A History of English Literature: Forms and Kinds from the Middle Ages to the Present

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9780631127314: A History of English Literature: Forms and Kinds from the Middle Ages to the Present
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Most short histories of literature are in essence chronicles, sequences of names and dates with relatively little information about each or about their interrelations. In this book, by concentrating on literary form, the author aims to lay out a more continuous path through the connections and evolutions that link one period's literature with another's across the ruptures of history. The book's historical sweep from the Middle Ages to the present day is centred on the literature of England but takes occasional sideways steps to examine relevant Scottish, Irish, American and Commonwealth authors. While there is no pursuit of innovation for its own sake, the traditional canon comes in for revisions, with re-evaluations of such figures as Douglas, Drayton, Herrick and Ruskin as well as a new prominence for female writers such as Edgeworth and Welty. Nor is the accepted periodization sacrosanct: Scottish Chaucerians make way for the Scottish Renaissance and late Elizabethans are replaced by Mannerists. While content is by no means ignored, the emphasis on forms and schools allows room for extensive illustrative treatments of key figures such as Chaucer, Spenser, Milton, Dickens and James. This is a book aimed to give both information and pleasure. Guided throughout by the author, with explanations of technical terms as they occur, the reader is offered suggestions on how each writer can be approached for enjoyment. The book offers both an introduction for the student and lay reader, and a treatment of the development of genres and of the changing proportions of the literary model.

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From Library Journal:

Most surveys of British literature become encyclopedic catalogs of authors and books. Fowler is more evaluative, his discussion more sustained. He analyzes types of literature within periods formally and stylistically, omitting all biographical detail and taking social background largely for granted. The result is judicious and balanced, showing a fresh interest in some neglected writers. Many literary terms are capitalized and briefly defined along the way, but this introductory device belies the actual sophistication of the text. The book would best serve informed students of literature who need a reacquaintance with period genres and innovations, or simply want to know what is worth reading and why. Fowler makes an excellent guide.Donald Ray, Manhattanville Coll. Lib., Purchase, N.Y.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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