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Book of Lost Books: An Incomplete History of All the Great Books You'll Never Read Paperback – 1 Jun 2010

3.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Polygon An Imprint of Birlinn Limited (1 Jun. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846971233
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846971235
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 618,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

'Lively and diverting' --The Spectator

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

'Clever and highly entertaining ' --New York Times

'A bibliophile's catalog of tantalizing impossibility --Muse at Highway Speed blog

'Clever and highly entertaining ' --New York Times

About the Author

Stuart Kelly studied English at Oxford. He is the Literary Editor of Scotland on Sunday and a freelance critic and writer.

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Customer reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Top customer reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback
I have just finished reading this book and had to give it a review. I cannot believe that this has not been reviewed previously. For those who, like me, love books and anything to do with books you will find this book really interesting. Many of the authors you will have heard of such as Homer, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, Dante, Dylan Thomas, Shakespeare, Flaubert etc, but many others were completely new to me. It amazes me how many books were burnt, not only by the writers themselves, but by their heirs as requested in their wills. Why would anyone spend their life writing and then want every scrap of it burnt. The book also gives a brief overview of the writers lives and this was fascinating. I have given the book 4 stars rather than 5 as some of the chapters were very short and were only saying the author had thought about writing a book. That may be the case but that part of it didn't make particularly interesting reading. The rest, however, I feel more than made up for this. Would definitely recommend if you like reading about books
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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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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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