MOBY DICK

Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is a novel by American writer Herman Melville, published in 1851 during the period of the American Renaissance. Sailor Ishmael tells the story of the obsessive quest of Ahab, captain of the whaler the Pequod, for revenge on Moby Dick, the white whale that on the previous whaling voyage bit off Ahab’s leg at the knee. The novel was a commercial failure and out of print at the time of the author’s death in 1891, but during the 20th century, its reputation as a Great American Novel was established. William Faulkner confessed he wished he had written it himself, and D. H. Lawrence called it “one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world”, and “the greatest book of the sea ever written”. “Call me Ishmael” is among world literature’s most famous opening sentences.

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CATRIONA

Catriona (also known as David Balfour) is an 1893 novel written by Robert Louis Stevenson as a sequel to his earlier novel Kidnapped (1886). It tells the further story of the central character, David Balfour.
The novel follows David Balfour’s attempts to secure Alan Breck Stewart and James Stewart’s innocence for the murder of Colin Roy, the “Red Fox”.

Plot summary

The book begins precisely where Kidnapped ends, at 2 PM on 25 August 1751, outside the British Linen Company in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The first part of the book recounts the attempts of the hero, David Balfour, to gain justice for James Stewart (James of the Glens), who has been arrested and charged with complicity in the Appin Murder. David makes a statement to a lawyer and goes on to meet William Grant of Prestongrange, the Lord Advocate of Scotland, to press the case for James’ innocence. However, his attempts fail as – after being reunited with Alan Breck – he is once again kidnapped and, this time, confined on the Bass Rock, an island in the Firth of Forth, until the trial is over, and James condemned to death. David also meets and falls in love with Catriona MacGregor Drummond, the daughter of James MacGregor Drummond, known as James More (who was Rob Roy’s eldest son), also held in prison, whose escape she engineers. David also receives some education in the manners and morals of polite society from Barbara Grant, Prestongrange’s daughter.
In the second part, David and Catriona travel to Holland, where David studies law at the University of Leyden. David takes Catriona under his protection (she having no money) until her father finds them. James More eventually arrives and proves something of a disappointment, drinking a great deal and showing no compunction against living off David’s largesse. At this time, David learns of the death of his uncle Ebenezer, and thus gains knowledge that he has come into his full, substantial inheritance. David and Catriona, fast friends at this point, begin a series of misunderstandings that eventually drive her and James More away, though David sends payment to James in return for news of Catriona’s welfare. James and Catriona find their way to Dunkirk in northern France. Meanwhile, Alan Breck joins David in Leyden, and he berates David for not understanding women.

It’s this way about a man and a woman, ye see, Davie: The weemenfolk have got no kind of reason to them. Either they like the man, and then a’ goes fine; or else they just detest him, and ye may spare your breath – ye can do naething. There’s just the two sets of them – them that would sell their coats for ye, and them that never look the road ye’re on. That’s a’ that there is to women; and you seem to be such a gomeral that ye cannae tell the tane frae the tither.

Prodded thus, and at an invitation from James More, David and Alan journey to Dunkirk to visit with James and Catriona. They all meet one evening at a remote inn and discover the following day that James has betrayed Alan (falsely convicted of the Appin murder) into the hands of a British warship anchored near the shore. The British attempt to capture Alan, who flees with David and Catriona, now reconciled and shamed by James More’s ignominy. The three flee to Paris, where David and Catriona are married. James More dies from an illness, and David and Catriona return to Scotland to raise a family.

Download the book: Catriona.pdf

FOR THE TERM OF HIS NATURAL LIFE

For the Term of His Natural Life, written by Marcus Clarke, was published in the Australian Journal between 1870 and 1872 (as His Natural Life), appearing as a novel in 1874. It is the best known novelisation of life as a convict in early Australian history. At times relying on seemingly implausible coincidences, the story follows the fortunes of Rufus Dawes, a young man transported for a murder that he did not commit. The book clearly conveys the harsh and inhumane treatment meted out to the convicts, some of whom were transported for relatively minor crimes, and graphically describes the conditions the convicts experienced. The novel was based on research by the author as well as a visit to the penal settlement of Port Arthur, Tasmania.

