A Little History of Literature

John Sutherland

View Inside Price: $15.00


September 30, 2014
288 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
40 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300205312
PB-with Flaps

Also available in:
Cloth

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This 'little history' takes on a very big subject: the glorious span of literature from Greek myth to graphic novels, from The Epic of Gilgamesh to Harry Potter. John Sutherland is perfectly suited to the task. He has researched, taught, and written on virtually every area of literature, and his infectious passion for books and reading has defined his own life. Now he guides young readers and the grown-ups in their lives on an entertaining journey 'through the wardrobe' to a greater awareness of how literature from across the world can transport us and help us to make sense of what it means to be human.
 
Sutherland introduces great classics in his own irresistible way, enlivening his offerings with humor as well as learning: Beowulf, Shakespeare, Don Quixote, the Romantics, Dickens, Moby Dick, The Waste Land, Woolf, 1984, and dozens of others. He adds to these a less-expected, personal selection of authors and works, including literature usually considered well below 'serious attention' - from the rude jests of Anglo-Saxon runes to The Da Vinci Code. With masterful digressions into various themes - censorship, narrative tricks, self-publishing, taste, creativity, and madness - Sutherland demonstrates the full depth and intrigue of reading. For younger readers, he offers a proper introduction to literature, promising to interest as much as instruct. For more experienced readers, he promises just the same. 
John Sutherland, Lord Northcliffe Professor Emeritus of Modern English Literature, University College London, has taught students at every level and is the author or editor of more than 20 books. He lives in London.

'As a guidebook, it's a cracker. What Sutherland has to offer is formidable breadth of reading, a generous spirit and a rebounding enthusiasm for his subject.'—Sam Leith, Spectator

 

'Written in prose that is clear and free from the diktat of theory and criticism, A Little History of Literature is an enjoyable account of a lifelong involvement with literature.'—John Vukmirovich, Times Literary Supplement

‘I suspect that an expert like John Sutherland could have written this highly entertaining and informative history without recourse to any research at all, having it pretty much at his fingertips; and it reads extremely well, as though he is simply having a chat with us about literature and why it matters.’—Lesley McDowell, Independent on Sunday
 

'A Little History of Literature, which begins with Beowulf and ends with bestsellers, is primarily a guide for teenagers, and John Sutherland brings to the vast and unruly subject some order, clarity and commonsense.'—Frances Wilson, New Statesman

‘Sutherland attacks a huge subject with skill, courage and engaging good humour. With infectious enthusiasm, he invites us into an illuminating, diverting, sometimes painful, always delightful world of the imagination. . .A rich ambitious treasury of cultural exploration, this provides insightful and original discussion.’—The Good Book Guide

'For many, this book will be intellectual comfort food. For younger readers, it will, or should, function as a blueprint or study guide. Written in prose that is clear and free from the diktat of theory and criticism, A Little History of Literature is an enjoyable account of a lifelong involvement with literature.'—John Vukmirovich, Times Literary Supplement

 
“A genial, enthusiastic guide leads a jaunt through literary history. . . . [Sutherland’s] aim is not to draw a line between high art and low, but to share his prodigious joy of reading.”—Kirkus Reviews

Praise for John Sutherland:
 
'John Sutherland is among the handful of critics whose every book I must have. He's sharp-eyed and sharp-tongued, with a generous heart and a wise head.'—Jay Parini
 
“This slim book makes for a necessarily cursory review of literature’s greats – and the loving treatment by an expert . . . will please both novices and established readers looking to dip back into well-loved works.”—Shelf Awareness

‘Writing a history of such a wide subject as this is an achievement in itself, but to condense it into 266 pages is an accomplishment worth applauding. To do this, and keep the history with an ever flowing, meaningful and understandable text is an outstanding triumph.’
—Bill Spence, Suffolk & Norfolk Life.
 
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