"The World's Literature at your Desk"

My Favorite Web Sites - Winchester Star - 3/28/02
 by Martin Zombeck

This is a bi-weekly column providing an annotated list of Web sites that may be of interest to the community. Each column will list sites that belong to a particular category: search engines, art, online newspapers and magazines, health and medicine, history, business and economics, etc. or sites relevant to a particular season, for example, skiing or gardening. Most sites will be non-commercial. To make it easier to access the sites, each bi-weekly column will be posted on the Town of Winchester's Web site so that the sites can be accessed and bookmarked without having to be typed. Previous columns will be archived at the Winchester site, also.

dickens "In science, read, by preference, the newest works; in literature, the oldest. The classic literature is always modern." - Edward Robert Bulwer-Lytton

The internet appears to be abiding by the aphorism above. The latest scientific journal articles are available on the 'net for free. However, you will be hard pressed to find recent novels on the 'net for free. This, of course, makes sense when you take the bookseller's point of view. However, the first chapters of new books are often available on-line for your perusal, acting as bait for the hard copy purchase. This leaves the classics and other oldies but goodies for your pleasure - the complete works of Shakespeare, the Greek Classics (Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Aristotle, Plato,

  • et al.), the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne (in both French and English), Charles Dickens, Sinclair Lewis, and much, much more. There are many Web sites that provide book reviews and bestseller lists. Can't recall the exact phrase in one of your favorite works? Use a concordance Web site. The concordance program provided on the site will search an entire book looking for occurrences of a word, several words near each other, or a partial phrase that you have entered into its search box. I've listed below a few of the many literature sites that are available on the internet. To find the works of a particular author or a book review, you will find a search engine invaluable.

    Arts & Letters Daily
    Links to newspapers, journals, magazines, news services, essays, and book reviews. The latter are often from obscure and not readily available sources. If you want to view one site in this list, this is it.

    The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
    This site is maintained at MIT.

    Perseus Digital Library
    Greek and Latin classics, English Renaissance literature (Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, et al.). This site is maintained by the Department of Classics, Tufts University.

    The Online Books Page
    This site is maintained by the University of Pennsylvania and includes over 16,000 titles (non-fiction and fiction). You can search by author, title, or subject.

    Great Books on Line
    Bartleby on-line. The complete 70 volumes of the Harvard Classics and the Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction and many other titles are available at no cost.

    Concordance of Great Books
    Fully searchable texts of one thousand books. You can find all occurrences of a given phrase in all of the books, or a selection of books, by entering the author's last name (e.g. 'Dickens'), or a word (or portion of a word) in the title. All the books with this word or last name will be searched.

    The digital counterpart of the American Library Association's Booklist magazine. On-line reviews of adult and children's books (both fiction and non-fiction).

    "Bibliomania has thousands of e-books, poems, articles, short stories and plays all of which are absolutely free. You can read the world's greatest fiction by authors such as Dickens and Joyce, Sherlock Holmes mysteries, all Shakespeare's plays, or just dip into some short stories by writers such as Mark Twain, Anton Chekov and Edgar Allan Poe."

    Remember "Cliff Notes"? This site provides on-line study guides for literary works - plot overviews, character analyses, and themes. The guides should not be a substitute for reading the actual book! Be prepared, however to be inundated with dozens of annoying pop-up advertisements. This is by far the worst site I have seen for this new method of surfer harassment.

    Find an out-of-print book. "BookFinder.com is a one-stop search site that lets users view the collections of over 40,000 sellers of new, used, rare, and out-of-print books. The forty million titles available comprise the largest book catalog available anywhere, either online or offline."

    The Washington Post's Book World
    Read the first chapter of a new book. Reviews of recently published books can be found here.

    Literature References
    A list of links from the Winchester Web site - reviews, book search engines, on-line books, booksellers, and literary associations

  • Previous columns with live links can be found at www.winchestermass.org/wstar

    When he is not updating the Town of Winchester Web site (www.winchestermass.org), Martin Zombeck can be found at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, where he is a physicist. E-mail: mvz@alum.mit.edu.