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Love, Sex, Death and Words: Surprising Tales from a Year in Literature Paperback – 2 Jun 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Icon Books Ltd; Reprint edition (2 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848312474
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848312470
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 3.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 592,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

'This book (co-authored with an old pal, Stephen Fender; Sutherland excels in the Victoriana, while Fender is the Americanist) should bring delight to many, sell tons and keep as many ex-wives as any of us could wish for in scones and jam... It's a smart idea, well executed. Its prime virtue is the dense agglomeration of trivia around even well-known events.' -- Sam Leith, Spectator 'I've had tremendous fun reading [the entries] - arguing with some, substituting others, quoting them over lunch - and pleasure is at the heart of this project. It's irresistible, as compulsive as eating popcorn. Hawthorne and Melville meet for the first time, Petrarch catches first sight of Laura, Picasso, Joyce, Stravinsky and Diaghilev and Proust dine together at the Majestic, Anthony Burgess (like Scott and Whitman before him) gives a glowing review to his own book, Defoe invents the novel, but doesn't know what to call it, Bertolt Brecht testifies before HUAC, Jeffrey Archer 'goes down'.' -- Guardian "Love Sex Death Words: Surprising Tales from a Year in Literature' - the title itself is irresistible - by John Sutherland and Stephen Fender (Icon Books), is an enjoyable and entirely arbitrary romp through a leap year of anecdotes, from January 1st and the vexed history of the copyright of Peter Pan to the December 31st publication of Richard Yates's 1961 novel Revolutionary Road, with stops along the way to visit Nietzsche at his typing lessons and Alexander Pope at his doctor's. Good, clean, harmless fun.' -- John Banville, Irish Times 'Bibliophiles are recommended to test the learned waters of 'Love, Sex, Death and Words' (Icon, GBP20) by John Sutherland and Stephen Fender, which takes us on an urbane, day-by-day amble through the year, recounting events of literary import. Here you will find an abundance of mortarboard humour and recondite jewels: the truth behind Thomas Carlyle's wedding night, for instance.' -- Sunday Telegraph 'Doesn't the Trades Descriptions Act cover book titles? How can 'Love, Sex, Death & Words' be justified for a volume of literary dates, all based on the solitary act of an author sitting down quietly with a quill, pencil, typewriter or keyboard? In fact, not only the fourth noun but also the first three are mots justes for the entrancing events detailed here.' -- Independent 'A huge anthology of essays about writers and books, 365 in fact, one for every day of the year, although few readers will be unable to resist reading on through several articles every time they pick up the book.' -- Common Reader

About the Author

John Sutherland was the Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at UCL and a past Chairman of the Booker Prize panel, and is the author of one of the standard texts on Victorian fiction. Stephen Fender has taught Literature in the US, in Scotland at the University of Edinburgh, and in England at London and Sussex, where he was head of American Studies from 1985 to 2003.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In this brilliant collection the reader is treated to an eclectic series of small essays on various events in literary history, one for each day of the year, spanning a range of periods, countries, and subjects.

The book opens on January the 1st with a piece on the unusual copyright history of Peter Pan, other days treat of poets, publishers, shipwrecks, book-burning, modernists, censorship, kings, martyrs, wizards, and much much more. A brief look at the contents page will reveal the great wealth and richness of this book.

Sutherland and Fender write very well, succinctly and clearly elucidating their chosen topic however large or small. I learnt some completely new things, for example Stephen Crane's shipwreck or the bombing of Paternoster Row. The authors, however, also helped me crystallize my thoughts when it came to subjects I was somewhat familiar with, such as deconstructionism or the French poet Villon. Finally the book is a great starting point for further explorations, and I found myself going through underlining interesting-sounding works from known and unknown authors mentioned in the essays.

The short nature of the pieces mean that one can be educated and entertained in the smallest of spare moments, although I often found myself thinking 'Just one more...'.
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By Thomas Cunliffe TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 Nov. 2010
Format: Hardcover
I have been looking forward to reading Love, Sex, Death and Words for some time, having enjoyed John Sutherland's earlier books like How To Read a Novel and The Curiosities of Literature. This time John Sutherland is joined by Stephen Fender in assembling this huge anthology of essays about writers and books, 365 in fact, one for every day of the year, although few readers will be unable to resist reading on through several articles every time they pick up the book.

There is a comprehensive index at the back of the book, which runs from Peter Abelard to Emile Zola and its fascinating to flick through it and look up references to favourite writers. This is a nice book to have on your shelf - a big thick wedge of over 500 pages.

The book was granted a lengthy review in The Guardian by Rick Gekoski who said, "I've had tremendous fun reading them - arguing with some, substituting others, quoting them over lunch - and pleasure is at the heart of this project. Its irresistible, as compulsive as eating popcorn".

I can't help thinking that Love, Sex, Death and Words would make a much appreciated Christmas present for any avid reader.
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Format: Hardcover
This book keeps the promise of its subtitle: "Surprising tales from a year in literature".

It will make a perfect Christmas present, or rather "yeres yifte" for the whole of the coming year, to give to someone you esteem highly who really cares about what they read.

Each day's substantial entry has an amusing, witty, self-contained mini-essay on a literary fact relating to that date. It is all verifiable, however unlikely.

I'm a lifelong bookworm, many of whose waking hours over half a century have been spent either reading or thinking about literature, but much of the content of this book was brand new to me, mostly Professor Fender's half dealing with things American: I am a bit eurocentric.
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By Brian R. Martin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an anthology of short literary pieces, usually a page or two in length. There are 365 of them, one for each day of the year, and the date is the peg on which the entries hang. So, starting with 1 January, we are told the extraordinary circumstances of how, by Act of Parliament, the copyright of `Peter Pan' was assigned in perpetuity to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children. To give you some idea of the very wide range of entries, those for the birthdays of my family are on: the death of Publius Vergilius Maro (Virgil) in 19BC, before completing the Aeneid; how Dickens, Marx and Mrs. Gaskell all commented on the Victorian labour dispute of 1853 known as the Great Preston Lockout; and how in 1966 it was revealed that the CIA had been a major financial backer of Encounter magazine, funneling its money in secret through a charitable organization called the Fairfield Foundation. The entries are often (predictably) idiosyncratic, but unfailingly informative, invariably well written, and frequently amusing and witty. You can read the book in several ways: chronologically as printed; dip into it at dates that are special for you; or browse the comprehensive index of names and read the entries that result. It is a delightful book, and I am sure that, like me, you will find yourself compiling a list of items for further reading.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I get very excited when a book I'm interested in is offered as the Kindle Daily Deal. This books sounds fantastic so I very quickly bought it. Glancing through, I can tell that the content is, as expected, very good, exactly what I would want, but a book like this is not necessarily meant to be read in order. This is where the problem comes in. The index is at the end (as would be expected in a print book). Thank goodness I have the "touch" version of the kindle so I can fairly quickly get to the end, but I can't just "jump" to it. The biggest disappointment is that the index does not have "links" to take you to the page. So, for example, if I see by the index that I want to read the entry for May 17th, I have to either manually page back to it or do a search. This is cumbersome and I believe a book such as this, if sold for kindle, needs to use kindle features.

I'm giving the book 4 stars because I see that amazon includes kindle reviews with other reviews and it wouldn't be fair to detract from the authors, as it does appear to be an excellent book if in print form. It's too cumbersome for me to read it the way I normally would on the kindle. I suppose I can just start at the beginniing and read sequentially but that isn't how I would have to approach it in print form.
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