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on 17 August 2013
I studied Eng Lit at Oxford in the late 80s. I was asked to recommend some Classics for a teenager who is getting interested in reading. I bought this book to give myself a refresher - as my recent reading has been mainly Scandi crime and literary best-sellers. It really fit the bill and reminded me of some of the wonderful books and poetry I have read over the years - plus some of the gaps. I've now ordered some new translations of Old English lit - something I thought I would not go back to. The book is obviously a subjective view of literature, but it is so much more than a chronological description. Bate approaches it from the angle of posing interesting questions about literature. Really enjoyed it, thank you.
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on 30 June 2017
as advertised.
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on 16 June 2017
This book is exactly how I expected it to be.
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VINE VOICEon 18 September 2011
There's a lot of ground to cover in Eng Lit: 'sweeping across two millennia and every literary genre', as the inside flap promises. For a while, it seems as though the need to cram everything in might be the book's undoing - even though at 167pp it's one of the longer Shorts. Such worries are premature: analysis comfortably outweighs potted literary history.

For me, it isn't the chapter on Shakespeare (Bate's specialism) that forms the book's highlight, but the last two, on the novel and on multicultural English. In the first of these, the development of the 'stream of consciousness' in such novels as Ulysses and Orlando is considered in relation to recent work in brain science. As with The Genius of Shakespeare, therefore, Bate shows a willingness to look beyond the confines of his own subject in order to understand it more fully. And in his concluding chapter, entitled The Englishness of English Literature?, Bate examines a diversity that has characterised the literature of these islands since even the pre-modern, pre-mass immigration era, with its sharp political, religious and social divisions.

Witty as well as thought-provoking, the book is itself literary (I noted homage to EM Forster and Blake, and doubtless missed other instances) in a way that will probably appeal to those who are 'in' without annoying those who aren't. It is also wide-ranging, up to date and perceptive (Coleridge and Hazlitt are seen as the originators of opposing 'formalist' and 'historicist' schools of criticism). With so much to commend it, we might even excuse its rather sniffy attitude to the on-line review - the 'free-for-all ... in which everyone is a critic'. Bate does, after all, concede that such electronic chat may just be an extension of the democratisation that began in the C18 coffee house.

Ultimately, therefore, one of the more inspired and inspiring VSIs.
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on 27 February 2013
This one really does do what it says on the cover. The scope is broad, broader than I expected. The book is structured by taking different types of literature (play poem or novel for example) and meandering through the history of the form with wonderful insights to the context of different writers. The opening chapter on children's literature was particularly surprising a rewarding.

I'm not sure how big the audience that would value this book is. It is perfect for me; someone who loves books but has never really taken any academic interest in them. For some it may not be deep enough, but then it is meant to be a short introduction.
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on 5 October 2011
I suppose the problem with any introduction to English Literature would be that anyone who has read anything in English has already had a limited introduction to the subject. When no reader is starting at a truly beginner level, it is difficult to know what should be included in an introduction. Added to this, there are hundreds of important things to point out about English Lit that simply wouldn't fit in a 200 page guide. Consequently, the book covers the history of English literature in a rather vague way, not providing much original analysis.

For students of literature, I would suggest that a book such as 'Doing English' provides more of an insight into the debates surrounding the study of the subject, and more thorough guides to particular periods and aspects of literature might be useful too.
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on 26 July 2015
Amazing book! Very useful for my Master degree. Well done to the seller!
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on 5 March 2015
Really helped my daughter get through her GCSE
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on 8 March 2016
Excellent
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