Literature in our Lives : Talking About Texts from Shakespeare to Philip Pullman book cover
1st Edition

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

ISBN 9780367189341
Published February 13, 2020 by Routledge
210 Pages

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $46.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


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

View More



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.


"In this intimate, accessible and passionate book, Richard Jacobs shows us why reading literature matters and how it can change our lives." -- Will Norman, University of Kent

"Richard Jacobs’ lectures give personal warmth to critical expertise. Literature in Our Lives is a wonderful model of how to think about literature. This book provides an approachable introduction for beginners and a stimulating companion for advanced literary scholars." -- Rachel Trousdale, Framingham State University

"The studies published here, while impeccably rigorous and forensic, have a deeply appealing thread of personal memories and enthusiasm…Literature in our Lives is a reminder of the best tradition of literary criticism, an ongoing conversation, and recalled for me the memorable lessons, tutorials and lectures that helped me to find the place that literature has in my own life. I would warmly recommend the book to anyone wishing to see the kind of directions literary discussions can take." -- Malcolm Hebron, The Use of English 72.2

"As a lucid model of assured and inspiring close reading which resolutely connects together critical interpretation with our own lives, [this book] is perfectly pitched for both sixth-formers and university students. I think it’s a book to reinvigorate all of us who want to learn, or to teach how to read well." -- Sean McEvoy, Teaching English