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The Reader, by Alexander Ver Huell, c. 1880

About Us

The Ex-Classics project was founded in 2000 to fill an unmet need.  When reading the blurb etc. to a book by Charles Dickens or Charlotte Bronte, say, we would often come across sentences like "Favourite reading included . . ."  If  it's good enough for them, it's good enough for us. So off we go to the library or bookshop, to be met first with blank stares and then with the information that the book has been out of print for decades. Our first two books were Gil Blas and Hudibras, which are prime examples of this This web site is dedicated to rescuing these works from obscurity and making them available online, both for reading directly, and for downloading.

Book of the Month -- July 2022

 Gil Blas, by Alain-René Lesage

Gil Blas and the highwayman

Gil Blas was written in French between 1700 and 1730 by Alain-Rene LeSage. Although nominally set in Spain, it is in fact French through and through. The picaresque adventures of its hero are described from naive youth through cunning servant to landed proprietor and nobleman -- with a spell in jail, bereavements and fits of remorse along the way. It was an immense hit on publication, and was translated into most European languages. The first version in English was by Tobias Smollet (1749. Its influence on Smollett's own work is clear (Roderick Random, Peregrine Pickle); Fielding (Tom Jones) and Dickens (Nicholas Nickleby) were also heavily influenced by it or its numerous imitators. There were many subsequent translations – ours, by B.H. Malkin, is from 1809

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Max Adeler contemplating the Patent Office Report, by Arthur B. Frost

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