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Literary Criticism

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  • A Peak District Anthology: A Literary Companion to Britain's First National Park

    This anthology brings together some of the finest writing about the Peak District through the ages, illustrated by period art works, engravings, vignettes and photographs. Compiled and introduced by Peak District expert Roly Smith, it revives many forgotten descriptions of what many people believe is the finest, most varied and best-loved landscape in the whole of Britain. From William Camden to Daniel Defoe, Sir Gawain to Lord Byron, literary visitors have long been astonished by the sublime wonders of the Peak. The coming of railways proved another great impetus for writers and tourists. Ruskin extolled the beauties of the Peak, while novelists Charlotte Bront Learn More

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  • Jonathan Lethem The Ecstasy of Influence: Nonfictions, etc.

    What's a novelist supposed to do with contemporary culture? In The Ecstasy of Influence, Jonathan Lethem, tangling with what he calls the white elephant role of the writer as public intellectual, arrives at an astonishing range of answers. A constellation of previously published pieces and new essays as provocative and idiosyncratic as any he's written, this volume sheds light on an array of topics from sex in cinema to drugs, graffiti, Bob Dylan, cyberculture, 9 11, book touring and Marlon Brando. Then there are investigations of a shelf's worth of his literary models and contemporaries, Norman Mailer, Philip K. Dick, Bret Easton Ellis, James Wood, and others. And, writing about Brooklyn, his father, and his sojourn through two decades of writing, one of the greats of contemporary American literature sheds an equally strong light on himself. Funny and unfettered, The Ecstasy of Influence simmers with direct challenges to conventional wisdom and deep insights into the kaleidoscopic nature of artistic vision, the primacy of the writer in the cultural marketplace, and the way the author's own experiences have fuelled his creative passions. Learn More

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  • Huxley: A Beginner's Guide

    Author of Brave New World and The Doors of Perception, and inventor of the term psychedelic, Aldous Huxley was a global trend-setter ahead of his time. In this new biography Dr Kieron O'Hara explores the life of this great visionary, charting his transformation from society satirist to Californian guru-mystic through an insightful analysis of his life's work. Combining thoughtful biography, easy-to-use reading notes, and an insightful exploration of Huxley's continuing legacy, Huxley: A Beginner's Guide is the definitive introduction to one of the twentieth century's most influential thinkers. Learn More

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  • Words Alone: Yeats and his Inheritances

    W. B. Yeats is usually seen as a great innovator who put his stamp so decisively on modern Irish literature that most of his successors worked in his shadow. R. F. Fosters eloquent and authoritative book weaves together literature and history to present an alternative perspective. By returning to the rich seed bed of nineteenth century Irish writing, Words Alone charts some of the influences, including romantic national tales in post Union Ireland, the poetry and polemic of the Young Ireland movement, the occult and supernatural novels of Sheridan LeFanu, William Carletons peasant fictions, and fairy lore and folktale collectors that created the unique and powerful Yeatsian voice of the decade from 1885 to 1895. As well as placing these literary movements in a vivid contemporary context of politics, polemic and social tension, Foster discusses recent critical and interpretive approaches to these phenomena. He shows that the use Yeats made of his predecessors during his apprenticeship, and the part that a self conscious use of Irish literary tradition played in the construction of his path breaking early work as he attempted to hammer his thoughts into a unity made him an inheritor as much as an inventor. Learn More

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  • Nation and Novel: The English Novel from its Origins to the Present Day

    What is English about the English novel, and how has the idea of the English nation been shaped by the writers of fiction? How do the novels profound differences from poetry and drama affect its representation of national consciousness? Nation and Novel sets out to answer these questions by tracing English prose fiction from its late medieval origins through its stories of rogues and criminals, family rebellions and suffering heroines, to the present day novels of immigration. Major novelists from Daniel Defoe to the late twentieth century have drawn on national history and mythology in novels which have pitted Cavalier against Puritan, Tory against Whig, region against nation, and domesticity against empire. The novel is deeply concerned with the fate of the nation, but almost always at variance with official and ruling class perspectives on English society. Patrick Parrinders groundbreaking new literary history outlines the English novels distinctive, sometimes paradoxical, and often subversive view of national character and identity. This sophisticated yet accessible assessment of the relationship between fiction and nation will set the agenda for future research and debate. Learn More

