Literature and the Critics Developing Responses to Texts
This timely volume presents a rich and absorbing selection of extracts from over two hundred leading literary critics of the last several decades, writing on many of the most widely studied literary texts in English, from Shakespeare to Toni Morrison.
Structured chronologically, working through familiar literary periods, this book presents illuminating and stimulating examples of critical readings of familiar texts, demonstrating a variety of methods and approaches to critical practice. The range of critical voices represented – from Abrams and Adelman to Zimmerman and Žižek – provides students with eloquent and insightful models of how to read, think and write about texts so that they can form their own critical responses and develop as independent readers. The book also shows how criticism has developed over time and how it has always been intimately involved in wider cultural, social and political debates. Connections between criticism, culture and politics are explored in the book’s wide-ranging first chapter.
In his warm, clear and engaging style, Richard Jacobs provides the perfect introduction to literature and criticism. Literature and the Critics is a book to which students will want to return throughout their courses as they read more widely and encounter new texts and critical voices.
Chapter 1: Literature, criticism, culture, and why they matter
Chapter 2: Shakespeare
with Sean McEvoy
Chapter 3: Early modern literature 1590-1690
with Sean McEvoy
Chapter 4: Early romantic writings 1750-1800
Chapter 5: Later romantic writings 1790-1830
Chapter 6: Realist fiction in England and America 1840-1870
Chapter 7: Realism towards modernism: English and American fiction 1870-1900
Chapter 8: Modernisms: British, Irish and American literature 1890-1970
Chapter 9: Postmodernity and the contemporary novel 1970-2020
with Sam Cutting and Joel Roberts
‘[I]n covering English literature from Shakespeare to postmodernism, it manages to make the subject sound both entertaining and important; the study of literature being a way of understanding the world and the mind—and also, by extension, as a kind of dissolving agent through which we can see the hypocrisies and motives of a malign state. And it is also hugely readable.’ - Nicholas Lezard, The New Statesman, 6th July 2022
'Literature and the Critics enriches our understanding of literature, modern and contemporary culture, and our place in the world. While the texts examined in it are often dark and disturbing and the critical terminology employed to interpret those texts sometimes difficult, the book’s drive, energy, and occasional combativeness make for a compelling and instructive read. At a time when academic freedom and the very notion of dissent are under threat, Literature and the Critics celebrates iconoclasm, freethinking, skepticism, confrontation, self-reflection, and fresh ideas.' - Rod Keller, The Use of English, 74.1, Autumn 2022