How Literature Works: 50 Key Concepts

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How Literature Works is an indispensable book for any reader seeking a greater appreciation of their favorite novel, poem, or play. It offers a lively and straightforward guide to literary thinking. With a series of compact essays, the renowned literary critic John Sutherland--widely admired for his wit and clear reasoning--strips away the obscurity and pretension of literary study. His book offers concise definitions and clear examples of the fifty concepts that all book lovers should know.

It includes basic descriptive terms (ambiguity, epic), the core vocabulary of literary culture (genre, style), and devices employed by authors (irony, defamiliarization). More broadly, How Literature Works explores the animating concepts behind literary theory (textuality, sexual politics), traces the forces that impact literature's role in the real world (obscenity, plagiarism), and grapples with the future of reading (fanfic, e-book).

For any reader who wants to get the most out of the literature they read, Sutherland's short sharp book will both inform and delight.


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