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  • Shakespeare: Staging the World

    For any lover of Shakespeare, the thought of time-traveling back to London to see one of his plays at the Globe represents the ultimate theatrical fantasy. The look and feel of Shakespeare's London, the streets, shops, and churches the poet would have visited; the bookstalls where he found source material; the objects that appeared on his stages or sparked his imagination--what were they like? Shakespeare: Staging the World is based on an extraordinary collection of objects that evoke London in 1612, bringing to life not only Shakespeare the man, but also the characters, places, and events--real and imagined--featured in his plays. Jonathan Bate and Dora Thornton give readers a visual tour of Renaissance London, letting us glimpse the time and place through a series of objects that speak volumes about Shakespeare's day. Simon Forman's diary of 1611 provides a vivid account of attending a contemporary performance of A Winter's Tale; a dagger fished from the Thames gives new resonance to the gang violence of Romeo and Juliet; Henry V's saddle, helm, and shield--medieval relics that would have been a familiar sight in Westminster Abbey to Shakespeare's fellow Londoners--recall the history plays and their examination of the nature and conduct of war; and Guy Fawkes's lantern illustrates the Catholic counterculture revealed through the failed Gunpowder Plot, which later provided the inspiration for Macbeth.Authoritative, evocative, and filled with surprises, Shakespeare: Staging the World offers a completely new approach to one of the most creative imaginations in history and opens a window onto a fascinating moment in London's past. Learn More

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  • Mallarme: The Politics of the Siren

    This is the first English translation of Ranciere's study of the 19th century French poet and critic Stephane Mallarme. In this concise and illuminating study, Jacques Ranciere, one of the world's most popular and influential living philosophers, examines the life and work of the celebrated nineteenth-century French poet and critic, Stephane Mallarme. Ranciere presents Mallarme as neither an aesthete in need of rare essences and unheard-of words, nor the silent and nocturnal thinker of some poem too pure to be written. Mallarme is the contemporary of a republic that is seeking out forms of civic worship to replace the pomp of religions and kings. If his writing is difficult, it is because it complies with a demanding and delicate poetics that is itself responding to an exceptional awareness of the complexity of an historical moment as well as the role that poetry ought to play in it. Learn More

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  • Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands

    This book celebrates some of the most dazzling treasures of English literature to show how Britain's greatest authors have been inspired by, and even redefined, their country. From Chaucer's pilgrims journeying from Southwark to Canterbury, to the 21st century suburban hinterlands of J.G. Ballard, this book will explore how the places and landscapes of Britain permeate the nation's great literary works and how these works have, in turn, helped shape our perception and understanding of landscape and place, both real and imagined. As well as celebrating the traditional British landscape the book will also examine the literary construction of the city, following the mysterious fog-filled streets that stretch from the London of Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde to the urban underworlds revealed by contemporary writers such as Neil Gaiman and Iain Sinclair. Accompanying a major exhibition at the British Library, the book also features such diverse landscapes as Emily Bronte's wild and windy Yorkshire Moors, Elizabeth Gaskell's industrial northern towns, the seaside-turned-nightmare of Bram Stoker's Dracula, Graham Greene's seedy and menacing Brighton, Virginia Woolf's Bond Street and Hanif Kureishi's suburbia, this book will describe and illustrate the work of over 100 of the greatest British writers who have been inspired by place, spanning the Middle Ages to the 21st century. Learn More

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  • Enthusiasms

    Does a neglected masterpiece by Jane Austen enshrine her first love affair? Who was Vita Sackville West's real grandfather? What clues are there to the identity of 'Walter', doyen of Victorian pornographers? When and why did P.G. Wodehouse mutate from hack to genius? Was Oscar Wilde really down and out in Paris? Was Brideshead really Madresfield? These and other excursions into literary or social history have developed out of Mark Girouard's spare time enthusiasms, as diversions from his main occupation as an architectural historian. In nine essays he calls attention to points that have not been noticed before, corrects fallacies that have got into general circulation, suggests, identifies, redates, refutes, or pours a little cold water on unjustified romanticisms. Three further essays sample another enthusiasm, his own family background, and introduce characters such as the dwarf who had to stand on a bench to address the South African Parliament, the colonial governor who fell in love with his niece, and the dowager duchess with whom he spent his childhood on the edge of the park at Chatsworth. Learn More