Plot summary

The story starts with a prologue, telling the tale of young British aristocrat, Richard Devine, who is the son of a shipbuilding magnate, Sir Richard Devine. In an incidence of domestic violence, Richard’s mother reveals to Sir Richard that his son was fathered by another man, Lord Bellasis. Sir Richard proceeds to threaten the mother’s reputation if Richard does not leave and never come back. He leaves him to pack for a while, claiming that he will fetch his lawyer to alter his will so that Richard receives no inheritance. When Richard leaves, he comes across a murder scene: his biological father, Lord Bellasis has been murdered, and Richard witnesses Sir Richard walking away from the scene of the crime. The police come and lock up Richard, who now gives his name as Rufus Dawes (which is used for the remainder of the book), for the murder of Lord Bellasis. Additionally, Sir Richard returns home and dies straight away, possibly of a heart-attack, without altering his will. Rufus Dawes/Richard Devine never finds this out. Rufus is found not guilty of the murder but guilty of the robbery of the corpse and sentenced to transportation to the penal colony of Australia.
In 1827, Dawes is shipped to Van Diemen’s Land on the “Malabar”, which also carries Captain Vickers, who is to become the new commander of the penal settlement at Macquarie Harbour, his wife Julia and child Sylvia, Julia’s maid, one Sarah Purfoy and Lieutenant Maurice Frere, Richard Devine’s cousin, son of Sir Richard’s sister, who would have inherited the fortune in Richard’s place. It turns out that Sarah is on the vessel only to free her lover, John Rex. She organises a mutiny with the help of three other men: Gabbett, James “Jemmy” Vetch or “the Crow” and a man nicknamed “the moocher”, while John Rex is in hospital with the fever. One night, a burning vessel is sighted and found out to be the Hydaspes; the ship on which Richard Devine is supposed to have sailed. The crew cannot be found. The following day, Dawes overhears the plans of the mutineers, but is taken to the hospital sick with the fever shortly afterwards. He manages to warn Captain Vickers and Doctor Pine about the plans. Sarah gets the Captain drunk and Frere otherwise busy but does not know about Vickers clandestinely doubling the guard. The mutiny is, therefore, unsuccessful, but Jemmy Vetch, who has understood that only Dawes could have betrayed them, gets his revenge by claiming that Dawes was the ring leader of the mutiny. Dawes is found guilty and receives a second life sentence.
In 1833, at Macquarie Harbour, Maurice Frere has come to deliver to Captain Vickers the news that the settlement at Macquarie Harbour is to be abandoned and the convicts to be moved to Port Arthur. He also attempts to befriend Sylvia, but the child resents him ever since witnessing his treatment of the convicts (especially that of Dawes, who went to the quarterdeck to return her ball). Rufus Dawes has been the victim of several assassination attempts at the convicts’ hands, but has also attempted escape twice and has a long record of bad conduct and punishments. At the moment of Frere’s arrival, he is in solitary confinement on Grummet rock, a small island before the coast. Dawes has managed to recognise Frere at the harbour and now, seeing the preparations for the abandonment of the settlement, mistakenly assumes that Frere has taken command. Rather than suffer Frere’s treatment upon his return, he attempts to drown himself.
Meanwhile, it has been decided that Vickers should sail with the convicts and Frere follow with the brig “Osprey” with Mrs. Vickers and Sylvia, the pilot, five soldiers and ten convicts. Among the convicts is John Rex, who has again plans for mutiny. The convicts succeed in taking the boat, killing two soldiers, wounding one, and marooning him with the Vickers, the pilot and Frere. The pilot and the wounded man die shortly afterwards. One night, a man reaches their makeshift camp. It is Rufus Dawes, who has managed to swim to the settlement only to find it deserted. Although initially wary of him, the little community soon accepts Dawes, especially since he knows all kinds of ways to make their life more agreeable. Sylvia takes to him and Dawes soon does everything to please her, despite Frere’s jealous attempts to win Sylvia’s affection. It is also Dawes, who, after Sylvia mentioned the coracles of the Ancient Britons, plans and succeeds in building a boat out of saplings and goat hide. Although Frere promises Dawes a pardon, he nevertheless does not stop treating him like an inferior, at one point upsetting Dawes so much that he considers leaving on his own. Only Sylvia’s writing in the sand, “Good Mr. Dawes”, stops him. Through a hazard, Frere tells Dawes of the fate of his cousin and how narrowly he missed inheriting the Devine fortune. Dawes had not known about Sir Richard’s death. Finally, they set to sea with Mrs. Vickers gravely ill and Sylvia soon also sick. After some time they are found by an American vessel at which point Frere takes the rudder of the boat and Sylvia in his arms.
By 1838, in Port Arthur, Mrs. Vickers has died. Sylvia has lost all her memories of the incident at Macquarie Harbour and knows only what she has been told about it. She is now a young woman of sixteen and engaged to Captain Maurice Frere, who has told the story of the mutiny in his own way: making himself the hero and claiming that Dawes attempted to murder all three of them. News arrives that the surviving mutineers of the Osprey have been captured and are to be tried at Port Arthur. Sarah Purfoy calls on Frere and begs him to speak in Rex’s favour, saying that he left them food and tools. She threatens to expose Frere’s previous affairs to Sylvia. Frere consents to her demands. Rufus Dawes is also brought down from Hobart to identify the captured men. At the trial, he sees Sylvia again and realises that she is alive: he had been informed of her death. He tries to speak his case but is not allowed to. The mutineers get away with life sentences.
Dawes escapes to see Sylvia again and begs her to speak, but in her amnesia she is afraid of him and calls for help. Dawes, too thunderstruck to leave, is immediately recaptured and sent back to Hobart. There, he meets the Reverend James North, a drunkard, whose failure to get up in time after a drinking night results in the death of a convict at the triangle, whom North had sworn to protect. Dawes is ordered to carry out the flogging and upon eventually refusing is flogged himself. Despite Dawes’ initial hate for the man he considers to be a hypocrite, he is moved by North’s begging for forgiveness and calling him “brother”. The next time he asks to see the chaplain he finds that North, an enemy to the bishop for his impious vices, has been replaced by Meekin, a dainty man, who lectures him on his sins rather than attempting to console him.
John Rex seeks Dawes and tries to persuade him to join him in an escape, organised by Sarah Purfoy. Dawes refuses. Through luck, Rex starts talking about the Devines and about how he was once employed to find news of their son. Dawes, appalled, asks if he would still recognise the man and Rex understands all of Dawes’ story. When shortly afterward a warder confuses them both, commenting on how much they look alike, Rex hatches another plan.
A few days later, Rex and another group of eight, led by Gabbett and Vetch, escape. It soon becomes apparent that Rex used the other men only as decoys. They get hopelessly lost in the bush and start eating one another, leaving only Gabbett and Vetch to struggle for not being the first to fall asleep. Later, Gabbett is found on a beach by the crew of a whaling vessel, with the half-eaten arm of one of his comrades hanging out of his swag. This part is based on a true story, that of Alexander Pearce.
Rex reaches Sydney and, soon becoming weary of Sarah, escaping her to go to London, where he presents himself as Richard Devine. Lady Ellinor accepts him as her son.
In Norfolk Island, by 1846, Reverend James North has been appointed prison chaplain. Shortly afterward, Captain Frere becomes Commandant of the Island, resolved to enforce discipline there. North, appalled at the horrible punishments inflicted but not really daring to interfere, renews his friendship with Dawes and also takes to Sylvia. Her marriage is an unhappy one. Frere has grown weary of his wife over the years and Sylvia married him only because she believed that she owed love to the man who allegedly saved her life. Dawes has also been on the Island for five years and again becomes Frere’s target. Frere is resolved to break his opponent’s spirit and finally succeeds after inflicting punishment upon punishment on him for several weeks. One night, Dawes and his two cell mates draw lots. The longest straw and old hand Blind Mooney is killed at the hands of the second, Bland, with Dawes as the witness. According to their plan, Bland and Dawes get sentenced to death.
North, in the meantime, has had to realise the true nature of his affection for Sylvia. At first, he attempts to keep away from her, but this unfriendliness is ill-received by Frere, who gets his revenge on the convicts open to North’s words, especially on Dawes. One day, Sylvia has gone to see Dawes. She has not been able to stop thinking about him as she feels that there is more to the story than she knows. She finds Dawes on the “stretcher” and orders his release. Frere is furious when he learns about it and strikes Sylvia, despite North’s presence. North has sent his resignation two months previously. Sylvia had already decided to go and see her father to escape the grievances of her life on the Island. The two admit their feelings for one another but decide to keep quiet until they can sail. North visits Dawes and learns the true story of the mutiny and rescue. He promises to tell Sylvia Dawes’ story but does not.
Meanwhile, Sarah has found John Rex in London. He has led a life of debauchery, much to the disapproval of Lady Ellinor. Sarah threatens to denounce John if he does not introduce her as his wife. Ever since Rex wanted to sell the family house, Lady Ellinor’s suspicions have reached the point where she attempts to test her alleged son. When she forbids him to sell the house, Rex says that it only is his right to do so. Lady Ellinor tells him that he has no rights to anything since Richard Devine was a bastard, the son of Lord Bellasis. Rex suddenly understands their strange resemblance: he is also a son of Lord Bellasis; his mother was a servant in his house. Rex confesses to the murder of Lord Bellasis, who laughed at him when told this story. Lady Ellinor promises Sarah to allow them to leave the country in exchange for information about her son. Sarah manages to get them both aboard a vessel bound for Sydney, but Rex dies of a stroke during the voyage.
Shortly before leaving, North visits Dawes to confess that he never talked to Sylvia because he is himself in love with her. Dawes tells the priest that he knows nothing about love and recounts his own story to illustrate his words. North confesses to having been the one who robbed the corpse of Lord Bellasis, as the Lord held proofs against North, who had been forging bank notes. Begging forgiveness again, North leaves in great confusion, forgetting his hat and cloak. Dawes manages to get out and on the boat in this disguise as the drunken warder has not closed his cell door. North observes him leaving and decides that it is for the best. The ship on which Dawes and Sylvia sail soon gets into a storm. Sylvia, seeking comfort from the reverend, finds Dawes in his place, and now remembers the past as the gale reaches its greatest force.
The next morning finds their entangled corpses on a piece of planking from the sunken ship.

