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Reading for the Plot: Design and Intention in Narrative [Paperback]

Peter Brooks
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: £22.95 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

23 April 1992
A book which should appeal to both literary theorists and to readers of the novel, this study invites the reader to consider how the plot reflects the patterns of human destiny and seeks to impose a new meaning on life.

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Reading for the Plot: Design and Intention in Narrative + The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative (Cambridge Introductions to Literature)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 382 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; New Ed edition (23 April 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674748921
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674748927
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 2.5 x 20.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 368,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


A major book by a major critic. It will appeal both to literary theorists and to readers of the novel, and it is likely to be seen as an important point of reference for many years to come. -- Terence Cave Times Literary Supplement Peter Brooks has delivered a major contribution to narrative theory and critical practice in a book remarkable for its lucidity and theoretical adventurousness. -- Terry Eagleton Literature and History What is...gratifying about Brooks's approach is his insistence that plot elements must survive even the most radical postmodern consciousness...As he so eloquently confirms, so long as there is self-conscious life on earth, there will be narrative plotting in some form or another. To expect us to give it up would be like asking us to give up breathing. -- Christopher Lehmann-Haupt New York Times A brilliant study...The author goes beyond what he considers the too static approach of the structuralist literary critics to probe the dynamics of narrative and show how they answer our psychic needs...Reading for the Plot is a stimulating ground-breaking book that invites us to consider anew how plotting both reflects the patterns of human destiny and seeks to impose meaning on life. Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Peter Brooks is Tripp Professor of Humanities at Yale University.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reading 27 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very good for readers interested in learning about narrative.
Like the psychoanalytical approach.
Strongly recommend for anyone interested in learning more about the making of novels.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Can be useful, but mostly boring 28 Oct 2008
By Stan
This book gives some pointers towards using Russian Formalism, Roland Barthes's structuralist theory, and Freudian Theory for hermeneutics. Unfortunately, it sounds boring and rehashed.

Brooks's exegeses of specific novels are hard to read if you're not reading them as the same time; it is too minutely textual. However, the parallel between the detective novel and Freud's Wolf Man mirrored by Todorov's 'fabula/sjuzet' theory is of some interest.

Perhaps this book can also be useful if you're looking for quotable definitions of 'plot' and 'narrative'.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have read on the novel. 25 Jun 2004
By James Wood - Published on Amazon.com
Peter Brooks shows, through a series of sensitive analyses of ninetenth and twentieth century novels (and also Freud's case history of the "Wolf Man") what can be got out of novels by attending to what is sometimes thought to be the dryest, most uninteresting thing about them: their plots. Brooks' main argument is that "plot" is not something static - like a skeleton keeping a story together - but something that is continually shaping and being shaped by stories as they develop through time. Brooks main mentor in this book is Sigmund Freud, but Reading for the Plot is very far from the kind of psychoanalytic criticism that seeks to explain Hamlet's neuroticisms in terms of his relationship with Gertrude. Rather, Brooks relates Freud's theories to narratives themselves, showing how, for example, narratives simutaneously engender and thwart readers' desire for "closure." The essay on Dickens' Great Expectations is particularly illuminating, probably because Great Expectations is a novel whose very title describes the kind of plot-philia Brooks is talking about.
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Opened new doors for me. 13 Sep 2005
By David Grantham Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Of the 35-40 books I've read on story and plot construction, Peter Brooks, "Reading for the Plot", has helped me reach the furthest understanding in the dialectic nature of story/plot and the deep affect some have the ability to transmit. After reading this book, my perception has changed on how to view/interpret narrative discourse. In a world of "how-to" books that treat the subject as if you were trying to bake a cake, Peter Brooks shames them by treating plot with the respect it deserves.
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