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  • Forty-One False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers

    Selected essays from America's foremost literary journalist and essayist, featuring ruminations on writers and artists as diverse as Edith Wharton, Diane Arbus and the Bloomsbury Group. This charismatic and penetrating collection includes Malcolm's now iconic essay about the painter David Salle. Learn More

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  • Orhan Pamuk: Other Colours

    "Other Colours" is a collection of immediate relevance and timeless value, ranging from lyrical autobiography to criticism of literature and culture, from humour to political analysis, from delicate evocations of his friendship with his daughter Ruya to provocative discussions of Eastern and Western art. It also covers Pamuk's recent, high profile, court case. "My Father's Suitcase", Pamuk's 2006 Nobel Lecture, a brilliant illumination of what it means to be a writer, completes the selection from the figure who is now without doubt one of international literature's most eminent and popular figures. Was £7.99  NOW £4.99 Learn More

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  • D. H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers: A Casebook

    This casebook on D. H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers is the first to address itself to the full text of the novel, first published in 1992. The introduction discusses the novel's composition and the range of approaches adopted by critics since its original publication in 1913. The nine essays that follow demonstrate the full extent of the contemporary critical response, from studies of narrative technique to psychoanalytic and gender-based analysis, and set the critical agenda for its study in the twenty-first century. This collection also reproduces excerpts from Lawrence's letters relating to Sons and Lovers, along with a full transcription of Alfred Booth Kuttner's 1916 Freudian analysis of the work. Learn More

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  • Beyond the Gray Flannel Suit

    From the late 1940s through the JFK years, America was the home office of literary innovation. Writers forged new styles with the rapidly changing times, and generated new ideas that fit the challenges of late modernity. Beyond the Gray Flannel Suit shows how particular landmark books took on the hot-button subjects of the 1950s: race and religious difference; social class and the suburbs; the youth culture; conformity and group think; and much else. Was £6.99  NOW £3.99 Learn More

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  • Alice Walker - Living by the Word: Selected Writings, 1973-87

    Living by the Word is a memorable collection of essays, letters and journal extracts from Pulitzer Prize winner, Alice Walker. In her own immaculate prose, Alice Walker opens an intimate window to her world - whether it be her troubled relationship with her father, her upbringing amidst the poverty of rural Georgia, her daughter Rebecca, her feelings on the banning of the Color Purple, or simply her joy in choosing plants for her garden, planning the colours of her home, or relishing the taste of freshly picked vegetables. In other essays she explores themes such as the nature of dreams, justice, folklore and the role of ancestors. She details the story of Dessie Woods who was sent to jail for murdering her would-be rapist and highlights the role of racism and prejudice in the law's treatment of black women. Finally we travel with her on her journey to China, to Bali, and a visit to Nine Miles - the birthplace of the legendary Bob Marley. Learn More

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  • Dostoevsky's Democracy

    Dostoevsky's Democracy offers a major reinterpretation of the life and work of the great Russian writer by closely reexamining the crucial transitional period between the early works of the 1840s and the important novels of the 1860s. Sentenced to death in 1849 for utopian socialist political activity, the 28-year-old Dostoevsky was subjected to a mock execution and then exiled to Siberia for a decade, including four years in a forced labor camp, where he experienced a crisis of belief. It has been influentially argued that the result of this crisis was a conversion to Russian Orthodoxy and reactionary politics. But Dostoevsky's Democracy challenges this view through a close investigation of Dostoevsky's Siberian decade and its most important work, the autobiographical novel Notes from the House of the Dead (1861). Nancy Ruttenburg argues that Dostoevsky's crisis was set off by his encounter with common Russians in the labor camp, an experience that led to an intense artistic meditation on what he would call Russian "democratism." By tracing the effects of this crisis, Dostoevsky's Democracy presents a new understanding of Dostoevsky's aesthetic and political development and his role in shaping Russian modernity itself, especially in relation to the preeminent political event of his time, peasant emancipation. Learn More

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  • Literature, Politics and Culture in Postwar Britain