Download the book: For The Term Of His Natural Life.pdf

KIDNAPPED

Kidnapped is an historical fiction adventure novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, written as a “boys’ novel” and first published in the magazine Young Folks from May to July 1886. The novel has attracted the praise and admiration of writers as diverse as Henry James, Jorge Luis Borges, and Hilary Mantel. A sequel, Catriona, was published in 1893.
Kidnapped is set around 18th-century Scottish events, notably the “Appin Murder”, which occurred near Ballachulish in 1752 in the aftermath of the Jacobite rising of 1745. Many of the characters were real people, including one of the principals, Alan Breck Stewart. The political situation of the time is portrayed from multiple viewpoints, and the Scottish Highlanders are treated sympathetically.

The full title of the book is Kidnapped: Being Memoirs of the Adventures of David Balfour in the Year 1751: How he was Kidnapped and Cast away; his Sufferings in a Desert Isle; his Journey in the Wild Highlands; his acquaintance with Alan Breck Stewart and other notorious Highland Jacobites; with all that he Suffered at the hands of his Uncle, Ebenezer Balfour of Shaws, falsely so-called: Written by Himself and now set forth by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Plot

The central character and narrator is 17-year-old David Balfour. (Balfour is Stevenson’s mother’s maiden name.) His parents have recently died, and he is out to make his way in the world. He is given a letter by the minister of Essendean, Mr. Campbell, to be delivered to the House of Shaws in Cramond, where David’s uncle, Ebenezer Balfour, lives. On his journey, David asks many people where the House of Shaws is, and all of them speak of it darkly as a place of fear and evil.
David arrives at the ominous House of Shaws and is confronted by his paranoid Uncle Ebenezer, who is armed with a blunderbuss. His uncle is also miserly, living on “parritch” and small ale, and the House of Shaws itself is partially unfinished and somewhat ruinous. David is allowed to stay and soon discovers evidence that his father may have been older than his uncle, thus making David the rightful heir to the estate. Ebenezer asks David to get a chest from the top of a tower in the house but refuses to provide a lamp or candle. David is forced to scale the stairs in the dark and realizes that not only is the tower unfinished in some places, but the steps simply end abruptly and fall into an abyss. David concludes that his uncle intended for him to have an “accident” so as not to have to give over his nephew’s inheritance.

