Chockablock with examples and in-depth analysis, this can be savored by academics and lay readers alike.


In a cogent study, Shakespeare expert Garber (Visual and Environmental Studies/Harvard Univ.; Shakespeare and Modern Culture, 2008, etc.) wonders: Why read literature?

The ancient debate rages on: What is the purpose of literature? Does reading make us better citizens, or is literature’s overall meaninglessness its greatest purpose? And what is literature anyway? Garber sifts through the salient arguments by writers over the centuries—including, among dozens of others, Plato, Horace, Shakespeare, Wilde, Marx and Václev Havel—to get at the deep-seated controversy involving literature’s contribution to human edification. The author ultimately champions a work’s sheer ability to get a rise out of the reader, to evoke questions and prompt risky, slippery, active responses. She looks at the so-called “canon” and how it has changed over time, not only in terms of who is included (e.g., the changing fortune of John Donne), but what passes for worthy literature—a ballad, a diary, a sexy novel like Lolita? Garber considers whether the study of literature actually kills the pleasure of reading for the ordinary reader, how reading a poem closely can relay the startling inspiration experienced by the author (and maybe change the world), how a work withstands the scrutiny of time (“literature is always contemporary because it is read by contemporary readers”) and whether it matters that a work purporting to be “real” (such as a biography that slips into literary projection) turns out to be pure fiction. Finally, the author attempts a valiant resurrection of the well-turned metaphor—the “imaginative leaps” that actually render meaning—and the not-terribly-reassuring conclusion that the process of reading simply defies closure: “never ending, always opening outward into another scene.”

Chockablock with examples and in-depth analysis, this can be savored by academics and lay readers alike.

Pub Date: March 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-42434-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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