literary scholarship for non-academic pleasure

20 replies, 8 voices Last updated by  Alexandra Berlina 4 years, 7 months ago
Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 21 total)
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  • #5850

    Alexandra Berlina
    Participant
    @alexandra_berlina

    Dear all,

    I’m sorry if this is slightly off-topic, but could you recommend me works of literary scholarship which book-loving non-academic might enjoy? I don’t mean book reviews, but texts like Brodsky’s and Nabokov’s essays, or Greenblatt’sWill in the World. Thank you very much! I hope I’m not the only one interested in showing friends what it is we as a species actually do: perhaps we could use this post as a place to collect recommendations. If you think your own writing qualifies, don’t hesitate to self-advertise.:)

    The background is: I’m launching http://www.readingsjournal.net, a journal for scholars and readers.

    Best,

    Alexandra

    #5857

    Steven J. Venturino
    Participant
    @sjventurino

    Hi Alexandra,

    Books such as Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer come to mind, as do Jane Smiley’s 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel and Charles Dickens: A Life. In general it looks like literary biographies and collections of author letters are most likely to be read for pleasure. A good example is Phyllis Rose’s Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages. An edgier new theory-type book is What We See When We Read, by Peter Mendelsund (2014).

    Books like How to Read Like a Professor (Foster), How to Read and Why (Bloom), and How to Read a Book (Adler and Van Doren) don’t always hit their mark for ordinary readers, although the last of these has some real charm.

    In philosophy, there’s David Edmonds & Nigel Warburton, Philosophy Bites (Oxford 2010) and Philosophy Bites Back (Oxford 2013), often picked up by interested non-academic readers.

    My own The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism (Alpha/Penguin 2013) seems to be received well in U.S. and U.K. classrooms, as well as among readers-for-pleasure (so I hear). I’m now at work on a collection of essays on both literary and film matters, also intended for readers of all sorts.

    Steve

     

     

    #5858

    Steven J. Venturino
    Participant
    @sjventurino

    Hi Alexandra,

    Books such as Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer come to mind, as do Jane Smiley’s 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel and Charles Dickens: A Life. In general it looks like literary biographies and collections of author letters are most likely to be read for pleasure. A good example is Phyllis Rose’s Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages. An edgier new theory-type book is What We See When We Read, by Peter Mendelsund (2014).

    Books like How to Read Like a Professor (Foster), How to Read and Why (Bloom), and How to Read a Book (Adler and Van Doren) don’t always hit their mark for ordinary readers, although the last of these has some real charm.

    In philosophy, there’s David Edmonds & Nigel Warburton, Philosophy Bites (Oxford 2010) and Philosophy Bites Back (Oxford 2013), often picked up by interested non-academic readers.

    My own The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism (Alpha/Penguin 2013) seems to be received well in U.S. and U.K. classrooms, as well as among readers-for-pleasure (so I hear). I’m now at work on a collection of essays on both literary and film matters, also intended for readers of all sorts.

    Steve

    #5859

    Margaret Morganroth Gullette
    Participant
    @mgullette

    Reading Lolita in Tehran never grabbed me, but it sure resonated with a broad public and has been translated into many languages. Ali Smith’s Artful is a strange amalgam, in which a well-done, ghoulish narrative of grief drives some otherwise not terribly interesting literary remarks, but the novelty of the form deserves a look. Then there are some classics: Raymond Williams, Terry Eagleton. 
    <div>Margaret Morganroth Gullette<br id=”ecxFontBreak” /></div>

    #5861

    Matthew Thomas Miller
    Participant
    @mtmiller

    If you do recommend Azar Nafisi’s “Reading Lolita in Tehran,” I would also strongly recommend that you suggest that they read Fatemeh Keshavarz’s trenchant critique of it, “Jasmine and Stars: Reading More Than Lolita in Tehran.” Nafisi’s book is full of problems and, as Keshavarz argues, it–like Khaled Hosseini’s “Kite Runner” and many other popular books on the “Islamic world” post-9/11–are part of a “New Orientalist” discourse on the Middle East.

    #5862

    Alexandra Berlina
    Participant
    @alexandra_berlina

    Dear Steve,

    thank you very much! All your suggestions are either books I like, or (incl. the beguilingly entitled work of your own) books that I probably will like. You are very warmly invited to join the journal I’m launching  as an author and/or reviewer.:)

    Call for Papers and Reviewers

    Best,

    Alexandra

    #5863

    Alexandra Berlina
    Participant
    @alexandra_berlina

    I love Artful!

    Such a pleasure to share tastes; I’d be delighted if you submitted to readingsjournal.net

    #5864

    Mary Baine Campbell
    Participant
    @mbc13

    Wonderful question, wonderful answers–I’ll just toss in four more: Borges, Seven Nights, Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium, and in case anyone out there still considers poetry part of what we mean by “literary” (many non-litterateur friends of mine do, but I’m drawn to poetry-lovers), Muriel Rukeyser’s The Life of Poetry and Glyn Maxwell’s recent On Poetry.  Can I have one more?  Woolf’s Common Reader.  I’m not sure if any of these count as “what we do” though.

    #5865

    Alan Gene Lindsay
    Participant
    @alindsay

    To which I would add the nonfiction of Kundera, Testaments Betrayed and The Art of the Novel.

    #5867

    Alexandra Berlina
    Participant
    @alexandra_berlina

    Thank you!

     

    #5868

    Alexandra Berlina
    Participant
    @alexandra_berlina

    Thank you so much!

    I’ve actually met Glyn Maxwell and we had a great talk on poetry (and yes, I’m very much into it; the topic of my own first book, Brodsky Translating Brodsky, was poetry in self-translation).

    Do have a look at readingsjournal.net, it might suit you. (I’m starting this journal more or less on my own, in my spare time, and am very excited).

     

    A

    #5869

    Carlos Abreu Mendoza
    Participant
    @mrarkadin81

    Hi Alexandra,

    Your project sounds really cool, I hope I can send a contribution in the future.

    As for suggestions, I thought of Orhan Pamuk’s The Naive and Sentimental Novelist and to include the Latin American tradition in the conversation: Roberto Bolaño’s Between Parentheses: Essays, Articles, and Speeches, 1998-2003, García Marquez’s Living to Tell the Tale, Octavio Paz’s Convergences: Essays on Art and Literature, Vargas Llosa’s Letter to a Young Novelist, Borges: A Life (biography by Edwin Williamson). I wish Juan José Saer was more widely translated into English because he is a wonderful writer and his essays are extremely insightful but at least half a dozen of his fictional books are available and more on the way. Anyway I hope some of these books can be of your interest.

    Best,

    Carlos

    #5870

    Mary Baine Campbell
    Participant
    @mbc13

    Ah, speaking of Latin writers, how about Horace, On the Sublime?  Short, and big.

    #5876

    Alexandra Berlina
    Participant
    @alexandra_berlina

    Indeed!

    #5879

    Alexandra Berlina
    Participant
    @alexandra_berlina

    Dear Carlos (may I?), thank you!

    I’d be delighted about a contribution from you. To my shame, I haven’t read any of your suggestions — and now I will, asap.

    Starting the journal was worth it for all recommendations in these forum alone.:)

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