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4.3 out of 5 stars15
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 16 April 2005
This book was a set text for a Lit Theory module during my degree. Initially I was just annoyed at having to carry it to and from my lectures, but I soon came to realise that in fact, this book was going to become the corner stone of my work from then on.
My tutor told me that the reason she set this text is so that we could become involved in the original writing that forms what we know as theory today. Instead of reading other academics interpretations and explanations of what a theory is, we were able to go back to the roots, and start to understand the theory ourselves.
What this book has enabled me to do is to become acquainted with these theorists, and use what they wrote in every aspect of my academic work. My grades have jumped the last hurdle into consistent A's because of this book. I can use theorist's original ideas and create my own interpretations of the texts, instead of having to rely solely on other academics theoretical translations
I absolutely believe that this text is essential to any serious literature under- and post- graduate. I say serious student, because there is no hiding the fact that these essays are tough going, and take a lot of time to assimilate into your own understanding. It is however worth all the effort.
(There is also a book called Literary Theory- An Introduction which accompanies this anthology. Personally, I believe that it is frankly, a useless book that offers nothing more than a confused and often over simplified notion of the theories. Thus taking the magic of the anthology away)
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on 21 September 2003
This is an excellent collection of texts that can be used for anyone studying or interested in a range of subjects from Psychoanalysis, Cultural Studies, Marxism, Feminism, Post-Modernism, Gender Studies and Ethnic Studies amongst a few others. I used it for 3 years during an English/Cultural Studies degree and even if it had not been a recommended reader it is a book I would have bought anyway. Well worth purchasing.
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on 6 May 2009
This book is an absolute must for anyone studying literature at university. The book gives an indepth study of all the literary theories from psychoanalysis, gender, feminism, postmodernism, structuralism etc. It uses the orginal papers written by theorists such as Freud, Derrida, Saussare as well as more modern writers such as Toni Morrison.
While some of the language is heavy going it will give you a firm grasp of literary theories, so its brilliant when you're trying to write essays. Definitely worth the money!
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on 9 October 2009
I have been looking for an extensive collection of literary criticism and theory, and this anthology definitely satisfied my needs as a college lecturer in British and American literature. There is a wide selection of different theorists and their work, as well as thorough introduction to the different strands of literary theory. Also, there are many different contributions here, which is of great value to me. I'm tired of shorter works with too few examples and contributions, failing to provide the whole picture. That may not always be the point, but this anthology also provides not only extracts from important works, but they also include a good deal of the selected texts.
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on 31 May 2012
This anthology is a must have for any English literature student. I bought is as part of my degree and found it very useful.

Rivkin and Ryan have created a great selection, structured into sections which is very given that the book is over a thousand pages. Each sections contains material by several influential authors, such as Foucault, Roland Barthes, Kant, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Derrida, Hélène Cixous, Lyotard, Baudrillard, Freud, Lacan, Hegel, Marx, Bakhtin, Althusser, Judith Butler, Gilbert and Gubar, Edward Said, Bhabha. These are only some of the well-known critics - both historical and contemporary - whose names are familiar to many.

Each essay (taken often from larger works) have been provided with a very helpful introduction to provide the necessary vocabulary and arguments needed to understand the relevant essay.

Another reviewer said that the book is only useful as an introduction and I have to say I agree. The scope of the book does not allow for a large scope on one section in particular. But anthologies often provide texts only partially. If you're interested in Post-modernism or feminism, find a Post-modernist or feminist anthology. As a student, not knowing what topic I'd end up researching in more detail, I found this a good starting point for seminars. And when I found I wanted to continue reading more, I'd look for the author's complete work in the university library. It is still better than spending a lot of money on all these authors' work separately.

Some authors are hard to read, others have theories that are hard to get your head around, but they are one thing: they are all extremely important for any given literary student and I plan on holding on to my copy even after graduation.
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on 9 September 2012
Literary criticism has been around for hundreds of years. In the 20th century however separate schools, ideologies, doctrines and groupings of critics emerged and the critic became more self-conscious of what he was writing, why he was writing and what ideology he was advocating.

In 'Literary theory: an anthology,' Rivkin and Ryan concentrate nearly solely on the main 20th century critical movements: Formalism, Structuralism, Deconstruction, Feminism, Post-colonial theories and others. Each chapter follows has an introductory essay by the editors and then collects together excerpts from key texts from each movement.

There are two main faults to this text: some critics (Adorno and Genette are not included, Benjamin and Jakobson only offer short pieces) are overlooked and there is no criticism from authors writing about other authors (Sartre on Baudelaire/Flaubert, Nabokov on fellow Pushkin and Flaubert, Brodsky's important essays on European literature).

Despite this, the text does bring together major works by major critics of the previous century as well as giving ample space to lesser known critics and movements. Furthermore, the editors include essays by philosophers who directly influenced many of these critics such Hegel, Nietzsche, Marx and Heidegger.

This book is an excellent textbook for teachers and students of literary criticism and will definitely make the reader a more self-conscious, critical analyser of texts.
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I suppose for gifted students this book is an absolute God-send, but I found that some of the chapters were very hard to understand, and ended up gravitating towards simpler texts. It was, however, recommended as an excellent source on my English degree course, and it does cover the major theories of critical analysis, such as Formalism, Structuralism and Post structuralism, as well as the very abstruse concept of 'differance' so persistence is probably the key.
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on 17 February 2016
For my theory literature module for university. An anthology filled with essays from critics covering theories like Feminist, Post-Colonialism and Marxism (and many more). Great resource for essays.
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on 8 November 2013
Fantastic book, great collection of essays and papers. Has been very helpful in college. is very large and heavy though.
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on 27 March 2013
Great, book needed for uni studies, good for those who are interested in theory as I needed this for my English Degree.
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