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The Literature Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained Hardcover – Illustrated, March 1, 2016
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From the Publisher
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"[The Big Ideas Simply Explained books] are beautifully illustrated with shadow-like cartoons that break down even the most difficult concepts so they are easier to grasp. These step-by-step diagrams are an incredibly clever learning device to include, especially for visual learners." — Examiner.com
"Clever and engaging" — Booklist
"[An] attractive presentation…" — Booklist
"[T]his book takes you through a whirlwind tour of literature through the ages…quick 'n' dirty summaries of the books you maybe never got around to reading." — RedEye, a Chicago Tribune Publication
"The content and tone seem well suited as preparatory handouts to high school English classes." — Library Journal
"The Literature Book tells the stories behind the stories in an engaging manner that will entice even the reluctant reader." — Voice of Youth Advocates
About the Author
DK's aim is to inspire, educate and entertain readers of all ages, and everything DK publishes, whether print or digital, embodies the unique DK design approach. DK brings unrivalled clarity to a wide range of topics, with a unique combination of words and pictures, put together to spectacular effect. We have a reputation for innovation in design for both print and digital products.
Our adult range spans travel, including the award-winning DK Eyewitness Travel Guides, history, science, nature, sport, gardening, cookery and parenting.
DK’s extensive children’s list showcases a fantastic store of information for children, toddlers and babies. DK covers everything from animals and the human body, to homework help and craft activities, together with an impressive list of licensing titles, including the best-selling LEGO® books.
DK acts as the parent company for Alpha Books, publisher of the Idiot's Guides series.
- Publisher : DK; Illustrated edition (March 1, 2016)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1465429883
- ISBN-13 : 978-1465429889
- Item Weight : 2.52 pounds
- Dimensions : 8 x 1.06 x 9.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #64,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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By Peggy on March 7, 2019
Pace yourself! Reading this primer is a bit like taking a college-level literature class. Or perhaps an entire semester worth of literature classes…
Acknowledging that storytelling is as old as humanity itself, The Literature Book takes on the daunting challenge of giving readers a historical and functional overview of literary works and their progression through the ages. The book starts with 4,600-year-old Sumerian texts and carries all the way up to select contemporary works as recent as 2013—encompassing novels, plays, and poetry. Its presentation style is sometimes dry, but orderly in format and highly informative.
What I Liked:
There was a solid effort made to present a diverse array of works outside of the classical European variety—inclusive of cultural sub-genres such as Sanskrit Epics, Imperial Chinese Poetry, Early Arabic Lit, Slave Narratives, Inianismo, Baihua Lit, The Harlem Renaissance, The Latin American Boom, Caribbean, and Indian English.
Personal Note: Page 93 conveyed an excellent, concise explanation of early Japanese theater forms. This reader didn't previously grasp the difference between Kabuki(theatrical song/dance/mime) and Bunraku(musical puppet theater) until it was so clearly laid out in this book.
The Literature Book claims it “cuts through the literary jargon” and is “packed with witty illustrations.” I don’t know about cutting through, but it does explain literary terms with textbook thoroughness. And although there is certainly an abundance of illustrations to break up the sometimes dense visual field, I wouldn’t personally refer to said imagery as “witty.” The diagrams, visual-aid images, excised quotes, and timelines are simplistic—mono and duo-chromatic. Effectively breaking up dense swaths of text and enhancing to the overall comprehension potential without becoming a distraction. Full-color pictures and artwork appear more sporadically and offer a stronger sense of place and/or ambiance to the subjects they pertain to.
What Didn’t Work For Me:
Chosen works may receive only a sentence of passing mention, or as much as 6 analytical pages (i.e. Moby-Dick). The authors receive anything from cursory reference, to a mini-bio, to a full biography including a picture. How it was decided which authors, genres, and works were worthy of how much recognition remains a point of confusion for this reader. Sci-fi and Fantasy seemed to receive disproportionately minimal attention, and the Romance genre—along with its representative authors—received no address at all.
Unfortunately, a number of prolific and influential authors were all but passed over. I was personally disappointed the book didn't offer a bio for either C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien. Their works seemed mentioned only in passing when the fantasy genre is touched on. Lewis is only referred to once very briefly, and there's no allusion to his sci-fi works at all. Jules Verne receives the most mention of any sci-fi author (page 184), but no bio. And H.G. Wells is allotted only a single sentence—though he could arguably be considered one of the pioneering fathers of science fiction.
Conversely, TWO of the three Bronte sisters (Emily and Charlotte) have full bios with pictures included, though Emily wrote just one novel. That’s not to say I don’t approve of their inclusion and highlighted significance—only to point out the disparity in emphasis.
While I wouldn’t call this book an exhaustive authority, it certainly has the potential to be a valuable and semi-encyclopedic tool in the pursuit of a more advanced literary education. Studious readers are likely to come away with both factual knowledge, as well as a fresh list of works they may be interested in experiencing at length.
College-bound Young Adults perusing a major in literature might consider this book a preparatory framework for their degree, and perhaps a leg-up on their future.
Top reviews from other countries
She was actually plesantly surprised at how thoughtful a secret santa gift could be. Perfect for anyone who likes books, it's hard back and bursting will all sorts of information.