A Monthly Update from Penguin Classics

By Spenser Stevens | February 23 2021 | General

Because what you read matters.


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Meet February’s winter chill with the warmth of reading new Classics this month. Discover our first Penguin Classic with the world-leading cultural institution, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, to celebrate Black History Month; our new one-volume translation of China’s legendary Monkey King; two new translations of Persian storytelling; and recommended reading for a post-Netflix binge (because staying home is still safest!). As always, let us know what you’re reading this month on social media (we’re @PenguinClassics everywhere).


Curated by Michelle D. Commander and with a foreword by Kevin Young, Unsung: Unheralded Narratives of American Slavery & Abolition draws from the Schomburg Center’s 11-million-item collection and focuses on the voices and actions of enslaved people; writings, speeches, and pamphlets by lesser-known Black abolitionists and their allies; and overlooked accounts of everyday antislavery activism in the United States. Unsung makes the case for recognizing Black people as agents and architects of their own lives during enslavement and their ultimate liberation. The Lapidus Center at The Schomburg Center has also partnered with us to curate a special reading list of works exploring slavery, memory, resistance, and liberation, which you can find here.



Monkey King: Journey to the West is now in Penguin Classics for the first time, in a new translation by Julia Lovell. A shape-shifting trickster on a kung-fu quest for eternal life, Monkey King is one of the most memorable superheroes in world literature. One of the Four Great Classic Novels of Chinese literature, Monkey King is at once a rollicking adventure, a comic satire of Chinese bureaucracy, and a spring of spiritual insight.



Contributing to his celebrated catalog of Persian classics for our series, Dick Davis translates Layli and Majnun by Nezami Ganjavi and the poetry anthology The Mirror of My Heart. The iconic love story of the Middle East by a twelfth-century Persian poet, Layli and Majnun tells of star-crossed lovers whose union is tragically thwarted by their families and whose passion continues to ripple out across the centuries. The Mirror of My Heart is a unique and captivating collection of eighty-three Persian women poets, many of whom wrote anonymously or were punished for their outspokenness, and were active in countries such as Iran, India, Afghanistan, and areas of central Asia that are now Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan.



Need a new show to binge-watch during your stay-home Saturday night? We highly recommend Lupin, the new Netflix heist series from France, starring Omar Sy as Assane Diop, the suave thief who takes his cues straight from none other than a Penguin Classic: Maurice Leblanc’s Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Thief. We blew through all five episodes of Part 1 in one sitting, so while we impatiently await Part 2, you can read more Lupin adventures and try to figure out just how Diop is able to pull off his steals while remaining so impossibly cool.


Unheralded Narratives of American Slavery & Abolition
A new historical anthology from transatlantic slavery to the Reconstruction curated by the Schomburg Center, that makes the case for focusing on the histories of Black people as agents and architects of their own lives and ultimate liberation, with a foreword by Kevin Young
$22.00 US
Feb 16, 2021
656 Pages
Penguin Classics

Layli and Majnun
The Persian epic that inspired Eric Clapton's unforgettable love song "Layla" and that Lord Byron called "the Romeo and Juliet of the East," in a masterly new translationA Penguin Classic
$18.00 US
Feb 09, 2021
320 Pages
Penguin Classics

The Mirror of My Heart
A Thousand Years of Persian Poetry by Women
An anthology of verse by women poets writing in Persian, most of whom have never been translated into English before, from acclaimed scholar and translator Dick Davis.A Penguin Classic
$17.00 US
Feb 09, 2021
352 Pages
Penguin Classics

Arsène Lupin, Gentleman-Thief
Inspiration for the Major Streaming Series
The inspiration for the Netflix series, Lupin, starring Omar Sy A curated collection of the very best adventures of Arsène Lupin, France’s most famous gentleman thief The poor and the innocent have nothing to fear from Lupin; often they profit from his spontaneous generosity. The rich and powerful, and the detective who tries to spoil his fun, however, must beware. They are the target of Lupin’s mischief. With plans that frequently evolve into elaborate plots, Lupin is a gentleman burglar turned detective, and the most entertaining criminal genius in literature.   These stories – the best of the Lupin series, including “The Queen’s Necklace” and “Arsène Lupin in Prison”–  are outrageous and witty, for the full enjoyment of those who love masters of disguise, extraordinary heists, and the panache found with Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Ocean’s Eleven and Lupin.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.
$17.00 US
Mar 27, 2007
304 Pages
Penguin Classics