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The Rough Guide to Classic Novels (Rough Guides Reference Titles) Paperback – 1 May 2008

3.9 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 370 pages
  • Publisher: Rough Guides; 1 edition (1 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843535165
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843535164
  • Product Dimensions: 11.6 x 1.8 x 16.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 550,234 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

It is hard to identify what is most valuable about Simon Mason's Rough Guide to Classic Novels. It is, first and foremost, an astonishingly comprehensive guide to the very best in world literature, as ready to celebrate a quirky modern novel as it is to extol the virtues of a masterpiece of the past. It is also an extremely utilitarian resource: if you want to identify and track down one of the great books (which may be familiar to you only by reputation), the chances are good that it will be within these 370-odd pages (though, at times, the highly personal (even eccentric) choice of novels will surprise -- and give pause to -- some readers). But perhaps the greatest value of this compact yet information-packed guide is the absolutely irresistible impulse it stirs in the reader to grab handfuls of the books mentioned and consume them again (or, for that matter, todevour for the first time a celebrated novel that you have been feeling guilty about not reading).

Mason's literary erudition is jawdropping, and the coverage broad (from Tolstoy to Doris Lessing, and from Jane Austen to Raymond Chandler – the book at times overlaps with the same publisher’s Rough Guide to Crime Fiction). Combine all this with the highly accessible (but always apposite) analyses and breakdowns of the books discussed, and it's hard to imagine the enterprise being surpassed.

Of course, the Rough Guide imprint prides itself on its edgy, unstuffy approach, and the subject of classic literary fiction must have presented quite a challenge to Mason and his editor Joe Staines; in a dumbed-down age, the guide is a consummate demonstration that it is possible to celebrate the finest achievements of the human race in the arts and humanities without couching them in forbidding academic language. The sidebars and diversions shoehorned in here (including ‘Sex, Censorship and the Novel’, ‘Outsiders’ and a section on vampire fiction called ‘Literary Bloodsuckers’) give a particular pleasure, as do the pithy and highly opinionated squibs on film and TV adaptations of many of the great books included here.

Like many entries in the Rough Guide series, however, there should be a warning on the jacket: reading this guide is going to cost you a lot of small change plugging those gaps in your library. --Barry Forshaw


"... it reads like a novel and it's partly because Simon is a really great writer... The thing that distinguishes Simon's book from the other guides that there have been in in this area is he has squarely said it cannot be a classic if it's not's fantastic, it really is"
-- Kate Mosse- Author of Sepulchre and Labyrinth

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6 customer reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

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30 April 2018
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7 May 2008
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34 people found this helpful
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30 April 2015
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25 October 2008
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15 May 2008
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