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The Western Lit Survival Kit: An Irreverent Guide to the Classics, from Homer to Faulkner
     

The Western Lit Survival Kit: An Irreverent Guide to the Classics, from Homer to Faulkner

by Sandra Newman
 

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A side-splitting tour that makes it a blast to read the Western literary canon, from the ancient Greeks to the Modernists.

To many, the Great Books evoke angst: the complicated Renaissance dramas we bluffed our way through in college, the dusty Everyman's Library editions that look classy on the shelf but make us feel guilty because they've never been

Overview

A side-splitting tour that makes it a blast to read the Western literary canon, from the ancient Greeks to the Modernists.

To many, the Great Books evoke angst: the complicated Renaissance dramas we bluffed our way through in college, the dusty Everyman's Library editions that look classy on the shelf but make us feel guilty because they've never been opened. On a mission to restore the West's great works to their rightful place (they were intended to be entertaining!), Sandra Newman has produced a reading guide like no other. Beginning with Greek and Roman literature, she takes readers through hilarious detours and captivating historical tidbits on the road to Modernism. Along the way, we find parallels between Rabelais and South Park, Jane Austen and Sex and the City, Jonathan Swift and Jon Stewart, uncovering the original humor and riskiness that propelled great authors to celebrity.

Packed with pop culture gems, stories of literary hoaxes, ironic day jobs for authors, bad reviews of books that would later become classics, and more.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"How can one book be totally irreverent and incredibly informative at the same time ? Must be a trick. And Sandra Newman pulls this trick off with laugh-out-loud humor."
-Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein, authors of Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes

"Sandra Newman extends a lifeline to those drowning in what others told us was the Western literature necessary to read. This is about what is needed to live. " -Evan Dobelle, Author / Researcher of " Saviors of our Cities " and President of Horace Mann's Westfield State University, " The People's College "

Kirkus Reviews
A clever tour d'horizon of what you might encounter in a Great Books course in college. At first glance, Newman's (Read This Next, 2010, etc.) work comes across as a comedy routine meant to poke many of the received-opinion greats in the eye with a sharp stick, much in the manner of Ovid, one of the author's favorites. And that is certainly part, but far from all, of the truth. First, a typical zinger: "As a general note, all of Homer's heroes were illiterates who considered rape and genocide normal. Generations of European boys were raised on Homer. Just saying." The author is not here to venerate--though Shakespeare gets a pretty deep genuflection--or eviscerate: She appreciates genius and fine, intellectually thrilling writing. With each writer, she gets to the nub of a work or style from the outset ("The Bronte home was a little biosphere of literary misery"), and she is not afraid to venture her true feelings: Of Tristram Shandy: "Page for page, it's possibly the funniest novel ever." Newman is a serious fan of humor and a good roll in the hay: e.g., Sappho, Tom Jones and Gargantua and Pantagruel. Montaigne's Essays also get the nod, as do Dickinson, Kafka, Eliot and a holy host of others. Half the fun here is quibbling with her choices and tinkering with her rating system: How important are the books considered? How accessible are they? How much fun? Newman assigns each a number from 1 to 10, and despite all the levity, she has clearly (if seemingly surreptitiously) read deeply and brought serious rumination to the proceedings. A sly piece of work--though you still should read the books.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101554081
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/03/2012
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Sandra Newman extends a lifeline to those drowning in what others told us was the Western literature necessary to read. This is about what is needed to live. " -Evan Dobelle, Author / Researcher of " Saviors of our Cities " and President of Horace Mann's Westfield State University, " The People's College "

Meet the Author

Sandra Newman is the author of the novels Cake and The Only Good Thing Anyone Has Ever Done, and a memoir, Changeling. She is the coauthor of How Not to Write a Novel and Read This Next. Newman lives in Brooklyn.

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