    The publication of Literature, Politics and Culture in Postwar Britain in 1989 firmly established Alan Sinfield as one of our foremost writers on literature and a leading critic of postwar culture and society. Literature, Politics and Culture in Postwar Britain is a landmark work in contemporary literary and cultural analysis. It offers a provocative and brilliant account of political change since 1945 and how such change shaped the cultural output of our time. It also looks at how and when literature intersects with other cultural forms, and the growth of American cultural dominance. Learn More

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  • G.K. Chesterton: On Tremendous Trifles

    In a popular series of articles initially published in the Daily News in 1909, the distinguished journalist and creator of Father Brown sought to celebrate the everyday objects and activities which are frequently taken for granted and yet which enrich life inestimably. On Tremendous Trifles is an uplifting tour of the preoccupations of one of the pre-eminent writers of his time, and as such a valuable insight into daily life in the early twentieth century. Was £5.99  NOW £4.49 Learn More

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  • Irish Fiction: An Introduction

    Following the structure of other titles in the Continuum Introductions to Literary Genres series, Irish Fiction includes: A broad definition of the genre and its essential elements. A timeline of developments within the genre. Critical concerns to bear in mind while reading in the genre. Detailed readings of a range of widely taught texts. In-depth analysis of major themes and issues. Signposts for further study within the genre. A summary of the most important criticism in the field. A glossary of terms. An annotated, critical reading list. This book offers students, writers, and serious fans a window into some of the most popular topics, styles and periods in this subject. Authors studied in Irish Fiction include: Maria Edgeworth, Sydney Owenson, John and Michael Banim, Gerald Griffin, William Carleton, Charles Lever, Sheridan Le Fanu, Edith Somerville, Violet Martin, George Moore, James Stephens, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Flann O'Brien, Sean O'Faolain, Frank O'Connor, Liam O'Flaherty, Kate O'Brien, Elizabeth Bowen, Francis Stuart, Brian Moore, William Trevor, Edna O'Brien, Jennifer Johnston, Roddy Doyle, John McGahern, John Banville, Eoin McNamee, Colm Toibin, Anne Enright and Emma Donoghue. Learn More

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  • The Yale Companion to Chaucer

    This new collection of specially commissioned essays on Chaucer's poetry is a single-volume guide to the best and most inventive work in Chaucerian studies today. The first such book written with American undergraduate and graduate students in mind, The Yale Companion to Chaucer provides up-to-date information on the history and textual contexts of Chaucer's work, on the ranges of current critical interpretation, and on the poet's place in English and European literary history. With close readings of major texts, the book offers ample material for studying philology, history, and textual criticism as they bear on Chaucer's work in particular and medieval literature in general. Both interpretation and information are presented, and each essay is accompanied by a detailed bibliography and guide to further study and research. Was £19.99  NOW £14.99 Learn More

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  • The Enchanter: Nabokov and Happiness

    With sly sophistication and ebullient charm, Lila Azam Zanganeh shares the intoxication of delirious joy to be found in reading - in particular, in reading the masterpieces of the great writer of happiness Vladimir Nabokov.Plunging into the enchanted and luminous worlds of Speak, Memory; Ada, or Ardor; and the infamous Lolita, Zanganeh seeks out the Nabokovian experience of time, memory, sexual passion, nature, loss, love in all its forms, language in all its allusions. She explores his geography - his Russian childhood, his European sojourns, the landscapes of 'his' America - suffers encounters with his beloved nature hallucinates an interview with the master, and seeks the crunch of happiness in his singular vocabulary. This rhapsodic and beautifully illuminated book will both reignite the passion of experienced lovers of Nabokov's work, and lure the innocent reader to a well of delights. Learn More

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  • It's All in a Word

    Cross words, crass words, kind words, bad words, first words, rude words, new words, weazel words, teen words, rap words, power words, colour words, Indian words, Brit words, Blairwords, war words, ad words, p-c words, borrowed words, Shakespeare's amazing words, false words, fine words, wine words, American words, name words, last words, even lost for words - this book has them all. Vivian Cook takes us on a series of excursions down the curious byways of word history and meaning, mingling the fare with games, lists, tests, and quotes. Discover the theojollylogical joys of infixation. Find out if you're a charva, what it means to be nithered, and how to hoy. Delve into the hidden nature of words. Consider how they're born, why they change, and how they die. Learn about the words that are never spoken and others that don't get written. Here's a book overflowing with words and about every kind and variety of word. It offers an irresistible cornucopia of information and entertainment. Learn More

