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Literary Criticism

Literary Criticism Book List

Cover of 'Colonization, Violence, and Narration in White South African Writing'

Colonization, Violence, and Narration in White South African Writing
André Brink, Breyten Breytenbach, and J. M. Coetzee
By Rosemary Jane Jolly

The representation of pain and suffering in narrative form is an ongoing ethical issue in contemporary South African literature. Can violence be represented without sensationalistic effects, or, alternatively, without effects that tend to be conservative because they place the reader in a position of superiority over the victim or the perpetrator?

Cover of 'Robert Browning’s Rondures Brave'

Robert Browning’s Rondures Brave
By Michael Bright

Browning’s Fra Lippo Lippi says that we may pass things a hundred times and never see them. One thing that Browning’s readers have passed without seeing, or at least without remarking upon, is the circular conclusion in so many of his poems. Some sixty poems (almost a third of them) have such conclusions. These sixty span his entire career and include both well-known and neglected poems.

Cover of 'Romanticism and the Anglican Newman'

Romanticism and the Anglican Newman
By David Goslee

Goslee’s study maintains that Newman’s Anglican writing, although widely considered irrelevant to the main currents of the post-Enlightenment, in fact reinterprets Romantic transcendence within a uniquely dialogic paradigm. It is this paradigm, he argues, that critics need to explore as a link between sacred and secular domains within Victorian culture. Goslee’s own exploration is accomplished in three parts.

Cover of 'Sight Unseen'

Sight Unseen
Beckett, Pinter, Stoppard, and Other Contemporary Dramatists on Radio
By Elissa S. Guralnick

In Sight Unseen radio drama, a genre traditionally dismissed as popular culture, is celebrated as high art. The radio plays discussed here range from the conventional (John Arden’s Pearl) to the docudramatic (David Rudkin’s Cries from Casement), from the curtly conversational (Harold Pinter’s A Slight Ache) to the virtually operatic (Robert Ferguson’s Transfigured Night), testifying to radio drama’s variety and literary stature.

Cover of 'From the Uncollected Edmund Wilson'

From the Uncollected Edmund Wilson
By Edmund Wilson
· Edited by Janet Groth

Many of Wilson's writings have been anthologized. But there is another body of work — over fifty fine essays on aspects of contemporary literature and ideas — that have been scattered in a variety of magazines, including The New Yorker, The New Republic, Vanity Fair, and The Nation.

Cover of 'Dickens and Thackeray'

Dickens and Thackeray
Punishment and Forgiveness
By John Robert Reed

Attitudes toward punishment and forgiveness in English society of the nineteenth century came, for the most part, out of Christianity. In actual experience the ideal was not often met, but in the literature of the time the model was important. For novelists attempting to tell exciting and dramatic stories, violent and criminal activities played an important role, and, according to convention, had to be corrected through poetic justice or human punishment.

Winner of the NEMLA-Ohio University Press Book Award
Cover of 'Womanist and Feminist Aesthetics'

Womanist and Feminist Aesthetics
A Comparative Review
By Tuzyline Jita Allan

Alice Walker’s womanist theory about black feminist identity and practice also contains a critique of white liberal feminism. This is the first in-depth study to examine issues of identity and difference within feminism by drawing on Walker’s notion of an essential black feminist consciousness.

Cover of 'After the Grapes of Wrath'

After the Grapes of Wrath
Essays on John Steinbeck in Honor of Tetsumaro Hayashi
Edited by Donald V. Coers, Robert DeMott, and Paul D. Ruffin
· Introduction by Warren G. French

Traditionally, the critical reputation of Nobel Prize-winning American novelist John Steinbeck (1902-1968) has rested on his achievements of the 1930s, especially In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (19370, The Long Valley (1938), and, of course, The Grapes of Wrath (1939), one of the most powerful – and arguable on of the greatest – American novels of this century.

Cover of 'Stories of Raymond Carver'

Stories of Raymond Carver
A Critical Study
By Kirk Nesset

Raymond Carver, known in some circles as the “godfather of minimalism,” has been credited by many as the rejuvenator of the once-dying American short story. (See the link on this page to a 2008 Kenyon Review story that discusses the recent controversy over the editing of Carver’s stories.)

Cover of 'Wittgenstein and Critical Theory'

Wittgenstein and Critical Theory
Beyond Postmodern Criticism and Toward Descriptive Investigations
By Susan B. Brill

The crucial point of Brill’s study is that of fit: which critical methods prove most useful towards opening up which texts? Close investigations into the parameters of the language games of texts, critics, and methods enable us to determine which paths to take towards more complete descriptive analyses and critique.

Cover of 'The New Short Story Theories'

The New Short Story Theories
Edited by Charles E. May

Aimed at writers, students, teachers, and critics interested in the short story as a genre, this rich collection of essays examines theoretical issues raised about this demanding literary form.

Cover of 'Wuthering Heights'

Wuthering Heights
A Study
By U. C. Knoepflmacher

Wuthering Heights at once fascinates and frustrates the reader with the highly charged, passionate and problematic relationships it portrays. This study provides a key to the text by examining the temporal and narrative rhythms through which Brontë presents the dualities by which we commonly define our selfhood: child and adult, female and male, symbiosis and separateness, illogic and common sense, classlessness and classboundedness, play and power, free will and determinism.

Cover of 'Claribel Alegría and Central American Literature'

Claribel Alegría and Central American Literature
Critical Essays
Edited by Sandra M. Boschetto-Sandoval and Marcia Phillips McGowan

These essays examine the multifaceted work of the Central American author whom Latin American literary historians consider precursor of “cultural dialogism” in poetry and fiction. As poet, essayist, journalist, novelist, and writer of “quasi–testimonio,” Alegría’s multiple discourses transgress the boundaries between traditional and postmodern political theories and practices.

Cover of 'Nietzsche and Emerson'

Nietzsche and Emerson
An Elective Affinity
By George J. Stack

George J. Stack traces the sources of ideas and theories that have long been considered the exclusive province of Friedrich Nietzsche to the surprisingly radical writings of the American essayist and poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Nietzsche and Emerson makes us see Emerson's writings in a new, more intensified light and presents a new perspective on Nietzsche's philosophy.

Cover of 'Zen, Poetry, the Art of Lucien Stryk'

Zen, Poetry, the Art of Lucien Stryk
By Susan Porterfield

Lucien Stryk has been a presence in American letters for almost fifty years. Those who know his poetry well will find this collection particularly gratifying. Like journeying again to places visited long ago, Stryk’s writing is both familiar and wonderfully fresh. For those just becoming acquainted with Stryk’s work, Zen, Poetry, the Art of Lucien Stryk makes an excellent introduction.