David confronts his uncle, who promises to tell David the whole story of his father the next morning. A ship’s cabin boy, Ransome, arrives the next day and tells Ebenezer that Captain Hoseason of the brig Covenant needs to meet him to discuss business. Ebenezer takes David to a pier on the Firth of Forth, where Hoseason awaits, and David makes the mistake of leaving his uncle alone with the captain while he visits the shore with Ransome. Hoseason later offers to take them on board the brig briefly, and David complies, only to see his uncle returning to shore alone in a skiff. David is then immediately struck senseless.
David awakens, bound hand and foot, in the hold of the ship. He becomes weak and sick, and one of the Covenant’s officers, Mr. Riach, convinces Hoseason to move David up to the forecastle. Mr. Shuan, a mate on the ship, finally takes his routine abuse of Ransome too far and murders the unfortunate youth. David is repulsed at the crew’s behaviour and learns that the captain plans to sell him into slavery in the Carolinas.
David becomes the slain cabin boy’s replacement, and the ship encounters contrary winds which drive her back toward Scotland. Fog-bound near the Hebrides, they strike a small boat. All of the small boat’s crew are killed except one man, Alan Breck Stewart, who is brought on board and offers Hoseason a large sum of money to drop him off on the mainland. David later overhears the crew plotting to kill Alan and take all his money. David and Alan barricade themselves in the round house, where Alan kills the murderous Shuan, and David wounds Hoseason. Five of the crew members are killed outright, and the rest refuse to continue fighting.
Alan is a Jacobite who supports the claim of the House of Stuart to the throne of Scotland. He is initially suspicious of the pro-Whig David, who is also loyal to King George II. Still, the young man has given a good account of himself in the fighting and impresses the veteran soldier.
Hoseason has no choice but to give Alan and David passage back to the mainland. David tells his tale to Alan, who in turn states that his birthplace, Appin, is under the tyrannical administration of Colin Roy of Glenure, the King’s factor and a Campbell. Alan vows that should he find the “Red Fox” he will kill him.
The Covenant tries to negotiate a difficult channel without a proper chart or pilot, and is soon driven aground on the notorious Torran Rocks. David and Alan are separated in the confusion, with David being washed ashore on the isle of Erraid, near Mull, while Alan and the surviving crew row to safety on that same island. David spends a few days alone in the wild before getting his bearings.
David learns that his new friend has survived, and David has two encounters with beggarly guides: one who attempts to stab him with a knife, and another who is blind but an excellent shot with a pistol. David soon reaches Torosay, where he is ferried across the river, receives further instructions from Alan’s friend Neil Roy McRob, and later meets a catechist who takes the lad to the mainland.

As he continues his journey, David encounters none other than the Red Fox (Colin Roy) himself, who is accompanied by a lawyer, a servant, and a sheriff’s officer. When David stops the Campbell man to ask him for directions, a hidden sniper kills the King’s hated agent.
David is denounced as a conspirator and flees for his life, but by chance reunites with Alan. The youth believes Alan is the assassin, but Alan denies responsibility.
The pair flee from redcoat search parties until they reach James (Stewart) of the Glens, whose family has heard of the murder, is burying their hidden store of weapons, and is burning papers that could incriminate them. James tells the travelers he will have no choice but to “paper” them (distribute printed descriptions of the two with a reward listed), but provides them with weapons and food for their journey south, and David with a change of clothes (which the printed description will not match).
Alan and David then begin their flight through the heather, hiding from government soldiers by day. As the trek drains David’s strength, his health rapidly deteriorates; by the time they are set upon by wild Highlanders who are sentries for Cluny Macpherson, an outlawed chief in hiding, the lad is barely conscious.
Alan convinces Cluny to give them shelter. The Highland chieftain is offended when David covenantly refuses to play cards but defers to the respected Alan’s opinion of the lad. David is tended by a Highland doctor and soon recovers, though in the meantime Alan loses all of their money at cards with Cluny, only for Cluny to give it back when David practically begs for it.
When David and Alan resume their flight in cold and rainy weather, David becomes ill again and nurses a childish anger against Alan over the affront of having to beg for their money. Alan patiently tries to help the sulking David for several days, but he finally gives in to his own pride and begins taunting him. David forces a showdown with swords by insulting Alan’s courage and loyalty, but Alan cannot bring himself to fight him. David, now sick in the extreme, at last feels contrition and realizes a plea for help can do what an apology will not: mend the rift between them. Alan carries David on his back down the burn to reach the nearest house, fortuitously that of a Maclaren, Duncan Dhu, who is both an ally of the Stewarts and a skilled piper.
David is bedridden and given a doctor’s care, while Alan hides nearby, visiting after dark. During David’s nearly month-long recuperation, he is visited by many curious but loyal neighbours in the region and by a foe of Alan’s, Robin Oig, the son of Rob Roy MacGregor and a wanted outlaw. Alan and Robin nearly fight a duel, but Duncan persuades them to leave the contest to bagpipes. Both play brilliantly, but Alan admits Robin is the better piper, so the quarrel is resolved. Alan and David prepare to leave the Highlands and return to David’s country.
In one of the most humorous passages in the book, Alan convinces an innkeeper’s daughter from Limekilns (unnamed in Kidnapped but called “Alison Hastie” in its sequel) that David is a dying young Jacobite nobleman, despite David’s objections, and she ferries them across the Firth of Forth. There, they meet a lawyer of David’s uncle’s, Mr. Rankeillor, who agrees to help David receive his inheritance. Rankeillor explains that David’s father and uncle had once quarreled over a woman, David’s mother, and the older Balfour had married her, informally giving the estate to his brother while living as an impoverished schoolteacher with his wife. This agreement had lapsed with his death.
David and the lawyer hide in bushes outside Ebenezer’s house while Alan speaks to him, claiming to be a man who found David nearly dead after the wreck of the Covenant and says he is representing folk holding him captive in the Hebrides. He asks David’s uncle whether Alan should kill David or keep him. The uncle flatly denies Alan’s statement that David had been kidnapped but eventually admits that he paid Hoseason “twenty pound” to take David to “Caroliny”. David and Rankeillor then emerge from their hiding places, and speak with Ebenezer in the kitchen, eventually agreeing that David will be provided two-thirds of the estate’s income for as long as his uncle lives.
The novel ends with David and Alan’s parting ways; Alan returns to France, and David goes to a bank to settle his money. At one point in the book, a reference is made to David’s eventually studying at the University of Leyden, a fairly common practice for young Scottish gentry seeking a law career in the eighteenth century.

