Patti Smith's list of her favourite books

A few years ago, Patti Smith gave out the list of her favourite books at the Melbourne International Arts Festival. It is the most interesting blend of books with classics and cult books everyone should get enriched by.
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Heart of Darkness: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

by Joseph Conrad

About the book:  Joseph Conrad's enduring portrait of the ugliness of colonialism in a deluxe edition with a gripping cover by Hellboy artist Mike MignolaHeart of Darkness is the thrilling tale of Marlow, a seaman and wanderer recounting his physical and psychological journey in search of the infamous ivory trader Kurtz. Traveling upriver into the heart of the African continent, he gradually becomes obsessed by this enigmatic, wraith-like figure. Marlow's discovery of how Kurtz has gained his position of power over the local people involves him in a radical questioning, not only of his own nature and values, but of those that underpin Western civilization itself.For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

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The Master and Margarita

by Mikhail Bulgakov

About the book:  I first read Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita on a balcony of the Hotel Metropole in Saigon on three summer evenings in 1971. The tropical air was heavy and full of the smells of cordite and motorcycle exhaust and rotting fish and wood-fire stoves, and the horizon flared ambiguously, perhaps from heat lightning, perhaps from bombs. Later each night, as was my custom, I would wander out into the steamy back alleys of the city, where no one ever seemed to sleep, and crouch in doorways with the people and listen to the stories of their culture and their ancestors and their ongoing lives. Bulgakov taught me to hear something in those stories that I had not yet clearly heard. One could call it, in terms that would soon thereafter gain wide currency, "magical realism". The deadpan mix of the fantastic and the realistic was at the heart of the Vietnamese mythos. It is at the heart of the present zeitgeist. And it was not invented by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, as wonderful as his One Hundred Years of Solitude is. Garcia Marquez's landmark work of magical realism was predated by nearly three decades by Bulgakov's brilliant masterpiece of a novel. That summer in Saigon a vodka-swilling, talking black cat, a coven of beautiful naked witches, Pontius Pilate, and a whole cast of benighted writers of Stalinist Moscow and Satan himself all took up permanent residence in my creative unconscious. Their presence, perhaps more than anything else from the realm of literature, has helped shape the work I am most proud of. I'm often asked for a list of favorite authors. Here is my advice. Read Bulgakov. Look around you at the new century. He will show you things you need to see.

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Austerlitz

by W.G. Sebald

About the book:  Austerlitz is W. G. Sebald's haunting novel of post-war Europe. In 1939, five-year-old Jacques Austerlitz is sent to England on a Kindertransport and placed with foster parents. This childless couple promptly erase from the boy all knowledge of his identity and he grows up ignorant of his past. Later in life, after a career as an architectural historian, Austerlitz - having avoided all clues that might point to his origin - finds the past returning to haunt him and he is forced to explore what happened fifty years before. Austerlitz is W.G. Sebald's melancholic masterpiece. 'Mesmeric, haunting and heartbreakingly tragic. Simply no other writer is writing or thinking on the same level as Sebald' Eileen Battersby, Irish Times 'Greatness in literature is still possible' John Banville, Irish Times, Books of the Year 'A work of obvious genius' Literary Review 'A fusion of the mystical and the solid ... His art is a form of justice - there can be, I think, no higher aim' Evening Standard 'Spellbindingly accomplished; a work of art' The Times Literary Supplement 'I have never read a book that provides such a powerful account of the devastation wrought by the dispersal of the Jews from Prague and their treatment by the Nazis' Observer 'A great book by a great writer' Boyd Tonkin, Independent W . G. Sebald was born in Wertach im Allgäu, Germany, in 1944 and died in December 2001. He studied German language and literature in Freiburg, Switzerland and Manchester. In 1996 he took up a position as an assistant lecturer at the University of Manchester and settled permanently in England in 1970. He was Professor of European Literature at the University of East Anglia and is the author of The Emigrants, The Rings of Saturn, Vertigo, Austerlitz, After Nature, On the Natural History of Destruction, Campo Santo, Unrecounted, A Place in the Country. His selected poetry is published in a volume called Across the Land and the Water.

