We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Penguin Vitae) (Hardcover)

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We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Penguin Vitae) By Shirley Jackson, Jonathan Lethem (Afterword by) Cover Image
By Shirley Jackson, Jonathan Lethem (Afterword by)
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Staff Reviews

While I’m certain you’ve read “The Lottery” once or twice--it’s the most anthologized short story out there, after all--I’m concerned that you may not have given Jackson’s equally creepy novels a try. My favorite is her last, a truly bizarre little book called WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE that Jackson wrote after agoraphobia and substance abuse had effectively rendered her a prisoner in her own home. The novel centers around a makeshift family holed up in their own big old house: the feral, witchy Merricat; her beloved and anxious older sister Constance; and their infirm Uncle Julian. For reasons that slowly, horribly become clear to the reader, the family is bullied and reviled by the citizens of their small New England town, and manage to live in almost complete isolation for seven years until an upstart cousin comes to town and upsets the precarious balance of their lives. A twisted, eerie little psychological tale that also serves as a brilliant metaphor for Jackson’s own deteriorating mental state. You’d be crazy to miss it!

— Danielle


Shirley Jackson's beloved gothic tale of a peculiar girl named Merricat and her family's dark secret, with an afterword by Jonathan Lethem.

A Penguin Vitae Edition

Merricat Blackwood lives on the family estate with her sister Constance and her uncle Julian. Not long ago there were seven Blackwoods—until a fatal dose of arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl one terrible night. Acquitted of the murders, Constance has returned home, where Merricat protects her from the curiousity and hostility of the villagers. Their days pass in happy isolation until cousin Charles appears. Only Merricat can see the danger, and she must act swiftly to keep Constance from his grasp.

Penguin Classics presents Penguin Vitae, loosely translated as “Penguin of one’s life,” a deluxe hardcover series featuring a dynamic landscape of classic fiction and nonfiction that has shaped the course of our readers' lives. Penguin Vitae invites readers to find themselves in a diverse world of storytellers, with beautifully designed classic editions of personal inspiration, intellectual engagement, and creative originality.

About the Author

Shirley Jackson (1919–1965), a celebrated writer of horror, wrote many stories as well as six novels and two works of nonfiction.

Praise For…

“A marvelous elucidation of life…a story full of craft and full of mystery” —The New York Times Book Review

“A witch’s brew of eerie power and startling novelty” —The New York Times

“I was thrilled by the genuine but meaningful strangeness of Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle.” —George Saunders

“Jackson’s novel is so wonderfully creepy that students usually feel subversive just for reading it. Add to that one of the most brilliantly realized unreliable narrators in fiction and the book becomes irresistible.” —Marlon James

Product Details
ISBN: 9780143134831
ISBN-10: 0143134833
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Publication Date: February 23rd, 2021
Pages: 160
Language: English
Series: Penguin Vitae