• George Bernard Shaw: four lessons
    • Cost: $12.00

    As is the case with many of George Bernard Shaw’s plays, Arms and the Man is a delightful comedy. The plot is rather straightforward, but it does offer some unique surprises. The setting is during the Balkan wars of the 1880s. Like the area that surrounds modern-day Israel, the Balkans have always suffered from a constant history of unrest and conflict. Arms and the Man is a satire that exposes the romantic ideals that center on war, which are personified in Bluntschli, a Swiss mercenary, and Sergius, a Bulgarian officer. Raina Petkoff holds to an unrealistic view of war at first and must eventually decide between her fiancé, Sergius, and Bluntschli, who hides in her bedroom when he flees from the front lines with the rest of the defeated Serbian army. The play has three acts and is introduced by Shaw's philosophy of drama.

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    • Edith Wharton: six lessons
    • Cost: $13.00

    Wharton's stories are refreshing, because the characters are of affluent backgrounds. Since Wharton belonged to the upper-class, she could offer some insight to the psychological workings of the wealthy mind-set. Fortunately, Wharton could express herself well and has left us many good stories. Most of her stories, however, center on unfaithfulness and how betrayal is difficult to reconcile, if it is possible. The stories included in this study are "Expiation," "The Dilettante," "The Muse's Tragedy," "The Pelican," "Souls Belated," "Xingu," and "The Other Two."

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    • Leo Tolstoy: ten lessons
    • Cost: $15.00

    Even though Tolstoy is best known for his lengthy novels, he wrote many fine short stories as well. This study considers three of those stories. "How Much Land Does a Man Need" is a moral tale that studies the effects of materialism and the desire to have "just a little bit more." The theme centers on man's attempt to take more than he can reach and to find security in things rather than in humility. "The Death of Ivan Ilyich" (Ivan Ilyich is the same as "John Smith" in the United States) is about the ordinary life and death of an ordinary man. The story is thought-provoking because readers are reminded often of their own mortality. "The Kreutzer Sonata" is a study of the function of marriage. This is a griping tale, not because it is full of action (the entire story is told in a train car), but because the reader will be trapped, like the listener on the train, to keep reading to learn what happened. The theme of imaginary jealousy and its consequences makes this story one of the best.

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    • Mark Twain: four lessons
    • Cost: $12.00

    Perhaps the best known author ever in the United States, Mark Twain delighted audiences with his speeches and readings. This study centers on some of the funniest of Twain's humorous stories. These stories are "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," "Journalism in Tennessee," "About Barbers," "A Literary Nightmare," "The Stolen White Elephant," "The Private History of a Campaign that Failed," "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences," and "How to Tell a Story."

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    • James Weldon Johnson: five lessons
    • Cost: $12.50

    While the title is deceiving, James Weldon Johnson claims The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man is a novel. The first edition was published anonymously, and the sales of the book were lackluster. However, with the second edition, Johnson puts his name on the book, and the book becomes a great success. With this book, Johnson explores the questions and issues about passing for white in American society. The ex-colored man has a black mother, but his complexion is the same as an Italian. The book records the struggle of the narrator as to his identity. Basically, the ex-colored man must decide whether to help the black race to progress, or to settle for a mediocre life as a member of the white middle-class.

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    • Jack London: thirteen lessons
    • Cost: $16.50

    Two of Jack London's best novels. These books are much more than just stories about dogs. London clearly demonstrates his philosophy of Naturalism. Evolution with its tenet, natural selection, is the law; in other words, the weak is to be eliminated and he who holds the club makes the rules. Indeed, in Buck's and White Fang's world, mercy is not an option, nor is anyone accountable to a divine being. While one can find love in this world of "dog-eat-dog," this love tends to be a silly sentimentality. The study guide helps the student to see the errors of this anti-biblical philosophy.

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    • Oscar Wilde: five lessons
    • Cost: $12.50

    This play will be one of the funniest comedies that you will ever read. However, arguably, The Importance of Being Earnest is not a comedy but a farce. The whole idea of a farce is to show how the absurdity of the silliness in the play must seem to impact the characters in a serious way. In fact, life is viewed as very trivial. The main characters are bent upon flouting social mores, but the worst that we can say about Jack and Algernon is that the one is guilty of laziness and other of gluttony. Yet lying seems to be the central structure of the play. Whether Jack has an imaginary, "wicked" brother, Algernon has his "Bunbury," or Gwendolen and Cecily have their rather imaginative diaries, the truth finally comes out in the end with Jack discovering who he really is.

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    • Booker T. Washington: eight lessons
    • Cost: $14.00

    Up from Slavery is the autobiography of a great Southern educator--Booker T. Washington. Washington begins his story when he was a slave on a Virginia plantation. After the war, Washington struggles to get an education by going to the Hampton Institute. The training at this school becomes the model by which Tuskegee Institute patterns itself. Washington's philosophy of dignified labor has always been attacked by the elitists among the black intellectuals. Nevertheless, Washington demonstrates both by word and by deed that whenever anyone is best at what he does, people just cannot help but to admire and respect that individual, regardless of race or nationality.

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