6th Edition

An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory

By Andrew Bennett, Nicholas Royle Copyright 2023
    540 Pages
    by Routledge

    540 Pages
    by Routledge

    Lively, original and highly readable, An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory is the essential guide to literary studies. Starting at ‘The Beginning’ and concluding with ‘The End’, chapters range from the familiar, such as ‘Character’, ‘Narrative’ and ‘The Author’, to the more unusual, such as ‘Secrets’, ‘Pleasure’ and ‘Ghosts’. Now in its sixth edition, Bennett and Royle’s classic textbook successfully illuminates complex ideas by engaging directly with literary works, so that a reading of Jane Eyre opens up ways of thinking about racial difference, for example, while Chaucer, Monty Python and Hilary Mantel are all invoked in a discussion of literature and laughter.

    The sixth edition has been revised and updated throughout. In addition, four new chapters – ‘Literature’, ‘Loss’, ‘Human’ and ‘Migrant’ – engage with exciting recent developments in literary studies. As well as fully up-to-date further reading sections at the end of each chapter, the book contains a comprehensive bibliography and an invaluable glossary of key literary terms.

    A breath of fresh air in a field that can often seem dry and dauntingly theoretical, this book will open the reader’s eyes to the exhilarating possibilities of reading and studying literature.


    Alternative Table of Contents


    How to Read This Book

    Trigger Warning and Spoiler Alert

    1. The Beginning
    2. Literature
    3. Readers and Reading
    4. The Author
    5. The Text and the World
    6. The Uncanny
    7. Monuments
    8. Narrative
    9. Character
    10. Voice
    11. Figures and Tropes
    12. Creative Writing
    13. Feelings
    14. Loss
    15. Laughter
    16. The Tragic
    17. Wounds
    18. History
    19. Me
    20. Eco
    21. Animals
    22. Human
    23. Ghosts
    24. Body
    25. Moving Pictures
    26. Sexual Difference
    27. God
    28. Ideology
    29. Love
    30. Desire
    31. Queer
    32. Suspense
    33. Racial Difference
    34. Migrant
    35. The Colony
    36. Mutant
    37. The Performative
    38. Secrets
    39. Pleasure
    40. War
    41. The End


    A Note on Texts Used

    Literary Works Discussed

    Bibliography of Critical and Theoretical Works



    Andrew Bennett is Professor of English at the University of Bristol. He publishes on Romantic and twentieth-century literature and on literary theory. His books include This Thing Called Literature (2015, co-authored with Nicholas Royle), Suicide Century: Literature and Suicide from James Joyce to David Foster Wallace (2017), Ignorance: Literature and Agnoiology (2009) and The Author (2005).

    Nicholas Royle is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Sussex. He is author of many critical books, including Veering: A Theory of Literature (2011) and How to Read Shakespeare (2014), as well as novels such as An English Guide to Birdwatching (2017) and memoirs, most recently David Bowie, Enid Blyton and the Sun Machine (2023).

    Praise for previous editions:

    ‘This is a book which students in every introductory course on criticism and theory would benefit from having.’ Derek Attridge, University of York

    ‘[Bennett and Royle have] cracked the problem of how to be introductory and sophisticated, accessible but not patronising.’ Peter Buse, English Subject Centre Newsletter

    ‘Sparkling, enthusiastic and admirably well-informed.’ Hélène Cixous

    ‘The best introduction to literary studies on the market.’ Jonathan Culler, Cornell University

    ‘This excellent book is very well written and an outstanding introduction to literary studies. An extremely stimulating introduction.’ Robert Eaglestone, Royal Holloway College, University of London

    ‘Fresh, surprising, never boring, and engagingly humorous, while remaining intellectually serious and challenging . . . This is a terrific book, and I’m very glad that it exists.’ Peggy Kamuf, University of Southern California

    ‘An exceptional book. It is completely different from anything else currently available, refreshing, extremely well written and original in so many ways . . . It is quite the best introductory book that I have ever come across.’ Philip Martin, Sheffield Hallam University

    ‘By far the best introduction we have, bar none. This unmatched book is for everyone: from those beginning literary study, through advanced students, and up to teachers; even those who, like me, have been pro- fessing literature for years and years.’ J. Hillis Miller, University of California

    ‘All the chapters in the volume are illuminating, informative and original.’ Robert Mills, King’s College London

    ‘I don’t know of any book that could, or does, compete with this one. It is irreplaceable.’ Richard Rand, University of Alabama

    ‘Bennett and Royle have written a pathbreaking work’ Alan Shima, University of Gävle

    ‘It is by far the best and most readable of all such introductions that I know of’ Hayden White, University of California at Santa Cruz

    ‘The most un-boring, unnerving, unpretentious textbook I’ve ever come across.’ Elizabeth Wright, University of Cambridge