Oscar Wilde Discovers America [1882]

Cover picture(first published 1936)

Lloyd Lewis (1891 – 1949) and Henry Justin Smith (1875 – 1936)
Language: English

In 1882, Oscar Wilde toured North America from New York to San Francisco and Montreal to New Orleans, lecturing on art and home decoration. The American public was familiar with Wilde thanks to the newspaper cartoons that mocked him and his fellow aesthetes for their peculiar dress and ideas. They were more eager to see his long hair and knee breeches than hear him talk. Oscar Wilde Discovers America [1882] is the first full account of Wilde’s tour. Lewis and Smith create a picture of Wilde at the very beginning of his career, and vividly conjure the cultural milieu of America at the end of the 19th century. (summary by Rob Marland)

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Oscar Wilde Twice Defended

Cover picture(first published 1934)

Robert Sherard (1861 – 1943)
Language: English

Robert Sherard was Oscar Wilde’s friend of 20 years and first biographer. The Life of Oscar Wilde was the last of the four books he wrote about the Irish playwright and wit. Oscar Wilde Twice Defended is a shorter work than his full length biographies (The Life of Oscar Wilde, and The Real Oscar Wilde), in which Sherard responds to other Wildean biographers, including André Gide and Frank Harris. (summary by Rob Marland)

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Green Grey Homestead

(first published 1934)

Steele Rudd (1868-1935)
Language: English

This book describes the experiences of Dick Gall, a young Australian countryman, from the time of his first application for ‘a homestead selection’ to that of the birth of his ‘son an’ heir’ on the green-grey homestead. It also includes memories of his younger years, when he chased scrub cattle, hunted wild pigs on wild horses and played on the polo field. Steele Rudd knew what he was writing about, having grown up on a homestead selection at Emu Creek himself, and worked as a stockrider (or cowboy) as a teenager.
The book is written in a very lively style, and remarkably, in the second person singular – “you” will literally be Dick Gall himself. The opening sentence: “You’ll be single when the idea of taking up a homestead first gets you.” Or later: “You’ll be three years on the little grey homestead, working hard and becoming well-known and respected; you’ll receive kindly handturns from one and another, and be known to them all as Dick Gall.” (Summary by Anna Simon)

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The Mysterious Universe

(first published 1930)

James Jeans (1877-1946)
Language: English

One of the earliest of the popular science book genre, it is a philosophical summary of the new physics of the era by a leading British physicist. Keeping technical references to a bare minimum, Jeans argues that physics has entered a new age in which mathematical representation has supplanted mechanical models.
(Summary by Peter Tucker)

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The Diary of a Provincial Lady

(first published 1930)

E. M. Delafield (1890-1943)
Language: English

“Notice, and am gratified by, large clump of crocuses near the front gate. Should like to make whimsical and charming reference to these and try to fancy myself as ‘Elizabeth of the German Garden’, but am interrupted by Cook, saying that the Fish is here, but he’s only bought cod and haddock, and the haddock doesn’t smell any too fresh, so what about cod? Have often noticed that Life is like that.”

First published in 1930, this charming, funny book is a warm portrait of a middle-class English family and their village life. Our heroine recounts the mundane delights and disasters of her household, dealing with constant money worries, the challenges of finding & keeping a really good parlourmaid, and how best to retain grace towards her fellow humans in the face of their astonishing range of foibles. It’s also a wonderfully genuine description of a marriage, with all the little ups and downs of rubbing along with the same person for so many years.
(Summary by Cori Samuel)

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To The Lighthouse

(first published 1927)

Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941)
Language: English

The Ramsey family, with house guests, visit the Isle of Skye at least twice. The plot is not at all the point though, as this is a book about how people think and feel and relate. There’s insight into the world of childhood thought and emotion, and a variety of views of adult cares and perceptions.

I hope this doesn’t make it sound ‘difficult’, it doesn’t need to be – just let the sentences flow and make your own sense of the words. It’s perhaps as close as a novel can come to the highly individual experience of looking at a painting. … (summary by Cori Samuel)

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