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The Journey to the East

by Hermann Hesse

About the book:  In simple, mesmerizing prose, Hermann Hesse tells of a journey both geographic and spiritual. H.H., a German choirmaster, is invited on an expedition with the League, a secret society whose members include Paul Klee, Mozart, and Albertus Magnus. The participants traverse both space and time, encountering Noah's Ark in Zurich and Don Quixote at Bremgarten. The pilgrims' ultimate destination is the East, the "Home of the Light," where they expect to find spiritual renewal. Yet the harmony that ruled at the outset of the trip soon degenerates into open conflict. Each traveler finds the rest of the group intolerable and heads off in his own direction, with H.H. bitterly blaming the others for the failure of the journey. It is only long after the trip, while poring over records in the League archives, that H.H. discovers his own role in the dissolution of the group, and the ominous significance of the journey itself.

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The Glass Bead Game

by Hermann Hesse

About the book:  In an unspecified future symbolic world of the twenty-third century, Joseph Knecht achieves and rejects his long-sought ideal of uniting thought and action in isolated Castalia, where scholar-players of the Glass Bead Game perpetuate all spiritual values, in a new edition of the Nobel laureate's final novel. Reprint.

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Moby Dick

by Herman Melville

About the book:  A literary classic that wasn't recognized for its merits until decades after its publication, Herman Melville's Moby-Dick tells the tale of a whaling ship and its crew, who are carried progressively further out to sea by the fiery Captain Ahab. Obsessed with killing the massive whale, which had previously bitten off Ahab's leg, the seasoned seafarer steers his ship to confront the creature, while the rest of the shipmates, including the young narrator, Ishmael, and the harpoon expert, Queequeg, must contend with their increasingly dire journey. The book invariably lands on any short list of the greatest American novels.

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Billy Budd, Sailor

by Herman Melville

About the book:  Definitive text of Billy Budd, Sailor, is presented with extensive notes and commentary enabling the reader to trace the genesis and growth of Melville's masterpiece

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Songs of Innocence

by William Blake

About the book:  The first and most popular of Blake's famous "Illuminated Books," in a facsimile edition reproducing all 31 brightly colored plates. Additional printed text of each poem.

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The Wild Boys

by William S. Burroughs

About the book:  The Wild Boys is a futuristic tale of global warfare in which a guerrilla gang of boys dedicated to freedom battles the organized armies of repressive police states. Making full use of his inimitable humor, wild imagination, and style, Burroughs creates a world that is as terrifying as it is fascinating.

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Howl: A Graphic Novel

by Allen Ginsberg,Eric Drooker

About the book:  Now a Major Motion Picture! First published in 1956, Allen Ginsberg's Howl is a prophetic masterpiece—an epic raging against dehumanizing society that overcame censorship trials and obscenity charges to become one of the most widely read poems of the century.

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A Season in Hell

by Arthur Rimbaud

About the book:  Arthur Rimbaud wrote a few pieces that set french poetry aghast around 1873. He

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The Illuminations

by Arthur; Donald Revell Rimbaud

About the book:  Presents a new translation of the author's collection of prose poems, rendered for a contemporary audience.

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Wittgenstein's Poker

by David Edmonds,John Eidinow

About the book:  On 25 October 1946, in a crowded room in Cambridge, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper came face to face for the first and only time. The encounter lasted only ten minutes, and did not go well. Almost immediately, rumours started to spread around the world that the two philosophers had come to blows, armed with red-hot pokers . . .

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Villette

by Charlotte Brontë

About the book:  Acclaimed by Virginia Woolf as "Brontë's finest novel," this moving psychological study features a remarkably modern heroine who abandons her native England for a new life as a schoolteacher in Belgium.