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  • Secret Language

    This book is about language designed to mean what it does not seem to mean. Ciphers and codes conceal messages and protect secrets. Symbol and magic hide meanings to imperil or delight. Languages made to baffle and confuse let insiders talk openly without being understood by those beyond the circle. Barry Blake looks in depth at these and many more. He explores the history and uses of the slangs and argots of schools and trades. He traces the histories of centuries-old cants such as those used by sailors and criminals, among them polari, the mix of Italian, Yiddish, and slang spoken once among strolling players and circus folk and then taken up by groups in London. He examines the sacred languages of ancient cults and religions, uncovers the workings of onomancy, spells, and gematria, considers the obliqueness of allusion and parody, and celebrates the absurdities of euphemism and jargon. Secret Language takes the reader on fascinating excursions down obscure byways of language, ranging across time and culture. With revelations on every page it will entertain everyone with an urge to know more about the most arcane and curious uses of language. Learn More

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  • Crusoe: Daniel Defoe, Robert Knox And The Creation Of A Myth

    January, 1719. A man sits at a table, writing. Nearly sixty, Daniel Defoe is troubled with gout and the stone, burdened with a large family and debts, mired in political controversy and legal threats. But for the moment he is preoccupied by a younger man on a barren shore, Robinson Crusoe. Several miles south another old man, Robert Knox, sits bent over a heavy volume, the only book he has written, published nearly forty years before. The large folio is now worn and tattered, crammed with extra pages covered in notes and emendations. A leaner copy of Knoxs book is also on the shelf in Defoes library, perhaps even open on the table as he writes. The title page distils its contents, An Historical Relation of the Island of Ceylon in the East Indies Together with an Account of the Detaining in Captivity of the Author and diverse other Englishmen now Living there and of the Authors Miraculous Escape. Illustrated with Figures and a Map of the Island. By Robert Knox, a Captive there near Twenty Years. Knoxs Historical Relation was a best seller when it was published in 1681, just a year after he escaped from Ceylon and returned to England. But by 1719, despite Knoxs efforts to have a revised edition published, it has long been out of print. If Defoe had died in 1718, the year before he wrote Robinson Crusoe, few of us would have heard of him. He is principally remembered for this book and its hero. They have a life of their own, in the years since it was published, Crusoe has been abridged, imitated, parodied, dramatized, turned into opera, pantomime, comic books and cartoons, made into a string of films, adapted for reality television and translated into every written language. Where did Crusoe come from. And what is the secret of his endurance. Crusoe explores the intertwined lives of two real men, Daniel Defoe and Robert Knox and the character and book that emerged from their peculiar conjunction. It is the biography of a book and its hero, the story of Defoe, the man who wrote Robinson Crusoe, and of Robert Knox, the man who was Crusoe. Learn More

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  • The Great Age of the English Essay: An Anthology

    From the pens of spectators, ramblers, idlers, tattlers, hypochondriacs, connoisseurs, and loungers, a new literary genre emerged in eighteenth-century England: the periodical essay. Situated between classical rhetoric and the novel, the English essay challenged the borders between fiction and non-fiction prose and helped forge the tastes and values of an emerging middle class. This authoritative anthology is the first to gather in one volume the consummate periodical essays of the period. Included are the "Spectator" co-founders Joseph Addison and Richard Steele, literary lion Samuel Johnson, and Romantic recluse Thomas De Quincey, addressing a wide variety of topics from the oddities of virtuosos to the private lives of parrots and the fantastic horrors of opium dreams.In a lively and informative introduction, Denise Gigante situates the essayists in the context of the contemporary Republic of Letters and highlights the stylistic innovations and conventions that distinguish the periodical essay as a literary form. Critical notes on the essays, a chronology, descriptions and a map of key London sites, and a glossary of eighteenth-century English usage complete the anthology - a uniquely pleasurable survey of the golden era of British essays. Learn More

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