Download the book: Kidnapped.pdf

A JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH

Journey to the Center of the Earth (French: Voyage au centre de la Terre, also translated under the titles A Journey to the Centre of the Earth and A Journey to the Interior of the Earth) is an 1864 science fiction novel by Jules Verne. The story involves German professor Otto Lidenbrock who believes there are volcanic tubes going toward the centre of the Earth. He, his nephew Axel, and their guide Hans descend into the Icelandic volcano Snæfellsjökull, encountering many adventures, including prehistoric animals and natural hazards, before eventually coming to the surface again in southern Italy, at the Stromboli volcano.

The genre of subterranean fiction already existed long before Verne. However, the present book considerably added to its popularity and influenced later such writings. For example, Edgar Rice Burroughs explicitly acknowledged Verne’s influence on his own Pellucidar series.

PLOT

The story begins in May 1863, in the Lidenbrock house in Hamburg, Germany, with Professor Lidenbrock rushing home to peruse his latest purchase, an original runic manuscript of an Icelandic saga written by Snorri Sturluson (Snorre Tarleson in some versions of the story), “Heimskringla”; the chronicle of the Norwegian kings who ruled over Iceland. While looking through the book, Lidenbrock and his nephew Axel find a coded note written in runic script along with the name of a 16th-century Icelandic alchemist, Arne Saknussemm. (This was a first indication of Verne’s love for cryptography. Coded, cryptic or incomplete messages as a plot device would continue to appear in many of his works and in each case Verne would go a long way to explain not only the code used but also the mechanisms used to retrieve the original text.) Lidenbrock and Axel transliterate the runic characters into Latin letters, revealing a message written in a seemingly bizarre code. Lidenbrock attempts a decipherment, deducing the message to be a kind of transposition cipher; but his results are as meaningless as the original.
Professor Lidenbrock decides to lock everyone in the house and force himself and the others (Axel, and the maid, Martha) to go without food until he cracks the code. Axel discovers the answer when fanning himself with the deciphered text: Lidenbrock’s decipherment was correct, and only needs to be read backwards to reveal sentences written in rough Latin. Axel decides to keep the secret hidden from Professor Lidenbrock, afraid of what the Professor might do with the knowledge, but after two days without food he cannot stand the hunger and reveals the secret to his uncle. Lidenbrock translates the note, which is revealed to be a medieval note written by the (fictional) Icelandic alchemist Arne Saknussemm, who claims to have discovered a passage to the centre of the Earth via Snæfell in Iceland. In what Axel calls bad Latin, the deciphered message reads:

In Snefflls [sic] Iokulis kraterem kem delibat umbra Skartaris Iulii intra kalendas deskende, audas uiator, te [sic] terrestre kentrum attinges. Kod feki. Arne Saknussemm.

In slightly better Latin, with errors amended:

In Sneffels Jokulis craterem, quem delibat umbra Scartaris, Julii intra kalendas descende, audax viator, et terrestre centrum attinges; quod feci. Arne Saknussemm

which, when translated into English, reads:

Descend, bold traveller, into the crater of the jökull of Snæfell, which the shadow of Scartaris touches (lit: tastes) before the Kalends of July, and you will attain the centre of the earth. I did it. Arne Saknussemm

