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Metamorphoses (EBook, 2022, Standard Ebooks) 4 stars

Curious Lucius turns himself into a donkey while learning magic and turns his Greek business …

The Golden Ass / for Standard Ebooks

5 stars

In The Golden Ass, or Metamorphoses, Lucian is on a business trip to Greece when his curiosity gets the best of him and he finds himself accidentally transformed into a donkey. He then narrates his provincial odyssey in a world where old gods rule, myth informs life, Fortune is fickle, Thessalian witches are puissant, and a curious man seeking to learn their craft might well lament making an ass of himself.

Apuleius was a second-century speaker and writer born in present-day Algeria who authors, narrates, and is the subject of this bawdy, picaresque, quasi-autobiographical story. He himself traveled extensively, studied philosophy, was initiated into mystery cults, and became a priest. He was also tried for witchcraft, accused of having betrothed his wife Pudentilla by charms other than those of his personality.

The novel was translated into “Tudor prose” by Adlington in 1566 during the “golden age of translation,” and it …

The Mark of Zorro (2022, Standard Ebooks) 4 stars

While mild mannered Don Diego Vega seeks a bride, cloaked crusader Señor Zorro (Mr. Fox) …

The Mark of Zorro / Standard Ebooks

4 stars

While mild-mannered Don Diego Vega seeks a bride, cloaked crusader Señor Zorro (Spanish for “Mr. Fox”) rides the dangerous highway of Mexican California armed with a sword, whip, and pistol—righting wrongs, defending the weak, and punishing injustice.

The story is set in Reina de Los Angeles, a town in southern California circa 1800 when California was still a part of Mexico, and when Mexico was controlled by Spain. The Los Angeles of this time is populated by four societies that must coexist, but that coexistence is out of balance.

The oldest and weakest group is the “natives” who live in the pueblo. Next come the clergy, the friales who first planted the orchards and who live in the missions. Then, the gentry, who live as dons and doñas on feudal estates, or haciendas. Finally, the land is ruled by the strongest of these powers, an unjust governor in San Francisco …

Maria Chapdelaine (EBook, 2022, Standard Ebooks) 5 stars

It takes a hardy people to survive farming the harsh lands of the French Canadian …

Maria Chapdelaine / for Standard Ebooks

No rating

It takes a hardy people to survive farming the harsh lands of the French Canadian wilderness, and Maria Chapdelaine must choose either to remain Québécois in this unforgiving land that has broken her heart, or to pursue a softer urban life in foreign New England.

French writer Louis Hémon wrote Maria Chapdelaine during the two years he lived in Quebec, and it’s based on his experiences working on a farm in the Lac Saint-Jean region where the novel is set. It was his only work published in his lifetime, as he died in a tragic train accident before learning of its success.

The novel is described as a masterwork that was Canada’s entry into world literature and Quebec’s introduction to the rest of the Francophone world. An enduring work, it has served as the basis of four movies, and has been adapted into plays, an illustrated novel, a radio novel, …

A general history of the pyrates (1999, Dover Publications) No rating

Plates facing pp. 70, 157 and folded plate facing p. 259.

Content warning capital-punishment

Darby O'Gill and the Good People (EBook, 2022, Standard Ebooks) 5 stars

When Tipperary man Darby O’Gill is imprisoned by the fairies of Sleive-na-mon in their home …

"Darby O’Gill Among the Fairies of Sleive Na Mon”

No rating

When Tipperary man Darby O’Gill is imprisoned by the fairies of Sleive-na-mon in their home under the hollow mountain, he starts a lasting friendship with their King Brian Connors. Using the voice of a local story-teller, Herminie Templeton Kavanagh shares this series of tales of Darby and King Brian’s adventures. We follow Brian as his fairies are banished from Heaven for not taking sides as angels wage war against each other, and we follow Darby to face the Banshee in Croaghmah, the realm of ghosts and the final destination of the spectral death coach driven by its headless horseman. We join Darby as he matches wits with the crafty Leprechaun, and join King Brian as he debates philosophy with parish priest Father Cassidy. Pious Christianity, superstition, and pagan folklore are each real and important elements of Darby’s life and world. Reconciling them is a persistent theme in Kavanaugh’s stories, one …

The Humbugs of the World (EBook, 1865, Carleton) 4 stars

American archetype and cultural founding father, Phineas Taylor Barnum shares a varied collection of anecdotes …

“Humbug … I won’t believe it”

4 stars

“Humbug … I won’t believe it,” is Scrooge’s response when confronted by the ghost of his dead partner Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol, and just as surely as Dickens knows that ghosts are humbugs, so too does P. T. Barnum, writing a generation later. For Barnum, humbug begins in the Garden of Eden with the temptation of Eve, and permeates all of history, through every age and in every nation, right down to his own time, where the “Great Spirit Postmaster” publishes ghost letters from veterans recently perished in the Civil War.

Barnum himself was often called the “Prince of Humbugs,” but he was no cynic. In this book he sets out to make his fellow citizens a little wiser via a catalog of colorful characters and events, and mocking commentaries about how a sensible person should be more skeptical. He goes after all kinds of classic humbugs like …