A renowned critic, biographer, and Shakespeare scholar, Jonathan Bate provides in this Very Short Introduction a lively and engaging overview of the literature that Jorge Luis Borges called "the richest in the world." From the medieval "Hymn of Caedmon" to George Orwell's "Why I Write," from Jane Austen to Ian McEwan, and from Winnie the Pooh to Dr. Johnson, this brilliant, compact survey stretches across the centuries, exploring the major literary forms (poetry, novel, drama, essay and more), the many histories and theories of the very idea of literature, and the role of writers in shaping English, British, and post-imperial identities. Bate illuminates the work of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Dickens, and many other major figures of English literature. He looks at the Renaissance, Romanticism, and Modernism, at the birth of the novel and the Elizabethan invention of the idea of a national literature, and at the nature of writing itself. Ranging from children's literature to biography, this is an indispensable guide and an inspiration for anyone interested in England's magnificent literary heritage.
English Literature: Questions for Consideration and Discussion What have been the key texts for creating our images of Britain? Jane Austen for our idea of village life, Dickens for London, Hardy for rural England...? Do works of children’s literature date more quickly than adult ones? Is it useful to make a distinction between “popular” literary genres--detective story, science fiction, spy thriller, chick lit--and the “literary” novel? What should be the limits to our definition of literature? What sort of literary qualities can we find in non-fictional genres such as the essay, the travel book, the history book, even a work of political theory or natural history? Is our sense of the role of poetry now confined to the private sphere (love poetry, nature poetry, the poetry of personal memory) whereas it used to be a more public form (political poetry, satire, war poetry)? Is there a tension between seeing Shakespeare’s plays in performance and reading them as literature?