Professor Lidenbrock is a man of astonishing impatience, and departs for Iceland immediately, taking his reluctant nephew with him. Axel, who, in comparison, is cowardly and anti-adventurous, repeatedly tries to reason with him, explaining his fears of descending into a volcano and putting forward various scientific theories as to why the journey is impossible, but Professor Lidenbrock repeatedly keeps himself blinded against Axel’s point of view. After a rapid journey via Kiel and Copenhagen, they arrive in Reykjavík, where the two procure the services of Hans Bjelke (a Danish-speaking Icelander eiderdown hunter) as their guide, and travel overland to the base of the volcano.
In late June, they reach the volcano, which has three craters. According to Saknussemm’s message, the passage to the center of the Earth is through the one crater that is touched by the shadow of a nearby mountain peak at noon. However, the text also states that this is only true during the last days of June. During the next few days, with July rapidly approaching, the weather is too cloudy for any shadows. Axel silently rejoices, hoping this will force his uncle – who has repeatedly tried to impart courage to him only to succeed in making him even more cowardly still – to give up the project and return home. Alas for Axel, however, on the second to last day, the sun comes out and the mountain peak shows the correct crater to take.
After descending into the crater, the three travellers set off into the bowels of the Earth, encountering many strange phenomena and great dangers, including a chamber filled with firedamp, and steep-sided wells around the “path”. After taking a wrong turn, they run out of water and Axel almost dies, but Hans taps into a neighbouring subterranean river. Lidenbrock and Axel name the resulting stream the “Hansbach” in his honour and the three are saved. At another point, Axel becomes separated from the others and is lost several miles from them. Luckily, a strange acoustic phenomenon allows him to communicate with them from some miles away, and they are soon reunited.
After descending many miles, following the course of the Hansbach, they reach an unimaginably vast cavern. This underground world is lit by electrically charged gas at the ceiling, and is filled with a very deep subterranean ocean, surrounded by a rocky coastline covered in petrified trees and giant mushrooms. The travelers build a raft out of trees and set sail. The Professor names this sea the Lidenbrock Sea. While on the water, they see several prehistoric creatures such as a giant Ichthyosaurus, which fights with a Plesiosaurus and wins. After the battle between the monsters, the party comes across an island with a huge geyser, which Lidenbrock names “Axel’s Island”.
A lightning storm again threatens to destroy the raft and its passengers, but instead throws them onto the coastline. This part of the coast, Axel discovers, is alive with prehistoric plant and animal life forms, including giant insects and a herd of mastodons. On a beach covered with bones, Axel discovers an oversized human skull. Axel and Lidenbrock venture some way into the prehistoric forest, where Professor Lidenbrock points out, in a shaky voice, a prehistoric human, more than twelve feet in height, leaning against a tree and watching a herd of mastodons. Axel cannot be sure if he has really seen the man or not, and he and Professor Lidenbrock debate whether or not a proto-human civilization actually exists so far underground. The three wonder if the creature is a man-like ape, or an ape-like man. The sighting of the creature is considered the most alarming part of the story, and the explorers decide that it is better not to alert it to their presence as they fear it may be hostile.
The travellers continue to explore the coastline, and find a passageway marked by Saknussemm as the way ahead. However, it is blocked by what appears to be a recent cave-in and two of the three, Hans and the Professor, despair at being unable to hack their way through the granite wall. The adventurers plan to blast the rock with gun cotton and paddle out to sea to escape the blast. Upon executing the plan, however, they discover that behind the rockfall was a seemingly bottomless pit, not a passage to the center of the earth. The travellers are swept away as the sea rushes into the large open gap in the ground. After spending hours being swept along at lightning speeds by the water, the raft ends up inside a large volcanic chimney filling with water and magma. Terrified, the three are rushed upwards, through stifling heat, and are ejected onto the surface from a side-vent of a stratovolcano. When they regain consciousness, they discover that they have been ejected from Stromboli, a volcanic island located in southern Italy. They return to Hamburg to great acclaim – Professor Lidenbrock is hailed as one of the great scientists of history, Axel marries his sweetheart Gräuben, and Hans eventually returns to his peaceful life in Iceland. The Professor has some regret that their journey was cut short.
At the very end of the book, Axel and Lidenbrock realize why their compass was behaving strangely after their journey on the raft. They realize that the needle was pointing the wrong way after being struck by an electric fireball which nearly destroyed the wooden raft.

Download the book: A Journey To The Centre Of The Earth.pdf

HUNGER GAMES

The Hunger Games is a trilogy of young adult dystopian novels written by American novelist Suzanne Collins. The series is set in The Hunger Games universe, and follows young characters Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellar
The Hunger Games trilogy takes place in an unspecified future time, in the dystopian, post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, located in North America. The country consists of a wealthy Capitol city, located in the Rocky Mountains, surrounded by twelve (originally thirteen) poorer districts ruled by the Capitol. The Capitol is lavishly rich and technologically advanced, but the districts are in varying states of poverty. 
The trilogy’s narrator and protagonist Katniss Everdeen, lives in District 12, the poorest region of Panem, located in Appalachia, where people regularly die of starvation. As punishment for a past rebellion against the Capitol (called the “Dark Days”), in which District 13 was supposedly destroyed, one boy and one girl from each of the twelve remaining districts, between the ages of 12 and 18, are selected by lottery to compete in an annual pageant called the Hunger Games. The Games are a televised event in which the participants, called “tributes”, are forced to fight to the death in a dangerous public arena. The winning tribute and his/her home district are then rewarded with food, supplies, and riches. The purposes of the Hunger Games are to provide entertainment for the Capitol and to remind the districts of the Capitol’s power and lack of remorse, forgetfulness and forgiveness for the failed rebellion of the current competitors’ ancestors.

