The Pleasures of Reading: In an Ideological Age

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W. W. Norton & Company, 1996 - Literary Criticism - 250 pages
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From one of our premier literary scholars, here is a learned and witty introduction to the "sheer vitality of literature and the satisfactions of a close, informed engagement with it" (New York Times). Robert Alter's illumination of the unique power of reading literature is especially valuable at a time when we are surrounded by electronic texts that distract more than engage and when the special claims of literature are disparaged by the high priests of literary theory. Alter explores the strategies that distinguish literature--the resources of style, the dynamics of allusion, the formal design of structure, the play of perspective in narrative. He draws on copious examples from the great works of literary art--from the Book of Genesis to Shakespeare, Conrad, and Nabokov--to illustrate his analysis of what makes reading a source of complex pleasure and insight.
 

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The pleasures of reading: in an ideological age

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Students read more of Lacan, Eagleton, Foucault, and Derrida, Alter protests, than they do of George Eliot or Stendhal. But despite his adversarial stance toward "fashionable absurdities,'' Alter ... Read full review

Contents

The Disappearance of Reading
9
The Difference of Literature
23
Character and the Connection with Reality
49
Style
77
Allusion
111
Structure
141
Perspective
171
Multiple Readings and the Bog
206
Notes
239
Index
245
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About the author (1996)

Robert Alter is Class of 1937 Professor of Hebrew & Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley.

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