I have a thing for the Penguin English Library editions, I think by now that’s not a secret to anyone.
And because I love them so much, I also own quite a few of them. Not nearly as much as I’d like to (yet), but still a good amount I think. So I thought I’d do a little PEL collection post, sharing the ones I have, and talk a little bit about the few that I’ve already read as well. Which, I have to confess, is not a lot yet.
So far I have read three of my 11 PEL’s, and one of them I don’t even have here to show you as I have lent it do my dad. So let’s start with that one, shall we?
Ghost Stories – M.R. James
These chilling tales from the master of the English ghost story reveal a world where the familiar becomes diabolical, the smallest object takes on horrifying properties and evil brushes against everyday life in unexpected ways.
In these stories, among others, a disturbing engraving reveals a macabre secret; a whistle unleashes unspeakable malevolence; an ancient curse is passed on and on; and a grisly crime is avenged from beyond the grave.
I have talked about this book so much over the past year, because I really just loved it. The short ghost stories, most of which have stayed in my memory to this day (whistling wind still creeps me out), were pretty much all so good and I can’t think of one that I didn’t really like. I can definitely see myself rereading it in the future. Full review of the book can be found in this post.
Dracula – Bram Stoker
A chilling masterpiece of the horror genre, Dracula illuminates the dark corners of Victorian sexuality. When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to advise Count Dracula on a London home, he makes a horrifying discovery. Soon afterwards, a number of disturbing incidents unfold in England: an unmanned ship is wrecked at Whitby; strange puncture marks appear on a young woman’s neck; and the inmate of a lunatic asylum raves about the arrival of his ‘Master’, while a determent group of adversaries prepares to face the terrifying Count.
This book is basically what started my obsession with these editions. We sold it in the bookstore I used to work at years ago, I fell in love with the cover and since it is such a classic and I like creepy stories, I decided to give it a shot. It did not disappoint, in fact, I enjoyed Dracula so much more than I though I would. This, again, is one I can see myself reading again in a few years time.
At The Mountains Of Madness – H.P. Lovecraft
In this terrifying novella, an expedition to Antarctica goes horribly wrong when the explorers stumble upon some ancient ruins, unearthing a lost alien civilization and unleashing monstrous forces they cannot hope to control.
Yep, I read all the creepy ones first. This wasn’t as big of a success as the other two, but I didn’t dislike At The Mountains Of Madness. Especially towards the end of the story I actually got into it pretty well. Now that my dad, Gideon and I are playing Arkham Horror, a card game inspired by Lovecraft’s stories, I am especially glad that did I read this, just to understand the game more I guess (even though there is no scenario inspired by this particular story as far as I know). I feel like it was more so the writing style that I didn’t get on with rather than the story itself, but in the end I did enjoy it. You can find my initial thoughts after reading it in this wrap-up.
Heart Of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
A novel of hallucinating violence and strangeness. Heart Of Darkness tells the story of the sailor Marlow and his entanglement in the horrors of colonialism in Africa. He travels up the Congo on a steamer in search of the great ivory trader, Kurtz, the ‘universal genius’ who rules his lands through terror, and has made himself into a god.
Joseph Conrad’s masterpiece is a harrowing, gripping portrait of man’s potential for evil.
This one is high on my list to read next, I am pretty sure that I mentioned it in my 2020 TBR. I have been wanting to read it for a long time because I loved the film that was inspired by this book, Apocalypse Now. I don’t know how I will get on with Conrad’s writing style, I’ve never read anything else by him, but I am excited to give it a shot.
Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie
The story of Peter Pan, the boy who would never grow up, captures the lost magic of childhood and has been loved by generations.
As Peter flies through the window and spirits Wendy and the rest of the Darling children away from their London home and on a journey involving epic battles, fairies and pirates, their adventures conjure up a world of joy and freedom far away form the responsibilities of adulthood.
I’ll keep it short and sweet with this one because it just featured in my January book haul (yep, it’s a new addition to my collection), but I do just want to say that looks wise, this is probably one of my favourite of the bunch. So. freaking. pretty.
The Great God Pan – Arthur Machen
A pioneering writer of horror fiction and fantasy, Arthur Machen’s mystic tales of the weird and the occult explored ancient evils lying below the surface of everyday life.
Included here is his most famous work, The Great God Pan, hailed by Stephen King as one of the best horror stories ever written, as well as three other tales of strange drugs, ritual murder and a young girl initiated into the old way of pagan magic.
Well look at that, a creepy story collection that I haven’t read yet. I do hope to read it this year, it is on my TBR and I definitely think I will get to it. This has 4 short stories in it and in total is 161 pages long, so as long as I enjoy the writing style I think I will definitely get on with this. I will, of course, keep you posted.
