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Novels and plays A Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne), A Farewell to the Arms (Ernest Hemingway), For Whom the Bell Tolls (Ernest Hemingway), Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy), Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck), The Faerie Queene (Edmund Spenser), Beowulf, Prometheus Bound (Aeschylus), Tales of King Arthur (Thomas Mallory), El Cid, A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens), The Lady of the Lake (Sir Walter Scott), The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck), The Travels of Marco Polo, The Last of the Mohicans (James Fenimore Cooper), The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (Samuel Taylor Coleridge), Moby Dick (Herman Melville), The Old Man and the Sea (Ernest Hemingway), Don Quixote de la Mancha (Miguel de Cervantes), Peer Gynt (Henrik Ibsen), Great Expectations (Charles Dickens), Silas Marner (George Eliot), Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen), Far from the Madding Crowd (Thomas Hardy), Little Women (Louisa May Alcott), Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), The Maltese Falcon (Dashiell Hammett), Call of the Wild (Jack London), The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald), King Solomon’s Mines (Sir Henry Rider Haggard), Robinson Crusoe (Daniel Defoe), The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde), Frankenstein (Mary Shelly), The Time Machine (H.G.Wells), The Turn of the Screw (Henry James), The Fall of the House of Usher (Edgar Allan Poe), The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck), To Kill a Mockingbird (Nelle Harper Lee), Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Harriett Beecher Stowe), Candide (Voltaire), A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (Mark Twain), 1984 (George Orwell), I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou), One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez), Lord of the Flies (William Golding), Henderson the Rain King (Saul Bellow), Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison), The Joy Luck Club (Amy Tan), The Shell Seekers (Rosamunde Pilcher), The Sound of Waves (Yukio Mishima), Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (Anne Taylor), The Courtship of Miles Standish (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow), The Importance of Being Earnest (Oscar Wilde), Our Town (Thornton Wilder), Death of a Salesman(Arthur Miller) … and plays by William Shakespeare, including Hamlet, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Othello, The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, As You Like It, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing … and many more
Classic texts The Origin of Species (Charles Darwin), The Prince (Machiavelli), The Republic (Plato), Das Kapital (Karl Marx), Utopia (Thomas More) …
Biographies Euclid, Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, Nicolaus Copernicus, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, William Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, Ludwig van Beethoven, Michelangelo, Aristotle, Thomas Alva Edison, Marie Curie, Wilber and Orville Wright, Louis Pasteur, Antoine Lavoisier, Martin Luther King Jr, Mahatma Gandhi, Florence Nightingale, Christopher Columbus, Confucius, Lee Iacocca, Geronimo
Business and leadership What They Don’t Teach you at Harvard Business School (Mark H.McCormack), Entrepreneurial Megabucks: The 100 Greatest Entrepreneurs of the Last 25 Years (A. David Silver), Megatrends and Megatrends 2000 (John Naisbitt), A Passion for Excellence (Tom Peters and Nancy Austin), Leadership Secrets of Atilla the Hun (Wess Roberts), The Managerial Mystique: Restoring Leadership in Business (Abraham Zaleznnik), Thriving on Chaos: Handbook for a Management Revolution (Tom Peters), The Greatest Management Principle in the World (Michael LeBoeuf), The One-Minute Manager (Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson), How To Talk So People Listen (Sonya Hamlin), You Can Negotiate Anything: How to Get What You Want (Herb Cohen), Secrets of Closing The Sale (Zig Ziglar), Swim With The Sharks (Without Being Eaten Alive) (Harvey Mackey)
Personal development The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen R. Covey), Wishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want (Barbara Sher), Peak Performance Principles for High Achievers (John R. Roe), How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life (Alan Lakein), How to Put More Time in Your Life (Dru Scott), The Road Less Traveled and The Different Drum (M. Scott Peck), Love is Letting Go of Fear (Gerald G. Jampolsky), Psycho-cybernetics (Maxwell Maltz), Understanding: Eliminating Stress and Finding Serenity in Life and Relationships (Jane Nelsen), A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative (Roger von Oech), Developing Critical Thinkers(Stephen D. Brookfield), How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years (Howard J. Ruff), The Richest Man in Babylon (George S. Clason), Grow Rich Slowly (Merrill Lynch), One Up On Wall Street (Peter Lynch), Page-a-Minute Memory Book (Harry Lorayne), The Stress Solution: A Rational Approach to Increasing Corporate and Personal Effectiveness (Samuel H. Klarreich), Sitting on the Job: How to Survive the Stress of Sitting Down to Work (Scott W.Donkin), Control Your Depression (Peter Lewinsohn, et al.)
Overcoming Overeating: Living Free in a World of Food (Jane Hirschmann), The Popcorn-Plus Diet (Joel Herskowitz), Beverly Hills Medical Diet (Arnold Fox), The Rice Diet Report (Judy Moscovitz), The Eight-Week Cholesterol Cure (Robert E. Kowalski), The Story of Weight Watchers (Jean Nidetch and Joan Rattner Heilman)
Expanding your word power, Speech-making, Trivia to learn by, Sports summaries, Quotes and anecdotes … and much more …
The Scarlet Letter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)
Type of work Impressionistic fiction
Setting Boston, Massachusetts; 17th century
Hester Prynne, a condemned adulteress
Pearl, her daughter
Arthur Dimmesdale, one of the community’s ministers
Roger Chillingsworth, Hester’s estranged husband (his assumed name)
Condemned to wear a bright red “A” over her breast wherever she went, Hester Prynne had been convicted of adultery by Boston’s Puritan leaders; a child had been born to her during her husband’s long absence.
