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 fifth 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, Raymond Chandler and Monty Python are all invoked in a discussion of literature and laughter.
The fifth edition has been revised throughout and includes four new chapters – ‘Feelings’, ‘Wounds’, ‘Body’ and ‘Love’ – to incorporate exciting recent developments in literary studies. In addition to further reading sections at the end of each chapter, the book contains a comprehensive bibliography and a 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.
Table of Contents
Alternative table of contents. Authors' acknowledgements. Publisher's acknowledgements. Preface. A note on texts used. 1. The beginning 2. Readers and reading 3. The author 4. The text and the world 5. The uncanny 6. Monuments 7. Narrative 8. Character 9. Voice 10. Figures and tropes 11. Feelings 12. Creative writing 13. Laughter 14. The tragic 15. Wounds 16. History 17. Me 18. Eco 19. Animals 20. Ghosts 21. Body 22. Moving pictures 23. Sexual difference 24. God 25. Ideology 26. Love 27. Desire 28. Queer 29. Suspense 30. Racial difference 31. The colony 32. Mutant 33. The performative 34. Secrets 35. Postmodern 36. Pleasure 37. War 38. The end. Glossary. Literary works discussed. Bibliography of critical and theoretical works. Index.
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, coauthored with Nicholas Royle), William Wordsworth in Context (2015), Ignorance: Literature and Agnoiology (2009) and The Author (2005).
Nicholas Royle is Professor of English at the University of Sussex. He publishes on literary theory, modern literature and Shakespeare. His books include Veering: A Theory of Literature (2011), How to Read Shakespeare (2005) and Jacques Derrida (2003), as well as the novel Quilt (2010).
Praise for previous editions:
‘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 professing literature for years and years.’ J. Hillis Miller, Distinguished, Research Professor, University of California, Irvine, USA
‘Sparkling, enthusiastic and admirably well-informed.’ Hélène Cixous
‘An exceptional book. It is completely different from anything else currently available, refreshing, extremely well written and original in so many ways . . . It is just the sort of book I would want my students to read…It is quite the best introductory book that I have ever come across.’ Philip Martin, Sheffield Hallam University, UK
‘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, Los Angeles, USA
‘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, UK
‘I am convinced that Bennett and Royle have written a pathbreaking work and I suspect that this book – so full of laughter, suspense, secrets and pleasure – will have an appeal beyond a strictly academic audience.’ Alan Shima, University of Gävle, Sweden
‘All the chapters in the volume are illuminating, informative and original.’ Robert Mills, King’s College London, UK
‘Bennett and Royle offer a different kind of introduction, which directly involves the reader in the problems and pleasures of thinking about literature – its distinctiveness, its strangeness, its power, its inexhaustibility…They succeed brilliantly in encouraging readers who arenew to theory to appreciate its importance, enjoy its revelations, and understand some of its conceptual apparatus without diminishing the centrality of literary writing itself. This is a book which students in every introductory course on criticism and theory would benefit from having.’ Derek Attridge, University of York, UK
‘The best introduction to literary studies on the market.’ Jonathan Culler, Cornell University, USA
‘The most un-boring, unnerving, unpretentious textbook I’ve ever come across.’ Elizabeth Wright, University of Cambridge, UK
‘It is by far the best and most readable of all such introductions that I know of . . . The treatment of the various topics is masterful, evenhanded and informative. I cannot think of a better introduction for undergraduates, to be sure, but for many graduate students too.’ Hayden White, University of California at Santa Cruz, USA
‘I don’t know of any book that could, or does, compete with this one. It is irreplaceable.’ Richard Rand, University of Alabama, USA
‘[Bennett and Royle have] cracked the problem of how to be introductory and sophisticated, accessible but not patronising.’ Peter Buse, English Subject Centre Newsletter