Literature (page one); Primary Texts
This section is divided into two parts - primary texts (that is, works of literature) and secondary texts (that is, works about literature, i.e., critical texts, etc.). For a list of recommended secondary texts please go to Further Reading: Literature (page two).
1. Primary Texts
This list is designed for students wanting an introduction to reading English literature in English.The texts have been chosen because they are reasonably accessible to non-native speakers. I have given links to text, audio and video files, but if you search on Google you may find other versions which may be better (for example, texts with illustrations or professional recordings).
Beckett, Samuel Waiting for Godot Click here for Act 1 with text and professional audio. Click here for Act 2 (text only). This play, about two men waiting for someone who never comes, is perhaps the most famous example of existential drama in English.
Carrol, Lewis Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Written for a young child, but popular with adults everywhere! Audiofile
Coleridge, Samuel The Rime of the Ancient Mariner This fine narrative poem contains some of the most famous lines in English Literature. It was published in Lyrical Ballads (see Wordsworth, below). Audio
Dickens, Charles A Christmas Carol Originally written for younger readers, this is Dickens's most accessible novel. Audio & video
Doyle, Arthur Conan The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes The original stories of Sherlock Holmes are a good introduction to the prose style of the late 19th century. Audio & video
Eliot, George Silas Marner This heartwarming tale is one of the most approachable of the 19th century novels. Audio
Fitzgerald, Edward The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam This translation of Omar Khayyam's great poem in praise of alcohol stands alone as a piece of literature. Audio
Golding, William The Lord of the Flies The horrifying story of a group of boys stranded on a desert island after their plane crashes. Video
Hardy, Thomas The Return of the Native This is perhaps the best introduction to Hardy's novels. It has a strong storyline and a tight narrative structure. Audio
Hemingway, Ernest The Old Man and the Sea A novelette; the simple and moving story of an old fisherman. Audio & video
Kipling, Rudyard The Jungle Book These animal stories are considered by many people to be Kipling's finest work. Audio
Orwell, George Animal Farm Written as an allegory of the evils of communism, this novel tells the story of a farm where the animals have taken control. Audio & video
Shakespeare, William A Midsummer Night's Dream A light-hearted comedy; Shakespeare's most approachable play. Audio Video
Steinbeck, John. The Pearl A deeply moving novelette; a pearl diver finds a pearl of enormous value, but it brings him only suffering. Video
Walker, Alice The Color Purple The dialogue is mostly in dialect, but once you have got used to that this is a vibrant and clearly narrated story of African American women. Audio
Wordsworth, William Lyrical Ballads These poems, written in collaboration with Samuel Coleridge, were written in what Wordsworth described as 'everyday language - heightened'. Audio
The difficulty with a list like this is that it could just grow and grow - there's so much I'd like to recommend! Please go to Further Reading: Literature (page two) for a list of works of literary criticism.
|Back to Further Reading|
|Part Two: Secondary Texts|