H G Wells Complete Works

Cover imageAnother in the Delphi Classics series, representing an inexpensive way of accumulating a library of classic books. Once again the formatting of this digital edition is first class.

I headed straight for The Island of Doctor Moreau. I first read this as an eleven-year-old and found it terrifying. Many years later I have re-read it and it’s still disturbing. This is so unlike Wells’ usual science fiction. It is not just horrifying, it is intensely thought-provoking in ways that I’m sure passed me by as a youngster. Now I’m moving on to another Wells classic, The Time Machine.

Although the Delphi website says that this collection is available from Amazon, I couldn’t find it, so I bought it directly from the publisher.

Complete Works of Virginia Woolf

Cover imageThese Delphi Classics collections really do provide extraordinary value for money. This one gave me the chance to take another look at Woolf’s work – and reach the conclusion that her novels are not for me. I found ‘To the Lighthouse’ in particular, a nightmare of a book. Trying to find my way through the 250-word, oddly-punctuated sentences was like blundering through a literary fog. Pages devoted to the description of something trivial, and then dispensing with the death of a central character in a single phrase, left me wondering what on earth the author was trying to tell me. But the advantage of a complete works collection is that everyone will find something to enjoy. I found some of the short stories a delight and most of the non-fiction items fascinating.

I bought it for Kindle from Amazon. Delphi Complete Works of Virginia Woolf (Illustrated)

Complete Works of H Rider Haggard

Cover image of Complete Works of H. Rider HaggardThis is another in the Delphi Classics series of ‘complete works’ and it really does represent extraordinary value. As a teenager I read the famous Rider Haggard African adventure novels, such as ‘She’ and ‘King Solomon’s Mines’, and I was familiar with about a dozen of his books. This collection includes all 57 novels, 12 short stories and 3 works of non-fiction, so much of this material is new to me – and has been a revelation. ‘Dawn’, for example, is a study of human relationships dealing with blighted loves and the power of bitter envy to corrupt. As much of the material was written about 100 years ago, the writing can feel rather dated and ponderous, with some of the social attitudes seeming downright weird. Nevertheless, the writing has power and conviction. The background notes accompanying each work are interesting. Acquiring this volume of work for under £2 is amazingly good value – particularly as Delphi Classics appears to have developed a very robust ebook system with very, very few formatting issues.

I bought this collection for Kindle from Amazon. Delphi Complete Works of H. Rider Haggard (Illustrated)

Complete Works of Jane Austen

Cover image for Complete Works Jane AustenThis is another in the Delphi Classics range of Complete Works. As is usual with this range the text is reproduced acceptably, although the space between words occasionally disappears. The table of contents is well organised and the price makes it a very inexpensive way to add to an elibrary of classics.

It includes her six major novels, the novella Lady Susan, two unfinished works, items from her ‘juvenilia’ (written as a teenager for family entertanment) and collections of letters.

The first thing I turned to was Pride and Prejudice. As this book has just celebrated 200 years since publication, and I’m not that much younger, I thought it was high time I read it and found out why its popularity is so enduring. None of the dramatisations had whetted my appetite; I found them slow-paced and tedious.

The book turned out to be engrossing. There’s no denying that it’s slow-paced: so slow that very little actually happens, but it still manages to be entertaining. The whole book is a social commentary, although dealing with a very narrow stratum of English society. There are no pickpockets, moneylenders or starving orphans. Even the poorest in the cast of characters have servants.

Mr Bennet is a ‘gentleman’ i.e. he has inherited enough property to allow him to live on the income it generates. His problem is that he has only inherited a life interest and on his death the estate must pass to a male relative. He has five daughters, but no son. A distant male relative will inherit and the daughters’ only hope of a secure future is to make a ‘suitable’ marriage.

The slow pace allows the characters to be fully, and brilliantly, developed. Mr Bennet is very endearing and Mr Collins hilariously appalling. What came as a surprise was the humour, although that didn’t conceal the biting mockery of a social system that condemned young women to a life that consisted of nothing but embroidery, art, music – and the pursuit of a husband.

I now understand the longevity.

I bought this Complete Works for Kindle from Amazon. Delphi Complete Works of Jane Austen (Illustrated)

 

Complete Works of Thomas Hardy

Cover image Complete Works of Thomas HardyBuying an ebook of the complete works of a famous author is a very inexpensive way of quickly accumulating a library of classics. Occasionally I’ve been disappointed with the quality of the reproduction, but in my experience Delphi has developed a robust system that produces a high quality product. This collection is no exception; text is faithfully reproduced and the illustrations are crystal clear.

Navigating around a ‘complete works’ in ebook format can be a nightmare, but it’s difficult to see what more could be done than Delphi has done here. The table of contents is very detailed.

This is a very substantial body of work. At the time I bought it I only paid £1.92, which has to be a bargain. The first book I read in the collection was Jude the Obscure. It was book of the month chosen by the Kindle Users Forum Book Club.

I bought this novel in ebook format as part of Hardy’s Complete Works in the Delphi Classics series. The production is excellent, the illustrations clear.

Regardless of the storyline, the book provides an interesting insight into life in the 1890s. From the efficiency of the postal service and public transport it seems that things have gone downhill.

