Literary Criticism
Maps Of The Imagination: The Writer As Cartographer
Maps Of The Imagination
The Writer As Cartographer
Hardcover      ISBN: 159534005x

Maps of the Imagination takes us on a magic carpet ride over terrain both familiar and exotic. Using the map as a metaphor, fiction writer Peter Turchi considers writing as a combination of exploration and presentation, all the while serving as an erudite and charming guide. He compares the way a writer leads a reader though the imaginary world of a story, novel, or poem to the way a mapmaker charts the physical world. "To ask for a map," says Turchi, "is to say, 'Tell me a story.' "
With intelligence and wit, the author looks at how mapmakers and writers deal with blank space and the blank page; the conventions they use or consciously disregard; the role of geometry in maps and the parallel role of form in writing; how both maps and writing serve to re-create an individual's view of the world; and the artist's delicate balance of intuition with intention.
A unique combination of history, critical cartography, personal essay, and practical guide to writing, Maps of the Imagination is a book for writers, for readers, and for anyone interested in creativity. Colorful illustrations and Turchi's insightful observations make his book both beautiful and a joy to read.

The Liberal Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society
The Liberal Imagination
Essays on Literature and Society
Paperback      ISBN: 1590172833
The Liberal Imagination is one of the most admired and influential works of criticism of the last century, a work that is not only a masterpiece of literary criticism but an important statement about politics and society. Published in 1950, one of the chillier moments of the Cold War, Trilling's essays examine the promise --and limits--of liberalism, challenging the complacency of a na ve liberal belief in rationality, progress, and the panaceas of economics and other social sciences, and asserting in their stead the irreducible complexity of human motivation and the tragic inevitability of tragedy. Only the imagination, Trilling argues, can give us access and insight into these realms and only the imagination can ground a reflective and considered, rather than programmatic and dogmatic, liberalism.

Writing with acute intelligence about classics like Huckleberry Finn and the novels of Henry James and F. Scott Fitzgerald, but also on such varied matters as the Kinsey Report and money in the American imagination, Trilling presents a model of the critic as both part of and apart from his society, a defender of the reflective life that, in our ever more rationalized world, seems ever more necessary--and ever more remote.
The Word: Black Writers Talk about the Transformative Power of Reading and Writing
The Word
Black Writers Talk about the Transformative Power of Reading and Writing
Paperback      ISBN: 0767929918
Critically acclaimed Black writers reveal how books have shaped their personal lives--in often unexpected ways.

In these thirteen strikingly candid interviews, bestselling authors, winners of the Pulitzer Prize, and writers picked by Oprah's Book Club discuss how the acts of reading and writing have deeply affected their lives by expanding the conceptual borders of their communities and broadening their sense of self.

Edwidge Danticat movingly recounts the first time she encountered a Black character in a book and how this changed her worldview forever; Edward P. Jones speaks openly about being raised by an illiterate mother; J. California Cooper discusses the spiritual sources of her literary inspiration; Nathan McCall explains how reading saved his life while in prison; Pearl Cleage muses eloquently about how other people's stories help one make one's own way in the world; and world-renowned historian John Hope Franklin--in one of the last interviews he gave before his death--touchingly recalls his childhood in the segregated South and how reading opened his mind to life's greater possibilities.

The stories that emerge from these in-depth interviews not only provide an important record of the creative life of leading Black writers but also explore the vast cultural and spiritual benefits of reading and writing, and they support the growing initiative to encourage people to read as both a passion and a pastime.
Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-Three of the World's Best Poems
Break, Blow, Burn
Camille Paglia Reads Forty-Three of the World's Best Poems
Paperback      ISBN: 0375725393

America's most provocative intellectual brings her blazing powers of analysis to the most famous poems of the Western tradition--and unearths some previously obscure verses worthy of a place in our canon. Combining close reading with a panoramic breadth of learning, Camille Paglia sharpens our understanding of poems we thought we knew, from Shakespeare to Dickinson to Plath, and makes a case for including in the canon works by Paul Blackburn, Wanda Coleman, Chuck Wachtel, Rochelle Kraut--and even Joni Mitchell. Daring, riveting, and beautifully written, Break, Blow, Burn is a modern classic that excites even seasoned poetry lovers--and continues to create generations of new ones.

The Hatred of Poetry
The Hatred of Poetry
Paperback      ISBN: 0865478201

No art has been denounced as often as poetry. It's even bemoaned by poets: I, too, dislike it, wrote Marianne Moore. Many more people agree they hate poetry, Ben Lerner writes, than can agree what poetry is. I, too, dislike it and have largely organized my life around it and do not experience that as a contradiction because poetry and the hatred of poetry are inextricable in ways it is my purpose to explore.

In this inventive and lucid essay, Lerner takes the hatred of poetry as the starting point of his defense of the art. He examines poetry's greatest haters (beginning with Plato's famous claim that an ideal city had no place for poets, who would only corrupt and mislead the young) and both its greatest and worst practitioners, providing inspired close readings of Keats, Dickinson, McGonagall, Whitman, and others. Throughout, he attempts to explain the noble failure at the heart of every truly great and truly horrible poem: the impulse to launch the experience of an individual into a timeless communal existence. In The Hatred of Poetry, Lerner has crafted an entertaining, personal, and entirely original examination of a vocation no less essential for being impossible.
The Lion's World: A Journey Into the Heart of Narnia
The Lion's World
A Journey Into the Heart of Narnia
Hardcover      ISBN: 0199975736

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams offers fascinating insight into The Chronicles of Narnia, the popular series of novels by one of the most influential Christian authors of the modern era, C. S. Lewis.

