICANTLY MORE WORDS THAN THE ORIGINAL THE TRANSLATIONS OF RUSSIAN TEXTS INTO ENGLISH HAVE AN AVERAGE OF 33% MORE WORDS THAN THE ORIGINAL THE TRANSLATIONS OF GERMAN TEXTS INTO ENGLISH HAVE AN AVERAGE OF 9% MORE WORDS THAN (...)
"Homage to Catalonia" (1938) by George Orwell
10 May 2021, by George Orwell
George Orwell, a convinced left-wing socialist, went to Barcelona in December 1936 to join the forces in Catalonia fighting against the military uprising led by the General Franco. He joined the extreme-left party P.O.U.M. there and spent six months on duty in their section of the front line before being seriously wounded.
He was present in Barcelona when there was severe internecine fighting between the Communist-led government forces and Anarchist and P.O.U.M. militiamen that ended (...)
"Down and Out in Paris and London" (1933) by George Orwell
6 May 2021, by George Orwell
George Orwell (1903-1950) was a passionate defender all his life of the underdogs in the society of his time, and in spite of his background as a member of the upper middle class — he was well educated and spoke with a “posh” accent — spent several years in his late twenties working as a dishwasher in Paris restaurants and hotels and also just tramping about England for months on end without a penny in his pocket, observing and experiencing for himself the ways and the language and the (...)
The Great Baseball Scandal - how the Mob won the 1919 World Series, by Nelson Algren
29 April 2020, by Nelson Algren
Born and bred in Chicago, a life-long fan of baseball in general and of his home team, the Chicago White Sox in particular, Nelson Algren (1909-1981), one of the finest American authors of his time, was particularly qualified to analyse the inner workings of the most sensational scandal in the history of professional sports, the corruption of of the most important event in the American sporting calendar, the World Series of baseball, in 1919.
To quote from his vivid account:
"There was (...)
"Typee" (1846) by Herman Melville - a fascinating account of life in a South Sea island before the spread of Western civilization
1 May 2019, by Herman Melville
This account of his four-months stay among the fiercest tribe in the remote Marquesan Island of Nukuheva was Herman Melville’s first book, and its enormous success – it was the best-selling of all his books during his lifetime – was essential in deciding the future author of the monumental “Moby Dick” to become a full-time writer.
A young sailor at the time on a whale-boat that had stopped off there to replenish its supplies, just a few weeks after the French has sent a full squadron of (...)
A comparative study of the vocabulary of the greatest Western authors – and the winner is: THOMAS MANN
13 March 2019, by Ray
With the help of modern technology and a clever engineering student, we have analysed in depth the vocabulary in 25 of the most famous one-volume works in the history of Western literature – celebrated texts by Dante, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Balzac, Flaubert, Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens, William Thackeray, Herman Melville, Marcel Proust, Jack London, Thomas Mann, Robert Musil, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and John Steinbeck.
We have simply measured the number of (...)