The Adventure Of The Engineer’s Thumb and Other Cases – Arthur Conan Doyle
Full of macabre twists and eerie settings, these tales see Holmes and Watson facing bewildered detectives, dishonest butlers and devious rogues to solve a host of cases with their inimitable powers of deduction.
An engineer on a secret mission survives with his life but without his thumb; a murderer with a pince-nez vanishes without an escape route; a prize-winning horse and his owner mysteriously disappear in the night before a big race; and a cheating student hides a curious advantage.
I have featured this Sherlock Holmes short story collection many times on my blog, mainly because I have started it several times but never got past the first few pages. I just feel like in my life I need to have read some Sherlock Holmes, and I feel like because I enjoyed the other Doyle stories I’ve read, I will like this as well once I get into it. And I will try my best to have 2020 be the year that I will get into this.
Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
Wuthering Heights has achieved an almost mythical status as a love story, yet it is also a unique masterpiece of the imagination: an unsettling, transgressive novel about obsession, violence and death.
It begins as a man is forced to shelter at a strange, grim house on the Yorkshire moors during a snowstorm. There he discovers the tempestuous events that took place there years before: the intense love between Catherine Earnshaw and the foundling Heathcliff, her betrayal of him and how his terrible revenge continues to haunt the present.
This I think is the second PEL I ever got, again in the bookstore I used to work at. I truly, completely just fell for the cover, I think it is definitely one of my favourites as well. Although all of them are probably my favourite.. I have never read any Brontë, nothing by any of the sisters, but this one is so freaking popular that I just want to read it someday. It is not super high on my list of PEL’s I want to read soon, but it is on there and I know I will get to it.
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
Passionate, poetic and revolutionary, Jane Eyre is a novel of naked emotional power. Its story of a defiant, fiercely intelligent woman who refuses to accept her appointed place in society – and instead finds love on her own terms – has become famous as one of the greatest romances ever written, but it is also a brooding Gothic mystery, a profound depiction of characters and a transformative work of the imagination.
Another very new addition to the collection, so I will again just link you to the blog post from a few weeks ago where I mentioned this. Like Wuthering Heights this is not super high on the list, I don’t think I will get to it this year, but I do really want to read it and then watch the film again. Also the cover, I can’t, so beautiful.
Ivanhoe – Sir Walter Scott
Set in a highly romanticized Medieval world of tournaments, adventure and chivalry, Ivanhoe is credited with introducing the nineteenth-century historical fiction gerne, as well as with creating the modern idea of Robin Hood and his merry men.
Banished from England, Ivanhoe joins the Crusade to the Holy Land in the service of Richard the Lion Heart. He determines to return and be reunited with the beautiful Lady Rowena, but instead is drawn into a dangerous power struggle between Richard and his scheming brother John.
Sooo.. this one and the next one are both books I mainly picked up because they were PEL’s. They were never on my list of books I wanted to read, to be honest I don’t think I really knew of their existence before I saw them in the shop, but because they were in this edition that I love so much I wanted to buy them, so I did. I do think that Ivanhoe is a good book to pull me out of my comfort zone, I don’t read a whole lot of books set in Medieval times, so it might be something I’ll end up enjoying once I get to it. I just don’t know when that will be. I do very much like that the cover reminds me of the Longchamp logo.
Melmoth The Wanderer – Charles Maturin
This violent, profound, baroque and blackly humorous novel is the story of Melmoth, who has sold his soul is exchange for immortality in a satanic bargain, and now preys on the helpless in their darkest moments, offering to ease their suffering if they will take his place and release him of his centuries of tortured wanderings.
Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) blends Gothic fiction and psychological realism to create a work of hallucinatory power.
At a whopping 708 pages, this is the biggest PEL I own. And like I said before, I literally only picked it up because it is this edition, if I had seen it in any other edition I probably wouldn’t even have looked at it. Although it is long and was never on my reading list, it does actually sound like a book I could potentially like as it is dark and creepy, but apparently also a little bit funny? Again, not one I can see myself read anytime soon, but I think I will get to it someday.
And that was it, I feel like honestly that went quicker than I expected. Like I said in the beginning, I haven’t read a whole lot of them yet. But I do plan on getting to a few more this year, especially the shorter ones hehe. I also don’t really plan on buying any new ones until I have worked my way through at least the three that are on my TBR right now. I do have a few on my wish list, for example I’d love to get The Picture Of Dorian Grey (Gray?) in this edition, but it’s not all that high on there. For now I’ll focus on the ones I have.
Thanks for stopping by ❤