Lewis once referred to certain kinds of book as a "mouthwash for the imagination." This is what he attempted to provide in the Narnia stories, argues Williams: an unfamiliar world in which we could rinse out what is stale in our thinking about Christianity--"which is almost everything," says Williams--and rediscover what it might mean to meet the holy. Indeed, Lewis's great achievement in the Narnia books is just that-he enables readers to encounter the Christian story "as if for the first time." How does Lewis makes fresh and strange the familiar themes of Christian doctrine? Williams points out that, for one, Narnia itself is a strange place: a parallel universe, if you like. There is no "church" in Narnia, no religion even. The interaction between Aslan as a "divine" figure and the inhabitants of this world is something that is worked out in the routines of life itself. Moreover, we are made to see humanity in a fresh perspective, the pride or arrogance of the human spirit is chastened by the revelation that, in Narnia, you may be on precisely the same spiritual level as a badger or a mouse. It is through these imaginative dislocations that Lewis is able to communicate--to a world that thinks it knows what faith is--the character, the feel, of a real experience of surrender in the face of absolute incarnate love.

This lucid, learned, humane, and beautifully written book opens a new window onto Lewis's beloved stories, revealing the moral wisdom and passionate faith beneath their perennial appeal.
How to Read Novels Like a Professor: A Jaunty Exploration of the World's Favorite Literary Form
How to Read Novels Like a Professor
A Jaunty Exploration of the World's Favorite Literary Form
Paperback      ISBN: 0061340405

How to Read Novels Like a Professor is a lively and entertaining guide to understanding and dissecting novels, making reading more enriching and satisfying. In the follow up to his wildly popular How to Read Literature Like a Professor, Thomas C. Foster provides students with tried-and-true techniques to use in analyzing some of the most important works in literary history. How to Read Novels Like a Professor shows readers how to consider and a novel's historical fine points as well as major themes, literary models (the Bible, Shakespeare, Greek mythology, and fairy tales), and narrative devices like irony, plot, and symbol.

"By bringing his eminent scholarship to bear in doses measured for the common reader or occasional student, Professor Foster has done us all a generous turn. The trained eye, the tuned ear, the intellect possesed of simple cyphers brings the literary arts alive."-Thomas Lynch, author of The Undertaking
The Maximum Security Book Club: Reading Literature in a Men's Prison
The Maximum Security Book Club
Reading Literature in a Men's Prison
Paperback      ISBN: 0062384341

A riveting account of the two years literary scholar Mikita Brottman spent reading literature with criminals in a maximum-security men's prison outside Baltimore, and what she learned from them--Orange Is the New Black meets Reading Lolita in Tehran.

On sabbatical from teaching literature to undergraduates, and wanting to educate a different kind of student, Mikita Brottman starts a book club with a group of convicts from the Jessup Correctional Institution in Maryland. She assigns them ten dark, challenging classics--including Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Shakespeare's Macbeth, Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Poe's story "The Black Cat," and Nabokov's Lolita--books that don't flinch from evoking the isolation of the human struggle, the pain of conflict, and the cost of transgression. Although Brottman is already familiar with these works, the convicts open them up in completely new ways. Their discussions may "only" be about literature, but for the prisoners, everything is at stake.

Gradually, the inmates open up about their lives and families, their disastrous choices, their guilt and loss. Brottman also discovers that life in prison, while monotonous, is never without incident. The book club members struggle with their assigned reading through solitary confinement; on lockdown; in between factory shifts; in the hospital; and in the middle of the chaos of blasting televisions, incessant chatter, and the constant banging of metal doors.

Though The Maximum Security Book Club never loses sight of the moral issues raised in the selected reading, it refuses to back away from the unexpected insights offered by the company of these complex, difficult men. It is a compelling, thoughtful analysis of literature--and prison life--like nothing you've ever read before.

--William Deresiewicz, author of EXCELLENT SHEEP: THE MISEDUCATION OF THE AMERICAN ELITE and THE WAY TO A MEANINGFUL LIFE
Romeo & Juliet
Romeo & Juliet
Paperback      ISBN: 0812035720

Here are the books that help teach Shakespeare plays without the teacher constantly needing to explain and define Elizabethan terms, slang, and other ways of expression that are different from our own. Each play is presented with Shakespeare's original lines on each left-hand page, and a modern, easy-to-understand "translation" on the facing right-hand page. All dramas are complete, with every original Shakespearian line, and a full-length modern rendition of the text.

Interpretation: An Essay in the Philosophy of Literary Criticism
Interpretation
An Essay in the Philosophy of Literary Criticism
Paperback      ISBN: 0691020337

This book provides and defends an analysis of our concept of the meaning of a literary work. P. D. Juhl challenges a number of widely held views concerning the role of an author's intention: the distinction between the real and the implied" author; and the question of whether a work has not one correct, but many acceptable interpretations.

Originally published in 1981.

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