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Literary Theory: The Basics by Hans Bertens

Literary Theory: The Basics (2001)

by Hans Bertens

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This relatively brief text offers a reasonably thorough introduction to the basics of literary theory -- in that, it does an excellent job of living up to its title. As its discussion of literary theory is somewhat perfunctory, this book is not recommended for the more advanced student, who likely requires greater depth of analysis. However, for those just starting out or wishing simply to dabble in literary theory, this introductory text provides an excellent starting point.

Bertens grounds his discussion in the intersection of literary interpretation and literary theory, and addresses the major bodies of literary criticism in chronological order over the past century. Each chapter addresses one major critical trend or school, and lists the seminal texts and authors of each, as well as their specific contributions and main ideas. At the end of each chapter, a brief summary reiterates some of the more sentient points, and situates the critical school in the context of criticism and theory more broadly.

Perhaps most appealing in this volume is Bertens' rumination on the relevance of each of these different theories to today's reading experience. He includes modern trends, such as queer studies and ecocriticism, and reminds the reader to always consider critical approaches in the context of the period from which they arise: "The basic assumptions underlying the 'reality' of our grandparents have to a large extent and beyond doubt been shown to be constructed" (p. 212). By the end of the book, the reader should have a good preliminary sense of both the history of literary theory/criticism, and its relevance to a contemporary reading experience at any point over the last century... as well as a starting point for further critical study. For such a small volume, this is quite an accomplishment.
  Eneles | Jul 11, 2009 |
Updates Wilfred Guerin. Divided into 9 chapters --from practical/new criticism, 2 on formalism, political, 2 on post-structuralism, new historicism/cultural materialism, post-colonial, sexuality & culture. Well written, lots of references in the chapters + a large bibliography. For grad students. ( )
  medievalmama | Jan 21, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0415186641, Paperback)

Tackling literary theory for the first time can seem a daunting task, it but it can be rewarding. This accessible guide provides the ideal first step in understanding theory, as the author:
-- leads you through the major approaches to literature which are signaled by the term "literary theory"
-- places each critical movement in its historical (and often political) context
-- illustrates theory in practice with examples from much-read texts
-- suggests further reading for those especially interested in a particular critical approaches
-- shows not only that theory can make sense but that it can radically change the way you read.

Covering all the basics and much more, this is the ideal book for anyone interested in how we read and why that matters.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:48 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Providing the ideal first step in understanding the often bewildering world of literary theory, this text is an easy-to-follow and clearly presented introduction to this fascinating area.

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