Modern Library Torchbearers

 

REGIMENT OF WOMEN by Clemence Dane

Obsessive friendships lead to tragedy in this early-twentieth-century novel about a charismatic femme fatale, an impressionable student, and a naive teacher.

Clare Hartill is a brilliant, commanding teacher at a private all-girls boarding school: the undisputed queen of her own small kingdom. But her tightly controlled world is disrupted when she meets Alywnne Durand, a nineteen-year-old with no formal training. Alywnne’s innocence and openness endear her to the secretive Clare. Alwynne is drawn to Clare’s intelligence and sophistication. The two women fall headlong into an all-consuming friendship, and begin planning a life together.

But their relationship is tested when an exceptionally gifted student named Louise enters their orbit. Louise will do anything to win Clare’s approval; simultaneously, Clare’s jealous and manipulative nature slowly pulls Alwynne away from her friends, her students, and her family–anyone, in fact, who is not Clare Hartill. The stage is set for a tragedy that asks: How well do we truly see the people we love? And what are we willing to sacrifice for them. Read more

 

THE GOODNESS OF ST. ROCQUE by Alice Dunbar-Nelson

A stunning short story collection that takes the reader into heart of Creole community in late-nineteenth-century New from a key poet and journalist Harlem Renaissance.

This vivid collection transports readers to New Orleans, from the delights of Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street, to the quiet Bayou where lovers meet, and to fish fries on the shore of the Mississippi Sound. Alice Dunbar-Nelson focuses the struggles and joys of Creole community in these intimate stories featuring unforgettable characters. Read more

 

THE DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI by Etsu Inagaki Sugimoto; introduction by Karen Tei Yamashita and Yuki Obayashi

A young Japanese woman leaves the only home she’s ever known for married life in nineteenth-century Ohio in this delightful, charming memoir, a tribute to the struggles of the first generation of Japanese immigrants—with an introduction by Karen Tei Yamashita and Yuki Obayashi

The youngest daughter of a high-ranking samurai in late-nineteenth-century Japan, Etsu Inagaki Sugimoto is originally destined to be a Buddhist priestess. She grows up a curly haired tomboy in snowy Echigo, certain of her future role in her community. But as a young teenager, she is instead engaged to a Japanese merchant in Ohio—and Etsu realizes she will eventually have to leave the only world she has ever known for the United States.

Etsu arrives in Cincinnati as a bright-eyed and observant twenty-four-year-old, puzzled by the differences between the two cultures and alive to the contradictions, ironies, and beauties of both. Her memoir, reprinted for the first time in decades, is an unforgettable story of a strong and determined woman.

This vivid collection transports readers to New Orleans, from the delights of Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street, to the quiet Bayou where lovers meet, and to fish fries on the shore of the Mississippi Sound. Alice Dunbar-Nelson focuses the struggles and joys of Creole community in these intimate stories featuring unforgettable characters. Read more

 

THE VOYAGE OUT by Virginia Woolf; introduction by Elisa Gabbert

A young woman learns about life, and love found and lost, in this thought-provoking debut novel by one of the twentieth century’s most brilliant and prolific writers—with an introduction by Elisa Gabbert, author of The Unreality of Memory

“Absolutely unafraid . . . Here at last is a book which attains unity as surely as Wuthering Heights, though by a different path.”—E. M. Forster Read more

 

MRS. SPRING FRAGRANCE by Sui Sin Far; introduction by C Pam Zhang

A rediscovered classic of linked short stories set in San Francisco’s Chinatown, by the first published Asian American fiction writer—with an introduction by C Pam Zhang, bestselling author of How Much of These Hills Is Gold

In this rediscovered classic of linked short stories set in San Francisco’s Chinatown, Sui Sin Far portrays Chinese immigrants as they fall in love, encounter racism, and wrestle with their new Americanized identities—decades before writers like Maxine Hong Kingston and Amy Tan. Read more

 

THE SOUTHERN WOMAN by Elizabeth Spencer; introduction by Afia Atakora

A stunning collection of stories from “one of the foremost chroniclers of the American South” (The Washington Post), including the novella “Light in the Piazza”—featuring an introduction by Afia Atakora, author of Conjure Women

Over the course of a fifty-year career, Elizabeth Spencer wrote masterly, lyrical fiction about southerners. An outstanding storyteller who was unjustly denied a Pulitzer for her anti-racist novel The Voice at the Back Door despite being the unanimous choice of the judges, she is recognized as one of the most accomplished writers of short fiction, infusing her work with elegant precision and empathy. Read more

 

THE SQUATTER AND THE DON by Maria Ampara Ruiz de Burton; introduction by Ana Castillo

A historical romance with an activist heart, and an impassioned critique of U.S. expansionism—with an introduction by Ana Castillo, author of So Far from God

