Our wonderful colleagues at Blackwell’s have put together a King Lear reading list for us. Expanding on the themes of power and madness, these books compliment our production brilliantly, and some can even be found in The Norrington Room itself.
The Master and Margarita- Mikhail Bulgakov
Both a satirical romp and a daring analysis of the nature of good and evil, innocence and guilt, The Master and Margarita is the crowning achievement of one of the greatest Russian writers of the twentieth century.
Moby Dick-Herman Melville
Moby Dick epically combines rip-roaring adventure, a meticulously realistic portrayal of the whaling trade and a profound philosophical disquisition on the nature of good and evil.
All The Madmen- Clinton Heylin
The extraordinary story of how English rock went mad and found itself.
Lolita- Vladimir Nabokov
One of the most controversial novels of the twentieth century, told through the eyes of one of literature’s greatest maniacs; Is he in love or insane? A silver-tongued poet or a pervert? A tortured soul or a monster? Or is he all of these?
The Underground Man- Mick Jackson
One of the most acclaimed novels of recent times, “The Underground Man” is the fictionalised diary of a deeply eccentric English aristocrat.
The Bell Jar- Sylvia Plath
When Esther Greenwood wins an internship on a New York fashion magazine in 1953, she is elated, believing she will finally realise her dream to become a writer. But in between the cocktail parties and piles of manuscripts, Esther’s life begins to slide out of control.
The Yellow Wallpaper- Charlotte Perkins Gilman
First published in 1892, this perfect novel portrays with chilling power the powerlessness of women within Victorian marriage.
Crime and Punishment- Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The first of Dostoevsky’s masterworks, “Crime and Punishment” presents the powerful story of Raskolnikov, who reasons that intellectually “superior” men like himself can and must transcend conventional moral law.
The Psychopath Test- Jon Ronson
What if society wasn’t fundamentally rational, but was motivated by insanity? This thought sets Jon Ronson on an utterly compelling adventure into the world of madness.
Daisy Miller and The Turn of the Screw- Henry James
Oscar Wilde called James’ chilling “The Turn of the Screw” ‘a most wonderful, lurid poisonous little tale’.
The Prince- Niccolo Machiavelli
Today The Prince is still seen as the Bible of realpolitik, read by strategists, businessmen and political animals everywhere as the ultimate guide to gaining and maintaining power in a dangerous world.
The Woman in the Dunes- Kobo Abe
Among the greatest Japanese novels of the twentieth century, “The Woman in the Dunes” combines the essence of myth, suspense, and the existential novel.
A Clockwork Orange- Anthony Burgess
A dystopian horror, a black comedy, an exploration of choice, A Clockwork Orange is also a work of exuberant invention which created a new language for its characters.
Elizabeth is Missing- Emma Healey
A thrillingly assured, haunting and unsettling novel, I read it at a gulp. (Deborah Moggach, author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)
A Long Way Down- Nick Hornby
For disgraced TV presenter Martin Sharp the answer’s pretty simple: he has, in his own words, ‘pissed his life away’. And on New Year’s Eve he’s going to end it all… but not, as it happens, alone. Because first single-mum Maureen, then eighteen-year-old Jess and lastly American rock-god JJ turn up and crash Martin’s private party.
The Establishment- Owen Jones
Behind our democracy lurks a powerful but unaccountable network of people who wield massive power and reap huge profits in the process. In this book, the author takes you on a journey into the heart of our Establishment, from the lobbies of Westminster to the newsrooms, boardrooms and trading rooms of Fleet Street and the City.
Animal Farm- George Orwell
Animal Farm – the history of a revolution that went wrong – is George Orwell’s brilliant satire on the corrupting influence of power.
The Fountainhead- Ayn Rand
First published in 1943, this novel presents a view of man’s creative potential. It is about ambition, power, gold and love.
The Emperor- Ryszard Kapuscinski
Dramatic and mesmerising, “The Emperor” is one of the great works of reportage and a haunting epitaph on the last moments of a dying regime.
Madness and Civilization- Michel Foucault
In this classic account of madness, Michel Foucault shows once and for all why he is one of the most distinguished European philosophers since the end of World War II.
Earthly Powers- Anthony Burgess
In this book, the author plumbs the depths of the essence of power and the lengths men will go for it.
Beloved- Toni Morrison
It is the mid-1800s and as slavery looks to be coming to an end, Sethe is haunted by the violent trauma it wrought on her former enslaved life at Sweet Home, Kentucky.
The Sea, The Sea- Iris Murdoch
When Charles Arrowby retires from his glittering career in the London theatre, he buys a remote house on the rocks by the sea. He hopes to escape from his tumultuous love affairs but unexpectedly bumps into his childhood sweetheart and sets his heart on destroying her marriage.
The Crying of Lot 49- Thomas Pynchon
Suffused with rich satire, chaotic brilliance, verbal turbulence and wild humour, “The Crying of Lot 49” opens as Oedipa Maas discovers that she has been made executrix of a former lover’s estate.