Charles Dickens

50 Novels Featuring Famous Authors as Characters

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With not one, but two novels featuring Jane Austen, one featuring the ghost of Dorothy Parker, and a third about Virginia Woolf and her sister hitting shelves soon, it seemed like a good time to survey the entire “writer-as-character” category of novels. Who are the most popular fictionalized writers? It’s no surprise to see a ton of Shakespeares, Dickenses, and Brontës scampering with pens through the pages of other peoples’ novels. But a graphic-novel Susan Sontag? Cranky Robert Frost? Witty Alexander Pope? These are some of the delights we uncovered for your reading …Read More

50 of the Scariest Short Stories of All Time

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It’s that time of year again, when the pumpkins come out, the fake cobwebs are hung and we feel that dormant urge to be chilled, thrilled and spooked to our bones. Get out your flashlights, because a scary story awaits — actually, make that fifty of them. Now, there’s more to scary stories than goblins, ghouls, blood and your general horror — here there be monsters of many kinds, existential and literal, extraordinary and everyday. And remember: like beauty, fear is in the bloody eye of the beholder. So whether you yearn for classic horror or literary fiction guaranteed to make your skin crawl, read on. If you dare!
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50 of the Greatest Characters in Literature

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One of the things literature does better than almost any other medium is allow us to experience another person’s quality of mind, and sometimes even inhabit it. It follows, then, that every avid reader has a favorite literary character — whether they’re beloved for dastardly deeds, tough-girl antics, sex appeal, or a high snark quotient — and that there are many impossibly good ones out there. Click through to find 50 of the …Read More

25 Great Pieces of Life Advice From Literature

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Everyone could use a bit of advice now and then. But what if you’re the type who eschews all human contact and prefers to converse only with characters in your books? Well, er, then even they might not be able to help you. All kidding aside, as any avid reader will know, many of the great works of literature are filled with wisdom, which you could do worse than to take to heart — especially in these back-to-school weeks, a time when a little extra advice can always help. Here, you’ll find a few nuggets of humanhood as doled out by literary (read: fictional!) characters who know a thing or …Read More

10 of the Most Depressing Places in Literature

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After reading Tara Isabella Burton’s American Reader essay, “The Geography of Melancholy,” it’s natural to find yourself thinking about the most depressing cities, towns, and municipalities in literature. Burton points out that, in the real world, “Nearly every historic city has its brand of melancholy indelibly associated with it — each variety linked to the scars the city bears.” She also connects writers and the cities that influenced them — “Baudelaire’s Paris, Zweig’s Vienna, Morris’s Trieste.” There are many more, of course — here are a selection of other depressing places and the writers they inspired.
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The 10 Best Weddings in Literature

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I say this as someone who has written a book about going to weddings — Save the Date: The Occasional Mortifications of a Serial Wedding Guestout now from Riverhead — but that doesn’t mean I’m biased. It’s simply true: Weddings make for great scenes, unforgettable moments of high expectation, emotion, and drama — in fiction as well as in nonfiction. I’ve gathered a few of my favorites from books new and old (though not necessarily blue), along with my feelings on why these particular weddings make for great reading.
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The 25 Greatest Homes in Literature

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Great characters in literature get all the credit, but the fictional spaces they occupy are often just as interesting and can provide an opportunity for the reader to go even deeper into a story. What would some of your favorite stories be without the creepy old farmhouses, crumbling castles, and estates overlooking a body of water whose waves crash against the rocks at night? To celebrate the birthday of Daphne du Maurier — a writer who gave us one of the 20th century’s most unforgettable grand old homes, in Rebecca — we’re rounding up the most memorable structures that served as settings for some of our favorite …Read More

The 50 Greatest British Novels of the 19th Century

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In the 19th century, authors in the United Kingdom (we are counting authors from Ireland and Scotland here) produced novels that challenged class systems, trained an eye on the deplorable living conditions of the working class, gave us some of the earliest works of feminist literature, invented many of the tropes used and reused in modern literature, and created some of the most unforgettable characters ever. It may be silly and futile to argue that the literature of Great Britain in the 1800s was more important or of higher quality than writing from different periods and parts of the world — but these 50 novels do prove that it was (for better or for worse) a very English century, and one that left a massive mark on everything that came …Read More