It could be that the criticism of the book got to Hardy as, although he lived for another thirty years, he published no more novels, but I have to say that I found reading Jude was time well spent. This is a book that flatly refuses to be hurried. These days, when so many readers seem to take a pride in the number of books they get through, this may put off a lot of people.
It’s a curious book that left me with mixed emotions. It created a stir on publication and was labelled obscene. The Bishop of Wakefield burned a copy in public, but I don’t really know what the bish (or anyone else) was objecting to. It certainly isn’t obscene. It is slow-going and not an easy read, partly because of the large number of quotations from texts that I didn’t recognise.
There is biting social comment aimed at the pressures imposed on anyone not conforming to social norms and the refusal of the academic institutions to allow access to a self-taught working man.

The characterisation is excellent. The internal conflicts that Sue experiences are timeless. She comes across as a very modern woman for a book written in the 1890s.
The use of English is beautiful at times and although the general tone is dour and sad, there are lighter moments, such as –
‘The landlord of the lodging, who had heard that they were a queer couple, had doubted if they were married at all, especially as he had seen Arabella kiss Jude one evening when she had taken a little cordial; and he was about to give them notice to quit, till by chance overhearing her one night haranguing Jude in rattling terms, and ultimately flinging a shoe at his head, he recognized the note of genuine wedlock.’
The tragic ending is very moving, not to say shocking, and I suspect that it may be this aspect that upset people on publication.
A striking weakness is that the plot depends upon a series of unbelievable coincidences.

I bought this novel in ebook format as part of Hardy’s Complete Works in the Delphi Classics series. The production is excellent, the illustrations clear.

Regardless of the storyline, the book provides an interesting insight into life in the 1890s. From the efficiency of the postal service and public transport it seems that things have gone downhill.

It could be that the criticism of the book got to Hardy as, although he lived for another thirty years, he published no more novels, but I have to say that I found reading Jude was time well spent. This is a book that flatly refuses to be hurried. These days, when so many readers seem to take a pride in the number of books they get through, this may put off a lot of people.
It’s a curious book that left me with mixed emotions. It created a stir on publication and was labelled obscene. The Bishop of Wakefield burned a copy in public, but I don’t really know what the bish (or anyone else) was objecting to. It certainly isn’t obscene. It is slow-going and not an easy read, partly because of the large number of quotations from texts that I didn’t recognise.
There is biting social comment aimed at the pressures imposed on anyone not conforming to social norms and the refusal of the academic institutions to allow access to a self-taught working man.

The characterisation is excellent. The internal conflicts that Sue experiences are timeless. She comes across as a very modern woman for a book written in the 1890s.
The use of English is beautiful at times and although the general tone is dour and sad, there are lighter moments, such as –
‘The landlord of the lodging, who had heard that they were a queer couple, had doubted if they were married at all, especially as he had seen Arabella kiss Jude one evening when she had taken a little cordial; and he was about to give them notice to quit, till by chance overhearing her one night haranguing Jude in rattling terms, and ultimately flinging a shoe at his head, he recognized the note of genuine wedlock.’
The tragic ending is very moving, not to say shocking, and I suspect that it may be this aspect that upset people on publication. A striking weakness is that the plot depends upon a series of unbelievable coincidences.

Regardless of the storyline, the book provides an interesting insight into life in the 1890s. From the efficiency of the postal service and public transport it seems that things have gone downhill.

It could be that the criticism of the book got to Hardy as, although he lived for another thirty years, he published no more novels, but I have to say that I found reading Jude was time well spent.

I bought this Complete Works for KIndle from Amazon. Delphi Complete Works of Thomas Hardy (Illustrated)

Complete Works of H P Lovecraft

Cover image for H P LovecraftI have bought a lot of the Delphi Classics range and been very pleased with the quality of the production. Like a couple of the other reviewers on Amazon I was initially taken aback by all of the punctuation and spelling errors in the first few, very short, stories – until I realised what I was reading.

These ‘errors’ are very easy to see using Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ feature. But this is a collection of Lovecraft’s writing and it is in chronological order. The first story, ‘The Little Glass Bottle’, was written in 1897 when he was only seven years old. It wasn’t published until the 1950s when it was reproduced exactly as the seven-year-old had written it. All subsequent published versions have reproduced the same text. This also applies to the other early stories. Move on a few stories and the errors have disappeared.

Publishing the stories in chronological order makes fascinating reading. We can follow the writer as he developed his craft until we find the truly extraordinary work for which he is famous as the master writer of the psychological horror genre. Some of the writing is sublime. He frequently starts a story with the mundane and steadily builds to an atmosphere of terror using hauntingly beautiful imagery.

One such story is What the Moon Brings, about a man who becomes terrified of the moon. Objects that are familiar and loved by day become alien and threatening by the light of the moon, and he is frightened of its ability to move our seas through some unseen power. In one scene the man is in a moonlit garden, sitting by a stream. In daylight it would have been beautiful, but occasionally a white flower falls from a bush into the water and is carried away. The man sees the flowers being ‘swept under a bridge and staring back with the sinister resignation of calm, dead faces’. Can’t you just picture it?

A very well produced collection at a very modest price.

I bought it for Kindle from Amazon. Delphi Complete Works of H. P. Lovecraft (Illustrated)