A fiercely partisan novel based on the author’s own experiences, The Squatter and the Don follows two families living near San Diego shortly after the United States’ annexation of California: the Alamares of the landed Mexican gentry, and the Darrells, the New Englanders who seek to claim the Alamares’ land. When young Clarence Darrell falls in love with Mercedes Alamar, the stage is set for a conflict that blends the personal with the political. Read more

 

THE YELLOW WALL-PAPER AND OTHER WRITINGS by Charlotte Perkins Gilman; introduction by Halle Butler

Collected fiction and essays by a pillar of the American feminist canon—with an introduction by Halle Butler, a National Book Award Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree and a Granta Best Young American Novelist

Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a writer, editor, and journalist whose poems, articles, short stories, and novels had a single focus: equality for women. Although best known for “The Yellow Wall-Paper,” her spine-chilling takedown of the “rest cure” prescribed for postpartum depression, Gilman spent her life advocating for a woman’s right to an education, to creative self-expression and economic self-sufficiency, and an end to the consumerism that blinded women to the ways that society held them back.

This collection brings together Gilman’s best-known work with her lesser-known satirical short stories to provide an overarching introduction to this relentless ideologue. Read more

 

INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL by Harriet Jacobs; introduction by Tiya Miles

The unflinching nineteenth-century autobiography that broke the silence on the psychosexual exploitation of Black women—with an introduction by Tiya Miles, recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant

“[A] crowning achievement . . . [Jacobs] remodeled the forms of the black slave narrative and the white female sentimental novel to create a new literary form—a narrative at once black and female.” —Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The New York Times

In clear and unshrinking prose, Harriet Jacobs—writing under the pseudonym Linda Brent—relates the story of her girlhood and adolescence as a slave in North Carolina and her eventual escape: a bildungsroman set in the complex terrain of a chauvinist, white supremacist society. Resolutely addressing women readers, rather than men, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl seeks to make white women understand how the threat of sexual violence shapes the lives of enslaved Black women and children. Equal parts brave and searing, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is a triumph of American literature. Read more

 

THE COLLECTED POEMS OF CHIKA SAGAWA Introduction by Sawako Nakayasu

Winner of the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation • The electrifying collected works of “one of the most innovative and prominent avant-garde poets in early twentieth-century Japan” (The New Yorker).

Translated by and with an introduction by Sawako Nakayasu

An important and daringly experimental voice in Tokyo’s avant-garde poetry scene, Chika Sagawa broke with the gender-bound traditions of Japanese poetry. Growing up in isolated rural Japan, Sagawa moved to Tokyo at seventeen, and begin publishing her work at eighteen.She was immediately recognized as a leading light of the male-dominated Japanese literary scene; her work combines striking, unique imagery with Western influences. The results are short, sharp, surreal poems about human fragility and the beauty of nature from Japan’s first female Modernist poet. Read more

 

THERE IS CONFUSION By Jessie Redmon Fauset; introduction by Morgan Jerkins

A rediscovered classic about how racism and sexism tests the spirit, ambition, and character of three children growing up in Hell’s Kitchen and Harlem, from the literary editor of The Crisis, the official magazine of the NAACP

With an introduction by New York Times bestselling author Morgan Jerkins. Read more

 

THE TRANSFORMATION OF PHILIP JETTAN By Georgette Heyer; introduction by Sarah MacLean

“If Austen was the first queen of the contemporary romance . . . Heyer is the first of the historical romance.”—From the foreword by Sarah MacLean, New York Times bestselling author of Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake

He’s unruly. Unrefined. Unfashionable. But is that what she loves about him?

Cleone Charteris never had to look far to find an eligible bachelor. Her neighbor and best friend since childhood has made no secret of his intentions to marry her. Now that he’s a full-grown man, there’s only one small problem: He disdains art, fashion, and etiquette—all the things that Cleone cherishes most. If only it were possible to improve a man. . . .

Philip Jettan doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with a man preferring manly things, but he’ll do whatever it takes to win Cleone’s heart. So Philip travels to Paris, where, under the tutelage of the Marquis de Château-Banvau, he learns to duel, to write poetry, to find the perfect accessory for any outfit. But when the country bumpkin returns home a stylish dandy, he faces an unexpected challenge: convincing Cleone that he’s still the same boy who’s always loved her. Read more

 

THE AWAKENING By Kate Chopin; introduction by Carmen Maria Machado

A new edition of Kate Chopin’s controversial masterpiece, an essential novel in the canon of early feminism—with an introduction by Carmen Maria Machado, award-winning author of Her Body and Other Parties.

“Whatever came, she had resolved never again to belong to another than herself.” Read more

 

LADY AUDLEY’S SECRET By Mary Elizabeth Braddon; introduction by Flynn Berry

Graceful and lovely Lady Audley may not be all that she seems in this Victorian-era equivalent of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl—with an introduction by Flynn Berry, the Edgar Award–winning author of Under the Harrow and A Double Life

Lady Audley is young, beautiful, and universally adored. Everyone comments on her sweet nature and her perfect marriage to the wealthy and aristocratic Sir Michael Audley. Sir Michael’s nephew Robert is equally struck by his new aunt’s angelic ways—until he notices the strange, terrifying effect Lady Audley has on his friend George Talboys. When George mysteriously vanishes, Robert is convinced that Lady Audley is neither as innocent nor as helpless as she appears, and he sets out to discover what secrets lie in Lady Audley’s past.