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The Process

by Brion Gysin

About the book:  The Process has the dazzling impact of a drug-inspired dream and, since its publication more than thirty years ago, has established itself as a classic of twentieth century modernism. Ulys O. Hanson, an African-American professor of the History of Slavery, who is in North Africa on a mysterious foundation grant, sets off across the Sahara on a series of wild adventures. He first meets Hamid, a mad Moroccan who turns him on, takes him over and teaches him to pass as a Moor. Mya, the richest woman in creation, and her seventh husband, the hereditary Bishop of the Farout Islands, also cross his path with their plans to steal the Sahara and make the stoned professor the puppet Emperor of Africa.

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Cain's Book

by Alexander Trocchi

About the book:  This is the journal of Joe Necchi, a junkie living on a barge that plies the rivers and bays of New York. Joe's world is the half-world of drugs and addicts -- the world of furtive fixes in sordid Harlem apartments, of police pursuits down deserted subway stations. Junk for Necchi, however, is a tool, freely chosen and fully justified; he is Cain, the malcontent, the profligate, the rebel who lives by no one's rules but his own. Like DeQuincey and Baudelaire before him, Trocchi's muse was drugs. But unlike his literary predecessors, in his roman a clef, Trocchi never romanticizes the source of his inspiration. If the experience of heroin, of the "fix," is central to Cain's Book, both its destructive force and the possibilities for creativity it creates are recognized and accepted without apology. "Cain's Book is the classic late-1950s account of heroin addiction. . . . An un-self-forgiving existentialism, rendered with writerly exactness and muscularity, set this novel apart from all others of the genre." -- William S. Burroughs

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Coriolanus

by William Shakespeare

About the book:  This generously annotated edition offers a thorough reconsideration of Shakespeare's remarkable, and probably his last, tragedy.

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The Happy Prince

by Oscar Wilde

About the book:  The Happy Prince and Other Tales (sometimes called The Happy Prince and Other Stories) is a collection of stories for children by Oscar Wilde first published in May 1888. It contains five stories, "The Happy Prince", "The Nightingale and the Rose", "The Selfish Giant", "The Devoted Friend", and "The Remarkable Rocket". It is most famous for its title story, "The Happy Prince".

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The Sheltering Sky

by Paul Bowles

About the book:  The Sheltering Sky is a landmark of twentieth-century literature. In this intensely fascinating story, Paul Bowles examines the ways in which Americans' incomprehension of alien cultures leads to the ultimate destruction of those cultures. A story about three American travelers adrift in the cities and deserts of North Africa after World War II, The Sheltering Sky explores the limits of humanity when it touches the unfathomable emptiness and impassive cruelty of the desert. This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

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Against Interpretation and Other Essays

by Susan Sontag

About the book:  A series of provocative discussions on everything from individual authors to contemporary religious thinking, Against Interpretation and Other Essays is the definitive collection of Susan Sontag's best known and important works published in Penguin Modern Classics. Against Interpretation was Susan Sontag's first collection of essays and made her name as one of the most incisive thinkers of our time. Sontag was among the first critics to write about the intersection between 'high' and 'low' art forms, and to give them equal value as valid topics, shown here in her epoch-making pieces 'Notes on Camp' and 'Against Interpretation'. Here too are impassioned discussions of Sartre, Camus, Simone Weil, Godard, Beckett, Lévi-Strauss, science-fiction movies, psychoanalysis and contemporary religious thought. Originally published in 1966, this collection has never gone out of print and has been a major influence on generations of readers, and the field of cultural criticism, ever since. Susan Sontag (1933-2004) was born in Manhattan and studied at the universities of Chicago, Harvard and Oxford. She is the author of four novels - The Benefactor, Death Kit, The Volcano Lover and In America, which won the 2000 US National Book Award for fiction - a collection of stories, several plays, and six books of essays, among them Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors. Her books are translated into thirty-two languages. In 2001 she was awarded the Jerusalem Prize for the body of her work, and in 2003 she received the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature and the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. If you enjoyed Against Interpretation and Other Essays, you might like Sontag's On Photography, also available in Penguin Modern Classics. 'A dazzling intellectual performance' Vogue 'Sontag offers enough food for thought to satisfy the most intellectual of appetites' The Times

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