Emerging from the prisonhouse under the gaze of her neighbors, Hester surprised the townsfolk with her air of aloof and silent dignity. Led to the town square, she ascended a scaffold, her babe cradled in her arms. There on the scaffold she suffered scorn and public admonishment. One “good woman” loudly decried the elaborate letter Hester had embroidered into her frock: blazing scarlet, ornately fashioned and bordered with prominent gold stitching – the requisite token of her deed. A minister in the crowd denounced her crime and called on her to reveal the identity of her partner. Another minister, Arthur Dimmesdale, pled with her more gently. He, in compassion, also begged her to unmask her lover. Unknown to the multitude, however, Dimmesdale himself was that lover; his gentle prodding was in fact a distraught and convoluted effort to urge a confession from Hester which he knew she would never make – and which he could not find the courage to make for himself.
From her place on the pulpit, Hester’s eyes met with those of a hunched, wrinkled man in the crowd, a stranger in the town but well known to her. He was Hester’s husband, a scholar and a physician of sorts, who had spent years away, exploring the western wilderness. Now he had reappeared under the name of “Roger Chillingsworth.”
Visiting Hester in her prison cell later that day, Chillingsworth expressed his rage that she should betray him and made her swear not to expose him as her husband. Furthermore, he vowed that he would discover the identity of his wife’s lover.
Finally released, the adulteress took up residence in a lonely cottage by the sea. Her chief employment, for which she demonstrated a prodigious talent, was sewing. She managed to win the business of nearly everyone in the community. Still, despite the acceptance she won as a seamstress, Hester was forced to bear social ostracism: children jeered as she passed, other women avoided her, and clergymen pointed to her as a living example of the consequences of sin. Rumors circulated that she was a witch, and that the scarlet letter she bore on her clothing glowed a deep blood red in the dark. Still Hester withstood this abuse without complaint.
Hester felt much more concern for her daughter, Pearl, than for herself. She cringed when the illegitimate girl was pushed aside by other children. In contrast to Hester’s remarkable dignity, Pearl displayed a wild, undisciplined character, seemingly incapable of natural affection. The governor of Boston and all the clergy publicly proclaimed their doubts that the sprite-like, curious child could develop the capacity to enter Christian society. Even more tragically, the townspeople looked on Pearl as a kind of evil spirit – the perverse offspring from a moment of unholy passion. Even Hester little understood her daughter, who served at once as both a comfort and a painful reminder of her past.
In the meantime, Roger Chillingsworth had taken lodgings with Minister Dimmesdale. Chillingsworth immediately suspected that the clergyman had been his wife’s once-guilty partner in lust, and, posing as a true friend, he managed, over the course of months, to wring his roommate’s conscience with subtle hints and comments about the dire strait of hypocrites in the eyes of God. Soon it became clear that Dimmesdale was indeed Hester’s lover; but, rather than expose him then, Chillingsworth chose to continue torturing the preacher’s moral sanity. Dimmesdale’s sense of guilt grew, ultimately causing his health to wane. He took to holding his hand over his heart, as if he felt some deep pain. Yet he failed to recognize the treachery being perpetrated on him, blaming only himself for his growing infirmity.
To make matters worse, the weaker and more guilt-ridden Dimmesdale became, the holier he appeared to his congregation, whose members regarded him as unequaled in piety. Every sermon he preached seemed to be more inspired than the last.More than once the minister resolved to confess his hypocrisy and take his place beside Hester, but he was too afraid of the shame open confession would bring.
And so it was that the years passed: Hester, suffering in disgrace and isolation, devoting her life to charitable service and winning the hidden admiration of many of her peers; Pearl, maturing into a lovely girl but still showing no signs of outgrowing her eccentricities; Dimmesdale, weighed down by unbearable remorse even as his reputation for holiness increased; and Chillingsworth, daily tampering with Dimmesdale’s fragile conscience. Frequently the four of them crossed paths. However, no momentous event transpired – until one day seven years after Hester’s initial public censure. While Hester and Pearl were strolling in the woods, they came upon Dimmesdale, and he and Hester finally savored a long-awaited and emotional reunion. Speaking of their long-kept secret, Hester attempted to assure the minister that his good works and humility had gained him penance. But the priest cried, “Happy are you, Hester, that wear the scarlet letter openly upon your bosom! Mine burns in secret!” In sorrow and pity, Hester admitted that Chillingsworth, Dimmesdale’s own valued friend, was in fact her estranged husband; and he the nurturing demon behind the minister’s living hell. Then she convinced her dear Dimmesdale to escape with her to Europe, where they could enjoy a new, unfettered life together. Their plan was to depart after the minister had delivered his final sermon.
The day of departure came, and Hester waited anxiously outside the church. Nearby, the captain of the ship on which they would sail mentioned to her that Roger Chillingsworth was also booked as a passenger on his vessel. So, the evil man intended to follow them, she thought in horror. Their plans were dashed!