1st Edition

Literature in our Lives
Talking About Texts from Shakespeare to Philip Pullman

ISBN 9780367189341
Published February 13, 2020 by Routledge
210 Pages

USD $42.95

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Book Description

This book recreates in written form seventeen of the most popular, frankly personal and engaging lectures on literature given by the award-winning teacher Richard Jacobs, who has been working with students for over forty years. This is a book written for students, whether starting their studies or more experienced, and also for all lovers of literature. At its heart is the conviction that reading, thinking about, and writing or talking about literature involves us all personally: texts talk to us intimately and urgently, inviting us to talk back, intervening in and changing our lives.

These lectures discuss, in an open but richly informed way, a wide range of texts that are regularly studied and enjoyed. They model what it means to be excited about reading and studying literature, and how the study of literature can be life-changing - perhaps even with the effect of changing the lives of readers of this eloquent and remarkable book.

Table of Contents


  1. The myth of the Fall and its impact: Pullman, Lewis and others
  2. Claribel’s story: a few thoughts on gender, race and colonialism in The Tempest
  3. Wuthering Heights: myth and the wounds of loss
  4. Beckett’s Waiting for Godot: transforming lives
  5. Great Expectations: intertextualities, endings and life after plot
  6. Emily Dickinson: ‘And then the windows failed’
  7. Emma: rhetoric, irony and the reader’s assault course
  8. Dorian Gray: ‘queering’ the text
  9. The Fallen Woman: Emma Bovary and (many) others
  10. Two transgressive American women: Kate Chopin, Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  11. Hamlet / Lear: realism / modernism
  12. John Keats: three (or is it two?) poems and thoughts on ‘late style’
  13. Republicanism, regicide and ‘The Musgrave Ritual’
  14. Jean Rhys: her texts from the 1930s
  15. Twelfth Night: Dream-Gift
  16. Please read Proust
  17. Paradise Lost: radical politics, gender and education

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Richard Jacobs is an Honorary Fellow at the University of Brighton, School of Humanities, where he was subject leader for literature and Principal Lecturer for many years and where he received teaching excellence awards. His publications include A Beginner’s Guide to Critical Reading: An Anthology of Literary Texts (Routledge), Teaching Narrative (Palgrave), chapters on the 20th century novel (Penguin and Palgrave), editions for Penguin Classics, articles on literature and the teaching of literature, and several reviews.