Books   

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games is the first book in the series and was released on September 14, 2008.
The Hunger Games follows 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, a girl from District 12 who volunteers for the 74th Hunger Games in place of her younger sister Primrose Everdeen, known as Prim. Also participating from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, a boy who has developed a secret crush on Katniss. They are mentored by District 12’s only living victor, Haymitch Abernathy, who won the Games 24 years earlier and has since assumed a solitary life of alcoholism. Peeta confesses his love for Katniss in a television interview prior to the Games, leading the Capitol to portray Katniss and Peeta as “star-crossed lovers”. This revelation surprises Katniss, who harbors feelings for Gale Hawthorne, her friend and hunting partner. Haymitch advises Katniss to play along and feign feelings for Peeta in order to gain wealthy sponsors who can gift them crucial supplies during the Games. In the arena, Katniss develops an alliance with Rue, a young tribute from District 11 who reminds Katniss of her kid sister, and Katniss is emotionally scarred when Rue is killed. Katniss devises a memorial for Rue by placing flowers over her body as an act of defiance toward the Capitol. More than halfway through The Games, the remaining tributes are alerted to a rule change that allows both tributes from the same district to be declared victors if they are the final two standing. After learning of the change, Katniss and Peeta begin to work as a team. When all of the other tributes are dead, and they appear to win the Games together, the rule change is revoked. Katniss leads Peeta in a double suicide attempt to eat poisonous berries known as nightlock, hoping that the latest change will be reinstated, and that they will both be victorious. Their ruse is successful, and both tributes return home victorious. During and after the Games, Katniss develops genuine feelings for Peeta and struggles to balance them with the connection she feels with Gale. When it becomes clear that the Capitol is upset with Katniss’ defiance, Haymitch encourages her to maintain the “star-crossed lovers” act, without telling Peeta.

 

Catching Fire

Catching Fire is the second installment in the series, released on September 1, 2009.
In Catching Fire, which begins six months after the conclusion of The Hunger Games, Katniss learns that her defiance in the previous novel has started a chain reaction that has inspired rebellion in the districts. President Snow threatens to harm Katniss’ family and friends if she does not help to defuse the unrest in the districts and marry Peeta. Meanwhile, Peeta has become aware of Katniss’ disingenuous love for him, but he has also been informed of Snow’s threats, so he promises to help keep up the act to spare the citizens of District 12. Katniss and Peeta tour the districts as victors and plan a public wedding. While they follow Snow’s orders and keep up the ruse, Katniss inadvertently fuels the rebellion, and the mockingjay pin she wears becomes its symbol. District by district, the citizens of Panem begin to stage uprisings against the Capitol. Snow announces a special 75th edition of the Hunger Games—known as the Quarter Quell—in which Katniss and Peeta are forced to compete with other past victors, effectively canceling the wedding. At Haymitch’s urging, the pair teams up with several other tributes, and manages to destroy the arena and escape The Games. Katniss is rescued by the rebel forces from District 13, and Gale informs her that the Capitol has destroyed District 12, and captured both Peeta and their District 7 ally, Johanna Mason. Katniss ultimately learns—to her surprise—that she had inadvertently been an integral part of the rebellion all along; her rescue had been jointly planned by Haymitch, Plutarch Heavensbee, and Finnick Odair, among others. After some hesitation Katniss joins the rebels.

 

Mockingjay

Mockingjay, the third and final book in The Hunger Games series, was released on August 24, 2010.
Mockingjay centers on the districts’ rebellion against the Capitol. Katniss returns home and sees the remains of District 12. It is revealed that some District 13 residents survived the Dark Days by living underground, and they are led by President Alma Coin. Katniss, after being brought to District 13, agrees to become the “Mockingjay” and recruit more rebels from the districts. She sets conditions so that Peeta, Johanna Mason, Annie Cresta, and Enobaria, fellow victors captured by the Capitol, will not be seen as traitors, and Katniss will be able to kill Snow as an act of vengeance, if the rebels win. It is revealed that Peeta has been “hijacked”—brainwashed using Tracker Jacker venom—to kill Katniss, and he tries to choke her to death upon their reunion. After her healing, Katniss and a team known as the Star Squad, composed of Gale, Peeta, Finnick, a camera crew, and various other soldiers, embark on a mission to go to the Capitol to kill Snow. The mission succeeds, and they thus win the rebellion. Throughout their mission, many members of the Squad die in various ways, including just-married Finnick. Towards the end of the book, as Katniss approaches Snow’s mansion, she sees a group of Capitol children protecting the entrance to the mansion as a shield, and suddenly a Capitol hovercraft drops bombs, killing the children. The rebels send in medics, including Prim. A bomb goes off, killing Prim instantly as soon as she notices her sister. Katniss, also injured, awakens from a coma to hear that the rebels have won, and Snow is awaiting execution, which Katniss will be allowed to carry out. At the meeting, Snow suggests that it was in fact the rebels, led by Coin, who hijacked the Capitol hovercraft and killed Prim in a move to portray Snow as barbaric. Coin then asks the remaining victors to vote on a final Hunger Games, in which the children of high-ranking Capitol officials (including Snow’s granddaughter) would compete, in order to punish the Capitol for their crimes against the districts. At what is supposed to be Snow’s execution, Katniss instead decides to kill Coin, and Snow dies by choking on his own blood while laughing. This leads to Katniss’ prosecution, but she is deemed innocent as the jury believes she was not in a fit mental state. Katniss is sent home to District 12, and Katniss’ mother and Gale both take jobs in different districts. In the epilogue, Peeta’s love wins against the Tracker Jacker venom, and he and Katniss remain together. The couple bears two children, a boy and a girl.