A bestseller when it was first published in 1862, Lady Audley’s Secret shocked readers because it dared to suggest that beneath a perfect surface a woman might be willing to lie, con, and even kill for the life she wanted. Read more

 

AMERICAN INDIAN STORIES By Zitkála-Sá; introduction by Layli Long Soldier

A groundbreaking Dakota author and activist chronicles her refusal to assimilate into nineteenth-century white society and her mission to preserve her culture—with an introduction by Layli Long Soldier, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award for Whereas Read more

 

THE HEADS OF CERBERUS By Francis Stevens; introduction by Naomi Alderman

A rediscovered classic of science fiction, set in a dystopian twenty-second-century society where the winner takes all, a precursor to The Hunger Games by one of the genre’s first major female writers—with an introduction by Naomi Alderman, New York Times bestselling author of The Power and Disobedience Read more

 

LOVE, ANGER, MADNESS By Marie Vieux-Chauvet; introduction by Edwidge Danticat

The only English translation of “a masterpiece” (The Nation)—a stunning trilogy of novellas about the soul-crushing cost of life under a violent Haitian dictatorship, featuring an introduction by Edwidge Danticat

Originally published in 1968, Love, Anger, Madness virtually disappeared from circulation until its republication in France in 2005. Set in the barely fictionalized Haiti of “Papa Doc” Duvalier’s repressive rule, Marie Vieux-Chauvet’s writing was so powerful and so incendiary that she was forced to flee to the United States. Yet Love, Anger, Madness endures. Read more

 

NADA By Carmen Laforet; introduction by Lauren Wilkinson

Renowned as Spain’s The Catcher in the Rye, a passionate coming-of-age novel that follows a rebellious young woman as she uncovers her family’s secrets in chaotic, polarized post–Civil War Barcelona Read more

 

THE RETURN OF THE SOLDIER
By Rebecca West; introduction by Michelle Dean

A soldier returns home transformed by World War I, sending shock waves through the lives of three women, in Rebecca West’s groundbreaking debut novel. Read more

 

THE SELECTED POETRY OF EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY Introduction by Olivia Gatwood

An indispensable collection of the groundbreaking poet’s most masterful and innovative work, celebrating a bold early voice of female liberation, independence, and queer sexuality—featuring a new introduction by poet Olivia Gatwood, author of Life of the Party. Read more

 

PASSING Introduction by Olivia Gatwood

SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE • Two women in 1920s New York discover how fluid and dangerous our perceptions of race can be in this electrifying classic of the Harlem Renaissance—with an introduction by Kaitlyn Greenidge, author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman, finalist for the 2016 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize Read more

 

THE CUSTOM OF THE COUNTRY By Edith Wharton; introduction by Jia Tolentino

Edith Wharton’s lacerating satire on marriage and materialism in turn-of-the-century New York features her most selfish, ruthless, and irresistibly outrageous female character.

Undine Spragg is an exquisitely beautiful but ferociously acquisitive young woman from the Midwest who comes to New York to seek her fortune. She achieves her social ambitions—but only at the highest cost to her family, her admirers, and her several husbands. Wharton lavished on Undine an imaginative energy that suggests she was as fascinated as she was appalled by the alluring monster she had created. It is the complexity of her attitude that makes The Custom of the Country—with its rich social and emotional detail and its headlong narrative power—one of the most fully realized and resonant of her works. Read more

 

VILLETTE By Charlotte Bronte; introduction by Weike Wang

From the author of Jane Eyre, a strikingly modern story of a young woman starting over—with an introduction by Weike Wang, PEN/Hemingway Award–winning author of Chemistry Read more

 

PERSUASION By Jane Austen; introduction by Uzma Jalaluddin

Jane Austen’s last completed novel, a brilliantly insightful story of regret, second chances, and the courage to follow our hearts
Read more

 

WUTHERING HEIGHTS By Emily Bronte; introduction by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read

Wuthering Heights, first published in 1847, the year before the author’s death at the age of thirty, endures today as perhaps the most powerful and intensely original novel in the English language. “Only Emily Brontë,” V.S. Pritchett said about the author and her contemporaries, “exposes her imagination to the dark spirit.” And Virginia Woolf wrote, “It is as if she could tear up all that we know human beings by, and fill these unrecognisable transparencies with such a gust of life that they transcend reality. Hers, then, is the rarest of all powers. She could free life from its dependence on facts, with few touches indicate the spirit of a face so that it needs no body; by speaking of the moor make the wind blow and the thunder roar.” Read more

 




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