From the editors of Penguin Books and Penguin Classics
Happy Labor Day everyone! Enjoy the last weekend at the beach and your last chance to wear white, but don’t forget to take a minute to think about what today means. Plenty of great reading options: Steinbeck, Zola, Sinclair’s The Jungle, and James’s The Princess Casamassina. For something a little different, check out Ernest Poole’s The Harbor. Poole, the first winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, writes about the plight of Billy, an aspiring writer torn between sympathy for the working class with an appreciation of middle class social mobility. It’s an incendiary documentation of labor relations by an all-too-underappreciated figure in 20th-century American fiction.

Happy Labor Day everyone! Enjoy the last weekend at the beach and your last chance to wear white, but don’t forget to take a minute to think about what today means. Plenty of great reading options: Steinbeck, Zola, Sinclair’s The Jungle, and James’s The Princess Casamassina. For something a little different, check out Ernest Poole’s The HarborPoole, the first winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, writes about the plight of Billy, an aspiring writer torn between sympathy for the working class with an appreciation of middle class social mobility. It’s an incendiary documentation of labor relations by an all-too-underappreciated figure in 20th-century American fiction.

kalebattle:

They arrived today.

I didn’t realize that each book comes with a bookmark attached to the dust jacket. They’re beautiful, but I don’t know if I have the guts to detach them!

Epic photoset. Sometimes an artist just gets it right. Coralie Bickford-Smith just got it right on these. Beautiful books.


Classics Photo of the Week | Tumblr is full of amazing images of Penguin Classics. so each week we select one of our favorites. Tag your photos as “Penguin Classics” so we don’t miss any!

“In one of these houses, Tukten said, he would be staying with his father’s sister. Accosting inhabitants, calling his name, I walk my bicycle round and round the square, under the huge painted eyes, the nose like a great question mark, the wind-snapped pennants—Tukten? Tukten? But there is no answer, no one knows of Tukten Sherpa. Under the Bodhi Eye, I get on my bicycle again and return along gray December roads to Kathmandu.”

Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard


Friday Final Lines | Every Friday, we offer the closing lines of a Penguin Classic to finish up the workweek.

In a wonderful essay on The Paris Review, Joseph Luzzi writes about what makes a classic book endure, through the lens of two Italian classics, Manzoni’s The Bethrothed and Collodi’s PinocchioComparing these two works—one deeply Italian and the other more global—he writes:

This contrast, between a celebrated and largely unread classic and an enduringly popular classic, shows that a key to a work’s ongoing celebrity is that dangerous term:universality. We hold the word with suspicion because it tends to elevate one group at the expense of another; what’s supposedly applicable to all is often only applicable to a certain group that presumes to speak for everybody else. And yet certain elements and experiences do play a major role in most of our lives: falling in love, chasing a dream, and, yes, transitioning as Pinocchio does from childhood to adolescence. The classic that keeps on being read is the book whose situations and themes remain relevant over time—that miracle of interpretive openness that makes us feel as though certain stories, poems, and plays are written with us in mind.

Sea Fever by John Masefield

I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
 
I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the seagulls crying.
 
I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.


“I am forced into speech because men of science have refused to follow my advice without knowing why. It is altogether against my will that I tell my reasons for opposing this contemplated invasion of the antarctic—with its vast fossil-hunt and its wholesale boring and melting of the ancient ice-cap—and I am the more reluctant because my warning may be in vain.”

H. P. Lovecraft, "At the Mountains of Madness"


Monday First Lines | Every Monday, we offer the opening sentences of a Penguin Classic to start the week.

Alpine Giggle Week, a long-lost letter by Dorothy Parker

Kids, I have started one thousand (1,000) letters to you, but
they all through no will of mine got to sounding so gloomy I
was afraid of boring the combined tripe out of you, so I
never sent them. Now, however, it seems just the ripe time to
pen these few poor scraps, for we are having what is known
as Alpine Giggle Week. Gerald left hastily for America to
catch what is doubtless a last glimpse of his dear old mother,
whose blood-pressure is so high there is snow on it; Sara is
in bed with a pretty attack of jaundice, and rheumatism, than
which nothing makes you feel heartier; the Russian trained
nurse who takes care of little Patrick has gone completely
Muscovite and after a week of strained silence has shut
herself in her room and cannot be coaxed out; the pet
monkey bit one of the townsfolk so badly that both bloodpoison
and a law suit set in; and I, in my role of the old
family friend always right there in time of trouble, fell off an
unnamed Alp, cracked my right knee-cap and ripped all the
ligaments free, and it will be many a bright September day
before I will be able to walk the length of the room. And
how are all of you?

So begins Parker’s letter, written from a mountaintop TB colony in Switzerland. It’s a delightful piece of Parker history and you can read the rest (plus a fantastic introduction by Marion Meade) for just $1.99!

A very happy birthday to the inimitable Dorothy Parker, in her day called “the wittiest woman of our time.” And indeed she remains the wittiest woman of our time as well.