Literature (page two); Secondary Texts
This page lists some of the works of literary criticism which I have found useful. I generally give the first edition, which is usually hardback, but in most cases a paperback edition is available. In recent years I've been concentrating on specialist texts dealing with the 16th and 17th centuries, and I haven't been keeping up with general works, so this list is a bit out of dateup. I'll try to add some more recent titles as soon as possible!
These are for students fairly new to the subject.
Carter, Ronald, The Penguin Guide to English Literature (Britain & Ireland) (Penguin, 1996) - For students who just want to get a sense of when the major writers were writing, what movements they belonged to, and what were the main ideas of those movements.
Collins, Sue, Teach Yourself: Approaching Literature (Hodder and Stoughton, 1992) - Examples and exercises to help you develop your ability to write practical criticism.
Eagleton, Terry, Critical Theory: An Introduction, (John Wiley and Sons, 2011) - Eagleton specializes in Marxist approaches to literature, but here he gives a good all-round introduction to the subject.
Hobsbaum, Philip, Metre, Rhythm and Verse Form (Routledge, 1996) - For students interested in the technical mechanics that underlie poetry.
Marsh, Nicholas How to Begin Studying English Literature (Second edition, Macmillan, 1995) - A good general introduction, very practical, with lots of examples.
Peck, John How to Study a Poet (Macmillan, 1988) - Enshuu B coursebook; gives lots of examples, and outlines a basic approach.
Peck, John and Coyle, Martin Literary Terms and Criticism (Second edition, Macmillan, 1993) - Very useful, not just for the meaning, but also for how to use technical terms.
Students with a bit more experience might like to look at some of the following.
Abrams, M.H, The Mirror and the Lamp (OUP, 1953) - An excellent history of criticism, focusing on the contribution of romantic theory to critical thought.
Belsey, Catherine, Critical Practice (Routledge, 1980) - A good, clear introduction to structural criticism.
Blake, N.F., An Introduction to the Language of Literature (Macmillan, 1990) - For students who have a special interest in vocabulary
Breakwell, Ian, and Hammond, Paul, Brought to Book: The Balance of Books and Life (Penguin, 1994) - A fine collection of primary and secondary texts that shows the relationship between literature and life.
Eagleton, Terry, Literary Theory: An Introduction (Blackwell, 1983) - If you are brave enough to want to enter the complicated world of literary theory, this is the book for you!
Green, Keith, and LeBihan, Jill, Critical Theory and Practice: A Coursebook (Routledge, 1996) - Designed for use with a teacher, but can be used without. A good combination of examples and exercises.
Makaryk, Irena R., editor, Encyclopedia of Contemporary Literary Theory (University of Toronto Press, 1993) - This is the book you will need if you are planning to become an expert in the field (656 pages!).
Montgomery, Martin, et al., Ways of Reading: Advanced Reading Skills for Students of English Literature (Routledge, 1992) - Gives excellent insights on how to approach a text, with exercises and activities for students to do themselves.
Newton, K.M., Twentieth-Century Literary Theory: A Reader (Macmillan, 1988) - Selections from some of the main writers in the field.
Sutherland, John,Is Heathcliff a Murderer? (Oxford University Press, 1996) and Can Jane Eyre be Happy? (Oxford University Press, 1997). Sutherland does a good job revealing hidden implications that can be brought to light from close textual analysis.
General Approaches to Poetry
Brooks, Cleanth, and Warren, Robert Penn, Understanding Poetry (Harcourt Brace, 1978) - By the time you have read this book and tried to answer the many practice questions it contains, you will be an expert (602 pages!).
Nowottny, Winifred, The Language Poets Use (Athlone Press, 1962) - In what ways is poetic language different from other language? The answer to this question is of great importance when we write practical criticism.
General Approaches to Prose
Lodge, David The Art of Fiction (Penguin, 1992) - Lots of examples of critical commentaries on extracts from novels. Very useful.
Watt, Ian, The Rise of the Novel (Hogarth Press, 1987) - For students who want to know the history and development of the novel.
For students who wish to specialise in a particular period of literature, or a particular critical approach, the following may be useful.
Abrams, M.H., The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition (OUP, 1971) - In many ways, practical criticism began with the romantics. Here, Abrams shows the details of that relationship.
Belsey, Catherine, and Moore, Jane, editors, The Feminist Reader (Macmillan, 1989) - Most of these essays deal with literary theory, but there are also one or two essays (for example, one on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein) which are examples of feminist criticism.
Culler, Jonathan, Structuralist Poetics (Routledge, 1975) - A thorough study of the structuralist position.
Felman, Shoshana, editor, Literature and Psychoanalysis (John Hopkins University Press, 1982) - Lots of interesting essays on the relationship between these two disciplines, as well as some examples of psychoanalytical literary criticism.
Gates, Louis Henry, editor, 'Race,' Writing, and Difference (University of Chicago Press, 1985) - A collection of essays on racial issues in literature.
Green, Gayle, and Kahn, Coppelia, Making a Difference: Feminist Literary Criticism (Routledge, 1985) - For students who want to study in depth the range and implications of feminist criticism.
Leavis, F.R., New Bearings in English Poetry (Chatto and Windus, 1932; Penguin, 1963) - This little book probably did more to change people's thinking about literature than any other.
Mulhern, Francis, editor, Contemporary Marxist Literary Criticism (Longman, 1992) - An excellent collection of essays relating literature to politics and society.
Richards, I.A., Principles of Literary Criticism (1924; published by Routledge in 1960) and Practical Criticism (1929; published by Routledge in 1964) - These two texts are cornerstones in the development of literary criticism.
Roberts, Diane, The Myth of Aunt Jemima: Representations of Race and Region (Routledge, 1994) - A very interesting study of the ways in which white women have written about race.
Ronberg, Gert, A Way with Words: The Language of English Renaissance Literature (Edward Arnold, 1992) - A good, clear explanation of the differences between the language of Shakespeare and the language we use today.
Snider, Clifton, The Stuff that Dreams are Made on: A Jungian Interpretation of Literature (Chiron Publications, Illinois, 1991) - A good example of the psychoanalytic approach in practice.
Sontag, Susan, editor, A Roland Barthes Reader (Vintage, London, 1993) - Bathes played a huge role in the development from structuralism to poststructuralism; this selection of his works shows the breadth and depth of his thinking.
Syal, Pushpinder, Structure and Style in Commonwealth Literature (Vikas, New Delhi, 1994) - The literature of Britain's former colonies is becoming more and more important in a 'multicultural' world. This book is a good review of some of that literature, including Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children.
Vice, Sue, editor, Psychoanalytic Criticism: A Reader (Polity Press, 1996) - A selection of essays introducing psychoanalytic theory and its impact on literature.
I have to stop sometime, so I think I will stop now! If there is something you feel I ought to have included, please let me know.
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