Free Classics

China and the Chinese by Herbert Allen Giles

Every Friday, Marilyn Knapp Litt, who blogs at ClassicKindle.com, brings us her recommendation of a free classic book to discover (or rediscover) on Kindle. Find more of Marilyn’s recommendations at her blog, ClassicKindle.com, a guide to the best free and inexpensive classic literature for the Kindle. You can also get Marilyn’s blog on Kindle and I recommend that you “Like” the Classic Kindle Facebook page as well so you don’t miss anything. Here’s Marilyn’s post:

I think I have found the origin of a “fact” that my high school civics teacher repeatedly impressed us with in 1966.

“If the Chinese people were to file one by one past a given point, the interesting procession would never come to an end. Before the last man of those living to-day had gone by, another and a new generation would have grown up, and so on forever and ever.”

However, my teacher put it much more crudely. The hypothetical given point was over a cliff . . .

But despite this unpromising beginning, China and the Chinese is a very highly rated book from 1902. It was written by British diplomat Herbert Allen Giles who was a pioneer in translating Chinese into English.

One Amazon Reviewer says:

This book makes enjoyable reading for anyone interested in Chinese culture. The writing is highly conversational, breaking up information in easily digestable bits. Many observations he made are as relevant today as they were almost 110 years ago, while the others are completely outdated.

The book is a series of lectures and quite a bit of it is on the Chinese language. Of course this will not appeal to everyone.

Other portions of the book are good fun:

There is a well-known Chinese story which tells how a very stingy man took a paltry sum of money to an artist—payment is always exacted in advance—and asked him to paint his portrait. The artist at once complied with his request, but in an hour or so, when the portrait was finished, nothing was visible save the back of the sitter’s head. “What does this mean?” cried the latter, indignantly. “Oh,” replied the artist, “I thought a man who paid so little as you wouldn’t care to show his face!”

Click here to get your free copy of China and the Chinese by Herbert Allen Giles >>>

Free Classic: Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope

Every Friday, Marilyn Knapp Litt, who blogs at ClassicKindle.com, brings us her recommendation of a free classic book to discover (or rediscover) on Kindle. Find more of Marilyn’s recommendations at her blog, ClassicKindle.com, a guide to the best free and inexpensive classic literature for the Kindle. You can also get Marilyn’s blog on Kindle and I recommend that you “Like” the Classic Kindle Facebook page as well so you don’t miss anything. Here’s Marilyn’s post:

I came to Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope the way I did to many books. I liked the movie with Stewart Granger (which I did NOT see on initial release in 1952!) As a child, I often looked at movie credits for the name of a book and author.

It is a timely book to read with the current fascination with royalty and royal weddings.

I loved this novel about a distant cousin from England with an uncanny resemblance to the heir to the Ruritanian throne.

As I looked at him, I uttered an astonished cry; and he, seeing me, drew back in sudden wonder. Saving the hair on my face and a manner of conscious dignity which his position gave him, saving also that he lacked perhaps half an inch—nay, less than that, but still something—of my height, the King of Ruritania might have been Rudolf Rassendyll, and I, Rudolf, the King.

For an instant we stood motionless, looking at one another. Then I bared my head again and bowed respectfully. The King found his voice, and asked in bewilderment:

“Colonel—Fritz—who is this gentleman?”

I was about to answer, when Colonel Sapt stepped between the King and me, and began to talk to his Majesty in a low growl. The King towered over Sapt, and, as he listened, his eyes now and again sought mine. I looked at him long and carefully. The likeness was certainly astonishing, though I saw the points of difference also. The King’s face was slightly more fleshy than mine, the oval of its contour the least trifle more pronounced, and, as I fancied, his mouth lacking something of the firmness (or obstinacy) which was to be gathered from my close-shutting lips. But, for all that, and above all minor distinctions, the likeness rose striking, salient, wonderful.

Sapt ceased speaking, and the King still frowned. Then, gradually, the corners of his mouth began to twitch, his nose came down (as mine does when I laugh), his eyes twinkled, and, behold! he burst into the merriest fit of irrepressible laughter, which rang through the woods and proclaimed him a jovial soul.

“Well met, cousin!” he cried, stepping up to me, clapping me on the back, and laughing still. “You must forgive me if I was taken aback. A man doesn’t expect to see double at this time of day, eh, Fritz?”

This a fun story of doubles, a quest for the throne and romance. As is usual, I won’t give anything away, but this is a very satisfying adventure story with villains, sacrifice and a reluctant hero.

Click here to get your free copy of Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope >>>

Free Classic: Miss Mapp by E.F. Benson

Every Friday, Marilyn Knapp Litt, who blogs at ClassicKindle.com, brings us her recommendation of a free classic book to discover (or rediscover) on Kindle. Find more of Marilyn’s recommendations at her blog, ClassicKindle.com, a guide to the best free and inexpensive classic literature for the Kindle. You can also get Marilyn’s blog on Kindle and I recommend that you “Like” the Classic Kindle Facebook page as well so you don’t miss anything. Here’s Marilyn’s post:

Miss Mapp is a one of a series of charming and humorous British novels by E.F. Benson. It was published in 1922.

Miss Elizabeth Mapp might have been forty . . . Anger and the gravest suspicions about everybody had kept her young and on the boil. She sat, on this hot July morning, like a large bird of prey at the very convenient window of her garden-room, the ample bow of which formed a strategical point of high value.

But she does not just watch, she plots

Of the two, Major Flint, without doubt, was the more attractive to the feminine sense; for years Miss Mapp had tried to cajole him into marrying her, and had not nearly finished yet. With his record of adventure, with the romantic reek of India (and camphor) in the tiger-skin of the rugs that strewed his hall and surged like a rising tide up the wall, with his haughty and gallant manner, with his loud pshawings and sniffs at “nonsense and balderdash,” his thumpings on the table to emphasize an argument, with his wound and his prodigious swipes at golf, his intolerance of any who believed in ghosts, microbes or vegetarianism, there was something dashing and risky about him . . .

Let’s turn to one of those useful Amazon Reader Reviewers who titles this review, “Hilarious fun in a small English Village,” —

“Benson has written a village with a range of gorgeous characters – from Diva who is Miss Mapp’s great rival, to Irene the local artist who keeps embarrassing Miss Mapp with her prosaic pronouncements. Then there is the local Vicar who talks in a combination of Shakespearian English and Burnsian dialect. There is also Mrs Poppit who is an up and coming social climber (hardly worthy of Miss Mapp’s notice) and the novel begins with Miss Mapps machinations to the Poppitt Bridge party.

Village life you see seems to run around Bridge parties. In this petty world of card games there is a great deal of opportunity to expose one another’s weaknesses and Miss Mapp, in order to be the center of village life in Tilling finds no object too petty to exploit. This is a novel of small things made into huge issues because of the smallness of the village.”

It sounds quite nice. Sometimes the best novels are about small things.

Click here to get your free copy of Miss Mapp by E.F. Benson >>>