Penguin Classics Newsletter | October/November 2008

A "Fifteenth-Anniversary Edition" of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Stone Diaries

Celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the original publication of The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields' acclaimed fictional autobiography of Daisy Goodwill Flett. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, The Stone Diaries is the subtle but affecting portrait of an everywoman reflecting on an unconventional life. Penelope Lively contributes a new introduction to this elegant Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition. During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we honor the life and legacy of Carol Shields, who died of breast cancer in 2003.


"Nature is our widest home." —Edward Hoagland

The earth is our only home, and what better way to show our appreciation of its boundless beauty than to read Peter Matthiessen's sublime descriptions of the far off Himalayan mountains in his engaging masterpiece The Snow Leopard It's certainly the next best thing to taking the grueling five-week trek to the uninhabited Phoksumdo Lake.

And in the spirit of our classic nature writers, why not share your concern for our planet's well-being with The Union of Concerned Scientists. The non-profit organization encourages readers to get involved in the fight to save our planet by contributing stories and photos to an online anthology. See the Penguin Classics homepage for more information.


The Crusades through Muslim Eyes

What do Muslims think about religious conflict around the world today? How do they really view the West? As a historical antecedent, the Crusades are thought to be instructive, but there's little available in English that provides a window on the medieval Muslim worldview. That's what The Book of Contemplation: Islam and the Crusades seeks to redress. In translating the writings of twelfth-century Arab aristocrat Usama ibn Munqidh, University of Pennsylvania historian Paul M. Cobb has made available to readers of English the best and most complete eyewitness account of the Crusades from the perspective of a medieval Muslim writer. In effect, he's given us the Muslim counterpart to the classic Christian account of the Crusades, Joinville and Villehardouin's Chronicles of the Crusades—a book that Penguin Classics first published forty-five years ago. Look for a new translation early next year.

  Little Red Riding Hood  

Three from Graham Greene

The Honorary Consul, The Human Factor, and Monsignor Quixote debut in Penguin Classics as essential additions to our extensive Graham Greene collection. With eye-catching cover designs and new introductions, the popular South American thriller, British spy story, and lighthearted ode to Cervantes represent the depth and range of Greene's superb storytelling.


Just in time for Halloween: Mummies, Mysticism, and an Ancient Curse!

The best horror stories always contain elements that allure and repulse equally. Bram Stoker, the mastermind behind Dracula, certainly understood this age-old formula for success. But long before Americans became enamored of sexy vampires, Stoker, in The Jewel of Seven Stars, cashed in on nineteenth-century England's "Egyptomania" with his tale of mummies, jewels, and a seven-fingered Pharaoh Queen's immortal soul.

Playing off the prevalent stereotypes of Eastern exoticism, Stoker's work satisfies from the start. And with an ending that is so ghastly it was bowdlerized in 1912 (and replaced with a more optimistic finale), readers will not be disappointed. Our Penguin Classics edition includes both endings, as well as an introduction by Kate Hebblethwaite that delves beyond the tale's surface allure of the oriental "other" to discuss the broader significance of this thoroughly chilling tale.


Bellow's Gift

For the first time in our signature black spine dress we have Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellow. After a successful career as a writer, Charlie Citrine begins to unravel, and just when it seems his career is over, his mentor and idol, Humboldt, dies, leaving Citrine an unexpected gift that just might help him get back on his feet. In this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Saul Bellow explores the themes of art, success, materialism, and friendship in a way that is just as relevant to readers today as it was in 1975, when it was first published. And with a new introduction by Jeffrey Eugenides—a Pulitzer Prize winner himself—a new generation of readers can appreciate the brilliance that makes Bellow one of America's literary treasures.


The Bible of Indian Civilization

What the Bible is to Christians and the Torah is to Jews and the Koran is to Muslims, The Bhagavad Gita is to Hindus. Not only is it the cornerstone of Hinduism, but it is also one of the glories of Sanskrit poetry, and it has inspired countless works of art. As The New York Times said in a recent review of a new opera based on it—Douglas C. Cuomo's Arjuna's Dilemma —"Whether as a personal guide to right action or as cosmic metaphor, [The Bhagavad Gita ] has proved inexhaustible, transcending its origins, speaking to every age."

Taken from the vast Indian epic the Mahabharata (which we'll publish in Penguin Classics for the first time next year!), The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most popular spiritual texts in Penguin Classics—and we're thrilled to be publishing a brilliant new translation by Emory University religion scholar Laurie L. Patton's, who captures both the clarity of Hindu philosophy and the beauty of the original Sanskrit.


E is for Enriched Twain, Conrad, Shelley, and More

This season we bring you new Penguin Enriched eBook Classics with exclusive features to enhance the reading experience of some of your perennial favorites. On your eBook reader you are just a click away to new annotations, nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century book reviews, filmographies, essays, illustrations, and more. With Penguin Enriched eBook Classics, book lovers can delve deeper into the creation of a novel, the author's life, and the cultural and historical context for an entertaining electronic literary experience.


Campus Classic

For each Penguin Classics Newsletter we invite a professor to share an experience of teaching with a Penguin Classic. For a major lecture and reading in honor of the 400th anniversary of the birth of John Milton, Dr. Michael Haykin chose the Penguin Classics edition of Milton's Selected Poems.  

"In essence this edition was chosen since it provides an excellent overview of Milton's poetic corpus in terms of the selections chosen and as such is a perfect entry-point into the appreciation of his writings, both for newcomers to his poetry and even veteran readers."

Michael A.G. Haykin

Director of The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY

"An Afternoon with Milton: A Quatercentenary of the Thought of John Milton (1608-1674)"

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Reading the Classics from A to Z

Alan Walker, our Senior Director of Academic Marketing and Sales, gains momentum and more fans for his Penguin Classics reading marathon of one book by an author per letter of the alphabet. Check out the Penguin Classics website for Alan's latest blog entries (N-P).



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