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The Book of Lost Books [Hardcover]

Stuart Kelly
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 Aug 2005
The Book of Lost Books is a book of stories involving kings, heretics, untimely interruptions and back room deals, falling tortoises and fairy princesses, train crashes and war atrocities, bravery, cowardice, rent boys, chamber maids, love, quests, puzzles and a crocodile. From Homer to Jane Austen, Shakespeare to Ernest Hemingway, this is an endlessly engaging tour of literature from the pre-historic to Marvel Comics. With academic shaggy dog stories, swashbuckling historical fables, wry ironies and imaginative fantasia, The Book of Lost Books is the perfect read for all bibliophiles. Hilarious, insightful, endlessly fascinating, sometimes shocking - The Book of Lost Books is a wonderfully quirky but utterly romantic saga of our love affair with books.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (25 Aug 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670914991
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670914999
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.8 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,241,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'A fascinating anthology of writings, which will be quite new to most people and certainly deserve to be preserved' -- Muriel Spark

'Tantalising, entertaining, mysterious' -- Herald

‘A formidable piece of bibliographical belletrism … fascinating’ -- Sebastian Faulks, Sunday Times

‘Charming and erudite book, with its wealth of mini-essays ranging across world literature’ -- Sunday Telegraph

‘Charming and erudite’ -- Sunday Telegraph

‘Erudite and entertaining … marvellous’ -- London Review of Books

‘Excellent . . . A formidable piece of bibliographical belletrism’ -- Sunday Times

‘Kelly’s narrative moves with the ease of an after-dinner conversation . . . carrying itself with an elegance worthy of its subject’ -- Times

‘Lively and diverting . . . Kelly has an engaging enthusiasm for the curiosities of literature’ -- Spectator

‘Lively and diverting’ -- Spectator

About the Author

Stuart Kelly has been investigating lost books since he was 15. He studied English at Oxford and is currently a literary critic at The Scotsman on Sunday. He has written for McSweeneys, Poetry Review and Nerve and has his first collection of poems coming out in 2004. He lives in Edinburgh. Stuart Kelly has been investigating lost books since he was 15. He studied English at Oxford and is currently a literary critic at The Scotsman on Sunday. He has written for McSweeneys, Poetry Review and Nerve and published his first collection of poems coming in 2004. He lives in Edinburgh.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By Rgh1066
Format:Hardcover
Kelly's book is a great idea conceived by a self-confessed listophile and let down only by prolonged passages of twaddle more suited to Private Eye's Pseud's Corner than to a book lover's wordfest. His chapters vary enormously in quality - Laurence Sterne, by Kelly's own admission, shouldn't be here at all, and the chapter on Goethe is the sort of pretentious, unreadable rubbish that sophomores habitually churn out to cover the fact they haven't anything to say. But other chapters are delightful - his consideration of later writers such as Plath, Pound, Perec and Eliot is excellent; well-focussed and sharply observed. He can be informative and entertaining but ultimately I found this read more like a sequence of Sunday papers-style reviews rather than the intellectual tour de force I had hoped for. This is hardly Kelly's fault - for all I know it was his intention, but it was clear to me that a shorter book would probably have been a much better one.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Erudite, witty - feast on this... 30 Aug 2005
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Stuart Kelly's "Book of Lost Books" is for book lovers, and those who think they ought to love books, or those who would love to love books but don't have the time - or just anyone who likes reading. From the ancient Greek who wasn't as good as he should have been - his plays being found and published to a diminuendo of praise in the 1950's, through to the more modern losses of work by writers like Dylan Thomas - who lost the same manuscript three times - I found this to be a phenomenally erudite and witty romp through literature, from ancient Greek and Arabic masters through Shakespeare, Jonson and Sterne, right up to the present day. Much recommended
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14 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a delight! 15 Sep 2005
Format:Hardcover
If you enjoy learning new words and stuff about dead people that hardly anyone has heard of, then this is one for you.
Apparently some Greek bloke wrote some plays and everybody thought they had been lost, but they weren't. Somebody found them and, contrary to expectations, they weren't very good. In fact most people thought they were rubbish.
Which is completely dissimilar to this witty romp through the dusty corners of the bibliophilia. What bountiful joy!
Well researched and well written, this is scholarship at its most accessible. Buy one for your book shelf today and make yourself look a bit cleverer!
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0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Wrong facts! 2 July 2008
Format:Hardcover
This book gets only 1 star because I have a big problem with factual errors.

For example on pg. 35 the author claims that The Great Library of Alexandria was destroyed on the "22nd December 640 CE" from "Amrou Ibn el-Ass, on direct orders of the Caliph". Now this statement is simply not true.

The destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria has been retold many times and attributed to just as many different factions and rulers. Julius Caesar, Theophilus Patriarch of Alexandria from 385 to 412 AD and Omar the Caliph of Damascus have all been accused of burning the Great Library.

However the actual circumstances and the chronology of the Library's destruction remain uncertain because there are very few and contradictory surviving sources.
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