Archives for posts with tag: Project Gutenberg


…Oz got into the basket and said to all the people in a loud voice: “I am now going away to make a visit…” The balloon by this time was tugging hard at the rope that held it to the ground… “Come, Dorothy!” cried the Wizard. “Hurry up, or the balloon will fly away” From Chapter 17 of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

For More: Read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz at Project Gutenberg, where you can download the book for free in many forms (including Kindle). 

Trivia Note: L. Frank Baum wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz while living in Chicago at 1667 N. Humboldt Blvd — just a few blocks from where I grew up.

Illustration: Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier (brothers from France) invented and manufactured the first montgolfières, or hot air balloons, in the late 18th century.


“Knut Hamsun is the father of the modern school of literature in his every aspect—his subjectiveness, his fragmentariness, his use of flashbacks, his lyricism. The whole modern school of fiction in the twentieth century stems from Hamsun.”


Read Hunger by Knut Hamsun for free at Project Gutenberg here.


According to Oscar Wilde

 “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh. Otherwise they’ll kill you.”

Wilde kept his Victorian contemporaries laughing with his delightful play The Importance of Being Earnest. But in the midst of the hilarity, Wilde slipped in social commentary about everything from theft and domestic service to alcohol consumption and marriage.

Some of my favorite lines revolve around the era’s most popular form of entertainment — the three-volume novel. Here is some of the play’s comical and cutting dialogue:

CECELY: I believe that memory is responsible for nearly all the three-volume novels…

MISS PRISM: Do not speak slightingly of the three-volume novel, Cecily. I wrote one myself in earlier days.

CECILY: Did you really, Miss Prism? How wonderfully clever you are! I hope it did not end happily. I don’t like novels that end happily. They depress me so much.

MISS PRISM: The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde debuted in London on February 14, 1895. The play is available free at Project Gutenberg.


Franz Kafka, born on July 3, 1883, was only four years old in the photo above — but already bore the markings of the great writer he became. (I’m imaging that he isn’t holding a baton or riding crop, but a giant pen with its writing end obscured by leaves.) The main sign of his impending genius is that he appears detached, looking at himself and his surroundings with a clear eye. There’s irony, a sense of the absurd, a vibrant inner life.

Here, Franz is dressed as society’s little dandy — bows on his shoes, hat in hand, double-breasted jacket, embroidered blouse, dramatic collar, perfect cuffs — but his eyes, oh, his eyes. They see. They see.

I’ve always considered Kafka a master of the opening line. He packs everything into that first sentence: Who, What, Where, When…and the question that remains is: WHY? (That, of course, is the heart of the book or story.)

Let’s take the opening line of The Trial:

Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K.; he knew he had done nothing wrong but, one morning, he was arrested.

When/Where: One morning (at home)

Who: Josef K.

What: Was arrested but had done nothing wrong

Why: Read the book!  (Available for free at Project Gutenberg)