Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Rediscovering Classics with Hesperus Press

With all the new titles coming out each year, it's easy to forget about books from the past. Of course, we all know about Austen and Dickens but Hesperus Press are re-issuing some less well known classics. These are books I didn't know about but actually sound fabulous.


First up are four re-issues of Jack London's work. Best known for White Fang and Call of the Wild, his body of work sounds really quite varied! In The Scarlet Plague, the Red Death struck in 2013 (hope it's not ominous) and 60 years later, the few survivors have established their own civilisation. Before Adam is a tale of a man whose consciousness has become entwined with that of his Mid-Pleistocene ancestor; a book that questions eugenics. The People of the Abyss is a non-fiction work looking at the poor in London in 1902. Jack London rented out a flat in the East End and lived amongst them to discover how they live which resulted in this piece of investigative journalism. I think this has special relevance when you look at how so many are living in poverty once more. The Sea Wolf is an adventure at sea, with mutiny, shipwrecks and love.


I'm usually quick to point out Dracula came along way before Twilight when people start comparing vampire novels, but did you know there was a book before Dracula? Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu is a Gothic tale which pre-dates Stoker's work by 25 years! H.G. Wells is pretty well known but I hadn't heard of The Food of the Gods before; a cautionary tale of science meddling with the food chain. When researchers happen upon a growth substance, they unwittingly unlease giant chickens and wasps on the world...and the growth spreads.

Twelve Years a Slave is a memoir written by Solomon Northup, a man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841. First-hand accounts of the horrors of slavery are rare and this sounds like a unique book. I'm obviously not up-to-date with film news as this is being adapted into a film starring Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Fassbender so I'm sure the book will be everywhere next year.

Have you read any of these? Or are there any neglected classics you would like to see given a second lease of life?

4 comments:

  1. I've read Carmilla, but apart from White Fang and Call of The Wild I had no idea about Jack London's work..or the HG Wells book. Trouble is the mental TBR list I carry in my head is already keeping me awake at night..lol..

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  2. I haven't read any of these or actually heard of them :/ I have ony read one classic and that was Moby dick and I have to say I hated it. Would try one of these though

    Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

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  3. Loving the new Jack London covers! :)

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  4. I'd forgotten to check out what's new with Hesperus this year...I highly recommend Before Adam, though I haven't read the others you mentioned. FYI, Jack London has several other speculative fiction works, including The Iron Heel (dystopian) and The Star Rover.

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