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Customer Review

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This review really writes itself, 3 April 2013
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This review is from: Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction 2/e (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
I'm sure I'm going to have owned three copies of this book in a very short space of time. The first copy I gave away to a stranger on the tube after he had been reading it over my shoulder between London Bridge and West Ham - a good read! He nudged me by way of starting a conversation about the book. Giving it to him was not difficult because replacing it would be a financial triviality and also I knew by then that what I was sharing was well worth the act of giving it away. I'll buy a third copy soon - sure I'll be giving away again soon.

The introductory chapter will leave your tongue hanging and if your a budding poststructuralist it will also begin to drip. Culler uses examples from Foucault and Derrida to illustrate how literary theory can be perpendicular to the literature it critiques. It is probably no coincidence that both exemplars are poststructuralist in nature, Culler mentions that they both are but does not dwell on it. Indeed much of the theory presented in the book is poststructural in nature but Culler spares you the details. For most readers this may be fine as the book is about Literary Theory after all.

After a very good introductory chapter the book settles down into covering the basic issues such as what is literature and how would we know it if we saw it. Literary components such a narrative, hermeneutics and poetics are explored and a rather good discussion around structural versus poststructural readings of texts {though of course not presented as such} is carried on under a subheading 'Meaning, intention, and context' {p66}. The differences and the similarities between cultural studies and literary studies is also explored. The book covers the basics well.

The pace though only really does pick back up when poststructuralism is again directly approached towards the end of the book. A good example of this is when Culler illustrates that the apparent constative utterance at a birth of 'Its a boy' can in fact be performative - it is part of the process of constituting that new person according to sex. In another example Culler rehearses that by making the individual the centre, novels '..construct an ideology of individual identity whose neglect of larger social issues critics should question' {p113}. As an added bonus Culler throws something interesting into the agency/discourse cauldron - but why let me spoil it for you?

A gem.
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Initial post: 4 May 2015 01:22:37 BDT
This may well sound ridiculous but your first paragraph was quite moving. I live in a country where what we call "cultura del libro" (roughly translated, book culture) is all but lost, which is a shame, and seeing someone so willing to part ways with a book just to share it is wonderful.

I will hopefully get my hands on this book soon -shipping is worth three times as much as the item itself!-, from what I can gather by reading your review it should fill in a few blanks for me. Thanks!
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