Full Texts of Classic Works

“Sweat” – a 1926 short story by Zora Neale Hurston (full text)

Originally published in 1926, Zora Neale Hurston’s short story, “Sweat,” is nuanced and eloquently compact. Hurston maximizes each word, object, character, and plot point to create an impassioned and enlightening narrative.

Within this small space, Hurston addresses a number of themes, such as the trials of femininity, which she explores with compelling and efficient symbolism.

In her introduction to the 1997 anthology entirely devoted to the story (“Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston), editor Cheryl A. Wall wrote: Read More→

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John Redding Goes to Sea by Zora Neale Hurston (1921)

Presented here is the full text of “John Redding Goes to Sea,” the first story by Zora Neale Hurston to be published.

Launching what would become her typical style, with characters speaking in dialect, the story was first published in the May, 1921 issue of Stylus, Howard University’s literary magazine. A slightly edited version in the January, 1926, issue of Opportunity, a prominent literary journal associated with the Harlem Renaissance

More recently, the story is included in Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick (2020) a collection of Zora’s rediscovered short stories. Read More→

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Xingu — a Short Story by Edith Wharton (1916; full text)

Xingu by Edith Wharton (1862 – 1937), a longform short story, satirizes a snobby ladies’ literary lunch group in the early 1900s. It was first published in Xingu and Other Stories (1916) and is a fairly rare occasion in which Wharton’s sly sense of humor is on display.

The six pretentious, competitive women invite a famous author as a guest to visit their group, with unexpected results. Whereas the guests assume that the author is there to discuss her latest novel, she insists on only discussing another work — Xingu.

The ladies of the group feign knowing the work and insist they’ve studied it — but did they really? Xingu, reprinted in full here, is in the public domain. Long paragraphs have been broken up for easier viewability on devices. 

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The Daughters of the Late Colonel by Katherine Mansfield (full text)

“The Daughters of the Late Colonel” by Katherine Mansfield is a modernist short story. New Zealand-born Mansfield (1888 – 1923) has been recognized for revolutionizing the short story form.

“The Daughters of the Late Colonel” is considered among her most highly regarded stories, along with “At the Bay,” “The Voyage,” and “The Stranger.”  

Written in 1920, this story (now in the public domain) was first published in The London Mercury in 1921, and was later part of Mansfield’s short story collection, The Garden Party and Other Stories. Read More→

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The Ghetto at Florence, an 1886 essay by Amy Levy

Beginning in 1886, Amy Levy wrote several essays on Jewish culture and literature for The Jewish Chronicle. The best known is The Ghetto at Florence, presented here. Others in this series included The Jew in Fiction, Jewish Humour, and Jewish Children.

Amy Levy (1861 – 1889) was a 19th-century British novelist, essayist, and poet. She was best known for Reuben Sachs, an 1888 novel that examined Jewish life in Victorian England, a subject that was unusual for its time. 

Despite talent and accomplishment, this promising writer died by her own hand when not quite twenty-eight years old following years of struggle with depression. Read More→

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