This neat bundle of books was in the pile waiting for me on my return from holiday. It's the first group to be published as part of John Murray's new Heritage Collection, paperback reissues and ebooks designed to bring a new audience to "forgotten classics by great authors of the past".
George Bernard Shaw's work is represented by two novels: An Unsocial Socialist features Sidney Trefusis who is "determined to overthrow a society riddled with class and sexual exploitation. But when he goes to work as a gardener at a girls' school he meets his match in the form of Agatha Wylie, a new kind of woman ... Galloping, exuberant, and irresistibly entertaining, a brilliant satire on social prejudice."
Then comes Love Among the Artists, the story of three wayward geniuses (two pianists - one said to have been suggested by Beethoven - and an actress of great self-made charm) which offers "shrewd insight into the nature of the artistic temperament with its needs for a kind of commitment that overrides the everyday claims of the heart."
The second pair, which like the others is due out in mid-August, comprises what is "widely acknowledged as one of the greatest novels in the Irish comic tradition. The Crock of Gold by James Stephens is a wise and beautiful fairytale for grown-ups. Fantasy, satire and delicious humour propel the magical narrative through a world peopled by policemen, philosophers, tinkers and leprechauns. Yet, the intent of it all is serious. Or is it?"
Last of the bunch is The Return by Walter de la Mare, a darkly thrilling tale, and one of de la Mare's finest occult stories, which tells of Lawford, "a dull suburban man who falls asleep on a grave and wakes up possessed by the spirit - and face - of somebody else. Denounced by his family and friends as an impostor, Lawford's struggle to free himself of this possession leaves him a thoroughly changed man", while the book encompasses domestic trauma, unrequited love and philosophical reflection.