Five books that you should read

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It’s a well-known fact that literature has a tremendous importance in the cultivation of one’s intellect, because besides “delectare”, its aim can also be “docere”. Throughout history, books were able to reveal truths, raise questions or even spark revolutions. So if you are bored and don’t know what to do, here’s a list of five books that you might actually enjoy.  Books that have also influenced history.  

 

  1. Far from the madding crowd – Thomas Hardy 

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“Far from the madding crowd” is Thomas Hardy’s first grand achievement. The novel depicts the relationship between Gabriel Oak, a simple but true-hearted shepherd and Bathsheba Everdene, the owner of a small farm. The major themes of the work are love, pride, sacrifice and deceit. Hardy’s the idealization of the pastoral life  represents a form of revolt against Industrialization. 

2. Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka

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Written by Kafka in 1912 and published in 1915, “Metamorphosis” represents one of the most enigmatic and fascinating works of the 20th century. Critics have given multiple interpretations to this novella that presents the story of Gregor Samsa, who unexpectedly wakes up one morning as a giant insect.  The protagonist’s new condition produces a long series of consequences and throughout the story, one can experience numerous feelings. The main ideas of this text are the absurdity of existence, the feeling of alienation, of helplessness, and the constant struggle and inner turmoil. 

 

3.The picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

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Published during the Victorian Age, the novel presents the story of Dorian Gray, a young man who, under inauspicious influences, mars his innocence and loses his soul. The portrait that was offered to him suffers all the alterations that happen within him, while his youth and beauty remain untouched.

4. The kill – Emile Zola

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“The kill” (La curee) is a French naturalist novel. It presents the dark side of the human nature and of the 19th century society. The text focuses on Pierre Rougon’s path from rags to riches and his son’s and wife’s inexcusable behaviours.  Published in 1872, the work is highly influenced by the advancement of genetics and therefore, it expresses the idea of double determinism, which can be translated into the following words: one is always determined by both his genetic endowment and the social milieu. The text brings forth three human monstrosities and the triumph of  mediocrity. “The kill” is the second novel of the series “Les Rougon-Mackart”.  

 

5. 1984 – George Orwell

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Famous dystopia, “1984” depicts the dangers of a totalitarian regime. The novel has in its centre Winston Smith, who forms a cryptic resistance together with Julia, but can their resistance persist in the society in which “Big Brother is watching you”?  A society that is the subject of repressive regimentation, of constant surveillance and of indoctrination, is little by little dehumanized. By reducing the human being to the bare necessities, to the survival instinct, the ruling class creates the perfect obedience. Many strategies of manipulating the mass are depicted in the story.

 

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