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The copyright has expired on thousands of books. Here are the best ones to read.

Information, as the saying goes, wants to be free, though copyright lawyers do their best to make us pay for it as long as possible.

In the case of creative works published between 1923 and 1977, the legal stranglehold is 95 years, to be exact. That means on Jan. 1 of this year a trove of cultural gems published in 1923 — from the early “Felix the Cat” comics to E.E. Cummings’ first poetry collection, “Tulips and Chimneys” — have finally come into the public domain. Anyone can henceforth quote, reprint or digitize them without cost or penalty.

Still, while everyone knows T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” and James Joyce’s “Ulysses” appeared in 1922, the outstanding books of 1923 may not leap readily to mind. So, after consulting various online sites and reference guides, I made a list of some of my own favorites, restricting myself to British and American literature. Feel free to add your own choices to mine, which are briefly annotated below.

“A Lost Lady,” by Willa Cather. One of the heartbreaking masterpieces of arguably the finest American novelist of the 20th century. No one ever forgets the opening scene in which the awful Ivy Peters slits the eyes of a woodpecker, then laughs as the unfortunate creature blindly collides again and again with tree branches. In essence, the grown-up Ivy will do the same thing to the beautiful and noble Marian Forrester.

“Antic Hay,” by Aldous Huxley and “The Flower Beneath the Foot,” by Ronald Firbank. Two high-spirited works of wit and satire, the first by the now rather neglected Huxley, whose early novels about disillusioned British intellectuals established an entire subgenre (see Evelyn Waugh, Anthony Powell, David Lodge), and the second a delightfully camp life of the imaginary

Article source: https://www.twincities.com/2019/02/11/the-copyright-has-expired-on-thousands-of-books-here-are-the-best-ones-to-read/

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