A Little History of Literature – John Sutherland

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Bex and I are both English Literature graduates (although our Universities were on opposite sides during Roses matches….) and, I think it is fair to say, we are both fans of John Sutherland. So I reckon I have done pretty well to beat Bex to reading and reviewing this one!

The scope of this book is remarkably broad – starting with the Epic of Gilgamesh and working its way through to the latest in e-books  – but you never feel as if anything is being skimmed over.  At the moment my only problem with this book is the number of authors I now have a huge urge to revisit. I may even learn to love Dickens (although I fear Hardy is a step too far).

This title is one of a series published by Yale University Press aimed at children and adults wanting a grounding in the big subjects. The authors are well-respected in their fields (Nigel Warburton on Philosophy or William Bynum on Science, for example) and the tone is generally very good. There is enough information to make the books an interesting read for adults but not so much as to swamp a child with an interest in the subject. John Sutherland seems to have a particularly entertaining style – mixing humour with scholarship.  We touch on poetry and drama as well as novels, and issues such as empire, women’s writing, censorship and madness are covered.  I think I will enjoy sharing this book with customers who want that little bit more than just a suggestion for what book to read next.

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One thought on “A Little History of Literature – John Sutherland

  1. I suffer from the same thing any time I read a book about books – suddenly wanting to go away and read a hundred new things, none of which I have time for.

    And while I mostly steer away from the 19th century ‘greats’, I really enjoyed Hardy’s Mayor of Casterbridge. There’s a real sense of place to the book, and something strangely compelling about characters doomed by their own mundane failings.

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