From one of our premier literary scholars, here is a learned and witty introduction to the "sheer vitality of literature and the satisfactions of a close, informed engagement with it" (New York Times). Robert Alter's illumination of the unique power of reading literature is especially valuable at a time when we are surrounded by electronic texts that distract more than engage and when the special claims of literature are disparaged by the high priests of literary theory. Alter explores the strategies that distinguish literature-the resources of style, the dynamics of allusion, the formal design of structure, the play of perspective in narrative. He draws on copious examples from the great works of literary art-from the Book of Genesis to Shakespeare, Conrad, and Nabokov-to illustrate his analysis of what makes reading a source of complex pleasure and insight.
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(211mm x 140mm x 17mm)
WW Norton & Co
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
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UK Kirkus Review »
Alter responds to the advances of technology in the modern age, which many fear are drawing people away from reading literature. Technology may appear to offer us a complex medium through which more can be learnt, but Alter believes that the opposite is true. While technology distracts and simplifies, great literature gives us the key to understanding complexity, reality and character. In other words, reading literature improves our ability to understand the world around us and the motivations of people. A well-crafted and compelling argument. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Robert Alter
Robert Alter's ongoing translation of the Hebrew Bible, the magnificent capstone to a lifetime of distinguished scholarly work, has won the PEN Center Literary Award for Translation. His immense achievements in scholarship ranging from the eighteenth-century European novel to contemporary Hebrew and American literature earned Alter the Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Los Angeles Times. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, Alter is the Class of 1937 Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley.