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A classic love story reading list from Oxford World’s Classics

By Kirsty Doole


If Valentine’s Day has got you in the mood for reading a love story then here are a few suggestions of some classic examples from the Oxford World’s Classics series. Have we missed out your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

No list of love stories can exclude Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  The book has delighted generations of readers with its unforgettable cast of characters and carefully choreographed plot. With the arrival of eligible young men in their neighbourhood, the lives of the members of the Bennet family are comprehensively disrupted. Pride encounters prejudice, upward-mobility confronts social disdain, and quick-wittedness challenges sagacity, as misconceptions and hasty judgements lead to heartache and scandal, but eventually to true understanding, self-knowledge, and  - most importantly – love.

Romeo and Juliet by Ford Madox Brown
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

One of the world’s most famous love stories, Emily Brontë’s only novel is also one of the most potent revenge narratives in the English language. The ingenious and extraordinary power of its depiction of both love and hatred has given it a unique place in literature. A dark and brooding classic.

Troilus and Criseyde by Geoffrey Chaucer

Like Romeo and Juliet the names Troilus and Criseyde will always be remembered as a pair of lovers whose names are inseparable from passion and tragedy. The story of how the couple fall in love, and how she abandons him for Diomede after her departure from Troy, is dramatically presented in all its comedy and tragedy. With its deep humanity and penetrating insight, Troilus and Criseyde is rightly recognized as one of the finest narrative poems in English.

Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

Jude the Obscure is surely one of the most tragic love stories in all of English literature. Jude, a poor young man who is desperate to study at Oxford, falls in love with his cousin Sue. However, their refusal to get married causes great controversy and the ultimate result of their unconventional life is utterly heartrending. The novel caused such a stir that Hardy never wrote another one, confining himself instead to the art of poetry.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

At its simplest, Tolstoy’s novel is a love story. It is a portrait of a beautiful, intelligent woman whose passionate love for Vronsky, an officer, sweeps aside all other ties – to her marriage, to the network of relationships, and to moral values that bind the society around her. The love affair of Anna and Vronsky is played out alongside the romance of Kitty and Levin. Levin was based on Tolstoy himself, and in this character the search for happiness takes on a deeper, more philosophical significance.

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Some of the most famous lovers in literature, Romeo and Juliet are two young people whose love is forbidden by their warring families. It may have spawned a million adaptations, but why not go back to the original this Valentine’s Day?

Kirsty Doole is Publicity Manager for Oxford World’s Classics.

For over 100 years Oxford World’s Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford’s commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more. You can follow Oxford World’s Classics on Twitter, Facebook, or here on the OUPblog. Subscribe to only Oxford World’s Classics articles on the OUPblog via email or RSS.

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Image credit: Romeo and Juliet by Ford Madox Brown. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

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