Download the series:

Book 1: Hunger games.pdf 

Book 2: Catching Fire.pdf

Book 3:  Mocking Jay.pdf

DAVID COPPERFIELD

David Copperfield is the eighth novel by Charles Dickens. The novel’s full title is, The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery (Which He Never Meant to Publish on Any Account). It was first published as a serial in 1849–50, and as a book in 1850. Many elements of the novel follow events in Dickens’ own life, and it is often considered as his veiled autobiography. It was Dickens’ favorite among his own novels. In the preface to the 1867 edition, Dickens wrote, “like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child. And his name is David Copperfield.

PLOT

The story follows the life of David Copperfield from childhood to maturity. David was born in Blunderstone, Suffolk, England, six months after the death of his father. David spends his early years in relative happiness with his loving, childish mother and their kindly housekeeper, Peggotty. When he is seven years old his mother marries Edward Murdstone. During the marriage, partly to get him out of the way and partly because he strongly objects to the whole proceeding, David is sent to lodge with Peggotty’s family in Yarmouth. Her brother, fisherman Mr Peggotty, lives in a house built in an upturned boat on the beach, with his adopted relatives Emily and Ham, and an elderly widow, Mrs Gummidge. “Little Em’ly” is somewhat spoilt by her fond foster father, and David is in love with her. On his return, David is given good reason to dislike his stepfather and has similar feelings for Murdstone’s sister Jane, who moves into the house soon afterwards. Between them they tyrannise his poor mother, making her and David’s lives miserable, and when, in consequence, David falls behind in his studies, Murdstone attempts to thrash him – partly to further pain his mother. David bites him and soon afterwards is sent away to a boarding school, Salem House, under a ruthless headmaster, Mr. Creakle. There he befriends an older boy, James Steerforth, and Tommy Traddles. He develops an impassioned admiration for Steerforth, perceiving him as something noble, who could do great things if he would.
David goes home for the holidays to learn that his mother has given birth to a baby boy. Shortly after David returns to Salem House, his mother and her baby die, and David returns home immediately. Peggotty marries the local carrier, Mr Barkis. Murdstone sends David to work for a wine merchant in London – a business of which Murdstone is a joint owner. David’s landlord, Wilkins Micawber, is arrested for debt and sent to the King’s Bench Prison, where he remains for several months, before being released and moving to Plymouth. No one remains to care for David in London, so he decides to run away.
He walks from London to Dover, to his only relative, his eccentric yet kind-hearted great-aunt Betsey Trotwood. She had come to Blunderstone at his birth, only to depart in ire upon learning that he was not a girl. However, she takes pity on him and agrees to raise him, despite Murdstone’s attempt to regain custody of David, on condition that he always tries to ‘be as like his sister, Betsey Trotwood’ as he can be, meaning that he is to endeavour to emulate the prospective namesake she was disappointed of. David’s great-aunt renames him “Trotwood Copperfield” and addresses him as “Trot”, and it becomes one of several names which David is called by in the course of the novel.
David’s aunt sends him to a far better school than the last he attended. It is run by Dr Strong, whose methods inculcate honour and self-reliance in his pupils. During term, David lodges with the lawyer Mr Wickfield, and his daughter Agnes, who becomes David’s friend and confidante. Wickfield has a secretary, the 15-year-old Uriah Heep.
By devious means Uriah Heep gradually gains a complete ascendancy over the aging and alcoholic Wickfield, to Agnes’ great sorrow. Heep hopes, and maliciously confides to David, that he aspires to marry Agnes. Ultimately with the aid of Micawber, who has been employed by Heep as a secretary, his fraudulent behaviour is revealed. At the end of the book, David meets him in a prison, for attempting to defraud the Bank of England.
After completing school, David learns to be a proctor. During this time, due to Heep’s fraudulent activities, his aunt’s fortune has gone down. David begins struggle for his life. He joins in employment under his former teacher Doctor Strong, as a secretary and also starts to learn shorthand, with the help of his former school-friend Traddles. Upon learning shorthand, he joins in a newspaper for parliementary debate reporting. With considerable help from Agnes and his own great diligence, hard work and discipline, David ultimately finds fame and fortune as an author, by writing fiction.
David’s romantic but self-serving school friend, Steerforth, seduces and dishonours Emily, offering to marry her off to one of his servants before finally deserting her. Her uncle Mr Peggotty manages to find her with the help of London prostitute Martha, who had grown up in their county. Ham, who had been engaged to marry her before the tragedy, died in a storm off the coast in attempting to succour a ship; Steerforth was aboard the same and also died. Mr Peggotty takes Emily to a new life in Australia, accompanied by Mrs. Gummidge and the Micawbers, where all eventually find security and happiness.
David marries the beautiful but naïve Dora Spenlow, but their marriage proves unhappy for David. Dora dies early in their marriage. After Dora’s death, Agnes encourages David to return to normal life and his profession of writing. While living in Switzerland, David realizes that he loves Agnes. Upon returning to England, after a failed attempt to conceal his feelings, David finds that Agnes loves him too. They quickly marry and in this marriage he finds true happiness. David and Agnes then have at least five children, including a daughter named after his great-aunt, Betsey Trotwood.

Download the book: David Copperfield.pdf