1st Edition

Literature and the Critics Developing Responses to Texts

By Richard Jacobs Copyright 2022
    248 Pages
    by Routledge

    248 Pages
    by Routledge

    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


    Richard Jacobs is an Honorary Fellow at the University of Brighton, School of Humanities, UK where he was subject leader for literature and Principal Lecturer for many years and where he received teaching excellence awards. His many publications include A Beginner’s Guide to Critical Reading: An Anthology of Literary Texts (2001) and Literature in Our Lives: Talking About Texts from Shakespeare to Philip Pullman (2020).

    ‘[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